John F. Allen's Blog at

10th July 2020

Beautiful baby boy born in Bern

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 3:55 pm

On March 8th, 2020.

I find few words to describe here my feelings on the birth of Aaron. A son to Sarah and Mariusz. Our grandson.

Carol and I drove to Bern so that Sarah would have her mother around, before and after. Aaron was born about ten days later than originally predicted, though clearly only a few days beyond term. 4040 g; 55 cm.

“Beautiful” is my value judgment, of course. Just occasionally in life one can surely be permitted to present opinion as fact.

There is a lifetime of thoughts on which to reflect. After months of hesitation, concern for privacy and so on, here are a few photos. This grandfather is as proud as can be, not just of the wonderful little man himself, but of the close and loving relationship between Sarah and Aaron, and between Sarah and Carol. We must have done something right.

Aaron is 15 hours old. Sarah is as tired, and as happy, as can be.
With proud father, and half-sister, Sophie. The nurse wears face protection; Switzerland was on the ball with Covid-19. The staff were wonderful. Bern University Hospital was outstanding in every respect.

We had to leave the day before Sarah and Aaron were discharged from hospital. March 11th, my own mother’s birthday. So day one is all I’ve seen of Aaron in real life, though photos and live video calls have been a blessing. We are planning a return visit in a few weeks’ time.

Sarah with Aaron at one month, 8th April.
Sarah with Aaron at two months, 8th May.
Aaron at three months, 5th June.
19th July. In Switzerland, face coverings are obligatory on public transport.

Returning from Bern, 11-12 March

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 11:05 am
Charging points seem to be on offer…
…but there is only one…
…and it is out of order. It was the same in each of our sample of service stations. Electric vehicles crossing France between UK and Switzerland? The infrastructure is just not in place.

Récharge Véhicule Electrique?

Another service station, near Dijon, again had just one designated EV parking bay. It was sad-looking, and unoccupied. A cable had obviously been laid, under a pedestrian pathway, between the charging point and a Cummings diesel generator adjacent to a large metal fuel tank. The generator was running and emitting diesel fumes. The charging point had an informative panel with a map of France, and, I assume, details of how to use it. The instructions were obscured by a single A4 paper sheet, taped on. The sheet bore a simple message in large, bold letters – PAS DE SERVICE.

In Bern, February to March 2020

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 10:54 am

An update. These are travel photos. Interesting, for us at least, but not the life-changing news to be described in a subsequent post.

The Aare
Sarah and Carol on a day out in Interlaken
Carol with mountains
Neubrücke and the Aare
Looking across the Aare from Bremgarten to the footpath on the South side of the river. When you take that path, you wonder at first what huge device is shaking the footway, and you. It is soon clear you’ve been crossing the efflux from a hydroelectricity generating station. Nice.

28th February 2020

Enroute to Bern

Filed under: Diary,Not extinct — John Allen @ 6:07 pm

River Oise near Danizy in Picardy.

Halenbrücke on the Aare.

12th December 2019

Pwll Du again

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 11:23 am

In Ship Cottage again. A week earlier this year. Weather much the same as last year, though less cold.

High Pennard. On the Wales Coast Path/Llwybr Arfordir Cymru.
Light lunch at The Coffee Shop, Pennard.
The Murder Mystery: “Murder in the Roaring Twenties” provided by Sophie. Great idea. Sarah is out of frame, adjusting her camera.
Sarah as Booboo B’Doo, wife of Bebop B’Doo..

10th November 2019

Seoul – Korean Temple Cooking

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 1:37 pm

Sanchon. Extraordinary. Superb foods I’d never even heard of, with a traditional Korean temple cabaret, apparently.

14 Kwanhoon-dong, Chongro-gu, Seoul

Korea – Ganghwa Peace Observatory

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 1:32 pm

“A Place to Wish for Peaceful Reunification”

At The DMZ.

Watching on TV what you can see directly through the huge window.
Keeping an eye on the North…

17th October 2019

Visit to Purdue University

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 4:42 pm

To give the 2019 Beach Lecture in the Department of Biochemistry, and visit good friends and colleagues in a great, new research laboratory.

25th March 2019

Put it to the People

Filed under: Diary,Not extinct — John Allen @ 4:41 am

23 March. At a rough guess, about twice the number of people who were at the March for a People’s Vote.

A long wait at the advertised starting point in Park Lane. A bottleneck into Piccadilly. We eventually turned into Green Park, eventually to meet our daughter, Sophie. Lunch in St. James’s Park and then to Parliament Square, still crowded long after the speeches has finished. In addition to the route of the march itself, many roads in the West End had been closed, apparently in response to unexpectedly large crowds.

31st December 2018

Ship Cottage, Pwll Du

Filed under: Diary — John Allen @ 6:54 pm

A birthday return to the Gower in mid-December. Wonderful. Atrocious weather was just part of the adventure.


The Cottage and Annex
The location
The cast of the murder mystery
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