Friday, April 30, 2010


We’ve decided to change our number40 website to a wordpress format to enable easier, and more regular, updating by us all (Ruth, Hannah, Stuart, Moira and me). Our good friend Bob Jones has once again helped us to put our stuff together (he also helped us with the old website). The new site is: and, as well as providing information about us and our art, it also includes a blog page which outlines some of the things we’re involved with at the moment – and which will, hopefully(!), be updated on a pretty regular basis.
Please check it out!
Photo: number40 logo.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

kielder challenge 2010

This week, four pupils from our school plus four pupils from Fosse Way School (a very special catering for young people with physical disabilities and/or severe learning difficulties), teamed together for one of the Fieldfare Kielder Challenge Regional Heats in Poole - a national outdoor adventure event and competition which has run for over 20 years. The team were brilliant. Regional winners go forward to the national finals in the Kielder Forest, Northumberland in September. In the end, it was incredibly close and they ended up just SIX points behind last year's National Winners (342 points to our 336!) - beating the winners of last year's Plate Final in the process. As things stand (there are still a number of heats taking place over the next couple of weeks), they are the second-placed team in the whole of the Southern Region.

This is the fourth year I’ve helped with this event and it remains one of the most rewarding and humbling activities of my time in education.

Photo: the team in action (Lauren, Scott, Dean, Will, Josh, Owen plus Charlotte and Kitty).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This is a bit of a test. I’ve noticed that my recent blog notes are no longer automatically making it on to my facebook profile. I think it might be something to do with the fact that I’ve recently changed over to using Firefox in lieu of Internet Explorer. However, I’ve been finding it impossible to get my blog notes to be accepted by Firefox, for some reason (as you might know, I’m not very good with technology!), so have been resorting to posting via Internet Explorer.

I’ll try once again to post via Firefox… here goes!

Photo: the image is just a random aquarium pic for test purposes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

southbank arts trail

It’s that time of year again…. the SouthBank Bristol Arts Trail is almost upon us (and I’ve still got to sort out my work!). We’ve got eight artists exhibiting in our basement at number40:
Angela Saxbee (digital art+photography), Sarah Duncan (painting), Jen Orme (ceramics+jewellery) plus the usual family members Hannah (illustration), Ruth (drawing+textiles), Stuart (painting+glass), Moira (textiles) and me (photography+drawing). The Arts Trail is happening Saturday+Sunday 8+9 May 11am-6pm, plus a preview on Friday 7 May from 7pm.
It should be very good!

Friday, April 23, 2010

uk leaders' debate2

I’d only listened to about half of the first debate on the radio, so last night was my first proper opportunity to assess our aspiring future leaders. I have to say that I was very impressed by the overall quality of the debate and by all three politicians (although I did think Sky TV’s Adam Boulton came across as a somewhat inept moderator/chairman). There’s one thing being able to present a prepared argument, but coming up with “instant” and effective responses is a real skill to be admired and I felt that all three leaders scored highly on this. I purposely scribbled down my gut reactions to the debate while the helicopters were still in the sky (we live less than a mile away from where last night’s debate took place) and before seeing or hearing the media’s “take” on the evening: Cameron was good – but didn’t across as well as I thought he would; I rather feared that the knives would really be out for Clegg (and they were to a degree) – but actually felt he had an excellent evening; the big surprise for me was Brown – I thought he came over as the “experienced statesman” and that he spoke with real authority. Last time, one of the Polls indicated Clegg as being the most impressive at 51%, with Cameron on 29% and Brown on 19% (and another 43%, 26% and 20% respectively).
I suspect that the Polls after last night’s debate will be somewhat closer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

the tempest

Moira, Ruth, Gareth, Alan, Lal, Chris, Liz, Mike and I spent another very enjoyable evening at the Tobacco Factory last night to see Andrew Hilton’s stylish production of “The Tempest”. Another full house. Hugely impressive once again (although perhaps not quite up to the heights of the earlier Midsummer Night’s Dream). Some excellent performances – notably Ian Barritt’s Prospero (with his piercing stare!) and Christopher Staines’s Ariel/Caliban, with Chris Donnelly (Stephano) and Felix (Trinculo) making excellent drunkards (“riotous fun” according to Sam Marlowe in The Times).
Live performance is very good for the soul!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

yet more eating+drinking with friends….

Our wonderful weekend was rounded off perfectly when we all met up with yet more lovely friends (Gail+Ian) at the Winking Prawn, Salcombe for lunch.
Photo (left to right): Jez, Mags, Rob, Anna, Ian, Moira+Gail (note: the guy with his back to the camera was nothing to do with us!).

easter break

The fortnight break at Easter is definitely my favourite “school holiday” (apart from the somewhat longer summer break perhaps!). It provides sufficient time to “catch one’s breath”, to deal with outstanding jobs (in theory), but also to find time to relax, to potter and to reflect. However, this holiday was also a little strange - with Moira having just retired, she chose to take the past week (well, Sunday to Friday morning) on retreat at Sheldon Centre near Exeter. Despite not having me around(?), she clearly spent a very enjoyable, relaxing time in a beautiful location and with excellent weather.
I collected her first thing on Friday morning and we drove to Princetown for coffee before walking across a small section of Dartmoor to Nun’s Cross. In the afternoon, we spent some time at Buckland Abbey before travelling on to spend the weekend with our lovely friends Jez+Mags at Goveton, near Kingsbridge.
Really enjoyed our time with J+M (as always)… the weather was beautiful and we ambled through the streets on Salcombe and along the beach at Thurlestone. Relaxing with great mates over fine food and good wine and in such a beautiful location – you just can’t beat it!
Photo: I also enjoyed sitting in the conservatory on my own first thing each morning (listening to Ludouico Einaudi) and gazing across the fields to the horizon on the opposite side of the valley. This was the view....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

more books

Without a shadow of doubt, the last nine months or so have seen me read more books than at any other time in my life… which obviously says an awful lot about my past reading habits!
I’ve found the experience hugely pleasurable. Latest books include:
The Other Side of the Bridge (Mary Lawson): Set in Northern Ontario, it follows the lives of a handful of people from a remote town amid wilderness and farming land. It’s essentially a story of decency – and it’s beautifully told.
The Other Hand (Chris Cleave): The book cover says “Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens… The magic is in how it unfolds”. Pretty melodramatic perhaps (and somewhat over the top methinks!)? I’ll just say it’s about immigration, globalisation, political violence and personal accountability…. and I couldn’t put it down.
Letters Home (Fergal Keane): I’ve just re-read this. Keane is a real hero of mine and I find his writing style absolutely compelling. He writes with amazing economy and in such an evocative way. It’s a collection of essays: “from close to home”; “from a European war”; “from Ireland”; “from a drifting continent”; and “from elsewhere”. Just beautifully eloquent.
How to be Good (Nick Hornby): Hornby is one of my favourite authors… he’s clever and he makes me laugh! Actually, I have to say I was a little disappointed by this one – just too contrived for my liking, despite some wonderful dialogue and observations.
Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama): Despite the fact that Obama is another of my heroes, I’d resisted the temptation to buy a copy - on the basis that it would just be another opportunity for a politician to bang on about their own personal manifesto. However, Moira urged me to read it (and she NEVER reads autobiographies!). She was absolutely right… it’s quite brilliant – although, with our own impending General Election, I fear that it will just reinforce my scepticism about the quality of most of the key political players on this side of the pond! It was written in 1995 and tells of his childhood, his time spent as a “community organiser” in Chicago and, finally, his travels to Kenya. A truly wonderful, impressive book (and now he’s even more of a hero!).
PS: also great that the book includes a mention of the time he spent with our lovely friends Ewan+Mo Wilkinson (referred to as “Wilkerson” in the book!) during his stay in Kenya. How about that!!

Friday, April 09, 2010

buckley boys (and girl!)

Moira+I returned home yesterday evening after spending a lovely couple of days in Lancashire with Alice+Dave+Mikey+Dan. Great to see everyone again - all the boys were in very good form (apart from a blip from Dave when Man U lost!) and Alice was looking fit+well in her final couple of months of pregnancy. Dan was very pleased to have another footballer around to play with (not Moira!) and we were very impressed with Mikey’s brilliant table manners!
Had a very enjoyable afternoon at Sea World in Blackpool. I spent most of my childhood holidays at Blackpool, but couldn’t quite believe just how incredibly tacky the place had now become (or maybe it was ALWAYS like that and I just didn’t notice?). But nevermind, “Sea World” (or whatever it was called) was excellent and Mikey, in particular, was completely mesmerised by some of the fish and spent a considerable amount of his time standing on a footbridge looking down on them as they clocked up the laps of their tank.
Very good to have some chill time with them all.
Photo: Moira, Dan+Mikey on “Mikey’s Bridge” at Sea World.

Monday, April 05, 2010

“e” is for easter… and eating.

The Broadway family Easter eating frenzy continued yesterday. Hannah+Fee+Ruth+Stu+Iris+Rosa joined us for a roast pork lunch at our house (well, Han had a veggie version!), followed by various cheeses, amoretti biscuits and Felix’s wonderful homemade cakes (left over after his mother’s birthday celebrations the day before).
A really lovely afternoon.
Earlier in the day Moira+I had gone to St Mary Redcliffe’s for the Easter service – which proved to be excellent (and it’s such a beautiful building). But, actually, the highlight for us was going up for communion while the wonderful choir were singing Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus at full blast.
A truly exhilarating experience.
Photo: Felix’s cakes!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

good friday breakfast

Moira+I joined Hannah+Fee for a scrummy breakfast yesterday at Ruth+Stu’s. Entertainment was duly provided by Iris+Rosa (actually, mainly Iris as Rosa slept for some of the time!). After our delicious food, Iris insisted on reading/showing us all stories the way they do in the local library followed by us singing our favourite songs (…. the way they also do in the local library!). We even had dancing around the May Pole, complete with coloured ribbons and me as the pole (a little early perhaps, but it’s always best to be prepared)!
It made for a very enjoyable start to the holiday.
Photo: Iris at the breakfast table, complete with plaits – courtesy of Hannah.