Friday, 31 December 2010

Micro entrepreneurship. What has worked well

Taking the Bull by the Horns,
Minoan Bull
 Started 7:30 am Friday 30th December 2010  
Words 577

Micro-entrepreneurship  is the sub-theme of this blog.  After evaluating the blog yesterday (Blog content) this is the first part of the new cycle.  So what have I discovered and achieved this week?

First is that small can be beautiful.  The danger with a lot of social networking tools is that they can take over and become a means to themselves.  Many businesses are finding that employees are spending a lot of time on Facebook, for example to the detriment of productivity. 

Personally, I do not visit Facebook all that often, owing to the fact that I do not want to know everything that a person is thinking.  Mystery and secrets can be wonderful things.  Also not clever if a recruiter wants an insight into your character.  A small blog article when written well and focusing on a single topic may be  more effective than a display of all your knowledge.  This often leaves a reader a little overwhelmed much as it does in a conversation. The discipline of micro blogging via Twitter removes a lot of the stunned and wonder factor.  However, my experience of Twitter is that there is a lot serial twittering, how do they get the time, whose message sometimes becomes diluted because of the sheer volumes of tweets.  From some sources it is almost like spam email, especially teacher recruitment agencies.  Do they not realise that if you are teaching you only have a small window of opportunity to indulge in tweeting?   

Linking activities and drawing almost Chinese walls between web presences is another conclusion from this week.  Why repeat the same information in a blog (dynamic presence) that could be better served by a static  presence,  a web page?  After all a blog should be like a reflective diary.  It should not be an out and out sales pitch.  Written in a journalistic style it can intrigue and lead people to want to know more.  They  interact and find the information you want to give them.  Then you can do the micro-entrepreneurship from your static presence. It is about time management.  What is the most effective use of your time for producing income streams as a micro-entrepreneur?  

I have spent a bit of time this week looking at a number of areas. Use of Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing and how to make people come to you for your services (which will appear on Tuesday).  Institutions for professional development, which will appear next Wednesday.    On Thursday, those tricky work-life balance issues.  As a Wellbeing Facilitator/champion in a former employment I have over the years acquired some knowledge of this often murky topic.  Which brings us to the free running or free blogging of the weekend, general on Saturday and Lunch on Sunday.   Monday is for that aspirational moment and the intention to ski uphill.

So how long should it take.  About a half-hour per day.  You can always go back to important issues at a later time.  They won't go away, if they do they are not as important as you thought.   This time frame is not difficult, as a teacher I have used reflective practice on occasions.  The trick is to focus on the positive benefits of the experience to best practice.  An Australian technique that was championed by pupil behavior gurus many years ago (do not hear about it too much now) was the ratio of positive to negative comments.  This also applies to any form of communication.  Nobody likes a miserable basket!        

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Micro entrepreneurship and 2pointfive_age_of_man

Started Thursday 30th December 2010:  6.20 pm.     Word count: 357

Micro Coral Reef - the artificial aquarium
 Since I last blogged today I have spent time linking up  a few parts of my own coral reef.   You may remember I commented on the interdependence of business activities being analogous to the life of a coral reef. 

As you will notice I have made links to websites that promote my interests in micro entrepreneurship.  I like the story about Kenyan farmers using mobile phone technology to find the best paid market to take their produce to.  This demonstrates the utilisation of 21st Century technology to move goods and services.  For which you can charge added value.

There is a danger that I spend a lot of time on the sites that I have, evangelising about the new way of working.  That is what we employ Professors in Public bodies such as Business schools to do.  The continuum between cutting edge and hard cash does take a long time.  My experiences with the Telecottage Association (tuesday-and-2pointfiveageofman)  demonstrates that a  17 years cycle has had to take place before the technology is able to deliver what it claimed.

So how am I going to move forward along the continuum of innovation to sustainable income?  An approach is to develop the websites as independent areas focusiing either on more social entrepreneurial activities or micro-entrepreneurship.  The personal blog,  should be almost a reflective diary of what I feel interests me.  They say everybody has a book inside them  However, you  have got to be interested in what you are writing about. 

So being a life scientist/chemist I will write about food on a Sunday.  Monday up and coming trends that interest me for the next week.  Tuesday cloud computing and Web 2.0.  Wednesday job markets and trends I am interested in.  Thursday those work-life balance issues.  Friday what has worked well  that week for me.  Saturday the day of leisure and reading all the Saturday supplements, Sunday supplements don't really do it for me.  After all Rome wasn't built in a day, slowly slowly catchee Monkey.   


Thursday and Blog evaluation

Started Thursday 30th December  0925 am

349 words

I have been blogging now for almost a month.  It is time to have a look at how effective the blog might be.

Looking  back through the different entries, the length  of each blog would appear to be in some cases excessive.  The articles often run to 1000 words or more.   Looking at the articles that appear in kindle editions and newspapers they have a word count which for a daily blog should probably be no more than 500 words.

The time factor also has to be considered.  A 1000 word blog entry is taking about 45 to 50 minutes to write.   This could be speeded up by sketching out paragraph's initial content in the first sentence.

Readability is also an issue.  Too much text on a page can be daunting.  One tip picked up from the book "How to Write, Create, Promote and Sell Ebooks on the Internet" is the use of white space.  As a former IT teacher, I had some of those I know that moments while reading the book.  Amazing what you forget.

A little too much of the soapbox and often too many ideas within one thread.  However, often the blog like a reflective diary can order your ideas.  A blog is personal and visible so I have to resist the temptation to rant.  Using the statistics function in blogger to assess which articles work and are of interest.   Shouting in the wilderness is not what I am writing the blog for, more exploration of Web 2.0.

Speeding up the blogging process is also important to me considering that within a few days I will be time poor again.  Using Google Chrome is infinitely faster than the IE running on my machine.  It is a matter of seconds sometimes when windows are opening.  This is also useful practice as I explore cloud computing with the additional tools on Google.

So the way forward

1)  Use white space

2) Limit blogs to 500 words

3)  Each blog to have only one thread.

So how many words.  349


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Wednesday and 2pointfive_man looks for his Meccano set

Tilting at Windmills, old technology,
can have it's uses as
a model for new technology

Started Wednesday 29th December 2010.  Time: 600 am.

Woke up at about 5.15 am to the sound of Geese flying over the house.  The cat had also decided she wanted a bit of quality time.  She had crawled onto my chest where she proceeded to do a bit of industrial purring that convinced me I was actually awake.  Not one to turn over and ignore the world I sought out the BBC news.  I had last updated myself of the cricket about 130 am by wirelessly accessing BTBroadband on my  Blackberry.  So knew already England had retained the Ashes. Does sport give a feel good factor? I think it does.

By 550 am  I had the pre-breakfast diet of news and information.  I had listened to the BBC News channel, the Telegraph, Shanghai Daily and Hindustan Times had all been delivered to my Kindle.  A great facility within Kindle editions is the View Section List tab.  I have long been a headline and first paragraph reader.  I can usually consign a newspaper to the recycle bin in a number of minutes that are inversely proportional to the that days' news' relevance to my present egocentric world.

In amongst the stories that grabbed my attention this morning there was reason for optimism.  Ignoring all  the doom laden stories of how the weather has affected small businesses, the ski slopes are open.  The 300 direct jobs are benefiting.  More importantly as was pointed out, so do greater rural economy of petrol stations, hotels and restaurants.  As one person interviewed intimated, who  needs to get on a plane to ski in the alps, even if you could travel.  The distributive effect of wealth transfer to the highlands from the lowlands seems to be alive and well and healthy.  We just need to hope that there is not too much of a good thing and the snow gates on the A9 are closed because of wait for it .....  the wrong type of snow.  Infrastructure?  A comment from the Scottish transport minister could be imminent. 

The trade in rare earth elements has hit the headlines.  China has decided to reduce it's exports of raw materials used  amongst others in manufacturing of  IT chips.  American businesses are starting to grumble as they can see restrictions affecting their supply chain.  Rare earth elements are quite abundant but they are distributed thinly in the Earth's crust.  They have to be mined and due to the nature of their distribution a lot of rock needs to harvested to yield useable quantities.  

South Korea's business intelligence must be working more efficiently than some of American's corporations since the Telegraph (Article Challenge to China over rare minerals by Ian McKinnon) has reports that a deal has been struck with Burma to develop it's mineral reserves.  South Korea's familiarity with totalitarian regimes probably makes them more willing to become bedfellows with the Burmese.  However, I can see a potential for a new viral or tweet campaign around "conflict minerals".   Daewoo might be hit by brand avoidance for conscience sake.   Personally, if I was really switched on  I'd be looking into property round Ytterby, in Sweden where rare Earth elements were first discovered. That also assumes that there are any rare earth elements left in the ground around Ytterby.

Recycling and recovery from waste could therefore be a viable alternative.  A crop production solution for mineral recovery would be my pet preference.  We already use varieties of plants that are tolerant of toxic soils to rehabilitate old British Coal board sites.  Let the plants mine the slag heaps of Latvia that are apparently rich in rare earth oxides.   The added advantage would be the locking up of carbon.  Using the plants to produce micro-charcoal which could then be injected back into soils could yield the minerals and create a carbon sink.  Joining up the technology, how much would it cost? What would be the time frame? Would it be a good use of the artificial trading carbon trading market to make the process viable?

Back to the Blog headline.  Meccano has just replaced EastEnders (the former booze cruise destination) as the success story of Calais.  Production is being moved back from China (a reverse of globalisation, see previous blog).  Competitiveness was sited in the BBC interview.  I can recall stories two summers ago reporting the difficulties companies in the special economic zones were having recruiting workers.  Apparently the wages were not high enough to make workers economically dependent on factory work and were instead choosing to return back to their villages and a marginally less well-paid  sustainable rural life.  The report and the move by Meccano are about two years apart.  Is this the start of a flood of manufacturing jobs back to the EU.  I say EU as Meccano although an iconic British Toy Brand is actually French. 

Finally, the average British worker will now have to work two extra days apparently before they have payed off their tax liability.  

I have blogged out for now.  I will go and do something productive.  I have subscribed to the Teleworking Association as it provides a fit with other economic activities I am investigating to supplement any earnings within the dwindling Supply Teaching market.  Further looking into the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs and updating Linked-in profile should be the tasks for the day.  The time between Christmas and New Year always has the potential to be "dead days" in the UK as everybody is on holiday.

It is extremely foggy outside so a good day for the bodywork repair shops!


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tuesday and 2pointfive_age_of_man contemplates the New Year

Aiming to be looking over this view by mid June 2011,
Crete, Hersonissoss
Started Tuesday 28th December 2010.  Evening about 7.30 pm

Today has been a quick thaw outside.  The diary of Samuel Pepys' for the 27th December 1667, hints at the economic crisis of his day.  The government unable to carry out the King';s wishes.  Defence budget arguments between Pepys and the Guards supporters echo defence review stories of today.  Bankers are broke and everybody is keeping their money, no different to bail out and non-lending of today.  

Another day looking through the past year's plus and minuses.  The year 2010 for me as for a lot of people has been one of change.  A desire for work-life balance is still one of those goals.  Two major realisations are wanting to work smarter and the fact I might have outgrown certain ways of working.  So how am I going to move forward in personal affluence or should I aiming for that happiness that the King of Bhutan has been on about ?  I'd like to be greedy and have both.

So, economic outlook around  me reference to Kindle.  I am encouraged by Harvard Business Review (HBR 28/12/10) article "Investing in the Post-Recession World" that the recession is officially over, but agree with the sentiment it's difficult to see the wood for the trees and the way forward.  I am also in agreement with article "Learning how the economy really works" (HBR  28/12/10).

I have a fundamental problem with economic theory and policy.  I can't understand how growth can be used as a measure of the health of an economy which relies on finite markets and resources.  The premise ultimately drives boom and bust since ultimately I cannot see sustainable infinite growth.   As a life scientist, complex ecological relationships I find relatively easy to understand.

The analogy of a Coral reef to economies in that it produces a stable ecosystem based on the available resources and inputs.   It has  internal economy based on carbon exchange  ie simplistically big fish eat little fish, little fish eat big fish when the big  fish dies and become big fish and so on.  When the requirements of life are satisfied the organisms involved reproduce and crucially survive.  If there is not enough resources in the coral reef it remains static in size at best. The coral's plankton are constantly being released another site and another colony starts in isolation.

The ancient Greeks  practiced something similar.  The understanding of the finite limitation of resources sprouted colonies across the Mediterranean.   Modern day Marseilles (Masillia) the largest port in modern France. Syracuse the home of Archimedes the greatest ancient technologist, who was killed by a Roman soldier unaware of his asset value. How lucky Werner Von Braun was and how much the American economy has benefited from NASA's direction.  My favourite colony name, Emporium is in  Spain.  Literary meaning trading place and also echoed in the Victorian Emporiums.  Woe betide anybody that attempted to return and upset the mother colony.  They were greeted with slingers-out whose job was literally to sling stones at anybody that attempted to return .  They also had a very non-Roman aversion to "luxuria".

Globalisation resulting in the interdependence of all markets I find a very worrying factor for my personal wealth.  President Obama has already stated his belief that the American economy is so important that it drives the world and the world needs to work to make America successful.  We seem to have created the equivalent of a super-organism in our economies.  There will always be the potential that the super-organism deadly plague or virus, real or .  The economic effects of an actual plague in the middle ages restricted "growth" for centuries.  The Gaea hypothesis does not necessarily give humans any greater value than other organisms.  It all depends which direction your looking, where your chair happens to be placed in the universe in order and when you choose to  blink.  Unfortunately I may have opened my eyes at the wrong time.

The British Empire had it's own problems with a globalisation as a concept.  The Dundee was essentially a one trick pony with it's reliance on the Jute Industry in the 19th Century.  Outsourcing to India virtually put economic development into a slump and on hold until it re-discovered it's civic pride and confidence and called itself the City of Discovery.

Britain has itself on a macro level been hit by a similar bout of outsourcing. The decision to turn ourselves into a service economy by Mrs Thatcher's advisers was fundamentally flawed as it did not take into account historical examples and cycles.  I can speak from personal experience as my father was one of the small business men who became entrepreneurs more through necessity than choice as companies rationalised and made redundancies.  He finally retired a few years ago after 25 years of working for the bank's profits as they "helped" small businesses.

So my mission and trick for the next year is to try and decouple myself from the super organism.  I like the coral reef analogy for business.  It is one that  I pondered two years ago when I was holidaying in Crete.  when I arrived back I ran out paper trying to come up with a A4 plan of action.  I ended up painting the dining room wall white (12 foot by 12 foot) and then proceeded to produce my largest "food" web of ideas to  date.  I went as far as investigating the costs of setting up a limited company.  I purchased some web-domains with a view to e-commerce.  However, I could not at that time see a viable business idea,  although I could write a business model.

In the 90's when again there was a crisis in the economy.  I was finishing a period of research in agriculture sponsored initially by ICI then Norsk Hydro into the use of foliar fertilisers and their potential to reduce nitrates in  groundwater.  This was perceived to be a big problem as Nitrate Sensitive Areas were being designated and farmers potentially could be fined if the groundwater limits were exceeded.  The cost fertiliser was a major input and should have been enough encouragement to modify farming practice.  This was an interesting time as  water companies were starting to be privatised.  The legislation stipulated that they owned every form of water that fell out the sky or was fossilised in the ground.  Private boreholes were no longer private.  If,  however, the water turned up in the wrong place (ie flooded your house) it was not the fault of the water company.  Environment consultancy was in it infancy since there was no legislative or company morality/citizenship imperative to do this.

I stopped after a few months as it was personally not sustainable at the time, although I did have the benefit of a Business-link training day from a "retired"/resting businessman.  I found I could write a business plan and spreadsheet just as easily as the business guru, turning it into hard cash was the hurdle.  Now it is dominated by very large consultancies. That was in the days when sustainable and development were not bedfellows.

I even became a founder member of the Telecottage association.    After a journey across country to the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh I met my fellow new frontiers people. After a morning of listening to the group founders I felt a sense of depression.  This was in the days of dial up modems, the Internet hadn't been officially invented.  This was essentially a Business club/Breakfast network.  You agreed to buy your office supplies from A who sold you the computer that you dialled up C, with who spoke and  then used the  envelopes to send you the invoice for the time spent talking to you.  The money did not seem  to be be coming from outside the closed group and the circle seemed to rely on pyramid principles.
this was supposed to give a route to resuscitate dying rural economies.  A Google search now turns up an address in Devon with no website.

Is this time to try the teleworking route again? Are the costs involved now cheap enough to make IT  just a business tool and not an end in itself?  Is the hammer cheap enough to bang the nail in to stop the house falling down?  Maybe.

The Portfolio career (multiple job or income stream) may finally come of age.  In order to make this work for the small business person who may have to work also part time, radical tax arrangements may be needed.

The idea of a monthly personal PAYE account for small businesses has been considered.  Tax credits banked in  a virtual account that could be drawn to smooth earnings streams throughout the year would be useful.

If you are going to fine banks, fine them on the length of the trading cycle over which they judge small businesses' cashflow.  They need  to take some of the risk rather than have their cake and eat it when they bankrupt a business.  After all there are 300,000 bank account holders who will need employment over the next five years.

Remove the disclaimer to any blame from the front of accounts prepared by qualified accountants and make them liable for any sins of omission and policing sharp practice especially by large companies who pay small ones on 90 days or when they choose or never.

This would be very simple if ..... we have a Tax IT system fit for purpose.  Oh to be a manager of a PFI!    

So back to the picture at the head of the blog.  If I am sitting in that cafe on the beach front the momentum of two years planning and thinking may have come to some workable conclusion.

Yes, I will be sitting in that cafe!  I already have the logo and philosophy!

I sketched this as I  sat in a Taverna
I had gone to Crete to
recharge my batteries.  However, I
seemed to be rushing
about when I should have let
the wind blow
and recharge my batteries


Death of the Middle Manager?

Minoan Bull jumping a career that
became redundant
 Minoan bull jumping must have been an activity that people occupied their time doing.  we only know that it took place because somebody thought it was important enough to record.

Having worked in education for a number of years I noticed about five years ago the term middle management start to become very prevalent.  This has latterly also coincided with the removal of single heads of departments and super groups becoming established across many subjects in schools.

The upshot of this was that many people who had previously enjoyed a management remuneration ceased to do so as new posts were conceived.  These new posts  had the much more "beneficial" TLRs which were directly related to childrens' learning but did not actually balance financially the equivalent posts and work load that had been rolled into one.  The creation of further senior management posts of Assistant Heads also seemed to further skew the management structure.  There were more people  monitoring than had previously been there.  Fewer people were in effect Middle managers  creating almost two pyramids, one inverted and resting on the apex of the other.

In my Kindle experiences  of today I came across the article "The End of the Middle Manager" by Lynda Gratton in the Harvard Business Review (28th December Edition).  A number of points struck me in their relevance to my own management of career change or modification in relation to the present economic climate.

The points made in the article of the use of technology for data gathering and analysis is one of the  factors  I have noticed in my ten plus years in education delivery.  We have a way in the UK on predicting where children should be in their achievement levels many years in advance based on certain way points.  These are used by managers to monitor pupil progress via different tools of which SIMS is the prevalent system.

The underlying data is not generated in school but by a national foundation.  Simplistically this is then used to judge pupils' progress across the whole country and ultimately rank schools and measure effectiveness.

The key point is that middle managers within a single organisation are irrelevant to this process.  The unit of delivery is the individual teacher.  A general manager is therefore irrelevant in the responsibility chain as to what is being measured.  The previously remunerated activities of the process of managing resources, drafting policy and reporting information is not needed at middle management level.  What is focused on is the end product.

The technological revolution has in the words of the article, changed the very nature of how people work.  ike the Minoan bull jumper we will have evidence that middle managers existed, mainly in the form of certificates for courses designed for middle managers,  but did not ultimately provide skills that were useful outside that institution.  Technology is the general manager.

The article suggests more of a master manager role of mentor and coaching from someone that is respected and I suggest more to the point trusted.  Which for a lot of teachers in the present climate of monitoring is very difficult to achieve as motives are not trusted.  The pursuit of perfection in house (not satisfactory or good but outstanding) has come at a high price in terms of  disaffected teachers.  Hence the rise of consultants and coaches in the last few years?

So if you are a middle manager what is the prognosis?

Change our perceptions of what work actually is.

Development of signature skills is suggested as one must do task.

Join an institute to increase visibility,  to allow increases in skills and independently accredit skills.  Probably for educationalists in the UK a possibility with the demise of the GTC.  The GTC was supposed to have some sort of role like this but was set up with the premise that all teachers were bad teachers.

Develop new areas of proficiency or moving into adjacencies (might need translation here  or a skills psychometric profiling test) are also must do recommendations.

The areas to look  to develop competency in are suggested as:

advocacy - I suppose we always need lawyers, champions  and  arbitrators

Social and micro entrepreneurship -    This is elements of Big Society  I suppose. There is now an Institute of Entrepreneurs they have a website front door  but the lights do not yet seem to be on.  There is also an Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs   which seems to be a site of enterprising entrepreneurs offering training to entrepreneurs (is this run by former Buinesslink advisors).  Federation of Small Businesses may be a good starting point also.

Life and health sciences -  as physics research projects  gets more expensive and theoretically less applicable to mass market sales, physics of the wheel although is  long running market ..... choose life there are over 6.5 billion potential users of life and health sciences and still growing

Energy conservation -  can this really be done in small enterprises .......... needs investigating.  Public sector (governments) still really dominating with education and legislation issues.  Although I did see that someone related to the Bathstore has had a Eureka moment and come up with a freestanding insulated bath, which links into the next area ....

Creativity and innovation -  the Daedalus factor (he allegedly did his best work on Crete so probably witnessed the bull jumpers)

Coaching - I have already mentioned why this may be a goer for some educationalists, maybe career planning    without it being linked to a recruitment agency cost centre

Lynda Gratton is optimistic that these are areas that will remain needed for the coming decades.  A potential  business plan  spanning a generation rather than a five year plan?

Points to ponder and maybe add to my personal career change strategy.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Monday and 2pointfive_age_of_man is reading the digital ocean - via Kindle

Started Monday 27th December 2010: 7.00 am GMT.  All URL mentioned accessed on this day.  There would be a picture but the Picasa service I praised yesterday is currently unavailable.

Bloggin' could become a habit.  There is a bit of Old St Paul's (pre- Great Fire of London) atmosphere pervading the experience.  Old St.Paul's at that time was where the intelligentsia of the 1600s, namely anybody that could read, went to buy books.   An agglomeration (wonderful word) of small printers, would the turn out pamphlets and news sheets for anybody and everybody to hawk on the steps of the old cathedral.   These were the bloggers of their day   This is almost a diarists type experience.

I have looked up the diarist Samuel Pepys, for the day 26th December 1667 .  The temperature for that day in London was given as the monthly average of 3 °C.  The temperature for the present day is predicted to between 1°C and 3°C in Greater London.   Little change in the experience for the average Londoner over the span of 343 years, which leads to question of  climate change or just weather.  This links nicely with the today's activities so far.  There is talk of floods in the UK (now where did I hear that yesterday or the day before?

I have been awake since about 545 am catching up with the news bulletins on how England are progressing in the latest cricket test.  Geoffrey Boycott is probably being made to listen repeatedly to his expert commentary made 12 minutes into the BBCs coverage yesterday of where he could not see the England team having a hope of defeating the Aussies.   Maybe he should stick to just calling himself a commentator (If you had the chance to hear the banter glasshouses and stones come to mind.  Anyway he was a successful batsman despite the Boycott and Botham story related by Dickie Bird on the Wit of Cricket.)  As I was listening and fiddling with the Kindle the newspaper arrived.  I have only been re-connected to the Internet since last Tuesday (14 days of absence) but now have the benefit of super fast Broadband to my wireless router.  I have been busily exploring the Kindle library of free-trail subscriptions, free books and occasionally buying a paid copy.  Kid in a sweetshop resemblance here.  

Now I used to be a Telegraph subscriber because it was conveniently a lot cheaper than the cover price on the news stand.  I did my bit for the local economy by paying for delivery.  I cancelled  the subscription a number of years ago as I did not really have enough time to read everything.  The fortnightly blue bin recycling collection was never rapid enough to cope with the newspaper and all the paper I seemed to acquire as part of my job (see yesterday's blog , I can self-reference !).  Plus all those lower backs of paperboys that might have been problematical in later life were prevented.

I had caught up with the Sunday Edition of the Telegraph late last night.  I have experienced a few problems with Kindle wireless delivery when the Kindle has gone to into what appeared terminal sleep.  After much fiddling, charging  and finally resurrection  I received the wireless delivery  I was intrigued by the Web 2.0 phenomena of  Thom Coststello and UK Uncut.  (I hope I have the right character as I have only just clicked on that part of the line on the Kindle screen that allowed me to keep today's edition).  The PhD student acting as his own case study appears to be attracting a lot of media attention for the facilitation of attacks "on the establishment".  (Orchestration is too strong a word as people choose to turn up to sit on shop floors or slow queue, although didn't Norman Cook do this for a pop video. An  I was there aside, I saw him live, I did, when I was a student when he was part of the Housemartins, who'd have thought he had all that creativity in him )   Unlike other media grabbing  anti-establishment trends such a Punk Music the focus of the disruption is that socially moral crusade against tax avoidance.  We can't say it's tax evasion as it is legal.  He has probably made it onto a  watch list as a danger to society, much like Mick Jagger did at his age.  But now look at Sir Mick's privileged position sitting next to the great and the good at England football matches. 

The raised eyebrows that could be sensed in linking UK Uncut and the fact that the PhD research at Royal Holloway was being funded by a grant was amusing.  It is probably the best piece of state research investment ever.  With Mr Costello's marketing skills we should be thankful that his talents are fully occupied on what he claims is also part of an academic exercises.  What would happen if he followed his role models that have also had dealings with "labour leaning Demos"  and cashed in on the commercial world?  Would his viral marketing skills, if  snapped up by an Arcadia type organisation, result in a greater amount of money flowing to a company making tax efficient decisions (another euphemism)?.  Let's give Thom Costello a chair at  a prestigious University and save the national wealth for future generations.  It should be an anthropology chair as he certainly seems to be the foremost expert in understanding the way to manage human behaviour (no disrespect to Desmond Morris).    

Back to today's stories that fall within my sphere of interest and curiosity.  I have taken up the trials for the Telegraph and the the Mail.  So far only these in this country, although I have garnered everything  from the New York Times, Harvard Business Review (useful for the end user of exponents of the "do as I say but not as I do school of Emotionally Intelligent Managers") , Shanghai Daily, etc.   I will get round to assessing their relevance in the next few days.   I probably need to also find out how to change my Amazon affiliate recommendation so that is the featured site and not the American site.  There seem to be fewer references to the relevant products I am seeing in the UK. So stories that are interesting me at the moment on the Kindle editions.

Telegraph -  Students face entry tests.... by Graeme Paton.  I remember as a Sixth Former in the mid-eighties taking 4 A-levels (Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology not an Art in sight)  at a newly opened Upper School universities did have their own exams (not just the ones they administered as Local Examinations Syndicates before the rights were sold to people like Edexel).  Even then there was still a potential for US state pupils to sit the local University (Cambridge) entrance exam.  The traditional time to sit this if I remember correctly was in term 7 ie after the end of traditional state sixth form.  Gap years had not been invented at time, they just existed if you did the Oxbridge entrance.  Is this change?  The same light seems to be focused on GCSEs in "it's time to scrap GSCEs" by a staff reporter.    I have blogged already a little on this, I would have blogged even further if I had not lost connectivity owing to BT (see previous blogs) under which I now draw a lie until the next attack of the Big company syndrome 

Just had a minor electricity outage that caused the interruption of the flow and the computer to restart. Everybody must have started to cook breakfast and the local factories switched on the oven to roast peanuts for the next seasonal occasion.  Which brings me to another story  "Power cut risk from ageing networks" ...... by Rowena Mason .   We have been warned or is it so long since the last warniing everybody has forgotten and nobody has done anything about it    

Telegraph -  Wildlife flourishes in good old British weather  .... by Richard Saville.  Good for farmers too. Cold winters remove aphids so cuts down on pest and viral loss to crops, so here's to a hopefully smaller chemical inputs in the British countryside. 

Telegraph -  Record day at sales .... by Tim Ross.  Apparently Amazon have had an e-book frenzy, I am not surprised I am one of the frenzied.

Telegraph -  Health Wealth and Happiness .   by  a Staff Reporter....... a good toast but does everybody have to come and live in the South for these, surely not in the 21st Century.

Telegraph -  Airports face fines for failing to cope in winter .... by Steven Sainford.  who gets the fine and how will this make sure that that money could have been spent on infrastructure and prevention ..... actually is.  Sounds like a dastardly conspiracy of legal advisers (what does LLB stand for Lying Little B******** or is it something else) or is this another way to stop the bonus culture?

Telegraph -  You pay five times for PFI schemes ....... by Rosa Prince.  Enough said, career wish list for average 6th former to be CEO of a PFI?

Telegraph -  Calls to scrap inheritance tax ........ Fully agree

Just  a few of the stories that I think will become quite important this year.  Especially the infrastructure issue,  a story I recall about CBI wanting fewer taxes but more investment in infrastructure spring to mind.

To end the blog before another Power Outage strikes didn't  mention any Mail stories as they seem to have much the same thread as the subject areas mentioned in the above articles.

Looking at Pepys' diary for the 26th December 1667 again he would appear to be spending his day doing not dissimilar activities to myself.  He visits a pub and possibly indulges in  a little preparation for some tax evasion  (it wasn't illegal then) by talking to somebody from the Exchequer, although I seem to recall he was a government official himself as quartermaster to the Navy and may also have been a tax official.  I will be visiting a pub called the Royal Exchange for a quick pint a little later but doubt I will have the opportunity to discuss tax or want to.   He visited his bookseller, which I have done with Amazon today.

A visit to the theatre is remarked upon where Nell Gwynne was playing. I shall probably watch a little TV the modern day theatre in my home.    A conversation with the father of William Penn founder of the colony that became Pennsylvania was had by Pepys.  I doubt I shall meet  a father of a  nation builder unless I bump into one of the Zimbabwe law students we have in the town at the moment.  Cosmopolitan little place this part of West Suffolk.  Pepys indulges in a little society gossip which I have received second hand from the newspaper.  Apparently the forces are good for Old Etonian future Monarchs as they have an independence that even runs to doing the dishes.  Which reminds me....

And finally winter fluxes struck Pepys' family and the subsequent funeral he was unable to attend.  Swine flu and slippery roads of modern times?

  Does anything really change?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day prompts memories of a decade of digital imagery

Looking forward again to views
 that aren't ice tinged
Boxing Day.  A day for reflection and contemplation.  The BBC iPlayer is playing a few comedy sketches from Radio 7.  The next tab is keeping me informed of the latest Boxing Day football.  We do not have a Premier League team convenient to my part of Suffolk, even if felt like spending an exorbitant amount to see a game.  ESPN has shown some very unseasonal Beach Football featuring a  Brazil team versus the rest of the World.  So with these distractions in the background I thought I would use this afternoon to organise my thoughts on Web 2.0 and find some of those very old photographs that have been sitting on a hard drive.

I was put in mind of doing this by the gift of a photo frame that my father received for Christmas.  My sister had preloaded a set of family photographs onto the flash USB card (also XD card) can be used so starting to be quite use able. I bought one myself several years ago when they first started to appear. I have to admit to admit the novelty had worn off a little with the frame now gathering dust.  As I was watching the slide show I started thinking of how many images I must have taken over the years or used personally or as part of  my role as a head of science and also ICT in a school.

The number of ways of capturing images that were cheap and to greater or lesser effective has been interesting to chart over the years.  I have used scanners that started off as almost the size of a couple of  reams of A4 down to what is now a almost a thin A4 book in size.  The usability of these scanners was normally determined by the sophistication of the software.  I was using Paperport  in the late  1990s and early 2000s as a means of trying to keep my house paper free from the avalanche of documents that were produced as part of the National Curriculum.  I certainly didn't have time to read everything as the department I started managing at the time was in a school on the dreaded special measures.  This was was also before the widespread use of PDF format that appeared with the Literacy and Numeracy initiatives.  At the time I was using Epsom scanners, but was rapidly converted to Canon 660 (later LiDE range)  and Canoscan software technology as their portable scanners appeared.  PDF technology made life easier and I rapidly started to become  paper-free.

The ability to show and record a piece of work produced by a pupil at the time it was produced via a scanner and projector was a favourite of pupils as they could share their work with the rest of the class.  The digital classroom in action rather than endless multimedia productions that seemed to be the norm when computers invaded the classroom.  The use of digital tablets also enhanced the experience.  Needless to say these were not provided by my bosses at the time but I took the view that these were tools that fitted in with the drive to a 21st Century classroom so I purchased them myself.  I took the view this was no different to what countless other colleagues were doing when they bought pens, pencils etc to lend out.  Plus I was educating myself in the new technology often ahead of the ideas that county advisors were advocating.  It does make me feel a little bewildered that ICT is still only used for endless searches and often as pointless typing up of written work.

Sport and drama certainly should have been leading the use of computing time with the use of video technology.  I purchased 8 years ago as an ICT department expense for our PE department a video analysis (Dartfish) package.  We were the only the school for a quite a few years that had this in the East England.  A great piece of software akin to the type golf professionals now use to coach people o their swing.  We did not use this effectively because of the demands placed on the time slots in ICT where core subjects had to demonstrate use of ICT as part of the National Curriculum.

The top down development nature of the national curriculum missed a great opportunity of embedding ICT not as subject but a tool.  Teaching people ICT skills is not an end in itself but a means to enhance the basic communication skills of what you already do.  The literacy skills of many pupils might have undergone greater development if the rush to provide very expensive ICT equipment with a short lifespan had been resisted.   Often the equipment was overpriced as it was being supplied to a local authority body by preferred tenderer.  But, we will be asking the question for many years to come of what advantage ICT give the under nines in the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills.  Here endeth the whinge about National Curriculum and missed ICT opportunities.

I am waiting to see an application of the sports coaching potential of the new Xbox kinetic.  I can see great potential for the coaching of squash and also fencing as the variables involved compared a team a team sport would be less complicated as these sports are usually played in fewer axes of movement.  As a former qualified fencing coach I can see the potential for the spatial recognition technology to be applied to these sports.  The techie approach might also keep the interest of beginners as they acquire the discipline and skill to have an effective bout.  Virtual coaching and opponents not a great step away?  How good would it be to knock the French off the premier spot in fencing in the next European championships?

Returning back to the subject of digital photography. My father has become quite a digital photography buff.  Since his retirement he has been snapping anything and everything of interest.  As he is a very active member of the University of the Third Age (u3a) history and art/painting groups he has accumulated thousands of images.  I have spent many a Sunday morning instructing him in the arts of folders and photo-editing software.  Just before my nephew and niece arrived I downloaded Picasa.  I have previously used of and on over the last 8 years or so the yahoo owned photo storage facility that has become Flickr, primarily as a I am a BT customer.  As I am now using Blogger I decided to give Picasa a try. The Picasa technology downloaded quickly and began scanning the pictures. It was surprising how many pictures in the relatively short time of a few years my father has taken. I have been using a digital camera for the past 10 years so I dread to think how many images I might hae on various different drives and older computers languishing in dark cupboards.  What intrigued me was the facial recognition software.  Family resemblances even seemed to be recognised as I started naming the various faces that my father had snapped.  The tagging and indexing will allow a huge reduction in the time spent looking for that elusive photograph.

I just now have to teach my father to use the programme!!

I have blogged enough for this post I will have to save a few ideas for other post of what is now becoming habit forming.  My own computers are staring to mine the folders of images with Picasa and I am already finding nearly 10000 images from the last few years of holidays, air displays, cricket, plants and walking clubs.  Many years ago I used organise a social rambling club on a Sunday that met at one pub and then walked to another couple in a circuitous route.  Our post-Boxing Day walk involved over thirty people dressed in Santa hats with assorted dogs in tow.  I have yet to find the photographs but there could be a few for the Blog.  

Well I am now going to listen to the highlights of yesterdays Cricket and then maybe find my Wisden to compare a few performances

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Morning

Assistant Blogger monitoring movements of the mouse,
still hasn't figured out  mouse is really a
human interface device, which is probably why she's still
assistant blogger
Woke up at 6.00 this morning which is about normal.  What was not normal is that I switched on the BBC News to discover that we are heading for the coldest winter on record.  The Thames hasn't frozen up yet and there aren't any reports of people having skating parties (yet?).  The mini-iceage of the 1600s was obviously before records.  Too many bridges may have contributed to slowing the flow to allow the Thames to freeze in the 1600s but it still must have been very cold. 

Surprise also, the Germans have problems across the north of their country with, wait for it .... snow.  On Bornholm in Denmark (a Scandinavian country) stopped trying to clear snow because they could not cope, people were stranded.  Belgian airports have been closed (fame other than Poirot).  

Scottish transport ministers may be asked to give advice on how to keep Europe moving.  Heathrow and Gatwick's expertise may be drawn upon to advise less busy airports on communication skills and how to defrost frozen tyres.  A new export market for British knowledge exists.  Now we need to set up a government sponsored agency to exploit this emerging market.  I can recommend a good marketing company to design the logo and a company to outsource the HR and office support (BT are doing a marvellous job with public service outsourcing for Suffolk County Council where money is no problem).

I envisage the time  scale for delivery of the first consultancy paper on 1st April 2011.  This will allow time for a Business guru to be appointed as champion for this new initiative and suitable remuneration packages for key staff to be agreed.   A slight problem might be this new market may have melted away as we speak.  But, the potential to undercut the Environment Agency on flood prevention advice exists ..............

Merry Christmas, I shall be listening to the Queen this afternoon who will be talking about sport.  I will not be splashing cash on the  Internet and keeping those delivery ans on our snowy roads.  On this holy day I have given up just for today the temptations of excess or is it (Mastercard, access is a brand no more) .

In the words of Dave Allen " may your god go with you!"         

Friday, 24 December 2010

Suffolk, Food and Festive fare

What makes a good pub dog?  One that sits where it's
 told and blends in.  A small Jack Rusell pup "nesting" in
my jacket and jumper
Suffolk has a rich food landscape. The ingredients used in Suffolk food reflect the fact that it is bordered in the East by the North Sea or German Sea as it appears on a lot of Victorian maps and the flat heathland in the West. The East part of the county in the nineteenth century was said to at one point to be more closely connected to the peoples across the sea in the Low countries. The dialects of the fishermen from Lowestoft, down to Felixstowe was intelligible to Dutch residents more than it was to those of London. Away from the coast Suffolk was well connected to markets outside the county. It was not an isolated rural backwater that we in our modern mindset tend think of country areas to be today. Suffolk used to drive a large part of the nations GDP from well before medieval times.

London was especially reliant on the fact that Suffolk was just on it's doorstep. As London expanded through the Victorian age the horse was an important part of the transport system.  The number of horses is estimated a t nearly 300,000 by the turn of the 19th Century (the horse in Regency London).   These horses needed to be fed and their waste disposed of. Public transport accounted for 50,00 horses alone.  These used the output of  a quarter of a million of acres of land ( approx 101 000 hectares) and  produced a 1000 tonnes of dung per day that ended up on the road (London Transport).

Using a modern scenario based on land available in the  EU for biofuel (17.5 Million hectares), the horses of 19th Century London Transport alone would use about 0.6% of present land production capacity (Europabio).  With an average yield of 50-60 litres of Biofuel per hectare (median figure 55 l/ha)  this would equate to approximately  5.565 million litres of EU produced fuel..  A London taxi has a fuel consumption of about 30 mpg ( or 6.6 miles per litre) as a median value (Elite Taxis).  So London taxis would be able to drive  approximately  36,729,000 miles on the land used to feed the London Transport's Victorian horses.   On an average day London taxis make 200,000 journeys that are of approximately 3.2 miles (Transport for London), so approximately 233.6 million miles per year.  This would require  35.4 million litres of fuel per year. 

What is this in terms of EU available Biomass land production?  On present figures of yield used (50-60 litres per hectare) the number of hectares that would be needed to run London taxis for a year is approximately 4.3 million hectares or 24% of estimated EU land use for Biofuel.  This is just for London which has at present a population of 7.75 million ( which is 1.6 % of that of the EU (Eu population figures from Eurostat).  Sobering figures considering this is only London Taxis and these are just approximations, by no way an actuarial audit! 

Three hundred thousand horses is a great concentration considering that London at that time did not sprawl as vastly as it does today. These horses needed to be fed and their waste disposed of. Step in Suffolk. A trade that was apparent in West Suffolk and throughout the river system was the servicing of London's horse population. 

Oats, straw and hay were transported on barges from today what might seem the most unlikely places in Suffolk. Wixoe is a small village upon the Suffolk-Essex border has it's own docks where this produce was loaded onto barges and then carried down the Stour towards Sudbury. Evidence of the types of barges used are being found in the excavations around Constables' haunts that are taking place at Flatford Mill further down the Stour valley. On the return journey the accumulated manure of London's horses was transported back to the heart of Suffolk.

The Suffolk Punch is the equine legacy of Suffolk agriculture. The Suffolk Punch is an endangered breed, which was threatened when  the Prison Service of the UK chose to shut down it's program with offenders.  Thankfully this was saved and the oldest working horse breed can be seen and supported at the Suffolk Punch Trust    

Suffolk is also famous for it's own breed of sheep and also Red Poll cattle. These formed with the Suffolk Punch the Suffolk Trinity. The red poll cow and the Suffolk sheep are not major parts of the present Suffolk farming economy but have influenced the Suffolk landscape. The Red Poll cow is now considered to be a rare breed in the UK. It is however alive and well in the Caribbean. The Red Poll can be found in abundance in Jamaica where it's rare attribute of having sweat glands allows it to thrive in tropical temperatures. The Red Poll is a multi-purpose beast ie useful for both milk and meat. As farmers have specialised and introduced continental bloodlines such as Frisian and Holstein the general purpose beast has disappeared.

Pork is a traditional local product that Suffolk is also famous for. There are still houses in Haverhill that still have pigsties in the back garden. They are not used for the original purpose some are coal bunkers, some are tool stores. Many years ago I lived in Shropshire. The house I rented was in a small hamlet off the A41. The house next door was a tied house occupied by a farm worker. He kept a pig in the sty just over the back fence of my garden. The pig was acquired as a piglet and the following months saw my neighbour feeding the pig as it grew. Each night he would sit in the sty with the pig chatting to it. However, one morning there was a great commotion of squeals. The pig's end had come. Sentimentality was absent as it was loaded into a horsebox and transported the few miles to the local abattoir.

In those days it was still possible to find very small abattoirs that only handled one or two pigs a day. Raising your own pig and then having it slaughtered was not a big problem. Still a ritual on the Continent is for people to butcher their own animals as recent food programmes from Spain would indicate. The pig came back butchered into various different joints and the offal in convenient packages. The blood was retained by the abattoir  to be made into black pudding. The home reared pork was then consumed over the following months.   I had a Sunday Lunch experience as a guest to see the pig's end as a roast joint upon the table.  Very good it was too.  It has become fashionable with the various green/self-sufficiency and slow food inspired TV programmes for people to keep pigs again.  This is not out of necessity as the original household economy dictated but because people can.  Long may they have this choice.

So a Pork recipe for Christmas with a Suffolk flavour. This is mirrored across Europe in cookery from Poland to Holland.  The use of cider vinegar in this recipe is a traditional Suffolk product.  Land that could not be profitably used for arable was often the land where the orchards could be found. Cider was one of the ways Victorian farmers used to supplement the wages they paid their harvest worker.  If all things such as pay was equal it was the farmer that produced that best cider that was the preferred boss.

Pork and Red Cabbage

Serves: 4   Cost:  less  than £5       Preparation time: 15 - 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 and half to 2 hours

Food miles: Maximum single ingredient 30 miles from Suffolk

Equipment needed

Large Casserole Dish
Large Saucepan

1llb of Red Cabbage
1 large Cooking Apple
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of flour
Salt and black pepper
1 and a half pounds ( 700g ) boneless pork shoulder rind removed
Parsley Sprigs for garnish

Method or How to?

Prepare first (15 minutes tops)

Preheat the oven to 190 C (Gas Mark 5)
Wash the Red Cabbage and Shred the cabbage.  Peel and core the apple and then slice into reasonably thick sections.
Place in a large ssaucepan of water sufficient water to cover the cabbage.  Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to the water and bring to the boil.  Add the cabbage and bring back to the boil.  Allow to boil for a few minutes.  Drain the cabbage  really well to remove the water.

In the bottom of the casserole place the cabbage and the apple.  Stir the sugar into the cabbage and apple.  Add the remaining cider vinegar the flour and seasoning.

Take the pork shoulder and score the outer side of the piece.  Rub the scored side with some salt and black pepper and then place on the top of the cabbage.

Cover the casserole dish and then cook for 1and half to 2 hours until tender.  When cooked take the pork out and slice placing on a serving plate.  Around the pork arrange the cabbage and apple along with a garnish of parsley.

Serve with your of potatoes roasted or mashed along with seasonal root vegetables.  

Now that I have the benefit of BT Broadband again, a high speed connection no less  I will now again be building causeways across the digital ocean.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Unto us a Kindle..... part2

Amzing just downlaoded  A Simples Life as test £3.49 nad not Meerkat Manor, vor evoreeboddy

the Hallejuha moment

Finally BT have undone what should not been put asunder.  I have T'internet............ Words will follow.....

Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday morning in Suffolk

View across the snowy rooftops to the Church, the bells are still rung in this
 church on a Sunday , practise on a Monday night.  The Church clock
still chimes the hour. 
Monday morning and the skate to work for some has begun.  I have been out today already Turkey hunting.  the frozen variety.  As the roads are frozen it was my job today to walk down to the supermarket (benefiting of 1 in 7 pounds of retail spend, alright we'll dare to mention that name Tesco).   This is actually a new store on a town site right next to the main streets.  A far better arrangement than a remote out of town centre that has no proximity to smaller retail outlets such as independent shops.  I bagged my Turkey, very few finest bronzes left about 7 and no more for delivery.  The Bernard Matthews standard large were also in very short supply  after I Iifted my bird.    So if you have a large gathering to feed you may have to settle for smaller and less calorific consumption.

Any way  not  a lot of time today as I am still waiting for BT to re-connect me so I can start to blog and social network.  This could be the most important Christmas yet for job or social networking. The prolonged holiday time with Christmas and New Year falling on a Saturday gives plenty of downtime to be creative with self-marketing and planning for next year.  I have already had invites to twitter from various recruitment agencies so it could be the embracing of this for more business related activities by the general public may take place.  If we are all honest a lot of tweeting that has happened so far is from the technologically precocious.  When it becomes a habit because time invested can lead to productive opportunities it will have reached maturity.   So here's to acquiring a healthy habit for  the new year.  Having been cast upon a digital ocean island with only the occasional message in a  bottle received and thrown  I have started to think more of the whys of social networking rather than the I will because I can aspects.   So I will be recording some of my experiences over the next few weeks.  Ther is only so many re-runs of classic films you can watch!!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sunday in Suffolk

Not a car in sight -  a very quiet neighbourhood, Old Independent
church in the background, Victorian cottages (1896) on the right  
The first of the snow has arrived.  West Suffolk has been very lucky compared to the rest of the country.  We have only just had our first snow.

In the outlying villages such as Hundon they may even be cut off.  The  land around the villages in this part of Suffolk is the highest in the county, all of 116m above sea-level.  It is also surprisingly rolling in nature.  This is near the lower limit that 20,000 years ago glacial ice sheets pushed down into what later became the UK.  Many of the roads in this part of the Suffolk are actually below the level of the fields.  In snowy conditions this often leads to hardly any snow on the fields but roads that are impassable due to 4 to 5 feet of snow.

Impassable roads in the rural context of the farming communities of the past was not a big problem as people did not generally travel far out of their villages in winter.  the services that they needed were local.   The butcher, baker, and general grocers were still to be found in many villages into the 1940s and even 1950s in Suffolk.  If weather did come along the "distribution centres" were local.  We now have the economy of scales that make supermarket shopping the only oprion, but in winter conditions very hit and miss  because of transport issues.  Speculation on supply and demand is rife at the moment in the UK with  heating oil  a major problem for  a lot of rural dwellers.  Reports of rise of up to 100% in prices compared to a few months ago are reported daily upon the news.  That is assuming that supplies can be had for immediate delivery.  Reports of 4 week delays are common.  Thefts of heating oil are on the increase.  We are not talking about the odd litre here or there in a small can, but equivalent of a small tanker disappearing.  But then again apparently road salt is being stolen and then sold on the black market.  I doubt though these are so called lovable rogues (if they ever were) of folk memories.   This could see a small return to a use of coppiced wood (a sustainable and carbon neutral fuel) for heating, or an increase in the sale of woolly jumpers.

The amount of coppiced woodland is relatively small compared to before the intensification of farming.  Hedges no longer ring fields so potential for wood from the odd tree here is also restricted.  The people capable of also harvesting wood without killing the tree are also in short supply.   So a machine to make compressed paper bricks might be the answer, especially, at Christmas when there is all that paper about to be shredded.

Stourbrook flowing through Haverhill
   As the snow fell  late Saturday afternoon meant that the snowscapes were untouched by human traffic rushing to get to work.  The scene to the left shows the view along the brook in the town.  This looks quite isolated and rural.  However, it is right in the centre of the town.  We have some quite green areas near the Essex end of the town.  The view path running up to the church actually marks the border between Suffolk and Essex until the about the 1840s.

The brook ran through the water meadows as were until the expansion of the town in the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s.   A friend of mine whose family were local butchers and farmers could trace their ownership of the land back to the 1750s.  When the butchery business closed I photographed the documents one Easter.  The documents were on parchment (cured animal skins) that did actually almost  crackle with age as they were gently smoothed flat.

The land that was to the left of the brook was owned by the Sainsbury family of supermarket fame and then transferred to a friend's family at about the 1780s,  ( I will have to check this date) on which cattle were grazed in the summer.  The  Sainsbury family  have many connections with this part of Suffolk, owning at one point the house that was the dairy in Kedington, just over the next hill.   Sadly my friend is a part of old Haverhill that is no longer with us, but the documents are apparently still in the family and being cared for.

The right bank of the brook was up until recently a dairy.   Manor Farm is now a housing development which according to the Environment Agency map is at risk of flooding.  This is built upon the flood "plain" which even I can remember seeing cattle upon.  Haverhill has had some very notable floods in it's time which I will go further into at another time.

View of the Cricket Pavilion in snowy splendour,  this is
 not the original as the wooden pavilion was burnt down by an
act of vandalism 30 years previously to this shot.  Haverhill one of the
founding members of  Suffolk Cricket.
The left hand bank of the brook had for many years up until the early 1970s been underdeveloped.  The building of the Sports Centre which opened in 1972  was off what was then called the relief road but now Ehringshausen Way (named after our twin town).  The cricket pitch has been in it's position for over a hundred years, again on the flood plain.   This land was given to the town under a covenant by the local industrial entrepreneurs family  to ensure the land could only be used for cricket.  Really good piece of foresight here.   No local authorities suddenly selling off land that had been given for a specific purpose to a town.  Interesting point of law here do local authorities have the right to sell of land that is historically "inherited" from another entity that received the land given in good faith for the amenity of the people at the time.   We have a number of pieces of land in Haverhill that I feel fall into this dubious category.  But again that is another tale.

I have given a small insight into views of Haverhill in the snow.   I have not had as much chance to write about food this week but hopefully my BT Internet finally, will be up and running tomorrow.  With time in front of the screen I will write a little more of the food of Suffolk and how it has influenced some of the traditions of the older members of Haverhill that have been born and bred here, as have their families before them.   This is the season of roasted meats.  Turkey has not always been the traditional meat of celebration.  That is equally true of other places.  another place of interest to me is Crete.  The main festive meat this time of year being Pork.  Pork is a meat long grown and used in Suffolk.  Suffolk Black Hams of which I will write later in the week are a speciality that takes preparation and also planning if you are to have it as part of your festive fare.  

So final shot of snowy Haverhill.......