Wednesday, 29 December 2010

On integrating e-mail, blogs and websites

I've just replied to a question to a facebook friend. They were asking about using separate e-mail addresses for business and linking these to their website. Rereading my reply, I realised that the information was of wider use to others just starting out! So here is the information I sent:

"Dear ........

Apologies for the late reply.

Your questions split into three parts which I will try to answer in the order of relevance (top down so to speak):

1. Website/webhosting

Domain name
It is worth having your own dedicated domain name. This become a unifying identifier for you and your business on the web. You can buy them from a variety of companies. I use for example. Cost for a name is typically about £3 per year, for a .com about £10 a year. (you often have to pay for a minimum of 2 years).

This already allows you to specify your-emeail@yourdomain - with e-mails being forwarded directly on to your existing e-mail, often for free (because these are forwarding e-mails not true e-mail postboxes)

To make your domainname effective, you need to have content that can be associated with it. This requires webspace. Hosting is when you pay the company from whom you purchased your domain name to give you space on the web where you can host material. Typically your website.

By choosing a good provider, you often get a set of free e-mail accounts that you can then use, so you can set up address e-mail-01@yourdomain, e-mail-02@yourdomain etc . . Each is accessed through a separate name and password and are often accessible as webmail too.

Cost can start as low as £2.50 per month for 20GB of hosting space (again I have used, but do shop around)

2. Linking your blog(s) to your domain
The main problem with websites is continually maintaining and updating their content. This is where your blog can actually be very useful.

You can use a blog as your website. Rather than allowing the free provider to host your blog with their identifier in the name, you specify that the blog should be stored on your hosting under your domain name (see point 1 above). This can be done in the blog settings.

I have several blogs going under Google's blogger, so, depending who you have set up your blog with, you should be able to do the same if need be. Effectively you would be creating a separate website for each core activity. These should all be hostable under your domain if you purchase domain and hosting as in 1. above. Alternatively you could have three separate hostings under different domain names,

3. Separate E-Mails for different activites
I have answered your original first question re different e-mail accounts briefly in points 1 & 2 above.

Yes you can set up different e-mail accounts :-)  If you did not want to go down the route of purchasing hosting space, you could buy just the individual e-mail accounts, each at about £1 per month with a domain name included.

Your idea of having separate e-mails for each activity is actually very good. This way you can identify where most of your communication comes from and monitor the activities separately.

What is important - ability to measure effectiveness
Whatever route you go down, it is important to have a measure of how effective your different routes to communication and income are. Webhosting companies provide accessible stats. Alternatively you can link blogs and websites to either google analytics or yahoo analytics for recording such information.

  • I think it is a good idea to have your own domain name or names and to have space provided by a host for your web information under your domain name(s).
  • Your blog(s) could be used as live websites, hosted under your domain name.
  • Having separate e-mails for different activities is a good practice (even if I do not currently  follow it myself :-) )
  • Make sure that whatever you do, you can measure it. The web is great for this.
Again apologies for not replying sooner! I hope that this helps.

If it still seems a bit confusing, feel free to contact me for a meeting in the new year over a cup of tea/coffee.

Best wishes and a Happy New Year!


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Snow business: facts and opportunities

From Snow in Milton 2

There is going to be an incredible blame game once the snow has cleared, with an economic impact of £28bn for 2010. So I'm not going to join in. Instead here are some suggestions on how you can make the best of the snow disruption.

Can you or your staff not get to work? Perhaps the work can still get to you. Forget snow clouds and think internet cloud. Individuals and small businesses can use Dropbox to share folders securely at different locations. Larger companies can set up their own cloud based systems.

Consider making it easier for people to get to you. This starts with clearing snow and ice from the access and path to your premises. Snow shovels are available for under £20 (see e-bay here Cleared paths actually thaw and dry out quicker. To keep the path safe, consider gritting. Salt grit will work down to ground temperatures of about -9 degrees Celsius at around £5 per 20kg bag. An environmentally friendly alternative is to use sand/grit. For those with a large business and big pockets - splash out on a winter service vehicle!

Customers still unwilling to come to you? Can you provide a special "bad-weather service delivery" to them? Even in towns and cities, there are the elderly or others who have been housebound due to the snow for up to a fortnight this year. Often cars or vans can still gain access. Even if it seems like a loss leader at the time, view it as a promotional exercise. People WILL remember those who made an effort and it could even generate positive publicity for you. 

Increase your vehicle mobility in snow in one of three different ways;
Snow chains work by acting as giant treads on the tyres. Winter tyres have softer rubber at lower temperature and a larger tread, giving better traction on snow and ice. The recently introduced snow socks rely on the fact that snow sticks to certain fabrics ensuring grip.
Keep yourself and your staff safer and mobile on snow and ice with special footwear. Methods include studs, grit-like soles or special treads. The stud  solution also comes as units that you can fix to existing shoes or boots (see here for all options

A simple short term stopgap is to wearg old socks over shoes to avoid slipping on snow. This has been demonstrated to work by the University of Otago, New Zealand!

So here's an idea for a future entrepreneur. Disposable non-slip overshoes. I remember from science clean room work that we had elasticated disposable paper overshoes. These could, for example, be made from the same fabric used for the tyre socks mentioned above, or with a similar gripping material.

Interesting facts and figures on snow for your customers

Inform and cheer up your customers with the following miscellany. Feel free to copy, format and brand under your own company letterhead or logo and distribute in print or digitally. My only request is that you
a. Share this information free
b. Include a credit at the bottom - "collated by"

Four books featuring snow:

  1. Peter Hoeg "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow"
  2. "Wintersmith" by Terry Pratchett
  3. "The Box of Delights" by John Masefield
  4. "Ice Station Zebra" Alistair Maclean

On Road Salt

Road grit contains mined rock salt (sea salt is too fine). More than half of all mined salt goes to treat road surfaces worldwide. Highly concentrated salt solutions can withstand freezing down to -27 degrees Centrigrade  but spreading salt only melts snow and ice at temperatures above -9 degrees Celsius. From" The Idiots' Guide to Highways Maintenance"
And "Why do they use salt to melt ice on the road in the winter?"

Get a Grip

Your vehicle's grip in snow can be improved by using one of the below:

Footwear with additional grip in snow and ice

Winter Service Vehicles

Originally, winter snow was compacted to provide a smooth surface for sleds over bumpy ground in winter! The earliest patents for snowplows date back to 1840, but there are no records of their actual use until 1862, when the city of Milwaukee began operating horse-drawn carts fitted with snowplows. Modern Winter Service Vehicles include the gritter, snow blower, snow groomer snow melter, snowplow, snow sweeper and surface friction tester.

The Science and Beauty of Snow

The largest recorded snowflake was 15" (38cm) across and found on Jan 28th 1887 Fort Keough, Montana

Snow crystals are mostly six sided, though three sided and twelve sided forms can exist

Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley (1865 - 1931) photographed more than 5000 idividual snow crystals during his lifetime ( The tradition lives on in "Snowflakes", by scientist Kenneth Libbrecht. (

Different types of snow crystal form depending on temperature and humidity.
"We see that thin plates and stars grow around -2 C (28 F), while columns and slender needles appear near -5 C (23 F).  Plates and stars again form near -15 C (5 F), and a combination of plates and columns are made around -30 C (-22 F)."

The Japanese scientist Ukichiro Nakaya was the first to grow snow crystals in the laboratory when he accidently discovered that they grew best at the end of a rabbit hair!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Electric tweet shows power of social marketing

From Wordle-images
How an electric tweet showed me the power of social networks!

I needed to my laptop and projector PAT tested for  a presentation. The venue, a school, made this a requirement for the use of any equipment. I had only till the end of the week to get this done and was wondering how to proceed.

My first action was to send out a tweet:
"I need my Projector to be PAT tested in /nr Cambridge before next weekend. Any suggestions plse e-mail #in Thanks!"

Within one minute, yes one minute, I had an e-mail from Kelly Anstee, recommending Liam Clift, Cambridge PAT Testing.

I visited Liam, who was actually having a day off, who expertly and quickly conducted thorough PAT tests on my equipment and issued the necessary labels.

Naturally we also had a chat and found other interests in common. For example, the presentation was going to be at the Cambridge Open Studios EGM. Liam, turns out to be an art collector with his own collection and gallery exhibiting contemporary art from around the world. He had some vibrant pieces from brazil on display.

My eye drifted to his book collection, to find we had a very similar taste in the quality Science Fiction authors, from Arthur C Clarke to Peter Hamilton.

I left Liam with not only my equipment but with another book to read and another insight to the multifacetted nature of businesses in our area.

If you need electrical testing done in the Cambridge UK area, you can contact Liam Clift on 07709432805,
Kelly Anstee is a helpful accountant at

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Hair raising book to leaf through online

I blame my wife! She came home with the comment " Someone sent a digital document to us today at work that you could leaf through like a book on screen. I though it might be an idea for you". Not just for me - HBN members might like to give it a try!

Cue detailed internet search, which finally hit gold when I found It is the equivalent of You Tube, but for publishers of books, magazines and catalogues.

  • You design your document in Word or as a PDF
  • Upload the document to Issuu
  • They convert it and store the document online
  • You can make the document public or privat
  • Embed the document to your site, blog and Facebook
  • You can e-mail a link to contacts
  • Specify whether visitors can download a PDF or not.

I prepared the photobook above that evening to test out the system and was impressed!
Below is a book version of the brochure I made for the German delegation mentioned in an earlier blog article.

If you have or are preparing a new brochure, book or catalogue - consider creating a Issuu version. Registration for the basic service is free - check it out at

Friday, 19 November 2010

Using the LCD screen of your monitor or laptop for photography with polarised light

I was stunned. Duncan flipped open his netbook, placed a plastic set square on it and held a polarisation filter in between screen and eye and voila! Technicolour against a black background!

The Milton Photographic Club had a ball for the rest of the evening with plastic cutlery, cups and petri dishes.

It is so obvious an effect that photographers have rediscovered the fact that LCD provide polarised light and used it for the fantastic colour effects over the past years. Here's one good reference.

This doesn't take away the delight at having a go as you can see from the slideshow above. Here's the challenge though, try finding other subjects than set squares.

The method is simple:
  • Open a blank document on your laptop to get a white screen.
  • Place a polarising filter on your camera (I taped a square of polarising plastic to the front of mine)
  • Hold a plastic object in front of the white screen and observe the colour effects
Rotating the filter on the camera changes the appearance of brightness of the screen, from white through to black, depending on orientation.

Note: we had laptops where the screen could be folded almost horizontal, so you lay subjects on the screen. TAKE CARE if you do this! I will not accept responsibility for broken screens.

If you want a coloured background
  • find a sheet of thin plastic, like cling film or large transparent plastic bags.
  • place over the LCD screen - its worth playing with layers at slightly different angles
  • Check the colours through a polarising filter
  • Rotate the orientation of the plastic and/or the filter to get a desired coloured background.
  • Then place your subject on top of that and try photographing
Where do I get a cheap polarising filter from?
  • Your camera supplier will certainly offer one for your camera lens for midrange and SLR cameras that can take screw or clip on filters
  • Or look for polarising sheets, 5cm x 5cm are standard sizes, available for £5 to £10 and affix temporarily with blutack or tape
  • Extract a lens from polarising sunglasses and use
  • Use one of the lenses from your Real3D glasses from your last 3D cinema visit. 
NOTE: with the Real3D lenses, it matters which face faces the screen. Try looking through at an LCD screen whilst rotating the lens. If the LCD screen turns black, OK. If not, flip the lens and look from through the other side, it should now turn the screen black when rotated.

Go and play! I promise you, the colours can be gorgeous.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Hereford Town Hall, a photographic tour

Slightly at the edge of the historic centre of the City of Hereford stands the New Town Hall, completed in 1906. Civic pride and necessity had led to its design and it was built within a remarkably short 6 years.

I was attracted by the imposing façade. On impulse I went in to ask whether I could come in and photograph the Assembly Room and Council Chamber.

The warm and open yes by Cathy, the receptionist on duty (“It's a public building, though you would have to come when the rooms are not in use”) actually caught me off guard.

The Council Chamber was empty that afternoon, so I came back with camera and tripod. Climbing the curved main stairs, with the warm late Victorian tiling and the semicircular stained glass light above, I found the chamber located right at the top.

I was planning where to set the camera when a surprise visitor came in. The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Hereford, Councillor Anna Toon had dropped by. When asked about the correct form of address, she laughed and said “It's Madam Mayor”. She then took the time to tell me more about the history adorning the Council Chamber.

Whilst the Mayor was not in her ceremonial robes, she was wearing her badge of office on the mayoral chain. The individual links all depict some aspect or connection with the city – have a look at how many you can identify in the photo. Amongst others you can find agricultural and military links.

Back on my own with the room, I spent a couple of hours taking pictures.

Having just accompanied a delegation of Restoration specialists, it was the detail found in different parts of the room that spoke of the pride and attention to quality. From the fine wood carving, via the precisely moulded stucco to the stained glass.

The next day I returned to photograph the Assembly Room. Here the space and the architecture itself were the main features. The Virtues in Stained Glass were obvious subjects but it took my wife to notice the subtler details in the designs below. Look at the three small roses in the different panes.

Three hats and robes discarded on a table added a human touch to the room.

If Stained glass keeps cropping up in this article, it is because there is a resonance with earlier articles about eight of the stained glass windows of Hereford Cathedral. Some of the key ones were installed at the same time as the glass in the Town Hall.

Of course there is more history to the building and the Mayorality of Hereford. You can find it all in the leaflets at the reception in Hereford Town Hall.

Whilst you are there, you might as well have a look around the building for your self.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Can German Craftsmen give UK's Heritage a facelift?

When the London hotel your delegation is going to stay at suffers a fire a couple of days before a trip, it's unfortunate. When their arrival coincides with a 24h tube strike, you might think fate was conspiring against you! Instead we had an unflappable group of heritage and conservation experts, who took changes in their stride and actually arrived early for their event.

I was the facilitator for the group of 14 artisans from North Rhine Westphalia and beyond in Germany. The trip had been organised by Marie-Theres Luetje of the Handwerkskammer in Duesseldorf and was supported by NRW International. My colleague Mark Dodsworth of Europartnerships Ltd had coordinated the planning of talks, trips and meetings in the UK. Our London base were the meeting rooms and library of the hospitable Canning House of No2, Belgrave Square.

The companies were here for an intensive two day program, to learn how conservation and restoration work was done in the UK. They also wanted to know how craftsman were chosen for projects and whether there were opportunities for them in the UK. (Companies taking part and the program of events here).

The delegates had come with the impression that there was a tremendous latitude for poor workmanship in an unregulated market in the UK. In contrast to Germany, where there is a formal structure of apprentices, journeymen and Masters in the crafts. Did reality match the preconceptions? Here are some of my impressions

Britain's heritage is regulated, for example by the listing of buildings or parts of buildings. We learnt how one architects firm proceeded with documentation and restoration on the prestigious Regent's Street; from facades to recovering Art Deco interiors.

We had the privelege of a guided tour of Wimpole Hall with the House's resident expert and East of Englands key National Trust officers. There was loving attention to detail, with a balance between using traditional materials and techniques where possible and appropriate modern substitutes where necessary.

A visit to an end-of-terrace Victorian interior renovation clearly showed three things.
  1. Determined architects could find the best of British craftsmanship and 
  2. Modern features could be sympathetically introduced to the highest standard whilst retaining the Victorian character of the property.
  3. The lady of the house could have a floor to ceiling designer shoe cupboard
As the delegates lost their reserve and expert questions crept in, the buzz of conversation rose during the two days. At times the interest was so intense that keeping to the tight schedule was like herding cats.

Three lessons emerged from the visit
  1. A high standard of craftsmanship was demanded and could be delivered in the UK
  2. There was a definite interest in and need for the skills of the visiting German craftsmen
  3. Architects and trusts looked for companies that could deliver the standards required.
Time and again, it emerged that, in the absence of a regulated training framework, it took a lot of effort to find trusted quality craftsmen. Once such companies are identified they become preferred providers. We met German craftsmen and architects who had successfully transferred to the UK

So what is the way forward for the German companies?
  1. The craftsmen need a detailed portfolio demonstrating their skills. Existing UK experience helps!
  2. The texts must be in English
  3. The craftsmen need to be proactive in making key organisations aware of their skills
As those who know my belief in the benefit of companies collaborating for mutual benefit will guess, there are two further personal recommendations:
  1. Either find an existing craftsman or company in the UK in an area complementary to yours and see if you can work together, and/or
  2. Team up with other German craftsmen with different skills to be a stronger, larger group seeking to enter the UK market, with a range of services.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Quekex 2010 - at the National History Museum

After the long tunnel from South Kensington tube station, you emerge into the light to see the glory of the Natural History Museum (NHM) - and the queues to the entrance! So we continued along Exhibition Rd to use the Geological Museum Entrance and walked straight in.

The minerals and rocks. The glittering jewels in the displays. The moon rock embedded in its transparent glass pyramid. These set the tone for what struck me at the Quekex; the Annual Exhibition of the Quekett Microscopical Club.

To get there we emerged fom the fossils of the Geological museum into a part of the NHMs bird display. Past the glittering feathers of hummingbirds, and the haughty gaze of the Dodo. We then turned right into the Quekex.

The Quekett horn was sounded. It pre-dates the glorious Victorian NHM, with its Dinosaur hall overlooked by the bearded Darwin. Milling around, bumping into old friends, here was also a chance to peer down microscopes and even take pictures.

Primed by the Geological Museum, I was attracted to the Allende Meteorite sample in Dennis Fullwood's display. The occasional glowing crystal in crossed polars as iridescent as opal.

The apparently grey ash from the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano was a contrasting sample brought by Pam Hamer. Under crossed polars it revealed a scattering of glowing crystals amongst the remaining debris. It all looked so harmless now. Yet its abrasive nature to planes travelling at high speed had grounded flights in Europe at the peak of the volcano's activity.

Maurice Moss was showing slimemoulds, of which I have fond memories as a student. We had to keep one alive in a Petri dish. Unfortunately mine died when I overfed it on a cornflake. During their reproductive phase they produce fruiting bodies. Those of Physarum virescens reminded me of the Globular aggregates of mordenite, seen earlier in a basalt cavity.

What was particularly good about Maurice's exhibit was showing his copy of the book by Arthur Lister. It had the stunning illustrations of exactly the same slime mould fruiting bodies. These were drawn by his daughter and co-author, Guilema Lister, at the beginning of the 20th Century.

At the end of the day it was out through the grand front door of the NHM, under the watchful eye of a carved Pterodactyl gazing down from one of the window bays.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Gypsy and Country Craft Fair in Milton Country Park

Good news about Gypsies and Romanies gathering on private land in Milton! In Black and White (and colour too) on the Cambridge Evening News website. That was the satisfying outcome of last weekend's event at Milton Country Park. Because this was Candy Sheriden's second big event, the Gypsy and Country Crafts Fair.

I took my camera along on Sunday under a glorious blue sky and amongst the autumnal trees of Milton Country Park.

There was a small group of women chatting near Phoebe's cake stand but I couldn't quite build up the courage to start snapping away. Till one turned around and said, "Come on then, take a picture!" She held up a cake and mimed eating it to general laughter. The ice was broken as we tried different poses and even dragged in unsuspecting passers-by.

Walking on, there were stalls and people that I remembered from last June's event. People were generally friendly and positive. I recognised some of the glorious 70s chrome caravans and the flying silver lady on the bonnet of the old Bedford van. Childrens clothes in intricate needlework and incredible miniature tweed suits. The story teller in fancy dress and an impressive beard. The one sad omission was Bill Goodyear and his caravan. He had passed away since the June fair

As I ate my Gloucester Old Spot hot dog (fantastic taste!), I noticed something else. There were a lot of conversations going on. Men with a glass in their hand. Women exchanging news.

Meeting up with Candy, she explained why. This was the last gathering before the winter for families across the UK. A last chance to meet with friends and family, to catch up with what had gone on in the weeks before. The next meeting would not be till May next year.

I'm also looking forward to a similar event next year. Hopefully in the warmer summer months, rather than the biting October wind!

As a photographer and local person, I'd like to see:
Building on the high upmarket and traditional standard set by the June event. With the attractive caravans, vehicles,crafts and horses at the centre again. The open, friendly atmosphere.

What I'd hope to be absent:
Red and white plastic tape fencing off areas (good rope would look better). Plastic netting around stalls. These ruin any chance of a good wide-angle photograph! They distract from the quality goods on sale.

To have one successful event can be a matter of luck. To have two, shows vision and competence by the organisers and Milton Country Park. I'm curious what the next event will be like!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Teeth"R"Us at the BDTA Dental Showcase and photos along the Thames.

Women shrouded on chairs with a rictus grin, exposing their blue lined teeth. Cabinets filled with gleaming sharp instruments and pliers. Was this the torture chamber of the London Dungeon? No, I was walking past stands at the BDTA Dental Showcase 2010 in the ExCel, London!

I had made my way there to meet up with Ulrich Heker of Teeth"R"Us. Ulrich is an expert in precision dental attachments and was showing his expertise at D21a. It was good to come and see him, not only as a former participant with a German delegation to Glasgow in 2009, but as a friend through working together.

Ulrich had seen a need to train UK dentists in the art of German high quality precision dental work. We worked together and wrote articles for The Technologist and other dental magazines. You can find the electronic versions here.

His stand was already very busy. Both Ulrich and Christian Eis, a dentist partner, were talking to interested visitors. So I picked up some leaflets and wandered around the show to find other possible partners for Ulrich and Christian.

The BDTA was a fascinating show. You could find everything, from a new type of toothbrush to the complete dental laboratory. The ladies in shrouds were willing volunteers for tooth whitening. Hydrogen peroxide is the agent used to bleach the teeth and can be applied  in a variety of ways. At the other end of the hall was a glass dental laboratory where new methods were being shown. The audience could look in from three sides, with a screen giving added information.

One of the ironies of the show was the ubiquitous use of sweets and chocolates to entice visitors to the stands. Either that, or it was a clever ploy to increase business in the longer term. The definite disappointment was the overpriced ciabatta with its limp salad at the cafe in the arena.

After making some successful new contacts and finding the stand still in full swing, I took a walk out of the show.

The bridge across the crane-lined Royal Victoria dock was in the fligh path of London City airport. This was a good site for photos of the jets and turbo-jet planes flying overhead. I then made  my way to Barrier Park by the river, to catch a full view of the spectacular Thames Barrier. It was officially opened in 1984 to protect London from exceptional high tides and weather conditions that could threaten to flood London. In the 1980s it was closed four times, and in the 1990s, 35 times. Perhaps it is an sign of global warming that in the first decade of this century, it has been closed 75 times already.

The Docklands Light Railway swept in a futuristic curve overhead. So I took the lift up at Pontoon Dock station to catch a train to the next stop. My hope was to get a clear picture of the 02 Arena, which I remembered from the Millenium show. I found the East India Dock nature reserve after a further walk and took my photos from there. Slightly stained by age, the dome was still a spectacular sight.

The city high rise buildings glinted quite close in the West but my time and the light were running out. So it was back to meet up with Ulrich and party. They had had a steady stream of visitors and also identified more interest by dental magazines, plus possible opportunities with training institutions.

Now, at the end of a long day, it was top marks to Ulrich for finding a good food pub (The Fox) a short walk from the West entrance of Excel! Having been generously treated to a meal, I sadly had to leave. Catching the late train back to Cambridge, I arrived home at last, shortly before midnight.

This was a positive day out, for business and photography.

Have you visited any great exhibitions and locations recently?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Mandarin capped, stuffed roast apple halves

From Cakes
Here is a quick solution if you want to avoid singing your sultana stuffing in roast apple halves. Cap them with mandarin or similar small orange shells!

With our small apple tree still full of cookers, there was an opportunity to quickly roast some apple halves for dessert. I halved the apple and cored it. The sultanas to be used as stuffing were a bit dry.  So I cut a mandarin in half and squeezed the juice of each half into the sultana filling. This was followed with a drizzling of golden syrup over the top of the apples. On a whim, I then placed the squeezed mandarin shells as caps on top. Finally I added a drop of water to the dish in which the apples were standing.

Forty minutes at 220 degC later, the boggle apple-eyed face had cooked to perfection. Underneath the mandarin caps (which were not for eating), the sultanas had plumped up and softened. Even better, they had not charred on top as they often do.

Served with custard, these roasted apples made a great end to a Sunday dinner.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

If Galileo were alive today

One night in 1610, Galileo Galilei pointed his 30x telescope at Jupiter and over the coming nights observed that three small stars moved around the planet - they were in fact it's moons. (He discovered the fourth moon later).It's a simple pleasure that anyone with binoculars can recreate, especially as Jupiter is currently bright in the early evening sky.

Tonight I put my camcorder on the tripod and had a go.

The Panasonic SDR-80 has an amazing 70 x zoom. I'd hoped to capture Jupiter as a brighter star and was amazed when I could also see the four moons in a line. Obviously, you can get a much better image with a large reflector telescope! However, my images were probably better than those seen by Galileo back in 1610.

It just made me think, what would Galileo have achieved if he'd been alive today?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Tips for Berlin

For those of us in Cambridgeshire, Stansted is a great gateway to the city of Berlin.

I usually stay in the suburb of Fichtenhain. This is in the former East and while it still looks a bit run down and is also full with students, it has does have three advantages.

  1. There are a number of small but good hotels. This September business trip I stayed at the "Hotel 26", on the Grünberger Strasse; clean rooms, free wifi and an excellent breakfast.
  2. It is a great place to eat out at a reasonable price. Many of the eateries are along or near the Simon-Dach Strasse, and provide a range of food from Italian, Thai to Indian and Portuguese.
  3. Oh yes, the nearby Warshauer Strasse S-Bahn Station gives you quick access to the rest of Berlin for your meetings!

Other hotels that I've stayed at in the past include the "Pension Bismark" in Charlottenburg and the "Riverside Hotel", only 400 yards from the Museums Insel.

Travelling around is easy using the S-Bahn (tramway) and U-Bahn (Underground). A good bet is to get a "Tageskarte" (day ticket) for only €6.10 that lets you travel the central AB tarif zone. This covers the wider Berlin area, though not as far as the airport.

There are ticket machines at most stations but note that they do not take €20 notes, the smallest banknote I get when buying Euros at the UK Post Office. It also took me a couple of trips to get used to the idea that you bought your ticket and then went to a pillar on the platform to have it stamped BEFORE getting on the tram, tube or bus.

Whenever I travel to Berlin on business, I always make sure that I have at least a couple of free hours on one day. There are museums, great buildings and many sights to see. A good place to start is the east of Berlin, where you can see the bust of Nefertiti, visit the Dom and view the city from the top of the Fersehturm within one square kilometer.

This time I used the time to visit the small palace of Charlottenburg with its French style gardens. Nearby I found another gem, the Museum Berggruen which has a fascinating collection of art by Matisse, Picasso and Klee. If you only have time in the evening and are near the Reichstag, go in and walk up the spiral, inside the lit Norman Foster dome. Last entry is at 22:00h you may still have to queue for a while!

The time will come to return to either Tegel or Schoenefeld Airport, depending on your airline. Both the train and the S-Bahn stop at the station several hunderd yards from the terminal of Schoenefeld Airport, which is reached by a covered curved walkway. If you take the tube to Rüdow then catch the bus that takes you directly to the terminal doors.

Schoenefeld Airport is still being expanded as the old buildings are far too small for the traffic going through. Warning - do not go through the security gates too early as once you are on the other side, it is cramped with little seating room and narrow corridors!

I always have the pleasure of knowing that at some point there will be another chance to visit Berlin in the future. I hope that you get a chance to visit it too!

What are your favourite cities?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ideas tasting with Matisse, Picasso and Klee at the Museum Berggruen

From Wordle-images

The "Ideas Taster" is the adviser to the dwarf's Low King in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. And ideas tasting is the best description of what a good museum visit should be. I felt I was tasting ideas as I wandered around the Museum Berggruen.

The museum is a stone's throw from the pretty little Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin. Inside is a collection of  three main artists; Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. The personal collection had been built by Heinz Berggruen. He was an art dealer and a friend of the artists.

Wandering around the radial galleries, I was struck by the many portraits. There were not only the differences between the artists, each artist showed great variety in their own styles.

The Picasso collection showed that he was constantly learning from other artist's ideas. For example, his friendship with Braques resulted in cubist images. There was a clear influence of African art in his studies of faces. I was amazed by the wide variety of styles that Picasso used. This was so different from the schoolboy perception of artists using each new style, one after the other.

They were all technically proficient artists. You could however see from the finish of many of the pictures, that the idea was more important than the finish. Often works were done on irregular pieces of paper. On a study for a poster by Matisse, some of the collage pieces were wrinkled after being glued on.

What did come through was the sense of humour and play. This is very apparent with two of Klee's pictures. First, The Lover (der Verliebte). Here the bubble head of the lover contains the image of the lady of his desire. Second, the sealed lady (Versiegelte Dame). The red seal on her lips draws the eye. The head is made of "simple" curves, but you immediately get the artists pun.

My favourite picture? Dora Maas with green finger nails (Dora Maas aux ongles verts) by Picasso.

So what lessons did I learn from my visit?

  • Be an "ideas taster"
  • Play with new ideas
  • At first, worry less about technique.

Is there an exhibition or an artist whose work you really learnt something from?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

A visit to the City of Five Towers, Halle (Saale) and its Marktkirche

Third time lucky! The ethereal sound of Bach's Fantasy and Fugue in D-minor echoed around the Marktkirche in Halle Saale as I entered. The music was played on the Reichel Organ, the very instrument that Georg Friederich Händel had learnt to play on.

Halle is known as the City of Five Towers. The Marktkirche has four towers as a result of its replacing two churches that had stood on the site over 450 years ago. Nearby is the red bell tower, the "Rote Turm" from 1506. Together these five towers dominate the city centre market place under the stern gaze of Händel, the city's famous son.

The inside of this late gothic church was a surprise. It breathes light and space, yet the amount of decoration is unusual for a protestant church. The church was first built as a catholic bastion against the new protestants. It was still incomplete when the latter took over in 1541. Luckily they kept to the original vision!

There are two organs, the larger being at the back of the nave. The smaller organ by Reichel that Händel played on is above the altar. Tuned for 17th century music, it is well suited to the works of the old masters.

The pulpit seemed extravagent to me! However, it's baroque elements did not put off the preachers!

I liked the south and north walls of the aisles which are decorated in white floral scrolls on blue. I noticed that on one area near the entrance, faces and animals have been coloured in.

Situated south of Berlin and not far from Leipzig, Halle used to be famous for it's salt. The city's emblem is a salt crystal over a crescent salt pan. The emblem is very like that of Portsmouth FC! Halle's famous son Händel was invited over to England when his employer, George, the elector of Hannover, became King George I of Great Britain.

All too soon, my colleague, Syvia Schmidt of Come Across, had to drag me back to reality. The pleasure of the visit set the tone for a positive meeting with companies that afternoon.

What sights have you enjoyed on your trips?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Israeli football building many bridges between cultures

From Wordle-images

I met with the organisors of an Arab-Jewish girls football team over breakfast this morning!

I talked to Amnon Shenk from the municipality of Jerusalem, who support this venture and Nihad Masarw, who has long experience of organising similar trips.

As we were chatting, the 17 strong team of relaxed 17 and 18 year olds gradually emerged from their beauty sleep and came to breakfast. The hubbub of friendly conversation gradually rose in the room.

The team are here as part of a 30yr long sports exchange between Jerusalem and Berlin.

Even better, one of the teams they are playing is a mixed German team of Turkish and German cultural backgrounds.

This is a fantastic idea, working on crossing cultural and historical differences on so many levels; Jewish & Arabic within Israel, Germany and Israel, Germans of Turkish and German cultural backgrounds.

The return visit to Jerusalem will be by a basketball team later in the year.

The first football game is on Saturday. I wish them Good Luck!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A chance conversation on cutting edge DNA sequencing

© istock photo Chitra Tatachar

I exchanged a glance and a smile with an urbane looking fellow traveller. We had just ruefully joined yet another RyanAir queue for our flight!
We started talking and I was delighted to have a reminder of my scientific past.

Jack Peart works for Illumina. The products are state of the art DNA sequencers with particular relevance to green biotech, i.e. plants. This brought back vivid memories of my time as as a scientist in the plant field.

I remembered the awe and delight at being able to sequence a few hundred bases of DNA after months of work in the 1980's. By the 1990s we could work with tens of samples over a week or two. Of course, by the noughties, the technology had advanced to screen hundreds of sequences.

The age of genome sequencing was well and truly there - I still remember receiving and holding the first CD with the very first whole plant genome. Then it was a marvel that others had achieved after decades of work.

I was used to sequencing using gels of finely pored material that separated molecules by size. Our results were first made visible using radioactivity. Later, safer fluorescent dyes were introduced, banishing the Geiger counters from the lab.

As Jack briefed me whilst we were in the queue, DNA sequencing is very different now. Billions of different DNA fragments are bound to solid supports and sequenced simultaneously. The future proves to be even more amazing; there is the potential of reading single strands of DNA base by base as they pass through microscopic pores.

Surely, it will not be long before one company or set of researchers win the second Archon X prize. The prize is for sequencing 100 human genomes within 10 days at a very high accuracy.

What recent advances in technology have amazed you?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

How to make your blog more readable

I was browsing Linkedin and reading recent blogs. Suddenly, I came across one that was almost unintelligible! I had great difficulty in understanding it. Jargon, long and twisted sentences hid the real message. I actually stopped reading before reaching the end of the article.

This prompted me to ask; how readable are MY articles?

Well, you can probably read them quite well – if you are a university graduate! The readability index of my previous blog articles is in the 30s. This is on a scale of 0 to 100, where higher scores are more easily understood. In fact, I was more Harvard Law Review (score 30) than Readers Digest (scores 65% plus)!

A review of other blogs showed a wide variation in readability. As might be expected from a blogging expert, Anne Hawkins’ blog scored well. So did HBN’s Ruth Ekblom.

However, few had achieved the dizzying quality of today’s successful book writers. J K Rowling, John Grisham, and my favourite Terry Pratchett achieve a readability score of 60 plus. People with a grade 7 reading level (equivalent to 11 – 13 year olds) can easily read their gripping books.

So how can we improve our blog writing? By:

  • Writing in shorter, clearer sentences
  • Avoiding jargon
  • Striving for high readability at a simpler reading level

It requires effort, but there is a tool to help you; the online readability checker at You copy and paste your blog text into it and the checker then calculates the:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score (change your text to achieve scores above 60)
  • Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level (aim for a reading level of 7 or 8)

Microsoft Word also includes a readability check. It is hidden in the proofing set-up of the spelling and grammar tools and you may have to turn it on.

Readability statistics are not the complete answer. Ensure you are getting your message across!
So have a go. Make your next blog a readable one!

(This article has a readability score of 63 to 73. It is understandable at grade 7!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire out in Huntingdon

If you went out in Huntingdon today, you bewared of a big surprise! As several of the blushing and giggling ladies around the market place found when Elvis followed and serenaded them as they walked by.

Elvis also metamorphosed into Amy Winehouse, a feature so shocking that I averted my camera to protect the lens. Yes, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had hit the town and the shy but musical Johnny D was on the prowl for the Andie Harper Show!

I had braved the A14, passing one horrendous accident on the other carriageway on this ostensibly key European highway that is in dire need of improvement, on the suggest of the shows persuasive producer, Mark Williamson.

The objective was to talk positively about the town’s and Huntingdonshire’s businesses positively during a short interview, in my capacity as Chairerson of HBN (the Huntingdonshire Business Network).

Oh Facebook, you have a lot to answer for, for there was an instant flash of recognition from Andie as I rounded the corner into the bustling market square in the glorious sunshine.

When you have listened to the show for over a year almost every weekday and been part of the active Facebook friend group, it was a double pleasure to not only be recognised, but also made to feel that this really was part of a community.

Andie waved me in like a friendly boxer inviting a novice to the ring and, with a microphone in my face, the interview began. I presume I was coherent (I’ll have to check on i-player), but I do remember actually stemming my verbal diarrhoea sufficiently so that Andie could ask several questions – a big improvement on my previous interviews.

Importantly, we did get to emphasise the importance of the region’s business community and the help organisations such as HBN can give to small and micro businesses. BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has been doing a sterling job of talking to local businesses not just in the two main cities but also in the region’s market towns.

Adrenaline rush over, there was time to relax, take pictures and (enjoyably) join in the impromptu singing with Johnny - where I couldn’t decide to go for the castrato or deep base voice so merrily mixed between the two.

I also plucked up the courage to talk to the inestimable and seductively voiced Carol Carman, who coquettishly flirted with the camera holding the giant clock that kept the program and presenters to time.

A steady stream of visitors came, many old friends of the show, to have a chat with the presenters and sight-see the road show bus. A beautiful rescued racing dog was there to be petted as it stared at the activity through patient and soulful eyes.

The penalty of having been a scientist is that you have an ever constant curiosity as to how things work. Andy (not Andie) at the control desk in the bus gave me a brief introduction and reminded me of the practical realities of the speed of light (and therefore radio waves).

The signal from the bus was sent via a satellite dish on the bus, at a shallow angle just scraping over the encroaching buildings, to a satellite situated somewhere over Brazil. The signal was then bounced back to the BBC Cambridgeshire centre in Cambridge, a round trip of probably 70,000 miles. Consequently, with the additional electronic signal processing, the program was broadcast with a one second delay.

It was also a pleasure to see that the BBC was looking to nurture future talent by supporting Warwick University based Anna with some real work experience. Anna spoke of the real benefit of learning what was involved to run a radio show.

If you are a business person, be aware that publically owned broadcasters like the BBC cannot advertise. However, if you can make a valid and useful contribution from time to time due to your professional experience, this is really valued.

Therefore, whatever your situation, I thoroughly recommend anyone finding a local radio show, such as Radio Cambridgeshire and getting involved with their community, because ultimately it is your community too.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

An ultra-deep Apple pie for sharing when you have too many apples

From Cakes

A poor Summer but great apple yields this year from the three small trees in our garden, leading to a glut. Time to bake a cake!
We have an 8 inch (20cm) diameter baking tin with a removable base, about 3" deep giving an unrivalled opportunity to use as much apple as possible.

Weigh out 500g plain flour into a mixing bowl and add:
  • 250g sugar
  • 250g margarine and chop into sugar & flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar (makes 3 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
Knead mixture into a dough (best with a mixer  & dough hooks) and roll into a ball
Chill in Fridge for about 20 minutes to make more manageable (actually, I'm often too impatient for this)
  • Divide ball of dough into three equal parts
  • Roll out ball to cover base of a 8 inch (20cm ) diameter baking tin. One with a removable base and sides that unclip would be ideal
  • Roll out the 2nd ball into a long sausage that will reach around the inside wall of the baking tin, spread to cover whole inside walls, joining the base at the bottom and making sure it reaches the brim of the baking tin.
  • Peel, core and slice apples and fill up the cake tin in layers, adding sugar in between layers to sweeten. I also added some hand-picked blackberries. Continue to the brim.
  • Roll out the last ball of dough into a lid and place on top of the tin, pinching together the top and the sides all around the brim to seal the pie.
  • Pierce some holes in the pastry lid.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for an hour.
Test with a skewer (from the top) to see if the apples are fully cooked (i.e. soft). If there is still the resistance of uncooked apple, turn down the oven to about 160 deg C and continue, checking every so often till the centre is done.
Leave for a couple of hours to cool.
Good luck with removing the pie intact from the cake tin, I was fortunate!

Slicing into the pie, mine disintegrated into lumps of sweet pastry and juicy apple junks that were delicious when crowned with a ball or two of ice-cream.

Definitely a cake/pie for sharing - there was enough, not only for our family but several of the neighbours too.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Getting the FACS right in business communication

From Wordle-images

Zombies networking might have been the first impression of the unsuspecting visitor to the Hills Road Clydesdale bank meeting room last night. But no, the hideous gurning figures greeting each other were actually breaking the tension at Aaron Garner's presentation to the JCI Cambridge, "People watching, what are you missing?".
For Aaron is a certified FACS coder, someone who analyses facial expressions to determine what people are really feeling when in conversation. FACS stands for Facial Action Coding System, a system developed by decades of research by Ekman and colleagues and actually had its origins with no less than Charles Darwin's "Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals".
Tension relieved, Aaron had us working in small groups to find out what the key facial elements were for seven emotions. Flashes of happiness, sneers of contempt, jaw dropping surprise, nose wrinkling disgust, wide eyed fear, pouting sadness and teeth clenching anger rippled across the faces around the room ; Oh to have had the video camera there!
Our new found knowledge was then put to the test to see if we could identify micro-expressions, those very faint involuntary movements that reveal if there is a conflict between the verbal message and the thoughts behind it.
It was a revelation and a relief to find that we could in most instances identify little "tells". What we might have perceived as a gut reaction in a conversation could now be seen as based on these facial micro-expressions as well as other factors such as body language and changes in overall speaking style.
In the vast majority of instances, we are people with a set of beliefs and empathies that are reflected in our expressions, whether micro or macro. The exceptions are those who truly have no empathy and moral framework, such as psychopaths!
But how is this relevant to business? The reality is, that with the increase in technological options, the people we meet and deal with remain incredibly important. For many of us in small businesses, we ARE the business. By taking a conscious approach to our people watching in meetings with businesses, clients and partners, we can improve our communication, identifying hidden problems early as well as recognising the positive aspects of our relationships.
This was truly an eye-opening event, in more ways than one! If you get the opportunity to attend a talk by a FACS coder such as Aaron, I thoroughly recommend going along. Also look out for the JCI Cambridge which has risen like a phoenix and is providing interesting and cost effective events in the Cambridge Area.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Eight stained glass windows from Hereford Cathedral in High resolution

Eight of the stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are made available as high resolution images that can be downloaded by those interested in this art form.

The windows are listed in roughly chronological order here as they appear in the miltoncontact picasa web album, which can be accessed through the sideshow above.
  • Fragments of 14th century medieval and modern glass in the south wall of the nave. 
  • East Window of the Lady Chapel, designed by Nockalls Johnson Cottingham in 1852 and made by made by C A Gibbs of London. 
  • North Transept, design John Hardman of Birmingham1864. 
  • South Transept, by Charles Eamer Kempe in 1895. 
  • West Window, made by Clayton & Bell 1902, Commissioned by the women of Herfordshire to commemorate Queen Victoria in 1902. 
  • South aisle of the nave – in memory of Frances Leigh, window by Powell 1910. 
  • South aisle of the nave – King Charles I granting a Charter for the city of Hereford, 1920 by Powells of Whitefriars. 
  • Audley Chapel – Traherne Windows, by Tom Denny, 2007. 
The eight windows are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 
Some initial references: 

Some Medieval Stained Glass in Hereford Cathedral

The window above the entrance to the shop in Hereford Cathedral contains fragments of 14th century glass with two modern panels above. The slideshow above shows the sections of the window described below.

The top centre light contains a shield “or, five chevronels azure” (a gold shield with five blue chevrons). There is a reference to this description for John Denew, gentlemen of Cantebury.

Challenge: can you throw more light on this shield? 

The next right light depicts Mary, the left light shows David with his harp.

The lower right two lights are below another shield “gules, three ducal coronets, two and one or divided by either a bezant or dish or” (red shield with three golden ducal crowns separated either by a disk or a plate). “Gules, three coronets or” alone is associated with the diocese of Ely. The disk adds uncertainty.

Challenge: can you throw more light on this shield? 

The far right panel contains fragments resolving in part into a sky of sun, moon and stars which the Hereford Cathedral stained glass booklet describes as from the dream of Joseph. The booklet also indicates that the centre right panel shows Joseph being lowered into the pit.

The lower two left panels are fragments which tantalisingly hint at figures, windows and text. Above them is another shield, “gules, a stag trippant or” (red shield with a walking stag in gold) which is associated with the Davison family, who have Scottish origins.


Challenge: what are the links between this shield and Hereford?

By the 14th century, the old form of making soda glass had been replaced with “wood glass”, potash rich glass made by using wood ash during the glass manufacture.

Whilst English glass was being produced in the Weald during the 14th century, it was generally of lower quality and most of the quality glass came from the continent.

The main method of manufacture was by blowing tubes of glass, up to 3m in length, cutting off the top and bottom, slitting the tube and rolling it out into a sheet.

Various minerals added to glass manufacture create the colours, however, these are often very dense. Clear glass was therefore “flashed” with a thin layer of coloured glass.

The period also saw the introduction of silver salts that could be painted onto the glass before firing again, to give a controlled range of detail in shades from gold to orange.

Detail, such as facial features, was painted in iron and similar oxides that gave a black line in firing.

Medieval glass was not the smooth flat clear product we use in our windows – a fact that is precisely the reason for the luminosity and sparkle of medieval glass. During the stained glass revival of the 19th century, glass manufactures realised this and learnt to recreate the manufacturing processes and effects.

Eight stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 

The following articles are of interest if you want more information. 

history of glass:
Medieval stained glass:
glass painting techniques through the ages:
The medieval glass industry 
Also see Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2)

1852 Lady Chapel window dedicated to John Merewether; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The Lady Chapel of Hereford Cathedral has five lights making up the East Window, as can be seen in the slideshow above. They depict the life of Jesus, starting with Mary as a child through to the last supper. Whilst they have a strong vertical element, the story runs from left to right across the lights, from bottom to top. Here is my tentative interpretation:
  • Row 1: Mary with her mother Anne; Mary’s betrothal to Joseph(?); spirit of god enters Maria; Wedding of Joseph & Mary?; Jesus & Mary in stable. 
  • Row 2: Angels appear to the shepherds; 3 Kings and guiding star, visiting King Herod; Kings pay homage to Mary & Jesus; Jesus baby; Jesus, Mary & Joseph flee on a donkey. 
  • Row 3: Killing the firstborn sons; Jesus as a boy with the teachers at the temple; Jesus baptised by John the Baptist; Jesus being tempted by the devil; Turning water into wine? 
  • Row 4: Jesus and his disciples; feeding of the 5000; Walking on water; Jesus preaching to the children; Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. 
  • Row 5: Washing Jesus’ feet at last supper. 
The dedication at the bottom of the window reads:

In Memoriam Johannes Merewether sacre theologie professoris ecclesie herefordens decani Quo strenuo fautore huits Sacre aedis res(tit) Peliciter et inchoata obiit pridie donas Aprilis anno domini millesimo Octingenges quidouages Nockalls I Cottingham arch fecit AD 1852 

Dean John Merewether initiated the restoration of Hereford Cathedral by the Cottinghams in 1841.

Nockalls Johnson Cottingham (1823-1854) was an architect son of the renowned pioneer of the study of medieval gothic architecture, Lews Nockalls Cottingham (1787 – 13 October 1847), who also worked on the restoration of Hereford Cathedral;

I could find little further information on Nockalls Johnson Cottingham, other than a reference to his death on the shipwreck of the SS Arctic, on its way to New York. An account of the shipwreck is here

The window was made by C A Gibbs of London, based in Marylebone Road, London. There is a tantalizing bit of information about the company at the following site: 
Also see: Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2)

Eight stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 

1864 North Transept window dedicated to Lane Freer; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The North Transept stained glass window in Hereford Cathedral is made of six main lights, as seen in the slideshow above. It is divided into two halves, with the Church Militant (living Christians striving towards their faith) on the left and the Church Triumphant (those who are in Heaven) on the right (

The main image of the Church Triumphant, extending across three lights, is either Jesus or God seated in the house of god with his feet on the World, surrounded by angels.

The minor scenes (all one light wide) appear to be the saints being welcomed to heaven by the angels. This conclusion is based on the fact that all the figures have halos, which were reserved in medieval art (and therefore by inference during the medieval/gothic revival of the 19th Century) for saints – see

The main image of the Church Militant, again extending across three lights, is Jesus surrounded 12 figures, presumably the disciples.

The minor scenes are different tableaus of which Christ on the cross is the most obvious. Others tentatively identified from bottom to top may be: A baptism in the river; the Sermon on the Mount; Jesus after being taken off the cross; Jesus cleansing Mary Magdalene; Jesus abating the storm; the stoning of St Stephen

Challenge: can you identify the remaining scenes correctly? 

There are six faces in the small rosettes above the main lights and the Holy Spirit is depicted in the top central part of the window.

The North Transept window at Hereford Cathedral was designed by Hardman and Co around 1864. Hardman and Co, also John Hardman Trading Co., became one of the world’s leading manufacturers of stained glass and ecclesiastical fittings.

The company had a close association with A. W. Pugin, who, with John Ruskin and The Oxford movement, defined gothic as the accepted style for churches.

More information can be found here

The window was dedicated to Archdeacon Lane Freer and cost the princely sum of £1200 at the time. Other references: Hereford Cathedral Stained Glass, ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2, 25pages with numerous illustrations. Available from the Cathedral shop.

Eight stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 

1895 South transept window dedicated to George Herbert; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The great stained glass window in the South transept of Hereford Cathedral represents the text from Te Deum Laudamus “The glorious company of the apostles praise thee”, according to Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2.

The saints shown are, from top to bottom, left to right:
  • Saints Benedictus, Bonifacius, Thomas Hereford, Ethelbertu Rex, David Meneui, Dobritius, 
  • Saints Augustinus Cant., Gregorius, Augustinus doctor, Creadda, 
  • Saints Ionatius, Polycarp, Ambrosius, Iohannes Chrys, Hieronimo, Athanasius 12? 
There are rows of shields above and below the pictures of the saints of which two are probably the Bishopric of Ely (Gules three Ducal Coronets two and one Or, ie. A red shield with three gold ducal crowns) and the Bishopric of Hereford (Gules three Leopards’ Faces reversed jessant-de-Lis two and one Or, ie red shield with three upside down leopard’s heads on fleur-de-lis in gold).

The gold shield with five blue chevrons can also be seen in the top part of the window above the Cathedral shop.

The shield divided blue and red vertically, with three lions, is similar to that of Sir William (de) HERBERT "1st" Earl of Pembroke, knighted by Henry VI in 1449 (

Challenge: Can you identify the other shields!

In the bottom left hand corner is a roundel with three wheat sheaves, the mark of the window’s maker, Charles Eamer Kempe.

He had initially trained under Clayton and Bell who later manufactured another stained glass window in Hereford Cathedral, the West window.

The South Transept window is dated to 1895, by which time Kempe had set up his own studios and workshops, after being disappointed with the quality of other companies, and had relocated to 28 Nottingham Place in Central London. Kempe had a distinctive style that grew in popularity in the late 19th Century. The window is dedicated to George Herbert, who was dean of Hereford Cathedral for 27 years.

Eight stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 

1910 window dedicated to Frances Leigh; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

In the south aisle of the nave of Hereford Cahedral, the fifth window from the west depicts four biblical mothers with their children as the main figures with four virgin martyrs below them

From bottom to top, left to right
  • Dedication: “To the Glory of God and in memory of Frances Leigh, wife of the Dean of Hereford.Died 18 December, this window is the gift of English and American Friends.” 
  • Virgin Martyrs, Saints: Agnes, Dorothy, Margaret, Catherine. 
  • Mothers & Children, Saints: Ruth & Obed, Hannah & Samuel, Elizabeth & John the Baptist, Eunice & Timothy 
  • Saying: If God so loved us, God is Love, We ought to love one another 
  • Saint Francesca surrounded by children. 
The inclusion of black child around Francesca is a tribute to Frances Leigh and her work towards improving the lot of freed slaves in America, something that leads to an interesting family history linked to slavery in the US and the treatment of freed slaves after the abolition of slavery.

Frances’ mother was Fanny Kemble, an actress who married Pierce Butler. He owned significant property in Georgia, US, and inherited a plantation with over 400 slaves.

Pierce took Fanny to his plantation in 1838 where she was shocked about the slavery and became active trying to better their situation. She had two daughters Adelaide and Frances, who stayed with their father when she finally divorced him.

Fanny went on to write a journal of her stay on the plantation, using it as a basis to argue against slavery; it was published during the American Civil War, which led to the abolition of slavery in the US.

Kemble, Fanny. Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-1839. New York : Harper & Bros., 1863.

Her daughter Frances returned to the plantations with her father after the civil war, where they began working the plantation again, this time with their freed black labour force of former slaves.

Frances carried on running and improving the estate after her father’s death, meeting and marrying James Wentworth Leigh, the future dean of Hereford Cathedral, who helped improvethe estate further. Mirroring her mother in terms of trying to improve the black (ex-slave) worker’s lot, Frances saw the past institution of slavery in a more sympathetic light, apparent in her writings Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation Since the War: Leigh, Frances Butler, 1838-1910

Both women wrote at a time where the superiority of the white race was implicit in their beliefs, whatever their views on slavery. So if you read their accounts, I recommend reading as a counterbalance the following article on Slavery in the US

( and the speeches of Obama ( and Nelson Mandela (

The window was designed and made by James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) who were successfully active in stained glass and glass until 1981, when bought by Caithness Glass;

Also see: Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2)

Eight stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below