Friday 31 May 2013


Most of you will know about this already, but we thought it would still be helpful to post something about it. We're going to be moving to Stirling in a little under a month.


Well - in short I've got a new job there. In long, my long term plan is to get a permanent job lecturing and teaching in a computing department, and ideally in Scotland. These don't come up all that much, particularly when counting only places that are interested in the research I do, so when one came up at the University of Stirling a couple of months ago I applied. (I also wasn't sure whether my contract at Loughborough would last beyond the summer at that point) As it turns out, I didn't get the job, but they offered me a 5 year contract doing research. It's with a well-known research group, in an interesting area, where I can grow quite a bit more, and importantly it's in a computing department so I can have chances to get some more teaching experience. From a career perspective it would be quite silly not to take it: most academics I've spoken to, including my supervisor here at Loughborough, agree, though it's a shame to move as I'm quite enjoying the work here and as it turns out some money had become available to extend my contract for a bit (though nothing like 5 years' worth).

Where to?

Here's a link to the house we've rented. It's quite well placed, about halfway between the university and the city centre. It's a really nice house (as most places in Stirling seem to be!) but the downside is that it's going to swallow most of my pay rise. Easy come easy go.

How do we feel?

Very mixed. We're very sad to be leaving our friends and church here, and it is a bit of an unknown for us. At the same time - exciting new job, much closer to family and friends up north. I nearly didn't take the job for several reasons, but in the end we asked for God's peace on the right decision and felt more peaceful about the move , so we're going.

I feel like more should be said, but that's pretty much all there is to it!

Sunday 26 May 2013


Yet another enjoyable baby stage is the sound of babbling. Miriam's now giving the bababa sound a good shot (after a few weeks of animal like growling sounds), and here we have her making cool sounds while also bouncing. Yes, she bounced like this for most of the afternoon.

I think it's also worth noting that we've had a lovely weekend with my sister Heather, her husband and children here. Naomi in particular loved having her cousins around. However, I don't seem to have taken any pictures!

Tuesday 14 May 2013


So, a little light relief from work.

First, this cubicle is in our lab building.

The notice on it really does say "Mr M Barker. Office. Do not disturb." Suddenly my wee corner of an open plan office doesn't seem quite so bad!

Second, for the geeks out there... Some time ago we used some surplus project money to buy a monster computer - with 12 CPU cores, and 12 virtual cores - the equivalent of 6 fairly standard current home PCs sitting next to each other, or thereabouts. Sadly, it didn't seem to recognise the virtual ones, but today we figured out the issue, and poor old windows doesn't know what to do with itself when we tried to get it to show CPU use:

Look at all those CPUs! Looking forward to some serious computing power now.

Thursday 9 May 2013


It's Miriam's sixth mensiversary today, so I thought I'd share a few pictures of my girls looking grown up, without need for much commentary. By the way, she's very nearly rolling over! Soon they will be twice as fun to keep track of.

Naomi and her friend enjoying the trampoline at Beacon Road (the house where many other friends stay). There was a bouncy castle there that day for Auntie Liz's birthday, but why bounce on that when the trampoline that's always there is available?

* okay, I've never liked terms like "6 month anniversary" as it doesn't make sense. Does it mean "a year ago, something called 6 months happened", or "6 months happen every year", or what? So I finally remembered to look up the right word today. I think I like it enough that I'll use it again!

What? I'm cool. My mum said so.

Monday 6 May 2013

Bank Holiday

One of the things I love about England is the mentality that goes with a bank holiday.  Everyone is off together and you can all do fun things together (apart from go to IKEA, Sandy and I made that mistake once, we will never do it again, it was terrible!!)

Here are some photos from our bank holiday weekend, the sun has been shining and we have had a LOT of fun!

On Saturday we have a lovely family walk along the canal, looking at a canal festival with lots of stall and the likes.  Unfortunately neither of us thought to take any videos so you will just have to take our word for it, it really was fun.

Sunday saw us go for a picnic with our church, to some beautiful woods with a blanket of bluebells all around us.

You can see here that it was a brilliant if tiring day.  What you can't see here is that when Naomi fell asleep sitting up, she was sitting next to her sister who was absolutely screaming because Mummy wasn't cooking dinner fast enough!

On Monday, we went for a walk and stopped off at a park on the way home, here is Miriam enjoying the swing

Naomi loves being able to swing next to Miriam

As you can see, we went to the shops and park dressed as a fairy princess

It was such a warm and beautiful day today that we decided to get out the paddling pool, I can confirm it was a massive hit! Thank you to Grandma for buying it for us and for being so patient to see its first use!

Getting ready by putting on our swimming costume

Definitely enjoying it
 It was a fancy paddling pool that you could attach the hose to so it sprays water on you, this feature was much appreciated!

Miriam gets ready to have a go, at her sister's request

Hurry up Miriam!

Miriam did not enjoy it, it was far too cold!

She didn't stay in long!

Much happier bouncing!
In some ways we will be sad to go back to toddler group tomorrow!

Sunday 5 May 2013

Ian got married!

About a month ago Ian got married and we've been meaning to tell you all about it ever since!  Here goes!

Disclaimer - on the day itself Sandy was best man and I was in charge of two small children on my own!!  Therefore these photos are largely stolen from friends and family!

Since moving to Loughborough I have realised how much I love the sea, therefore I really appreciated the drive up to Fochabers which had some really beautiful views along the way.

We splashed out and stayed in the wedding hotel (mainly to make things easier with the children)  Here you can see some pre-wedding resting taking place

Not too much though, this photo is blurry because Naomi wanted to parade her pretty dress up and down and just would not stay still!

Here you can see Ian and Sandy with their nephew, all ready for their official roles in the wedding

After the wedding there were some sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee for everyone to enjoy in the church hall (best idea ever!!) and there were even some toys for the children, Miriam was determined to chew on this teething ring (and in her defence, she was teething!!)

Sometimes, though, it all becomes a little overwhelming!

Not for long though, it's important to fit as much being cute into a day as we can.

Here is the picture of only the "immediate" Brownlee family, as you can see the latest wedding makes an already big family bigger!

On to the reception and time for the speeches! Sandy had made his speech lego themed and then found out it was the theme for the whole receptions! Apparently those brothers are quite alike

There was even a Lego themed cake...

Naomi was pretty good throughout the meal, here she is trying on our friend's hat, and why wouldn't you, everyone else was wearing hats.

Here are the happy couple.

And on to the dancing (Sandy and I love a good ceilidh)

A quick picture of Sandy and all his siblings...

Hope you've enjoyed this whistle stop tour of Ian's big day!