Today, Ascension Day, is an Holy Day of Obligation. Bizarrely, for a deeply multicultural place, The Institute declared it a holiday and closed for business. At school in the 1960s, at the very centre of the Anglican communion, we also used to have holiday on Ascension Day. But apart from the son of a Jewish shop-keeper from Dagenham and a diplomat's son from Sierra Leone, the school was 100% protestants, so there was an excuse to celebrate one of the key events in the Christian year. Ascension Day marks the return of the resurrected (that's Easter - 40 days ago) Lord to heaven and is not to be confused with The Assumption which is when his mother Mary left our plane for a higher one (that's 15th August for you unbelievers).
ANNyway, my old Boss in Dublin sent me an e-mail suggesting that "there's no better way to spend a HDoO than in an extended lab meeting" . . . and it was so. I caught the early bus up and spend the whole morning and much of the afternoon talking science with once-and-future colleagues. Eeee, it were great. Lots of catch up for me as I tried to recall what I was working on last year. Lots of new faces who turned out to be interesting and engaged. Some of the old guard still still there so I didn't feel totally adrift.
The turn-over among young scientists can be disorientating. When we worked out in StVs Hospital 10 and more years ago, one of my tasks was to run the weekly Journal Club: I assembled a mailing list of eligible presenters, decided on a batting order (cricket metaphors are okay if you've been educated at the very hub of the CoE) and sent out timely reminders. I did that for a couple of years and then someone else took over and then they left so I took up the task again and dug out my previous list to edit. Of the 59 people on the original list there were only 8 left after 3 years elapsed time. You don't notice the drip drip turn-over as post-grads write up and move on; technicians fall pregnant and don't come back after maternity leave; people emigrate to Australia. But if you have a written record of the changes it's like giving a patronising €2 to a child of 10 and next seeing them as they tower above you at 15.
Today we had a rolling succession of productive meetings. One of the tasks that my HoD at The Institute is attempting to frighten me with for next academic year is the care and education of six (6!) final year undergraduate project students - 3 x 10 weeks before Xmas and 3 x 10 weeks afterwards. So I need to source some data for these lads and lasses to analyse and Schmallenberg and H7N9 flu virus are looking like strong possibilities for two projects. Four to go!