Monday, March 31, 2008


Saw this on a car in Okehampton over the weekend.
Clearly, someone had bashed into the front wing of this person’s vehicle (presumably without owning up)…. so, instead of getting it repaired, he/she decided to send a message to the culprit!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

ten tors training on dartmoor

Set out at 4.30am yesterday on (what was supposed to be) a two-day training exercise on Dartmoor with 15-17 year olds. In the event, things had to be abandoned due to very heavy rain+40mph winds. We had 7 teams from school participating and one of our 45mile teams had to be airlifted off the moor (everyone fine and no one injured). Over 1,000 students were on the moor yesterday – thankfully, all were taken off the moor safely (with only a few minor injuries).
Arrived back home sometime after 11pm (after a very long and somewhat eventful day)!
note: the tors are high granite outcrops and the students have to navigate themselves from tor-to-tor across the moor for 35, 45 or 55 miles over 2 days (often over very rough terrain), carrying over 30lb rucksacks and camping out on the moor overnight – so not just a gentle weekend stroll! Having walked to Beardown Tor to man one of the checkpoints, I can vouch for the difficult conditions!
Photo: minibuses waiting at one of the collection points to get students off the moor (taken through the windscreen!) – you should have been able to see a large mass of high ground plus one of the tors in the background, but visibility was rather poor!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

golf tour

On the first day he started at school as a tiny Year 7, eighteen months or so ago, this young man (it would be wrong to mention him by name) spent quite a lot of time in floods of tears in my office. In time, he did settle into his new life in the BigSchool (and, in the process, clocked up the highest number of merits in the school by the end of the year!). In those early days, I also discovered that he was “quite good” at golf and joked that I would stop talking to him once he had a better handicap than me (he’s now achieved this – 13 to my 15, but we still talk!). At that time, I also crucially got him to pledge 10% of any earnings he made at golf to me! I learnt yesterday that he’d won the four golf competitions he’d entered over the Easter period and, as a result, had been asked to play in the first round of the Junior Welsh Open!
He could be the next Tiger! What’s 10% of £billion?
PS: I received a text message from great mate Ken last night saying he’d arrived at West Runton (4 day golf tour with 20+ mates that I attended for more than 20 consecutive years). School commitments (and funds) now prevent me from being there – but I’m with them in spirit! I blogged about it last year too!

Monday, March 24, 2008

laura marling

In January, my lovely brother Alan sent me a YouTube video of Laura Marling singing “New Romantic”. I’d never heard of her. Her music is unusual and quirky. I saw her on the BBC’s “Culture Show” a couple of weeks or so ago. I was still impressed. I’ve been listening to more of her music since then and think she’s going to feature regularly on my i-Pod from now on.
Click here to watch the video and see what you think (I think it’s brilliant!)?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Like good friend Gareth, I’ve also been watching “The Passion” on BBC tv. Like her, I’ve been a little disappointed so far (the final episode is this evening). She refers in her recent blog to other versions of the Easter story: I too was very impressed by the BBC’s “Manchester Passion” but have still to see Scorcese’s “Last Temptation of Christ”. However, I did watch Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” again on Good Friday. Powerful, brutal film and the all the better for the lack of American and English (or Irish, if you’ve seen the BBC’s latest version!) accents - authentic Aramaic and Latin employed. I know it’s been heavily criticised in the past (accusations of anti-Semitism; excessive use of violence etc), but I still found it an impressive, if rather bloody, reminder of the Easter story.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Moira received a birthday card a couple of weeks ago from relatives in Australia. Although the photograph here is rather small, you might be able to make out the card – of an orchid on a mantelpiece. The strange thing is that we too have an orchid (nothing particularly unusual in that!) and a mantelpiece that is almost identical to the one on the card (and our Australian relatives would certainly not have known that)!
I couldn’t resist taking a photograph!
PS: if you’re on facebook, you could see a larger version by clicking here

Friday, March 21, 2008

red elastic bands

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more and more cheesed off seeing red elastic bands scattered at various points up and down our street (and adjoining roads!). They are clearly being deposited by our postman (who, in all other respects is fine!) - perhaps it’s some kind of insurance against them getting lost en route…. “if you get lost, just re-trace your path by following the red elastic bands”?
Here in Southville, the average seems to be roughly one elastic band every 30 metres.
My understanding is that people can be fined £50 for dropping litter…. well, on that basis, this could cost Royal Mail a small fortune in fines!! It’s tempting to shop them to the police/Local Council but, of course, this isn’t going to happen because it will either result in increased postage charges or to privatisation (which is the last thing I want).
Please Mr Postman, don’t drop litter…. recycle your red elastic bands!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

flight of the red balloon

Moira was at her book group last night, so I decided to go the Watershed to see “Flight of the Red Balloon” (somewhat amazingly I managed to make the 5.50pm screening!). The Film4 review reckoned that the film would, “depending on your disposition, either quietly enchant you or bore you senseless”! Beautifully crafted (atmosphere rather than plot) and brilliantly acted (Juliette Binoche is stunningly good).
I wasn’t exactly enchanted, but it was good way to drift into the weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

southbank bristol arts trail

The next southbank arts trail is 10+11 May (plus 9 May when lots of us simply get together to drink red wine surrounded by art!). This will be the fifth year we’ve opened our basement as a gallery and I have to admit that we (well ok, me!) have been really disorganised this time round - we've just made the deadline for submitting material and agreed who's exhibiting!
Featured artists will be: Sharon Bishop (ceramics/illustration); Paul Brown (also known as Mister Brown to his friends)(illustration); Helen Brayshaw (photography/cards); Moira (textiles); Hannah (illustration) and me (photography and drawings, if I get my act together!). Ruth+Stu have decided to opt out on this time round.
Photo: swimmer 2007 (which we’re using as the venue image for the arts trail brochure)

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I came across my old autograph book last weekend – containing football autographs of Division One team players from 1957-1958 (yes, I know…). Lots of famous names including those shown above: Billy Wright, Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews, Jimmy Greaves and Peter McParland (who scored Villa’s winning goal in the FA Cup final that year – the last time they won it!).
PS: clearly, I’m prepared to listen to offers in excess of £10,000 (some 16 teams - but sadly not ManU - plus Miss Jones, my junior school teacher!).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

kielder challenge

We started “training” for this year’s Kielder Challenge event yesterday. I absolutely love it!
We’d selected four pupils from our school and Laura+I took them to meet their team mates from Fosseway School for the first time (pupils with severe learning difficulties or physical disabilities). They spent the afternoon getting to know each other. It was a lovely, humbling and happy time – with lots of laughter. At one point, I asked people to introduce themselves and tell everyone one thing about themselves. Troy (a tiny Year 7 pupil from Fosseway) decided that the special thing about him was that he could “talk for England” – which clearly brought the house down. Rather beautifully, Charlotte, from our school, then told everyone she really liked drama… and then addressed herself to Troy and said “and I can talk for England…. AND France”!
A very special moment and I just wanted to hug her for it!
photo: Laura's group picture of Dean, Josh, Jaz, Hannah, Troy, Charlotte, Frazer+Charlotte

Friday, March 07, 2008

foundation again

The wonderful Bruce Stanley has posted some lovely words and images of last week’s Foundation little/medium service on his embody website. They include photographs (see above) of some of the wine label drawings or words contributed by those attending the service - all done completely “off the cuff” in a matter of less than 5 minutes.
I think they’re rather beautiful.
PS: you really must sign up for Bruce’s “Happiness for Life” 8 week course starting in Bristol on 2 April (see this link).

Monday, March 03, 2008


Excellent “medium” service at foundation last night. It included watching clips from the film “Babette’s Feast”, eating, drinking and passing empty wine bottles to each other!
No, it really was very good!
Photo: empty wine bottles, blank labels and night lights.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

eastville park

We’ve had good friends Felicity+Chris (and their dog!) staying with us over the weekend and seem to have spent a huge amount of the time since Friday evening consuming food and drinking red wine and whisky! Fortunately, we took the opportunity of yesterday’s sunshine to get in a 5 mile walk. As so often happens with us when we have visitors, we ended up seeing parts of Bristol we’ve never previously experienced! We walked beside the River Frome - through Eastville Park and on to the Oldbury Court Estate – after Moira had recently come across an article in a “City Walks” supplement.
It was lovely!