Saturday, 15 June 2019

Mmmmm....

Looks like we're going to have a good strawberry crop this year!


We also had some more lovely colours this year as the tulip bulbs we planted last year finally came to something...


Naomi's first big trip

Naomi had her first every Brownie camp last weekend. It was a full weekend - two nights away in the Borders with crafts, singing, making dens in the woods, exploring, and eating. Interestingly they saved the campfire for a regular Brownies night this week!

She was excited about it for weeks and it seems to have been a good time. Naomi was tired enough when she came back that she was quiet for nearly two hours! Still glad to be back though...

Linlithgow Palace

Another adventure to a historic place - this time Linlithgow Palace on a spectacular day with Grandma. Given that it's more or less a ruin we managed to fill a lot of time there as the girls explored the place. They also had some pictures to "collect" with different jewels on them.










Sunday, 19 May 2019

Choo Choo!

Today the Flying Scotsman went past Stirling... here are a couple of excited children enjoying it. (I just missed "bouncy Miriam" afterwards)


Esther's 2nd birthday

A few photos of Esther's birthday, including her brilliant giant bubbles!









Saturday, 18 May 2019

Almost a year

It's almost a whole year since I became a lecturer, and more importantly from the family perspective, permanent. The past couple of weeks have largely been about this kind of thing...
Those are exam papers in case it's not obvious!
Yes, the marking is just about done. It's a fairly unpopular point of view but I don't really mind the marking - I wouldn't say I actively enjoy it but there is something quite satisfying about it all, and I can do lots of nice statistics at the end to see what questions worked, what didn't, what could have probably been taught better, and so on. It's just a bit of a time-sink! I still have papers to write, meetings to attend, actual research to be doing, students to supervise, presentations to prepare, and all the rest of it. A week ago I was in London enjoying this spectacular view from my hotel:
(the inside of the room was quite nice though...)
...with another bout of air travel and some dissertation marking on the plane. On the plus side it was a very good meeting, with some new collaborators (the Fixie project) and a new research use for some code I've been helping to write the past year or so.

So, as you can gather, it's busy. My diary is ludicrously full and there is rarely much down time during the day. There have been a few days (particularly the run up to the assignment deadline, then the exam) where there has been an actual queue of students at the door. I'd had a particularly hard day a few weeks back and my usual stress relief of the bike ride home helped a lot. During one of the more stressful moments that day I had a fleeting thought that maybe I wasn't cut up for this lark, despite agitating for it so long. As I turned the corner to face the mountains in the distance (yes, really a part of my commute), I realised that actually I'd really enjoyed the day - and the week - all of it. This was really what I was meant to do. I've spent the last year working with really interesting people, making small contributions to our understanding of difficult problems, I've shared with people from primary school age through interested non-experts in the public to honours and MSc students, PhD students, my peers and well established professors. I've spent long amounts of time chewing over problems; I've had time to write code and learned about new things (both so I could teach them, and because I found something interesting). The students are great to work with - and at least a couple have mentioned me by name in their feedback as being a helpful kind of chap (thanks to the one that called me "professor"! Still a little way to go for that...). Meanwhile I've had some more meetings with a PhD student I've inherited who has had a rough time of it. He's almost out of the other side and I'm sure will finally be able to graduate this year.

In among that I've been able to take random days off to coincide with school holidays, or work at home from time to time as needed. I can do things like see the school Nativity play. I can be around.

So, I really like this job. And Stirling is a great place to be doing it! Roll on year 2.

Schools visit

Not our one! Our department at the university got asked if we could talk to a couple of local primary schools about what we do with computers. A really intense day as the children - particularly the younger ones - ask so many questions! Very good fun though.

I opened with some general stuff about science and about programming, with an example I used at our nursery a few years ago and some Scratch which I've been doing with Naomi (note - this is an excellent resource for children to learn the basics of programming). Two of my colleagues Carron and Jason then talked about computing in healthcare (modelling disease spread) and brian-computer interfaces - where the children got a chance to remote control Jason's hand.

Thanks to the school too, we had a great time and hopefully the children got something out of it all.



Saturday, 27 April 2019

Assortment of goings-on

 Time for a catch-up on various goings-on of the past few months.


Esther has been really coming into her own the past wee while. As well as talking, she has really got the hang of play - both by herself and with her big sisters.

Though she can get pretty tired and grumpy when she wants to! In this respect it's like she's been two for nearly a year already.







The last of our peppers from last year's successful crop. Yum.


I'm trying to cultivate some cuttings from a cherry tree at my Mum's house. This one looked like it was going well but, it turned out, not so much. I have some more now that seem to be doing better.

Which of these apparent cupboards at the university is actually a suite of four classrooms?
These are the places to schedule meetings if you don't want anyone to attend!

(It's the door at the end by the way)

Stirling weather continues to accentuate the scenery

A cheesy date night. Note done one of those for a while :)

...and now a selection of treats. Naomi and Miriam now have a slightly different reward scheme - they have tablet/screen time which can be given and taken away - so to ensure some one-to-one time with one of their parents we just do that for them every other week. Lydia still has a button jar but the rules have changed a wee bit.



Treat time! Lydia filled her button jar and took me to a cafe a couple of weeks ago. 











 
Pirates seems to be a theme in the house just now. We'll return to that shortly.

WAFFLE BREAKFAST!


I thought the frost on our lawn looked pretty cool.
(in two senses...)



 
Burns' Night saw the Wallace monument lit up blue. 



Another brilliant photo - Naomi trying a new hairdo in front of her bed light.

Naomi is also learning cello - here she is practising.



Costumes for World Book Day. Naomi is Streaker the dog from The Hundred Mile An Hour Dog; Miriam is Cassie the fairy, from Even Fairies Need Glasses.



The girls also now all have sequin cushions and like to make pictures with them.






Hyacinths in our front garden. Lovely.



I think I've mentioned our weather station before - we got it from the Space Centre in Leicester last year - now it has a permanent home on our fence. Which makes sense as the weather here is pretty changeable.

A tiring day of school over, I just enjoyed the girls having a wee bit of a rest.


We also had a brief trip to IKEA. Naomi and Miriam have been complaining about their beds for the past couple of months - largely because they have got bigger and the free mattresses that came with the bunk were somewhat bumpy. So we got some new mattresses, and enjoyed the phenomenon that is the IKEA rolled up mattress. Yes, really a sprung mattress all rolled up.

Two mattresses in the boot of our car, along with some other stuff! We also fitted in 7 people as Grandma is visiting.

IKEA == Swedish Meatballs for lunch!

We might as well make a day out of it. The girls got to go to IKEA soft play too.

Hurray!

One of the mattresses unfurled and another about to start. A few hours later and you really can't tell the difference. They are very comfortable now.

I love the instructions for these things!