Sunday, 30 September 2007


I have recently returned from a week's visit to Treginnis Isaf near St Davids in the company of 26 10-year-old schoolchildren. The location was idyllic, the weather surprisingly mild and the staff kindness itself. We milked goats, fed pigs, collected freshly laid eggs, groomed horses, checked sheep, dug up and prepared carrots for our dinner, gathered brambles (or blackberries as the English insist on calling them) and created assemblages from flotsam and jetsam from the nearby beach. In short we experienced a way of life that has all but disappeared from our city-centred existence and it was wonderful. The children, in general, and a few in particular, responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to see, touch, smell and taste things for the very first time. I hope that, even if only in a few cases, it will not be the last.

Personal highlights included milking a goat, leading a donkey and several interesting conversations with the farmer on the state of modern British farming.

Facebook friends may view my photos on my profile page.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Cut the Carbon March

We have just bid farewell to Dwijen Mallick, one of the Cut the Carbon Marchers, who has spent two nights with me and my family in Bristol and is now en route to Bath. Dwijen works for an independent institute researching and implementing sustainable development in Bangladesh. Having worked in partnership with Christian Aid in Dwijen was invited to be one of the 10 overseas marchers to join the 10 UK marchers in this protest march from Bangor to London, the longest in history. As someone who is increasingly alarmed by the perilous state of our planet I would have loved to have taken part in this march if only I could have spared the 3 months, which I couldn't. So I was glad of the opportunity to be involved, even in this small way. Besides which it gave us the opportunity to make a new friend and talk to someone on the front line of climate change, an experience which has served to increase my determination to reduce my own carbon footprint and to encourage others to do the same. The problem is how to do so without coming across as en eco freak. And yet if we don't do something (anything?) and now ...

Sunday, 9 September 2007


Along with millions of people across the world I mourn the death of Luciano Pavarotti. Speaking of him, Michael Kenyon, who runs the BBC Proms, said that 'he made the world love music'. What a remarkable achievement for which to be remembered. I wonder what I shall be remembered for.

I was relieved that there was no attempt to beatify Pavarotti. References were made to his divorce and remarriage and to his dealings with the Italian taxmen. The failure to recognise a person's flaws is not only dishonest but also detracts from his humanity, the person that he was and with whom we can identify. Diana's vulnerability, Mother Teresa's depression and Pavarotti's lifestyle were as much a part of them as their good works and I don't think they should be airbrushed from their portraits.

PS The recording of Pavarotti and his father played at the funeral was of them singing 'Panis Angelicus' by Franck. It was the first piece I chose for my dad's funeral service and is an exquisitely beautiful piece of music.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

New Year

It's obviously not a new calendar year, but today marks the beginning of a new academic year.

Returning to work after five and a half weeks' holiday is a strangely disconcerting experience. I can never remember my password and everyday routines have to be relearned. However I welcome the opportunity to make a fresh start, an attempt to do things better this year based on the experiences of the last. It's like being given a second go at a new year's resolution (or the opportunity to try out next year's possibilities).

Well that's the theory anyway.

Besides it's good to see everyone again and catch up with what they did in their holidays.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The Beginning

They say that you should never say never ... well I said I would never write a blog ... and here I am. Which only goes to prove that 'they' were right (are they always, I wonder?)

Anyway it may not last very long, so let's enjoy it while it does.

I do a lot of thinking, running things over and over in my head, and I thought that if I ran them over in a blog they might make more sense, and perhaps some of you might like to comment on my musings in a helpful manner.

So here goes ... except that I can't think of anything at the moment, so I'll have to wait until I do.

Meanwhile I'll go away and find out how to make this blog look more interesting for you to look at.