Starters, Dandelions and Africa

So there I am in the classroom and no starter activity, if you are not familiar with this process, it can mean that you are a tidgy bit screwed. You need to get students attention immediately, before the phones come out and you lose them all to Face Book, Snap Chat or You Tube, so you need a starter activity. I remembered that only the day before there had been a Dandelion seed storm. I hate them because it means more dandelions and since ‘Snoopy’ our Guinea Pig has gone to The Piggies Retirement Home there is no one to eat them any more. I said rather loudly, “Aha, Dandelions.” Twelve carpentry students all aged between sixteen and seventeen looked at me. ‘Yes,’ I thought, ‘I have your attention.’

“As you all know a starter doesn’t have to be Carpentry based so for the next five minutes I want you to tell me what Dandelions mean to you.” I said. Joe put his hand up and I motioned for him to speak.

“My Dad hates them, he’s always moaning about them, coz they ruin his lawn,” he said.

“Yeah, but they must have a purpose, everything has a purpose, doesn’t it?” Asked Billy. Now I was thinking that this was good, I would let the debate roll for another few minutes and lead them into Japanese Tangle Weed, which was part of our subject for the day. This could be a phone/disruption free lesson then a voice from the back of the class interrupted.

“In my country,” said Ebram a Kenyan boy who had been here about four years continued. “De Cheetah runs faster dan-de-lion.” This brought about howls of laughter, phones came out to check if that was actually the case and disruption ruled, thanks Ebram. He did state later that this was an old joke his father had told him. No real harm done but I always ensure that I have a starter activity prepared 😏

Posted in Carpentry, Education, Further Education, Humour, Life, nature, Opinion, people | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Desk, A Bad Back And Cheap Legs

Bad Back

Cartoon from

Some years ago I was too busy to bend my legs when pulling a sheet of Plywood up offa da floor. Since that day I’ve had Sciatica, its OK I have it under control with exercise. (We weren’t bothered anyway I hear you all jeer) Any-a-ways I find standing at a desk better than sitting. OMG have you seen the price of those desks? So I built my own, cue picture of my office.


The desk top bitty, whatever you call it was just Black Ash Melamine shelving, cheap as chips at £42. Then I reached the issue of the legs. OMG (trying to appeal to younger audiences here) have you seen the price of desk legs? No wonder the stand up desks are so expensive. It’s at this point my BFF (yup still after that younger audience :-)) namely my wife steps up to the mark with plastic piping from Wickes, other merchants are available.

Black pipe

Four lengths were £8. So my £200 – £500 desk cost about £50. And my back is loving it 🙂

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Beverley Folk Festival


The day could not have been better and the venue was perfect, BeverleyRacecourse on the Westwood Pastures is never better than when it is basking in the sunshine. It was a slow start early in the morning but even the small crowds were appreciative.
IMG_3615When I set out yesterday morning for The Beverley Folk Festival I had earmarked three acts to see, little did I know what wonders awaited me. I think I should explain here that I am not a Folk Music aficionado, but I had checked out some bands from the Beverley Folk Festival website and was looking forward to seeing them. As you can see from the picture above I was very early and although not a ‘Folky’ I am ‘Foody’ so imagine my delight when I saw:   (Let’s not tell Mr Trump) IMG_3618

I don’t have space here to list all the food venues, but there were three very charming Scottish chaps selling Risotto, lots of Crepes, Greek delicacies, Spanish Pulled Pork and bearing in mind this was East Yorkshire good old Fish and Chips. Local cafe people supplied tea and cake and there was the Beer. Lots of interesting stalls for a family day out but this one caught my eye:


This guy makes flutes from Bamboo and in conjunction with a Saxophone mouth piece you can create the sound of a real Saxophone, it’s pity he was such a miserable sod or I could have told you even more.

On to the music, there were a multitude of great bands there, but I am going to pick out my three favorites. I can recommend the Beverley Festival web site where you can check out the other acts on there, you won’t regret it.

The first act I really wanted to see was Kelly Oliver a Yorkshire lass with a huge talent.

IMG_3622Sorry, Kelly my iPod doesn’t take great pictures. Bob Harris has described her as, ‘a vital voice in British Folk music.’ You had to be driving around 1980’s Britain in the early hours to know who Bob Harris is, or be a fan of the Old Grey Whistle Test. Kelly is a wonderful singer-songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist and performed a great set.

The next act I hadn’t earmarked to watch. I was heading off to see another band when they started setting up. When I see someone bring five or so guitars on stage for one man you get my attention. Jonas and Jane


They are top notch especially if you love guitars as much as I do. As Americans from Guildford their Bluegrass influence on folk is brilliant, their voices complement each other and Charlie’s finger-picking is wonderful.

My final band was the last act I saw. I had picked Underhill Rose out as my real treat some months ago.


First of all buy the Live album, you will not be disappointed, even better go and see them before the go home. Yes more Americans from North and South Carolina, their combination of Folk, Country and Bluegrass is amazing. Now that’s twice I mentioned Bluegrass, so that must be the attraction. To all the other bands I saw, the organizers and volunteers; thank you for a memorable day and see you next year. X


Posted in Bluegrass Music, Entertainment, Fesivals, Folk Music, Life, Music, Opinion, people | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hang That Wallpaper

I’m told DIY is a British thing, but I think that is probably a throwback to the Empire. That we do everything better than good old ‘Johnny Foreigner’. Thankfully that culture is fading (ignoring Brexit of course). A few weeks ago I had to hang wallpaper. Notice the words ‘had to.’ This was by royal command of her that shall not be disobeyed, yup, Princess bride wife. I realised after all these years that I spend a lot of time setting up. Consequently I had a brain wave. I would set everything up the night before. You are probably thinking, gee, (or golly gum drops if you are still in the British Empire) this guy has taken over forty years to work that out? I need to point out that in my long life I have occasionally been called ‘cute’ but never clever 🙂

Today I thought I would share a few tips for the uninitiated on getting that wallpaper on that wall with easiest possible effort. The set up.


I had it all ready to go. Pasting board, cheap, as you can see, but it has lasted fifteen years (this gives you a clue to how much wallpaper I have hung). You then need scissors which can also be used for dressmaking? (I’m trying to save you money here). A sponge, this one I borrowed from the bathroom (she’ll never know). A pasting brush, now they were expensive so I bought a fence brush, it looked the same, but it was half the price. As a carpenter I had a six foot level but you could use a plumb bob (it’s a piece of string with a weight on it). A bucket and stirrer, a tape and a pencil. I even prepared the wallpaper.


If you have never hung wallpaper before you may wonder at all the wonderful tools above. So here is a small explanation. Long scissors make it easier to cut and great for dressmaking afterwards. A six foot level is terribly important as it is going to give you a line to work to when you hang the first sheet. I believe that the tape and bucket you can guess, but if you are as cute as me then you’ve probably got no idea, so the bucket is for the wallpaper paste. Although my Dad swore by flour and water. We Yorkshire folk have a reputation of being frugal (that’s tight in an other culture). The tape? well actually you don’t really need one I put it there for effect.

Now don’t be frightened of pasting more than one sheet at a time, it’s quicker to paste a sheet, fold it with the pasted sides together and then do another. That way you aren’t stood around waiting for the paste to seep into the paper. Put plenty of paste on, it really helps you to position the paper once it’s on the wall. I managed both rooms in about four hours and was a hero for about…. half a day. Princess, bride wife is a hard please. Good luck.

Oh! The beds are from IKEA, but I’m doing interior design next week 😉



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Wind of Change

So here I am after a huge gap in posts, but I have read some of yours so not entirely remiss. There are reasons (really). New job, new house in a new area and all the facilitation that comes with it. I am in Beverley, yes back in God’s own county of East Yorkshire.


Now this brings me onto the subject of change management. If you read my Linkedin profile I have been quantified (wrong word but who cares) for this, so I am apparently very good at it. But not as good as I think.

The first thing I feel you should never do within a changed environment  is to compare. Which I immediately did. I compared my old job with the new one, that was a big mistake as I loved the old job. Then I compared the new staff with my old colleagues, mistake number two, as I loved my old colleagues.

By the way I’m not sharing this onto Linkedin. 🙂

My first few months in said new job were horrendous it appeared everyone was out to get me and coupled with the specter of OFSTED that haunts FE constantly, life was desperate. The only answer was to take a step back and regroup. So now things are great I hear you all say. Well, no, not really but life is easier.  At least I feel I can share the experience. I don’t believe that, it just sounds good. I am one of those people that believe a problem shared is not a problem halved. It’s just a problem that other people now know about. But that is me, loads of people think differently and I respect that. (See how teacher boy got some E&D in there)


But, yay, Beverley is fantastic, ten minutes walk to the theatre, five minutes’ walk to the gym and a huge room of my own to write in. Hence the first post in ages. I promise the next one will be full of fun and enlightenment, well mildly humorous at worst. Happy holidays everyone.

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Not the best journey, Banos to Quito

This a fascinating insight into bus travel 🙂

Sandra & Stuart Wander the World

IMG_2244Well, I’m not going to lie.  Since my last blog we have spent a few days in Quito, then we went to the beach, and have returned to Quito.  Before leaving for the beach, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say about Quito but have realised that some of it was probably due to an incident on our bus from Banos to Quito which left us feeling a bit dispondent about what the city was going to hold.

We decided to do a day bus journey, they are said to be safer here than a night bus due to theft.  Our journey started of fine and we were happy to be heading towards a city again.  The bus was okay, they don’t really seem to have the touristy ones here (or not that we have seen) like in Peru.  So we headed off with us, a Chinese girl…

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Sunshine in Scotland

I have visited Scotland on several occasions since I have been married to a native of said country. Alas sight seeing is usually bottom of the agenda as the sole point of our visits are parental based. Although sadly there is only one parent now, the mother-in-law.

As you can see the weather is and has been beautiful for the whole week. I am sitting out here with a mind to ramble about nothing in particular so here goes. This is the first time in fifteen years (the amount of time I have been married to previously mentioned spouse) I have known this, but the real joy is that back home in Hampshire the weather is quite horrible. I don’t feel bad, in fact I am quite pleased as for once the tables are turned. I know that emitting smug feelings such as these into the universe will at sometime mean payback and as I speak it is starting to cloud over.

Mother as I sometimes call her, (other names are available) is now ninety-years old and for some inexplicable reason likes me. To be honest I am the only son-in-law as my wife’s siblings have no men in their lives. No, they’re not lesbians, although if they were this would be perfectly fine, and they did ‘come out’ some time ago, but in an Elizabeth Bennet way, when ‘coming out’ meant you were eligible for marriage. I much prefer this older definition, which conjures up a sense of young ladies blossoming rather than being locked in some detestable cupboard afraid to tell anyone of their sexuality. Unlike the Bennet sisters no one really wanted them or they didn’t want the ones that did, sad I know but, inexorably true. They are not, ‘the silliest girls in England’ as Mr Bennet commented, or indeed Scotland, if they were I believe it would be an improvement, Mrs Danvers (Rebecca) springs to mind on occasion. I think I won my Elizabeth and so I know how Mr Darcy felt, except for when I pass the mirror, as my wife explained once, ‘you’re no Mr Darcy, Charlieboy.’ I take solace in the theory that Mr Darcy was probably rubbish at Carpentry and is in fact a fictional character. As I mentioned earlier it’s not a good idea to put bad thoughts into the universe, especially smug weather thoughts. I will leave you with proof as they say every picture tells a story.

Posted in Humour, Life, Opinion, people, Vacation | 4 Comments