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.



What is it like at Aysgarth Falls in April?

Aysgarth Falls is a collection of 3 main waterfalls, known as – perhaps unsurprisingly – the upper, middle and lower falls which cover around a mile of the River Ure in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales. The weather hasn’t been particularly wet recently, leading to steadily flowing, relatively clear water, cascading over the limestone steps.

It is, quite simply, a gorgeous place, which looks like this:

What happened in the 2017 Australian Grand Prix?

The long wait for the 2017 Formula One Season to begin ended at the end of March. A new era of regulations creating more aggressive looking cars with wider tyres and revised rear wings had generated a lot of interest over the winter break. The takeover by Liberty Media had also seen huge advances in social media presence since the end of 2016 too.
However, the opening race of this much-hyped new era didn’t really live up to expectations at all, and the answer to the question above is, not that much at all really. The faster cars produced Melbourne’s shortest ever race (true, it was only just over 4 seconds quicker than the previous shortest race, and it was shortened by one lap after an aborted first start…) but only the third fastest in terms of average speed – both the 2004 and 2007 races were completed at higher speeds.
Lewis Hamilton started the Australian Grand Prix from pole position for the sixth time, tying Ayrton Senna’s record. It was also his and Mercedes fourth in a row at this track. At the start of the race, Hamilton led with Sebastian Vettel putting him under pressure from the outset, gradually slipping back but always keeping the gap reasonably close.
Also new for 2017 are more durable tyres. This allowed drivers to push harder for longer – contributing to the brisk pace spoken about above – and lap times generally came down with every lap as fuel was burnt rather than increasing as in recent years. Some signs of overheating began for Hamilton around lap 12/13, when he began to complain of grip troubles. His lap times showed his problems but we never really saw them drop like a stone – the cliff edge drop off – that we are used to either. Hamilton and Mercedes therefore changed tyres earlier than they had planned, allowing the Ferrari of Vettel to pound around, pit and come out in front of Hamilton. When Hamilton rejoined, it was behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and he lost a chunk of time. This really gave the race to Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas, in his Mercedes debut, came through to third having a steady, if unspectacular, race. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth having lost lots of time in his first stint. Max Verstappen finished in fifth in the end.
Force India’s Sergio Perez had pulled off a seemingly rare overtaking move to claim seventh from Carlos Sainz Jnr. Daniil Kyvat finished ninth, having run briefly in sixth after a long first stint, gifting that place to the returning Felipe Massa.
Esetban Ocon grabbed the final point, although McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had looked to be on course for that for a long time, some damage forcing him to retire before the end of the race.
However, Vettel came through to win for Ferrari, raising the prospect of a much closer championship fight this year than in recent seasons. This was only the ninth time Mercedes have been defeated in the 60 races since the V6 hybrid turbo engine formula was introduced, and the first time anyone other than them or one of their drivers has led the constructors or drivers championships for almost three years. The victory was Vettel’s 43rd and Ferrari’s show of strength went further with Kimi Raikkonen claiming his 44th (only Michael Schumacher has more – 77).