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Goings on

I promise to ditch this URL in favour of a .blog to reflect what it is – my ramblings. Why I even make it public is another matter. Ever since I started blogging in 1999 all I ever wanted was a ‘mind dump’, somewhere to gather thoughts, express ideas and set down in one place stuff that I would then be able to readily find at a later date. Thus the tags and categories. Thus the eclectic nature of it. But remember, I am ADHD. Or was. Or still am. Depending on if I pay for a diagnosis or turn to the NHS! Or whether I am seeking medical advice in the UK or the US.

I thrive on it – most of the time. For the rest there is CBD.

I have promised a friend to make a start blogging about my activity on social media – on Twitter in particular. I used to be very content dependent – as if I could be a one-man publishing industry with Tweets at the ready, several a day, ready to fly, retweet and regurgitate every year. Now that I am reaching out to a global community of Greens I find I am more likely to be seeking out the content produced by others, identifying themes, sharing, liking, commenting … and retweeting with comments.

The outcomes are in the stats: not simply followers/following all the rest of it from Twitter Analytics: shares, likes, links and so on.

Ultimately, with Greens it has to be about influencing change, increasing membership, developing activities, nudging policy and … raising funds. Not surprising that big business and those in it are least likely to push funds our way, so I rather think we need to be attracting the wealthy philanthropist with a hankering for nature conservation and saving the planet and all the things in it: plants, animals and people. I am ready to be corrected. I would hope renewables as they take over from fossil fuels, if not an offshoot of the oil/gas industry, would wish to back us.

Meanwhile, I’ll get back to my trees, shrubs, life drawing and swim lesson plans. Trees are shedding leaves early to save water I have notices, shrubs are doing the same. My fern is dead, along with a 15 year old beech I replanted early this year and failed to water thoroughly these last few months – and the mint has died. The succulents are thriving, as is the ivy and brambles. I encourage both.

Life Drawing is on next week. I should ‘get my hand in’ a bit over the next few days reworking previous drawings and drawing anyone who will sit for me.

As for swimming? The club has a handful of elite performance swimmers at the Nationals. We’ve had several in finals, a gold and a few bronze medals too. Did I teach them seven or eight years ago when they first joined the club? Most likely. I have coached them the odd session while covering for the Head Coach. The amount of work they have to put in is quite extraordinary, truly superhuman (and the time parents need to dedicate to their elite athlete too getting them to training and galas).

Onwards. The day is young.


17 November 2016 1913-1914


Order books from Amazon related to 1914: two on Kindle and the Peter Simpkins’ book on Kitchener’s Army in print. All to set the scene, and cover before, during and after the two week episode where 11,000 recruits to Kitchener’s Army turned up in Lewes, a Sussex market town with a population of a little over 10,000 and had to be billeted.

I feel I am speaking out the broad background to events in Lewes but need specific reports, letters or diaries to provide the necessary detail. Should I find out in which houses they stayed and locate the public buildings? How were they fed? Where were the entertainments held? Will the Regimental Diary for 22nd Division tell me anything? How many Lewes men had either gone to France or were in training in another part of the country as Territorials or as new recruits?

I’m on antibiotics and prescription painkillers to try and tame my sinus pain. I am dehydrated at night and have a migraine like headache all the time.

14 November 2016 Diary of the First World War


British local advance east of Butte de Warlencourt – 100 years ago today.

It is my indulgence and joy to be working up ‘Diary of the War’ and adding to The Times Diary of the War excerpts from the Somme Day by Day and Les 300 Jours de Verdun : neither produce a satisfying read, not a story on the day, but rather fragments scattered across Europe (east, west and south) and the oceans.

What it needs, as I recall York Museum doing, is having a variety of ‘timelines’ geared in turn to a younger or older male and female, or perhaps the reference to a survivor, so that we see the war through their eyes.

Hurriedly an event is created for a talk Tom or by Sir Richard Evens on the ‘Pursuit of Power’ – too late for it to reap its rewards but I downloaded his book and am about to read.

Having walked Evie around Stanley Turner, picked up a repeat prescription and bought some food to feed me and an ill TBT who is at home rather than college, I had planned to spend some time in The Keep only to find I have lost my reader’s ticket and on getting there I find it is closed on Mondays.

Giving the need to feed TBT up I made a casserole with lamb.

Meanwhile, I grab at every book I might read, suggested by contacts and colleagues.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind I want to be in France, potentially back in Bourg St Maurice.

Swimming: assessments.

Grade 4s followed by Grade 5s. So I impressed with their progress I push both groups to be assessed at the higher grade. The sessions are based on an IM, with dives and drills, picking out collective faults to fix. Though doing this for 14 years I come to appreciate now how vital it is to ensure that every swimmers knows and understands exactly what it is they are expected to do. With one drill, ‘backstroke hesitation’ I will now lie on the poolside to show how the arm should be pointing straight up to the ceiling; fir breaststroke arms I get them out and lean over a railing to show how they need to keep the pull in front of the shoulders and get the arms out smartish.

Home to the lamb stew, a Black Mirror short and Robert Twigger’s book ‘White Mountain’.

12 November 2016 The Crown


An early start and onto the iMac to check WFA, post an item to Facebook and then begin to load images from France taken on my iPhone, iPad and Sony Alpha 7 camera.

Run up to Haywards Heath for swimming lessons with the club.

There is relief that I am there. The double lane of Grade 5s go first: 11 young swimmers, mostly age 9 or 10, one boy with them. Backstroke. I am clear about drills, press them to get them right and go to some length to demonstrate these with considerable care, even laying down across a large float poolside to demonstrate ‘hesitation drill’. It feels harsh to push this grade and age to do two lengths kicking in ‘streamline’ position, but they do it. These days, as the squads have done for two years, there is no use of floatations devises – or flippers, or pull-buoys. It has been shown to be better to teach ‘raw’ something we’re feeling obliged to do after some contre-temps between the club and the pool managers.

A migraine-like headache keeps me in front of the TV or asleep in bed.

I use the opportunity to watch several more episodes of the brilliantly written, portrayed and produced Netflix series ‘The Crown’.

9 November 2016 Trump Elected


Up at 1:00pm to follow Clinton / Trump race.

I give it an hour to see Trump overtake, then stay up another hour in shock. Certain Trump will now win I go to bed. Up again at 5:30am and it isn’t over yet, though the chances for Clinton are now exceedingly slim, if not hopeless.

With my one English Lawyer in France not replying to me I email three others hoping not to have a wasted journey to Lyon tonight.

One comes back, but I’m not sure of the local geography and times I’ll need between places.

In that kind of hyper mood I take the dog for a walk around Stanley Turner.

Then I get 200 Euro for a little under £200 and have a haircut.



 ‘Smartness’ online is the product of teamwork

It is a chamber orchestra rather than a philharmonic:  rarely an unsupported solo act.
Content very quickly looks tired and dated unless it is relevant, well expressed. Where delivered digitally it has to have those apparent and hidden ‘clever bits.’ It links to stuff, it engages, it might embed video, it invites people to connect and share … i.e. an eNewsletter is so much more than a piece of print distributed by email.

This graphic is my attempt to explain this further: content (text, images, video), with design (layout, branding, readability) and ‘smart‘ (links, tracking/understanding the audience, share, interaction … and much that I can’t even start to imagine that can make a more personalised ‘communiqué.’
My role of the digital editor, like an editor on any platform, print, TV, or radio, as well as creating or editing/managing the content, must make sure that the audience get this extra ‘smart‘ input. This is both whatever an eNewsletter does on the surface: register with this, join that, read this, do that, come to this, action that, but also the ‘analytics’ in the background.
I choose to receive eNewsletters from all kinds of organisations and have been looking at them closely. Keeping up is not easy. The very best are simple, clear, readable in a wink, engaging … and invariably connect invitingly to committing to a paid subscription or membership and want you to read it every month too.
If I should set a goal for any eNewsletter it is that not only does it engage and appeal to my readers, but they think it’s so interesting they want to share it with potential new readers.

A few days in Beadnell

Fig.1 The Point, Beadnell, Northumberland. Sunrise, 28th December 2014

This morning I set off on a tour of my childhood holiday destination, the Northumberland fishing village of Beadnell; age something to 11 this is where we spent every Easter and Summer, many half-terms and weekends too.

Fig. 2. The rocks, looking north east from Beadnell Village towards the Farnes Islands and the Longstone Lighthouse.

I grew up amongst the rocks, the pools, on the shingle and grit beaches and walking and exploring the sandy bay, dunes, 18th century lime kilns and ancient harbour. A visit once a decade brings back found memories of fishing around in pools exposed by the retreating tide, collecting fossils, clambering on low cliffs, fishing off the harbour wall, playing ‘kick the can’ in the dunes, making dams in the water outfly halfway around the bay, the ‘quick sand’ around the mouth of the river and sliding down sandy dunes.

I see our cottage, learning to ride a bike, my father’s keys locked in the car, roses up the side of the house, my grandfather in the shed making toy boats, my mother in the kitchen cooking shrimps …

Forty five years ago.

Little things come to mind: the different texture of pebbles, grit, sand, cliff-top grass to the feet. The fingers that jut into the north sea are made from volcanic rock.

Fig. 3 The ‘Point’ Beadnell.

The memories of jelly fish dead on the beach, of eating crabs being landed by fisherman very early on a summer’s morning, their net sheds, the clanking of halyards on sailing dinghies now gone – no boats in moored in the bay where once there were too long rows, many of the dune now thick with gorse designed to protect them. A noisy place now quiet.

Fig.4 The public footpath from the beach caravan park across fields to Beadnell Village.

I pass through a ‘kissing gate.’ Age six or so I was told that one also kissed when passing through such a gate, and for decades after I enforced this culture on others: kiss the person behind as you pass through the gate.

Walking through the old village I turn away from the tiny cemetery by the church under the rookery as it spooked me as a boy and it spooks me now.

Fig.5 The view to the old harbour and lime kilns, Beadnell Bay at low tide. Dusk. 28th December 2014. 

Without tagging this is your blog

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. The contents of your learning journal, or e-portfolio or blog could look like this

As I’m prompted to do so, or is this just a MAC thing? I now tag documents downloaded to my desktop. They can be found wherever I or the operating system has buried them.

I tag religiously here (except, since a month ago, when writing from my iPad as it crashes the page and the iPad ?!).

I tag for a number of reasons:

I jot down ideas and thoughts, facts, even grab, cut and paste stuff that may be of use later so tag it so that I can tickle it out later as the mood or need fancies.

By tagging by module, and by activity you can then regularly go back and add a further tag as you plan a TMA (tutor marked assignment) or EMA (end of module assignment). For example, L120 is my current module. I will (or should) add L120A1 perhaps or L120S1 to identify an activity or session (NOT necessarily shared at all if I am giving away answers potentially or breaching copyright too blatantly by privately ‘curating’ content). Potentially L120TMA1 obviously helps me pull out content pertinent to this. That’s the idea anyhow. The OU used to have an e-portfolio called MyStuff, a bit clunky, but it did this and then allowed you to re-shuffled the deck as it were, to give order to the things you picked. In theory you then have a running order for an assignment.

Tag clouds, number of tags or simply the weight and size of the font, indicates the strength and frequency of certain themes and ideas. When playing with the idea of an ‘A-to-Z of e-learning’ it was easier for me to see, under each letter, what I ought to select … and then immediately have a load of examples, some academic, some anecdotal, all personal to me, at hand.

I come here to find things I’ve lost! Amongst 20,000 saved images I know I have a set from early training as a Games Volunteer for the London Olympics. I searched here, clicked on the image and thus found the album in Picasa Web (now Google Pics). Why can’t I do that in my picture/photo pages? Because I never tagged the stuff. There is no reliable search based on a visual – yet.

No one can or should do this for you.

My blog and e-portfolio is fundamentally and absolutely of greatest value to me alone. So why allow or encourage others to rummage in the cupboards of my brain? Because it tickles and stimulates me to share views, find common or opposing views and to believe that others are getting something from it.


From E-Learning V

Fig.1. My stab at a popplet.

I added some orange hair. Themed for the 5th of November as this is how I look on the streets of Lewes at this time of year. 

As kids we had a word that sounds very like this … ‘plopplets’. We had a variety of words for poo.

With thanks to Veronique Masse Du Bois who is using Popplets as part of H818. By sharing and me picking up on it she’s achieved some outcome for H818: The Networked Practitioner if I recall having it done this module of the MA ODE last year.

A sucker for trying out anything new and visual I have downloaded Popplets onto an iPad and will now proceed to mangle the French language, at least the grammar I’ve supposedly learnt these last two weeks. And illustrate it too.

Other cool idea organisation Apps I’ve used:

The value to you of keeping a diary or learning journal

From E-Learning V

Fig.1. March 1975 ….

I kept a diary for twenty years: age 13 1/2 to my forties … with a few months off from decade to decade. It is self-indulgent navel gazing to look back at its contents which I do extremely rarely. An indulgent scrapbook thing covering a teen exchange to France is fun; did a Mars Bar really once cost 3p !! And a photo journal of a five month gap year job working my arse off in a hotel in France too. And have a vibrant record of children from birth to walking and talking too.

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. A reading list from 1978

It always amazes me should I stumble upon an old school text book or any of the above as my mind is instantly taken back and I am flooded with boyish ideas.

This blog is something else.

This is a Learning Journal and Portfolio and I’ve kept it since February 2010. Just about all a module’s activities go in here (40% hidden). I know where to find stuff because I’ve tagged it all. Needing to assess how far I have come, and what themes I can see, what I know and can apply from the seven MAODE modules I have completed – five completed the MAODE, the following two could go towards a M.Ed or MSc.

It is fulfilling in itself as an aide memoire to be reminded of how much I have covered, what therefore I should know, how I learn this and in the context of the changing technology how rapidly things are moving. Learning is evolving fast and in due course we’ll look back at what has happened and compare it to how we no buy books online, how we book holidays online, and how we communicate with each other.

From E-Learning V

Fig.3. The wonders of FutureLearn

At the minute e-learning is like a firework that has just exploded; we are watching it in awe. At some moment a thousand fireballs will light up the clouds and we’ll take in the whole picture and conclude that things have changed forever.

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