Gus mentioned last week that we would be getting a visit from Denise Cooper some time this week. Denise used to be a lecturer here at USE before I arrived. But she married Simon, an Australian researcher also working in the department at the time and about four years ago they moved to Australia where they are now both Professors. They now also have a young son, Evan, and Denise and Evan are over here in the UK for a couple of weeks to visit Denise's parents. Unfortunately Simon couldn't come with them due to work commitments, but Denise and Evan are having a fine old time in England visiting most of the London tourist spots like the Tower of London, the London Eye, London Zoo and Madame Tussauds.
But Denise also wanted to find time to come down to USE and see some of her old colleagues, especially Gus and Bob Bunn. And so it was that yesterday she and Evan arrived here for lunch in the cafe. Gus and Bob invited me to join them too.
Denise was really pleased to see Gus and Bob and they were soon reminiscing about the old days. Denise had started in the department as a young lecturer - her first lecturing job in fact. But she had steadily worked her way through successive promotions, even having a stint as one of the Associate Deans before the offer of high profile jobs in Melbourne had lured Simon and her down under. They were now very happy there, she said, especially now that they had young Evan.
The conversation moved on to other topics such as the REF and similar processes adopted in Australia and the low numbers of women professors in the profession. Understandably Evan showed signs of boredom and I accepted the role of baby minder so I missed much of the rest of the discussion. Evan is a delightful young lad and I read to him a bit from the book that he had with him. Then we went outside and threw a ball he had to each other until it was time for them to leave. There were hugs all round. It is good to know that colleagues who have moved on still value what the department gave them and the friendships they made.