Raising Children in a Digital Age described as ‘thoroughly researched’ by @FosterCareCoOp

Really appreciated this review of Raising Children in a Digital Age, by Lynn Findlay, which you can read fully on The Foster Care Co-Operative Blog:



#EmptyShelf 2016 #8: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (via @TansyJTweets)

harold-fryThanks Tansy for buying this for my birthday last year … get me reading it before the next birthday has rolled around ūüôā Another book that may have taken me into another early morning read on the second night of reading!!

Harold Fry, retired but 6 months, receives a letter from a friend (who he hasn’t seen for 20 years, and who he feels he has wronged) who is dying from cancer. He decides to reply, heads out to post the letter in his yachting shoes, a cheap coat, wallet in back pocket – walks past one postbox, then another, then another – then unexpectedly decides to walk from South Devon, to Berwick-upon-Tweed – truly “I would walk 500 miles” come to life! I turned down the pages in a couple of places for you to enjoy:

He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others. As a passer-by he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk and he was free to listen. To carry a little of them as he went. He had neglected so many things, that he owed this small piece of generosity to Queenie and the past. (p107)

[Harold’s story was featured in a local newspaper – on a slack news day] It was then reported in one or two of the nationals, and suddenly no one could get enough. Harold’s walk became the theme of¬†Thought for the Day on Radio 4, and spawned leading articles about the nature of modern pilgrimage, quintessential England, and the pluck of the Saga generation. People talked about it in shops, playgrounds, parks, pubs, parties and offices. The story had caught the imagination… (p236 – this reminded me of Sheridan and DJ’s Lindisfarne pilgrimage).

[So many people have died] They were part of the air he walked through, just as all the travellers he met were part of it. He saw that people would make the decisions they wished to make, and some would hurt both themselves and those who loved them, and some would pass unnoticed, while others would bring joy. (p354)

And yes, I was continuously thinking of Forrest Gump as I read this!


#EmptyShelf 2016 #4: The Perfect Sinner by Will Davenport

Sdavenporto, it’s full on into a new term, so light-weight fiction is generally what I’m looking forward to at the end of the day to send me off to sleep… although I seem to keep picking ones that I want to know¬†so much more about.

The Perfect Sinner¬†was a slow starter for me .. it starts with Sir Guy de Bryan (one of the First Knights of the Garter) watching his Chantry being built as he tries to compensate for the mistakes that he feels he has made in his past – including at the Battle of Crecy (1346), before being sent off on ‘the King’s duties’ – across the Alps – in winter – to take a message to Italy (our travels today = SO much easier and less dangerous!) – accompanied by a squire who turns out to be Geoffrey Chaucer … so some of the names from¬†The Knight’s Tale¬†will be familiar!

The book then winds in and out – backwards and forwards through Guy de Bryan’s timeline in history as he tells various people his story, but also the story of Beth Battock, who – at the heart of a political scandal disappears to her family home of Slapton¬†in the hope that she can escape the publicity. This happens to be the village where the Chantry was built – although there’s not much of it left now except ruins – and we see how the stories start to run together … with political intrigue, gallantry, and romance woven through the two stories.

I’ve always been interested in historical novels – especially those that are based on acres of historical research (faction, if you will) – I’m a big fan of Georgette Heyer, who was known for her detailed historical research into the Regency era (work she’s best known for, although she viewed these only as a way to make money, rather than a joy to write!) – but this era in history is a little outside of my expertise (and my interest, to be honest), but it was well-written, well-paced – and that’s what truly wins – a good story!


New Job, New Achievements

Sometimes life just gets so busy, so crazily involved, that I forget what I’ve achieved – if Marcus Buckingham is to be believed – this is¬†not a good thing for me – plus this might save me time for my PDR in future!

At the end of August 2015, I finished with CODEC at the University of Durham, sold my house Рhaving decluttered severely, and moved on to a new post as Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, so what have I achieved in the last 4-5 months?

  • Taught on four modules that are new to me, including taking¬†over unit leadership for one – which I’ve got lots of ideas for – and if you could fill in this brief questionnaire = much appreciated, with the accompanying reading/preparation, learning new software/processes, team-meetings, lectures/seminars, marking, and much (e)paperwork… and sitting in on a number of other people’s lectures to ensure consistency! Given a guest lecture to Events Management students.
  • Taken responsibility for Level 5 students – staff/student liaison meetings happening – including being a contact for pastoral support for a number of them, and the joyous task of chasing up any poor attenders¬†– firm but fair does it!
  • My department has around 50 academic staff alone, as well as many other staff, and I feel that I’ve got to know many of them already – very friendly, supportive, lots of give and take.
  • Few more bits of press … over the last year have been approached by both¬†This Morning and¬†NewsNight, but as happens with these things, they reach out to several – so you might/might not actually end up on the media … take it lightly!
  • Learning to use Slack and Trello for team-teaching, as well as the more traditional Dropbox¬†and Google Docs, etc. Whatsapp, email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can all come into play for team comms too! Todoist and Toggl continue to be helpful, with Wakelet replacing Bundlr for link saving.
  • Joined an online book club to discuss digital/tech, etc. – now I know what books I own.
  • Been to a number of short events about: LinkedIn, Creative Manchester, Mentors Meetup, eExpenses, introduction to unit leadership, intro to MMU classrooms, Grow with Hubspot, putting a resource list on Moodle, engaging with education for sustainable development, 2 x Apologetics Without Apology lectures with Elaine Graham, Being B2B, Tools and Trends on the Horizon, and Outsmart – the new Out-of-Home organisation. I have my intro to MMU 20/1!
  • Been to a number of networking¬†events, including #TDCMcr, #SASCon, Manchester Digital and Twitfaced socials, and spoken to 200+ at Premier Digital 2015¬†– for which I shortlisted some awards.
  • Met with a number of suggested research or industry contacts: Dave Day, Alison Goodrum, Alice Kettle, Rosie Shirley, Rosie Dawson, Marie Page, Jim Aulich, Steve¬†Kuncewicz, Peter Cobley, Karen Radcliffe, and had various chats about future research directions within team (and plenty of thoughts firing off in my own head which trying to capture!)¬†Meetings with MMU’s Creative Industries Knowledge Cluster, Visual Culture Working Group, NW Digital Leaders.
  • Possible Book Cover?Working on the conversion of PhD to book has involved further work on the book proposal, sorting out a load of files, 2 days in the British Library, various (unsuccessful) emails about the foreword… wonder if this will be anything like the book could look like!
  • Arranged a handful of events with Digital Fingerprint … now very limited in availability, but¬†obviously it’s valuable to remain as a practitioner for my teaching role – commissioned writing work is easier to take on. This includes continuing to provide some curated links for Beyond Chocolate Facebook page.
  • Kept¬†house in rented accommodation,¬†and purchased a house which should be ready for April. Having finished my physical declutter, the e-declutter is well underway after Christmas, then it’s just the online presence to sort (I rolled 3 websites into one last year), and the books to read!
  • Caught up with a number of old friends (not enough!), and made several new ones in quite a number of evenings out in Manchester¬†… my mum was able to visit, and I managed to visit Stoke-on-Trent, Burton-on-Trent, Winchester, Leominster for a funeral, Liverpool, London – which included a day with GWL, and Christmas with my parents – at which I mostly slept.
  • Tested out contact lenses (unsuccessfully – and causing a surprising amount of stress), and finally picked frames for my first pair of varifocals!
  • Undertaken several trampolining classes, found a hairdresser, but still sorting out church, karate club, walking club, and a much needed beach holiday.. oh, and a garage!

That’s not bad for 4-ish months is it…! Right, back on with writing more lectures, etc.!


[Review] Let Me Fall by @bethpensinger



I met Beth at the Revolution Conference in 2013, picked up the book, and read it fairly quickly. I kept meaning to write a book review – as Beth says in her book (and as reflected in this Facebook post) – reviews (especially on Amazon – see US reviews), make a huge difference to who Amazon highlights the book to, and the exposure it’s given … as well, of course, as one’s friends getting to see a book that you’ve appreciated and ‘trusting’ your judgement!

On my #staycation week last week I re-read it, and enjoyed it afresh! Beth presents a mix of ‘real-life’ vulnerability in the first half of each chapter, and a figurative journey with God in the second half of each chapter, as she visualises what it means to truly ‘let go’ and fall into the full life that Jesus promised. There’s an incredibly patient Holy Spirit accompanying her on her journey as she learns to submit her thoughts and actions in a way that is incredibly freeing.

I have always been fascinated by how we create our images of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – often deeply influenced by our cultural context. One of my favourite @bigbible posts was this one by Rev Kate Bruce, in which she takes the time to sit still and allow her vision of God¬†to make its way onto paper – what would (s)he look like for you? This was something Sheridan Voysey and I addressed in our culture sessions at Spring Harvest in 2014 also! The Holy Spirit in particular can be difficult for people to picture in any way, so I loved Beth’s image of an adventurous abseiler!

Another particularly strong image is that of the devil (p82), who has managed to side-track her with a beautifully comfortable bed, her favourite films, activities and food, but is suddenly exposed:

The devil acts very much like the snapping turtle. He is as patient as he is deceptive. This is easy to understand considering he’s the quintessential predator. He fights dirty. Below the belt is the only place he aims. He is so good he has some people convinced the prison in which he’s entrapped them is far better than what is outside. They’re aware of their captivity, but it’s what they’ve always known. So they fear anything else.

The Holy Spirit is gently, but deeply, challenging … on page 121, as in many others pages, he draws upon Biblical passages, reminding us that what God wants is¬†all¬†of our hearts, minds and souls, not the formal religious actions that look good to the world, but are meaningless to God.¬†There’s a challenge to those of us who tend to over-intellectualise our faith. As Beth seeks to understand grace, the Holy Spirit asks, if someone gave you a watch, would you figure out how it worked before you would accept it? Why, therefore, do we insist on trying to understand grace before we will accept it… and there’s no need to continue living like “an escaped convict in hiding” (Les Mis!) fearing punishment from God.

The text is full of contemporary cultural references including Disney, the Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings. We get a sense of a difficult journey full of mistakes and redemptions, but the bottom of the cliff is not the end of the journey, but the start of further adventures together! On the surface an ‘easy’ read, but many challenges about what our journey with God looks like.