Wednesday, February 27, 2008

oriel glass

On our way home from Oxford on Sunday afternoon, we passed a new building on Victoria Street in Bristol. In the reception area, there’s a stunning piece of contemporary glass by Stuart Low (see this oriel glass link)(yes, the bloke married to our daughter Ruth!). There was a security guard on duty, but I managed to blag my way in to take some photographs. Here’s one of them (the piece itself must 6m high?). I probably need the permission from the building owners and Stu to post this image on my blog, but hey (sorry)!
I think it’s just beautiful!

Monday, February 25, 2008


Enjoyed a really lovely, relaxing weekend in Oxford with great friends Gail+Ian and Ken+Debby. Chilled out over food+wine on Friday evening. Revisited old haunts in the city during the course of Saturday morning before all getting together for lunch at Chez Gerard (part of the Gail+Steve on-going birthday festival celebrations – which even incorporated Moira’s birthday next month too!); then relaxing at Ken+Debby’s new canal-side apartment in Jericho; before returning to Gail+Ian’s to watch England beat France in the rugby! Got together with the mayBe crowd yesterday morning in University Parks and then on to Manos for coffee and a snack before returning home to Bristol.
Back to school today though for the start of a new term (roll on Easter)!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

….and chilling at the seaside

After a few hours in Bath early on Monday, I drove to the coast and enjoyed a couple of hours in Clevedon. The sun was shining, there were hardly people around (apart from a few toddlers throwing stones on the “beach”) and the pier looked rather beautiful…. and I got back to Bristol in time for lunch!
Photo: images from the pier

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

virgin media

For the past few days, we’ve had intermittent loss of our e-mails and it’s fast becoming a joke (but I’m not laughing!). We now get a situation when, if we’re getting any e-mails at all, sometimes Moira gets my e-mails. The good news is that, according to the hotline (it apparently applies to all “blueyonder” addresses), their chaps have identified the problem…..
A week or so ago, I made a comment on my facebook site to the effect that the words “virgin media” and “internet provider” should never be used in the same sentence. This came on the back of several days when we kept on experiencing problems with our broadband connection and spent several hours over the course of a few days with no connection whatsoever. It was SO frustrating!!
All of this makes Virgin Media’s recent high-profile national advertisements (full page ads in daily newspapers etc) for their high-speed broadband rather difficult to take! “Really, it makes the internet work the way it should. The way you’ve always wanted it to”. It seems that Virgin Media will provide us with fast broadband (and e-mails)…. but only when it suits them (and, at the moment, that’s not very often).
No doubt we’ll be getting an e-mail from them soon, apologising for their appalling service and telling us that, in compensation, they’re waving their charges for the next three months (don’t hold your breath!).

chilling in bath (literally)

The weather forecast was for another beautiful day, so I decided to get up very early yesterday and drive to Bath with my camera. Arrived well before 7am and enjoyed walking the deserted streets. It was incredibly cold though (the car thermometer had read minus 5 at one stage on the journey!) and I didn’t actually see much sun before perhaps 9am. I ended up in a coffee shop to warm myself up, before further exploring in the sunshine!
I had a lovely time. It’s a beautiful city.
I then decided to drive to the seaside (well, Clevedon)!
Perhaps I’ll post some more stuff tomorrow….
Photos: bathtime images

Saturday, February 16, 2008

dream team

In the past, I’ve often talked about people making it into my “dream team”. People I’ve admired; people who have fascinated, entertained or stimulated me; or perhaps those who just seem to be lovely, interesting, compassionate people. I can’t remember the origins of this – perhaps an extension of the “fantasy dinner guests” idea? – but that’s of no consequence (and I’d hate to get them ALL together around a dining table at the same time!).
As Moira will tell you, I’m no gardener (although I am someone who enjoys lounging in gardens!) but, having watched the latest programme in the “Around the World in 80 Gardens” series, I decided that Monty Don was definitely someone who might make my dream team – he just seems like a really good bloke!
I then tried to remember names who I’d pencilled into my eleven - and couldn't (for some reason, it used to be 11 and it couldn’t include friends or family members).
How about the following 14 (allowing for substitutes these days!): Jon Snow, Tony Robinson, Monty Don, Billy Connolly, Jane Garvey, Desmond Tutu, Billy Bragg, Fi Glover, Stephen Fry, Twiggy, David Attenborough, Verity Sharp, Thom Yorke and Tony Benn?
The trouble is: I could come up with a completely different list tomorrow (just like with music)!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

football fantasy

I last mentioned my fantasy football team back in October.
At the time things were going from bad to worse.
Since then, I’ve become an astute manager – a bit of a wheeler-dealer in the transfer market; in fact, something of a gambler (but with maturity+wisdom, obviously). Although it pains for me to say this, I made the bold decision to sell some decent players and buy Ronaldo from ManU (I told you it pained me!); it cost me some crucial points, but I decided that it was all about long-term gain.
Ten games into the season, I’d slumped to 630,638th in the UK; since then I’ve edged up to a mere 222,538th. I’m in various leagues (gosh, you must be really fascinated by all of this!): I’m in 2nd place in the Norton Hill league for example (but there are only 4 of us!) – but only 23 points behind the wonderful Miles – and I’ve just discovered I’m also in 2nd place in the EK Global League (out of some 29 teams – and ahead of such mighty managers as Colin and Glenn!). Not bad, eh?
I can tell you’re impressed.
Think I might stop here!

Monday, February 11, 2008

ten tors training on the mendips

Another training day on the Mendips yesterday; another really enjoyable time for pupils and staff alike. Perfect weather, great company and beautiful scenery!
Photo: one of the teams running downhill to the final checkpoint.
PS. Even managed to get back in time to see the second half of the Italy v England game (wish I hadn’t!).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

archbishop+sharia law

Rowan Williams is a very clever man.
He is a wise, spiritual man of great integrity.
However, following his speech at the Royal Courts of Justice when he indicated that the adoption of Sharia law in Britain seemed “unavoidable”, it would seem that he is also a very naive and, perhaps, misguided man. To my mind, it wasn’t so much what he had to say (although I have reservations about a number of issues), but how he said it.
Andrew Brown, in an excellent article in yesterday’s “Guardian”, gave a number of examples of what Williams said and what he felt he meant to say. Brown’s analysis also included the following:
There are people at Lambeth Palace who could have told Williams what the headlines were going to say this morning. My understanding is that some of them did, but he thought he knew better…. The archbishop may despise the media and we are often despicable. But we are the only instrument with which a sculptor of public opinion can work and the moment he decided to go on the “World at One” he put himself in our hands and should have known what would happen. It’s no use being an elitist if you don’t understand the constraints under which an elite must operate”.
As you might have noticed, I’ve been going on about “The West Wing” recently!
Strangely, my instant reaction to news of Williams’s speech was: “CJ would never have let him say that”!
(and I'm sorry if you know nothing about "WW" - CJ is the White House Press Secretary!)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

west wing

I’ve become very sniffy about television.
Moira would regard this as something of an understatement as I apparently keep going on about there being "far too much dumbed-down rubbish"!
In a recent conversation with Andy at school, I acknowledged that there obviously were good programmes – but my problem was that I didn’t realise this until a particular series was virtually finished (and it was too late to start watching).
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Andy subsequently lent me “The West Wing: Second Season” boxed set. I’ve just finished watching the last of the 22 episodes!
Just brilliant!
Tracey Wheeler (she writes wonderfully, see her blog) divides her friends into as “WW addicts” and “others”; I’ve definitely become one of the addicts!
It makes the “real thing” look very boring… and I can understand why some Americans felt that Martin Sheen (who plays the President in WW for you non-believers) ought to have run for the White House!

Friday, February 08, 2008

he couldn't organise a.....

I may be losing the plot.
No one had organised the traditional end-of-term drink at school.
Gallantly, I stepped up to the mark.
I consulted no one.
It was all very logical. The end of term is next Friday; a “Snow Ball” has been organised where people are able to dress up in their posh frocks (Moira+I have opted out). I’m baby-sitting Iris on Wednesday evening so, selfishly, I decide that next Thursday is the obvious evening for our get-together (after all it was INSET day on Friday, so no pupils to teach).
I produced the poster – simple enough.
I duly stuck up posters in the staffroom advertising this not-to-be-missed event.
It wasn’t until I got home that Moira expressed some surprise that the staff had decided to have a drinks evening on St Valentine’s Day.
What? Oh no! What had I done?
note: Moira was perfectly happy about this – despite being born romantics(?), we very rarely ever go out on the 14 February – and she doesn’t feel the need to join me on school drinking events!
Anyway, it’s too late now. I anticipate there’ll be probably three or four of us there in the pub in Bath (I’d billed it as the “Bristol Self-Help Group on Tour”). We’ll probably find time to discuss a) the five worst-behaved pupils at school, b) the virtues of schools working a nine day fortnight, and c) how many teachers will be leaving in the summer.
It’ll be a magical evening! I can’t wait…..

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

ash wednesday

I’m using the “Lent and Easter Readings from Iona” book as a source of reflection over the weeks up to Easter. It’s a book of readings from members and staff of the Iona Community. This is an extract from today’s contribution from Norman Shanks:
Ash Wednesday… marks the start of the period of Lenten fasting. It reminds us of the self-denial and self-discipline that is in fact integral to the way of the cross. Lent is… a time for self-appraisal, for the kind of repentance that neither wallows in factitious self-loathing nor seeks escape in specious excuses. It requires a healthy realism about ourselves, so that we can face up to and accept responsibility for our mistakes and shortcomings, and the realism about the nature and purposes of God…”.
I know it’s going to be a challenging time!
Photo: cross in the window of the tiny “upper room” chapel, Iona Abbey

Sunday, February 03, 2008

happy birthday jon

It was Jon’s 40th birthday yesterday.
He had a really good day.
We joined him for a few drinks last night to help him celebrate.
Jon is Welsh.
Jon likes rugby!
It was a tough evening.
I blame myself for England’s defeat…. they were coasting to victory with 20 minutes left; I was in a pub with Dave+Andy; it was my round; I battled my way to the bar (it took me nearly 15 minutes to get served). I’d literally taken my eye off the ball; I’d lost my concentration and focus (crucial in sport at this level); by the time I returned, England had lost their way and the Welsh team scented victory.
England shouldn’t have lost, but they did… as a text from great mate Jez put it at the end of the game: “what just happened?”
What indeed!