Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Natural History Museum visits Leicestershire

Snibston Discovery Park near Coalville is always a great place to visit – especially until the end of October 2010. They are hosting a fabulous photographic exhibition from the Natural History Museum.

The stunning displays of wildlife photographs from around the world are truly amazing – these pictures just can’t do the display justice – but they may give a quick taste.

snibston pictures1

Read more of this post


Schools and Small Businesses

Self-help – who’s following who?

tree in centre of field - Thomas Estley Community College, Broughton Astley

There were two meetings I went to this week – each followed a similar approach.

On Tuesday evening Teachmeet Stoke (#tmx on Twitter) was organised by 3 teachers and held at Stoke on Trent 6th Form College. It felt like 80+ people had turned out from 4pm to 8pm on what was a normal evening. They turned out to help each other and to learn ideas and tips. The atmosphere was stunning and everyone picked up tips, ideas and answers to questions.

I run a business, and we are active members of the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses. I’ve recently joined the committee. When we were organising events at our last meeting I suggested that the experience, expertise and approach of our members lent itself to a ‘Teachmeet’ approach. Bless ‘em – they were up for it!

So – on Wednesday we had a go. Smaller audience than Stoke (15 people) and less presenters (3). The approach went down very well, and I feel that ‘mighty oaks from little acorns’ may indeed grow. A stunning result was that we had a visitor from the other side of Birmingham – for a meeting in Lutterworth.

This raises the questions – what else can business borrow from schools and what can schools borrow from business?

Leicester – A City of Two Tales

October 9th and 10th 2010

On Saturday October 9th, the city was preparing for the marathon and half marathon the next day.
(I didn’t have my camera with me for most of these pictures, please excuse the quality of my phone shots)

Runner caution sign leicester marathon October 2010

I had to take this picture from a distance, because it’s in the middle of this lot. I ran down here on Sunday morning – fortunately the riot vans had gone!

police preparing Leicester October 2010

Unfortunately, the city also played host to demonstrations by the ‘English Defence League’ and ‘Unite Against Fascism’ on Saturday. Lots of news and TV coverage concentrated on the headline grabbing violence, stand off, smoke bombs and battered bodies.

But what of the ‘other news’ of the real city centre.

shop closure leicester October 2010

In my view, the saddest sight in Leicester on Saturday was the market.

Leicester Market October 2010

Desolate, barren, neglected, the list goes on.

A normal Saturday (this picture was taken 2 weeks earlier)

leicester market

Vibrant, noisy, colourful, exciting, thriving.

The city will bounce back, it bounced back the next day for the marathon and half marathon.

The demonstrators had their democratic right to meet. I wonder how much the market traders sympathised with them.
What do you think?

Becta – so near to linking up Britain?

Is this the saviour of schools broadband?

hallaton village2

Are you interested in the sustainability of internet connectivity in your school? What could the opportunities be?

I recently saw a tweet by Jon Hunt – whose website shows him to be an Education Broadband Specilaist. Jon had done some research through Becta’s website and highlighted 3 recent papers. if you’d like much more thorough analysis of these items, then Jon’s site is worth a look.

Response to Digital Britain is a fairly short document and contains some great ideas, especially in relation to rural schools – a significant minority of remote rural schools remain simply too expensive to connect to NGA. Ironically, their very remoteness means they are the schools with potentially the most to gain from next generation broadband access.  The paper shows technical ways in which a school could provide links to the community. Is there a simpler way for schools to share the burden of the cost of broadband AND help the local community – like renting out space? Why can’t a village primary school provide a desk, internet and work space for a fee? Safeguarding is clearly an issue, but if there was ever a time for school leaders to think outside the box – surely it’s now. What do you think?

Next Generation Access is – by it’s nature a weighty document. This document shows – amongst other things ideas where schools broadband could be opened up to local users in rural communities. I’ve been discussing this idea with headteachers for a few years – ‘just thinking out loud’. No headteacher has dismissed it yet as ridiculous.

Looking Ahead was published after the announcement of Becta’s closure and is (not surprisingly) somewhat briefer!  This short document picks up on some powerful points education broadband is the only available broadband in some areas … A heavy reliance on significant (and ongoing) contribution from schools – is this sustainable? … Fragmentation risk – schools/authorities opting out of RBC-/authority-led provision ..

Off the beaten track – in Leicester?

Or you can just go shopping at Fosse Park

Is this a tame goose?

In the triangle formed between Narborough Road, Aylestone Road and Soar Valley Way there is the wonderful Oasis of Aylestone Meadows. Here’s the OS map showing Walker Stadium at top right and Fosse Park shopping hell* at bottom left. (* that’s a personal view!)


It’s fantastic when you find a quiet spot so close to constant traffic jams and spend-crazy shoppers. This wonderful place is a short walk from it all.

I often run in this area (canal banks and the old Great Central Railway Line), this time I took my camera.

This really is a meadows, and the Grand Union Canal feels more like a river than the Leeds-Liverpool Canal (which I grew up near).

packhorse bridge 3  pack horse bridgepack horse bridge 2

This is Pack Horse Bridge across the canal and then across the meadows to the old railway line.

Even the graffiti under the main road (Soar Valley Way) seems slightly less aggressive!

graffiti under soar valley way soar valley way reflected

IMG_1179 (Large) meadows

I really must get my head around creative commons – but if anyone wants these pictures for educational use – please let me know and I’ll provide them without my name on!

Roman Roads on Leicestershire Warwickshire Border

A piece of history – any information board? No!

I saw a twitter request t’other day for any royalty free pictures of Roman Roads – as I live quite close to a major Roman junction I went out and had a look.

On the edge of the parish of Claybrooke in Leicestershire there is the crossing of 2 of the most important roads to the Romans.

The A5 (also known as Watling Street) ran from Holyhead to Dover, whilst the Fosse Way runs from Exeter to Lincoln.

high cross

also marks the division of these two –

leics road sign               Warwicks Road Sign

Read more of this post

John Wycliffe, his Bible and his church

This 800-year-old church stands in the centre of the town of Lutterworth, St Mary’s is on the site of a Saxon place of Christian worship.

St Marys Lutterworth - Wycliffe Bible

This church is home to some incredible history. John Wycliffe was the rector between 1374 and 1384, and it is believed that it was during this time that he was most involved with the first complete translation of the Bible into English. This original Bible is no longer around – it would now be over 600 years old! – but a “Modern” version, presented to the Church in 1876, is on show as a memorial to John Wycliffe.

Wycliffe Bible modern copy

Wycliffe Bible in case

There are many other artefacts around the church related to John Wycliffe. These include:


memorial showing Wycliffe preaching in Lutterworth

The Wycliffe Memorial – a monument depicting Wycliffe preaching to villagers despite the objection of church seniors, above an inscription about his life.

John Wycliffe pulpit, St marys Lutterworth

Wycliffe’s Pulpit – the furnishing most likely to have been used by John Wycliffe himself. Although nobody can be sure of its age, it is clear that some parts of this pulpit are much older than others.

Font St Marys Lutterworth

The font – this font is definitely ancient, but nobody can be sure of whether or not it was standing during Wycliffe’s time at the church.

all photos (C) www.sarahmcsharry.co.uk

The Hallaton Hoard

Many thanks to Leicestershire Museums and the staff at Harborough for the following information.

In 2000, Ken Wallace of the Hallaton Field Group discovered a collection of Roman pottery in a field just outside the village of Hallaton. The site was excavated with the help of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, and the discoveries made were astounding.

The Roman finds

333 Roman coins (including the oldest ever excavated in Britain), an ornately decorated cavalry parade helmet,some glass eyes and a few brooches.

Oldest Roman Coin in Britain

This is the oldest Roman coin ever excavated in Britain – believed to date to 211 BC.


Roman Parade Helmet

This is the cheekpiece of the parade helmet. It shows an emperor on horseback with a winged goddess of Victory on his shoulder holding a laurel wreath over his head. Beneath the horse’s hooves a barbarian is crouching. It would have been a very high status item, worn by a cavalry officer (so therefore potentially not a Roman), silver gilt and all highly decorated.


The other finds include more than 5000 silver and gold Iron Age coins, pictured below. All of these items are available to view at the Harborough Museum.

Iron Age coins from Hallaton

All photographs © Leicestershire Museums

In Leicestershire Parishes this week ..

Things you see when you’re walking

A group of us are walking the Leicestershire Round – bit by bit – and there are some very strange things to see.

How about this odd tree? Does anyone know what sort it is?

Look carefully on the left hand side of the first picture – 2 seperate branches have grown together –

odd tree odd tree bigger picture

And this? (Funny – I thought the lottery was quite a new thing).

lottery piccie

This was in a field near West Langton, fairly close to Market Harborough.

What’s it all about?

Thanks to Leicestershire Museums for this link http://ow.ly/1qImk0 – the post commemorates Lottery – one of the first winners of the Grand National!

Slightly wonky picture is due to slightly wonky photographer – me!

The Tweet That Netted Two Pounds

Well Done  – Leicestershire Museums and Libraries

I’m a great fan of the work that Leicestershire Museums and Libraries (2 different services I think) are doing with social media.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, there was an announcement on Friday from a government bod that he was going to tear down various public sector websites because of the cost.

Leicestershire Libraries and Museums (notice I changed the order there – just in case :)) have also started to work twitter pretty well.  Today I followed the tweet above out of curiosity and it was exactly the subject I have a real interest in.

There was a nominal admission charge of £2 – so that tweet clearly worked.

Please don’t read this as a flippant comment – it does show that there are real opportunities for public sector bodies to make systematic, regular use of social media.