Blogger and twitter user Chocolate Tzar @ChocoTzar has challenged and encouraged teachers to post 5 positives from 2014 and 5 wishes for 2015.  I’ve read quite a few blogs over the last few days that have done just that and many of them are quite inspiring and I can relate to where a number of people are at.  I’m still working on a more detailed review of 2014 and a set of goals for 2015 but I thought I would quickly put forward my #Nurture1415 ideas.

2014, a year of ups and downs.

  1. Thanks to a very good osteopath I am much more physically relaxed than I have been for many years, probably decades.
  2. Having discovered The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, I am now a stone lighter than I was this time last year, although I have put on a few pounds during the holidays. 😉
  3. After years of poor sleep, the two changes above have made a massive difference to how I sleep although I could always do with more.
  4. I now have a good team of people in my department and we are starting to move the department forward.
  5. I now feel that I can call myself a blogger (although I consider myself still a novice).

2015, wishes.

  1. To get my teaching out of the rut it has been in recently.
  2. To lead my department forward to great things.
  3. To spend more quality time with my family and friends.
  4. To continue to improve my health.
  5. To continue to blog on a regular basis.


I shall post some more detailed review and goal ideas in the next few days.



December Challenge Day 31.


So this is the last post in my December Challenge 2014. So what better picture (as I missed the sunset again) to take than the pudding my wife and I created for this evening’s New Year celebrations.  I have taken some night-time shots with a tripod, which aren’t too bad, although far from perfect, but I shall save those for another post.

This challenge has been an interesting experience.  I shall do some more challenges.  Suggestions, in the comments or via twitter or Facebook, are more than welcome.  I have certainly learnt that I have a lot to be thankful for and I would certainly recommend this as an activity for anyone to try.  I wouldn’t describe it as life-changing although I can imagine that it might be for some people.  It hasn’t always been easy, particularly in identifying a unique thing everyday.  Many days I have found myself being thankful for the same things.

I will be reflecting soon on 2014, inspired by #Nurture1415.  I will also be thinking about some goals for 2015.

So what am I thankful for today.  I am thankful that this year has finished better than it started.

December Challenge Day 30.



This is part of the roofline at the local factory/designer outlet.  I liked the way the late afternoon light was catching the tops.


I took our two children out for the day today so that my wife, who is in charge of home-schooling them, could have a day to get on with planning next term.  It was a great opportunity to have some time with the kids and I am thankful for that.  I am, however, most thankful that my wife has taken on the burden of an unpaid teaching job so that our children can receive an education that amongst other things is not controlled by targets and Ofsted bias.

December Challenge Day 29.



Another sunny day today; only the cold and the Christmas lights still up in people’s windows would suggest that it is December.  The birds basking in the sun on the lee-ward side of the church tower this morning caught my eye.


I only took two photos on my morning dog-walk today even though the light was fantastic.  I had forgotten to set an alarm for this morning for my osteopath appointment so the dog just had a walk long enough for her to stretch her legs.  I made it to my appointment on time which given the amount of frost on the car (even with overnight de-icer) was pretty good going.

Fourteen months ago I ripped a muscle in my trapezius that caused me a lot of trouble.  My initial contact with the NHS left me with some mind-altering anti-inflammatory pain-killers that didn’t do much to help anything.  I eventually received a physiotherapy appointment but was then told that it would be three weeks before the next.  So on Christmas eve 2013 I saw a private osteopath and had another three appointments within the Christmas holiday.  I made so much progress in those 4 visits; my biggest regret at the time was that I hadn’t gone to him immediately after the injury rather than two months later.  To say that the osteopath was not impressed with the state of my muscular-skeletal system would be an understatement.  He observed on several occasions of the incredible tension in some of my muscle groups (something I had considered a good thing and a result of years of dedicated exercise (mostly many years ago)).  It took many sessions before my muscles started to relax; in many of the early sessions with him the first half would be taken up with him “forcing” my muscles to relax.  I’m now much more physically relaxed and I think that this has made me a more mentally relaxed person too.  My muscular-skeletal system isn’t in perfect condition; there are too many years of abuse and too many hours sat down in front of computers and marking with insufficient exercise for changes to happen quickly.  I intend to address this further this next year (I will be writing a post on goals for 2015 (not resolutions) in the next few days).

So what am I thankful for.  I am thankful for the progress that I have made physically in the last year and I am thankful that I have found a good osteopath.  I would certainly encourage anyone reading this, who has muscular-skeletal issues and can afford it to see an osteopath.  And do it sooner rather than later!

December Challenge Day 28.



Some members of my family playing Bananagrams (a great game if you have never played it).  I don’t think I got the white-balance right.  I did take a raw as well as jpeg image so hopefully I can correct the colour.


I spent some time today tidying up my tinkerage.  For those not in the know, this is my name for my workshop.  It’s only small at just over 2m on each side (in old terms it’s a 7ft cube) and being small it often ends up with too much junk just dumped in there which makes it hard to fix anything, never mind create anything from scratch.  Earlier in the year I had to take a couple of shelves down to fit in a future project so today I took advantage of the sunny (but very cold) day to empty everything out and start sorting things into proper places so that I can actually get on and do things.  Obviously having such a space is something to be thankful for (although I would like a larger space like this or this, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon).

Between planning how to build the right size holders for screwdrivers and pliers that I use regularly and actually building and fitting them I had some time to think about what I should be thankful for today.  Many things came to mind: having the tools and skills to make and fix things; having too much stuff to fit in the space I have (I’m not sure about this one 😉 );  having some assistance from my lovely wife to move things out; or my sister-in-law being down and once again entertaining our children like a non-magical Mary Poppins.  Some less positive things came to mind as well such as maybe I shouldn’t have eaten so much food over the last week (it always amazes me how quickly I can put on 4 or 5 pounds); having such a cluttered workshop and how difficult it is to fit in all the things I want to fit in and still have space to actually do stuff; my aching hip from too many hours sat hunched over a really difficult 1000 piece jigsaw; worrying over which gym membership to take and will I be able to keep it going and will it help me spend less money at the osteopath and make me fitter and more able or just wear me out; what goals should I take on for 2015 (I don’t really do resolutions but my wife has had some success this year with setting herself some goals – I might do a post just about this); and if I will be able to find suitable things to photograph for the last few days of my December Challenge.

Then it struck me (I so wanted to make a witty comment here about a piece of timber/metal/tools hitting me whilst I was tidying but I couldn’t find a suitably humorous way of adding it in) that what I most needed to be thankful for today is that all I am worrying about at the moment are first world issues.  I’m not having to worry about where the next pay-cheque is coming from, my next meal and if I’m going to get one, there are no major illnesses in our family at the moment.  As a Physics teacher I am not likely to be made redundant; I am able to express my faith freely and without fear of persecution, unlike fellow Christians in other parts of the world; if I forget to lock the car tonight or the front door, I am not likely to be burgled (I’m sure our dog would wake us up!) and that the water that comes out of the tap is a) in my kitchen and not 4km away and b) is clean.  I am grateful that I can take things for granted.  I shouldn’t but if I am honest about it I do, as I suspect most people who live in the west do when times are good.

December Challenge Day 27.

There was a beautiful sunset this evening so two photos again today.




I do like sunsets.  Back in the day when I had a 35mm SLR camera and I was taking photos regularly, I tended to concentrate mostly on landscape photography and I particularly liked taking sunset and skyscape photos.  I do prefer digital photography as it is so much easier to crop photos to remove parts of the sky and foreground that might detract from the photo.


I started thinking whilst out on my dog walk that I should be thankful that I have so many things to be thankful for.  In some ways it is getting harder to find things to be thankful for.  Seeing that typed out makes it look/sound wrong.  One of the aims of this challenge, although I didn’t state it originally, was to find unique things to be thankful for each day.  Each day as I consider what to be most thankful for on that day I have found myself being thankful for the same things on many days.  There are so many things to be thankful for in my life; I have considered trying to list out as many of these as I can but it would lead to a very long list which others reading it might find crass and boring.

What I have also found is that in looking at each day and trying to be thankful, it is difficult for the negative aspects of the day to stand out.  (That is still a bit of a work in progress.)

So today, having had two walks, I am most grateful for having a dog.  She can be a pain at times, almost literally when I tripped over her in the dark kitchen last night, but she is a source of exercise and she is a great companion for our children.

December Challenge Day 26.

Three images today.





As one can tell from the photos, it was a very frosty morning.  The light wasn’t particularly brilliant but the crystals of ice on the surface of these leaves was.  Hence three photos.


Today has been a fairly relaxing day.  I have spent most of the day trying to complete a 1000-piece jigsaw.  I also started to read one of my Christmas presents, a book called “A man’s greatest challenge” by Dai Hankey.  I am thankful that there are people who take the time to write books that I can read that may help me to be a better person.  I am most thankful that I was instilled with a love of reading as a child.

December Challenge Day 25.



It’s been a busy day.  Lot’s of photos taken but mostly just snapshots of the children opening presents.  So here is a photo of our dog after not enough rest today and a bowl (mostly) full of leftovers.

Today, and probably fairly obviously, I am thankful for Christmas.  Not the presents and loads of food, although I am more than grateful for these things, but for the true meaning of Christmas.  Have a look at this video   #John3:16 #sharethegift.  This video from The Piano Guys is also worth watching.

December Challenge Day 24.


This is a Freemason’s snuff box.  I took this photo using my  brother-in-law’s studio set-up: a pair of studio flashes, one set up to bounce off the ceiling and the other behind a translucent glass plate triggered by a camera mounted remote trigger.  This is the first time I had used such a set-up and it took quite a lot of trial and error to get it right.




This morning I made two batches of Welsh-cakes.  One batch was to feed the Welsh dragons that Father Christmas uses to deliver presents to all Welsh-blooded children (it gives the reindeer a rest) and the second batch was for my niece.  We delivered them to my sister to pass on to her tomorrow when she arrives there after her night-shift delivering Christmas babies.  I use our secret family recipe which is old enough that the measures are in imperial only.  Okay it’s not really a secret, I would tell you if you asked.  Whenever I make Welsh-cakes it always brings back happy memories.  Memories like making up triple and quad batches at university and eating most of the dough before cooking (it’s a bit like cookie dough).  It also makes me remember my mother who taught me how to make them. She had a lovely cast-iron griddle that made lovely Welsh-cakes; much more consistent than the frying pans I use.  I find it fascinating that smells and foods can trigger such deep and emotive memories.

Today we didn’t get to see my niece but we did see my sister, her husband and two of my three nephews.  So the thing that I am most thankful for today is family.

December Challenge Day 23.



One of the things I like most about this photography challenge is that it forces me to look at things in a different way.  I have walked past this field hundreds of times since we moved to Kent and it was only this morning that I noticed that there is a small pond there.  There are scores of ponds within a mile of our house, some really quite big and some quite small.  This one is one of the smaller ones.  Once we get light evenings again I may make it a challenge to photograph a different one everyday for a month (or at least to post a different photograph everyday for a month).


My wife and I made a Yule-log this afternoon.  Neither of us had done that before.  We made a pretty good job of it.  We’re a good team.  Today I am thankful for my wife and how well we work together.