Category Archives: travelogue

#10wos 02: All the colours (30 June to 6 July 2014)

David and Liedewei in Breda10 weeks of summer continued with a trip to Breda in the Netherlands, I think this was my fourth trip and I’ve blogged about some of the others before. As you can see from the image of Liedewei and me they were all out for the Dutch World Cup effort at the time. I’m writing this post on the day of the third place playoff, featuring the Netherlands and Brazil: for many people this is always their high point of the whole tournament. Really. I’m sure.

Also featured: they got me riding a bike through Breda. Very odd… an upright position, one gear, no brakes (you gently pedal backwards to slow down) and we were on the right (thus incorrect) side of the road skipping between bike lanes and city streets. Highly recommended.

As in 2013 I was given the chance to head out to Breda, via Schiphol, to help with the end-of-degree interviews that their International Leisure Management students go through to finish their four year programmes of study at NHTV. The students deliver a ten minute presentation, then sit through 30-40 minutes of questions before we the interview panel decide upon a grade and congratulate them on completing their studies. It’s a very rewarding experience. Some of the key things I took away from the 2014 experience were…

  • The interview brings together some really interesting elements and it’s hardly revolutionary in its content. Students are asked to reflect upon their thesis and their time at university, to deliver a vision of sorts for their industry (on a theme of their choosing), and to comment on how their studies have set them up for the future.
  • While it has elements of interview, that’s not really doing it justice. The presentations tended to use Prezi, with some incorporating video that they had made themselves. The questions and answers often became more of a conversation with different contributors putting forward their own perspectives on particular topics.
  • Those topics varied widely, from co-creation of experiences to uses of technology and the sharing economy. Perhaps unsurprisingly there was some idealism in the ambitions of the students, but what’s the point of a vision without ambition?
  • I was also keen to ask the students about their experiences of a ‘competency‘ based education process – where they develop a series of competencies during their time at Breda. This approach sees them cover areas such as internationalisation and imagineering at different stages of the degree. It is partly intended to help them show potential future employers that they have the skills and experience to fulfil the requirements of vacancies that they would like to fill. The students generally found that some points of the course were stronger than others in delivering on this, with the later years cited by some as particularly effective in competency development. As a way to thread the programme together I can see that it has great potential as an underpinning of the students’ experiences and I’m glad I’ve been exposed to it in recent years.
  • The last thing to pick up on is the international elements of the programme, by name and by nature. The students travel regularly, picking up credits and experience from a wide range of destinations, organisations and projects.

Breda really is a lovely place. If I was better organised perhaps I would have spent more time out there, but I’ll be back one way or another.

The trip to Breda left just enough time for Edinburgh Napier’s graduation ceremony. There are some reflections here to ponder, but suffice it to say that the university does a good graduation. From the glorious Usher Hall to the relaxed and well supplied reception back at Craiglockhart it’s a good day out. I recommend it.

Then on Sunday I learnt a new piece of software which helped my draw some pretty social network analysis graphs. But more of that in the next #10wos.

Colours: Breda: orange; graduation: black, red, white, greenish; social network analysis: lots!

#10wos 01: Ties, reflections and projections (23-29 June 2014)

Brass monkey10 weeks of summer is a new project to get more stuff onto this blog: it’s all very well calling it ‘Intermittent notes’ but there really should be some notes to go with the intermittency. It will also help me track the passing of time, as we make our way towards the inevitable heat death of the universe. So #10wos is a prompt, a tool, a thread and who knows what else by the time we reach the end of August?

I’ve titled this post ‘ties, reflections and projections’ because in the space of a week I was prompted to think about the past, present and future from a mix of perspectives. Four events that as the week passed looked furthest back and peered furthest forward.

Part one: I work at Craiglockhart War Hospital. It’s not known by that name any more, these days it’s the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University. It’s quite possible that the building wasn’t known as ‘Craiglockhart War Hospital’ during the years in question, but that’s what Wikipedia has decided to go with. Over three years, from 1916 to 1919, the Craiglockhart Hydropathic was a place of refuge and treatment for soldiers in the Great War suffering from ‘shell shock’; patients who these days would possibly be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and similar conditions. What has kept Craiglockhart’s war history alive and relevant is its connection to Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen other ‘war poets’ and their publication ‘The Hydra‘. On Monday of this week I helped plan a project the university is running with the Edinburgh International Book Festival: we will be running a blog through the summer to cover some of their World War I centenary related activities, with student and staff contributions. The campus and its archives offer something unique to the festival and its visitors, which we are very happy to share with their world – there’s a small museum on campus, always open to the public. Later in the summer I’ll report back on the process of compiling the blog, as well as thinking about the events that have been put together by the Book Festival. These include ‘The Poetry of War‘, which has been produced with contributions and sponsorship from Edinburgh Napier, on Sunday 24 August.

Part two: Thursday of this week was my grandmother’s funeral. While not quite encompassing a full century, she had plenty of tales and memories from the twentieth century’s other World War and a lot more besides. Though this isn’t the platform to say too much, spending three days in the Weald of Kent where gran lived, my mother grew up and other relatives of mine are based now was an opportunity to think back on all our lives. It’s a lovely area of picture postcard villages, cricket matches, farms and oast houses that even looks good from space courtesy of Google Maps. Family photos were pored over and a few mementos gathered up for safe keeping: I’ve used one to illustrate this post, smoothed from many years of careful brass polishing. Thinking of you always gran!

Part three: Back to Edinburgh for the weekend where the university celebrated its 50th anniversary as a higher education establishment with a day and a night of events, talks, demonstrations, have a go sessions and all manner of other goings on. It’s an interesting time to be in academia, at a Scottish institution. The country has a proud (long) history of education and Edinburgh Napier plays its part in the current provision, having established itself as a centre of expertise and excellence in a range of areas. Looking ahead to the future we await the outcome of 18 September and whatever it may bring, though it’s fairly safe to assume that the university will survive, that festivals and events will continue to take place and that there will be a place for those who wish to understand and deliver them better.

Part four: Universities exist to educate, among other things, so it is always a joy to see the successful completion of degree courses every summer. Sunday of this week took me to the 2014 Business School Graduation Ball, complete with waist coat and bow tie. I can confirm that the future is in good hands.

New Zealand 2014

Taking two weeks out to live life at a different pace is to be recommended. Work sent me out to Hong Kong in early April, just before our two week Easter teaching break. Given that there’s only the small matter of 11 hours flight time between there and New Zealand it made good sense to pop across to see friends in Aortearoa. The trip started in Auckland, made its way to Cambridge and the Waikato region, then across to Whitianga in the Coromandel for Easter weekend. Three nights in Wellington followed, including a drop in the temperature, before a one year birthday party in Cambridge and a closing couple of days in Auckland. I’ve Blipped some photos to my Blipfoto, with more in the Flickr set below.

Many thanks to everyone who put me up! Heather and Ross, Jenny and Tom, Charlotte and Ram… and Josh and Sophie, Ruaridh and Iona and Tobias, and of course birthday girl Pippa.

It’s a lovely place and hopefully it won’t take me another decade to get back there!

via New Zealand 2014 – a set on Flickr.

Great Glen Way photo set – Fort William to Inverness, August 2013

It’s curiously satisfying to look upon a map of Scotland, during the weather forecast for example, and be able to trace the length of a decent walk. From Saturday 3 to Wednesday 7 August 2013 my friend Bob and I made our way along the Great Glen Way, starting in Fort William after taking the train up from Edinburgh via Glasgow. We pitched up in Inverness just fewer than 96 hours later, which we consider to be inside four days.

The terrain was varied (road, forest, plantation track, canal side paths, urban tarmac) but the direction was fairly unrelenting: heading north east for eighty miles or so. By the end of the penultimate day we were really feeling it, to be repeated 24 hours later when we got to Inverness – crippling tightness in the achilles tendon! Midges were limited in their presence, though sadly they wanted to a have a say when we were trying to pitch our tents on a couple of occasions. Not the best!

Food: we either ate very well (pies and steaks in hotels), lightly (bags of trail mix keeping us going through the day), or not at all (when we couldn’t find anywhere to sustain us!). On that basis we found the Great Glen Way to be less appealing than the West Highland Way, where there were more places to stop at just about all times in the day.

That said, I’d rather finish a walk in Inverness than Fort William. Inverness is a lovely place, full of history and character. I’ve never spent more than 24 hours in the place, so please see fit to add to or detract from my assessment!