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I watched the various remembrance day commemorations on the various tv channels today and yesterday and was particularly taken with the portrait of Wilfred Owen by  Jeremy Paxman on the BBC.  It was a beautiful and moving portrait of the emergence of a poet and powerful voice in the First World War.  Agonisingly he died on the 4 November 1918, 7 days before the signing of the Armistice on the 11 November 1918.  I had heard a couple of comments that the Remembrance Service is a political campaign – it is not.  It is the simple remembrance of people who have died in the service of their country.  One young man said to me that ‘ In the future it will die out’  I hate to say it but it won’t.  There are still young men and women for whatever reasons losing their lives for the sake of the freedom of other men and women all over the world.  The First World War was the most ridiculous and pointless exercise in political power-play that ever existed but that does not negate the sacrifice that countless young men gave.  Perhaps as an ex-WRAF officer I have a closer link with people who have lost their lives; 5 of my friends are no longer with us as a result of operational duty and so I feel a need to watch the annual events.

On a more flippant note – Strictly Come Dancing had a WWII theme and astonishingly, Brendan was a Flying Officer and Gethin a Wing Commander – do you think the BBC understand the ranking structure of the armed forces?


I read this with disbelief yesterday, then having laughed out loud decided it was actually quite sad.

“A British Lottery scratch-off game sold by Camelot had to be pulled from circulation after the math involved confused too many players. The Cool Cash Lotto ticket dealt with temperatures, often below zero. To win a prize the temperature number under the scratch off had to be lower than the one displayed on the card.

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: “On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn’t.

“I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher – not lower – than -8 but I’m not having it.”

I love the ‘I’m not having it’ bit, so she can look forward to the weatherman announcing that we are expecting temperatures of -20 degrees this weekend – ‘Oh goody, I’ll get my shorts and flip flops out’! I wonder if she knows that her ignorance is being bounced around t’interclacker? I was going to write a post about the state of the Education System in the UK but I’m too depressed.

Well despite it being a year till we find out who the next President of the USA is going to be, it seems the election campaign has started.  The BBC have appointed a north american Editor the sensible and impartial Justin Webb, who has started a blog of his own.  The rumours of dasterdly doing by the Clintons are starting to appear, and although I can’t find any, I’m sure there’ll be similar regarding the Republicans.  Much as we complain about our politics and politicians, the Americans manage to make more a full blown musical than a song and dance about it.

I went to York on the train yesterday to see a demonstration of an ePortfolio product called PebblePad. I had seen one before but wasn’t too keen as it had been customised and wasn’t what I thought an eportfolio should be. However, having seen the real thing I was impressed.

For those unaware, an eportfolio is just what it says on the tin – so instead of having a great big lever arch file full of plastic folders and sheets of paper giving evidence of your achievement, learning, attainment or even attendance at an event, it is all evidenced electronically. The evidence can all be tagged (good, I like tagging not being a very ordered person) and linked and a ‘webfolio’ can be produced to suit the audience. The contents are private and each owner can choose which bits they use to enhance their case.  So as accompanying evidence for a job application for example you would put emphasis on one aspect of your work, but would highlight a different one for application for membership of a professional body. Evidence can range from a blog, thoughts, action plans, profile or graphics and much more. It was originally designed with Higher education students in mind but has been used for primary learners.

I keep most of my work notes in a ‘tiddlywiki’ which although useful, does have its drawbacks – you can’t upload large files for example, so I’m particularly pleased that one outcome of yesterday’s event is that we get a free PebblePad account. I’ll certainly be trialling it and am keen to look at the accessibility of it.

It was also great to meet colleagues from other parts of the North of England again – the Northern Alliance is doing well.

I’ve just finished watching the film, Deep Water, about Donald Crowhurst who attempted the first round the world yacht race in 1968/69.  How incredibly sad – we all have dreams, not many of us have the guts and determination to follow them.  Interestingly that a newspaper was instrumental in the pressure that he felt.  Not just a modern phenomenom then.

I mentioned last week that I was lucky enough to attend a meeting at the University of Cumbria, Ambleside Campus and that the trees were quite magnificent. On checking my phone, I have only a couple of photos but thought I would post them anyway. They are of a spectacular maple/oak tree on the way into the main building.


This was the view from underneath its canopy.


Fantastic colour and quite stunning.

Last night I went to a meeting of our village book group. In fact I don’t think it is the only reading group in the village, but it is very much ours. Started in December 2003 we are nearly 4 years old and still going strong. Although when we started we would sit around and discuss various books and have the odd glass of wine, we have over the years become much more sociable. The host provides the wine and a few nibbles, but we all contribute about £2 towards the drinks and take our turn to be invaded. We tend to vary the themes quite a bit and not simply read one book, we have had themes of, comedy, travel ( spiritual or actual), poetry or even an author’s work or a single book. Last night was Doris Lessing in tribute to her winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in October this year. We had a selection of readings and a lively discussion, which wandered about to include Alfred Nobel himself, how sad people who blog are ( ahem!) and how her work seemed to have a constant theme of disenfranchisement and her early card carrying communist years. Books which were discussed included, The Grass is Singing, her first novel published when she first came to England in 1949, Walking in the Shade, part 2 of her autobiography, The story of a Non-Marrying Man and Martha Quest.

So in tribute to a great bunch of friends and to another productive and entertaining four years, hello to Ruth, Catherine, Gill, Irene (our leader), Michelle (welcome back), Joyce, Shelagh and Christopher, and to those who couldn’t make it last night, Karen, Robin, Jackie, Hilary and Steve. I had a ball.

I was at a meeting yesterday at Britain’s newest university, the University of Cumbria. This is what was, St Martins College, The Cumbria Institute of the Arts in Carlisle, and Newton Rigg in Penrith. I was at the campus in Ambleside which was once the Charlotte Mason teacher training college. What a beautiful campus, I could work there! The trees turning bronze, golden and amber were spectacular and it was sad that I didn’t have the time to stop and take more photos. The meeting was also interesting with a presentation from the Cumbria 14-19 partnership about the implementation of the diplomas for this age group and a final talk about the Learning Gateway an innovative new build learning space on the Fusehill Campus in Carlisle.

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