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spires from Carfax


A Phoney Normal? School and Work

Helen's been back at school for three weeks now and I've started going in to work two days a week, and that's all gone very smoothly. Old routines have come back quickly, and the most remarkable thing is just how normal everything seems. (more…)

lockdown shopping

Life, Oxford — June 2020

Yesterday I made my first visit to Blackwells bookshop, one of the shops that has reopened with the easing of lockdown. I bought Marcia Williams' Tales From Shakespeare for Helen and (an impromptu find) Ross MacPhee's End of the Megafauna.

Before that, I think I had visited just four shops in the four months or so of lockdown: (more…)

lockdown notes

Life — June 2020

Some random notes on my experience of lockdown.

things start breaking

Life, Technology — May 2020

My (three year old) iphone has been playing up for the last month or two - maybe a couple of times a week apps start crashing randomly and I have to power-cycle it. Strangely, that started happening just as Apple announced a replacement model. (more…)

Coffee disloyalty cards

Life — February 2018


measuring exercise

Life, , , — September 2017

After a couple of months with the activity monitoring apps on my iThing, I've averaged about 4km a day of walking and 12km of cycling. (more…)

walking versus cycling (in Oxford)

Last night I went to a talk by Eva Heinen titled "Why, where and how people travel" and that got me thinking about the balance between walking and cycling (more…)

approaching school

Children, Life — July 2017

Helen herself is moderately excited by the prospect of school but not (I think) too much so, and we're thinking this will work out ok. The welcome afternoon a couple of weeks ago went off swimmingly, despite the heat. (more…)

from grandfather

I can remember my father Hansen taking me to the Sydney university Coop bookshop (then in the Transient building) and buying me a proper Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. That was over thirty years ago — I'm not sure exactly when, but it must have been before I started uni — but the calculator still works perfectly (and I think I've only had to change the battery once). (more…)

becoming British

Life, , — January 2017

I am now a British citizen, after a pleasantly low-key ceremony last Thursday in the County Hall. (more…)

Australian animals are no more dangerous than British cows

Life, Travel — October 2016

Living in Britain, one encounters a regular series of stories about how dangerous Australian animals are. (Otherwise, the UK media treat Australia pretty much the way the Australian media treat New Zealand.) And most people accept this as gospel, to the extent that it's often given as a reason for not visiting Australia. In fact, this is complete nonsense: British cows kill as many people each year as all of Australia's "dangerous" animals put together. (more…)

the transport geography of early childhood

Walking with Helen to the Cowley Rd Tesco yesterday made me think back on how her development and changes in transport modes have affected our experience of Oxford's geography. (more…)

little friends

Children, Life, , — December 2015

Moomin and Koala Bear are best friends

Helen has made strong attachments to some of her peers, far stronger than anything I remember from my own early life (though I have very few memories from before school). Reminding her that she'll get to see her friends once she gets to nursery, or that we're going on a playdate, is almost always a big motivation for getting dressed and leaving the house. And having a friend refuse to hold hands with her can be enough to make her burst into tears. (more…)

an extra day with Helen

Children, Life, Oxford — November 2015

I had had to take the day off work to look after Helen yesterday, since she was home after after having had the runs at nursery the day before. But we had a really good day. (more…)

growing independence

Life — October 2015

Helen has starting talking about how she's a big girl (sometimes "a big little girl") and getting bigger, and has made what seem like big strides towards greater independence in the past month. (more…)

male carer "tend and befriend"?

Books + Ideas, Life, , — September 2015

There are many areas in which becoming a father has had surprisingly little effect on me, but caring for Helen has clearly changed my social behaviour and probably my neurochemistry (more…)

Helen's first demonstration

Life — September 2015

I took Helen on her first demonstration today, a rally in central Oxford in support of refugees. (more…)

NCT class followup

Children, Life, — August 2015

Our NCT (National Childbirth Trust) parents' group wasn't so useful in providing an immediate support circle, largely because Helen arrived early, before the classes had even finished, but it did provide the foundation for a longer-term social network. We have made friends with two additional parents with similar aged children, in the same demographic (they have NCT groups of their own): I met Parker's mother through a cycling advocacy mailing list and Frieda's through her blog. But I've also spent many afternoons or mornings with Helen in East Oxford playgrounds, meeting interesting parents who I never saw again. (Though perhaps if I'd had no existing parents' group I'd have got better at asking strangers for their phone numbers or email addresses.) (more…)

cycling costs

Life, Technology, , — April 2014

I've been cycling for four years now in Oxford, so I thought I'd look at the costs involved. (more…)

handedly handling the baby

Life — August 2013

Camilla and I are both right-handed, but we hold the baby in different orientations. She holds Helen with her head to the left, I with her head to the right. (more…)

a new bicycle?

Life, Technology, — June 2013

I've been very happy with my old three-speed over the last three years and it's still a fine bike for getting around Oxford, but I'm thinking about buying a new bike. (more…)

one month

Life, — February 2013

Camilla made Pavlova to celebrate Australia Day, Madeleine visiting and Rosalind's birthday, and that went down a treat. And Helen slept peacefully through the whole event. (more…)

Week 2

Life — January 2013

Home at last! (more…)

Helen Ip Yee

Life, — January 2013

I don't expect most of the planet to have any interest in this, but it's here for family and friends and the idly curious.

Day 0

"Sooner would I stand
Three times to face their battles, shield in hand,
Than bear one child." - Euripides, Medea (trans. Gilbert Murray)

what's in my bag?

Life, Technology — December 2012

I've always carried a small backpack with me pretty much everywhere I go. This is perhaps a hold-over from school and uni, continued because I always want to have a couple of books on me. These days, however, there's a lot of other stuff in there as well. (more…)

an allotment!

Life, Oxford — December 2012

Our new house backs onto a large area of allotments, and in a fit of madness Camilla signed up for half a plot - about 60 sqm - last weekend. (more…)

Missing food

Life, Oxford, — May 2011

There are a few deficiencies in Oxford's culinary scene. (more…)

a blast from the past

Life, Oxford — March 2011

Coming out of the Cowley Rd Tesco a few weeks ago, I ran into an old chess and bushwalking friend I hadn't seen more for more than a decade. (more…)

the road not taken

Books + Ideas, Life, — September 2010

Being in Oxford has made me think about one of the turning points in my life, which came when I finished my undergraduate degree. (more…)

comparative utility costs

Life, Technology, , — September 2010

Utility costs are very different in Sydney and Oxford. Overall the UK is more expensive, even at current exchange rates. (more…)

Exchange rates and relative prices

Life, , — July 2010

I've adjusted to thinking in pounds and not converting prices to Australian dollars, at least for daily life. (more…)

What do you do?

Life — May 2010

One of the questions I get asked by people I meet is, of course, "what do you do?". (more…)

Stuff from Australia

Life — March 2010

Our thirty seven boxes from Australia were delivered on Wednesday, having taken about nine weeks door-to-door. Here's a photo of them sitting in our living room. (more…)


As a citizen of a Commonwealth country resident in the UK, I am eligible to vote in UK elections. And I've just sent off a letter to the Oxfordshire Council registering as a voter so I can do that. (more…)

Catherine St

Life, Oxford, — March 2010

Yesterday C and I moved into a house on Catherine St, just around the corner from my sister. (more…)

Arrival in Oxford

Life, Oxford — February 2010

I had an uneventful flight - the best kind - got through border control and customs at Heathrow, carted my baggage to the bus station, rang C, and had time for coffee and a croissant before getting the bus to Oxford. (more…)

Got my visa!

Life, — February 2010

After a drive down to Canberra and back with my father and step-mother, I finally have my visa! A big thank you to the visa unit staff who took pity on me and put my visa into my passport on the same day - Australia Post probably wouldn't have been fast enough for me to make my (already delayed once) flight. (more…)

In Limbo

Life, — January 2010

I was supposed to fly to the UK on January 25th, with C, but with no news about my visa application since December 17th that didn't happen. (more…)


Life — January 2010

This was my first experience of international relocation.  This is like moving house locally, but with a whole pile of added complications. (more…)

The Weather

Life, Oxford, — January 2010

Talking about the weather is a particularly English pastime, but the UK weather at the moment is rather dramatic. (more…)

Leaving my job

Life, — January 2010

Today was my last day at work. I've been working at the University of Sydney, first for Anatomy and then for Medical Sciences, for sixteen years, so it's a pretty big change for me - I don't think I've lived in a house as long as I've worked in the Anderson Stuart building. (more…)

Where in Oxford to Live?

Life, Oxford — January 2010

Oxford is not a big city, which restricts our options. (We thought about renting a cottage in a village outside Oxford, but infrequent bus services and the lack of parking in the Uni make that seem impractical.) (more…)

Strange Books

Books + Ideas, Life — December 2009

Books I have read are unthreatening, placing no pressure on me and offering the comfort of a familiar experience. In contrast, unread books are not so relaxing - some bring back memories of unwise purchases or over-eager review copy requests, some have remained unread because they seem difficult or daunting, and even the most docile of them whisper an insistent "read me! read ME!". (more…)

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