Photos: A trip to Wales and a return to Bodnant Garden

Yesterday, we had a quick day trip to Wales to visit my dad in his new home.

While we were there we returned to Bodnant Garden, a place we visited in August 2010 (those photos can be seen on my much-neglected photo site here).

Plus, there’s a bonus photo of Conwy Castle viewed from the shores of Deganwy.




Photos: RHS Harlow Carr – Good Friday (30th March 2018)

This Good Friday, we visited RHS Harlow Carr once more. We love seeing the changes in the gardens as the seasons pass by. In the bird hide, we saw a jackdaw, a nuthatch and a rat!




Photos: Yorkshire Wildlife Park in February

These 54 photos were taken just over a month ago at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It was a cold, wintry day and most animals were inside or huddled up for warmth!

The polar bears felt at home, though…



Photos: Nostell Priory in January

We had a free day recently, and an urge to get out of the house before returning to work for the Spring term. So, we found ourselves at the National Trust’s Nostell Priory once more.

I adore winter time for taking photos – particularly bright and clear days like the one we had on Sunday; there is nothing like an utterly cloudless sky to accentuate the starkness of the bare trees or reflect into a still, frozen lake.




Photos: RHS Harlow Carr – Glow Winter Illuminations event

This evening, we visited a regular place for us, RHS Harlow Carr. For the first time, they have illuminated sections of the garden for a nighttime walk. It was a lovely new take on a place we know so well, as the photos below show.

I managed to get a couple of lovely photos of the Moon as well – the first time I’ve tried to do this. A tripod might have made it a little easier – unfortunately, there is some blurring of the zoomed-in image.



The 2017 F1 Season: Final Championship Points

I love a good graph. So, here are two showing the Championship points throughout the 2017 F1 season in both Drivers’ and Constructor’s Championships.

If we focus on the two title protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, it’s clear to me that Ferrari, in particular, threw the Championship away with poor reliability and some silly mistakes in races.

Lewis Hamilton won the title after gaining an unassailable lead after his victory in Mexico. However, Sebastian Vettel led the championship until the Italian Grand Prix, but his Singapore Grand Prix crash and technical problems in Malaysia and Japan put an end to his championship hopes.


Photos: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Photos from our visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park today (12th August 2017).

Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads:
Anya Gallaccio, Blessed:

Jaume Plensa, Wilsis:

Joan Miró Collection:


Lady Eglington’s Well:

Lucy & Jorge Orta, Woodland Spirit – Diana:

Sol LeWitt, 123454321:

Tony Cragg, Caldera:


Tony Cragg, Manipulation:

Tony Cragg, Points Of View:


Tony Cragg, Tommy:Zak Ové, Black and Blue – The Invisible Man And The Masque of Blackness:


Yorkshire Sculpture Park grounds:


Photos: Tour de Yorkshire in Gomersal

Now in its third year, the Tour de Yorkshire passed through Gomersal yesterday. I was taken aback by the number of people who were out on the streets to watch the cyclists hard at work. We had decided that being on Spen Lane would be a good place to watch as the hill there is relatively steep – it certainly is a difficult one to walk up – and we thought they would be slower, and easier for me to get some decent photos of. We were right, as you can see below.

One interesting event was a gentleman decorating the road with a spray can by writing “Welcome to Gomersal”. He didn’t seem to mind that it was a live road still, and held up the traffic a few times… in the end, a kind bus driver stopped to allow him to finish.

As we were waiting, just before the cyclists arrived, a course car pulled up and gave some detail as to what was actually going on. There was a leading group of 6 riders, with the peloton around two and a half minutes behind.Obviously, all these riders need support too

Obviously, all these riders need support too and the number of spare bicycles on top of the team cars was also amazing to see.



Using Sketchup in the classroom

EDIT: The Sketchup models mentioned in this post are downloadable below.

Over the last few days, I’ve been using Sketchup a fair bit. This all stemmed from both myself and Mrs Pitts wanting to use it with classes this next half term. We have both used it before, last year, but we both understand it a lot better now so can push forward with developing our skills a little better.

Sketchup can be downloaded from

Mrs Pitts’ next topic is the Maya and she was looking at a way to create a link between Computing and the rest of her teaching. She had considered using Minecraft to build a temple, but there are all kinds of hurdles to jump before using Minecraft at her workplace. So I suggested using Sketchup and set to work, eventually creating these items.

A completed temple, with an additional upper altar.

A completed temple, painted with textures.

Two versions of a temple – one incomplete (background)

You can see my original attempt in the background of the untextured image.

The key to anything in Sketchup is planning ahead. It requires a logical mind and an ability to visualise I think – which makes it very good to develop many skills in Computing.

I posted these on a Facebook group for teachers, and quickly got into a discussion about other ideas for using Sketchup in education. One suggestion was a part of the great wall of China, another was creating a Viking longship and, the one that grabbed me, was a volcano.

First, I laid out my model area using a circle and some extra lines around the edge.

Then I added a centre and lines going from the centre out to the edge.

At this point I added height to the central part.

Then I went wrong a little. I tried to add lines connecting the central part to the outer edges, but couldn’t get them to work… I ended up with a few triangles, but no extra faces.

Then I used the move tool to drag points from the bottom of the raised central part outwards like this.

I continued all around the bottom edges, not really paying attention to where I was putting them, using my original outer limits just as a guide. I was really just thinking of the overall effect!

Once I’d done that and was happy with it, I went back to the centre and added a few more lines to allow me to play with them.

A few more tweaks using the move tool gave me a lumpy bumpy crater that I was happy with.

Then I added some colour, making a lava effect by altering the hue of one of the water textures. It’s not an amazing model, but it’ll do.

It took about an hour overall, but I only had a vague idea of how to tackle it when I started – this is the visualisation stuff I’m talking about, I knew what I wanted, but not really how to do it. The project might be a little advanced for anyone other than Year 6s, but it is possible with a bit of patience.

Then… the comments continued. Someone asked if I thought it was possible to build an Egyptian-style pyramid with Year 3s. Now, I wouldn’t try this with any Year 3 children I’ve worked with, but it is possible.

Start with a square.

Add diagonals.

Move up the centre and be sure to constrain to the blue axis using the control key. This is the hard bit.

I thought about adding detail, using the measure tool to split the sides up into 1m intervals.

And it kind of works…

That’ll do for now!

In short, it would be a really worthwhile way of linking Computing skills with many areas of the curriculum. To help with skills, in case you haven’t used Sketchup before, Twinkl have produced a set of planning for Year 5, but it could be used with other classes. You can find those here.