A quiet month

April never promised to be the busiest month in this year’s calendar and work-wise, that has been particularly true because of the way in which Easter has fallen this year. However, on a social, family and learning front – it has been non-stop rock and roll. See http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com for more about the social side of April (and especially, Easter).

I started the month by finishing off some City and Guilds Functional Skills ICT marking; all done and dusted by 7th. Earlier, on the 4th, I went into Leeds to meet Lilian Soon, James Clay, John Whalley and Ron Mitchell for a meal and a chat – a fabulous F2F! We talked about all sorts and as always, it’s great to meet these creative friends.

On the 6th, I met Lilian and Ron again (along with many other fun and ‘e’ type chums) at a special Techdis (no longer TechDis) meeting for Accredited Trainers. Then on the 7th, I went over to the Salford TEN centre to join the RM team at a day-long LEGO training session. This session concerned a grown up version of LEGO, not the WeDo version I’ve been playing with in-between everything else this last few weeks.

On the 9th, we realised that the good weather which had started earlier in the week, just wasn’t going to go away – which was good because Sharon and I had to drive up to Glasgow to retrieve her mum Pat. Pat lives in Dothan, Alabama and had been staying up near Plockton, Kyle of Lockalsh visiting her terminally ill sister (Sharon’s aunt). Sadly, her sister had passed away and her nephew David agreed to bring her down to Glasgow for the ‘exchange’. It was a beautiful day and the journey was an absolute delight.

w/c 11th was spent playing with LEGO and carrying out some preparation for work I have coming up in June and July. I have a small piece of work to carry out for RM on their learning platform on the 28th and that’s that for April. Remember to look at http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com for more ‘Easter’ blogging.

<span style="font-size:medium;">

Easter frogs

I know that Easter itself was last week and that it’s not actually Easter at the moment  but I feel the need to reminisce about a previous time I remember Easter being this hot and sunny.

Easter can fall on any one of 35 different dates according to western tradition but generally, early April is about the average. The latest possible Easter date seems to be disputed but it would fall towards the end of April for sure.

I’m fairly certain that there have been other pleasant Easters (usually those which fall after the first week of April) but the one where we took the children to Germany, in 1979 was memorable.

My first wife Sue, had a German penfriend, Mecky, who lived in Burgsteinfurt near Munster and we arranged to visit them that Easter. Ben was 3.5 years old and Emma just 18 months. Our visit to Munster Zoo therefore, on a glorious Easter Sunday (or Monday – I can’t remember which) was a real family day out. Ben had been ill and pretty much stuck by us all day and we had to keep pointing things out to keep him interested. Our “Oh look Ben, a squashed frog!” and “Oh dear, another squashed frog ..” will stay with me until my dying day. As we walked around the zoo there certainly seemed to have been some kind of frog flattening event prior to our arrival.

The park ponds at first seemed pretty lifeless until we heard Ben point and shout “Mummy, look … a not-squashed frog“. Sure enough – a real-life frog jumped out of our way and (probably) into the path of oncoming traffic.

Ben’s amusing phrase ‘not-squashed frog’ has stuck with me all this time and I was reminded of it yesterday as Sharon and I sat by our own pond (in the gratefully received sunshine) watching the two goldfish slowly disturb the torpid frogs from the bottom of the water. One frog seemed a little different from the rest. It was a very dark pinky-red colour, so it stood out from the others and made it easier for us to notice. It took a while to realise that it was even more different than we’d thought.

It only had three legs.

It seems I am to be plagued by Easter frog deformity of one type or another for eternity. Note also that I used to visit my students in France at this time of year when the Comte region restaurants served up fresh versions of their national dish. I dare not be more graphic than that.

April slides in

I think that my last post was about ‘tea’. Why tea?

I suspect that this harks back to the way I used to blog. My blog from 2005 to the middle of last year (2009) was at http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/blog.htm and the only reason I gave it up was the convenience afforded by WordPress, which allows me to edit whenever I have an internet connections, rather than only when I have access to the correct software. I began my Eduvel blog in May 2009, https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/where-will-june-go/ and my ‘style’ of blogging seems to have changed.

Whereas before my blog seemed to be a ramble about my daily/weekly life and work, it seems to have become an occasional ramble about a single subject. The subjects themselves are diverse, so that’s not a problem as I’d hate to be seen as one-subject blogger, but there seems to be less recording of activity (which I use to look back upon my activities and thoughts) and more of individual rants or discussions.

Contrast the older style August ’09 post Wembley with kath-e-gay-oh-my from February 2010.

I don’t mind doing the odd one-subject blog posts, I used to do it anyway, but I seem to have lost the will (ability?) to pen the more diary based ones. The difference showed when I finally tracked down a copy of Front Page 2003 and installed it onto my Parallels based version of XP. It worked a treat and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed working with Front Page before my old Toshiba laptop died and had to be re-built. So – now it’s back, I’ve been able to begin the updating of my Village e-Learning site and have taken the time to take a look at my old blog. It reminded me how important it is to put things down on paper (on the web!) if you want to remember it.

So – Easter came and went. We saw Emma’s new, but not yet complete, house and Khawar popped around today. We had mum and dad for tea (not literally) on Monday and that’s that.Word Cloud for this page

Next week I’m working on a European project for a couple of days in Wetherby. Again, Khawar and I will deliver a pedagogical technology workshop to approximately sixteen people from (I think) six countries. I’m really looking forward to that. Then, on Wednesday evening, Sharon and I will retire to Reeth in North Yorkshire for a few days R & R. No phone, no internet; just books, booze, food and walking. Loverly!

Here’s a Word Cloud of this post from http://www.tagxedo.com/

Strange Times

Strange times indeed. For some people, academic Easter holidays have already started and for others, there’s another week to go. For me, it is a particularly slack period which is being filled with unusual activities. For example, I’m writing this while I wait for the Skype call to come though from Kevin Brennan in New Zealand. Kev asked if I would talk to a catering conference which is taking place at his university. For him, it’s already Saturday morning and they are about to kick-off. For me, it’s approaching 8.30pm on Friday and I’m talking until 10.00pm (ish).

The slackness has come from the fact that much of my work is LSC funded and there has been a mad rush to get it finished and invoiced before the end of March (more accurately I suspect; before the Easter holidays). I have some residual work with MoLeNET and the RSC-YH but other than that, until things settle – who knows?

I say when things settle because the election that is looming is likely to bring about big changes to the way non compulsory education is funded. The recent budget has just toyed with things but I suspect that whatever flavour of government we have, the big savings will have to be seen to be made over the next five years – they are just not telling us yet.

Already, previous employers are talking about putting hugely successful course online and un-facilitated (see my previous post); colleges are nervous about their financial situation, quite a few are talking about shedding staff already – so despite apparent upturns in the economy, things have still to change.

So other than New Zealand? Well, I have a conference call with a contact in the middle east next week, to discuss e-Learning in the UK: I have a couple of days work in April, supporting a European project delivery and I have the best part of a week in May/June in Vienna doing likewise.

Unusual times.