Chester Food and Drink Festival 2014…………just not very good!


I have visited the Chester food and drink festival for five of the last seven years and have always found it very enjoyable and a worthwhile trip.

This year I was extremely disappointed with the event for a number of reasons:-

  1. There seemed to be a real lack of atmosphere at the event and very little enthusiasm from those promoting their goods (The Saddleworth Cheese Company and The Gift of Oil being exceptions)
  2. My perception was that there were considerably fewer exhibitors this year, some had even doubled up and had stalls at different parts of the exhibition
  3. There was a “much of a muchness” amongst the exhibitors, can’t say that I am a big fan of cupcakes!
  4. Many of the stall were given over to “fast food” most of which did not look particularly appealing (and I have a very broad taste in food from all over the world)

It may well be that as the festival has grown in recent years that costs have increased and this may have put off some possible exhibitors, or possibly that the organisers miscalculated, hiked prices and the reaction has been that many exhibitors simply made an economic decision not to attend.

Possibly the organisers have become blasé and simply expect that exhibitors will be falling over themselves to attend?

I thought back to the York Food Festival which I attended several months ago and there is simply no comparison, and a small town like Huddersfield can put on a food festival with tremendous atmosphere and almost as many exhibitors as Chester. What is more interesting is that there was no charge for attending these festivals whereas Chester charge £8.00 (with concessions) for entry.

I doubt I will be attending next year………………….



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Another Glorious Day at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park


View Looking Back to Bretton Hall

It was another glorious sunny morning and feeling fit and energetic I decided to go to possible my favourite place to visit, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I arrived about 9.45, parked my car in the village of West Bretton and walked down the lovely lane leading to the park, taking in some spectacular views of the Emley TV mast several miles away.


Well, the cheek of it………………..

I timed my arrival at the park perfectly and called into the coffee shop where I felt obliged to buy a piece of Bakewell Tart cake to go with my cappuccino (well I was planning quite a hike around the park). Twenty minutes later I set off on my walk in the direction of the lake and encountered some new sculptures in the park. This is one of the beauties of the sculpture park in that you never know from one visit to the next what you will encounter at the next turn or in the middle of some bushes.


Do you think this moisteurising cream is a bit on the heavy side………….”

I also encountered a Robin, which was not in the least disturbed by my presence and even flew closer to me so that I could get some photographs. Apparently, the birds in the park are used to people and will fly into an open hand if it contains food (so I was reliably told).


OK here is the deal, I pose nicely and you give me the food……………..

I stopped to take photographs along the way, as this is a place I never get tired of photographing, every visit offers you something different in terms of the colours and shades of the flora and fauna. Spring has come early this year so the trees are already in bud, the daffodils are a little past their best but the blossom has appeared on a number of trees and some wonderful looking “catkins” have appeared on the willow trees.


But dad, I said a little rocking horse not a bloody Trojan Horse……………..!

As I made my way along the far side of the lake I came across a couple who, I initially though were fishing but as I came up to them I could see they both had cameras (very good ones) with enormous telephoto lenses. I stopped to chat and found that they were both very keen photographers and specialised in photographing birds in flight.


Noisy Herons and Canada Geese……………

This explained their position, which was opposite the “heronry” on the little island in the centre of the lake. They were capturing the birds as they took off and came into land. The herons are breeding at present and there is a lot of noise and fights over territory and this is exacerbated by the presence of Canada Geese, which seems to go berserk at the slightest thing.


I think it’s an Henry Moore or possibly a piece of junk left in the field…………….

I made my way around the lake, came across a pigeon that was doing a bit of modeling then climbed back up the hill towards the central building containing coffee bars, a restaurant and shops. After a brief respite for another cappuccino taken on the upper veranda of the centre (with excellent views) I visited the shop and purchased several items (book for grandson, tile and card) then set off back to the car.


I said walk this way………………

I had been there just under three hours and by now the park was becoming very busy. Lots of families who had come for the day, often with picnics, and where there is plenty of space for young children to play safely.


A nice cup of “char” and a “fat rascal”………what more could a man ask for?

Photographs © Kindadukish 2014



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And we wonder why there is no Middle East peace process………………….

A professor who took a group of Palestinian students to Auschwitz has been disowned by his university and branded a ‘traitor’ by those in his community. Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian students from Al-Quds University to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in March.


The trip was part of a joint venture focusing on conflict resolution between the university and two others. However, when the professor and the group returned, the university distanced itself from the trip – saying professor Dajani and the students ‘acted in their personal capacity and were not representatives of the university.’

According to the Washington Post, Professor Dajani was also reportedly called a ‘traitor’ by some members of his community, while some of his friends advised him to go on holiday until the controversy died down. The professor, who believes the group may have first Palestinians students to visit Auschwitz, has since said he doesn’t regret the trip – and he would return if given the opportunity.
Writing on Facebook, he said: “My response to all this tirade is that my duty as a teacher is to teach, to have my students explore the unexplored, to open new horizons for my students, to guide my students out of the cave of perceptions and misperceptions to see the facts and the reality on the ground. I will go to the university, I will put my photos of the visit on Facebook, and I do not regret for one second what I did.”


“As a matter of fact, I will do it again if given the opportunity. I will not hide, I will not deny. I will not be silent. I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of the suffering I show empathy for are my perpetrators and my occupiers.”

The trip to the concentration camp, pictured, was part of a joint venture between three universities. It was designed to teach students about empathy and conflict resolution

The trip to the concentration camp  was part of a joint venture between three universities. It was designed to teach students about empathy and conflict resolution ‘The aim is not to get any one’s approval but to do the right thing.’
A student who went on the trip told ‘Most people said we shouldn’t go. It is a strange thing for a Palestinian to go to a Nazi death camp. But I would recommend the trip.’

The controversy came as the Obama administration attempted to move towards a peace deal with the Middle East.
The trip was part of a research project called ‘Heart of Flesh — Not Stone’. It was reportedly paid for by the German Research Foundation and run by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
According to the project’s Facebook page: ‘The project analyses individuals and groups experiencing the “suffering of the other” as a means for understanding how and why groups may become more or less open to reconciliation.’

The professor retains the trip was in his student’s best interests – and says he would return if given the chance. His critics say he was attempting to brainwash the pupils, reports suggest. A Palestinian newspaper al-Quds wrote a piece about the trip – which was reportedly pulled down following a heated discussion in the comments section of the piece. According to reports, one reader said the trip was not freedom of expression – but treason.

TV analysts and newspaper columnists also spoke against the trip, while others claimed the professor was attempting to brainwash his students. 

Auschwitz was a network of concentration and extermination camps built during World War II. It was operated by the Third Reich.The network consisted of original camp Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Auschwitz III–Monowitz and a further 45 satellite camps.


I despair when I read articles like this and it explains clearly why little or no progress has been made in the middle east peace process. It would seem those followers of Islam in the Palestinian territories are seemingly unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that 6 million Jews were exterminated during the second world war.

This may of course have something to do with the Grand Mufti being an arch supporter of Hitlers genocidal policy towards the Jews. And the fact that Hezbollah has it enshrined in its policy that “Israel has no right to exist.”

Having visited Auschwitz – Birkenau myself I could only stand and stare at the enormity of the industrial style process of mass killing and ponder the question “why?”………………..and yet there are those who still deny that it happened!



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Apocalyptic Skies over West Yorkshire…………..

After what was a beautiful day, the skies over West Yorkshire suddenly took on an eerie atmosphere yesterday afternoon. As the clouds formed and seemed to hang very low over the Colne Valley it just reminded me of the scene in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” when the clouds darken then part to reveal the “mother ship”………..anyway, I leave you to judge.



Photographs © Kindadukish

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Graduates hit in the pocket………………….

Sharp decline in graduate starting salaries, research shows

The average graduate starting salary has dropped 11 per cent over a five-year period to 2012 despite the huge rise in tuition fees, according to research by The Complete University Guide.

Average entry-level earnings fell from £24,293 to £21,702 in real terms between 2007 and 2012, the data revealed.


Dentistry continues to be the highest paid graduate occupation, but that also saw a decrease of 9 per cent to an average of £30,681 for a beginner’s salary.

The latest research, based on returns to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) over a five-year period, shows that the drop in starting salaries for graduate-type jobs is accelerating. The previous survey, for the period between 2005 and 2010, showed a 4 per cent pay decline.

Only two-degree subjects recorded an increase in graduate starting salary between 2007 and 2012: materials technology (up 13 per cent) and librarianship and information management (up 3 per cent).

In contrast, the median starting salaries for many of the most sought after degrees have seen a sharp decline since the economic downturn, including law (17 per cent) and medicine (15 per cent).

This is a concern for students, said Dr Bernard Kingston, author of, because they look at the earning potential of different occupations when choosing what to study at university.


“While financial returns should not be the only consideration, they are becoming more important, whether we like it or not,” he said.

The survey results raise questions about the value of spending up to £9,000 a year on a degree, as the average graduate premium – the difference between starting salaries in graduate-type and other employment – remained relatively low at £6,717.

Having a degree in construction related subjects seemed to be most valuable, as the average graduate working in the building sector recorded an £7,174 advantage over a fellow student entering non-graduate work. This is a 77 per cent rise on the graduate premium in 2010.

Pay for social policy and civil engineering graduate entry posts showed the greatest increase in the difference between graduate and non-graduate starting salaries, which rose to 32 and 30 per cent respectively.

Charles Cotton, pensions and reward adviser at the CIPD, said students shouldn’t be deterred from going to university based on these results.

“It’s not just graduates who have seen a decline in wages since the recession and in fact the average starting salary for workers across the UK is around £21,500, so today’s results compare quite favourably,” he said.

He suggested that as there remains a skills shortage in today’s labour market, students are becoming more conscious of the types of skills employers want, and the types of skills that will help them land a job after university.

Engineering, manufacturing and language skills are the most sought after among UK employers, Cotton said.

There has been some positive news on pay today with forecasts from professional services company EY predicting that average salaries for all UK employees were likely to rise by more than inflation this month for the first time in almost six years.

Source: CIPD

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Bingley 5 Rise Locks…………”a grand day out”

As it was such a lovely day I decided to have a day out with my camera and indulge my interest in the canals of this sceptered isle. One place I had heard so much about was the 5 Rise Locks at Bingley in West Yorkshire so off I set under blue skies and camera at the ready.


The five-rise is the steepest flight of locks in the UK, with a gradient of about 1:5 (a rise of 59ft 2in (18.03 m) over a distance of 320ft (98 m)) – we still use “old money” when measuring, none of this fancy meters and centimeters.


The intermediate and bottom gates are the tallest in the country. Because of the complications of working a staircase lock, and because so many boaters (both first-time hirers and new owners) are inexperienced, a full-time lock keeper is employed, and the locks are padlocked out of hours.


The Locks also have an overflow waterfall at the side, which water runs down when the lock is not open. When descending boat enters each lock chamber, the water level rises slightly and the excess overflows via a channel at the side of each lock, which runs into the main overflow.


The five-rise opened on 21 March 1774 and was a major feat of engineering at the time. When the locks and therefore the canal from Gargrave to Thackleywas opened in 1774 a crowd of 30,000 people turned out to celebrate. The first boat to use the locks took just 28 minutes. The smaller but no less impressive Bingley Three – Rise opened at the same time just a few hundred yards downstream.

It was still quite early when I arrived so headed for the little café at the side of the canal for the obligatory cappuccino and toasted teacake.


Then wander along the canal side to take in the view of this magnificent piece of civil engineering. Blood, sweat and tears must have gone into the construction of the locks and when you stand at the bottom of the 5 Rise and look up, the enormity of the job hits you and takes your breath away (real Yorkshire grit was needed to build these!)


After a while a couple of barges appeared and prepared to descend the 5 locks with the help of the lock-keeper and his volunteer assistant. Of course the kids watching wanted to be involved so helped with pushing the huge wooden lock gate arms as the water had been drained off.


It was quite a spectacle to watch these two huge barges descend side by side into each lock (I wonder who came up with the actual water drainage system?) then slowly move forward to the next one.


What did surprise me was how quickly they move through the locks from top to bottom. It was a wonderful site to see and many people who had come to view the locks were fortunate to time it so that they could see a barge travelling through them.


If you want a “grand day out” then I recommend a visit to the locks and also take in a stroll along the canal side to Saltaire, another excellent industrial heritage site (take about 30 minutes to walk).



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“Grunting” teens need school help, says head teacher………………..

Schools should do more to ensure teenagers are not “grunting and monosyllabic” so they can succeed in life, a former aide to Tony Blair says. Peter Hyman, now a head teacher, told the TES it was a moral issue that young people be taught to speak eloquently. He also criticised the government’s decision to downgrade speaking and listening in GCSE English. The government said it wanted all pupils to be able to speak in public, make presentations and debate.

It added that its English curriculum in primary and secondary schools places a far greater emphasis on the spoken word. But changes to GCSE English means there are no longer any marks awarded in the final exam for speaking and listening.

Mr Hyman is a former speech-writer for Tony Blair who now runs School 21 – a free school in Newham, east London. He told the Times Educational Supplement that speaking and listening was an “undervalued area of literacy”. Instead, the spoken word should be “built into the DNA of the school”, he said. “Speaking eloquently is a moral issue because to find your voice both literally and metaphorically and be able to communicate your ideas and your passions is crucial to how they are going to be a success in the world,” he said. “If you can speak and articulate yourself properly that will happen.

“But it’s also the number-one issue that employers put in all their surveys: they want good oral communication. “We’ve got to dispel the myth of the grunting teenager, the monosyllabic teenager that make employers say, ‘I’ve got this person who I know on paper is quite good, but they can’t string a sentence together.’”

Despite its importance, Mr Hyman said the general trend was moving further away from encouraging pupils to develop their speaking and communication skills. The Department for Education said in a statement: “The primary curriculum is clear that all teachers should develop their pupils’ vocabulary and provide extra support where necessary. Speaking also plays a vital role in all other subjects, including maths and science.

“In addition, we have given all schools the freedom to set the length of the school day, with many already using these freedoms to run extra-curricular activities, such as debating competitions.” It added that in primary school, children were expected, to be able to listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers, ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge and articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions.

Source:Article on BBC Education Website


Having conducted a series of mock interviews with university students in recent months I echo the sentiment in the article. Many of the undergraduates were unable to string a coherent set of sentences together and their vocabulary was poor. It does of course beg the question “how are they getting through their degree courses with such poor English?”

It was noticeable that the students who performed best were from Eastern Europe (Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania) which is a very sad reflection of the education system in the UK.

However, it was not just in interviews that poor English was displayed. I have run workshops with students who seemed unable to put together a meaningful series of sentences, yet when I teach in Lithuania at Vilnius University the students have a very good command of spoken and written English (all my teaching is done in English, at their request) and conduct themselves in a much more professional way than a lot of English students.

I accept I am making generalisations but the comments that come from many employers about students lacking “social skills” seem to back up my comments. 


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