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    Ran a mile in my shoes - Nov 12th, 2016
    (Nearly) sixteen weeks ago, I broke my ankle. And that means I haven’t broken any running goals in nearly four months. In fact, I haven’t been running at all. Until today. And then, I ran a mile. A whole mile. Yay, me! [more...]

    I wobbled - Nov 7th, 2016
    Sometimes in life, you wobble. And no matter how strong and sturdy you thought you were, you begin to sway back and forth; wobbling. That’s what happened to me these past few days: I have started to wobble. [more...]

    The buck stops here - Oct 27th, 2016
    That’s it folks: the buck stops here. Actually, I suppose I should say the pound stops here. Why? Because my last PhD stipend payment was today, and that means I have no more money coming into my bank accounts—bucks, bobs, quids, or otherwise—until I am finished with my PhD and I get a job. [more...]

    Broken ankle, Phase III: Getting back to normal - Oct 17th, 2016
    It has now been 12 weeks since I broke my ankle, and I’m pleased to say that I am well on the road to recovery. Though, sadly, I am not back to normal. Yet. However, I am now into the next phase of the healing process, so I expect to get back to normal… eventually. (Eventually, but not soon enough for my impatient nature. [more...]

    Twelve weeks broken - Oct 16th, 2016
    Twelve weeks ago, I broke my ankle whilst walking home from the shops. Twelve long, long weeks ago! And twelve is the magic number because that’s the number of weeks I was told it would take to go through the first bits of the healing process. And that means that today is the last day of Phase II: Learning to walk again. It also means that I am allowed to attempt running tomorrow. (Don’t worry, I’ll be careful!) [more...]

    Denmark bound! - Oct 15th, 2016
    I am off on my travels again. This time, I am heading to Denmark for the 2016 Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) Annual meeting in Copenhagen. The adventure is largely supported by a grant from the John Campbell Trust, and my school is making up the difference. Just one of the (many) wonderful things about PhD student life! [more...]

    Finding calm - Oct 10th, 2016
    My time at Serenity Lodge is coming to an end, and I am finding that the calming serenity I found here is starting to fade away, too. Not because this has become a less calming place, but rather because I know that the calm will (mostly) end when I re-enter my reality later tomorrow. [more...]

    Banishing the gloom at Castle Campbell - Oct 8th, 2016
    I spent today doing vital ankle rehabilitation work, in the form of walking to and from Castle Campbell in the hills above Dollar. It was a much-needed outing and a great way to rid myself of some of the gloom I’ve been feeling from missing out on all of my 2016 running goals. (Broken ankle = no races. How gloomy, indeed!) [more...]

    Weir walking - Oct 7th, 2016
    I’ve been staying at Serenity Lodge since last week where I am house- and pet-sitting for a while. I am using the time to catch up on my PhD, but I’m also taking some time for my ankle’s rehabilitation work. And what better way to do that than a bit of weir walking? [more...]

    Ten weeks broken - Oct 2nd, 2016
    Wow! I cannot believe that it has been ten weeks since I broke my ankle. It seems like only yesterday, but at the same time it feels like my fateful fall was a lifetime ago. Maybe that’s because it takes a very long time to walk anywhere these days! [more...]

    Zadar: Everyday life for an everyday girl - Sep 30th, 2016
    Travelling to new places is quite exciting; you get to see new places through the warped lenses of tourism. So when I travelled to Zadar, Croatia, for an academic conference last week, I was very excited to have a free day to explore the city on either side of the conference. [more...]

    Zadar: A Catholic girl’s paradise - Sep 30th, 2016
    I spent last week in Zadar, Croatia, for an academic conference. But the timing of flights meant that I had a free day to explore the city on either side of the conference. (Yay!) When the trip was first planned, I knew I would spend my days exploring the various churches, monasteries, and convents. Unfortunately, a broken (but healing!) ankle slowed me down a bit so I wasn’t able to see everything I wanted to see. Still, I managed most of the highlights. (But there was no climbing up bell towers, sadly.) [more...]

    Serenity now - Sep 29th, 2016
    I’m writing this post from Serenity Lodge, my home for the next two weeks. My view from the deck overlooks the River Devon as it flows through Clackmannanshire on the outskirts of Dollar. It is peaceful, despite the three Labradoodles and chatty parrot I’m sharing the space with, and I am sure the location will help me find a bit of my own serenity! [more...]

    With love from Zadar - Sep 24th, 2016
    I love Zadar! I really do. I arrived here last Sunday for an academic conference and I will be travelling home tomorrow. But in this one week, I fell in love with Zadar. [more...]

    Eight weeks broken - Sep 18th, 2016
    It has now been eight weeks since I broke my ankle whilst on my way home from the shops. And two weeks since I entered Phase II of the healing process. And that means I only have four weeks to go until I’m allowed to try running again. (Yay!!)

    [more...]

    Croatia bound! - Sep 17th, 2016
    Bright and early tomorrow morning, long before the sun rises, my alarm clock will gently bring me out of Dream World. I will stumble out of bed, groggy and sleepy-eyed, and make my way to the kitchen to get my moka pot started making my morning coffee. And about an hour later—around 4:30—a taxi will arrive to take me to the airport. Because tomorrow morning, I am Croatia bound! [more...]

    No spleen to vent - Sep 10th, 2016
    Regular Just Frances readers will know that I have a rare bleeding disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP). But what they may not know is that I don’t have a spleen as a result of it. Not because there was something wrong with my spleen, but rather because (sometimes) a splenectomy is seen as a viable treatment for ITP. [more...]

    Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again - Sep 6th, 2016
    I broke my ankle a little over six weeks ago. At first, there was a bit of novelty to my first-ever broken bone. After a couple of days, I was becoming very unhappy with the lack of mobility—and the pain! However, there was very little I could do at the time other than let nature take its healing course. But now I’m ready for Phase II: Learning to walk again! [more...]

    Six weeks broken - Sep 4th, 2016
    It has now been six weeks since I broke by ankle, meaning I am about half-way through the initial recovery phase. It also means that tomorrow, I will take my fist steps without the walking boot. I expect it to be a bit sore, but after two weeks of flexibility exercises, at least my ankle shouldn’t be too stiff. [more...]

    Third passport firsts - Aug 27th, 2016
    I received my new American passport yesterday. But despite this being my third passport, it will also mark several passport firsts in my life. But then, each of my passports have marked important “firsts” in my life! [more...]

    Getting less thin - Aug 21st, 2016
    I need to start this post by saying that I know I am not overweight and I don’t think that I am fat by any means. However, I am getting less and less thin. And whilst some of that is just the normal process of ageing and inevitable metabolic changes, most of it is 2016. Yes, I blame 2016 for the fact that I am getting less thin. [more...]

    Four weeks broken - Aug 21st, 2016
    It has now been four weeks since my fateful journey out for some salty snacks; a journey that left me with a broken ankle. I am now on the journey to recovery, but it’s a slow and unenjoyable process! [more...]

    Fostering love - Aug 14th, 2016
    My life was forever changed six years ago, when I opened up my home—and my heart—to a young girl who needed me. The year that followed was filled with the ups and downs of foster parenting, all while still adjusting to my life as a widow. [more...]

    Two weeks broken - Aug 7th, 2016
    Two weeks ago, I slipped on a kerb and broke my ankle. It’s my first-ever broken bone and has really been a learning experience! [more...]

    Will walk for whisky - Aug 6th, 2016
    Yesterday was my first proper outing since breaking my ankle nearly two weeks ago. I admit that I probably shouldn’t have gone out, and that I probably shouldn’t have done as much walking when I did, but it was a much-needed day away. After all, it included free whisky! [more...]

    I am broken - Jul 25th, 2016
    It is official: I have my first-ever broken bone. It's a wee avulsion fracture on my left ankle and it hurts like holy heck! And it’s all because I love salty snacks. [more...]

    A Dunblane day - Jul 16th, 2016
    A couple of weeks ago, I visited The Kelpies with my friend Caroline, and we decided that we’d try to get together for some more summer outings this year. So today, we met up in Dunblane for lunch and a visit to the cathedral. And as it happens, it was a first for both of us. Yes, despite my friend living most of her life near Dunblane—and me living just down the road in Stirling for two years—neither of us had been to the cathedral before! [more...]

    Only the lonely - Jul 10th, 2016
    When you live your life without a partner, it can be lonely. Even if you fill your days with friends and acquaintance, it can be lonely. Even if you enjoy a bit of solitude and are generally happy with your being, it can be lonely. Even if you are never alone, it can be lonely. It’s a loneliness that seeps into your soul; a loneliness that only the truly lonely can understand. That loneliness lives inside of me; it follows me around even when I’m happy. [more...]

    Thesis summer - Jul 1st, 2016
    This summer is Thesis Summer for me. It’s the summer when I must, without excuses, get my head down and write, write, write! Luckily, July and August are two months devoid of conferences, training events, seminars, and other activities that take me away from my focus. So I’ve decided that I will devote them to my thesis; I will devote them to my PhD dreams. [more...]

    A Kelpie day - Jun 25th, 2016
    I’m house-sitting in Falkirk for a couple of weeks, so when a friend asked if I wanted to enjoy a day out, it seemed that visiting something local would be the way to go. When she suggested The Kelpies, I was really excited as I hadn’t seen them yet. [more...]

    Representations of me - Jun 22nd, 2016
    I attended a PhD workshop the other week. It was one of those touchy-feely things where they wanted to talk about coping strategies for balancing life and a PhD. About half-way through the day, we were all handed a lump of grey clay and asked to make a representation of ourselves out of it. And that’s when I realised I really didn’t want to be in this workshop! But I was there, so I had to play along. [more...]

    Darting around Devon - Jun 5th, 2016
    I was invited to speak at a conference in Devon this past week, so decided to take the opportunity for a bit of sightseeing along the River Dart whilst I was down south. After all, you should never pass up the chance to explore and learn something new! [more...]

    Digitally medieval - Jun 3rd, 2016
    I’ve spent the last two days at the 5th annual Discover Academic Research, Training, and Support (DARTS) conference in Devon, England, where I was invited to speak about my PhD research into online reputation. The conference, with a focus on engendering a (digital) research culture, was held at Dartington Hall—a medieval manor house that was built between 1388-1400. [more...]

    West coast weekend - May 30th, 2016
    This past weekend was the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. But I decided not to run the half marathon because I didn’t have enough time to recover after having been rather ill. So instead, I headed west to enjoy a weekend on the coast with a friend. [more...]

    Dream day - May 21st, 2016
    Eleven years ago, I entered a beautiful dream world: The dream of happily ever after with my amazing new husband. And whilst being a Mrs had never been a childhood dream, being Mrs Ryan was the answer to my dreams of being happy with my life’s course. And together, we build a wonderfully happy dream world. [more...]

    Bonjour, Bordeaux! - May 16th, 2016
    Bonjour, Bordeaux! Or rather, au revoir… as I’m already back home in Scotland after enjoying a mini-holiday to France these past few days! In fact, this was my first-ever trip to France and I am now wondering what took me so long to get there. More importantly, I’m wondering how soon I can return! [more...]

    An undeserved first - May 16th, 2016
    Last week was the School of Computing PhD Conference, where all PhD students were expected to present their research. It was a long, busy day—especially as I was on the conference committee and was in charge of a couple of addresses (welcome and wrap-up stuff) as well as serving as replacement chair for the first-year presentations. And all of that public speaking was fine. But then I had to present my own third-year research towards the end of the day and nerves took over! [more...]

    April flowers - Apr 26th, 2016
    Another year has passed since my beloved Paul died. And so, another year has been spent making the journey to lay flowers on his grave. I’d like to say that it gets easier with each passing year but it doesn’t. I’m just used to it now; I’m just (mostly) prepared for the waves of emotion that take over. [more...]

    An Edinburgh non-starter - Apr 24th, 2016
    With five weeks to go until the Edinburgh Half Marathon, I’ve realised that it’s time for me to be honest about my ability to participate. And, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think it would be wise for me to attempt it… even though there’s a stubborn voice in my head telling me to risk it. [more...]

    Normal kidneys - Apr 9th, 2016
    I had my annual kidney check-up a couple of days ago to see how Bob and Dave are coping with their inherited polycystic kidney disease. And I am very pleased to say that my kidneys are working well. As I’ve said before, I am always a bit nervous when I go for these check-ups because I know that it won’t be like this forever; I know that one day I will be told Bob and Dave are too unwell to keep the rest of me well. [more...]

    The road to recovery - Apr 4th, 2016
    It’s been more than three weeks since I was first stricken with a nasty little virus, and I am still on the road to recovery. I expect it will be a long road, but I’m hoping it’s not too long! After all, I have too many lovely spring-time plans to be laid up half-dead for much longer! [more...]

    An Easter return - Mar 27th, 2016
    Wow! What a madcap, crazy month it’s been! But I’m back now; I have returned! And on Easter, no less. Not that my return is as wonderful and worthy of my Saviour’s return … but I’m not one to let a funny (inappropriately funny?) link go un-joked about. [more...]

    A funny(ish) Frances - Feb 28th, 2016
    Like many people, I fancy myself a bit of a comedienne. I like to crack jokes and I regularly have episodes of SUBS syndrome that I just can’t control. I’m not suggesting that I am the funniest woman in the world, of course, it’s just that I can’t resist a (bad) joke. In fact, if it weren’t for bad jokes, I wouldn’t have any to tell! [more...]

    Conquering the law - Feb 21st, 2016
    I arrived in North Berwick yesterday for my birthday weekend, with a plan to conquer The Law as part of my visit. And since yesterday was spent exploring Tantallon Castle and the coast, today was the day to climb the hill! [more...]

    The answer to life, the universe, and everything - Feb 21st, 2016
    Today is a special day in my life. Today is the day I become the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Yes, today I am 42! [more...]

    Tantallon to end - Feb 20th, 2016
    Today is the start of my birthday weekend, and my last day as a 41-year-old woman. So to celebrate, I’ve taken myself away for the weekend. Not far—just to North Berwick. But it’s a nice little village that I’ve been meaning to explore for a long time, so my birthday was a good excuse to do that. [more...]

    Dilapidated beauty - Feb 17th, 2016
    With my birthday just around the corner, I am more aware than normal that I am getting older. I am ageing; I am becoming more and more dilapidated as time goes by. I’m not upset about it, I’m just more aware. And, I suppose, I’m a bit wistful. [more...]

    Defining happiness - Feb 16th, 2016
    As I (slowly) make my way through Tal Ben-Shahar’s book “Happier”, I am faced with questions of just what happiness is. I know that I want happiness; I hope for happiness; I pray for happiness. But what is happiness? Is it as simple as being happy for a moment in time? Is it a long-term state of happy emotion? Or is it something else altogether? [more...]

    Caching Oban - Feb 14th, 2016
    The first time I was in Oban was for a quick lunch stop as part of a bus tour with my best friend, Rachel, when she came to visit me way back in 2002. I’ve been meaning to return for a while now, so when my friend asked if I was up for a weekend break to Oban I couldn’t say no! After all, there were a few fun geocaches I was hoping to find! [more...]

    A letter challenge - Jan 31st, 2016
    It’s that time of year again, so dust off your quills, fill up your ink wells, and grab your parchment—or at the very least, find a Bic and a bit of loose-leaf! Why? Because the annual “A Month of Letters” challenge starts tomorrow! [more...]

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