Saturday, 29 December 2012

New Year for the 2 point five age of man

Resolution time

Time of the year when thoughts are turning to the new year of 2013.  We have survived the Mayan Calendar predictions.  Saw a good pic on Facebook "If the Mayans were so good at predicting the future, where are they now?" or words to that effect.  The continuing austerity imposed in 2012  is according to the UK politicians starting to work. So here's to a more affluent time for 2013.

Top five Key "moments" for the UK in my opinion in 2012

  1. Queens' Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  Not just for UK but for the whole of the Commonwealth
  2. London Olympics and Paralympics
  3. Signing of Better Broadband agreements across the UK
  4. UK not getting involved or "taking the lead" in Syrian Civil war by sending troops
  5. Continuing Bank misconduct exposure (not really one key event)

Top Five Tech moments for 2012 again  IMO
  1. Rise of Android as the leading mobile OS
  2. Google Plus Communities feature launched 
  3. Start of first Online Universities such as edX and Coursera
  4. Apple not winning all it's legal cases
  5. Rise of Phablets and Tablets over Desktop PCs
Obviously there are a myriad of other events that have shaped 2012.  The defining  moments may change through time as their impacts are felt. 

The major personal milestone for 2012 has been the setting  up of Haverhill Online Learning Community. This is going to occupy quite a bit of time through 2013.  Have look and if interested join or copy the idea for you own local community!

Will resume normal content of blog from now on based on good food, well being and stories about my home county Suffolk.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Blogging through 2012

A year of Change!

The year 2012 is almost over.  One of the advantages of writing a blog is you start to record those defining moments.  At the time they may appear trivial or monumental but as you get past them and look back they become just what they actually are a series of events.  

In 2012 I have undergone some major changes in circumstances. I have sold home, undergone severe financial hardship, and managed to career change.  Both of which are up there with the top events in life of being stress inducing.  The major ones I haven't yet had in 2012 are bereavement (fingers crossed not to happen in next week), divorce (not had the marriage yet) and imprisonment (do not intend or am not aware of criminal activity).  So far then we are hitting the level playing field and cross country skiing rather than skiing uphill.

Blogs we have written in 2012 have included

  • The 2pointfiveageofman blog ( which has now been going since the 2nd December 2010.  This was set up as reflective journal as a self administered attempt at CBT.   Good call to do this as we are in the position of going forward positively.  And there have been over 5000 page views.  Not too bad considering there have been times when I have abandoned the blog for months at a time!
  • The KritiRecharge 2012 Life Long Learning Blog (,  a blog that has been the basis of my professional realignment to a sustainable work situation.  Along the way I have met some very interesting people via Google Hangouts from the Bank Street College of Education's Online Learning Collective.  Nearly 850 page views since it's inception on the 27th August 2012
  • In the course of professional development I have set up the  the Haverhill Online Learning Community and the  The uk online learning communities blog ( has received about 350 views from 4 posts.
In total when you consider that most blog posts have averaged about 650 words and we have about 6200 page views for 196 posts, there has been  127,400 words posted and 4,030,000 words read.  At approximately 300 words per printed A4 page that is 13400 pages read and 424 A4 pages written. 

So onwards into 2013 and more blogging.  The only  intentions to create blogs being one for the  Haverhill Online Learning Community and one for my own personal business KritiRecharge 2012.  The name KritiRecharge coming from some thinking time on Rhodes  and later Crete.  The idea of being able to Telework almost achieved!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Google Plus the Cooking!

Who's cooking in their Kitchen?

Christmas period coming up and I am starting to get back to the lifestyle blog.  Small potatoes it may seem can have many uses (  The traditional use of the potato at the time of year is the Roast Potato for Christmas day lunch/dinner.   There are many debates over what makes the best roast potato  Obviously not the specimens of Arran (pictured left) grown in my own garden this year since this is a first early variety. 

How to find out the best way of preparing and cooking the best Roast Potatoes is a bit of a challenge!  Looking through +Natalie Villalobos's Google Plus posts I came across this link to Thanksgiving Google Hangouts  Similar idea to Christmas, Turkey and as many different types of root and tuber vegetables mashed, bashed, diced and roasted.  Be interesting to see this Hangout in action could be a whole new slant on the televisual Come Dine with Me experience.  

So what does make the best roast potato? Answers and comments would be appreciated!  Here are some of thoughts on the solution.

  • The potato itself, which variety to choose?  In the UK we have red and white in most supermarkets.  You do often get told the variety on the bag but sometimes just the generic red and white description.  Many years ago I did my Masters Research at the Scottish Crop Research Institute  near Dundee.  This august body like the way of many things in the UK has been amalgamated and technically does not exist any more. The SCRI has been responsible for many varieties of potato (and soft fruits) including the Pentland Series of varieties.  A potato with a light fluffy texture is needed for roasting, so even though there are some great potatoes bred in Scotland the UK favourite is still King Edward .

  • Parboil or place straight in? Definitely par boil!

  • How to get the crispness on the outside of the potato?   Once the potato has been parboiled there are two ways advocated  for producing crispness.  The first is to coat the potato in a little flour.  The second is to slightly roughen the outside of the potato by gently shaking them in a colander (my preferred method).  

  • The cooking!  You can pre-heat the oven and a dish containing some vegetable oil, dripping (beef dripping can still be bought) or goose fat.  Vegetable oil can also be used over the top of the potatoes placed in a cold dish before going into the oven.  This does reduce the danger of hot oil splash but does "fry" the outside of the potatoes as you would do if placed in hot fat or oil.  The external colour develops better using hot oil better than the cold method.   
There is a definite science to the perfect Roast Potato with many factors that can cause a poor roast potato.  Although most people after champagne or sherry (a good fino in straight ) on Christmas morning may not appreciate the subtlety considering the amount of food they will consume!  Hopefully somebody bought them a gym pass for the new year!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas is coming, is the Goose Getting Fat?

Almost another year over!

The last time I blogged about food was over a month ago!  A bit a year of change since the last Christmas since I no longer live in the house to the right.  Many things have moved on from January.  What will 2013 bring?  Probably more change! Will do my end of analysis a little later.

Been a really busy last month have been setting up some Online Learning Communities.  Trying to do some study with edX.  Oh and teaching a bit in the Isle of Ely!  Also taking on a  new role as an online tutor!  So really taking the bit between the teeth.  

Career change has now been effected.  The system we had in Suffolk Schools 2 years ago has changed whether for the better I will let the reader judge (a good article being   ).  The school outside the control of the education authority to have made the most progress is Samuel Ward, my old school, named outstanding academy  for the year (    A little bit of pride for Haverhill since we have not had the best of press over the years, even the "great" BBC made the mistake (

So Online Learning Communities, I have set up the Haverhill Online Learning Community  and .  Come along and have look for ideas for Life Long Learning!

Well have been working on the said communities since about 4 am this morning so will update the food blog later in the week!  Trying to figure out who has the best advice for cooking Turkeys, Jamie Oliver or the Poultry advisory board.  My money is on the producers board!