Category Archives: Images and video

Paddle time

Over the last six weeks I have been taking part in a kayaking course called ‘ River to Sea’ in which have been revisiting skills I have long forgotten or never known previously. The group format with 6 students to one instructor works well with plenty of time in our two hour weekly sessions to coach individual improvements.

We have moved from the River Frome at Wareham, to Bramble Bay and Poole harbour and on Monday evening our final session will see our sea experience with a paddle from Studland bay to Old Harry Rocks.

My key draw to the course was the Old Harry Trip. Something I have avoided attempting alone as I have not been confident about my skills. Today however, that trip has been trumped after I took part in a paddle trip from Keyhaven, Hampshire across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and down to Alum bay with a view of the Needles.

Today we paddled about 10 miles,my previous best on Monday, about 4 miles on open water. Most of the journey was low key paddling wise but on the return journey I had two moments of unease: crossing the Hurst Castle tidal race where my hire kayak became swamped by a wave and later surfing a boat’s wash where I lost my balance. In both cases I retained my balance and felt a great sense of achievement.

Early on on river sessions – paddling on the river,then emergency stops.

Side draw strokes and brace turns.

Exploring in Poole harbour and learning to read Cardinal marker buoys.

A rough estimation of our second week to Pottery pier on Brownsea Island and back.

Today’s trip meant an early start:

Picked up at 6 a.m. and kayaks lined up ready to launch at Keyhaven for 9 a.m. with a great group from Imperial College, London investigating the route for their autonomous battery boat to follow.

Onto the water and along the river in Keyhaven behind Hurst Castle Spit and onto the Solent. A crossing of about one kilometre and we were along the shore of the Isle of Wight. A beach stop and we could see The Needles to the west of us.

Along the coast until we reached Alum bay. The Needles themselves would be too far for this trip, but that didn’t matter. Over half of the group went for a swim, plus lunch.

Then it was time to return, I took no photos on the return leg. A map showing our approximate route.

Many thanks to

Steve Malone of H2O adventures and Spartan paddlesports today.

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Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2019 up to drawing 1.

This is the biggest local folk festival to us, previously I have been working and we haven’t investigated it. However this year the Saturday headline act was the Afrocelt Sound System whose music I have been listening to since the 1980s from recordings by Real Music. Also we previously saw Moishe’s Bagel at an Artsreach concert in Corfe and members of the groups have been interchangeable previously.

Anne and I booked our day ticket for Saturday – luckily for us the poor weather was on Friday and we had a dry sunny day, the poor weather moved back in as soon as we got home last night.

We arrived and parked up and made our way down to the farm having collected our wristbands and a programme. A first point of gathering our bearings – there was a singing workshop in the Long barn which sounded great and a Morris dancing workshop in the Big barn. We sat, drank our first hot drink in our new bamboo reusable cups.

Long barn singing workshop

Big barn

Then we set off to explore the Market area and Fire Stage field. On the way we saw the hay bale caterpillar and various photo opportunity boards.

The second photo looks up the Purbeck Valley towards Kimmeridge with Kingston and home on the left and Corfe on the right.

We looked about the market area meeting local friends and drew on pebbles with the Milmer family. We also saw Jessamy Keily from the artisan yard. We then settled down and listened to The Fox and The Owl followed by Tashkezar, the latter more manic and resembled many tracks I have at home. While they were both playing I worked on my first sketch (drawing) of the day.

School holidays…

Oops these don’t apply to me but many friends in education have clearly been stretching themselves to reach them. For me the difference is that the boat hire shifts in Wareham are now going to be so much busier and this week a heatwave too although luckily Dorset has lower temperatures than where we lived previously.

I don’t actually have holidays as such and I don’t have a 5 day working week either. I now have my teacher pension and sometimes adjusting is confusing. I am not complaining I assure you.

A typical week at the moment sees a sensible Monday with maybe some chores or tasks in Swanage which has to include visits to friends in their shops and a cafe break at Java. The evening up until the 19th August is two hours of quite energetic kayaking with H2O adventures taking part in the River to Sea course that Steve runs. I am rediscovering skills I have forgotten or not used as my own kayak is a sit on top, or learning new skills. We are a group of six and the time spent on the Frome is proving very enjoyable.

Some examples;

Tuesdays are boat shift days and we are now firmly in the 9.30 to …6ish shift patterns. If I wake early enough I cycle to work and enjoy a swim in the river beforehand if the tide is suitable. If I am tired I drive. As I said above,we now enter the summer holidays so shifts will become busier. From the 30th kids club moves to Tuesday and I will spend 9.30 to 10.30 on the water and expect quite a lot of water fights to go on as is usual in the holidays. My energy levels after kayaking on Monday night have been lower so I will need to be careful to get as much sleep as possible.

Wednesdays vary, today I feel very tired so am resting, other weeks it may include a trip out with Anne in the morning. At the moment I am helping out by facilitating at the WarehamDepression support group on the second and fourth weeks of the month.

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays again vary and will usually include some time out with Anne. These depend on artisan yard duties and I am currently on a run of three working weekends with either extra boat shift or artisan duty.

Sundays are boat shift days again and I try to cycle where possible, usually after upto a nine hour shift I Bly cycle 5/8 miles home and then Anne picks me up, I cannot face Kingston hill yet this summer.

Visits away from Purbeck – not often but we live in such a wonderful place already.

Family reconnections

On Sunday my cousin Fiona arrived for a short visit to ours. Fiona is my only older cousin and previously we had seen each other at weddings and funerals. Also when I was working in Berkshire many years ago and attending college reunions I would pop by when driving back east. This year she has taken on a fund raising challenge for St Mungos and their work with the homeless. She and Fizz her two year old collie are aiming to walk 1000 miles.

As part of the challenge she has tackled her technophobia for a good cause and she and Fizz have a Facebook account to share their walking adventures. She had come to Dorset to explore our area and add some different miles to their record.

It has been wonderful over the last two days to get to know each other better than we have ever done before. Anne and I have had lots of time to chat with Fiona and of course to admire Fizz.

On Monday Fiona, Fizz and I tackled part of the SW coast path. The view planned would offer great views from the Isle of Wight to the east and the Isle of Portland to the west.

Yep, sea mist spoilt the view, which I still pointed what lay out there, even if we couldn’t see it. ( some of my art showed what had been missed later). A mild day and good for walking. We did an eight mile walk from ours, along the Houns Tout ridge and then down the steps to above Chapmans Pool. Fizz coped very well with both the steps and the slow humans.

Then around the valley bottom to Hill Bottom and up onto the cliff path out to St Aldhelms Point. The valley of steps led to suffering for Fiona and I, Fizz just ran back and forward between us.

We visited the chapel on the headland where Fizz took advantage of the cool stone floor to relax for a rest. Photo opportunities outside the chapel then on past the Coastwatch post and the radar memorial (WW2 site of extensive radar development work).

We explored the old quarries at Winspit and made our way eastwards. Fizz was happy to pose by some drystone walls which will provide more art pieces at a later date. We continued to Dancing Ledge and walked down to the ledge above the pool where we watched a coasteering group jumping in then regrouping.

Then a long slow slog up the hill and over at Spyway Barn to reach Langton (Matravers) and a well event drink with Anne, then fish and chips on the seafront at Swanage.

On our return home Fizz enjoyed a well deserved rest.

Tuesday saw me cycling off to work for my boat shift. Later I was visited by Anne, Fiona and Fizz. They had a walk by the river Frome where Fizz kept disappearing in the reeds apparently; they visited the Purbeck Artisan Yard and provide food for lunch which as was delayed in eating as I had a sudden rush of customers. Fizz spent some time with me while the ladies visited the town, he was very popular with customers and passers by alike. A meal out last night with Fizz resting.

Today we are going to head into Swanage this morning and meet up with Charlie before Fiona and Fizz return to Sussex. It has been great to spend time together and get to know each other so much better, shame it has taken to our 50s but there we are. We will be visiting Sussex next that’s for sure.

Skills and interests that reappear

When I was teaching especially from 2004 to 2014 I did lots of IT (school term ICT) based work both in terms of subject content taught, responsibility posts and developing ideas and presenting at Teachmeets etc.

Having grown up essentially pre PCs once I could access the technology and use it to enhance my teaching I did lots of research and tried out many ideas. This led to swapping ideas with education colleagues globally teaching a range of ages. I became a geek or nerd, not sure which. Two aspects I really took to were the use of apps to enhance teaching and the use of the tools and capabilities of Interactive whiteboards.

After leaving teaching many of my IT skills were neglected. I now use my excel skills to organise my finances and art stock. I have always had a smart phone and tablet, usually iPad so have used apps but nowhere near as much as I used to.

The slow death of the family laptop meant a new home computer was needed so I decided to buy something which would help with photographic and graphic work to use alongside my hand drawn art. My first iMac. I also wanted to be able to draw and add work onto computer apps, at first I thought this would need to be a graphics tablet like a Wacom costing hundreds of pounds. Luckily despite such items being advertised in the Apple store they weren’t stocked in the Apple shop I visited. I decided to delay the purchase as I enjoy the use of pen and paper.

Reading an Apple magazine this week it talked about a new opportunity the new iOS 13 and macOS will offer at the end of the year using something called Sidecar. Not available yet so today I did some research and found Astropad Standard that essentially allows me to draw on the iMac using my iPad as a graphics tablet in effect but for under £30 so I have invested and look forward to developing my designer and photo editing skills with both Apple devices that I have.

This will be an extra with my art and I may invest going towards 2020 in a good standard photographic printer so that I can produce work of a suitable standard to offer as part of the AndyKnillArt portfolio.

It feels positive to reuse skills I had started to develop while teaching. At the same time I would still prefer to spend the evening watching a deer or Hare graze in the garden than sit in front of a monitor for hours, so we will see how this develops.

Rigorous training starts

Since the post I just posted I have invested in a year’s coaching from an online app called “Freeletics” had looked at it a number of times when it was advertised on Facebook and Instagram.

I am walking more, I have used both my bikes already but I need to improve my fitness, size of midriff and flexibility. I used to have a great exercise ethic when I was younger where I would exercise, often to the point of addiction and keep very fit. Age has slowed that and I have widened as I like my food but the exercise drive has dwindled hence previous posts.

So I have invested in this app to get me out and exercising. In week one I have done four workouts. Each has involved warming up and cooling down exercises. I have already challenged my breathing, flexibility and core strength. I have completed a number of exercises that following instructions drives me one more than I can do for myself. I have also done two 400m runs and an 800m one.

A positive start, I am not going to publish the weekly photos of my shape until I complete my first 12 week programme.

As there is a rest day between each workout I have held off doing other activities this week but will add those in so I am out walking, cycling, kayaking etc in addition to the workouts.

Please follow my progress and see what my “stickability” is.

Changes in plans

Plans are meant to be flexible aren’t they?

So 2019 started with an old Andy habit – want to show something is happening – make a spreadsheet / logbook. I did this to show I was exercising more, Anne questioned why I needed a spreadsheet for that and to be honest she was right so that method has gone.

In January post-beach huts event I found myself fighting germs that had not been “allowed” to kick in during the event. Fitness dropped as previous posts said. I have pulled back from training at the rowing club as others are training towards the Scillies in May and are getting fitter and fitter, the gap between us kept growing so own exercise was needed.

Anne and I are doing a few more walks locally – recent examples are parking in Worth (Matravers) village car park and walking down to Winspit, exploring the old quarrying area then walking onto Seacombe on the South West Coast path and then back to the ‘Square and Compass’ for a pasty and some live music.

Pictures above show climbers and other walkers visiting Winspit.

After walks or cycle rides or even kayak trips I use ArcGIS Explorer to measure the rough distance covered, it is also good for sharing with others about routes to take.

The next walk was along ‘Houns Tout’ and as it was a calm day, we descended the steps towards’ Chapmans Pool’ then returned up the valley towards Kingston.

We have had a sunset walk along ‘Houns Tout’ and saw no one on our way to the bench at the end where we watched the waves and sun going down. We only saw one couple on the way back too.

We have just changed phone contracts and invested in Huawei P20 Pro cameras each with a Leica linked camera which hopefully will show in the quality of pictures taken.

We have also had a few walks in and around Swanage including a sunny morning sat at the end of the pier which led to some sketching time. It was good to stop and rest at the pier shelter.

The recent mild weather also inspired me to be out on my other bicycle, not the fat bike but the cyclocross one. I had seen and heard about the bike track through Rempstone forest but it was an area I had driven along the edge of but not explored. For some reason my phone app did not record the distance correctly, the map shown is from ‘Explorer’ again.

An incomplete circuit because I tried to do too much, this is not new as people who have exercised with me know only too well, but I do like to push the boundaries. So a descent down Kingston hill which I am gaining confidence on, through Corfe village and onto Norden and the road across Hartland and Middlebere. Then I left the road and took the bridleway / National cycle route 2 that cuts across to a Studland in the east. Loose sand sections would have suited the fat tyres better. Lots of stopping to unfasten and refasten gates. The scenery was great I saw a few other people out on foot and bikes. A chance to see Poole Harbour from the southern shore.

At Studland I cycled up towards the village and then took the road past the Pig at the beach hotel, and the Banks Arms, the road was busy with cars and pedestrians. I made my way out to Old Harry Rocks then cycled up until fatigue kicked in and had to walk for a while across Ballard Down. The views appeared hazy but the coastal landforms were still clear.

A picture at the triangulation pillar and then I descended some of the bridleway into Swanage, it became too steep and risky for me so I dismounted and walked. A break in Swanage and an ice cream. Then I set off for home. Langton (Matravers) hill was a slow process with many stops at the side to rest, I refused to dismount. Then once just past Burngate I realised I was wiped out, a phone call and my friendly bike taxi came and collected me.

All in all a positive difference and more exercise – enough?

See next post…

A geography teachers skills can be transferred…

See my latest art blog post for how my geographer roots help my art.

Art post

Fatbike ride 2

So I bought a secondhand Calibre Dune fatbike at the weekend. Today I had decided to go out in the day for my second ride. I had some ideas for a route but how much I did would depend on my fitness.

I live up on a ridge called Houns Tout – I descended through my local village Kingston and took the bridleway past Blashenwell Farm. A rock track where care was needed in places. The lower slope then runs onto Corfe Common and is more undulating. I cycled through the village of Corfe Castle and turned uphill under one of the bridges carrying the Swanage Heritage Railway. Soon I turned off to start the climb up onto the Purbeck Ridge (chalk). I cycled about half the slope which is probably better than I was expecting. I walked the second half until I reached the direction stone. I turned back to ride to the tumulus on East Hill above Corfe Castle. I took some photos on my phone to help with a current piece of art.

Then I cycled eastwards along the ridge. in a couple of places I had to dismount for the slope as well as opening and shutting gates.

I reached the end of the ridge above Ulwell and took a picture before descending.

Descending needed care and attention with small pebbles and rock steps aĺl passed without incident. I continued into Swanage and a refreshment stop at Java Independent Coffee House, a personal favourite.

After my Apricot and Marzipan toasted scone (yummy) and peppermint tea it was time to set off back upto Kingston. This time I would be following the southern Purbeck ridge (limestone). I started on the road then went onto “The Priests Way”. Very muddy in places and lots of gates. I worked my way up feom Swanage behind Langton Matravers and Acton and on towards Worth Matravers. Tiredness was setting in so rather than taking the hillier option from Worth that I had cycled on Sunday. I returned to the top road that runs from Langton to Kingston past several local stone businesses. In Kingston I cycled very slowly by now back up through the village and back along the Houns Tout track that passes our house.

In total 16.4 miles covered and I have rested since except for cleaning the Dune.

In 2019 I want to gradually increase the distances covered and the pace I ride at. Some rides will be more road bases and will use my trail /cross bike. An encouraging start to the year.

Reminders – positive ones

On Twitter yesterday a Depuy Head teacher that I used to correspond with about various education ideas remade contact. He commented how he had read my blog up until the point that I left social media for a while as teaching as my core thing imploded. In chatting it made me realise that now after two years I have actually moved on. I have landed very fortuitously living in a coastal area, I have the finance to support our life and when I work I can choose to do things I like.

Today, wondering how it might make me feel I scrolled down through all of my blog posts on here back to 2011 and revisited my 365 photo blog that I started blogging with on a platform called Posterous. Then I imported the content into WordPress and Mishmashlearning was born out of my first experience presenting to education peers at a Teachmeet in Feb. 2012. This caused some reflection on how much went on and changed between 2012 and 2016 for me to leave teaching all together. I wasn’t getting upset which is a relatively new feeling, teaching is over.

I read on through 2012 and the amount of initiatives I was aware of and trying to bring into school while discussing ideas with professionals I admired online and in several cases met at education events in the next four years. I still feel passionate about Solo Taxonomy although I resist applying it to everything I do now, I just know that my enjoyment of learning new skills and ideas has transferred into my boat work and art.

So many thanks Dan B. for a prompt.