A guide to cinema etiquette

I never thought I may have to add to this after a visit to The Electric Cinema, and on a sofa! Gah. I will be and hope the people who talked and texted all through Before Midnight get banned.


After a lot of deliberation I decided to go with my family on Saturday to see Ironman 3. It is rated 12A so I was shocked to see so many very young children there. Really, do you want your 5 year to witness gun violence? Not only is some of the content  too violent for children, the dialogue and the plot is too complicated to follow for an under 12. If your child is not traumatised they will be bored.

I love movies, I used to love going to the cinema. I have fond memories of going to see the Sound of Music at The Gaumont in Birmingham. The whole family went and it was a experience that we appreciated and had anticipated for weeks.

Not any more. I dread going.

This is why.

People do not behave properly at the cinema any more.

Here is my guide to…

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Dalyan. Don’t feed the turtles, do eat the cake.

Lycian tombs near Köyceğiz

Lycian tombs near Köyceğiz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A post by Bohemian Travellers prompted me to reflect on the recent trip I made with my family to Dalyan. This was the fifth time I had visited Dalyan and doubt that it will be the last. What, the whole world out there and you go to the same place five times, I hear you say?  Yup. I used to think that going to the same place over and over again was dull and boring too. It’s not. I am not going to make an apology for this, for here’s the thing, Dalyan does that to you. It calls to you and soothes you. Going to Dalyan is like going home.

There are a lot of British people who have made Dalyan their home. One quite famous one, but I will come back to that. And this year I didn’t meet one British holidaymaker for whom this was a first visit. Yet it has not been transformed into a resort where you can get English Beer for breakfast. Dalyan has hardly changed in the 9 years I have been going. Indeed, A Proper Holiday was first published in 1996, yet if you read it now you would still recognise that Dalyan is the fictional Karput. If you go, add this to your reading list.

The other main European tourists are Dutch, and Dalyan is increasingly a destination for Turks escaping Turkish city life. When you get off your plane in Dalaman, don’t worry, those fellow passengers with names on the back of their t shirts will be heading off to Marmaris or Ichlemer. Not Dalyan. Audible sigh of relief. The last three times I have been, my party have been the only ones heading to Dalyan.

That is not to say that Dalyan is dull or only for the middle aged hiker, retired couples, or families, it is for everyone. It is just not party central. It is for travellers and tourists who want to experience Turkish life. Bars will gear up for the football matches but there is no rowdiness, Turkey just loves football. There are cocktail bars, swish restaurants, cafes,  5 star hotels, 2 star hotels and even a camp site. There is a fantastic market every Saturday with everything from genuine fake watches to fresh fruit and vegetables. My number one tip about the market is check out the jeans. The quality is amazing. Number two tip is haggle.

Yet Dalyan is all about the river. This is where it all happens. If you want a day out, go to the river as there are hundreds of boats to take you to Koycegiz Market, the mud baths, Sultaniye and Iztuzu (Turtle Beach). Or take a rowing boat to visit Kaunos. Some scenes for The African Queen were filmed in the reed beds of the river.

English: "Kaptan" June at the releas...

English: “Kaptan” June at the release of a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle at Iztuzu Beach Nederlands: “Kaptan” June bij het uitzetten van een gerevalideerde onechte karetschildpad op het Iztuzustrand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what is the deal about feeding turtles? Remember that famous person I mentioned? Meet Kaptan June. She is the reason Dalyan has remained unspoilt. In her fight to protect the turtles that lay eggs on Iztuzu beach, she with a little help from David Bellamy successfully stopped any building on or near the beach.  The turtles now have a new threat as increasingly tours to feed the turtles are being advertised (shame on any holiday firms that offer such trips). The boat will stop and lure in turtles to eat chicken. Chicken is not the natural diet for a turtle. And the turtles are also coming from the sea to the fresh water of the river to be fed, which is also not a good thing. We all love to see the turtles as that is what Dalyan is famous for, so instead of taking a trip to feed the turtles, get a dolmus to take you to Iztuzu and visit the sanctury where you will see turtles and learn about the dangers that they face then go tell everyone you meet in Dalyan not to feed the turtles!

And the cake? Go eat cake at Dalyan Iz.

If you want to find out more about what to do and see and eat in Dalyan, please contact me. If you have been to Dalyan I would love to hear from you.


How knowledge is being detached from skills in English

I didn’t know left from right politically at 16, I blame my parents

Joe Kirby


A cornerstone of teacher training is Bloom’s taxonomy, where knowledge is placed firmly at the bottom. The advice for teachers is, move beyond low-level facts, up to higher-order skills like synthesis. But what if this advice misses the point?

My experience as an English teacher in London has helped me realise a few simple ideas:

  1. In English education, skills are being detached from knowledge.
  2. Teaching skills without knowledge doesn’t work.
  3. Instead, they must be integrated, like twin strands of a double helix.

So this is the first in a series of three blog posts in three days to explain what I mean.

1. Skills are being detached from knowledge in English.

The education system has reduced the amount of knowledge taught in schools, especially, from what I’ve seen, in English departments. Take, for example, the English national secondary curriculum in the six years since 2007. There’s not one text that…

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Tesco give us credit!

I saw this today and wondered what it was all about.

Tesoc Trussell Trickery

Then I saw this post on the Facebook Page of the Trussell Trust. And the penny dropped.

This is what the post says on their page.

Tesco Express‘ across the UK have food collection points for the next 4 weeks. Could you have a look at our ‘shopping list’ for foodbanks and add a few bits to your own?
This the conversation I had with them on their Facebook Page.
I then sent them a private message as I do not want to damage any fundraising effort of The Trussell Trust. I don’t. I did however tell them I was still going to blog about it. Please be clear this is not an attack on The Trussell Trust. It is also not an attack on Tesco although my cynicism is off the scale.
If I were to blame/attack anyone it would be this government. Seems like I am not alone as I found a link to this post on the Trussell Trust Page too. This is one quote from it.
I have news for Mr Davey. The number of people coming to my local Foodbank for help doubled overnight when the government’s latest ‘reforms’ kicked in at the beginning of April, including the cancellation of the ‘crisis loan’ programme.

Read more here, go on, it is good stuff. Foodbanks are not Big Society in action. They are the fingers in the dam plugging the hole, hoping the floodgates won’t open.

So back to the reasons why Tesco are doing this. Which phrase most closely matches your view?
How kind of Tesco to set up a collection point in their stores.
How clever of Tesco to set up a collection point in their stores.
This is food for people who are struggling to afford to feed families. Not in war torn, drought ridden countries but in the UK. People with jobs. People without jobs. People living in your town or village. And Tesco will profit from it. Despite what the Trussell Trust say.
Are people really only going to buy a tin of soup for a donation when they pop into Tesco Express?
What Tesco are hoping for IMHO is that they will get more customers going to Tesco Express and spending their money there. Even the post suggests, subliminally ‘do your shopping at Tesco and add a few of the items on our shopping list to yours…..’ yup, cynical me.
Horsemeatgate damaged a lot of supermarkets reputation and according to this article in The Guardian, Tesco, was the supermarket most heavily hit by the revelations of horsemeat scandal.
So what’s a marketing department to do when something like this happens? Say sorry, well they did that, now they have to re build the reputation. Oh, let’s look around and see what we can do, ah, let’s help a food bank and lots of nice middle class customers who have never bought a ready meal in their life may pop in and buy a tin for a poor person. And if we are lucky, the ‘while I ‘m here’ syndrome will kick in and they will pick up overpriced vegetables and a bottle of wine. Yay, more money for Tesco.
Result? Tesco and foodbanks are doing the job of the government. David Cameron can claim that Big Society is working.
At G8 delegates can tuck into violet artichokes, while others go hungry. The best blog you can read right now is A Girl Called Jack. She is currently reporting from the G8 conference for the Enough Food IF campaign.
Not much more to say really.
Apart from adding this.
Food Waste
food waste

Watch out Angela, Barack, Vladimir and Dave – I’m coming for you, and I want you to commit to end world hunger.

Go Jack. I winge, you take action.

Go Jack. I winge, you take action.

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Valued Volunteer Award for Make Friends with a Book

Volunteers’ Week takes place every year from 1 to 7 June, and for the past few years, The Volunteer Centre Sandwell has hosted an award ceremony at The Public in West Bromwich to recognise the contribution volunteers make across the borough.

This year, Make Friends with a Book was one of the projects nominated. I was so thrilled that this group had been invited to the awards ceremony because this was a group I had worked closely with between 2009 and 2011 when I was a Community Development Manager working on the Big Lottery Community Libraries Programme in Sandwell.

Part of my remit in this role was to recruit volunteers to support activities in the lovely new community rooms at Smethwick Library and the very first volunteer I took on supported Make Friends with a Book at Smethwick Library. She later went on to become a BUDS volunteer (who were also nominated for an award last week). When Make Friends with a Book started at Bleakhouse Library, I recruited two regular members of the group to become volunteers for that group too.

Make Friends with a Book facilitators are trained by The Reader Organisation who started the Get Into Reading Project in Liverpool. Novels, short stories and poems are read aloud, with breaks so the group can reflect on what they have heard.

The amazing thing about the Bleakhouse Library volunteers is this. Before becoming volunteers they visited the library, borrowed a book and then went home. After they started volunteering they began to think of other activities they would like to have at their library and got involved in making the decisions about what went on in their library. The initial volunteers recruited more volunteers. The designing and planning of the reading garden was all done by volunteers. Another volunteer runs a self help group for people suffering with arthritis. The Art Group is all volunteer led. Volunteering went viral.

Picture this. We are all chatting over a cuppa before we settle down to listen to Gina read this week’s short story, in comes Gill in gardening gloves with a trowel in her hand. She had been tidying up her raised bed. All the gardening volunteers have their own bed which they look after, as do children from the local school.

Now picture this. Make Friends with a Book hits Stratford! Group members,  family and friends, including the lovely volunteers from two Sandwell Libraries are pictured here, after enjoying The Tempest performed by the RSC at Stratford upon Avon in October 2012.

Make Friends with a Book at Stratford upon Avon

The volunteers who support Make Friends with a Book got the recognision they deserved on Friday, and carried away a Valued Volunteer award. I will admit to shedding a little tear of happiness that day. I was so proud of them, and proud be part of the team that brought shared reading to Sandwell.

Exam Season – The View from the Special School

Fo all you parents with kids doing GCSE’s

Independent Th!nking

Exams bring pressure – pressure to teachers, support staff, parents and school leaders. However, the pressure we feel is nothing compared to that felt by the pupils and in my school the pressure on the Year 11 pupils is more than you could possibly imagine.

Children with ADHD, ASD, ODD, OCD and Tourette’s all go through the daily pressure of the exam season. They have been supported, trained, coached, counselled, mentored and bribed. They will feel angry, frustrated, challenged, hopeless, inadequate and useless.

They also feel cared for, supported, looked after, loved and immersed in a culture of unconditional positive regard.

So, what’s the problem? Nothing really. At the moment. We have created a situation where the longest exam is just about manageable at one and a half hours. We have 14 pupils sitting exams in 11 different rooms. We have invigilators, scribes and readers. That’s over 20 staff supporting…

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