Saturday, 17 October 2020

Tech stuff

 A couple of slightly techie things to catch up on too...

First, several years ago I was given a rack mount cabinet for some of my technology things. It's been a long time coming but finally it's up and running (okay, a very select group of people will appreciate this!)

I've also been on campus for the first time in months. I'm involved in teaching a course that has always been planned for "online" (rather than the webcam lectures I've been doing the past few weeks). My bit goes live in January, so I was in the film studio last week. Here was my view for that time - very professional stuff indeed.

More experiments

 Another science experiment to keep things interesting! This time we made some indicator using red cabbage. We really didn't expect much from this, but the range of colours with different alkalies and acids was really quite impressive!

The foul-smelling indicator itself...

And how it looked after mixing with soaps, vinegars, fruit juice, bleach and several other things...

Messy church at home

Among the many things folk have adapted to the present situation, both our church and North Parish (the one we go to messy church at) have been very good at providing home versions of their usual children's activities. Our Sunday school now usually has a Veggietales video and an appropriate craft; we usually have a kids song to dance to as well.

Messy Church revolves around parents and their children doing the activities together  - and it's been really helpful to get a bag of materials and instructions for activities each month. Here's the girls enjoying some activities (this is from back in full lockdown - Lydia is wearing her school uniform to feel a bit more like it's a regular day)

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Lydia can ride her bike!

Stabilisters came off a couple of weeks ago but suddenly the confidence has arrived and she no longer needs Daddy to keep a hold of her. Hurray!

Monday, 17 August 2020

Esther starts nursery

Today, a bit later than planned, Esther is off to nursery for the first time. She's excited!

This morning it's going to be a VERY quiet house.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Not travelling...

So this is conference season and this week I should be a GECCO, which was to be in Cancun, Mexico. I have a couple of things to help run at the conference, as well as all the usual networking and catching up with people who do similar research to me. Alas, it's all virtual, but still on Mexican time. So instead of this...

My conference looks like this...

The biggest thing is just the lack of people - often we don't see who else is in the same "session" - and you can't easily lean to the person next to you to ask if they understood what was just said... On top of that it's all on Mexican time, so the days run from about 3pm to 1:30am. My other conference in a couple of weeks (WCCI) is at least in Glasgow, but for some reason it's not quite on local time and runs from 11am to 10pm each day. I do have a paper to present at that one but I expect I'll not be the most coherent by then!

Of course, on the plus side, I've not lost two days to travel time, nor am I away from home, so the girls can put notes like this under my door:


The food is definitely better than conference provisions, I can get a decent sleep in a non-hotel-bed, and I can see all the family in my breaks.

In short - virtual conferences aren't as good from the work perspective - but personally they are pretty good.

Saturday, 27 June 2020


One of our learning activities was to get some caterpillars and watch them grow. Overall a pretty successful exercise, though I think parents got more out of it than children! Having now released them, the girls see a butterfly on many of our walks that must be one of ours...

Summer holidays, and sports day

Well, I was thinking it's be hard to tell when the summer holidays started, but right on cue, day 1 of "no school" had some serious rain!

Nevertheless, this was most welcome for those of us still working at home as my office is on the southern side of the house and gets very warm in the sunshine. (I'm averaging about 6 meetings a day on Microsoft Teams - and a bit of fresh air really helps with the concentration too)

So, home schooling is more or less over, unless we do this all again in August! It's looking promising that won't happen though. We'll catch up on some more home school activities in a while, but on of the last things in the year was sports day. The school did a really good job of providing some potted sports for the children to do at home, and we submitted their scores so winning classes could be determined (Lydia's P1 class were the winners in P1-3)

Normally I'd take the morning off work to see the girls doing their sports, so I did the same thing this time...

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Lockdown Fun

Time for a catch up on all things lockdown for us...

Lydia is missing her P1 class and teacher. We've run in to her teacher a couple of times when we've been out walking, but as she's a probationer she won't be in the school when school resumes after the summer. Meanwhile, she is reading a story for the class each week - here is Lydia enjoying that.

We have been enormously thankful for the garden and the good weather the past few weeks!

We still get to jump in muddy puddles sometimes though. (Esther LOVES her dinosaur coat!)

As well as exciting indoor challenges like making the tallest Lego tower.

This is what church look like just now

And this was Easter Sunday's egg rolling. The slide was most helpful.

I couldn't find Lydia one morning. It turns out she was looking for clothes!

The girls get sent Sunday School activities each week. Here they are learning about Goliath. 

Of course, without a physical school to go to the girls often play schools. (yes, we do schoolwork with them in the mornings too - but they are much less willing to do that!)

...and why not just go the full distance and wear our school uniforms too? (this was genuinely one of the days that Lydia say her teacher out on the walk)

More wholesome games include hospitals - this is the sheet written up for one of the patients.

Our house has rainbows in every window of course, but also this to welcome the postman every day.

Work, of course, involves a lot of video calls for me. Sadly one of the meetings usually has bacon sandwiches provided, so I had to bring my own this time. Still good!

The lack of groups and activities means we can do a lot more with our weekends, including clearing some odd jobs. Lydia and Esther needed some new under-bed storage, so I got a chance to make some decent boxes. Great!

The older two have been promised more colours in their bedroom for months. So, here we go!

Sleepovers are limited to just staying in your sisters' bedroom. Still fun though.

Wednesday evening Kids Club is still on, but the crafts and dances are all a bit in-house.

The girls have enjoyed a couple of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals on YouTube. Joseph was the best! This is them enjoying Cats.

Naomi took it upon herself to make dinner last weekend. Jay provided instructions, then she took care of it all herself. Great job!

Last week we saw ducks in the school playground when we were out for our walk.

Saturday, 18 April 2020


In the name of entertaining things to do while cooped up in the house, we are trying some science experiments. The most recent (and I thought most impressive) was extracting DNA from an onion: you break down the onion's cells and, when poured into an alcohol-based solution, the strands of DNA combine into threads that you can see with just your naked eye. I heard about this one from one of my work chums who had successfully done it with his children: he sent me scans of the book he used but the gist of the experiment can also be found here.

Needless to say I think the girls were a bit underwhelmed with this one: not as good as the water rocket anyway. Plenty more stuff to try yet though!

Those whispy dark bits are the DNA