Good morning to you all. A bit cool, overcast and occasionally drizzly for much of the week but there was still the occasional fine and sunny day to keep our spirits up.
As you know, last Monday was a big day – the plumbing team arrived to install our new boiler, the old one having died a slow, painful and very noisy death. Since our return from the States we have struggled to keep ourselves moderately clean with a twenty to thirty second lukewarm shower and/or boiling kettles with which to perform our ablutions. Not much fun but the “lads” arrived on Monday morning ready to do battle.
They got the old boiler dismantled and the new one installed relatively efficiently and by Monday evening we were up and running again. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to have that first shower on Monday evening. (In fact, Penny was so keen that she had a shower virtually the instant the plumbers had departed on Monday afternoon). I am sure you can imagine how satisfying and gratifying it was to stand under the gushing shower and enjoy plentiful, indeed essentially limitless, scalding hot water. Imagine the luxury – turn a tap or, in the case of our shower, push a button, and within a moment or two steaming hot water comes flooding out. It’s a miracle!
On reflection, of course, it’s a nonsense to be complaining about the lack of a hot shower for about two weeks when there are hundreds of millions of people living without reliable access to fresh water, never mind the occasional hot shower.
I was walking Molly last Friday morning and, as I rounded the corner to stroll on to the recreation ground in the village, I thought I was back in the Wild West! There, on the ground just in front of the cricket pavilion, was a set of three teepees arranged in an overlapping arrangement. I felt like I would be the recipient of an onslaught of flaming arrows any moment as I cautiously approached the settlement. I assumed, as the teepees were erected fairly adjacent to the Scout hut that they were to do with some Scouting activity to be held at the weekend. In fact, the tents turned out to be the venue for a wedding reception which was held in the village on Saturday afternoon and evening. And, to judge by the very lively band we could hear from our bedroom window that night, they sure had a wonderful time. Click for a larger image.
Those of you who participated in the XCstravaganza celebration will have had my message from a week or so ago asking for (a) photographs to be uploaded to the XCstravaganza SkyDrive we set up and (b) recipes from those who catered to be included in our forthcoming cookbook. I was delighted to see some additional photographs uploaded (thanks, Lisa) but somewhat disappointed to receive not a single, solitary recipe! Let me have them as soon as possible, please – we have dozens of pre-orders for the XCstravaganza cookbook based on the worldwide success of our previous ventures!
As an inducement to encourage those responsible to upload their photographs and/or send me their recipes, I include the following time-lapse of Greg & Penny’s Krazy Kayak Kapers. If this isn’t sufficient encouragement, next week I will include two time lapse videos! Understood?
I almost missed the announcement of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes. The winners are the usual mix of wacky and unusual discoveries but I do think the organisers were displaying a touch of irony in their choice of the winner for this year’s Ig Nobel Peace Prize:
Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.
You can get the full list of winners here.
I’ve written before how Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, must wake up each morning with another completely unfounded wacky idea about educating the British school children. Now that the new term has started he is off and running again. This time he wants to introduce a national system of tests for five-year olds. Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, had an interesting take on the proposal. He wrote that testing children at five years old was way too late. Testing needed to be done at five months because, when children start school at five, the damage has already been done by parents and other family members, friends and carers.
It was also interesting to read of Gove’s reaction in the face of consistent criticism from essentially everyone who has any expertise or knowledge of education.
These people represent the powerful and badly misguided lobby who are responsible for the devaluation of exams and the culture of low expectations in state schools.
We need a system that aims to prepare pupils to solve hard problems in calculus or be a poet or engineer – a system freed from the grip of those who bleat bogus pop-psychology about ‘self image’, which is an excuse for not teaching poor children how to add up.
So, the same old form – no answering the criticisms with any evidence supporting their policy – just insults and abuse directed at anyone who dares to use the evidence to criticse the government dogma.
Hey ho! It’s good to be back.
Love to you all