Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rain, museums and blooming football

Nice end to last week with a trip to the Dock Museum Barrow with Year 6 St Pius kids. It was a deluge...I was drenched in 2 minutes greeting the bus! And then...a misunderstanding in opening times...we were there an hour early! However, Liz from the museum arrived at the same time and kindly let us in to the study room where we investigated artefacts and dressed up for a good hour. We had a great time and then we went on the tour with Paul. We found out lots of things to extend our learning about early Barrow and then had our lunch. After lunch we had quizzes and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. All this for free! I know people knock the council...but I do think the Dock Museum is value for money-in terms of rates etc.We have to acknowledge that the staff and the council do a good job and the displays and exhibits are getting better all the time. Add to this the amazing hoard and the fact that it is now safeguarded for permanent display I think we should be very proud of our museum.

You may want to pop in on us when Furness Abbey Fellowship have their first outing to Barrow Carnival. We will have activities such as Guess the number of sweets, chocolate tombola, Find the treasure and facepainting...all proceeds will be divided between the Dock Museum and Furness Abbey...the latter to produce a leaflet for drawing in tourists. We are committed to raising the Furness profile because we feel for a long time we have been sidelined and almost ignored. The committee is not yet complete but we will be moving forward and will establish a constitution to allow us to be recognised as a legitimate volunteer group.

The football drags on and on...I know-not a good attitude for someone who has worked at a football club for 4 years...but really! I am watching reluctantly-but genuinely hate the competition...I like everyone to win! Thinking of my Italian relatives and friends who will be watching the match in Vas. Hope the split loyalties don't spoil the enjoyment.

Time marching on towards a batch of signings...the first on 7 July at Chester Waterstones-the furthest afield I have been. Hope it goes well. Guy the Grumpy Gargoyle is now out on Kindle and e-books...go ahead and download-its a bargain! The real thing is out on 1August-can't wait.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Visits, projects and fellowship

Had a good day at Newbarns Primary school with the writing group. Wow! Some fantastic writers...I will have to watch my back! I was astonished at the maturity and high level of expertise they showed-and they are only Year 6! I will not be surprised to see one or more of them in print in the future. It is brilliant to see kids who are so dedicated-that will give up their lunch break to discuss writing.

I am lucky enough to be invited to the Greengate Juniors trip to Furness Abbey(I'm beginning to feel I really belong there now! I may pitch a tent!) So Thursday morning I will be with them and cannot wait. The teachers have some exciting things planned and we just need to pray for good weather again.

I spent a pleasant hour at Abbey Mill Cafe this afternoon-with my mum. We had coffee and cake-well someone has to do it! It was delicious and the weather summer! It is such a lovely setting and Jackie does work very hard to make it a great experience. 

I had an interesting chat with Stuart from Comely Media about a second promo film for Raven's Hoard.I hope that we can work together on some projects in the future as he really is a talented young man. Keep a look out for what we plan and when we film.

Finally, we are collecting prizes for our tent at Barrow Carnival on 30 June. We ...Furness Abbey Fellowship...are fundraising and launching that day. We will have a number of walkers in the parade-watch out for monks and vikings! Come and see us-we will be behind the Town Hall and hope to have lots of fun activities to raise cash for the group and we will be splitting funds between the abbey and the Dock Museum-the latter to help with funding a new display area for the newly acquired Hoard! Come and see us-or if you have chocolate treats and prizes to offer I would be pleased to hear from you.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Exciting week for heritage

What a very busy week! It has been great-I have worked with Year 5 at St Pius X Barrow this week-with an author day on Wednesday and a full on trip to Furness Abbey today. I between I have been preparing for the Dystonia Awareness Day tomorrow, meeting with Sabine from the Dock Museum and meeting with Furness Abbey Fellowship (FAF). 

FAF is about to be launched properly-we are getting ready to become a fully fledged group and have made two appointments. Leeann Herbert is the new Secretary and I am the Chairman. We are seeking a treasurer and Vice Chair at the next meeting. We are moving towards partnership working with English Heritage and the Dock Museum and it is looking positive. Our aim is to raise awareness, improve the visitor experience and increase visitors t the Abbey and other heritage sites in Furness.

The week kicked off with Stuart Maconie's brilliant cameo piece on Barrow-it was so positive and reflective that I could have cried. All too often we suffer from the "Mike Harding" mentality-that Barrow is at the end of "the world's longest cul-de-sac"-this throw away comment-though funny-has done a great deal to damage the profile of Barrow. All too often the same desperate, deprived areas are flagged up and shown (I won't name them-you know where they are) and the wider, rural beauty and diversity is simply ignored. Stuart got it just right-the blend of innovation, industry and inspirational beauty was subtle and eye-catching-we need to capitalise on this and begin to develop the area.

There seems to be a sea change in attitude-our group and the new "Sense of Place" group-set up by local business both have the drive and the will to bring Furness out of the shadows and link it effectively with the wider tourist area-the Lakes. At most we are 16 miles away from the Lakes and yet we don't use that to draw in visitors. With our agenda we will hopefully begin to address this and begin to open up the tourism and energise the area once again.

Best of all-the Dock Museum have raised the full amount required for the purchase of the Viking Hoard which will be an amazing boost to tourism. This coupled with the abbot's ring and crosier at the abbey will be significant in drawing looks good for the future of Furness Heritage

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Wet week off

Funny old week...awful weather mostly. Went to the abbey to take Noah and to prepare for the trail I am planning for the schools I am accompanying there. It was lovely and the one sunny day of the week. It was good to wander round and rediscover things I had forgotten-Noah especially liked the mason's mark of a fish in the guest house. 

I will be there next week with St Pius and I am looking forward to it-still work to do but we'll get there. 

Jubilee celebrations kind of passed me by. I did catch some of it on the telly but it isn't the same. I remember when we lived in London and actually went to see the 77 Jubilee. We stood near ST Paul's for ages and got a fairly decent view of the Queen going in and coming out...well I did-I was sitting on Harry's shoulders (I was MUCH slimmer then). The atmosphere made it-so exciting and infectious...I am a bit more sanguine these days and probably lean towards republicanism, but some inherent patriotic streak stops me!

Some more pics from my wonderful trip to Italy below

Had a good meeting with English Heritage and Furness Abbey Fellowship this week. It was excellent to all be speaking the same language and be positive about extending the reach of the abbey. Look forward to some good work ahead to support EH in their good efforts.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Reflections on an Italian sojourn

I have just received some fantastic comments on here from the lovely Italian students I had the pleasure of meeting last week at Liceo Veronese in Montebelluno. I am in awe of their skill in learning and using a foreign language -amazing...some of them so good you would think they had been speaking English for ever! I can't help but think how much it puts us to shame...I learnt French but  can tell you...I would not be able to hold a conversation as adeptly as they do!

Giro d'Italia
I am posting some pictures on here of the day and the whole adventure was brilliant. I observed how relaxed everything seemed in Italy. We seem as though we are always racing around to meet invisible deadlines and I frequently run out of time. Yet in Italy the hours blended into each other and there was no demarcation of time as there is here. Whether that has something to do with the good weather I am not sure, but I certainly felt relaxed and I think I could get to like it. I even got to see the Giro d'Italia which went through Vas where  was staying! Exciting!

Students at Liceo Veronese
I have had a busy week with students -but the high point was our trip to St George's Church-we were exploring the "first" church in Barrow-in-Furness. It was fascinating and we found lots of interesting facts about it. I am really enthused about the mini history I have been asked to write for the church by the vicar Linda. I'm going to get down to the Barrow Archives this week and do a bit of research in my half term holiday.

The rest of the time. Whether we will subscribe to Diamond Jubilee fever I'm not sure. The republican in me says no...but the traditionalist and observer of things historical says....go on have a the celebrations on TV! Not sure which one will win!