Today we said goodbye to Martin - a friend from work who is going back to the US after two years of penance in the UK. Martin came here, with his wife and 6 month old son, from Hawaii. He emailed me before they arrived with a few questions about housing, transport, nice areas to live and so on. My first question to him was, "Are you completely insane? You live in Hawaii (sun, tropical beaches, mountains, relaxed life-style) and you want to move to Oxford (rain, historic buildings, more rain, cold)."
Needless to say he didn't heed my warning (they never do), and he and Lisa had to buy a lot more thick jumpers than they expected. Martin is one of the most laid-back, funny and cheerful people I know, and we're all going to miss him a lot (not least because he often brought cookies to work for everyone). One of the toughest things about academia is the impermanency of it: you get to make new friends, then before you know it, they've moved on to another contract, often in another country.
Anyway, next week, Martin and his family (now incremented by one - a new British-born son) will leave the rain and Fire Strikes and go back to sunny Fresno, CA. We wish them the best of luck, and reserve in advance a space on the floor to put our sleeping bags when we come and visit. And have the chocolate-chip cookies on standby, Martin.