Monday, 28 June 2010

Lancaster photo walk - Evening (and Morning)

The air took on a golden hue as I set off from Kelsey Street in Lancaster with camera and tripod in hand, letting chance lead me to photo opportunities.

At the station, the taxi drivers briefly broke off their discussion  (I-phones v Blackberrys) with good humoured advice where to go to take photos and where I would more likely have my camera nicked from me.

So it was across the bridge behind the station along West Road, to find the stone wall on the right having doors at strange angles. At the top was the castle (and prison), its top turrets still hit by the evening sun, so through to the Priory Gardens where three students were celebrating their end of year with a barbecue. The backlit figures glowed against the green of the trees as they soaked the remaining warmth of the day in relaxed conversation.

On their advice, I headed past the headless reclining tombstone muse to take the path down towards the river. The threeway Millenium Bridge provided some challenges in the fading light and I promised to return in the morning (which I fortunately did).

I headed for the city centre which was awash with celebrants out on the town at various stage of alcoholic assisted merriment. Turning into Marketgate out of curiosity, I bumped into a party of four out to celebrate a birthday and it seemed a good idea all round to try and take some pictures.

Avoiding flash, long exposures were indicated, which required posing still for a few seconds - something we had difficulty achieving amongst the joking around. Success came eventually and we parted, with my cheek blushed with lipstick from a parting kiss by the belle of the quartet!

Light was fading fast as I trudged back uphill  - where a major teenage birthday party was underway, with guests spilling out onto the road and into the park in front of the castle. Another quartet was taking a break from the party and there was just enough light to photograph a tableau and an accidental motion blurred exposure of the couple's passionate kiss!

Back in Kelsey Street, I reflected that chance had indeed been in my favour, as had the overall friendly nature of people across three different generations in Lancaster.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

High flying women - Role Models I know

Last Friday was the first time (in 5 decades) that my flight was flown by a woman. And it was a surprise to feel surprised, because between a third and half of my business contacts are women.

Whilst gender segregation in occupations does still exist, with stereotyping current even in preschool children (GENDER EQUALITY IN ACTION), equality legislation has at least made entry into all occupations possible. The key change is the self confidence and belief of girls and young women that they are equally, if not more, capable to do anything they put their minds to!

Indeed, both the decorator/painter in the Gold Leaf Hotel in Zuffenhausen and the Air Berlin co-pilot expressed surprise at the concept of being positive role models. Yet Dr Linda Papadopoulos' study in 2010 for the Home Office on The Sexualisation of Young People suggested that positive role models were particularly required for both genders at this time, especially with the media & music trends to apparently diminishing the role and respect for women, reversing equality gains made over the past century.

Furthermore, equality is currently still the prerogative of women in a restricted number of countries (see the suffrage link below) and we in the west should remember that, even just a century ago, women had few rights themselves let alone the vote. If seen walking unaccompanied in Victorian London or US cities they would be approached by men on the immediate assumption they were streetwalkers (i.e. were immoral, available for sex etc.) - perhaps a corollary of the fact that practically the only way a woman could become an independent high earner was as a courtesan (from SuperFreakonomics by Levitt & Dubner).

So here is my contribution and celebration of progress to date, in the form of just a small selection of female role models that I know and admire professionally or whom I have encountered as fore-runners into previously gender segregated occupations!

Some interesting links are:
Women in Aviation - Organisation
Timeline for Women in Aviation - starts in 1784!
Women in Rural Enterprise - a network
Women in Science and Engineering & Construction
Women in Business Network - franchise
Women's suffrage or rights to equality and voting by country
Womens liberation from early beginnings to the current 3rd wave
Women's status in the 19th Century

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Phototour: The Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month comes to Milton

If you went down to the woods today, you were in for a big surprise - in Milton Country Park that is, where I came across the first old Gypsy caravan close to the entrance. Milton Country Park was home to Gypsies, Roma, Travellers - by invitation, as part of the Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month.

Proud owner Bill Goodman was happy to chat and let me have a closer look at his small caravan dating back to the 1910-1920 period, lovingly painted and with doors open so you could see the interior. An almost delicately cast lovely old stove on the left, the raised bunk bed at the back which we laughed would be a problem for a six footer like myself, and the ceiling which was covered in padded patterned fabric for insulation.

I had to return home to get my camera as the photographic opportunities were fantastic. Candy Sheridan who had organised the event told me "We wanted to have a meeting going back to the old values!" And consequently the fields of the Country park now housed an assortment of caravans and vehicles that shouted out the pride of their owners through the lovingly and highly decorated and furnished interiors of the painted caravans to the gleaming spaceships of the road in chrome and steel of the seventies, with their cut crystal glass windows.

My impromptu stay extended to nearly three hours as I not only photographed the sights (see slideshow above) but also talked to the open and generally very friendly travellers there. As a long term camper (with tents), I recognised the relaxed air in which the plots are settled and the neighbours getting together to help each other out.

By six pm, a small open wood fire was on the go with three men tending a pot of bubbling water and adding the vegetables, whilst the young woman from a nearby caravan came across to start off the lamb mint burgers in a pan on the fire.

The event was the brainchild of Candy Sheridan, a Gypsy councillor from Norfolk, two months ago - when it became apparent that previous venues (e.g. Strawberry Fair) were not available. With the help of  Sarah Baylis they found Milton Country Park willing to host the event.

Candy's caravan had a constant stream of visitors and friends as she cheerfully chatted with me and expressed her delight, that for once this was a wholly community organised event without agencies and other charities, that had fulfilled her desire for a family day out for both visitors and exhibiting travellers.

She introduced me to others from the Gypsy community actively involved whether politically (such as herself and Richard Sheridan - President of the Gypsy Council and regular advisor to local and national government) or culturally such as broadcaster, photographer and film maker Simon Evans - also author of "Stopping Places: A Gypsy History of South London and Kent". Patricia Knight, the National Coordinator for Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month,  also turned up later, resplendent in a lovely golden orange shawl.

The pleasant leisurely afternoon with camera and conversation provided a gentle antidote of extensive business traveling with clients in the past week (though that too had its pleasures) and was a welcome start to the weekend.

If you missed the event this year, look out for the next one in 2011!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Helping the next generation find out what makes us tick!

I was approached by Mervyn Foster, friend, HBN member and Toastmaster (also see Nordic Walking), asking if we UK business people could assist a master's student at Radboud University Nijmegen.

Kimberley den Brok is a Communication and Information Science student at the Radboud
University (the Netherlands), and is currently conducting research for
her master's thesis among Dutch and British people - on the effectiveness of
TV commercials!

Kelly is specifically looking for British respondents, and asked if we could help her by completing her questionnaire on the impact of different adverts.

I've had a go and it is not too onerous, so please do also join in by going to:

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Quarry Mill to Sudbury Hall to Windsor with FIWA Glass

Glass is that most wonderful of materials, a clear window to the outside world that protects you from the elements, or a light that can be transformed by colour as it shines inward.
Modern technology has taken glass further, as I found out on my tour to UK prospects with RĂ¼diger Danders (CEO) and Claudia Thiele (International Sales) of FIWA, a German glass company specialising in double glazed units of modern glass.
Coatings can not only minimise heat loss, they can also be used now to create reactive glass that will darken at the touch of a button; you can protect against damage by toughening or laminating with the consequence that if, like many a filmstar, you try to dive through it, you are more likely to bounce than shatter the pane.
Our travels took us up north to Manchester and then back down to London over 3 days, with the odd couple of hours in-between where I introduced them to some of the more delightful stops on the way.
Quarry Mill nr Manchester was supposed to be a lunchtime stop for food but we ended up wandering around and up the magical garden that had been lovingly recreated there with the help of National Trust volunteers.
Our trip south began with a slight detour through the fantastic scenery of Derbyshire and onwards with a stop for evening tea at Sudbury Hall. After an overnight stop and a meeting in Banbury, we headed for a brief stop in Windsor before our final appointment and trip back to the airport.
Glass has been a recurring theme and it was only a couple of days later, in Lincoln Castle, that I came across a medieval reenactment; like a Brueghel painting, workers were clustered around, making a clay oven which was to be used for making stained glass the next day!
For more historic glass also see
Stained Glass by Alfred Manessier
The Park Hotel Preston
The windows of St Mawes Church

From Trafalgar Square to the UK's Supreme Court

Accompanying Mirko Kisser of Celloon in April to various clients in London (also see article on QR Codes), we had the opportunity for a walkabout, starting at Trafalgar Square, where I have fond memories of taking part on the Fourth Plinth as part of Anthony Gormleys One & Other and we ended up at the Supreme Court of the UK, which had only been in existence at its new location since moving out of the House of Lords in October 2009.