Monday, November 30, 2009



(backposting) I was in London during the day, and got back in time to take Jojo to her primary school maths evening. The school had the kids in their classrooms while we had a talk from the headteacher and a couple of others, and then we were encouraged to wander the classrooms finding out about various methods they're taught for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

They introduced one method of subtraction that I'd not come across before: subtraction by rounding up. For example: 83-47. Round up to 50 (+3), round up to 80 (+30), round up to 83 (+3). So that's 3+30+3 = 36. Nice technique. Never used exactly that method before, but it's obvious (once you know it) and very quick.


Sunday, November 29, 2009


Advent 1

(backposting) The first day of Advent. I took the 0800, which Kate came to, and then went back home, dropped Kate off and picked the girls up. Jo got to light the Advent candle that I'd first lit at the earlier service, and was very good about holding the taper carefully.

I'd intended to take the girls to the Advent Carol Service in the afternoon, but they girls were just far too tired.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


Giraffe time

(backposting) Off to Giraffe in Cambridge with two very tired girls, after Jo's ballet in the morning. Moo had taken Kate and Mac to Cambridge for the Christmas shopping, and we met them for lunch. I took the girls to Waterstones to buy some nice books afterwards, and then we headed back home because they were just so knackered.

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Friday, November 27, 2009


And home

(backposting) A good wrap-up, and all's pretty well with the projects. I even managed to get a version of a document and a spreadsheet out before the plane, so I'm feeling pretty chuffed.

Phoned the girls when I landed, but didn't get home till after 1900, so missed their bedtime. But it was good to see Kate and Mac, and Moo was home by the time I got back.


Thursday, November 26, 2009


Handing over the in-laws

(backposting) Moo's away tonight, so her parents have very kindly agreed to come down and look after the girls. They turned up last night after they'd gone to bed, and hopefully both of them will behave well.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009



A good day at work: we had two Reference Group meetings to discuss the work we've done so far - and next steps - and I think they both went very well. We're now talking about what we might be doing in August next year, which suggests that people are really buying into things.

In the evening, after my usual sauna and swim combo, I had supper, and then talked to the girls on Skype, with video. It was lovely to see them (and talk to them), although Moo didn't look very comfortable at all, with the two of them climbing all over her.

My Dirk Bogarde season continued with the excellent The Blue Lamp, in which Jack Warner makes his debut as PC George Dixon (later to become Dixon of Dock Green). Good ending: using the tic tac at the greyhound track was a nice twist. The deprivation post-war (it was released in 1949) and the lack of cars on the street made it an interesting watch from a social point of view as well. More Bogarde to come!

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More Dirk Bogarde

(backposting) Finished watching Hunted tonight. It's a great film, and I'm really getting into this Dirk Bogarde box set. The story's good, the acting is too, in places, and the ending is fascinating: much less resolution than you'd expect from a film these days, I think.


Monday, November 23, 2009


Good book, and a good friend

(backposting) The plane was late, but that meant I had lots of time in the airport. Did some shopping, had some lunch, and read Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives, which I enjoyed. Funny, clever, chilling at times, but a good read.

And the other thing was that, via a chance Twitter from my old mate Mr Harkaway, I ended up having a very good chat with one of my ushers. With whom I'd not spoken for ages. Oh, we've corresponded on his blog, on Twitter and Facebook, but not on the phone. For ages. He's still very funny, and we really, really must try to get together at some point.

Got to the hotel late, and had a couple of beers with Phil, who's working with me for this customer. A good guy, and I think we'll have a good week.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sleep, iPhone, cold, work

Yesterday's entry finished with a question: would the girls sleep in? The answer, of course, was a resounding "no". They woke up around 0530, though they stayed in their room till the statutory 0615.

So everyone was very tired. I was presiding at the 1000, and Mum and Dad brought the girls over for it while Moo worked. A good service, and I do enjoy delivering a blessing to Jo and Miri. Afterwards we went to Dickens Restaurant for lunch, and then Mum and Dad headed back home while Jo got very sad. We took the girls for a walk (sold mainly as a chance to jump in puddles), but not before we'd had some time to play together as a family: messing on the playroom floor with Marble Run.

The girls went down much better today, and I did a bit of work. A bit of a relief, as I got something finished which I wasn't convinced I'd manage to fix even tomorrow morning. Oh, and the iPhone? Dad's got a new one, so I spent a fair amount of time on the phone to Orange, whose number reallocation system seemed to have failed for the weekend. Lee knows that he's not supposed to allow Dad up to see us with technology that he's not yet mastered.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009


Shocking coincidence

(backposting) If I'm honest, it's probably more than coincidence, which makes it even more shocking. Dad and I separately bought a top each in Freeport. Now, it's not surprising that we both bought a top from the same shop (Crew Clothing) - but the same design, in the same colour? That's just embarassing.

The girls are ridiculously tired, so we let them have an hour or so's sleep in the car this afternoon. In hindsight, this may have been a bad idea, as I discovered at 2020 that they'd turned the light back on, having failed to get to sleep.

Will they sleep in tomorrow?


Friday, November 20, 2009


Working on the plane

(backposting) I'd had to take the only flight - and class - available back today, which ended up being at 1405, and business class. This meant that as well as having more room and a decent meal, I was able to a couple of hours' work on the plane, alongside the 45+ minutes I'd done in the airport.

Got in around 1500, and headed off to park on the M25. Oh, it's dull. But I got back, absolutely knackered, at 1815, just in time to see the girls into bed. They were so pleased to see me, as was I to see them. Mum and Dad had also arrived for the weekend, so we had some duck and managed to stay awake for a while.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


Sauna and swim - and expensive pints

(backposting) I've got into a routine, once I come back to the hotel, of going to the sauna - for 15-20 minutes - and then heading into the (room temperature) swimming pool for some lengths. Only managed 6 today (more like 20-30 for the past few days), but it's a good habit to get into.

Watched Eagle Eye on my phone tonight, having bought it in Heathrow on the way over, and ripped it. Loved it, I have to say. Good action, some suspense, and a fun plot. Not particularly believable, but I didn't care.

Finished off the evening with a €6 (nearly £6) pint in the hotel bar. And not even a pint. Short. Shocking.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Internet access

You take it for granted, don't you? But I've spent the day on a customer's LAN with a pretty draconian proxy and blacklisting policy (no User Friendly (humour), no Facebook (social networking), no IM, no IMAP, no SMTP..., and the hotel I'm in just has crap access. Slow, when it works at all. I've complained, natch, but don't expect much to happen about it soon.

Realised last night, after posting, that I'd completely forgotten to note that I watched a great film on the plane yesterday. Given that I was seated in cattle class on a 3 hour BA flight, it wasn't on the in-flight systems, obviously, but I watched the fantastic The Sleeping Tiger - a Dirk Bogarde masterpiece. I recently bought a box set of his classic films because I wanted to watch his brilliant Victim, but this is the first of the set that I've got round to seeing. Great drama, some good acting, and a good old plot, too. I really enjoyed it, and I'm glad that I've got a few others all ready for me to watch on my phone when I get the chance.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009



In Finland today, having caught a BA flight. I'm booked back on Friday on a codeshare, operated by Finnair. Who knows whether they'll be flying by then? In fact, on the advice of the lady on the Finnair desk, I booked a fully refundable ticket from Helsinki to Heathrow via Oslo, with SAS (who, one hopes, won't having striking pilots). This means that even if my flight is cancelled on Friday, I'll be able to get back home. And only an hour or so later than I was scheduled to, anyway, which is a bonus.

It's misty and dark here in Hyvinkää, and I seem to have sparked something of a discussion my Facebook page about whether Moomins exist. A mate who lives in Finland has even introduced me to a (not entirely complimentary) song about the town. Now, if only the Internet connection were half decent from the hotel room...


Monday, November 16, 2009


Not in Finland

(backposting) Was supposed to be flying to Finland today with Finnair, but their pilots are on strike, so they cancelled the flight, which, on balance, is probably a good thing. So, worked from home. Got lots more done, submitted my expenses, and booked flights for tomorrow. Glad to get a little more time with the girls.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Will it get done?

Woke up at 0555. Told my body not to be silly. Went back to sleep. Woke up at 0825. Too late for the 0800, obviously. So, I got up, and was at work by 0905. Did some work, and then, after some deliberation, decided to go to church. I ended up at St Gregory's, Sudbury. They'd advertised a 1000 service, which was changed to 1030, natch. Given that I'd said that I wouldn't be around this week, I'd chosen this church as somewhere out-of-area, where I could go incognito, and noone would know me. And, of course, there were two people from Halstead there: Val and her husband. This is just typical, and quite amusing. They'd come here because they're looking at houses in the area.

There was a lovely welcome, and the church was pretty full. I liked the service, and they have two curates, too. I think we should arrange a social: the two churches/towns have lots in common, and Helen, the curate on placement who will later join the team, is at ERMC, as I was. Good folks, and it would be fun to compare notes.

Back home, and work, work, work. And around 1700, I managed to get the work finished, which means that the answer to the question in the header is "yes, it will."

Went round to Sam and John-Mark's for a drink, ended up staying for supper. And the girls just got back.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009


Not the day I'd hoped

(backposting) I spent 6 hours or so working, while the girls played. Their cousins arrived after luch, and there was lots of playing. They've not seen them for several months, and they love them so.

I headed back home around 1615, once the girls headed off to the Loughborough Fair. It was a difficult decision: I'd have loved to go with the girls, but I'm really worried that I'm going to miss the big deadline coming up. I had a horrible drive back: yes, the weather was awful, but I kept nearly turning back, because I was missing the Moo and the girls so much.

But I got home, and did a couple of hours' more work.

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Friday, November 13, 2009


All on my own

(backposting) Moo headed off to her parents last nigh, so I was on my own with the girls last night. They did very well, and although Miri woke up in the middle of the night, she went straight back to bed without any complaint. Although they woke up a little early, they stayed in bed until the clock went to "sun" (they've got a special clock which tells them when to get up).

After a hard days' work, I took them up to Kate and Mac's. Miri fell asleep within about half an hour, and Jojo stayed awake until about 10-15 minutes before we arrived.

We arrived quite early, as I'd left earlier than expected (I'd had a bit of a break-through around 1600), and it was good to see them all. Miri went to bed pretty soon, and Jo insisted that Jenny (who'd gone a spa day with Moo and Kate today) put her to bed.

Trying to work out whether to go home first thing in the morning, to work all day there.


Thursday, November 12, 2009


A funeral

(backposting) Today was Mo's send-off. She was a lovely lady: honest, bubbly, strong, imposing, and her funeral was great. I did the prayers, and got some good feedback on them, but the whole service was fantastic. Mo had insisted that that people wear bright clothing, and they did: hats, dresses and even a Hawaiian shirt. Clergy were in white stoles: our most brightly coloured ones. It was a glorious service, and the coffin was taken out to "Lord of the Dance".

A joyous occasion.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Remembrance Day

Our first parents' evening, more work, and preparing the prayers for Mo's funeral tomorrow. The latter went well, and I'm pleased with them. They raised a few tears, but it's better now than during the service. She specified that she wanted bright clothes, people are going to wear hats, and the bells will be rung out unmuffled. It should be a great occasion.

The work went well again, so that's good.

The parents' day? Well, she's a very clever little thing, is our Jo, and her teacher is pleased with her progress. She can be a little silly - we've seen that, too - but she's made amazing progress since she started school about 8 weeks ago. We're very proud, and if I carry on, it'll just be boasting.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009



(backposting) Got a major piece of work completed today: we now have all of the data from the database available in the Process Model. Believe me, this does make sense, and is a very good thing. I'd been making slow, but incremental, progress, and it all came together this afternoon. Started looking at the next big task - a JSP, to which I'm very new - this evening, and I'll start work on it in earnest tomorrow morning.


Monday, November 09, 2009


Deadline looming

(backposting) In London today, and the deadline for the work I'm involved with at the moment is approaching fast: Friday. I still think we have a good chance to hit it, but things keep turning out to be more difficult than originally expected, and therefore taking a great deal more time. Missed the girls' bedtime by a whisker, but back to work, anyway. It's going to be nice when I don't feel that I have to work every evening (and weekends). Hopefully soon.


Sunday, November 08, 2009


Remembrance Services

I presided at a Remembrance Service at the 1000 today. It was a children-friendly family service - to which we're beginning to get more kids, I'm pleased to say - but worked rather well. Sally, my fellow curate, worked on the liturgy: she's excellent at it, and I had to point several people in her direction when they complimented me on the service.

In the afternoon, we had the Civic Remembrance Service, preceded by a service in the park at the WWII war memorial and parade up the town. There's something very special about walking in silence through the town, to led by pipers. Police stopped the traffic, and lots of people stopped what they were doing to watch. It was respectful and felt, well, just right.

Mark and Jen - who'd attended the service - came home for pancakes and to be mugged by the girls. Once they (the girls) were in bed, quick supper, and then a couple of hours' work. I'm now in a much better place, development-wise, and feeling much happier about deadlines generally.

Oh, and be humbled

Fantastic views of Hubble Ultra Deep Field. I'm never sure whether this sort of astonishing science makes me doubt my faith, or makes it stronger. But it certainly makes me humble.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009


Going out to lunch - properly

(backposting) It's been a while since we went there, but we had lunch with the girls at Scutchers in Long Melford. It wasn't cheap (not helped by the fact that we bought some of their award-winning smoked salmon for Christmas), but what food. The girls did pretty well, and, for a really good restaurant, it's brilliantly child-friendly. I don't think we've visited for maybe 2 or more years, but they were pleased to have us back, and it was a great call.

Went round to see some friends in the afternoon, and went for a walk. We'd promised the girls that we'd go out in the evening to a see a bonfire and fireworks, and we were both 90% certain that they'd completely freak, and we'd have to head home early as soon as the bangs started. But they did really well. We stood a way back, but had a good view, and they loved all the colours, and even quite liked the noise. So, a real win.

Got home, worked. Things are very, very busy, and I need to get some bits and pieces completed as soon as possible.

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Friday, November 06, 2009



Yes, in London today. Then home. Interesting legal goings-on which I'm not allowed to talk about, and which don't impact us directly. Kristy and Paul moved house, Mel helped them. I didn't work till midnight, but on the other hand, I had a great revelation whilst putting the girls to bed which should reduce the amount of work that a particular issue will cause me by a great deal.

This is good.

It's hard, but I'm loving work at the moment.


Thursday, November 05, 2009



(backposting) Worked till midnight. Then took 2 hours to get to sleep. Not perfect.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009


What a day

Worked till 1030. Partly because things are very busy, partly because I had to take breaks during the day to: 1) let the electrician turn off all the power in order to finish off fitting the new radiators 2) deal with the fact that my main server died, loudly (*phzzzzzzzzzt* + ozone smell) when I turned it on, necessitating emergency DHCP procedures 3) pick up Jo from school, where she'd come down with severe stomach pains (fine by bedtime) 4) fail to have a haircut (see 3 above) 5) meet other members of the clergy and reader team for prayers, discussion and lunch (though I ended up using Sally's office for 45 minutes for a work call) 6) the realisation that I had a computer that I might be able to cannibalise for a new PSU, which just _might_ be all that had broken on my main server (and was). So, a busy day, and I'm not quite sure why I'm still awake. Time, in fact, for bed.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009



(backposting) About a month ago, the wife (Mo) of my incumbent (John) was diagnosed with aggressive liver and bowel cancer. It became clear a couple of weeks ago that the chemotherapy wasn't going to work, and they'd already ruled out surgery. Over the weekend, she'd moved into a hospice, and last night, around 1900, with John and her son at her bedside, she died in her sleep.

Mo was a vivacious, joy-filled woman who wouldn't let you get away with anything. She was challenging, and full of love, and was held in very high regard and affection within the parish. I've not been able to talk about her illness until now, really, as it's been a private affair, and I've known somewhat more about the progress of the disease than I've been able to share.

John has been brilliant, and the wider team and parish have supported him as best we can. I've been in London most of the day, but managed to pop in to see him, give him my love and assure him of my support this evening, before heading off to a supervision with Geoff, who's taken over the training role for the meantime.

The supervision was useful and interesting, and there was time for good reflection on some of the aspects of the Mo's illness and how it's affecting us all. A long day of honest work, crowned with the knowledge that I'll be able to make Mo's funeral, as I'm not in Finland next week.

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(backposting) Not on my part, but on Jojo's. She's really got the hang of reading, and really wants to be getting books from school that will stretch her, but they don't seem to have picked up on this. She was sent back with yet another book that is almost insultingly easy for her to read: she goes through it once, and that's it. Not very interesting, not at all challenging. Luckily we've got lots of books at home she can read, and she's now reading books that we've been reading to her, and sometimes reading them, in fact, to Miri, which is lovely. She'll need some help with some words, of course - "caribou" was one today - but then again, Moo sometimes struggles with words like Caribou, and Jojo's not yet 5.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009


Memorial service

I took a memorial service this evening. Several times a year we hold a service where those who have lost a loved one recently - or maybe a while ago, at that time of year, and Sally had prepared a new version of the service. It was a good liturgy, and I liked how she preached, too: about hope. It was an emotional service, with people coming up to leave a lit candle to be placed on that altar, with a note with the loved one's name on it. As in all these cases, there's a fine balance between being honest to emotion and allowing it to take over.


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