Sunday 30 July 2017


The girls have been wanting to go on a train for some time, so last week we went on a day trip to Glasgow. We went to Pizza Express for lunch, and the Riverside Museum (mostly about transport). The latter also has a tall ship to explore, sand pits, and lots of nice activities for children (Naomi really liked the "pretend street", Miriam and Lydia got to do some firefighting). A very fun day, but rounded of with a spectacular bout of sickness from Lydia which meant we got home VERY late. Oh well.

Train based excitement...


Naomi added the stickers to this bag, I thought it was quite good.
At the museum

The important part of the day. Candy floss and ice cream.

Tired girls at the end of the day.

More travels

Really there has been too much travelling this year! Labs 2 and 3 of the Digital Economy Crucible have been and gone, with a night in Edinburgh last month, and two night in London this past week. All in all a good experience, but very tiring. I'm part of a bit for a new project with some people from Manchester and Swansea, so we'll see how that goes. I also met a couple of people who I share some research interests with and are very nice to work with, as well as getting to know some folk from Stirling a bit better too. All in all a very good outcome.

One of many!

Spectacular view from Edinburgh hotel window...

... okay, the other window was better.

Another free duck! I got one at Scottish Crucible lab 2 as well.
Lots of this kind of thing! This is a possible project I might work on some time.

The lab last week was hosted in the Digital Catapult Centre in London, which has a spectacular view of St Pancras Station. It's also at 101 Euston Road, so one risks disappearing there!

Also a nice view of other part of London.

That's the centre, the glass bit on top.


Lydia has been doing very well with her potty training, and since she hasn't started a button jar yet we thought she was due a treat. So today we offered her a trip to the cafe - she chose me to accompany her :)

Her she is enjoying her treat.

Friday 21 July 2017

Ich bin ein Traveller

It's conference season and I'm just back from a week in Berlin at the GECCO conference. No presentations from me this year but one of the students I've been helping to supervise had three talks on some very nice work he's been doing about fixing bugs in software automatically. These included an entry in the finals of the HUMIES (Human-Competitive Awards), though unfortunately he didn't get a prize there (the winner used evolutionary algorithms to make a new publishable discovery on a problem in physics) one of the other talks did win a "best paper" prize which came with some sparkling wine. I was entrusted with carrying this back in my case and amazingly it survived!

There was also a lot of good networking and all the usual conferency-type stuff. A very full week although I did get a few hours on the last day to see some of the city too. German is also the only non-English language I have much and after some refreshment using Duolingo over the past few weeks I was quite pleased to be able to do some basic communication with the locals. Of course, when they spotted me pausing to remember a word they soon jumped to English but I was pretty pleased with how I did most of the time.

This time the conference hotel was very nice indeed.

Trams - what's not to like?

Apparently teletext still exists in Germany.
I genuinely enjoyed this.

In exchange for not having my room cleaned, I got a free apple. The apple was good but the major downside was not having my tea stocks replaced automatically. Boo.

"This room does not exist"
The hotel even has its own beehives. honey with breakfast is every bit as good as it sounds.

I can't resist a wall of mirrors photo opportunity.

The conference dinner was held at a pirate themed restaurant, and was basically just a barbecue for 600 people. It was very nice.

This is where I sat for most of the meal. It doesn't look much, but that white wall is actually the famous one.

Here's the other side of the same wall.

Obligatory tourist photo.

Additional tourism.

Checkpoint Charlie. I can still remember this place being on the news (okay, so it was 28 years ago that the wall came down, but I still remember!) so it felt a bit weird to stand here so freely.

Currywurst. I have eaten a lot of meat the past few days.

Esther is pleased that I'm back (so it everyone else - including me!) Nevertheless this made me smile lots! That's the present I got her - an I (heart) Berlin bear
For some reason I really like the Ampelman - so there was only one option for my conference umbrella this time

All in all, 100% successful trip. But very good to be back.

Monday 3 July 2017


It's baby-hand-stare time again! At about two months in, much the same as Lydia, Miriam and Naomi, Esther has discovered her hand, and more importantly that it seems to be something over which she has control. This is fascinating:

of course, the real goal seems to be to get it mouthward...

alas at the moment it just end up in the eye. Oh well.


Our church does a trip to the seaside once a year. We've always had some kind of clash before but this time we were able to make it and had a lot of fun! The trip was to Silver Sands beach at Aberdour - a wee bit of a drive but very good for a play and a picnic...

Naomi and Miriam made themselves into mermaids!

Lots of fun as the waves come in

The girls wanted to inspect the gazebo at the end of the beach with a surprising degree of excitement

The beach was pretty!


Lydia was playing a game where she stamped her feet, growled, and said "I'm a crocodile!". Naturally I was not allowed to film this...