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After a break of nearly five months I’ve eventually come to a decision regarding this blog and the way forward.   I am going to continue to post on here but for personal stuff.  I’ve started a new work based blog on Inclusive Learning which is also on WordPress.  I discussed the separation of work and home identities on a recent podcast with James Clay on eLearningstuff.

On a personal note, now living in Leeds is great and I’m really looking forward to a walking holiday in France at the beginning of April.  The maps arrived today – St Raphael, Cannes/Grasse among others.   We’ve got the cats sorted – with a very fussy lady coming to feed them while we are away.

Well I’m back after a brilliant four days in Scarborough.  I landed back at Leeds Bradford airport and the stewardess greeted us with the ‘welcome to another glorious August day in Leeds – it is 15 degrees outside and raining’.  This didn’t bode well for the trip but in fact it turned out to be wonderful.  After taking the train down to Castleford to pick up a car and managing to cross the new bridge, a really spectactular piece of art/engineering.  It’s hard to believe that the river there is the same one that trickles past my house in the Dales.   I arrived in Scarborough in glorious sunshine and immediately went up to the cricket ground and managed to blag myself in for a reduced rate as it was half way through the afternoon session.  Yorkshire were playing Kent and had got off to a good start.  This was the first time I was going to sit through a full four days of cricket – a bit of a test for me also.  The next few days saw the game go backwards and forwards with Yorkshire eventually throwing an easy win away and only just managing a draw.  I learnt a few lessons – when you are sitting watching a match for essentially 7 hours you need a range of clothing from shorts, t-shirts and sun sceen in the sun to thick jackets and woollies for the late afternoon hours.  The Yorkshire crowd were nothing if not amusing and friends there had a number of choice if rather politically incorrect names for various regulars in the crowd.  Some members where not afraid of shouting advice to the Captain (Darren Gough) the team and even to the PA announcer.  We stayed in a lovely little hotel called Interludes.  It is a theatre themed hotel with each room decorated in the style of different theatres – we were in Odeon so it was all art-deco and mirrors! It also had a magnificent view of the harbour and South Bay which changed all the time.

View from Odeon Room in Interludes Hotel

View from Odeon Room in Interludes Hotel

We did manage some traditional holiday stuff, fish and chips on the beach, visit to Anne Bronte’s grave and a trip to the theatre to see an Alan Ayckborn play.   S’been a fab holiday.

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! 

Last weekend the whole family descended on a small village in Derbyshire to celebrate the official naming ceremony for Finlay, who was born in January this year.  What a delightful child he is and he behaved beautifully.  Saturday night we all arrived and headed off to the pub.  It was great that my brother was over from Denmark/Tanzania (he has a hell of a commute!) and his sons Joe and Nickwere there.

The Valentine boys, Joe, Steve and Nick.

On Sunday it was all hands to the pump to get the food and room ready.  There was enough food to feed about 400 people and 70 were expected!  Sarah and Paul had written the ceremony themselves and it was perfect.  Paul choked slightly while he was making his promises to Finlay and I was thankful I’d stocked up on tissues.  I then did a reading from the book, The Velveteen Rabbit which is becoming a family tradition.  Each of the grandmothers gave Finlay a present which represented an element, so an oak sapling for Earth, stream water from Pia’s garden in Denmark for water, a candle that was burning as he was born for fire and then finally Kate my eldest and ‘godmother’ sprinkled fairy dust on him for air.  Each spiritual guide made a promise to Finlay and then finally Paul and Sarah officially named him Finlay Jack McCarthy.  So welcome young man.

He was such a good boy, looked at the right person and the right time and smiled and gurgled all the way through.

And his great Aunt got a cuddle also.

YouTube have announced the winners of the most popular clips on their site for 2007 as voted for by viewers. At the same time Professor Michael Wesch from Kansas State University, who produced the ‘Vision of Students today’ video has produced some statistics for the site. Total video uploads as of January 28th this year – 70 million, March 13th 77.4 million and March 17th 78.3 million – suggesting that 150,000 to 200,000 are uploaded each day. They did a short breakdown of categories from a sample – the details of which are here, and came up with some interesting figures.

The time to watch all content, as of 17 March would be 412.3 years.

Amateur content – 80.3%

Uploads probably in violation of copyright – 12%

Average age of uploader 26.57

This is an ongoing piece of research and you can see the wiki for the project here.

I’ve been under the weather a bit in the last couple of days and one thing that helped me ignore the rather unpleasant effects of the ‘winter vomiting virus’ was a brilliant book by Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greaves called The Naked Jape – Uncovering the hidden world of jokes.  It a study of what makes us laugh and why and loads of jokes.  It covers history, politics, religion, race – you name it, it gets a mention.  This is not for those who are easily offended though so don’t rush off and buy it.  It has such gems as:

‘I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do.  And for those who like country music, denigrate means put down.’  – Bob Newhart.

And – ‘Throwing acid is wrong, in some people’s eyes’ – Jimmy Carr.

I was concerned that perhaps analysing humour may well make it a bit earnest and remove the comedy value, but that wasn’t to be.  So Kev, thanks it helped a lot.

And finally, in all the mayhem of last week, I became a Great Aunt as my neice gave birth to a baby boy.  So welcome to the world, Finlay Jack McCarthy and congratulations and well done to your new Mum and Dad.  Big kiss and hugs from me – I’ll be down there very soon!

With all the excitement of the conference last week I forgot to post something on this blog’s first birthday. Last Monday it was one year old. It started as I prepared to travel to Tanzania to see my brother and the work he and his wife Pia are doing there. I had a fantastic trip and they really are making a difference to the people who live and work round Emau Hill. Their charity is relaunching their website soon so hopefully there will be something more I can post about. I really can also recommend three weeks of sunshine in a miserable and cold English winter.

Since then the blog has sort of developed a life of it’s own and it just depends what is particularly engaging me at any one moment. I’ve added tags as different subjects have come up and have included some work related posts also. The viewing figures still continue to increase and I thought I would never repeat the 72 hits I got when I first started and told everyone about it; I now get over 1000 per week and the busiest day so far was last week when 216 people visited. Not massive numbers admittedly, but it keeps me happy. In fact it has become quite a friend in a way and when I’ve been busy and had no time to post anything, it starts to nag – sigh.

Well Happy New Year everyone. I suppose now is the time to look back at the year and pick out the highs and forget the lows.

Well the year started with all the preparations for going out to Tanzania and that was definitely a high. It prompted the start of this blog which will be one year old on the 14th of this month and I’ve enjoyed posting a selection of random thoughts and ideas. It does seem to have now got the shorter identity of ‘Lisa’s Cotton Knickers’ – thanks Dave for the public mention at the RSC Conference. I hope I’ve managed to raise a bit of awareness of the work that Steve and Pia are doing at Emau Hill for Tukae.

It’s been a year of conferences, some good – HandHeld Learning, some not so good, the afformentioned RSC event! Others have been our own at the De Vere in Blackpool, an excellent single day at Salford University where I was introduced to jaiku, and a badly organised day at Manchester University (note to conference organisers, don’t make the delegates wait till 2 pm for lunch – they get crotchety).

Books of the year must include Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, as well as Kalheid Hussein’s A Thousand Splended Suns, Julian Barnes’ Arthur and George and yet more Bronte stuff. I’m looking forward to reading one of my Christmas presents, Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer as well as two more Shakespeare books, The Lodger by Charles Nichols and Bill Bryson’s latest.

It has also been the year of Facebook. What will come next? Bebo will become more popular; they are already getting new fans with KateModern – a 21st Century soap starring amongst others Ralph Little – check it out here though I think it is the season finale today.

So here’s to a new year and new aspirations. I’ve got a few ideas of what might transpire in the next 12 months, but until I’ve made complete plans it will have to stay under wraps. One thing is certain – I’ll be a Great Aunt in the next few weeks – so Good Luck Sarah and Paul!

Well it is finally over and everyone has returned to their normal life. We had a great and very busy family Christmas with my little sitting room bulging with nine people on Boxing Day. My secret Santa present from work was a box of trivia questions and some charades cards, timer and score cards. These were put to good use. Fastest charade of the season goes to my nephew who when miming – film, one word, was raising his hand to his face as someone shouted Jaws. Most bizarre mime must go to daughter number one, who throttled herself, then lay on the floor dead, and waved her arm about – obviously the phrase, ‘over my dead body’

kate-mime.jpg

Kate in action

We had also been loaned youngest daughter’s Wii console. Oh what fun it is to wave remote controls around. I scored a hole in one at golf and the shrieks of delight could probably be heard across the Pennines. One day, the girls went off riding and so one of the boyfriends and I were pottering about the house. After lunch, I suggested a game of ten pin bowling – oh dear. By the time the girls were back we were on to game number 15 and I couldn’t move the following day.

Quotations of the season have to include my answer to the trivia question – ‘Who are the four evangelists’ and I just automatically started – ‘John, Paul, George – err?’ and finally, ‘Which Hebrew prophet went to heaven in a chariot of fire?’ – stunned quizzical faces.

Give us a clue’

‘He has the first name of the hobbit’

‘What Bilbo – the prophet Bilbo?’

‘No Elijah’ (Elijah Wood played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy)

Thanks guys it was a blast.

In 1955 the Sears Roebuck and Co shop based in Colarado Springs advertised a ‘Santa Hotline‘ with a telephone number for children to call and talk to him. Unfortunately they included the telephone number not of their store but of the Commander in Chief of the Continental Air Defense Command (CoNAD). Rather than disappoint the children that were calling to speak to Santa, the military men and women gave them the location of Santa as they tracked his progress on their radar. They have done it ever since. Of course it is now much more than just a radar track and you can follow his progress via google maps. The site has lots of games based around Santa’s trip. The whole thing is now manned by volunteers and funded by contributions from businesses and individuals.

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