Health and Safety

Many readers will know that my work is both varied and interesting. Like other ‘e’ and ‘m’ Learning Consultants, trainers and mavens I strive hard to support the various teaching professionals with whom we work.

My work might involve elements of project management, of research and of direct training; all of which requires careful planning and preparation and each role is surrounded by untold amounts of administration. As I say – varied and interesting.

The work I enjoy the most is that where I come face to face with practitioners. I enjoy delivering training sessions and seeing the e-Learning lights come on. I thrive on the participant’s feedback and learn much from them in return.

However, much of my preparation goes beyond simple ‘session planning’. In many cases I also have to plan what ‘kit’ I might require and often have to take it with me. Many readers will have seen James Clay ( with his ‘bag-of-crap’ and John Whalley rarely travels without his huge suitcase full of ‘stuff’. We all do it. In earlier times, before I became ‘green‘ and when I traveled more by car I used to have a garden trolley in the boot upon which I would stack all of my boxes of ‘stuff’ for wheeling about colleges and institutions around the country. It’s at times like this you realise the difficulties that those in wheelchairs face. You should try it sometime.

Anyway, train travel has become no easier.

For example, for my recent trip to Newcastle I took a medium sized suitcase with me. In it was my laptop (and power cables); three folding polystyrene pyramids ( and appropriate labels; assorted ‘mobile’ tools (portable printer, PSP, voice recorder, portable projector), an extension cable, a projector, a set of speakers, a Gyro keyboard and mouse, six Busbi Cameras and sundry bits of ‘stuff’. I also had a backpack with back-up laptop (and power cable) and any paperwork that I needed. Tomorrow I will travel to Blackburn (by car thank Goodness) and will also take an assortment of other goods and books with me for participants to browse.

So, why am I writing about this? Well – as a warning to those others who travel thus.

The bags do not get lighter and the trains are filling up again. I can no longer lift my medium sized suitcase up onto the overhead racks – the last time I tried, I pulled a muscle in my back. This healed well and quickly, but wasn’t helped by having to pull the suitcase up and down staircases in stations that do not (yet) provide lifts. Many trains, especially the ancient commuter coaches operated by Northern Rail have no luggage racks to speak of and when full (as they often are) there is no where to put the baggage other than on the floor where people growl as they trip over it.

To avoid this problem earlier in the week (I had slightly less weight [less kit] but more bulk as I was also carrying 15 sets of headphone/mics and overnight clothes) I split the goods into two bags and my backpack. However, although easier to stash above my head on the racks, it was much harder to get off the train before it filled up and set off again. This was partly because I have pulled a muscle in my tummy (probably carting the big case around last week).

It also scares me that I feel the need to take such kit with me to institutions where I really should be able to just log on (guest internet access), plug in my USB stick and go. The demonstration paraphernalia is not that heavy but the laptop, projector and speakers are.