Christmas 2011

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Above: Isaac gives a knitted Santa a cuddle a few days before Christmas.

Christmas Eve

“I was very surprised that you agreed to preach at the midnight mass,” said Jane on Christmas Eve, “after you’d said last year that you were going to take a year off this year.”

“Did I say that?” I asked.

Apparently so, but I’m glad that I had forgotten because the midnight service at All Saints’, St Andrews was beautiful. The nave (where the congregation sits) was in darkness, lit by hand-held candles, there was a procession during which the baby Jesus was placed in the crib, which was then blessed. The choir was small but enthusiastic; and daring (In dulce jubilo in German). My sermon was warmly received, with another member of the clergy team saying to me afterwards that he thought that it was “spot on”, which I found encouraging.

I drove back to Anstruther around a quarter past one, glowing and thanking God. While I was waiting for the toast to pop-up at home I tweeted:

Fabulous midnight mass at All Saints, St Andrews. The good news of Jesus preached. Feeling very blessed. Happy Christmas one and all. x

I retired to bed for about four-and-a-half hours.

Christmas Day

The drive to Selkirk wasn’t quite as I had planned; particularly the 30 mph winds. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared while driving. The Forth Road Bridge was closed to high sided vehicles, buses, cars with trailers, caravans, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians: pretty much everybody apart from us. I crept across the almost deserted bridge at 30 mph, driving mostly down the line between the lanes.

Just south of Edinburgh, at Newtongrange we discovered that Isaac had a very dodgy tummy. And that we’d forgotten to pack a change of clothes. He turned up to St John’s in Selkirk wearing his pyjamas: a George Pig (Peppa’s brother) fleecy sleep suit. Very sweet.

Jane stayed at my Mum’s to prepare Christmas lunch while the rest of us (minus Reuben, who wanted to stay with Mummy) went to church.

We had Christmas lunch round a wallpaper-pasting table covered in a table cloth, which was a great idea and fit the space perfectly. Jane’s lunch was cooked to perfection—even the parsnips in honey and mustard which always go wrong for us.

Before and after lunch presents were opened, mostly by Reuben and Joshua regardless of whose name was on the label—they were so excited, it was great. And all too soon we were packing up bags and boxes and loading up the car again for the equally-windy drive back to Fife.

Once back home the boys all transferred effortlessly (and for us thankfully) from the car to their beds. We unpacked the car, reheated some Christmas dinner and crashed out in front of the telly to watch the season finalé of Merlin that we’d recorded from the night before.

Then bed.

Boxing Day

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Above: Joshua (left) and Reuben rip open a present on Boxing Day morning.

This was our stay-at-home day, with the majority of Reuben, Joshua and Isaac’s presents still to open. It was nice to stretch out their presents over the last two days rather than overwhelming them with everything all at once.

Jane had picked up a big box of action figures: underwater, mountain, space, etc. which you can see Reuben and Joshua opening in the photograph above. They have loved playing with them all day. At one point they were both lying on top of the dining room table totally engrossed in their play: fabulous!

It was also a tired day, as the busyness of the last few days caught up with us. Jane crashed out on the sofa around mid-day; I went for a sleep mid-afternoon; Reuben fell asleep on the armchair just before dinner.

That said, bedtime still took about three-and-a-half hours. And everybody wanted Mummy to put them to bed.

And to be honest, that’s where I should be now, so I’m going to be uncharacteristically sensible and catch up with as much sleep as I can get. That is, after all, the only thing that I asked for for Christmas: a sleep.

Night, night! And Happy Christmas!

University of St Andrews 600th anniversary website

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After last month’s almost-a-post-a-day, I’ve hardly blogged at all this month. And there’s been a pretty good reason for it: I’ve been working most of the last three weeks on coding up the designs for the University of St Andrews’ 600th anniversary website, which went live yesterday.

Eat, breathe, sleep code

And I really do mean “most of the last three weeks”. I’d get home in the evening, help put the boys to bed, and then crack on with more code until sometime after midnight each night. I’d crash into bed for about 4 hours’ sleep before booting up the PC again and working for a couple of hours until the boys woke. Then it was breakfast and back to the office for… oh, more coding.

Design

The design was by Edinburgh graphic design company Project and was the first web project that we’d worked on where an external company had mocked-up the design and passed it on to us as Photoshop ‘comps’. We were essentially coding up a design from photographs of a web page, which is a bit like handing a builder a photo of your dream home and saying, with a wave of the hand, “Make it so!”

It’s not our preferred way of working, if I’m honest. But they were brilliant at getting updated proofs to us. Anything involving image work takes hours so it was great having professional Photoshop-meisters on the other end of an email.

I’m going to blog about our experience of the project very soon on the St Andrews Web Team blog.

Development/Alumni

…and if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also had the Alumni pages to code up too.

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Tonight was my first night off in weeks from working on the code. So I chose to blog about it instead!

University of St Andrews alumni remember their student days

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Fabulous photograph slideshow with audio monologues by St Andrews’ alumni and alumnae Siobhan Redmond, Brian Taylor, Rosemary Goring and Hazel Irvine.

I was a Divinity undergraduate at St Andrews between 1989–1993, graduating with a 2:1 Bachelor of Divinity in Practical Theology and Christian Ethics. I returned in 2006 to work as Assistant Information Architect/Web Manager.

St Andrews is a fabulous place to live and study in, and a fabulous place and work.

I had always assumed that I would go to university in Edinburgh, but after an open day at St Mary’s College in 1988 that all changed: St Andrews was the place for me. It was small and intimate. The kind of place that a quiet, wee Scottish Borders lad like me could cope with, without feeling overwhelmed by a noisy, busy city.

I feel immensely proud of being a University of St Andrews‘ graduate.

(Thanks for my colleague Duncan Stephen (@DuncanBSS on Twitter) for the heads-up on this BBC Scotland article.)

St Andrews prepares for the Royal Wedding celebrations

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St Andrews has been buzzing with activity all week, in preparation for the Royal Wedding 465 miles away in Westminster Abbey, London.

All week the streets have been packed with visitors, and the shop windows have slowly turning red, white and blue.

This morning TV crews started arriving, parking—as they do—outside my office window and raising the giant satellite dishes on the roofs of their vans.

This afternoon, as I returned from lunch, St Salvator’s quadrangle was quite literally a-bit-loud-in-a-white-noisey-kind-of-a-way, as though the entire squadron from Leuchars was passing through the quad, as three stages and a “large outdoor screen” were installed.

The photo above is how things looked at 17:15 this afternoon.

At 07:30 tomorrow morning the quad will begin filling with guests as they prepare for The Royal Wedding Breakfast at St Andrews.

Check out the programme via the University’s press release Romance made in St Andrews.