Sunday 26 August 2012


A wee roundup of assorted pictures that we've amassed over the past few weeks.

First up, on returning from America I had a hunger for soft pretzels. I had a few of these last time I was there but didn't have a chance to get one this time! So Jay dug out a recipe and, as she is usually so good at, made it happen. Here are some cinnamon and sugar soft pretzels. Every bit as tasty as they look - they didn't last long :)

Naomi likes to put on clothes that are slightly too big for her. A good example is the shirt that Jay has as part of our church's hosting team (they are so hosts are easy to spot - apparently also at night and in fog!). Naomi wondered around like this for a good few minutes, completely undeterred by walking in to many stationary objects.

Naomi also likes to take care of Dolly - we've mentioned this before - and it really is very sweet to watch her. Here she is having put Dolly in her high chair, complete with safety straps and bib, feeding her some imaginary food. She event stopped every so often to pick up some imaginary spillage from the bib and re-feeding it to Dolly.

Naomi has seen me shaving with an electric razor a few times now, and she seems to be fascinated by it. She's now taken to using round objects like this bottle of shampoo as a shaver to join in the shaving fun.

Thursday 23 August 2012


Last Thursday was Sandy and I's wedding anniversary.  It is now nine years since we walked down the aisle together and life is very good!

To celebrate we got ourselves a babysitter (thanks Auntie Liz, who also did the previous night so we could go to cell group) and went out for dinner.  We decided to be a little bit extravagant and so went to a local Australian restaurant called Moomba.  It is all about Kangaroo steaks and wild boar sausages, it was some delicious food!

This was our wild boar sausage and Kangaroo steak, we got one each and then shared it between us so we could taste more stuff.  The steak tasted a bit like beef but less strong, it may have been the most tender steak I have ever eaten in my life, though!  We only had one steak knife between us (because technically only one of us ordered steak) but my normal dinner knife didn't struggle in the slightest!

 In the background here you can see the massive mural thing that was on the wall.  Beware of kangaroos for the next 20km!!

Finally we have a picture of Sandy, if you look hard on the right of the picture you might see Paul Hogan in the background, the actor from Crocodile Dundee - "Call that a knife? This is a knife!".  Another part of the restaurant had a similar photo of a young Rolf Harris, very entertaining.

After dinner Sandy and I went for a walk, we used to do this quite often pre-children and if we are honest it is one of the few things we miss about our "old" lives so we grabbed the babysitter opportunity.  Unfortunately my pregnant body couldn't do too far but it was still nice to do something so simple but usually so hard! We could even hold hands as neither of us had to push a buggy!

So, that was Sandy and I but I am sure you'd love to see a picture of Naomi, so here is a post dinner face that you can't help but love!

I think you have a touch of yoghurt just next to your.... You know what? Never mind!

Friday 17 August 2012


Many of you will know already that with the imminent expansion of our brood, we've elected to move to a larger house. We'll be sorry to say goodbye to our first family house, and our landlords have been very good to us, but it's just a little small to fit 4 into, never mind the many visitors who'll want to see the new baby! So we're moving on.

It's been quite novel choosing a house that we got to see before closing the deal (which is not quite what happened with the current place!) We're quite happy with the one we've settled on; closer to the railway station with better parking, child-resistant laminate floors instead of carpets, and four bedrooms!

If you'd like a preview, there's one here though I expect it'll disappear before long.


Still doing a bit of catching up after a backlog of blogging over the holidays...

The Sunday after we arrived back in Loughborough we were on the road again, down to London where my sister Heather lives with her husband Theo and their children. They've recently become part of Chingford United Reformed Church, and having been very much welcomed into the church they decided to have the children baptised.

This gave Naomi a chance to have a play with her cousins (they get on really well), as well as getting to charm a lot of new people. I also saw my other sister Allison, and parents and brother again as they'd come down too (and stayed for a holiday and some Olympic action afterwards).

Naomi kept herself busy by carrying her lunch bag all round the church building. (this was also a chance for her to show off her kilt again!)

fun doing a bit of chasing...

After the baptism we returned to Theo's parents. Being Greek, they put on a really good party! Lots of good food and a lot of good chat. Here's the celebratory cake (very good) and favours.

Tuesday 7 August 2012


No comment needed on this one!


The final leg of our Scottish tour was a few days with my parents and my brother Ian in New Deer. We had a restful few days and it was good to see my family again, including a first meeting of my brother's fiancée Christine.

We open with Naomi showing everyone how to wear oven gloves. For some reason she really liked them!

While Naomi was still in utero, we decided it would be nice if she climbed a Scottish mountain, so we went for a hike up Bennachie, a small mountain that dominates the horizon of  North East Scotland (partly because everthing coastwards is fairly flat, and partly because it's got a distinctive twin-peaked shape). It's also very close to where Jay's parents live. We decided that Anonymous Brownlee might like to have the same experience, so we went for a similar walk again. We didn't have a chance to do it from Keig (Jay's folks), so we took the Brownlees on the trip instead. This time, of course, we had a toddler to take on the climb too, and we'd forgotten to take our backpack - fortunately our good friends the Gregorys (who have many children) no longer needed theirs and gave it to us for the trip. Here's Naomi and me enjoying the first part of the climb.

Naomi taking her first mountain steps...

Unfortunately we didn't make it to the top this time - Naomi got a little tired of the whole exercise about two thirds of the way up - but we still got a good view and had a nice day out.

You'll maybe remember that one of Naomi's first words was "Duck". My brother has a very large collection of Lego and Duplo bricks (I'm jealous!), and here's a duck I made for her.

Here's what's left a few minutes later.

New Deer sits on the side of Culsh Hill, at the top of which is a granite monument to one of the area's long-serving MPs. We went for a walk up the village with a stop off there; there's quite a good view from the top but unfortunately we were greeted with a sign telling us that it was locked and the key could be obtained from a shop at the bottom of the hill (which we'd walked right past). On the way back, my Dad got attacked by flies, and started waves his hands about. Naomi thought this was hilarious, and even now we've returned to Loughborough, whenever she sees a fly she starts waving madly!

Naomi had fun playing with the many outdoor toys my parents have stowed away, including a trike which my nieces Kirsty and Ashley used to have:

a sandpit bought for my niece ad nephew (Holly and Steven):

and a little red car which I used to play with...

Travelling meant many opportunities to use grown up things! Here's a big girl drinking out of a big girl glass.

Finally, a bit more walking, this time along the old railway line at Maud (village a couple of miles from New Deer). My Mum started doing some silly walks which Naomi just loved to copy!
Christine, Ian, my Mum, Naomi, and my Dad

I quite liked this somewhat arty shot of Naomi in front of the old platforms at Maud. Left for Fraserburgh, right for Peterhead! The "rails just lifted look" here is one of the things that first got me interested in old railway lines.
So, that's our Scottish adventure for the summer. We packed a lot in to just two weeks, and came back feeling pretty tired still! Naomi was very excited to be in her own house again (and not in a car any more), and we had a whole day to settle before a quick trip down to London. More on that soon (still catching up on blogging things!)

Somewhat time-critical - for those of you who pray, please pray for our housing situation. We're moving to a bigger house to accommodate the new child; this will stretch our budget a lot, and we're finding it difficult to get a place that matches our needs and wants. We think we have somewhere we can make work, but there's a number of the usual hurdles to pass, and all the while someone else could bag it ahead of us. Also pray that our landlords Rich and Caroline - who are just great - are able to find someone to quickly take our place.

Saturday 4 August 2012


Now, on to Imagine. It's a big festival for young people which happens each year, designed for young people to encounter God and return to their communities to make a difference. It's a bit like Soul Survivor if that helps, but on a smaller scale. A few hundred young people come to the event, which is based at Thainstone, Inverurie (20 min drive from Aberdeen), which also happens to be a mart. That is, where farmers come to sell their cows an so on. The mart activity keeps going while Imagine is on, and it's quite amusing to see two very different groups of people together. For much the same opening paragraph, and how it went last year, you can go here.

Jay's job this year was running the information team, who sell entry tickets and give information to everyone who comes to Imagine. Delegates and speakers alike expect Jay to be able to tell them everything from the exact location of the power sockets in the random room they find themselves in, to the shoes size of all the Imagine directors. It is a fair amount of information she needs to keep in her head, which this year was extra challenging due to an increasingly severe case of baby brain! People also assume that Jay can resolve absolutely any issue they have, from a stuck chocolate bar in a vending machine (which belong to Thainstone, not Imagine!) to needing a first aider. Jay also finds herself trouble shooting the most bizarre of situations: this year's finest was finding an emergency lift to Aberdeen for mother, baby and young person for only an hour or so later! It's no small job and it takes a serious gift of administration like Jay has to do it well.

My job was to coordinate the tech team - excepting the PA for the main worship sessions, our job is to look after everything with electricity running through it at the event. This includes smaller PA systems, video projectors, cameras, lighting and power for numerous venues. Our team work silly hours (8am to midnight most of the days), and are frequently seen running about with bits of cable. We had couple of changes on the regular team this year, in addition to Paul and Lewis from previous years we had Phil (a guy with the coolest job ever - making YouTube videos!) and my brother Ian. We all got on great and it's a good team to be part of. We also get to play with shiny things like this pro camera, which was hired for the event:

Most of the young people (and accompanying adults) camp in one of the fields attached to Thainstone. This week was a bit on the damp side...

In the marketplace were two inflatable chairs. On the days Naomi came to visit she thought these were fantastic.
Loving the static hair!

There is usually a talent contest at Imagine, running on a few of the nights, with a final on the last night. It's one of the most popular activities during the week (based on the numbers coming), and is usually based on the current big thing on TV. Previous ones have been named things like "Imagine's Got Talent", "Strictly Talent on Ice" etc. I'm always impressed by just how good the contestants are! This year's was "The Voice Of Imagine", and here's the venue set up...
and here are the three judges, complete with swivel chairs.

Here's this year's tech desk, home to us on the tech team for most of the week. Look closely for the essentials: Irn Bru and Mars Bars.

Yes, that's Mike Pilavaci speaking, we had a good bit of banter at one point where he gave some mock criticism of the lighting and cameras, so we turned the lights out on him (all in good fun of course)

I think I mentioned before that NESYFC have got themselves a football cage, something I was keen on making happen when I was more involved. Here it is for real - I'm responsible for the banners on it; the black one has our fireguard in the background as I didn't have a closeup of the cage to hand!

We thought this was quite funny - driving over to Thainstone one of the mornings, we got stuck behind this tractor towing a cess tank. It was full enough that it kept spilling over, needless to say, it got a very wide berth when we overtook it.

Breakfast at Thainstone. Naomi's first Rice Crispies.

Unbelievably, Naomi took a nap at least once right in the middle of all the action. She was one tired girl.

All in all, a tiring week, but definitely worth it.


The first of three posts on our trip to Scotland! The timing of the trip was motivated by both Jay and I helping at this year's Imagine - more on that shortly - but the timing meant that our trip north was only a day after I'd returned from America, and really needed to be all in one day. Needless to say I was still pretty tired, and five hours out of sync with UK time, so Jay kindly did most of the drive back.

The first week we visited Granny and Grandad McIntyre (Jay's parents) - who also put us up for the Imaginary week and did a lot of well appreciated babysitting for us.

In preparation for the trip, we made sure there was plenty to keep Naomi occupied - she's getting more active all the time. This included a borrow of a magnadoodle from the Lyons. Naomi really liked this, and even got stuck into it before leaving, though for some reason she also liked sitting in a box at the same time...

We also took the more conventional paper and pencil, supplemented with some stickers (mostly stars and coloured dots). This kept Naomi busy for a long time, but it's a little concerning just how many shiny stars turned up in her nappy a day or two later.

Somebody liked to go for escape runs along the front of the house. I'll leave it to you to decide who this applies to...

Naomi likes to copy Grandad using a walking stick.

She also quite likes to find computers and have a go on them...

We went for a walk in the countryside surrounding the house. Nearby is the Forbes estate, the grounds of which are open for locals to enjoy. This is where Naomi learned about cows, and the sound they make. She now "moos" and the sight of, or mention of cows. Very impressive.

On one of the evenings, she decided to have a bit of a read in the buff. Jay particularly likes this picture.