Newsletter 2011

Over the last two decades I have worked mostly as a Software Engineer, and yet I notice that as time has passed I have become much more prone to writing in English than some programming language. It's not just the technical manuals and docs that come with a software project, but blogs on politics, articles in the Church magazine (now in its 6th year), and various other pieces.

Some years back I decided to drop by at the "Connexions" desk at our local library, a careers advice service. During the interview we came up with a list of 5 careers that people with my temperament often end up in, and journalism was one of them. I have since often wondered what might have happened if things had turned out differently. Would I now be working at some local rag, or for a mag on the shelves at Smiths?

I have had, as you may imagine from such an introduction, plenty of time to think this year. Work of any sort has been elusive and in Winter and early Spring I was despairing of ever getting another job. It was helpful, in some ways, to have Mum & Dad's house move to think about as well, and the support of family and friends this year has been invaluable. Mum and Dad have now settled in Cardiff and a bungalow on a warden assisted site. The house is now very comfortable and with a small garden it is much more suitable.

For much of last year I had been attending a monthly meetup of people using Drupal, a software system used to create websites. I started simply for my own website at, but in these days it's much more who you know than what you know that will get you work. So I carried on, with this and other groups. It was the only hope I had at the time, as I could see the few job interviews I had in that period dissolving in front of my eyes, as offers were taken up by people the employer knew. In July one of the Drupal guys offered some freelance work. I set up as a freelancer using the name IvimeyCom, as by then I owned the domain. The work progressed well, and he was kind to sponsor me to the Drupal conference in Croydon in August. I have also rebuilt the church website using Drupal.

In other ways, there has been plenty to do and, thanks to help from Dad and then the freelance work, I have had sufficient money to make ends meet.
Geese at Snettisham in 2011

In early Summer I visited Snettisham for a couple of days with Ted and Marion, and explored the bird reserve and Sandringham, which was lovely. Later I spent another lovely weekend with Susan in Portsmouth. Amongst a lot of chatting we visited the submarine museum and saw several ships including the decommisioned Ark Royal.

I have been to Cardiff several times to help with the house move and settling in, and took the photo above on one of them. More recently I had a weekend trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see "The Heart of Robin Hood" at the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It was great fun, with all the parts played by acrobat actors and making full use of a large ramp and several ropes. I enjoyed Stratford too. Before returning I dropped by at the Butterfly Farm, which isn't large but does have lots of butterflies, even in November! It took over an hour for my camera lenses stop misting up in the humid 30˚C greenhouse.

I have continued with recreating the railways around Cambridge using RailWorks, a 3D simulator that allows you to virtually model areas of the world. It does have its limitations, but I have much enjoyed the creation of parts of Cambridge and the neighbouring areas. There are now two videos posted on Vimeo: one of a trip from Fulbourn to Cambridge, the section I have created myself, the other a trip from Histon to St Ives, which I have helped with but is mostly Neil's work. We have also included the line from Cambridge to Sandy (the "Varsity Line"), and those to Royston, to Ely, to Fordham, and from St Ives to Ely. In all, for many years Cambridge was at the junction of eight different rail lines.

We are modelling in 1950, when it was starting to recover from the ravages of war. It has proved surprisingly hard to get good maps sometimes; between 1930 and 1970 the Ordnance Survey changed from the County series maps to the National Grid, and there is a historical "hole" for many areas. In search of info I joined the Cambridge University Library for a time, which was good. On the way I discovered a series of albums of Cherry Hinton that had been donated but not catalogued, and volunteered to do that. With over 20 albums and around 600 photos in each I have enough there to be getting on with!

I haven't done much with SJP this year, but I did get to enjoy the Holiday Bible Club in July with a bunch of amazing children and adults.

It seems that's all I have space for... I hope you all have a very happy Christmas!

Love to all, Ruth