Wednesday 31 July 2013


A quick word on how work is going...

I've been away the last couple of days at a meeting at Cumberland Lodge near Windsor, where the other people working on the airport operations project were discussing what they've been doing. All very interesting stuff! As I hinted at before, it's all focused on scheduling things at airports. Most of the partners have made pretty good progress, so the big issue for me is going to be figuring out what I can contribute! I have a couple of ideas to consider which will hopefully go somewhere - but for now I feel quite inadequate for the task. I'm sure it'll work out though.

Probably more interesting for most folk will be seeing how jolly nice the place was:

Upon my return, I was excited to find that my new computer has arrived. I asked the university for the current version of the one that Loughborough got me. See if you can spot the difference...

No, me neither!

I'll close with a picture of Naomi squeezing a (toy) orange out of existence, and Miriam demonstrating that even 8 month old children can have a chip on their shoulder.

In case you're wondering, she's mesmerised by the next spoonful of dinner.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Unashamed bragging

Look how good Naomi is at drawing a person.  So good I am considering buying her some paper to draw on instead of making her draw on envelopes and spam mail that has arrived at the house!

Well done baby!

Thursday 25 July 2013

Grandma and Grandad came to stay

Sandy's Mum and Dad have been for a visit.  Originally they were coming so I could finish unpacking but we had managed surprisingly well and so we used the time to play, have fun and rest as much as possible!

Here are a few photos from their visit.

 Lots of sunshine meant lots of playing in the garden

 One day we all went down to see Daddy at work and have a picnic for lunch

here is the lake on campus
One night Edna and Alasdair baby sat so we could go out on a date.  We went for a Nandos as I had a voucher given to me when I left PlayTime (a toddler group in Loughborough) then we went for a lovely walk around near the house.

Grandma shows that you never lose those multitasking skills by taking the children to the park.

The children with Grandma and Grandad

Sorry for the radio silence!

Life has been a little hectic with all the moving and such but here are some photos/stories/goings on by way of some updates!

I have been finding life a little tough without toddler groups as that is something we did a lot of in Loughborough.  We will do toddler groups soon but it is the school holidays here and has been since we arrived and so instead we have been going to the park!

We have been really lucky with some beautiful weather since we arrived so we have been touring all the parks to see which ones are best.

This one is a fair walk from the house but it's lots of fun and has a toilet for our potty trained toddler!

surveying the scene

\Naomi can now climb into this unaided!
 Miriam is now an absolute fiend at eating, here you can see her eating some french toast, not bad when you consider she only has two teeth!

Favourite activity of the moment, for Miriam, is to swing!

Here we are swinging together!

On my way home from the "big" park we have this lovely view, stunning!

Miriam got some rare time with mummy to herself as her sister fell asleep in the buggy one day, as you can see we had fun together.

Lots of sunshine means lots of lunches in the garden

More swinging!

Naomi is learning to share.  For her age I think she does an admirable job.  She is very keen to share and indeed naturally seems inclined to make sure that everyone has something to play with.  That said, she is very inclined to make sure she gets the best "thing" (whatever that may be) for herself.  I told her she could only have the toy she was trying to snatch from her sister if she replaced it with something else.  Naomi promptly found Miriam a clothes peg! Not quite what I had in mind!  This photo sums it up perfectly, Naomi was picking daisies and wanted Mummy to have one too, as you can see, though, she kept the best (bigger is always better when you are two) for herself!

 I love this photo of Naomi in her chosen outfit for the day ready to go to the shops!

Miriam had a taste of mango here, she enjoyed it lots, although was a little frustrated by its slippery nature.

this photo makes me smile just because it gives me hope that one day, rather than having to constantly protect Miriam from an overbearing Naomi, they will learn to play together.  This particular day I was very poorly and mummying all had to be done from the sofa so lots of non-squabbling was much appreciated!

A random photo of Naomi enjoying the garden in the new house.  The garden is easily the best bit about our new house!

I recently went down to Loughborough for a night to celebrate with my good friends Kate and Shayne who have been married for 10 years! (Sandy and I get to celebrate that particular milestone next month).  For a variety of reasons we decided it would be too much to take the who family down and so I went down on my own.  With no children.  Alone! This resulted in a very exciting prospect of managing to read a whole book!  It was a very fun night and I was really pleased to come back to some girls (and a husband) who had missed me and gave me awesome cuddles and amazing smiles.  Less good was that Miriam woke frequently over the night to make sure I hadn't gone away again.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

Tuesday 2 July 2013


Here I am on day two of my new job. As is the way with such things it's a bit of a slow start, but as it's the reason for our move to Stirling I thought it would be worth a bit of an update on how it's going.

I'm based in the Division of Computing Science and Mathematics at the University of Stirling. My job title seems to be up for debate - I've been referred to as Senior Research Fellow, Senior Research Assistant or simply Research Fellow depending on where you look. It's probably enough to say that it's a research position and there seems to be quite a bit of freedom with what I do with it. I'm initially working on a project related to the optimisation of airport operations, looking at questions like "what's the best way to allocate planes to gates to reduce taxiing time, reduce crowding on the passenger side and meet constraints to do with plane sizes and so on". Specifically I'm looking at all manner of things to do with evolutionary algorithms and the broader field of metaheuristics (that is, general problem solving algorithms). All very interesting stuff. I've had a chat with a few of the other researchers here and it sounds like there are a lot of possibilities ahead.

I'm based in room 4B 101. This means that I'm on floor 4, of the B corridor (the university is mostly contained in one long snake-like building, with an A and a B corridor along it), and in Room 101 (so if I mysteriously disappear it'll be no surprise...) I've spent the past day or so figuring out who does what and where things are, as well as catching up on some reading and writing that got postponed by the busyness of the last couple of weeks at Loughborough. I also caught up with my good friend Paul Godley who's also just started a job as a software developer at the university.

For now I'm sharing an office with a handful of other people - a couple of research students and a visiting prof. I'm told that other than one guy, all of them will be moving on by the end of the summer so there's potentially much change ahead. I've commented before about how Loughborough's campus were quite nice: Stirling's is also pretty good. Here's the view from my desk:

Also, the morning commute is quite pleasant. About 15 minutes on the bike through a mixture of countryside and housing.

I also get to cross over a railway line (the main one to Perth from here) which you might guess is quite pleasing for me.

One of the other things about Stirling is the you never really escape the scenery, so there's usually quite a diverse mixture of fairly plain looking houses with nice mountains behind:
If you look closely at this picture there's also a Scotland flag. One of three immediately nearby!

This is the view from our bedroom window...

I thought I'd round off with a couple of unrelated pictures. Firstly, here are the girls in a shopping trolley. Yes, we went to a supermarket at 5.30pm on a SUNDAY! One small joy of being in Scotland again (when we first moved to Loughborough we wanted to get ingredients to make a cake on a Sunday night and drove around for a considerable time trying to work out why the supermarkets were all closed).

Here's a removal truck. Mainly for advertising purposes because these guys were great.

The lorry driver was particularly kind and gave Naomi some money to buy an ice cream when she was going through a brief period of sadness.

Dinner on moving day was outside...

Lastly, I quite enjoyed this box as packed by the removal guys. This could have been written on nearly everything we own!


I've now received my official ID card. I went for the "cat that got the cream" pose on this one, which seems to have worked out pretty well :)