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Rotterdam is very Dutch – well the rest of the Netherlands is too but I’m here so it holds my attention.  I got here on Sunday after a very quick and pretty uneventful flight – though a few questions come to mind every time I go through an airport.  What is it that makes people think it is fine to sit and drink pints of beer at 7 in the morning because they are going on holiday?  Why are books at airport bookshops 50% bigger than books on the high street and what is the point of handing out packets of tuc biscuits in an attempt to make you think you have been fed? 

The train from Schipol to Rotterdam was fast and smooth and sadly not one of the very exciting double decker ones.  It was great to be met by eldest daughter and once I’d dumped my bags we headed off into the city centre.  There are some intersting buildings including the cube house.

Cube Houses - disorientating inside surely.

Cube Houses - disorientating inside surely.

Yesterday I was up North to Amsterdam.  I spent the whole day there and battled round the Van Gogh museum – I was delighted to see a handful of Gaugain pictures as well as some by Millet and Monet.  Amsterdam is beautiful and there is another delicious view round every corner.

Amsterdam Canal

Amsterdam Canal

So a great day spent doing art, shopping and sitting about reading – bliss.  Oh and finally – Happy Birthday Kate! 

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The Learning and Skills Council have made £4 million available for shared cost mobile learning projects which must be led by an English FE college but can include work based learning providers and schools.  MoLeNET (Mobile Learning Network) was launched last year and a number of colleges and consortia had their bids approved.  Since then there has been some very creative projects ongoing and teachers are using mobile devices in increasingly innovative ways.  They have been particularly successful in engaging diverse learners, including neets (not in Education, Employment or training) ex-offenders and those with learning disabilities or difficulties.  There were 32 successful projects in 2007/08 and they are also invited to bid for further funding.  Their success will be celebrated at a conference at the Emirates Stadium on 18 September – and yes I’ll be there.

On Sunday last we decided to attempt Pen-y-Ghent the final of the Yorkshire Dales ‘Three Peaks’ that we still had to climb.  We took the train to Horton in Ribblesdale which is only 20 minutes from my village and we set off along a gently sloping stony path.  We had decided to do the longer walk rather than the straight up and down to the top and back so were going to walk the full length of the fell, climb the ridge and then walk along the top back to the summit.  The weather was showery and despite having been soaked to the skin on Ingleborough a couple of weeks ago we still didn’t have over trousers (£100 is a lot of money!).  The guide book mentions a couple of pot holes and we could see these by the side of the path.  Then as we approached what seemed to be a dip in the path it very quickly opened up to a 20 m chasm.  This is not for the faint hearted.  It is unfenced and just appears in front of you.  Hull Pot as it is called is said to be the largest natural hole in England.  There is no way down it other than abseiling.  The river normally disappears before it reaches the pot and emerges half way down the wall but as we had had so much rain it cascaded dramatically into the bottom.

It was a real treat and a complete and rather un-nerving surprise.  We trudged on as the showers got heavier and more horizontal and we were repeatedly soaked.  As we got to the bottom of Plover Hill at the far end of the walk I was having problems staying upright in the wind and the prospect of walking into the wind on the ridge on the way back wasn’t too appealing – so I ahem, suggested we re-think and come back another day to get to the top – when it isn’t so windy.  And perhaps we should check the forecast in the Pen-y-Ghent cafe which warned of ‘significant buffeting’ and winds of up to 45 mph.  So we retired hurt to a pint of tea and to dry out.

Hull Pot Beck disappearing

Hull Pot Beck disappearing

Last weekend saw a total eclipse of the sun visible in full from Siberia and China.  Astronomy picture of the day has a brilliant photo.

Explanation: What’s that black dot over the Sun? The Moon. This past weekend, the Sun went dark during the day as the Moon completely covered it. The total solar eclipse was visible over a thin swath of Earth extending from northern Canada to China. As shown above, many sky enthusiasts gathered to witness the total or partial solar eclipse, which lasted only a few minutes. The above image was taken during totality near Barkol in Xinjiang, China, with the Barkol Shan mountain range visible on the horizon. Although the brightest parts of the Sun are covered, the normally invisible corona of hot gas surrounding the Sun became prominent. Just to the upper left of the Moon darkened Sun are planets Mercury and Venus. The increased darkening of the sky toward the right indicates the darkened atmosphere created by the passing shadow cone of the total solar eclipse. The next total solar eclipse will occur next July and be visible in parts of India and China.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to see the fourth day of the test match between England and South Africa at Headingley.  Although it was a terrible result for England – they managed to avoid a defeat by an innings – just but still lost by 10 wickets, it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.  Last weekend I was honoured to be allowed to go and watch Yorkshire play in the County Championship against Surrey.  This was the third time I’d been into Headingley as I had bunked off from my summer job in  1977 to go and see Geoffrey Boycott reach his one hundreth hundred in first class cricket.  On Saturday I was astonished to discover that Mark Ramprakash, the Surrey captain and series 4 winner of Strictly come Dancing, was about to do the same! Despite Yorkshire’s efforts he blasted along to 112 reaching the milestone just after four in the afternoon.

Ramprakash gets his hundreth century

Ramprakash gets his hundreth century

As someone said on the day, it doesn’t happen very often, not many people have seen it done at all and hardly anyone will have seen two with hardly setting foot in a cricket ground in between.  So again it was a pretty boring draw on the day but I enjoy live sport and it was good to be there on such a momentous occasion.

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