My experiences of doing GNVQ ICT and why I never took up studying computer science

I never learned any form of programming or web code whilst studying for an intermediate GNVQ in ICT at Richard Lander. While there were units available, the head of ICT wouldn't teach them even though people wanted to learn about it.

Hover over image for translation.

This time ten years ago, I would have been part way through my second year of studying for an intermediate GNVQ in ICT as part of my overall GCSE studies at Richard Lander School in Cornwall. As part of the first year group of the school to undertake the ICT GNVQ, maybe we were guinea pigs. Despite gaining a Distinction in the subject, I didn’t go on to study anything to do with ICT or computing when I went on to Further Education. Continue reading


Frozen Memories


A tear threatened to escape whilst I went about looking for some Quorn mince to put in the veggie chilli I was cooking yesterday evening. All because of that bag of frozen runner beans you see here.

These are probably the last runner beans that my late Great Uncle Geoffrey grew in Grandad Joe’s back garden. This month it’s three years since Uncle Geoffrey died. Later this year it will be five years since Grandad died.

Even though Grandad was in a care home for several years before he passed away, Uncle Geoffrey would visit Grandad in the home. He’d also visit Gran  (who I now care for) at my grandparents’ house and, at the same time, care for the greenhouse and vegetable patch that his brother had cared for in better times of health.

Grandad had, for much of his life, been a market gardener. He’d also kept pigs for meat to sell. The pigs, I think, are what sent him to the pit of manic depression that he would continually battle (along with cancer) until the end of his days. It wasn’t the pigs themselves that caused the break but, I am led to understand, having a whole shed of them slaughtered when they caught some disease.

Out of his brothers I have had the chance to know, I suspect that Geoffrey was the only one who ever fully understood Grandad. And he’d been a mechanic most of his life.

The gardening Grandad did, (once my Grandparents moved from their small holding they had lived in for roughly 40 years), was to keep him occupied and happy. He even entered some of his produce in local summer fetes and sometimes won best in category.

I think Geoffrey kept the garden to keep his brother happy, whether alive, manic or dead. And to say “Hello” to Gran.

Geoffrey would bring his dog Ben, and later Duke, to keep Gran and him company as he laboured in the garden from late spring to late summer. Gran would bring out mugs of tea for Geoffrey, rich tea biscuits for the dog.

The tomatoes from the greenhouse were something I never cared for (I have a long running dislike of raw tomatoes). But those runner beans…

Steamed and served with a small knob of butter with them on the plate to accompany the meat and two veg meals that Gran is fond of – better than anything bought in a supermarket.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw the beans out. They’re all I have left in this world of an Uncle that I wish I’d had the chance to know better.

Such is the fate of those born to “older” families.

Sleep Problems

I just want some shut eye

I have had a certain way of doing things since school. See, I can’t leave a job undone. So homework and reading was pretty much always done on time during school and college, and the same thing happened at university.

However, this is now perhaps becoming an issue as I continue through the world of work. I really can’t handle knowing my tasks for the day the day before I’m set to start work on them. My mind keeps returning to dwell on them. Even when I try to sleep. And I’ve mostly found myself dozing during the night, too wired to settle down and that’s with intaking hardly any caffeine during the day. I’ve tried not knowing the specifics of the tasks, but knowing that there will be work to do just kicks off the lack of sleep too.

Oh, and now my main client wants a run down of my day’s following tasks, the day before I’m due to tackle them, starting from today. How am I going to tackle this?

Exercise may be the answer, but until the weather gets better and the hours of daylight longer, I am unable to go out on my bike and terrorize the local motorists. Just Dance 2 is currently out of the question as it really needs more room than I have in my living room at the moment.

I sleep fine on the nights of my days off. I even have a winding down procedure, which does work and I use it every work night and nights off. It includes no caffeine after 6pm, no food after 8pm and being in bed by 11.30pm and reading a book until I feel tired,which doesn’t take very long and I drift off near instantly after putting the book down. Yet three hours later I’m awake and start going through this crappy dozing version of sleep.

I am fed-up with not sleeping properly. Suggestions welcome.

Tribute to Dick King-Smith

My own copy of The Fox Busters is currently in posession of my little brother

I was saddened to learn of Dick King-Smith’s passing this week. The famous children’s author was partly responsible for a great many of the novels that I read in primary school; often I read his books whilst shunning the set reading books, because the quality of writing and imagination to be found in the Sophie books or The Queen’s Nose was far superior to anything that was ever presented in the crap that I was expected to read.

I have also never read The Sheep-Pig. I think the popularity of the film Babe ruined it for me when I was in school.

(Note: I got away with not reading set reading books from about part way through Year 4. Was I a teacher’s pet? Probably, as the only teacher that ever complained about what I read was not responsible for teaching me.)

It was the Sophie books that I first gained an interest in, and I ended up reading most of them. I read The Queen’s Nose before I left primary school. The Fox Busters, as pictured above and Dick King-Smith’s first novel, I have a strange relationship with.

See, back in Year 5 I wanted to order the new version of The Diary of a Young Girl (a.k.a. The Diary of Anne Frank) from the Puffin Book Club. Sadly, my teacher’s pet status didn’t extend to book orders and supposedly 9 years old was a little too young to be reading the diary of a holocaust victim. This is despite being told some pretty horrific stuff by two of my Grandparents, by that point, about the Second World War and I was pretty well aware of the holocaust and Nazis (and is probably why I have this recurring dream now that I’m an adult).

So, instead of Anne Frank’s diary, I ended up with a copy The Fox Busters. Now if you know how the story of this fantastic children’s novel goes, perhaps you can see right now a certain irony at work. It also shows how dim primary school teachers can be, as they were incapable of seeing the similarities between the two books and that they had swapped one genocide for another. I didn’t see the similarities until I was 10 and was finally allowed to order a copy of the diary through Puffin Book Club and read it through.

And that is why I have a strange relationship with The Fox Busters. It’s also one of the reasons, now that I am an adult, that I have a huge respect for the works of the late Dick King-Smith, who brought big ideas to little kids.

I Can’t Believe I Own…

Circa 2003

An album by The Rasmus. Seriously. I was checking through my albums on Windows Media Player, and there it was – lurking. I thought to myself, “Bloody hell, I haven’t listened all the way through that since I was 17!”

So I decided to stick the damn thing on. And Google them of course. I hadn’t realised that the band originally formed in 1994 and are Finnish. It must have been something about the way they were marketed in the UK in 2003, but back then it was like the press and PR were interested in presenting them as some kind of teen band, composed of teenaged musicians. Sure I was a teen and bought the album, but the band members were more than five years older than me.

Mind you, Lauri Ylönen (guy on vocals) has quite a high sounding voice on the album Dead Letters*. Something I don’t normally like in male singers. And yet…

There's something in his voice...

This album has got some powerful guitar playing going on, and actually Lauri’s voice is pretty enchanting. Screw pretty, it’s verging on sexy.

It’s at this point I need to remember that I have a fiancé who loves me very much. I think reading Tiny Temper’s blog is having a negative effect on me… yeah, it’s all her fault. (And not my wandering ears.)

*The song most people remember from the album is In the Shadows, which did pretty alright in the UK charts at the time of its release.