08 August 2010

A Busy and Mixed Two Months

The last two months has been extremely busy having some high points and a really sad and difficult event.

Paul and Errol went to the Moto GP at Silverstone (20 June). We ended up taking our car as his motorbike got stolen from outside his flat in Milton Keynes. He is still negotiating with the insurance company on the value of the bike. The racing was quite entertaining and Errol did snap a few photos of the action.

In the last week of June, Errol went to Bilkent University, Ankara,Turkey for the ITiCSE conference. This was the first time that he had presented any material linked with his PhD thesis. There was a good response to his material. He really enjoyed his time in Turkey and is disappointed that we were not able to have a week's holiday there to explore some of the country since to Marilyn's passport is still with the UK Border Agency while her residency application is being processed (taken 5 months so far). Admittedly Errol didn't see much other than areas around Ankara but the people were really friendly. A nice bonus was hearing on his return that the university was prepared to pay for his trip. He was also given an opportunity to prepare a paper for a conference in Durham at the end of August so that took up time through July.

While Errol was away, Marilyn went to the Bournville Festival and watched a Maypole dance. The girls wove and unwove the ribbons as they danced around the pole.

Marilyn has begun attending the local Embroidery Guild, but it is noticeably smaller than the Wellington Guild. The summer event was demonstrations & a lecture on fabric dyeing & painting, but there are not many gatherings beyond the regular monthly meeting. She is continuing to stitch on her own pieces, including regular stitching on the bus journey to and from work.

Marilyn had a week off work so she spent that exploring more of Birmingham (instead of going to Turkey!). Errol joined her for a day in the Jewellery Quarter which we really enjoyed.

July began with the news that our nephew, Scott Guy, was murdered in New Zealand. Now, a month on, all we know is that he was shot at the gate of the farm as he went to do the milking early on the morning of the 8th July. Three chocolate Labrador puppies were stolen from the farm overnight. The puppies have not yet been found. Part of our daily routine now is to check the New Zealand news reports for updates on the investigation.

Marilyn's sister, Jeanette, was in London for a conference which started on the morning we heard the news of Scott's death, so we called her early in the day. She came to see us a week later and we took a couple of days off to give us an extended weekend to explore the Cotswolds, Oxford, and Exeter. We visited Moretonhampstead and Blackingstone near where Marilyn's great great grandparents farmed.

Errol was commissaire at two circuit events in Solihull. Here in the UK, there are a number of small cycling circuits. The one in Solihull is a kilometre long. Races are of a fixed duration. From a commissaire's perspective these are some of the easiest to events to manage.

The extension of Errol's contract has an additional bonus as he will be teaching the introductory programming course. This will allow him to apply the results of his research and there is an added benefit in that he will have additional support through the Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS). Errol has begun his planning with the development of lesson materials and progressive programming exercises.

We have also begun to look for a house to buy. House prices here mean that we will have to borrow more than we really want to do. Most of the houses are also smaller than we desire and don't have storage for the bikes. Finding something that will fit our budget and needs may prove difficult.