Free online distance learning courses

8 02 2013
Back and already hard at work!

Back and already hard at work! (Photo credit: clemsonunivlibrary)

I recently came across the Coursera website and was amazed at the quality of the resources available for free.  Through this site you can enrol on free online distance learning courses on a massive range of topics from some of the top universities from all over the world.


Only one of the courses on which I have enrolled  has started so far, but the quality is really impressive.  Aside from the excellent learning resources, the tutors are regularly on hand to answer questions and the course community as a whole is very active in both the discussion forums and the course wiki.


As I have said, there is a really wide range of topics, including computer programming, equine nutrition, aboriginal world views, academic writing, maths, history, economics and business management.  Participating institutions include the University of Edinburgh, University of California, Stanford University, University of Toronto, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Princeton University, to name but a few.


It’s all free and definitely worth a look!


“May Not Be Love” – The Beautiful Word

8 02 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve shared an update from The Beautiful Word.

At noon today they released this rather jolly stop-motion video they made. ‘May Not Be Love’ is a track from a 10 track album they are hoping to release this year, produced by Julian Tardo.

If you enjoyed this, the good news is that they will be on tour from 1 April this year. The dates and venues are still to be confirmed, so bookmark their website, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to them on YouTube and do whatever you do with people on MySpace and Soundcloud – don’t miss out!

While you’re waiting, why not check out some of their other tracks?

Joyce Grenfell and gentle humour

31 10 2012

This morning I woke up with Joyce Grenfell’s “Old Tyme Dancing” stuck in my head and it’s been on “one long whirl” in there ever since. It’s a great song for cycling up hills – the rhythm is just right!

We didn’t grow up with pop music. The closest we had was one tape of The Pogues’ greatest hits and a couple of Seekers and Boney M tracks that were on the end of a tape my grandparents made me.

We had Geordie folk music, children’s songs (mainly those to be found in Alice B Gomme’s Traditional Games), audio books and Joyce Grenfell. I was 12 or 13 when I started listening to local radio and bought my first Now… cassettes.

I’m glad. While I do enjoy pop (in fairly loose terms) in the car every now and again and am easily caught up in the catchy tunes, I soon become infuriated by the lyrics (why so much about partying and dancing on tables?  The last time I remember dancing on a table was at a friend’s fourth birthday and we were swiftly reminded we weren’t babies and made to get down).

I miss the likes of Joyce. Her songs and monologues are so well-observed and the humour is gentle. While smiling at the plights of the long-suffering nursery school teacher and Mrs Fanshaw and Mrs Tiverton, you also feel solidarity with and sympathy for them.

Book Review: Shepherd’s Prayer by Katja Willemsen

20 10 2012

I have recently read Shepherd’s Prayer, a Kindle eBook by Katja Willemsen. I reviewed it on Amazon but thought I’d post it here too.

From reading the synopsis, I was under the impression that this would be a thrill-a-minute, somewhat sensationalist adventure and not really my kind of book. From the outset it was clear I was wrong.

While it is fairly fast-paced, there were so many opportunities for the author to take the easy way out with the obvious “the lights came on, the police rushed in and we all went home for tea” ending, which never came. The characters are completely plausible and very well-developed and, while the story is exciting and has you wanting to keep on turning those ‘pages’, some important themes are addressed in an accessible way.

It’s a very interesting combination of adventure and a bit more. It punches well above the weight one might expect from the synopsis, in terms of depth, characters, plot and style. Definitely worth a read.

LAUNCH EVENT: Angela Campbell-Souter: The Private Hire Cook

20 09 2012

Please take the time to look at – 15% off all first-time orders

Angela has been cooking and entertaining for over 25 years and offers a wide range of services, including:

  • Private Dinner Parties
  • Lucheons
  • High Teas
  • Canapes
  • Shooting Party Lunches
  • Themed Banquets (world foods)
  • Picnic Hampers
  • Champagne Breakfasts and Lunches
  • Special Occasion Catering
  • Buffets
  • Consultancy and Advice

Angela is hosting a Launch Party on Friday 21st September, 5-7pm in the Barley Hall, York, to introduce herself and business to you.

Call by, gather some information and try a sample of canapes and a free glass of Prosecco.



8 07 2012

Another angry woman

National stereotypes of Sweden tend to involve pop music, loud jumpers, sexual liberation and a fairly good grasp of feminism and gender politics. Julian Assange labelled Sweden the “Saudi Arabia of feminism”, presumably due to their desire to ask him some tricky questions about the rapes he probably perpetrated.

A vital part of good gender politics is taking rape seriously. Rape is a frighteningly common occurrence, and is typically gendered. These issues must be dealt with sensitively. A few stories have come to my attention which suggest that Sweden is not doing very well at this at all. Trigger warnings apply for the remainder of this post, and any links.

In one case, a cis male perpetrator was acquitted for attempted rape because his survivor was a trans woman. The survivor had not had SRS, and did not have a vagina. The court ruled that because the perpetrator had…

View original post 393 more words

11 Facts About Women You May Have Forgotten

3 07 2012

It may seem that I am stating the obvious here, but judging by things I’ve heard recently a reminder may be in order.

Whether it’s Chris Evans saying that women are much better at making beds than men or a woman’s voice suddenly rising above the murmur on the bus, saying “well duuuh, all women love shoes”, everyone seems to have an opinion on what women are like.

Something I feel sums up society’s view of women is the range and positioning of women’s magazines in the supermarket. Generally the women’s magazines that are placed at the front, at eye level insinuate that women should be interested in: men, fashion, make-up, hair, dieting, weddings, babies, celebrities, keeping house etc. Magazines that deviate from these norms, eg Diva are placed on the top shelf at the back, somewhere on the border between the “Women’s” and “Angling” sections.

So, without further ado, here are a few things you may have forgotten about women:

Continued on the Huffington Post.

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