Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm just back from a conference at Cumberland Lodge on the Windsor Estate. Wow, what a place! The conference centre is in an old Tudor house that actually belongs to the Queen. The surroundings are superb.

The conference was entitled 'Beyond the Campus', and was aimed at research students looking at what they might do after their research. It was really worthwhile, and also gave me the space to step back and reflect a bit on the place of my research in my life - past, present and future. Do take a look at the web links to find out more and see what a fabulous place it is.

We all gave a presentation to a group of about 12 people doing very different kinds of research. (My group encompassed from oil platform riser pipes to Zimbabwean agricultural economics, and all points in between!) The challenge was to make your research topic accessible to an intelligent audience who knew nothing about the subject. It was my first attempt to speak from a PowerPoint with NO notes in my hand. (Well, I had an A4 sheet on the table in front of me as a security blanket, but I didn't use it.)

Got back home at 10.30 pm. I was knackered but I'd had a great time. Even got some reading and note-taking done, once I found a train compartment with power sockets that worked so I could plug in the laptop.

I've done a total mountain of laundry since my return. Taken Viola-Kid to string orchestra this morning, and Cello and Saxophone Kids to Braehead shopping centre this afternoon. It's astonishing how much you can spend on necessities without even trying...

Mentioned to SuperSpouse that it's now too late to get an online supermarket delivery, so I'm about to make up a list and go out myself. "Too bad you couldn't have done it last night", the Sage One observed. Like, when? 11 pm? After a full conference and travelling up from Windsor??

Did I ever tell you the rule I made up for myself a year or so back? I have this imaginary au-pair. If I'm tempted to go out REALLY, really late for supermarket shopping (except the pre-Christmas run), I ask myself: Would I ask the au-pair to do this? Or would she tell me to get lost.

If the imaginary au-pair won't consider something, then I don't expect it of myself.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A day's 9-5 followed by a school parents' evening (sprung on me at the last minute by Viola-Kid, who had planned my evening without telling me!) - and I'm knackered. I can't quite understand how I was out of the house a little less than 12 hours and am now too tired to do some decent work on my thesis. What a wimp!

We have a quiet, diligent, hard-working, high-achieving 12 year old who needs to work on his presentation and organisational skills - ie showing us the homework diary and reading log that we're supposed to sign every week ... uh, right!

Saxophone-Kid had his own excitement this evening - his first music festival. I'm told he played well - and was furious not to come first! Life's a bitch, isn't it?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What a weekend!

I took two boys to get haircuts. One went in grumpy and came out wreathed in smiles. (Viola-Kid. He got to keep his curls, and just had "the split ends cut off" - so there wasn't much difference, really.) The other went in happy and came out furious - he didn't like getting a nice tidy haircut, even though most of the length remained and it was basically just tidied up a good bit. He twirled around on the wheely-office chair. He grumped and moaned. And was mad at me for not reminding the hairdresser to give him a lolly afterwards.

"But you haven't been good ..."

Herrumph! Ah well, we had his friend across for the afternoon, so that made things better. Enter Viola-Kid and Cello-Kid. They wanted to go to the youth club, but didn't want to be in each other's company ...

Today, I played for a church service, then waited at Asda while Saxophone-Kid enjoyed a Sunday-School treat at the dry-ski slope, in the snow. (No Sunday-School picnics like they had in my day!) Took him home, wet, to get changed before dashing out to band practice. Came home, did ALL the ironing and prepared a dinner party.

Ate it, enjoyed good company, saw to the dishes. And I'm knackered. Research? Not sure I feel inclined to do any now! I'm too exhausted!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back at work this week. New office, boxes everywhere, and people still needing help despite this!

Today, Saxophone Kid said he felt nauseous. Was allowed to stay home with Dad. After they'd taken Viola Kid to school, Sax Kid looked round. "Where's Mum?"

"At work."

"But I thought she was on study leave for a month ...." Aha, so that was the ruse! He spent a happy day shadowing Dad. And will be back at school tomorrow. Clever, but not clever enough!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm a perfect angel. I must be! For heaven's sake, I've hoovered everywhere upstairs, brushed and hoovered the stairs, washed the lino, made soup and a sponge-cake, loaded the washing-machine three times - and played the organ at church this morning.

Any guys reading this - any young guys especially - here's a quick test for you, to see if you're ready to start a flat-share or even marriage. Read the following statement once only, then select your automatic response from the multiple choice below.

You open your bedroom door to see that someone is brushing and hoovering the stair-carpet. What do you say?

a) Is there anything I can do to help?
b) Sorry, I'm busy now, but leave something for me!
c) You should have said! I'll do it next time.
d) You're doing a great job!
e) How long are you going to be making that noise?

Ah, well! That was just a 15-year old boy's reaction. Mr SuperTact.

Meanwhile, SuperSpouse has spent a couple of hours waiting for the road rescue man to change his tyre, because people with arthritic knees can't tackle the job themselves.

Saxophone-Kid can't go to band practice, because there has to be an adult at home when Mr Tesco does his delivery.

I ought to be revising and editing my Chapter 3 draft, but I wanted to do something light-hearted first.

TA-DA! TA DA! TA-DA!!!! (That's a fanfare, by the way.) Apart from the conclusion, I've finished the first draft of Chapter 3 of my thesis. The total word-count of the whole thesis currently stands at 36,622. I've just had a week's study-leave for 'writing up', and I told my friends and colleagues at work that I wanted to get Chapter 3 DONE by the end of this week. Well, here we are - Sunday, and looking good. I haven't wasted my time. (I know I haven't - I've worked bloody hard!)

( sfllaw image from flickr under creative commons licence - here is the whole link, with thanks to sfllaw:

Friday, January 09, 2009

This is SuperSpouse's Challenging Evening

His transport society is getting a visiting speaker, who'll be using a laptop and data-projector. Yesterday, SuperSpouse bought the data-projector and some speakers, and we connected it all up to my laptop. It worked.

If it all works with his fellow enthusiast's laptop tonight, he'll be jubilant.

I ought to be building a WW2-style bomb shelter out in the garden, so I can take cover if it doesn't. No reason why it shouldn't work just like it did last night, but we don't know about the other guy's laptop! What if...? No, don't even go there.

If you read this, pray. Pray long, hard and sincerely. And it will 'be all right on the night', I guess!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back. The throat is a bit better, but I had a headache all day. Can't win! Another day spent at the desk and the dining-room table, trying to write a literature review for Chapter 3. It isn't flowing smoothly. But I MUST, somehow, create a Chapter 3 by the end of this week. I mean, how can I show my face at work on Monday and not have a chapter to show for it?!


Problem is, I can't decide whether all the stuff I want to put in this chapter will actually gel together or whether I'm forcing it too hard. Hmmmm.....

Image from (nanasupergirl)

Mustn't stagnate during all this Writing Up activity, so I went to the Library first thing this morning - I had to return a short-loan item before I turned into a pumpkin. And I had a "healthy walk" this afternoon - going to the post office and then the chemist for headache tablets!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Aaaargh! This cold has been hanging around me for WEEKS. Last week my chest just didn't feel quite right. This week, my throat doesn't feel quite right. But we can't have that standing in the way of my study leave, can we?

Proud to relate that my thesis word-count is now approx 26,898 words. That's probably about a third. And rising!

Now, where's the paracetamol? I'm happy to go on slogging away, but I'm not prepared to suffer at the same time!

Very happy to acknowledge fantastic artwork from

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Culture Trip

Took the boys to Edinburgh by train yesterday - it was an "end of the Christmas holidays" treat. They hadn't visited Edinburgh before, apart from the two older boys going there for a concert once. So - we "did" Edinburgh, tourist-style.

* Robert Burns Exhibition at the National Library of Scotland - 2009 is the 250th anniversary of his birth, and Scotland's Year of Homecoming, so there's a special exhibition about his travels round Scotland. (Twice in 1787, to be accurate - in June 1787 to the Lowlands, and August 1787 to the Highlands.) (Picture is a book from

* Open-top bus tour round Edinburgh, with commentary. It was 0 degrees Celsius in Edinburgh yesterday, hitting a high of 1 degree Celsius during the day, so I can assure you it was bloody-freezing aboard that bus! But the views were fantastic. - happy to promote it!

* All-day breakfast and a tour of Edinburgh Castle. The clear, sunny weather meant the views of the surrounding city and countryside, Firth of Forth and Kingdom of Fife were unsurpassed. And we heard the One O'Clock Gun.

* Visited the science exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. Even tired boys get fired up by hands-on, interactive stuff and robots.

* Walked back to Edinburgh Waverley and slumped on the train back to Glasgow. I have never felt so tired to the point of sick exhaustion, but it WAS a great day.