Lucca – Italy

Cultural City

Lucca Cultural City

Just soaking up the atmosphere in a pretty square sharing dinner with friends.  Lucca in the Tuscany region is steeped in history, famous for its “intact Renaissance-era city walls”


Beautiful Florence

Florence is breathtakingly beautiful, full of style, architecture and art.  We only spent a day there with friends, wondering round the city in awe, absorbing the relaxed atmosphere but trying to take everything in of the amazing city, sculptures, art, people and beauty.  A walk up the 463 steps of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is a must and the views at the top are worth the climb.

Beautiful Florence

Beautiful Florence

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence

Care to Dance?

Have you ever wondered why we dance?  It has been said that dancing was connected to religious rituals that were acceptable to the gods. It is suggested that dancing is one of the oldest arts, where man began to gesticulate with face, body and limbs, however I suppose that depends on your definition of art?

Three years ago some friends and I began dancing lessons at a local dance hall.  Previous to this we had only ever really done the gesticulative kind of dancing which probably really did look like some sort of ritual.

I never realised that dancing could bring so much hilarity – although I have to add that my childish sense of humour probably helps.  We glide round the ballroom now with sheer grace and elegance, showing off our long flowing movements and continuous turns.  (ok so we have probably never looked like his, but I think we are meant to, and one day we might).

Early days of dance lessons were often interrupted by fits of giggles at some of the terms used to express dance moves, which we were new to.   Ok so I know it’s childish but it was funny.  Back Side Close was one such expression to which we looked at each other and broke down in hysteria.  How did one close one’s back side again?

We can mange quite a few ballroom dances now, including the Foxtrot, Rumba, Quick Step, Waltz and the Cha Cha Cha to name but a few.

It is great fun while learning a new skill and keeping fit all at the same time.


Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Do Schools Kill Creativity?  This was the discussion for debate this week.  Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned leader in the development of Education who argues that people leave schools without  any knowledge of their real creative talents.  In these times of austerity it is even more important for individuals to be creative but what makes us creative?  My personal memories of school are i’m afraid ones of dread.  Hardly daring to speak in case I got it wrong and then to be laughed at and riduculed.  To perhaps come up with an idea that was different wasnt necessarily encouraged at my school, although i’m sure not all teachers were the same.  It’s the ones that were strict disciplinarians that I recall – in fact the distinct sound of the blackboard rubber flying past my ears then the shriek of the person whose head it had landed on.    Ken Robinson suggests that by the time we get to adults we have lost the capacity to be creative, although there are many talented, creative individuals who have gone through the education system and gone onto be famous authors, actors, dancers, singers etc.  Whilst I believe our education system does need to reflect the changing times and needs of todays employers, and to give children the tools necessary to be creative to enable them to flourish and become great designers and entrepeneurs – I am drawn to the headline in todays Sunday paper “Teachers vote on Work-to-rule”

Due to the current economic climate changes in teachers pensions, pay and working conditions has evoked anger amongst teachers who feel demoralised and undervalued.  The NASUWT will be balloting it’s members on the 4th November to “work to rule” which will inevitably cause disruption to pupils lessons.

Should the question not be then “Do governments Kill Creativity”?  How can pupils be provided with a good education when the very system that educates them is in disarray?  The education secretary is introducing the new English Baccalaureate which will rate schools on children gaining 5 GCSE’s in core academic subjects.  This evokes thoughts to me of Charles Dickens” Hard Times – strict discipline and adhering to the core subjects.  It doesnt seem to provide scope for creativity or human flourishing, just endless hours of routine, exams and “parrot style” learning.  Does this equip pupils to prosper in the 21st Century?

Some where in the Middle


I’ve been meaning to start a regular blog for a while, but life has been so busy it hasn’t happened, although I have to say, this is a moment of distraction from writing an essay on Public, Private and Third Sector management for my MBA course.  What a journey that has been – it all seems a blur now but met some great people on the way and learnt a lot about all sorts.  Our house is full of people studying at the moment with my 16 year old triplets (nearly 17) studying for their A’Levels, Colin doing a diploma and me in the final year of an MBA – life has been pretty mad.

Some of my past passions include walking in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District, taking photos and listening to great music.  Can’t wait to do it all over again!