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This afternoon we had a meet-up of Glasgow-and-environs-based folk from Ship of Fools. We went to a Spanish tapas restaurant up in town called La Tasca and I must say the food was very nice indeed, though I am still experiencing something of a garlicky aftertaste (this is not a bad thing, because I like garlic, and as the only person I am intending to snog is probably similarly afflicted we can cancel each other out). Mostly people I knew already, but we had one new person (who is also doing a PhD in my faculty, and who has to mark essays by the same students!), a new baby and an imminent bump-soon-to-be-baby as well. Had a very useful chat with one shipmate who is a nurse as I need to get my act together about getting work for when the money runs out, it was also fun to share our colleagues-and-nursing-students horror stories as it is always reassuring to know that it’s not just me that attracts the weird/useless/clueless ones.

No photos unfortunately, you’ll just have to take my word for it that we all looked great!

Now I’m back I need to pack for tomorrow’s adventure. I’m off to London till Monday night – staying with friends in sarf London tomorrow night so am really really looking forward to catching up with them, and then on Monday I’m going to a study day at the British Library. I’ve never been there before, and having looked at the various collections on-line am wondering how much of it I can sneak out of so I can look at the illuminated manuscripts and music scores and maps and stuff, as that will probably be more interesting than the stuff I’m meant to be going there for. Actually that’s not true, I’ll be speaking with the area subject librarians who know about Romania and stuff, so with any luck it will be really useful. I’m just a bit concerned as their online Romania collection mainly seems to be quite ancient – I hope it’s not a wasted journey. Well, it won’t be wasted from the social point of view, but it would be good if I can actually learn something as well while I’m there.


Today was a bit of a write-off, and I was unable to enjoy this uncharacteristic good weather as the change in weather (and the arrival of some proper sun to go with the balmy 10 degree heatwave!) led to an evil headache. So I headed home after lunch and spent the afternoon in bed – still feeling a bit fragile but I’ve had worse headaches so hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be back to normal. I remember when I went to Romania the other year I spent the first couple of weeks with an almost permanent headache due to the air pressure change, it took me ages to adjust. I must be getting old.

Yesterday I had my penultimate day of tutorials. It wasn’t the greatest ever as tutorials go, but I did have an unexpected ‘pastoral moment’ where I was reminded of what I was good at when I was health visiting, how much I miss that side of things, and how if I get a job in academia (I’m looking at doing part-time nursing, part-time academia and some consultancy on the side, all of which will I think bring me closer to what I suspect my wider vocation might be) the aspect I will really enjoy is the pastoral, personal tutoring side of things. Not that I’m applying for anything yet, but I am starting to think about how to get a week’s worth of nursing-related study in in the next couple of months to get myself back on the register.

HD has a couple of phone interviews tomorrow; all prayers gratefully appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

And another one …

Dear Mr. Brewer

We are writing on behalf of 498 supporters of cartoonist and blogger Dave Walker, a group which includes bishops, national journalists in the UK and US, lawyers, clergy, and concerned members of the public.

We would like to ask you please to contact Dave Walker and withdraw the demands made in the ‘Cease and Desist’ letter which you sent him in July. Your letter, as far as we know, instructed Dave to remove all his posts about the recent history of SPCK bookshops or face action for libel. With the pressures of the impending Lambeth conference, and a very short deadline given by yourself, Dave complied. He commented at the time: โ€œI have therefore removed all of the SPCK/SSG posts on this blog, as, although I believe I have not done anything wrong I do not have the money to face a legal battle. The removal of these posts is in no way an admission of guilt.โ€

Many of us have read the posts concerned, and are surprised, to say the least, that they could be called libellous. Indeed, the first three posts make no mention at all of yourself, the Society of St. Stephen the Great, or anyone associated with you. The 4th post reports your takeover of the bookshops with the comment โ€œthis is splendid news.โ€ Another post is a simple link to your SSG video on YouTube. Other items include verbatim reports of your own statements, and in the simple post on the death of Steve Jeynes, dozens of people used the comments to expressed their grief and condolences to Steve’s family.

Dave is a reasonable man, and if all critics were as fair as he is the world would be a better place. If you were able to reconsider, and point out specific statements and claims you were unhappy with, we are sure Dave would be happy to correct them where appropriate. This is the normal process of debate on the internet, and in real life, and follows the strong tradition of free speech for which our countries stand and are rightly proud.

So this is a polite request from all of us: please contact Dave Walker, advise him that your โ€˜cease and desist’ communication no longer stands, and let him report freely.

Yours sincerely

Rev. David Keen, Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson (Bishop of Buckingham), Rev. Colin Alsbury, Rev. Mark Bennett, John Cooper, Annette Gaykema, Steve Thackray, and Matt Wills on behalf of the โ€˜We Support Dave Walker’ group.


As it was such a lovely day today, HD and I went to Cambridge for a wander round. We had a look round the grounds of Trinity Hall (where he was an undergraduate) and also took a look round the ground floor galleries of Fitzwilliam Museum. I was very disappointed that they didn’t allow photos – the building was amazing! If you’re in the area, the Middle Eastern pottery gallery was lovely. Here are some pictures from the day:


After Cambridge we went on to Royston, hoping to see a hole ๐Ÿ™‚ The Royston Cave is a man-made cave, thought to have been hollowed out by the Knights Templar who filled it with carvings. It was blocked up, and rediscovered in the C18th. Unfortunately it is only open to the public between Easter and the end of September, and there isn’t anything else much in Royston, so that was that. But it was a lovely day – I even had an icecream! All we need now is for this sort of weather in the SUMMER – surely not too much to ask?!


The sky was still blue today, so we went out for a walk. After a pub lunch we went to the nearby Sundon Hills Country Park, and had a gentle walk. Here are my pics:


When we got back to the car the thermometer was reading 23 degrees (in light/dappled shade). 23 DEGREES?!?!!! It’s barely been 23 degrees all summer!

Ooh la la!

I blogged ages ago about buying a book related to something to do with my PhD that was in French (the book, not my PhD – I would quite like to finish it this century!), and that I was a bit nervous about reading it. I have now started it and it’s proving not too bad – I’d do it a lot quicker if it was in Romanian rather than French, but I’m glad that I haven’t totally lost all my French, and in fact I’m finding that just reading it without looking up every single word is giving me the gist of what is going on, and it is being helpful in my thinking. So that’s good – I’m rather pleased with myself ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, I wonder how many times I will think, just after lunch, “I’ll just lie down for 5 minutes” and then wake up an hour or two later, before I learn that I really don’t just lie down for 5 minutes.

Back from Munich

We had a lovely long weekend in Munich – although the weather was rubbish! I have lots of photos, but can’t face uploading them at the moment, so I’ll put a collage together for another post. On Friday we went into town (me, HD, my sister and niece) and we had a wander round the centre – Viktualienmarkt, Marienplatz (where we made HD, the only one of us who’d not been to Munich before, to do the tourist thing and watch the glockenspiel chiming from the Town Hall. You can’t go to Munich and not see the glockenspiel), lunch, Hofgarten, and the English Garden. On Saturday HD and I headed off to the Deutsches Museum (following Ian’s recommendation – I was embarrassed to admit I’d never been, despite having been to Munich several times, so thought I’d better rectify that!). It is their museum of technology, and is enormous. We started off in the astronomy section, which sadly was rather out of date (the display on the planets was talking about the most recent probe to Jupiter being expected to arrive there in 1995, and they still had Pluto included, although they had stuck a bit of paper over the explanatory bit saying “er, actually it’s not a planet any more). But that could really do with updating! Downstairs the stuff on amateur radio also included mention of the Federal Republic of Germany, so I think that’s a bit old as well! We also saw stuff on telescopes and physics and musical instruments and planes and all sorts of things, but we missed out large parts of the museum even so! It’s definitely an all-day place, and one you probably need to visit over several visits to get the most out of it.

On Sunday we all headed off to the Alps, to a lake called Schliersee. Unfortunately the weather was so rubbish we couldn’t actually see any mountains as they were all shrouded by very low (and wet!) clouds! We did go up in a cable car and had a huge Bavarian meal in a mountainside restaurant, but the weather just got progressively worse, so in the end we gave up and went back home again! Sunday afternoon saw a very serious conker tournament – we’d picked up lots in the English Garden, and my brother-in-law and niece were making figures from them, as that is the German tradition. So HD, my sister and I showed them how we play conkers in the UK – it was very amusing watching my brother-in-law drilling a hole in his conker (surely that’s cheating?!), it was very vorsprung durch technik! The resulting tournament was very amusing, as without exception we were all rubbish at it and hit ourselves much more often than the opposing conkers!

And then yesterday we came home. I went into London yesterday afternoon, just after we got back, to go to a seminar which was by an American student who is doing a similar PhD to me but in another former Soviet country. It was really excellent, and she found very similar things to me, which is very encouraging as it’s further proof that I’m not barking up the wrong tree but am actually onto something (which is always good to know at the writing-up stage of a PhD, let’s face it!). It also inspired a few more lightbulb moments for me, which this time I have managed to write down before I forgot them. That’s always a good thing. I have to say though, it was weird being in London. Too big and busy. I miss people ever such a lot, I still have lots of friends there who I don’t see nearly often enough, but I’m not really missing the place very much at all. I really do see Glasgow as home now (even though I’m spending more time in Luton. Or maybe because I’m spending more time in Luton!).

I’ll try and sort out photos tomorrow.

That’s nearly it then …

This afternoon I sent off my form to the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) confirming that I am going to lapse my nurse registration as I haven’t done enough hours work in the last 3 years. All those years of training and then practice, and come the end of next week I won’t be able to do it any more. Not that I’ve done any of it at all for the last two years anyway, and only for a couple of weeks for the year before that, but it still feels really really weird that I can’t say “I am a nurse” or “I am a health visitor” any more. “I was a nurse” isn’t the same really. Being able to say “I am a ….” was a really important part of my sense of identity back in the day, I liked that when I said “I am a health visitor” people (in the UK at any rate) basically knew what I was talking about – “I am a PhD student” doesn’t have the same sense of identity about it, other than with other PhD students (and then tends to elicit a look of sympathy or raised eyebrows rather than the “ahaaa!!” of “I am a nurse”).

I tried to find out about return to practice courses, because once I finish the PhD I do want to go back into some sort of nursing practice. The English NHS number took me to a not-very-helpful call centre, but the woman at the Scottish number was much more helpful. I’ll see what the various blurb they’re sending me says – I need to think about when to apply for a course, given when my PhD money runs out and various other stuff.