Tuesday 28 July 2015

Holiday weeks three and four

I thought I had done a week three post but apparently not. The holidays feel like they slipping away from me and my baby will soon be at school but here, in no particular order are some pictures from the last couple of weeks

Church was just a little bit too much for poor Lydia to bare!

I have been making Naomi's school pinafores, I am well aware that one can buy them for not much money but Naomi loves wearing things I make her and I hoping it might help her be a bit more confident in those early days if she has something special from mummy. You will see more of these pictures as the weeks progress but I am *nearly* there!

Sandy went away (with work) but Edna was here so I still got to keep up my rigorous tea drinking schedule!

Miriam made a tiger (we do love doing a bit of craft)

Naomi made lolly stick ponies

School uniform taking shape!

Lydia has now masted forwards motion but for a little while she could only go backwards, I probably shouldn't have laughed at all the places she got stuck (but I did!)

I love technology that allows us to chat with Sandy while he's away but for part of our skype call he was sideways!

Holidays mean lots of play dates

The weather this holiday is proving to be rubbish with LOTS of rain, so any dry spell we get I insist the children play outdoors

While Edna was staying with us it was her birthday so we had all sorts of party type activities

We also went to a children's play area so she and I could get a coffee while the children played.  This place is near the safari park, one of the monkeys had escaped and took up residence in the cafe! Was the source of much hilarity although Naomi was happier once he had been caught.

The girls "decorated" Grandma's birthday cake!

School uniform production line!

I can CRAWL!

There's a story behind these shoes, that's for another day, though, here are the school shoes though. (*weeps* how can my baby be big enough for school?)

Trying on the pinafore so I can work out how much to hem!

Daddy came home with presents, he gave Lydia a teddy. She loves it. If anyone is going to Madrid soon can you let me know, we might need a second!! ;-)

For some reason Daddy saw castonettes and thought they would be a great idea! I guess his ears spend more time out the house than mine ;-)

Some things never change, though, like Cat being ever present!

We upcycled Naomi's old high chair for Miriam. "It's pink!" Really, I hadn't noticed! ;-)

We went to Miriam's good friend Miriam's birthday party (it's confusing as you think!)

We had an afternoon of being tigers

I am less than enamoured by the weather :-(

We've managed the odd park trip though (and yes, that's Auntie Liz who was another welcome visitor)

We've had friends come to play

Naomi and Miriam painted some paster butterflies, I wish I had checked how much they cost before I said yes, though!

Sandy and I even managed to get out on a date and go for dinner :-)

This was the view from the restaurant, it was even more stunning in person

Liz and I went to Nandos (Lydia came too but don't tell the girls they were playing at a play scheme at the time!) I wish I had a photo of Lydia eating frozen chocolate yoghurt!

And, if all else fails. Paint!

Saturday 25 July 2015


Last week I was off on work travel again, to GECCO (the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation COnference) in Madrid. This is one of the big ones in my field, and there are usually a good few hundred people at it. This time round I was represented on three papers, one of which I presented personally (not done that for a while - good fun!). There was a really good buzz at this years' conference and it was quite worthwhile. I still have to dig through all the notes on new ideas and possible contacts that I made but even just the discussions there were all good.

It was also very busy - I didn't see much of Madrid apart from the street between the conference hotel and nearby restaurants until the last day. Fortunately I booked a flight back for the day after the conference so things weren't so rushed and a couple of the students from Stirling took me into town to see some of the sights on the last afternoon once the conference had finished (thanks guys!). Travel gets harder, though, and I really missed everyone at home. It was good to see them upon my return last Thursday! My mum had come to visit to help Jay with the children (which we were also very grateful for), so the girls at least had a distraction while I was away. In the space of a week it seems like Miriam has now learned the remaining few words of English that she didn't have before, Naomi has aged another couple of years, and Lydia has started crawling properly. One of the first things Naomi said when I got back was "Daddy, did you have a chance to bring anything?" - which was more-or-less code for "where's my present?" - at least I did put my final few Euros into two sets of castanets (yes, the house is even noisier), some confectionery goodness for Jay and a little bear that Lydia seems to have been unable to let go of since. It's good to know that the girls have their priorities straight!

The hotel, despite being fairly cheap, had really nice rooms. Look, my room had a vestibule!

It was also high up!

They say that PhD stands for Permanent Head Damage - but it seems unfair to label my case this way.

The whole street was like this. Conference fees well spent.

A lovely pool to cope with the 40C temperatures - except I only got one shot in it as I was conferencing the rest of the time. (no,really)

The hotel was in the financial district - albeit not far from the leaning towers and Real Madrid's stadium, so mostly looked quite boring.

The conference dinner (meaning occasional Tapas on plates being carried around) was in an anteroom of the Madrid opera house. Very grand, but a bit cramped.

Apparently the King lives here.

Evidence that I was there (opera house is in the background)

The last day - this is a shopping centre in an old railway station. Naturally I found this quite interesting.

On the final day I got my only real slice of tourism: a Segway tour of Madrid. This was fantastic fun.

Bank of Spain

Me with the two PhD students from Stirling (Kevin and Sami) and Kevin's fiancee.
Segways weren't allowed in this park. Sad.

Cathedral - I'd say more but I think our tour guide was just using Google - so you might as well do the same.

Segway fun!

Yes, the sun in Spain falls mainly on the plain. Or something like that.

I suggested to Kevin that we should look thoughtful as it was a work trip.

Me taking a picture of Sami.

Sami taking a picture of me.

It's the control panel in the lift. Looks innocuous right?

Well, 1: which button would you press for Breakfast, given the above? Wrong - it's the "-1" one, marked Gym. Get off on "0" and you have signs pointing down the stairs.

2: That fan is most convenient if you've eaten too much rich food on the trip and other people get in.

3: Nobody had the courage to press the one on the bottom right, but isn't it scary looking? In some lifts it was labelled "bomberos", which I later found out means "fire brigade", so probably best I didn't press it.

Madrid Airport's terminal is one of the few that might be classed as interesting to look at. Somehow they've worked out how to make an airport look Spanish.

Finally, I conclude with some screenshots from my phone, during the trip and on my return. See if you can spot the difference...