July 2013


See on Scoop.itReligion

Christopher Bounds‘s insight:

I think that this issue will have some deep relevance for me over the rest of the year, particularly as I set out on my pilgimage to Santiago. It has already been an important point of reference as I worked through a number of issues, both before and after my immersion experience at Isoudun with the Cor Novum team. I think that the existential perspective speaks best to me, but I see the affront to our sense of the way of the world reveals a deeper reality than common sense or the scientific method allows us.

Or is that just poetry? Don’t go there…

See on www.reasons.org

See on Scoop.itThe ICT and iPad Pilot

Ten Secrets To Surviving As A Teacher in K-20 education

Christopher Bounds‘s insight:

This is a great way of reminding ourselves why we started teaching and why we should stay teaching.

See on www.teachthought.com

Well, every trip should finish with a celebration of highlights, high jinks and learning both good and bad. This is my list in no particular order.

  1. Don’t be afraid to build a basilica out of a barn.
  2. Never walk past a Michelin Restaurant. Somehow, God will open the door, and your wallet.
  3. Always download an offline map app to your iPhone, and remember to download the maps as well.
  4. Make sure you have the tube and metro apps on your phone, but don’t trust the National Rail Timings.
  5. Check the time of the last train, it could be a long walk home.
  6. Sooner or later, you have to sleep. It is impossible to do it all.
  7. Boring people do boring things, so don’t do boring things and you won’t meet them.
  8. Waitresses in pubs love a smile, waitresses in cafes couldn’t give a stuff.
  9. If you can’t find the shop, keep walking. The one you weren’t looking for is even more interesting.
  10. Forget the size of the hotel room. What are you doing in it anyway?
  11. It’s amazing how far you can get with a day trip.
  12. You always pack too much, so get rid of it. Anything that won’t dry overnight should be left behind.
  13. Pay extra for a shower, and it massage, food and a lounge are included, you have struck gold.
  14. The drugs don’t work. Just enjoy the drink, have a good book and hope the movies are ok.

And the meals?

  1. la Cognette of course</li
  2. Riverside At Stratford
  3. Either of the pubs I frequented in London
  4. Jan’s lunch

Time to fly!

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I looked at my passport while waiting to go through Passport Control at St Pancras and the thought came to mind that I didn’t even have a passport ten years ago. How life changes, and how those changes make you realise the impermanence of life. It has been such a lucky ride and one can only appreciate it while one can.

I’m sitting in front of one of the original ugly Australians, probably called Dazza, whose voice is as musical as sawing corrugated iron and the conversation has yet to get beyond basic boofhead. Fantastic! Stupid old bastard. First trip overseas and I hope he falls off the Eiffel Tower. Rather a contrast to the woman who sat beside me at the phone-charging desks. Darling, I want to send some flowers to Nigella (yes, and it went on and on). In pots, if you can. I want the new house to be lovely. So hard moving out — even when the rent on the new place is astronomical). Oh no, I don’t think it will be a scandal, he’s too much the gentleman (to completely throttle her in public). And I won’t be in this afternoon, I have some important things to do (like pissing over to Paris on Eurostar). People are very strange and sometimes surprising.!

On the other hand, I’ve had some lovely conversations with perfect strangers since leaving Issoudun, a couple in broken Franglais, some encounters with Aussies, Kiwis, Poms, and Yanks. All good company and better when doing things that are a bit out there. The more interesting the activity, the better the company, I’ve decided. Boring people do boring things. And it’s amazing how far a simple compliment can get you. The young woman who sat beside me from Banbury this morning did an instant makeup transformation while I was turning pages and I joked about two minute magic. She saw the joke and we laughed about the superiority of women over men all the way to Marylebone.

So, in honour of a voyage that was not all fun, and remembering a home-coming that may not be all I want (thanks, Board of Studies), here are the best bits of the passport, because even I am losing track of the trips.

  1. Wien Schwechaf 18 November 2006, which s the first stamp, I think.
  2. immigration Officer Paris 2 Dec 2006, leaving Paris to go to London during the first trip.
  3. Immigration Officer Dublin Port 16 Dec 2006 — getting off the ferry in Dublin
  4. <lImmigration Officer Heathrow 27 Dec 2008

  5. Left Londres 27 Dec 2008 (the beginning of trip 2)
  6. Left Paris Nord 14 Jan 2009 (the end of trip 2)
  7. Immigration Officer Paris 14 Jan 2009 (UK Immigration at Paris Nord on the way to London)
  8. Immigration Australia 5 Jan 2010, which is the trip to Christchurch, I think.
  9. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, ADMITTED, thank you America, 26 June 2010, San Francisco heading north
  10. Canada June 26 2010: Vancouver Airport
  11. Another stamp from Homeland Security, confusingly dated 24 Sept 2010.
  12. Immigration Thailand 23 Sept 2012, on the way to Koh Samui.
  13. Immigration Koh Samui 29 Sept 2012, coming back.
  14. Singapore Immigration Visit Pass
  15. Singapore immigration 29 Sept 2012 (that was the lightning tour of the city
  16. Roissy CDG 20 June 2013, arriving for the Issoudun Pilgrimage
  17. Left Paris Nord 29 June 2013, catching Eurostar to London this trip.
  18. The latest, 3 July 2013, homeward bound from London.

So there it is, and its a shame that one doesn’t always get a stamp. How can you win the prize if you can’t collect all the stamps? So there, New Zealand!

Fuck. He is called Dazza. The Ugly Australian Abroad. Time to go home.

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The time is really speeding by and I’m already thinking of home; in fact, dragging a bag up to Stratford was the last thing I felt like, but I was looking forward to the evening so needs must.

We’ll come back here together, but never in summer. Any sense of Shakespeare is completely ruined by the queue outside the birthplace and the other major attractions. I foreswore tourist traps and went for a walk instead, doing what I cold with the camera, given the grey old day. I think one of the things I have learned on this trip is that you carry a camera for photography, not happy snaps. If you want a memento, an iPhone is fine, or a good point and shoot. Forget all the crossover stuff. If it is worth shooting, it is worth dragging a real camera; and if it is worth areal camera, then it is worth the time. I followed Luke’s advice and took some time, and decided to take the best pictures after dark, when the lack of light wold make no difference.

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Like all English towns, there is a contrast between the heritage bit and the real life of the town. Step outside of the centre and there are factories and council houses, while even the town itself has a bit of interwar blah and postwar blechh. The kitsch factor was well in evidence: who would stay in a B and B called Hamlet House? I would be worried about poison in the ear, would obsessively check behind curtains and worry about the cutlery at breakfast.

The bits that are truly nice are down near the river. The integration of the old theatre and Elisabeth Scott’s building i beautiful and the river itself picture perfect.

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I wandered along the longboat quays and marveled over the lock mechanism. From here, canals could take you down two-century old waterways to London, Birmingham, Liverpool and beyond. The better pubs were outside the centre (thanks for lunch, Dirty Duck) and the walk along the banks to Holy Trinity Church better than the tourist talk would have you believe. There were only fifteen people in the church when I got there. The rest were still queuing for Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

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The hotel was excellent, especially for the money. I had a big room in the newer section, behind the 1540s half-timbered bit, which faced the Guild Church and King Edward VI Grammar School, very familiar territory for bardolators. There was no point shopping, because I had not room in the pack and much of what I found was tat. I was taken with a mug and tie from the RSC but someone would be bound not to get the joke when I turned up with “CHILDREN ARE MAGGOTS” on my coffee or a tie printed with Shakespearean insults. Life is rather dull.

The evening was rather better but needed sharing. I had great meal in the Rooftop Restaurant. The show was a knockout but I really need the program to comment in full — and it’s in my bag! Have to finish with photos.

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I had the trains all worked out today and even then the timings were tight, so tomorrow’s trip to Stratford-upon-Avon will have to be more generously planned. I traveled pretty light and headed up into Cambridgeshire for what I thought wold be an interesting and relaxing day.

The trip, once outside London, was glorious, with the flat fields on either side of the line. I hopped off the train at the Parkway and kicked the 25 minutes to the gate, across the M1and through the fields to the IWM entrance. I was greeted with the greatest of courtesy by an elderly gentleman, obviously a volunteer, who made me feel very welcome and upsold me a guidebook! Then it was into the museum, and I realised what I was up against.

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I would never bring Paula here: she would kill me in five minutes. Not only was there the main exhibition hall, with more planes that you could possibly imagine, but there was a Battle of Britain exhibition, the American Air Force display, the Paras Museum, Land and Sea (mostly Fleet Air Arm), tons of bits of aircraft under restoration and conservation in hangers, the Land Warfare exhibition and, to cap it off, many private vintage aircraft under restoration or actively flying. Two biplanes, a Nimrod and a Gladiator, had flights in the afternoon. Sadly, the Mustang didn’t take off but looked very pretty out on the grass. Did I forget to mention the Ops Room and the historic Duxford display.

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I spent every minute of seven hours walking the joint, with a coffee stop. I must have gone miles. The quality of the exhibits was outrageously good in the main halls, but the most interesting things were often in the areas where work was being done, or where the private aircraft were held. The IWM does not restore aircraft to flying condition, it’s too expensive to keep them licensed, but the private owners were pottering around planes, servicing and reconstructing. Amazing.

What did I see? I just have to list what I can remember…

  • The fastest Concorde, the one they used in the testing.
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  • Mosquito
  • Canberra
  • Harrier
  • Jaguar
  • Spitfires, from Mark I through to F24
  • Vulcan bomber
  • HP Victor
  • Shackleton
  • Panavia Tornado
  • Bristol Fighter
  • Bearcat
  • Wildcat
  • Hellcat
  • TR2
  • SR71

And on and on… it was just a huge day. Here are just a few of the photos.

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This was going to be a cheap day! I started with a run and got terribly ambitious. I made it all the way down to Battersea Park and through to the Albert Bridge, then back along Cheyne Walk. Ten kms all up was pretty impressive. Essentially, I did a chunk of the Thames Path, and I thoroughly recommend it. It would make a great day walk, or two, or three…

I pulled everything together for the day, folded the washing and headed off to see Jan. Of course, I trusted the Underground app on my phone and the National Rail website. My advice is, don’t. There is no allowance made for transferring between stations and platforms, which is quite a big deal on some of the stations. Hence, I missed my train, but it all came good and jan was able to pick me up from Tonbridge. The weather was glorious — and had I brought a hat? No….

Roddy was there with his wife and young Jamie, the sole grandchild of the McDonald clan, for years and and red headed. We had a great lunch and a walk through the fields. Kent could not have been more glorious and the smell of mown hay and wildflowers filled the air.

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Gus the lurcher was still the most interesting dog and apparently loves finding deer and badgers. We didn’t see a badger but I could hear deer in the thickets and rabbits flitting across the grass as Gus belted across the field. Everyone seems to have horses who all want to have a talk.

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Jan is unchanged and looked well, having competent recovered from her cancer and the treatment. Her garden is expanding, with a veggie patch looking pretty productive.

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The stables are still there and she still rides her one remaining horse, Ariodante. It was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon a trip like this.

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I caught the train back to London just after five, sunburnt and cheerful, but of course I had not left time for dinner before I met Luke for my photography course, so it was a quick ciabatta roll from M & S and of we went again

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I was wondering how on earth you would do night photography when it was not dark until ten, but that was OK. Luke, who turned of to be great company, was a freelance designer when he wasn’t raining his business, and as I was his only customer than night, gave me the in depth course on composition. We did it all, through the golden hour and the blue hour, talking photos and life in general. Luke’s goal was to take less exposures and better shots: get the composition right and then you could play with the controls.

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This was good fun. I started to work with exposure compensation and then move from semi-auto to full manual. Luke showed me a couple of great shortcuts. One shot (of the egg) must have taken us an hour of discussion and experiment, but I think I managed a couple near the Hilton that even surprised Luke. I didn’t come back with hundreds of pictures, but there are about ten exposures that are worth playing with in Lightroom and putting in the portfolio.

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The last shot was a unique view of the done of Saint Paul’s. I caught the last train home and staggered into bed at midnight, ready to do it all again.

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