Monday, 28 February 2011

Web 2.0 for Educators and Business Part 4

Started Tuesday 1st March 2011 0547 GMT
Words 422
S.I.= 84.4 %

Fibre optic Broadband in Suffolk?

Fast Broadband is something that in Suffolk we aspire to, and I often feel as a rural county should be our right.  This would to a large degree redress the long standing imbalance of provision of services between city and country.  That imbalance sees central funds going to the same inner city deprived areas time and again either because it was the wrong project because the authors did not talk to the recipients about their needs or the population of that inner city failed due to whatever reasons to engage and take ownership of their received projects.

I have blogged abut my frustration with BT Broadband before.  However not one that is often guilty of the British disease of moaning and blaming the government,while forgetting they may not have voted, I am doing something about it.  This  is a Federation of Small Businesses meeting in Stowmarket.  A brilliant venue in the middle of Suffolk, which is  a surprisingly large county.  Being on the periphery in Haverhill many of the meetings in my teaching career necessitated I had to attend the "Big Houses" in Ipswich nearly 45 miles away.   By the time I  negotiated the poor roads out of Haverhill towards Bury St Edmunds this could take anytime from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the state of the A14.

The meeting this evening has a speaker whose name I vaguely remember to do with some past activities associated with education.  I have an interest on top of the purely personal business aspects as member foremost and lately Director of the  Teleworking Association (I have blogged previously about its origins, I won't include the link as it can be found in the list to the right of the blog).  The talk is about the coming Broadband offering in Suffolk and how it will be made affordable.  I won't prejudice my own thoughts for this evening by speculating on the content.  I hope to be presently surprised.  

PS St David's day today.  A friend of mine launches his website today. A pioneer of the fibre-optic industry (not intentional given the subject of this blog just happen to know Chris)  and former director a company making fibre-optics in the town, who saw the light choosing work-life balance and  is now a photographic artist (sounds better than a photographer who might only do passport photographs).  His exhibition at Haverhill Arts centre takes place on the 1 st April 2011.  I wish him well in this new career!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Monday Week 4 Chinese Lunar Year

Started Monday 28th February 2011 0629 GMT
Words 490
S.I.= 98 %

Week 4 of the Career Change Journey

A good week ahead is planned.  The stone has been rolled up to the top of the hill.  This is the week where the potential of my new start-up business begins to start to roll.

The business plan for each individual area is now going to be formally written.  I have talked about the pressures that have been placed on middle managers in a previous blog.  My own solution to this has been to go back to the fundamental idea of having a product or a service to sell.  I have hopefully? No. I have  used my diverse skills to formulate a economic activity diversification scheme that fits my own particular circumstances.

The underlying principle to be able to achieve this is wellbeing.  This is something that was not a prime concern for the people who I was working for in  previous career incarnations of teacher and and agriculture research.  The curse of the ME culture of the eighties, nineties and noughties promoting the emergence of the yuppie is hopefully over.  Or more importantly will not be a major influence on my activities.  It has to be remembered that a 20 year old yuppie in early 80 became the thirty something in the 90s and the 40 year old redundancy candidate in the noughties. Having trailed along 6 years behind these characters I experienced most of the downturns    just when their 3 year career plans required a change.

My hope is that now reality of monolith building created by the spending from central government has been recognised we may have a healthier future.  Transparency is talked about all the time.  The interweb does make available the same information if not more than what central planning operates on.  By having a fuller picture of the financial constraints most eventualities can be planned for rather reacted against. More refreshing to see the word consultation now actually being used  in the correct way by government.  Would like to have the phrase U-turn banned from journalism and parliament.  It is a sign of adaptability to dynamic processes and the fact a plans when written are not correct when they are implemented as information and situations change.  It is not a virtue to be intransigent about turning (vague reference to somebody who used to wield a handbag).

PS Really good idea launched today a scrappage scheme (reported on BBC Breakfast News London region edition) where old unwanted cars are collected auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity, may only operate in London but it is a start possibly leading to a new recycling activities of second hand parts.   I have an old Mark 1 MR2 buying new parts is often difficult for older cars which do not really do a lot of miles so a second hand part with life left in would be more carbon footprint friendly. 

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Sunday Foodie bit part 5

Shot from Inside my parish church St Mary's Haverhill
( well it is Sunday) where I was dropped in the font.
Marble tablet on wall in refrectory states
date of first priest was 1190.  Last time I attended was
for the baptism.  
Started Sunday 27th February 2011 0744 GMT

Fairtrade and buy local

Fairtrade fortnight starts tomorrow.  This is a great branding excercise for small producers (originally) from overseas that are looking for a recognisable symbol and who meet sustainable criteria.  A similar scheme to promote small businesses is the Buy Local  campaign.  A number of businesses are part of this Haverhill including the cafe (with internet) which I use.   De Ja Vu is run by a local business man which is even better, who has helped give youngsters help in their footballing endeavours.

Farmer's markets are another buy local group.  They have attracted some comedic criticism mainly based on the fact that some of the produce is from outside the 30 mile criteria (ie not a local as you would think).  However, with the olive oil trees in Coggeshall a farmers market selling products made from these would qualify in a farmers' market in the Haverhill area.

So the recipe for this week to be found on (later in the week I will put these on fully) is Cauliflower cheese.  A very topical recipe given the news (was on BBC Breakfast but again cannot actually find the actual story on the BBC website) about early Brassica crops in Holbeach St Marks.  The crops have been hit for the third year running by bad winters.  They were at the point of being ploughed-in. The story was that the solution to these climate change events would be to grow the Cauliflowers in more temperate parts of the country or to use new varieties bred for the changing climate while maintaining the yield of current varieties.  Any body have any old seed left from 100 years ago plus?

Sunday morning so just watching the Andrew Marr show.  Very interesting set of guests?  Peter Mandelson for some reason appears a little uncomfortable!

The Saturday Garden Shed

Started Saturday 26th February 2011 0704 GMT

The Importance of Bee-ing 

A story on the BBC yesterday prompted a bit of thinking about the importance of social insects.  Bees are part of one of the oldest man-animal interactions. In Africa tribes follow certain birds called honey guides to find honey.

Bees are very important to British agriculture and gardeners.

Ready for sowing now!

Sweat Peas still can be sown

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Wellbeing on a Thursday

Started Thursday 24th February 2011
Words 479
S.I.= 95.8 %

A small business person but part of a  a big organisation

A Thursday yet again.  As now a small business person I am taking today to reflect and assess my own wellbeing.  Three weeks since lighting the blue touch paper is the rocket still rising?

A big part of the overall consideration of starting your own business is whether you have the resilelnce and the motivation to succeed.  There was an old advert put out by one of the banks in the eighties showing a happy confident individual walking into the house swinging his briefcase.  He announced to his spouse (people did tend to be married in the eighties) that he had the bank on board, he had his backers etc while the being watched adoringly by the home maker.  The reality is and always has been not quite like the advert.

The reason to start your own business are often personal circumstances owing to career change due to redundancy rather than something that is planned.  A good way of assessing your readiness and suitability to a life where you are the boss is a new pack  Working from Home from Law Packs written by Shirley Borret the development director of the  Teleworking Association.  Advice on how to go about being self-employed and the considerations that have to be taken regarding Wellbeing are covered.

One of the biggest problems with being self-employed is the potential to be isolated and feel isolated.  A good way of avoiding this is to be a member of a local group such as a chamber of commerce.  I attended Haverhill Chamber of Commerce's  (part of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce) informal evening last night at the Sturmer Red Lion (a village that has featured in a few blog posts previously).  I met very interesting people all committed to what they were doing.  There was Elaine who runs Best of Haverhill and has a number of projects on the go that I found refreshing to hear about and recognise as to how her skills complemented the aims of her customers.   I talked to Chris who had just started his own courier business that is now Defra registered to be able to transport birds and animals to shows.  I must though remember where I put the business cards in the many pockets in my jacket, though as we are all Haverhill Chamber of Commerce members it will be easy to get in contact.

The benefit of networking as a small business of events like this extend to Wellbeing .  We met in a friendly atmosphere, people may have been sometimes working in the same market area but it was not like a convention of double double glazing salesmen thrusting a card in your pocket as you shook hands. An opportunity to recognise that all small businesses do experience that fundamental work-life balance dilemma, but can still be smiling. 

Wednesday and Career Change

Started Wednesday 23rd February 2011
Words =

Monday, 21 February 2011

Web 2.0 for Educators and Business Part 3

Started Tuesday 22nd February 2011 0540 GMT

The Two Faces of Facebook

In the last week we have started to see the multifaceted side of Facebook and other social networks.  As in all forms of human they can be used for positive or negative change to human society.

On the one hand we are seeing the open nature of the internet cause regime change, hopefully by the people and for the people if they so choose in places like Tunisia.   In other cases we are seeing this very open nature twisted to a purpose it was not intended by it's instigator, the grooming of youngsters on Facebook.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Monday Morning Week 3 of Chinese Lunar Year

Started Monday 21st February 2011 0054 GMT
Words 381
S.I. =  76.2%

Training around Suffolk

A busy week ahead starting with meetings and continual professional training tomorrow.  A dilemma with increasing fuel prices is the attendance on time at places without having a large carbon footprint.
I am attending an event in Marks Tey.  I do not have to take any "tools of the trade" other than myself and a few pieces of paper.  How do I get there?

I could drive but the event would not be cost effective in time and working opportunities since it is at strange time of the day.  So the two criteria for transport selection are cost effectiveness and time effectiveness.

I am going to take the opportunity to go by train as it fits in with the general constraints of being relaxed enough to perform fully in the meetings and the ability to arrive with plenty of time to have lunch. I will leave Haverhill about 8 am and seek to get back by 9pm if all goes to plan.   I will then have first hand experience of the potential problems when arranging travelling to meetings where it may be more of a social enterprise function and therefore income stream limited or a microenterprise function where time as opposed to cost may be more important, while maintaining an eye on the overall carbon neutrality of the activity.

I may sound as though I am being pedantic but I can see a trend "green" certificated much as we are British Standard compliant for COSHH and other activities.  In other words the audit culture will not die, the systems will just become automated.  Rather than have to spend a lot of time later when the business cycle is more cluttered and it will cost more in time spent planning the audit trail and finding the records when I do go for the appropriate accreditation, I will start along the path now.

The week ahead should see more moving on the blogging front.  A former pupil of mine is due to start blogging about podcasting and his experience of digital recording   and web radio on ., the social enterprise site .  He is graduate of the University College Suffolk where he was the first to graduate in his particular course. So some social networking opportunities to look forward to!   

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Sunday Foodie bit part 4

A shot of two solar power energy
converters in Impington, the old technology
powered by the wind which is generated by
convection currents from solar heating of the sea, and
the solar panel directly having electrons excited by the sun
( this is the approximate in a few sentences).
A couple of thousand years technology spanned  but
overall which is most efficient and carbon neutral?
Started Sunday 20th February 2011 0744 GMT

The Ultimate Eco Meal?

A little diversion here into green science on a Sunday. I have a great interest in the complexity of the environment around me.  I just happened last Saturday to be attending a seminar on how to gamble on the Forex market more out of curiosity to see what was actually being sold, a franchise almost based on using a software product that charts and maps stop losses against entry level and exit level with a bit of commonsense trading.  The little and often while not being too greedy strategy of target setting.  In essence a very elegant piece of software producing a WYSIWYG solution for non-mathematicians and betting addicts.

So back to the photograph, with my green hat (brown South African Veld hat)  I took the bus into Cambridge using one of day rider tickets for £5.20 return which allows multiple trip travel around Cambridge.  I needed to visit Maplins in the centre of town, after buying one of their very good Scroll Android powered touch pads the separate keyboard I found I could not get to work.  By visiting the shop I found out that the keyboard was not compatible on the port I had plugged it into, by plugging it into another USB port it suddenly was working very well.  If I had parked in the centre of town the charges would have been about 3 to 4 pounds (maybe more since I stopped parking in Lion Yard years ago).

I would then also have had to endure the Ben Hur type journey around the inner ring road avoiding the cyclists to go out  to Impington.  Cambridge City planners do not want cars in the centre of Cambridge.  This is fine by me but the same people seem to have applied the same yard stick to Haverhill.  It was actually quicker for me to walk at peak traffic times to work (8 minutes because I am a local I know the shortcuts) than be directed out of the town and around it (15 minutes with traffic).  We also notice that quite a few cars go down the high street the wrong way because they are following their SATNAV.  The maps do not realise that the street is no longer two way (and has been one way for at least 10 years).  So the photograph was taken on the return journey at the Impington Bus Stop!  

The Eco meal I am writing about today is Boiled Beef and Carrots.  The full recipe will be available on the 2pointfiveageofman website very soon.  The recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker or on the hob, or possibly a halogen cooker.  this gives a hot meal on one day and then you can eat the meat as a cold cut on the next day.

The ingredients are as follows, 2 to 3 Ibs of topside or silverside of beef, 2oz of butter, 2 large onions (sliced), 8 -10 medium carrots sliced, I small swede, thickly sliced, 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs.  These are accompanied by 1/2 to 1/4 pint of vegetable stock with salt and pepper to taste.

By using the left over the next day the excess is not wasted and going into the land fill site.  The electricity used by the slow cooker is minimal, the vegetables are seasonal cutting down on air miles.  An Eco Meal!   

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Saturday Garden Shed 2

Started Saturday 19th February 2011 0627 GMT

The Sweet Pea Sowing Season

Saturday has come round again.  This time of year is the time when the sweet pea can be sown.  The town of Wem where they were developed was the district "county town" for North Shropshire.  This was the district that I lived in at the time when I was carrying out the agricultural research phase of my career.   This is an incredibly rural area much like West Suffolk.  Shropshire at that time was billing itself as the undiscovered county.  I would say still that most people of any age would be hard put to state where Shropshire is on a map.

I remember when I was younger Sweet Peas were one of the plants that my maternal grandfather always grew.  After a career in the Customs Service chasing gold smugglers around Bombay (Mumbai now) he arrived in this country in 1955,  along with my grandmother and mother, the elder children were already here joining the Royal Navy and doing other things.  This was a few months before the Suez Canal, through which they passed, was closed to shipping.  A little reminiscent of times of today.

I say arrived because he was part of that generation that had been involved the British Empire.  Born in what is modern day Pakistan from an Irish family who supervised building the Railways he married my grandmother in 1931 who herself was from an ex-pat family and born in Simla.  Her mother was the Governor of the Women's Prison in Lahore.  After arriving in the Port of London he took up the post at the BBC News department that he came to England for rather going to Australia, where many of my relatives ended up after Indian Independence.   After retiring at the age of 70 with his house paid off within fifteen years he then set about gardening for the next nearly 30 years or so before passing at the, we usually say now, grand old age of 99.  A pretty full and eventful life life even by today's standards of global society.

Visits when I was a child from my grandparents often included a trip Robert  and Sons in Sturmer, the same place that I blogged about nearly three weeks ago Sweat Pea plants  were bought and then taken back to their house in Ponders End.  So with a view to continuing my own gardening career,  although being born in 1966 I have a long way to go before officially retiring (sorry there is no retirement age anymore for those of my age), I have some of Mr Fothergill's  of Newmarket  seed.  So today is sowing day to produce the plants to produce that traditional cottage garden effect and to enhance my sense of Wellbeing which I have to say 2 weeks into a running my own business is starting to be high.

A TGI Friday feeling! Yet again!!

Started Friday 18th February 2011

Wot no blogging? If you are blogging you may not be doing

Blogging up to the last few weeks has been part of the normal daily routine.  However, it still takes time.  I have for the past few days been prioritising the business start up process.  The practical or the doing stuff has taken precedence over the blogging.

Hopefully I will have caught up by the end of the weekend! 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Monday Week 2 Chinese Lunar Year

Started Monday 14th February 2007
Words 431
S.I.= 86.2 %

Big Day for the Big Society

Big Society is going to be prominent not only today but also in the coming weeks and months.  The BBC have been running a few stories today with Big Society as the theme.  David Cameron is announcing the next part of the vision of how we transform the fundamental way that we run the society of Britain.

Announced today will be the all important framework of how the Big Society in action may be funded.  A £300 million fund or bank for social entrepreneurship is to be announced.  This may not sound very much but it is a start.  We have to remember that a lot of the function of the National Lottery before the Olympics was won for London was to help local charities and groups.  The micro-management culture of central government has affected the accessability of small groups to this money.  I have had many conversations with local groups who have basically given up applying because the criteria and time involved to access funds is beyond volunteers.  The money pool will hopefully expand as the Olympic projects reach completion, the contractors are paid, and more importantly "snagging" of the finished work is carried out without extra costs that appear to be outside the terms of reference (hopefully PFIs have not been used as an example of good contractual practice).
I find the idae of an ISA quite an "exciting" concept.  I have put thoughts on this in my blog  I will certainly invest in this ISA but it would be even more supportive if the normal ISA was also available so there was a double tax benefit.

Public spending cuts are perceived as a  threat to this process. We have many competing service providers in my local town.  A gym has just been created in a local school that allegedly will have state of the art gym,  it is not apparrent who their customers may be or who pays yet.  The local authority may be competing against itself or another level of local government who has established a outsourced gym provider for the town.  In the   light of crossing patrol people being made redundant I do wonder about the priorities of the people involved and the number of competing entities that seem to be chasing the same people.  The price may not be cheaper since the excuse for price levels is  that this is the market rate because everybody else is charging the same.    

This week 40th Anniversary of Decimalisation.

The Sunday Foodie bit part 3

Started Sunday 13th February 2011

The Fish Pie of Suffolk

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Friday Analysis

Started Friday 11th February 2011 0521 GMT
Words 379
S.I. = 75.8%

Going beyond the Seventh Wave

The Seventh Wave is a concept that some may be aware of from the natural world and mythology.  The seventh wave hitting a beach is supposedly the strongest, a phenomenon familiar to some surfers but debunked by scientists. Some Irish traditional stories talk about beyond the seventh year or  going beyond the seventh wave.  Today is day seven of the new adventure into self-employment.

An interesting journey this week has been and for the most part coped with.  The fragility of the net as a virtual factory and office space has been underlined by trojan horse and connectivity issues this week.  The need for backups and alternative workspaces be they internet cafes or a teleworking centre becomes critical  for small businesses as they attempt to maintain their own sustainability.

Change is a constant theme that has been apparent through out the week in the news and talking to retired people in the local pub. A sense of reductionism listening to older members of society suggests that a lot of the change we are seeing has been experienced before often called by a different name.  The repetition of certain events suggests at best a disregard or lack of comprehension for historical cycles at worst cynicism towards the majority of the population that some leaders choose to show ( a bit woolly and sitting on the fence here but I am sure you will identify many stories that fit your own internet surfing).

So more of the same to follow next week.  Continuity planning has already kicked in for Monday.  My Victorian cottage will be taken back to 1896 when it was biult.  The local electricity supply company is servcing or replacing the local transformer between 10 and 4 pm.  Finding non-scented candles just in case they do not replace or repair the fault before dark  has been quite a challenge.  My local Cooperative store was the only place  I could find them. Which brings me to the final thought for this blog today.  I found a very good BBC Wales (probably therefore not available outside the UK) programme on BBC iPlayer about the founding of the Cooperative movement.  Thought provoking as we move further into the Silicon Age and the era of the social networker.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Wellbeing on a Thursday

Started Thursday 10th February 2011 0503 GMT
Words 472
S.I. = 94.4%

We are going to the Gym, escaping the Zoo, are you journeying too?

Pausing and reflecting is always a good way of assessing your own personal Wellbeing.  The start of a new business or becoming self-employed is potentially a very stressful occasion.  So pausing and reflecting.

On Monday I blogged about a personal target of  making sure I attended a gym on a regular basis.  This is incredibly important from the point of view arranging your work/homelife balance when working as a home-based worker and business person.

Reflecting on the week is usually a Friday experience.  However, a trojan horse virus on Monday, the first ever that had managed to get past my Firewalls and McAfee programmes.  The holes in Microsoft Windows were  apparent.  Couple this event with BT having an upgrade on Monday night and no broadband until Wednesday morning I could have been in a position of not having an IT using business after only 3 days.

Luckily I have the skills myself to be able to allow business continuity so had back ups of data and alternative strategies of working via the cloud.  Thursday morning and I am just cleaning off the last Trojan off the main system.  The diversified (almost a farming term here) systems  were able to cope although at points my own coping systems  were running at almost 100% capacity.  Having a good work life balance allows the capacity to cope remain  greater than the demand caused .

So planning ahead to arrive safely at Saturday Evening is a good exercise considering the bouncers that have already been bowled. I can cope with these on the Cricket field having opened the batting and kept wicket for a number of sides when I was younger. Sport is definitely a good training for life as I am constantly being reminded.

The gym that I had my induction in on Monday has a very simple system where they encourage the exerciser to be their own personal trainer. The roll back of the general nanny state attitude that pervades British Society? Maybe. A simple colour chart on the wall matched to general time based workout cards educate you to judge what your body is telling you about your physical state while exercising. Inductions to gym where the trainer takes you the edge of your pain envelope have been the norm, but this would appear to not be necessary. Eight o'clock is a good time for me today to take a break and go to the gym,

On the dipity calendar you will see one event I am attending next week that fits very well with some of the IT experiences, This event is being run by Menta and Business Continuity experts. I am always willing to listen to others just in case I have missed the Elephant in the room.So planning ahead to arrive safely at Saturday Evening is a good exercise considering the bouncers hat have already been bowled. I can cope with these on the Cricket field having opened the batting and kept wicket for a number of sides when I was younger. Sport is definitely a good training for life as I am constantly being reminded.

On the dipity timeline you will see one event I am attending next week that fits very well with some of the IT experiences. This event is being run by Menta and Business Continuity experts. I am always willing to listen to others just in case I have missed the Elephant in the room.  

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Wednesday and Career Change

Started Wednesday 9th February 2011   0707 GMT

Web 2.0 for Educators and Small Businesses

Started Tuesday 8th February 2011 0936 GMT
S.I. =

When the trojan horse kicks and BT are monkeying about .....

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Monday Morning Week 1 of Chinese New Year

Started Monday 7th February 2011 0651 GMT
Words 507
S.I. = 101.4 % Aspirational Target not met (but it is only aspirational)

First Monday of being self-employed.  This has not been as much of a worry waking up this morning as it may have been when I left my teaching post officially at the end of April.  All told it has been 9 months in gestation.  Five months to combat the post traumatic stress of working for 13 years in a school that did some very good things but experienced special measures (2 and half years worth or was it more?) and transition to Locally Managed Status (essentially outsourcing of schools by LEAs, so free schools and academies are not really that radical).

The final chapter was the closure of the Middle schools in Haverhill and Lowestoft (happening in July 2011).  However, the programme of moving to a two tier system county wide would appear to scuppered.

So the week ahead.  By the end of the week I will hopefully have cleared  target of an average rate per hour. Surprisingly, when you actually do the analysis after stripping away the deductions a teacher has to have from their salary and equate the annualised hours to a 40 hour week the amount need to have the same lifestyle not unrealistic.  The trick comes in figuring out how the tax system works, how National Insurance contributions can effectively be managed and also how to structure your working week for your own personal wellbeing as a home worker offering flexible hours for working  with customers' needs.  The real trick is to do this without paying others for expert advice. If you can ask the right questions of an "expert" while only  having to pay a  little or nothing success may be in sight.   The "expert" advice is the sometime unnecessary business expense that squashes the Golden Goose that would have laid the ordinary egg (that is what I am after, the ordinary egg).

I am going through the process of doing my own Performance Management Review to set the targets for the coming trading year.  I have experience of doing this with my own staff when I was coordinating Science and ICT so will aim for three targets.  Two that are operational targets and one personal target.  The tasks to achieve them may be many but three targets for devlopement and personal growth are acheivable.  I have set on my personal Google Calendar the date 5th May 2011 (3 months) for the first review.

My personal target I have selected as a Wellbeing aspiration to have my Gym induction today and still be using the gym twice weekly on the 5th May 2011.

Back to East Asian customs I am also going to buy a Malabar Chestnut (Pachira aquatica) and a few pieces of red ribbon, to be added to the tree as each profitable customer pays their bill.  If the tree is festooned with red in three months time I will know my cunning plan may be working.

I will be updating the career change  courses on offer along with other services and goods on offer at throughout the week.

The Sunday foodie Bit part 4

A Fishy on the Dishy (poor pun here)
A Mackerel is shown not a Herring, no red herrings
Started Sunday 6th February 2011  0953 GMT
Words 303

Bacon and Herring in Suffolk

Bacon and Herring were the two main protein sources  rural Suffolk used to rely on in it's daily diet.  The part of the world where I am from West Suffolk was the pig production and processing area (not quite so much as it used to be compared to even 15 years ago).  Lowestoft was one of the main East Coast centres of Herring  fishing.   A fish that provided the essential oils in the diet that now most people only experience in capsule form.

I have taken a picture of one of the plates of a non-matching set.  I bought these from the factory shop of the Jersey Pottery, they were delivered by their agents who turned out to be a major high street department store. Back then, eight or nine years ago, this was a major saving on the high street prices.  This was a spontaneous buy along with a set of soup/spaghetti bowls.  There were eight different designs showing various different types of popular seafood from around the shores of Jersey.  Herring sadly is not really commercially viable to fish as it was in the heyday of Lowestoft.  When my nephew came to Sunday Lunch he was just starting to read.  As the Roast beef was being put on his plate he noticed the picture and the script around the edge of the plate.  We then had an impromptu marine biology experience as all the plates had to then be read and commented upon.  My brother-in-law is an enthusiastic fisherman so suspect there were a few conversations going home in the car.  

In a previous blog   I detailed a Pork and Cabbage dish.  Later in the day or tomorrow a recipe for Herring and one for Mackerel will appear in the Blog for

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Saturday Garden Shed

Started Saturday 5th February 2011  Started 0634 GMT
Words 409

Is it a shed?
This is obviously not a garden shed but an (
I'll let you think about this one.  The structure as it is not a dwelling was rambled past a few years ago.  This is the Moulton and Three churches walk (walk number 48).  The village of Moulton lies on what was the superhighway of it's day the packhorse track between Cambridge and Bury St.Edmunds and which ran south of Newmarket.  The next picture shows the packhorse bridge a triumph of medieval engineers and not a skate board ramp.  It certainly didn't wobble with the frequency of feet passing over it.

  So the shed,  this is Malt Kiln used to dry out the malt produced as the barley was malted.   This was an essential part of the local economy in the production of beer.  Beer was a relatively weak beast (< 2.5% abv) when used for everyday consumption  compared to today's brews.  The beer could also be guaranteed to be less likely to kill you than some of the drinking water of the day.

The presence of Malt kilns in the area were one of the reasons why the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds (once the resting place of England's original patron saint) was the premier medieval Abbey.  Prior to meeting at Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta, meetings were held at the Abbey.

Saturday's Gardening slot is going to be a little shorter than I intended on Monday (will have to upload missing posts over the weekend).   We have had Chinese  New  Year which is based on a Lunar Calendar (13 months).  This has been accompanied by some of the windiest weather around the world, not unrelated to the fact the moon is pretty near to the earth.

On the theme of calendars I have just received the growing year planner from the Growing Schools network.  a publication that may not be repeated as cuts bite so maybe a little fund raising for the appropriate charity that takes this in would be appropriate.

Today I have officially started trading in business.  This free blog will continue to be maintained each day.  More content will start to appear on the two blogs and sites where the information may be more economically expedient for me to place.

Tomorrow we will have a look at Roast Bacon and it's place in the Suffolk food economy.

The Friday Analysis

Started Friday 4th February 2011 0819 GMT

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Wednesday and Career Change

Started Wednesday 2nd February 2011 0021 GMT
Words 311
S.I. = 62.2 %

The age of the part-time worker?

The part time worker accounted for nearly 97% of the employment opportunities taken up last year.  The time of the portfolio career is now, it is already happening without consciously or voluntarily being adopted (see previous blogs).

The worrying part of this is that the banking system has become so entrenched in offering mortgage products that rely on full-time employment (usually with both partners workers) over the now relatively short period of 25 years.  People are living longer and will have no legal compunction to retire at 65 very soon.  The state assistance, we had probably better get used to calling it that rather a pension, already does not appear to be given for post Baby Boomers (anybody born after 1962).  Even state sector (now public sector)  pensions are not as attractive a deal to compensate for the "vocational" nature of the job.

Insurance products such Mortgage Protection and Payment Protection Insurance taken out for a rainy day (or months) increasingly do not do what they claim to on the wrapper.  The future may not look so bright for many who are trapped in the house as an investment rather than a home scenario at present.  This dictates how flexible you can be in the choice of what you do to raise your happiness index to a 10.  Many people are doing this and have been doing this for sometime, I am realising that I have been speaking to them as they have been around me for a long time.

So 21st Century Working here I certainly come!  A good starting point for this is the Teleworking Association  (link to blog), a not for profit type organisation of which I became a Director at last weeks' AGM.  So if I do mention it you will know I am only promoting what I preach and practice myself.