Monday, May 31, 2010


A quiet day

(backposting) The girls made bread, the adults took turns not looking after them...


Sunday, May 30, 2010


Post haste to the in-laws!

(backposting) Well, we took two cars to Loughborough, as it's unclear whether I'm going to need to head back home at some point over the week. My boss is on holiday next week, and I've checked with him that it's OK to spend the week up at Kate and Macs, working there unless there are infrastructure issues (broadband's not so fast up there). I may even be able to take a day or more off - we'll see how it goes.

For now, let's hope my liver copes.


Saturday, May 29, 2010


Ballet time

(backposting) Great to catch up with Richard and Avrina (currently back from Afghanistan) while the girls did their ballet. I was due to head off to Australia tomorrow, and it's a real joy not to be going. It does mean that I'll have to go back later, but for now, I'm with the kids. And Moo.


Friday, May 28, 2010



I decided to stop work at a sensible time today, and managed 1940. This is the best so far for the past 2 weeks (bar my last day in Oz). Barbecue (as the last 3 days), and now watching "The Thick of It". And I'm going to take some leave next week. I really am.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010


No, I won't

(backposting) The trip's postponed.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Will things improve?

(backposting) Not so's you'd notice. Was in London for a meeting, made it back in time to catch part of Jo's school event, and also to present to work's training academy on security (I was well chuffed to be asked).

May not be going back to Australia over the weekend. We'll see.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


What did I do today?

(backposting) Worked too bl**dy hard, is the answer.


Monday, May 24, 2010


Back to the grindstone

Jo was in with us around 0230, and I moved out to the spare room. She was up till 0500, but luckily she and Moo then slept through till 0745. Jo definitely not well enough for school and again, though she picked up during the day, she was pretty terrible by 1600 or so.

Any hopes of a quiet day were dashed, of course, by the realisation that I've got major work to finish today that didn't get done last week. So - a hard day at the computer(s). Grr.


Sunday, May 23, 2010


And home!

(backposting) An hour late in, then slow on the baggage pick-up, but had a driver home, and got back at almost exactly 1100. Poor Jo wasn't very well, and although she perked up a bit during the afternoon (could the paddling pool have something to do with it?), she was pretty awful again by 1600, to the extent that we rang the out-of-hours doctors' service. They weren't concerned, but the poor thing's running a temperature which we can't get down, and is complaining of very nasty headaches.

Well, both Jo and Miri were very pleased to see me, and (as I expected) demanded presents immediately. They seemed content with the selection, and Miri's cuddly shark, in particular, has gone down very well. Given how Jo's been, it was no surprise that she (and Miri) went straight to sleep, and Moo and I managed to stay awake by watching "The Thick of It" episodes before heading upstairs, shattered, at 2030. Poor Moo had managed about 3-4 hours sleep for the past two nights, so it was touch and go which of us needed it the most. Asleep by 2100!

In case I don't make it clear, always, I'm always very pleased to see Moo (and she me!), but the girls tend to be the headline items!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010


Heading home

(backposting) So, a nice, slow getting up, breakfast and packing. Also ripped a few episodes of "The Thick of It" to my netbook to watch on the plane. Everything fitted in the suitcases, and I headed off to the airport around 1200, checked in - gotta love those emergency exit rows.

A long, long day. Sydney to Bangkok, 3 hours in Bangkok - extended to 4 because of a serious thunderstorm, and then on to Heathrow.


Friday, May 21, 2010


Off home today

Yes, I leave at 1525, and get into Heathrow on Sunday at 0715, and should be home by 1100. Seems like a short trip, but those are local times, and it's more like 26 hours. But who cares? I'll be home.




I've not managed to complete the work I came out here to do in time. Hopefully I can finish it off on Monday, when I'm at home, but I just don't think I have the information I need, and that's the way it is. The customer was very cool about it, and can see that I've put the hours in over the past 2 weeks. Tomorrow I fly home. On Sunday I see the girls.

Just 2 more sleeps.

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Another late night

(backposting) Another work thing not working. So tired this morning, but had to work late again. 0000 - midnight - almost dead on, this time. If only I'd got to sleep properly before 0145!

At least no expenses this time round - and my boss approved the ones I did yesterday, which is something of a relief. Also, as I knew I was likely to be late, I went out for a nice meal before starting off: possibly the best seafood chowder I've ever tasted, in fact.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Expenses and lateness

(backposting) Time to put in expenses. Over £4,900 for the month. Which is quite a lot.

And then I had to work late. Finished around 0030, but got the stuff done I needed to. Absolutely shattered.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Now, I know I'm English, and therefore my default topic of communication is the meteorological actuality, but still: the weather in Sydney is _very_ poor. Sheets of rain all day - and most of yesterday. I didn't come here for this sort of weather: as evidenced by the fact that I didn't pack any wet weather gear whatsoever. I think I might fix that when I'm over again in a couple of weeks.

But I mean: really!


Monday, May 17, 2010


Starting to count the days

Well, I guess it's partly because I'm not feeling 100% today, partly because the weather's not great, partly because it was a hard day at work, partly because the novelty's wearing off now, but I'm really beginning to want to get home soon. I'm missing Moo and the girls, I'm very aware that Moo's having to manage all on her own and, well, I'd just like to be home. And I'm a little worried about that ash cloud. Really, really hoping it's gone by the weekend.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


A quiet day

Decided I needed a quiet day, particularly as one of my feet's been giving me a little gyp (sp?) (I have been doing a _lot_ of walking over the past week or so). So, after walking to the church (yes, I know), and having lunch with some of the folks from the service, I caught a taxi back. Bought some knitting needles for someone one the way to the hotel, and then did a bunch of ironing. Had a very nice interruption in that Moo texted me to say that she and the girls were up, so we had a lovely chat via video Skype.

The girls were on good form, and it's lovely to see them as well as just talk to them. Finished the ironing whilst watching some Aussie rules and then both types of rugby, then did some reading and some knitting. I'm a stitch down, which is a pain, but things are good. And I'll be home in a week.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010


Variety is the spice of life

What a fantastic day I've had. Woke up late, with less of a hangover than I deserved, which is always a good start, and then did some hand-washing (of clothes, rather than the Pontius Pilate type). Got up slowly, had bath, watched some T20 on the TV.

A quick breakfast, and then off to the absolutely amazing Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife Centre. You'll see lots of pictures on Flickr photostream. I had a blast, and so wished I'd had the girls with me to share it all with - though being without them did mean that I could linger a bit more with some of the exhibits. I even had my picture taken with a koala, and got to stroke one, too (pity they're endangered: their fur, though short, would make fantastically soft yarn (oooh, whoops: spot the knitting convert)).

Then off to buy a couple of books. I've got a e-cooler ebook which I use a lot, but I don't like taking it in the bath, so decided to get a couple of paper ones. Then wandered down George Street to the Rocks and Circular Quay. I visited a market I'd walked round last week, and was unable to stop myself from buying some astonishingly neat steampunk cufflinks. I also bought a puzzle for my curate colleague, Sally, and a lovely indigenous spice/herb rub for cooking. Just then, the girls phoned, so I had a quick chat with them before heading back to the hotel for a video Skype call with them as they ate breakfast. All in all, a great day. I'm going to go and find a nice Asian restaurant now, and sit and have a lovely supper before heading back for a quiet evening in front of the TV or with a book. Yay for happy days.

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Friday, May 14, 2010


Just listening

Sometimes that's all that being a priest needs to be. I was with some work colleagues tonight, and having told them that I'm a priest, one of them just wanted to talk, and to know that I wasn't going to judge. She's not had good experiences with church before, and a different encounter was what she needed. I'm not suggesting she's about to become "churchy" (her word), but she was grateful to be able to talk about her father, her grandfather, and her brother. Sometimes it's just about listening.


Thursday, May 13, 2010


Staying late - but starting early

Early, because today was Ascension Day, and I wanted to get to a Communion Service. As this was a 0800, and 20+ minutes walk away, that meant getting up and heading off pretty sharpish. It was good to go, and I enjoyed it: I later discovered that there were (excluding the celebrant) 2 priests and a bishop in a congregation of around a dozen!

I got to the office around 0845, and headed off to buy a white shirt (for a charity picture as a reaction against Australia's "loud shirt day" - huh?) and chat to the crazies on Skype. Then back to the office. Until 2145. A long day, but things were working by the time I left, with many thanks to a couple of colleagues who helped things along.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


You know you're working to late when ...

... all the lights in the office go out. The working culture where I am is clearly somewhat different to what I'm used to (not that I'm complaining), but people start to clear off around 1700, and the lights all went off at 1800. I took this as a sign, and headed off, too.

We seem to have a new government at home. Will wait to see how bad it is before hurrying back. ;-)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Heresy discussions

In these enlightened times, we are able to discuss the heresy of others without burning them at the stake, because we don't actually have to meet them face to apostatic face: we can have discussions on the Internet. The last couple of days have yielded some very thoughtful comments, and I invite you to have a look here, on my Sunday post.

Today's been another productive day at work - more so than I'd expected, in fact, which is rather pleasing. And to top it all off, I've done some hand-washing my hotel bathroom: oh, the excitement. It's astonishing how dirty clothes get, too: though that's probably related to the fact that I wore one set of them over 26 hours of travel. Yeuch.

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Monday, May 10, 2010


And to work

Well, I'm not actually here just to enjoy Sydney and go to church, so I went into the customer's office today to start work on the project I've been flown out for. Everyone seems very pleasant, and the guy I'm working most closely with is particularly nice and strangely competent, which makes a change from some customers.

Managed a Skype video conference with the girls which made me happy and sad at the same time, and then to the gym, where I worked pretty hard. I then obviously deserved a nice sit on Darling Harbour, drinking white wine and eating rather nice barramundi. It's a hard life.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Going up the 23 candles

I slept for somewhere around 24 hours last night, and felt _considerably_ refreshed. Really very well indeed. I was up and breakfasted in time for the 9am service at Christ Church Saint Laurence. It's about 1 and half kilometres from the hotel, so was a pleasant walk. I'd put my clerical shirt and collar on, as Fr Adrian (with whom I'd been in touch via email) had said to make myself known once I arrived. I did, was made welcome, and was introduced to a member of congregation who chatted while we waited for the service to begin. I'd got confused, and had thought that the 0900 service was a Sung Eucharist, but, instead, it was "Low Mass". This, the fact that everyone called me "Father", and the lady altar dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham, should have been enough to clue me in that I was in for something higher than I'm used to, but bar the birettas on all the clergy (red pom-pom for the rector, black for the others), it was fairly standard fare from my point of view. During coffee afterwards, I discovered that the next service was with the choir, and as they were singing some rather nice music (a mass setting by Victoria), I thought I'd stay for the 1030, as well.

This was High Mass, and really quite high. Birettas again, of course, lashings of incense, copious genuflection and the gospel canted, which I'd not experienced before. I'd been informed before my arrival that vestments are banned in the Sydney diocese, but apparently it's _chasubles_ that are banned. This means that stoles, dalmatics, birettas and copes are just fine. It was jolly nice, and I went for drinks and lunch with the choir in the pub afterwards. They also invited me to evensong at 1830, which I decided I'd get to if I was still vertical (in danger owing to jetlag, not alcohol consumption, you'll understand), as they were to sing Leighton's Mag. & Nunc Coll. Mag., which I've not heard for ages.

So, back to the hotel via a yarn shop (possum:merino mix is _very_ soft), and then footled and called Moo and the girls. Footled some more, then headed off to Paddy's market. Despite the name, this is a very strongly Chinese market, just opposite Sydney's Chinatown. In fact, the whole area reminded me strongly of Singapore: lots of Chinese people, lots of Chinese being spoken, but signs in English and Chinese, and just a Chinese feel to how shops are laid out. And then to evensong.

I also enjoyed evensong very much (the choir did a good job of the Leighton), and discovered what the clergy and altar party are _supposed_ to do during the singing of the Magnificat. They're supposed to cense things. The altar. The Paschal Candle. Each other (individually), the choir, the people, the lot. Marvellous (if a little distracting from the main event: the music). But I realised, as I looked at the order of service, that it was going to be followed by a Service of Benediction.

It was my first experience of a Service of Benediction, and is likely to be my last. There was too much Marian devotion for me, but worse was the whole reverencing the Host. In a monstrance. And the presiding priest put on a lovely little shawl to do the monstrance bit. Apparently it's called a "Humeral Veil". I didn't even know these things existed. There were 16 candles on the altar, 6 behind it, and the Paschal candle all lit. What an education. Anyway, not my cup of tea, but fair enough if you like heresy, I guess.

However, I did discover a useful piece of information: why you need both a deacon and a sub-deacon. It's so that they can waft around the celebrant holding his cope out like a pair of wings.

I've had a lovely day, met some great people, listened to some fantastic music, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I even bought a book called "Rescuing Sex from the Christians" at the church bookshop. You can't lose with a title like that, can you?

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Saturday, May 08, 2010



(backposting) Arrived at 0700, and after a rather long trip through immigration, customs and the rest, made it to the rather nice hotel. Quick shave, shower and change, and then out to do some shopping. Needed a variety of necessities, including: Afterwards, I went for a walk around Sydney. Along Darling Harbour, up to the Observatory Hill park, along the Harbour Bridge and back, around the Rocks and the market. I must have done around 5 miles in total - I wandered back and forth quite a lot - but it was a beautiful, beautiful day, and so sunny. Some pictures on Flickr. A lovely way to spend the day and to shed some of my jetlag.

Later, I came back to the hotel and phoned home. Lovely to speak to Moo and the girls, all of whom seemed to be on fine fettle. Checked email, popped to a pub round the corner for a few pints and food, and then crashed in bed around 1900-1930.

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Friday, May 07, 2010


In planes

(backposting) Today was mainly spent in planes. First on the way to Bangkok, and then on the way to Sydney. I had a 4 and a half stop-over in Bangkok airport, which was pleasant enough, and then boarded the flight to Sydney. 12 hours to Bangkok, 9 and a half to Sydney: quite a long trip. Nor did I manage to sleep for more than a couple of hours on this flight, which was a pain, but there you go.

The election news is far from inspiring.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010


Elections are unimportant

(backposting) Well, compared to going away and leaving your family, anyway. We voted, of course, took the girls along and gave them the standard spiel about sufragettes, and how important it is to cast your vote. We also had croissants and Golden Syrup for breakfast, a _huge_ treat on a school day, but only because today's the day I fly to Australia. I took the girls to school, had a bath, and then had to rush my packing in order to be ready for the taxi's arrival at 1045. Although my flight wasn't due to leave before 2130, I decided that saying goodbye to the girls at the beginning of their day, when Jo was going into school, and Miri to her pre-school, would make it easier on all of us, and it worked quite well. Moo was working from home in the morning, so I got to say goodbye to her when the taxi arrived.

The taxi took me to Witham station, whence I journeyed to London, and spent the afternoon at work. In fact, I took 45 minutes out of the day and popped to St Paul's Cathedral, which is just a few minutes from the office. I don't think I'd ever seen Holman Hunt's The Light of the World in the flesh before, and I was moved by a painting which had always struck me as rather twee before. So, I bought a postcard of it to take with me to Australia.

Taxi and train to Heathrow, where I checked in and had a leisurely supper before getting on the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. Nice cabin crew, and I had a bit of a sleep, though not too much, as I really want to sleep in Australian time, as it were. Kept myself awake by writing some code. Fun.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010



I was not expecting that my day would be taken up with the writing of Statements of Work, but that's how it would work. Luckily I managed to get some other work done, too: which involved actual code. Not much of it: the real fun was working out why there was a problem and what could be done to sort it out.

And tomorrow I'm going away to Australia. I'm going to miss the girls, and Jojo's getting very sad. She really feels emotion now, and misses people. It's going to be very hard.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Final preparations

For my trip to Oz, of course. These include:
  1. finding out whether the customer will expect a suit (they won't);
  2. getting a wash on and then in the dryer;
  3. arranging transport in the UK;
  4. upgrading my work laptop to 10.04;
  5. getting all the requisite prescriptions and toiletries.


Monday, May 03, 2010


May Day

(backposting) May Day celebrations in East Leake. After a trip to Loughborough to do exciting garden centre and supermarket shopping (well, not really), we went to the May fair. It was fun, and the girls enjoyed it. Throwing wellies, fire-fighter demonstrations, giant inflatable slide, tombolas, etc., etc.. All good fun, and helped by traditional rain.

And home late, this time without tears for a change - but mainly because the girls are going to see the grandparents again pretty soon.

Rediscovered Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" again tonight: what a genius piece of work.


Sunday, May 02, 2010


Back to the in-laws - and the girls

(backposting) Apparently, the girls were fantastic with Kate and Mac. But by the time we got back, they had decided not to be quite so fantastic. Playing up, tantrums and the rest. But hey. We left the hotel around 1130, after I'd finally managed to draw ahead in the cribbage stakes (4 games to 3, having been behind until I pulled it level at 3-3).


Saturday, May 01, 2010


A romantic day away

(backposting) Yay - for the second time in 5 years, Moo and I are off for a night away on our own without the girls. We went to a Marriott country club place, spent time sleeping, drinking tea, knitting, playing cribbage, having time with just each other, and just generally hanging out. We had a lovely time, and it was time we really needed, particularly because I'm off to Australia on Thursday.


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