Tag Archives: schools

Photography Puzzles

Looking through the old photographs, as I was yesterday, I am reminded of the complexity of regulations around photography.


Care Bears came to visit

I have photographs of children and vulnerable people and I have permission to use them. So I’m clearly OK to post them on the blog aren’t I? Well, no. According to some regulation, which may be data protection rather than safeguarding, I should have asked for time-limited permission and I shouldn’t use them indefinitely. Schools, for instance, are only supposed to use photographs of children while they are attending the school. This would tend to suggest that I shouldn’t use the images now we have closed down.

This suggests that even if you are lucky enough to get a decent shot of a child you can’t keep using it. Unless you’ve paid a child model – that will be OK. That’s one anomally. Another is that I can’t publish names, but newspapers can. Presumably predatory perverts only cruise amateur blogs – professional photos and newspapers hold no interest for them.


The Quercus Group in disguise

There’s another anomally – if I want to take pictures of children on a visit I need permission, which some schools take more seriously than others.  We once had a teacher shouting at one of our group members because they had  taken a picture with their telephone, which might have included a school pupil.

Yet that teacher thought it was OK for the school to take pictures of the visit without asking our permission and without checking with the vulnerable adults in the group. In fact no school ever asked permission to take pictures.

I’m not saying they should do, but I am saying that there should be one rule for everyone, particularly for schools that insisted on coming on days when the group was in.  Julia, being soft-hearted always resisted my requests that we should have a photo permission form for visits and only give permission to groups who gave us permission.

It’s funny how a train of thought can rise from a few photos…


Agroforestry project

Imagine what that would mean for the famous Pears Soap advert. They used this one for years. Oh, how Admiral Sir William Milbourne James GCB must have mentally thanked his grandfather for this portrait of him in green velvet as he strode the decks of his various commands, where he was known by the nickname “Sir Bubbles”.

Image downloaded from the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with permission. Despite a lack of medals and dead animals this kind gesture has elevated thm to the status of one of my favourite museums.


The New Cafe

In the last few years of our time on the farm there was a certain amount of conflict, which I hope I managed to conceal in the blog.

There were two schools of thought – one being that the kitchen had been built to deliver educational sessions and promote healthy eating. This was a view shared by me, Julia, the funders and several other people.

Then there was the view that it existed as a plaything for the farmer and his sister to hold family parties and loss-making social activities.

I think we know who won.

Looking at it now, it seems our (short-lived) replacements did a lot of work and appear to have transformed it into a replica of a South American shanty, including corrugated iron, re-used wood and coffee sacks. You half expect Indiana Jones to stroll in.

Unfortunately, the kitchen, despite the extension,The End is not now a practical venue for teaching. It will, once they have staff again, be an interesting place to eat, but we will no longer be teaching a thousand kids a year to make pizza or scones.

Nor, I feel, will it host the bread group again.

The final photograph is a young Wren. There were five of them but this was the best I could do. They are so quick! It’s a cheerful way to end the post, and a reminder of all the broods the Wrens have reared round the centre in the last five years.


Wren at Screveton



A visit and a lucky escape

We had a group of pre-school children visit yesterday to look at the lambs. We spent what seemed like ages cutting out cardboard patterns to make model sheep and I distinctly remember saying to Julia: “I’m glad there are only six of them.”

We even cut an extra one out just to be on the safe side, then made a nice cup of tea to celebrate the end of the scissor work. There are quite a lot of fiddly bits round the edges, giving it the appearance of woolliness, and my eyes no longer focus at ant distance less than arm’s length.

You will no doubt be able to guess what happened when they arrived, all ten of them…

With a false smile I set to work printing more copies and cutting them out.

At that point we discovered we had miscounted, so I had to do an eleventh.

It’s been that sort of a day.

On  a more cheerful note, we had three school visits booked last week and two more enquiries today – it’s always the way when the sun comes out. At the moment we are ahead of 2014 but still lagging behind 2015 for bookings. It’s partly to do with the relationship between the  lambing date, Easter and school holidays – we just didn’t get the early visits.

However, this is no excuse and I’ve been  emailing schools to remind them that we are here.

In the afternoon, as I wrote this, Julia painted some glass in preparation for some sort of artistic installation on Open Farm Sunday. Personally I equate the decline in civilisation with the rise in the use of the term “art installation” but that’s probably just me. I still don’t see what was wrong with just having paintings and statues.

Finally, after taking the computer home and falling asleep in front of the TV instead of finishing post I had a go at rushing it this morning. It didn’t go well when I got my fingers crossed over and managed to wipe everything off. Thanks to instructions from Derrick J Knight I was able to find a previous version and restore everything without too much trouble.

So that was the story of yesterday. It’s now 11.30 on the day after and it’s bus. Already had the Forestry Commission, another farmer with concert flyers, a teacher coming to look at the facilities and news that we now have seven goslings. It’s all go!

Make that TWO lucky escapes as I just knocked the laptop off the desk. The hinge popped and the screen went stripy before everything switched off. Fortunately, after  a moment of suppressing a major swearing incident (we were in the middle of a group session on trees) I managed to realign the hinge and it all seems OK.

Feeling relieved now.

The concert is on Saturday 2nd July at North Lodge Farm, Widmerpool, NG12 5QE – http://www.bestofbritish@northlodgefarm.co.uk



The great idea

Well , it seemed great. If I do away with oil or sprinkled flour on the baking trays whilst cooking pizza, I reasoned, I could do away with washing the trays, cycle the equipment faster between groups and, by writing initials on the paper, could identify the pizzas more easily.

Great in theory.

In practice I did avoid any washing up, so that was a plus.

But the green marker pen I originally used (because you never really use the green one do you?) proved unequal to the job. I’m tempted to say it faded badly, but that would be unfair because it actually faded really well. In most cases it disappeared or left a faint green shimmer.*

The black was far better. Not sure whether to try the blue or the red next time, or stick to black.

Not that it really mattered because we had a 100% identification rate for the pizzas anyway. No arguing, no tears and no tantrums (from me or the kids). It’s all going too well.

Meanwhile, back at the photos, I can’t get titles on them. It shows pizzas, black writing, green writing and a pizza in the shape of Italy. That would have been really imaginative wouldn’t it. Then he spoilt it all by telling me it was a football sock.

Ah well!


*This is similar to the rhetorical question I often heard asked on campsites in the days I fought with the Sealed Knot. Some broken wreck, usually male, would shamble past groaning “Do you know what’s good for a hangover?” to which I would perkily reply, “Fifteen pints of bitter and a kebab usually does the job for me.”

It didn’t go down well.

What the poor addlepated coxcomb meant, of course, was “Do you know what’s good for getting rid of a hangover?”

Sometimes we can be very unclear in our meanings.

These things are sent to try us

We’ve been applying for a grant from a pot of European money. This one is for the farm to extend the kitchen because schools are increasingly bringing between 60 and 90 pupils instead of the 30 that they used to. Nothing we say seems to be able to stop them. I suspect that it’s because of transport costs and that they are increasingly seeing us a cheap choice for an end of term trip.

That means we have to crowd the kitchen and rush things to get everyone through. I’m often to be found giving directions over my shoulder whilst washing the baking trays from the previous session.

When the farm decided to throw more energy into the kitchen (after six months of deciding to expand, deciding to close down, becoming a juice bar, becoming a greasy spoon etc.. – there is zero logic or leadership in the process) we decided it may be a good idea to expand the kitchen.

If we are able to meet 60% of the costs the fund will contribute the other 40% if we can meet certain criteria. The farm is able to provide the 60% (paid back as a higher annual rent) and together we can meet the criteria, so Julia has spent the last month preparing an outline. It’s been back and forth a few times and it’s about finished now, but it’s taken around twenty hours to do, and she’s not being paid for it.

At this point you start muttering that it’s a lot of work for something that isn’t part of our core business.

Imagine how much more muttering there would be if we were to get a note telling us that things had been postponed until the results of the referendum are known.

Actually, I don’t need to imagine, because that’s what happened last week. There has been a lot of muttering from my dear wife, and if any members of the cabinet are found dead in suspicious circumstances I may have to give a false alibi.

So that’s annoyance number one.

Annoyance number two is that we’ve just been told by one of the carers who brings someone here that their organisation has just had a funding cut from the council. This is initially going to mean a pay cut for everyone of between 2% and 4%. They are then going to reassess all their clients under a new set of selection criteria. Whether this is to select new clients more stringently or to get rid of some of the existing ones we aren’t yet sure.

As I say, these things are sent to try us.

The next post will be more cheerful 😉

Another windy day

At least we know the polytunnels are secure after the work we did on them yesterday. temperature is 10 or 11 degrees Centigrade according to the weather station but it feels colder, and the wind, consistently in the 20 mph range, particulalrly when accompanied by showers, isn’t improving matters. I don’t mind the cold and I can tolerate rain but I don’t like wind. When I worked on markets we always noticed the same thing – people would come out in the cold and most of them would come out in the rain, but the wind really used to keep them at home.

We just had a short thunderstorm and I suspect we appear on this map. We’re one of the northerly yellow crosses.

This morning we potted up parsley (flat and curly leaved) and tarragon, an endeavour that started going noticeably quicker once we turned on The Jam. You need something that moves the job along without causing too many spillages.


The tea plantation is moving ahead nicely – new leaves are appearing and that first brew can’t be far off. I would invite you all for a taste but it’s unlikely to make more than a couple of cups to start with and it wouldn’t be worth the trip. You may notice that there’s half a leaf missing; it came off in my hand while I was admiring the soft new growth. I ate it to see what it tasted like because james Wong has a recipe for tea leaf and cucumber sandwiches. It didn’t taste of much but I wasn’t surprised as his recommendations have a habit of sounding better than they taste. It may be that I expect too much, or that I have no taste buds, but I have a growing suspicion that I am merely a gullible dupe in a global marketing operation.


Apart from that it’s been a day of mixed fortunes. We’ve done quite a bit of tidying up but it’s been at the expense of planting and admin so the feeling of achievement is diluted by a vague feeling that i could have done better. One school has emailed to confirm a visit, and another has called to cancel because they can’t get buses on the days they want. Despite there being thousands of buses in the country and 365 days in a year schools seem to run their visit policy  on tha basis of limited dates and even more limited bus companies. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this problem.

For me it’s frustrating, and I imagine it’s worse for the teacher, who has just put a lot of effort into organising the trip. As for the kids – they will just have to stay inside instead of coming to the farm to hunt insects and bake a pizza for lunch.

That is life on a care farm!