30 June 2007

30 June 2007 To Ireland

The highlight for today was meeting Errol’s second cousin Lynne Nelson, her husband, Allen, and their daughter Aimee. This was after an early morning drive from Dumfries in drizzly weather, a 2 hour ferry trip across to Belfast, and exploration of central Belfast and a number of tall ships in the harbour. We all went out for an evening meal in Bangor, lots of family information exchanged here!

29 June 2007

29 June 2007 Scottish Borders

Sadly, the planned meeting of Errol’s second cousin, Robert Bell and his wife Pamela, was cancelled, so we had the day to explore some of the Scottish border area as we made our way to Dumfries. Of the places that we went through, we liked Selkirk with its castle-like Sheriff’s Court best, although that wasn’t the town we’d been told to look for. St Mary’s Loch was another quiet place to relax on the journey. We had to watch the highland sheep as one lamb sought a feed from mum in the middle of the road.

The weather improved throughout today and by the time that we reached Dumfries in the late afternoon, it was a brilliantly warm sunny day. Maybe the sunny weather helped us feel that the afternoon’s locations were much interesting than the mornings even though the morning’s locations included the Melrose Abbey.

28 June 2007 Edinburgh

For Errol, his day started with the train ride to Edinburgh to be reunited with Marilyn. Andrew and Marilyn meet him at the station and after taking his bags to Andrew and Rebecca’s, it was off on the walking exploration of Edinburgh. This took in the firing of the 1pm cannon at the Edinburgh castle.

Approximately 14km later, they arrived back at Andrew and Rebecca’s feeling quite foot sore. This was the largest day of walking so far on their journey. Passing rain showers put a little bit of a dampener on the day but it was an interesting exploration of central Edinburgh.

28 June 2007

27 June 2007 Foot sore

For Marilyn, this was another day out exploring Edinburgh by foot, another 7km. Before leaving for their exploration for the day, Andrew cooked Marilyn a full Scottish breakfast. They went to the tartan woollen mill, sheltered from a hail storm, and lunched in Princes Street Park.

Errol spent this day working on his section of the working group report. He isn’t convinced of the quality but it has laid a foundation for the final report. It was difficult doing some of the writing without having all of the reference papers immediately available.

26 June 2007 Left me

Marilyn left Errol today to go to Edinburgh to spend time with Andrew and Rebecca. Their flat is quite close to the centre of town, so we walked everywhere. Andrew has a great love of Edinburgh and was keen to ensure Marilyn saw all the main sights. It was a great day, although fairly tiring as we walked approx. 11.5km. They decided not to go through Edinburgh castle until Errol arrived after the conference. We met Rebecca after work and went out for a meal together.

Errol’s morning was spent on working group tasks but those of the working group that had not signed up for an excursion in the afternoon decided to walk around Dundee instead. The weather was good today and the walk was enjoyable. The conference reception was at the new Queen Mother building at the university so that again increased the walking distance. A large Turkish meal rounded out the day.

26 June 2007

24-25 June 2007 Dundee and environments

While Errol has been slaving away in the working group, Marilyn has been out exploring the Dundee botanic gardens (raining again – 24th) and the glassworks at Perth (25th). The bus route to Perth went through the picturesque village of Errol which provided some interesting photographic opportunities!! Unfortunately Errol isn’t going to get to see Errol.

Marilyn returned from the glassworks with some paper weights. She could have made her own but would have had to go back the next day to pick them up.

The first conference keynote speaker spoke about “computer science for fun”. This had some interesting non-computer activities to explore ideas taught and explored in computer science. Remember all those wood and wire puzzles that we have? Well, they all employ computer science concepts. You use an algorithm to solve them. Even a number of card tricks illustrate computer science algorithms. Errol is keen to explore some of these ideas further the teaching of his programming topics. The working group involvement limits the opportunities to attend conference paper presentations.

The conference dinner was held at Guthries Castle. It included being piped into the dining hall. The haggis was piped in and cut with appropriate ceremony. The evening closed with attempts at Scottish dancing.

24 June 2007

Hong Kong and Dundee

Hong Kong – 21 June 2007
Arrival in Hong Kong was slightly behind schedule but having an overnight stop meant that there was no pressure. A walking tour of the area around our hotel helped us realise that we were in an area dominated by dried sea food traders. The smell and the humidity combined to provide a distinctive atmosphere.
Errol’s meeting with Ming Fai Pang went really well and was encouraged him to continue pursuing his interest in course design based on variation theory and the results of phenomenographic research. Ming Fai Pang also showed us some areas of the island that we wouldn’t have visited without him. It really showed the contrasts between the different areas of the city. We really enjoyed our time with Ming Fai Pang and Errol hopes that there will be opportunities after he has finished his PhD to do some collaborative research.

To Dundee – 22 June 2007
This wasn’t a very enjoyable day. A 5am Hong Kong time wake up in order to get to the airport to check in by 6:45am and then a 12 hour flight to Heathrow. A four hour wait for the flight to Edinburgh. A bus into the Haymarket station and train to Dundee. Arrival in Dundee was 5 minutes past midnight. A long and tiring day. This reminded us of why we like even a one night stop over after a long flight leg.

First day in Dundee – 23 June 2007
Errol went to his working group on developing a Computer Science specific taxonomy while Marilyn went exploring the city. For Errol, it was a tiring but satisfying day. Marilyn took a long bus ride through the city before exploring the shopping centre and visiting a jute industry museum. The day was wet which dampened some of the enjoyment.

20 June 2007

Departure day

The bags are packed. We're ready to go.
The day is cold but warmer climes beckon.
Midas has relocated to Auckland and is settling in.

Tonight, we will meet Paul and Hayley at Auckland airport before we catch the flight to Hong Kong. There Errol will meet a phenomenographic researcher and discuss his research and the application of variation theory to the teaching of programming.

If there is anything that we have forgotten to do in preparation, it is too late now.

Altogether now:
"We're leaving on a jet plane, don't know when ..."

07 June 2007

Approaching departure date

Departure date is approaching quickly now so we are into the last phases of preparation. Over the last weekend, we meet up with Errol's mum (she flew up to see us) and Marilyn's parents.

There are a few other administrative matters to sort out and then it is focussing on packing and departure. Midas (our Ragdoll cat) is also going for a holiday.

Errol's employment situation remains uncertain so he has been clearing his office at work to avoid problems should they make decisions while he is away. The process for reconfirming or redeploying people has been decided upon but we are still waiting for notification of the first stage happening. It was supposed to start this week. Errol is having to prepare things for the process assuming that it will follow what has been published so far.

We received a letter from Bob Clearwater saying that he is looking forward to seeing us when we are on our return journey. Bob is Errol's 7th cousin once removed on Errol's mother's side and lives in Portland, Oregon. With meeting 3rd cousins in Scotland and Ireland on Errol's father's side, it is going to be an interesting journey.