“Hey – call that a purse? – THIS is a purse! said the guy next to me in the Moon something or other pub in Leicester Square. Normally, this sort of conversation might result in some kind of contretemps but on this occasion the retort was a benign “Yes mate, you’re right, THAT is a purse – a real purse.” Then we spent five minutes discussing the relative merits of our respective purses!

I had my leather purse [http://snipurl.com/ri2xj – pic] out on the bar with a fiver, ready to pay for my round (I was with four other people) and I’d never met this guy before. He had a tiny purse [http://snipurl.com/ri2yr – similar, but his was black] with clasps. He jokingly said that his wife only let him have as much money as would fit in the purse and he had been allowed out for the day.

Earlier, I’d been stood with my friends in a different bar (a fairly makeshift bar as it happens, but at least we were in the sunshine). Different groups of people were gathered around chatting to each other when one chap pointed out that a wasp had landed in his beer. Despite being from another group, we (and the two be-kilted Scotsmen who had joined us, fresh down from Glasgow) offered all sorts of impromptu comments on how to remove the wasp (or more usually how long to leave it until it drunk itself to death) and in the end (with a silent tear I’m sure as he was from Leeds) he threw half his pint on the floor. A lady just outside the group shouted, “It’s a good job the bugger didn’t land in my beer (she had a pint) or you’d all have been wearing it!!!” – and everyone laughed.

This prompted the guy nearest to me (also from Leeds) to tell me more about his own wife’s aversion to insects and about how his dad and he nearly clubbed (they set off to do so – but didn’t in the end) a stray (and therefore very rare and much sought after) Russian bird that had taken to nesting with the Barn Owl in his dad’s pony stable.

Later – walking through Leicester Square, we were accosted by all those guys trying to get you to go to the comedy club – a passerby nonchalantly said: “You’re having a laff!” .. and so on … Where else would you get this kind of public, unintroduced comment?

Every year, 75,000 or more ‘northerners’ descend upon London over the August Bank Holiday weekend. They come to drink beer, to watch sport, to remind ‘southerners’ that there is a population north of Birmingham and to enjoy themselves. They come in all ages: this is not a male orientated invasion. Family groups mix with groups of men who may be dressed as nuns or possibly as ‘118’ moustachioed stick men and with groups of women dressed all in pink or lilac – or even groups of men dressed as women, dressed all in pink or lilac

And every year, despite congregating in the same place – there is no trouble.

This last weekend was the Rugby League Challenge Cup final. The cup final used to be held in May, at the end of a winter season but over the last twenty years Rugby League has become a more vibrant game with a Super League that competes throughout the summer. Teams from many parts of England, from Wales and from France (and Russia and Scotland!) take part in the cup race (in 2007, a French team reached the final) and this year Warrington Wolves defeated Huddersfield Giants 25-16.


The occasion is unique. The majority of supporters, from all over the north of England, arrange to attend the final not knowing (or caring) who will be in the final. There will often be a Yorkshire v Lancashire divide which helps the atmosphere – but essentially everyone comes along to enjoy the spectacle, to watch the match and to tease each other mercilessly. The tube to Wembley is a blaze of different coloured scarves. If you’re lucky enough to be supporting one of the finalists, you receive a lot of comment – otherwise, you make it!

We finished our day at Chop Chop – the little ‘Oriental’ restaurant across from Kings Cross Station. Yummy – see pictures on Flickr.  We stayed in St Albans – as did a fair amount of other visitors to the final. We didn’t do much in St Albans as it poured down on Friday night, so we stayed in the same pub until the rain stopped.  That’s it.

Jet lag and jelly

I’m not doing so well on the jet-lag front this week: On Monday morning, I was in my office at 3.30am trying to do something useful as sleep wouldn’t come my way. Then on Wednesday, after another night’s disturbed (almost non-existent sleep!) I was up at 5.00am to get ready for an early trip to Blackpool, where I’d been asked to deliver a mobile learning workshop at the 6th form college. Initial discussions had taken place via email while I was in America.

I’d initially decided to re-work one of the MoLeNET days Di and I designed because it involves plenty of activities and related pedagogy. I would just tailor the programme to suit my audience.  Then, I was told that the college was a Mac college – entirely equipped with Macs and MacBooks! Apparently the only college in the country so equipped. This was a blow – as it meant changing the way it was delivered because some of the planned day’s activities involve software that Mac won’t support. I searched and found CaptureIT which supposedly does similar things to Cam Studio but stopped exploring it (I still haven’t explored the video bit yet) because I got another phone call on Tuesday to say that it wouldn’t be an all day gig as originally planned – but a 2 hour one repeated three times (I’m good value!!) That meant starting again as there would still be a need to include engaging activities that didn’t appear too rushed. My objective was for the groups to explore mobile learning without being too didactic.

I felt that the day went well. Each group remained engaged and fulfilled the activities I’d set them with the resulting discussions going the way I’d planned – without dissent.

One of the activities involves reading a piece of text 300-350 words long (I used a newspaper article on two of the sessions and a piece of Shakespeare on the other – readers think the Shakespeare is “hard”) and then composing an SMS text (up to 160 characters) or ‘Tweet’ (up to 140 characters) to demonstrate their understanding of the piece. Part of the value in this comes from the concentration required to sift through the prose, picking out important aspects and then combining them in a very short message. Once all the received messages are shown to the group the full value is realised in the ensuing discussion of submitted ‘understandings’. Lilian and I plan to use this in our ALT-C workshop.

Talking of which, Lilian and I met on Thursday for lunch and to catch up on things that had happened over summer and that needed to be done for the upcoming academic year.  It was a great afternoon, during which we both felt we had achieved something and left each other feeling invigorated. We had pretty much planned our workshop for ALT (Programme) Wednesday morning 9.00am (currently).

And today (more later on Twitter and via blog next week I’m sure) we’re setting off for Wembley to see Fartown (the older persons’ term for Huddersfield Giants) play in the Rugby League Cup Final. http://www.therfl.co.uk/challengecup/

Back in harness

Well it’s been a week now (almost) since we got back from holiday. http://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com and I’m still tired. See Eduvel blog soon https://eduvel.wordpress.com

Today though, was a nice change. I got up leisurely and went to Emma’s because it’s her birthday. Ben was there, so it was nice to see them both in the same room together – it’s not often I see that. It was also great to see the girls – growing up quickly (it’s only a few weeks since I last saw them, but Charlotte, the youngest has shot up.

Then I went to meet Lilian for lunch. We had a greasy, sticky, Jumbo’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsugden/3862083252/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsugden/3861990903/ before going to Coffee Evolution to do some work. http://www.bizwiki.co.uk/cafes/191029/coffee-evolution.htm

We have to plan our gig for ALT-C and this was the day to begin tightening it up (watch this space)

As I say – great to be back in action and inspired (I’m always inspired after meeting Lils)


Back in control of the Mother Ship

Mobile Learning

It’s taking me a while to get my feet back under the Mother Ship controls. Jet lag has been a huge problem this trip. (If you missed it – I’ve been away: http://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com).

Yesterday, Monday; I was up and working at 3.30am as I couldn’t sleep, then today I couldn’t get up! But that should be it now. It will certainly have to be as I have to be on the road by 6.15am tomorrow for a job in Blackpool.

I’ve taken the time today to catch up on some reading. Thanks to John Trinder, who forwarded a post he’d seen to the PDAs in Education JISCmail group, I’ve had access to a number of up-to-the-minute papers on mobile learning. Some that stood out were:

http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/handhelds/ This one is mainly an overview of a course but has links to a number of useful resources. From here I found:
Which has a plathora of links and resources, one of which was:
http://www.k12handhelds.com/101list.php – a huge list of things to do with a handheld device. This accompanies Lilian‘s ‘30/31/32 things to do with a mobile phone‘ nicely.

My Favourite was http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet25/cheung.html. From this I have developed a handout which can accompany a mobile learning activity I am planning.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/handheld/ This is a group on flickr – which may or may not be useful to anyone reading this. For me it is a useful resource for ideas on how mobile devices are being used outside the classroom.

MMmmm. I’ve just been told that the workshop I’m (almost through) planning for tomorrow won’t be the anticipated ‘all day’ gig and that I should prepare 3 x 2 hours ones instead. So gotta go now. 🙂

Useful information for Flickr users: http://support.wordpress.com/videos/flickr-video/