We have moved …

May 16, 2009

goodbye landscape (bought)

This is the last post for Learning Pool here on WordPress but fear not, we have only moved to a new home on www.learningpool.com/blog.

Our new home will give us better integration with our website and allow us to introduce social media stuff from our Flickr and YouTube channels, as well as Twitter.

We’ll still be talking about stories from the Learning Pool community and local government e-learning in general. Plus we’ll give you an insight into our world.

We can blog on www.learningpool.com/blog about your project, website or idea, or you can contribute a guest post. Please email janet@learningpool.com describing what you’re up to.

Bye for now

Janet

Public Sector Learning Conference Agenda

April 28, 2009

Public Sector Learningcircle-of-colourful-people-boughtcmprsd
Fresh Ideas for Tomorrow’s people

Date    Wednesday 20th May
Place   Hilton London Kensington Hotel
Book now

What’s it all about?
Learning Pool’s first ever annual conference will benefit smart organisations who want to find out how to use new media to create efficiencies and service improvements.

Having a well trained and motivated workforce is the key for the future. This interactive, fun and unstuffy conference featuring speakers, interactive showcases and masterclasses exploring new media, will generate practical ideas to help make this happen.

Book now

Who should come?
Anyone who wants to know how to use new media simply and effectively to create efficiencies and service improvements.  So that’s public sector IT and L&D people.

Key Note speaker
Ben Page, MD of IPSoS MORI named ‘one of the 50 most influential people in local government’ by LGC will be talking about the social networking phenomenon and how it has evolved from being the domain of techno geeks to the fabric of society in just a few years.

Other speakers include:
 •   Charles Jennings on how to develop a robust technology-enabled learning & development strategy
•    Donald Clark on why social-networking will shape the 21st Century and where the opportunity is
•    Major Roy Evans on how he has developed and delivered mobile e-learning activities for active frontline personnel
•    Henry Stewart will be providing top advice on ‘How to turn learners on’ and keep them engaged

Book now 

What else is happening?
Conference delegates can choose to attend one of 4 master classes on:
• Writing for Electronic Media
• What’s the point of Equality & Diversity?
• Taking control of your email
• How to develop your e-learning strategy

There will also be a series of showcases run by public sector organisations on:
• Using e-learning to communicate policy
• Training lots of colleagues quickly on Government Connect
• Delivering social care e-learning
• Collaborative partnership working by Essex HR Partnership

Book now

Sounds good
We think so and we hope you do too.  For more information and to book places click here or call 0207 101 9383.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Janet

Learning Pool conference – Ben Page on Social Networking

April 26, 2009

ben-pageBen Page, MD of Ipsos MORI and one of the 50 most influential people in local government according to the Local Government Chronicle,  will be speaking at the Public Sector Learning Conference on Wednesday 20th May.

Ben’s keynote speech will critique today’s social networking phenomenon and how it has evolved from being the domain of techno geeks to the fabric of society in just a few years.

The interactive Public Sector Learning Conference – Fresh ideas for tomorrow’s people, is taking place at the Hilton London Kensington, 20th May and will benefit smart organisations who want to find out how to use new media to create efficiencies and service improvements.

Other key speakers include:

• Charles Jennings, former Head of Learning for Thomson Reuters, who will discuss how to develop a robust technology- enabled learning & development strategy

• Donald Clark, board member of UFI LearnDirect, who will be outlining why he feels sharing, self-publishing, search and social-networking will shape the 21st Century and how, in the middle of the current financial difficulties, lies opportunity

• Major Roy Evans, British Army, who will be speaking on how he has developed and delivered mobile e-learning activities for active frontline personnel

• Henry Stewart, Happy Computers, who will be providing top advice on ‘How to turn learners on’ and keep them engaged.

Conference delegates can choose to attend one of 4 master classes on:
• Writing for Electronic Media
• What’s the point of Equality & Diversity?
• Taking control of your email
• How to develop your e-learning strategy

There will also be a series of showcases run by public sector organisations on:
• Using e-learning to communicate policy
• Training lots of colleagues quickly on Government Connect
• Delivering social care e-learning
• Collaborative partnership working by Essex HR Partnership.

For more information and to book places click here or call 0207 101 9383.

Learning Pool conference – Donald Clark’s Weapons of Mass Collaboration

April 24, 2009

donald_clark1

 E-learning has rarely, if ever, been called a weapon of mass collaboration but if the cap fits wear it.  

Donald Clark, board member of UFI LearnDirect and blogger extraordinaire, cites Audit Commission statistics that show that local authority spending on training per annum is over £500m and two thirds of this spend is duplicated. 

Shocking statistics in today’s environment of efficiency savings and frugality. 

It seems the opportunity for collaboration is massive.

Donald is speaking at the Public Sector Learning Conference on 20th May where he will build on what he sees is the big opportunity and quick win for public sector organisations.

Donald will be outlining why he feels sharing, self-publishing, search and social-networking will shape the 21st Century and how, in the middle of the current financial difficulties, lies opportunity.

Other speakers at Public Sector Learning – Fresh ideas for tomorrow’s people include:
 
Ben Page, MD, Ipos MORI
Major Roy Evans, British Army
Charles Jennings, Duntroon Associates
Henry Stewart, Chief Executive, Happy Computers

For more information and to book places click here or call 0207 101 9383.

Learning Pool at Geek’n’Rolla – The Event that Rocked

April 22, 2009

long-queue1I was at an unconference yesterday.  It was called Geek‘n’Rolla Tech Crunch and, despite the intermittent whooping and air punching, it was a motivating, inspirational and frenetically busy event.

I call it an unconference, to use an achingly trendy term, because it was cool, unstuffy and informal.  There was a bit of swearing and not a lot of tie wearing.  The speakers signed off with their Twitter addresses as well as their website and email addresses. 

Oh, and there were quite a few cool trilby’s too, especially the neon pink one belonging to the gentleman sitting in front of me with the clashing yellow spectacles.

The speed conveyor belt of speakers, maximum air time of 15 minutes each, delivered up thought provoking and interesting showcases, as well as ideas and experiences of their times as start up businesses in the UK Technical Sector.

Highlights included Andy McLoughlin from Huddle who shared on ‘How to hire a team of peers’ (that’s ‘peers’ not ‘Pierce’ – there really was no need for the smug mug of Mr Morgan, thank you). 

Leisa Reichelt from Disambiguity gave some fab, short and punchy rules to abide by when trying to maximise website usability and William Reeve, one of the entrepreneurs behind the wildly successful LoveFilms.com, talked about his financial road to success.  We were all ears.

The funniest part of the day?  When the audience’s heckling of the panellists via the live Twitter feed beamed to the huge screen behind them threatened to take over as the floor show. 

Belated congratulations, by the way, to the delegate who used this part of the conference to Twitter about the fact that he’d just asked a beautiful woman techy person to marry him.  Not sure if this was during the lunch break, and whether she said yes, but there you go – it was that kind of day.

And the most cringe-worthy part of the day?  It had to be the orchestrated none-debate from the panel of otherwise successful women tech entrepreneurs.  The topic was ‘How can we get more women involved in tech start ups?’ but no sensible conclusions were reached.  A subject worthy of more structured and sensible debate at another time, certainly. 

My tuppence?  At least this was one gig where the queue for the girl’s toilets was shorter than the boy’s.

So well done to the effervescent Mike Butcher from Tech Crunch Europe, who did a superb job marshalling, chairing, cheer leading and generally buzzing the event along. 

Rock on.

Janet

It’s still good to talk

April 20, 2009

buzby1Do you remember a BT ad from the late ‘80’s where the dad answers the phone and immediately passes the caller, his daughter, to the mum to chat to?

Well, I was one of those daughters.

Whenever I called my parents my dad would answer and say, “Hang on, I’ll get your mum…” and would only spend a few seconds on the phone with me.

But I’ve noticed that now I’m a skype user via the laptop the tables have turned – and it’s dad who spends all the time on the ‘phone’ and not mum.

In fact he has become something of a skype stalker and relishes in ‘catching’ me when I happen to be on line for any other purpose. He seems to delight in giving me an entire run down of every goal scored in the Premier League each week.

Perhaps there’s something about the use of technology that makes it more ‘manly’ for the more traditional generation to call now? Or maybe my dad’s just a mischief maker.

Wendy

Should I share?

April 10, 2009

easter-egg1It’s that time of year again.  Yes it’s Easter, every chocolate lovers paradise where friends and family send you lots of hollow chocolate eggs, if you’re very lucky.

This time last Easter I was in quite a dilemma.  After buying lots of lovely chocolate eggs for my friends I then didn’t want to give with them away.

Grudgingly, and with my stomach rumbling, I eventually parted with the treats, hoping that one of my friends would give the gift back.  Sadly for me, the presents were well received by all.

All was not lost, however.

After sharing the eggs I received quite a surprise.  Within a few hours I was no longer eggless.

Because of my sharing, my friends had followed suit and I began receiving a wide variety of different types of eggs from milk to dark chocolate and even white (my favourite).

Why am I telling you this story?  Well, I was struck by the similarities with Learning Pool.  

Learning Pool is a community and, just like me sharing my eggs with my friends, Learning Pool members share courses with each other. 

By sharing, you just never know what you might receive in return.  What goes around, comes around.  And it’s generally all good.

This is the essence and beauty of being part of Learning Pool – everyone can work together and pool their resources to make efficiency savings in both time and money.  Whether it is repurposing other people’s courses or contacting other members for advice, the benefits are endless…

So this Easter why not share a course, enjoy all the benefits of Learning Pool and maybe enjoy an Easter egg or two?

I’m off to nibble mine now…

Andrew

Steal my daddy’s cue

April 9, 2009

rod-stewart… and make a living out of playing pool.

I met up with a friend and former colleague on Saturday.

Sat in the sunshine, had a few beers, caught up on the news, put the world to rights and got the full story on his amusing, but often obscure tweets.

So the conversation moved on to work and he asked if Learning Pool is the real name of the company I am working for.

Well, yes, but what an odd question.

He explained, “It’s just that you did all that stuff with http://www.learntocue.com and now it’s learning pool – just wondered if they were connected in any way , you know cue – pool – snooker?”

I’d never thought of that before.

Andy H

Social media made me a rock-star!

April 2, 2009

londoncallingclashI had another experience today of how social media really does work.

Everyone who knows me knows that I never leave the house without a reasonably polished PowerPoint presentation in case I might need one.  You just never know who you might meet on your daily travels. 

A few weeks ago I delivered a presentation to the NILGA conference here in Northern Ireland.  It was pretty well received and I decided to share it on the fantastic www.slideshare.net when I got home that evening.

I love Slide Share and I go there pretty regularly to see what’s been shared, although I confess that I normally use it for getting ideas rather than giving my own.

This time though I thought I’d share my work and I know a few people who were there have made use of it. 

I  thought no more about the presentation until the nice people at Slide Share emailed me this morning to tell me that it had been viewed a lot and someone had even made it one of their favourites!

I’ve also had a few people contact me today about the presentation and I’ve made some really interesting contacts as a result.

But the best thing is that the Slide Share team now refer to me as a rock star… another boyhood fantasy fulfilled, if slightly differently than they way I had expected (again)!

Incidentally my presentation was about using new media in the public sector and talked about what some of our very own Learning Pool customers are up, as well as the wonders of new technology.   Take a look, if you’re interested.

Using social media to improve public services

It got me thinking that we should start applauding our Learning Pool customers a bit more and awarding titles for those of you who do great things.  Anyone got any ideas? 

But I have to tell you, I’d be pretty reluctant to let anyone claim my title of being a rockstar!

Paul “the axe man” McElvaney

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Worker

March 29, 2009

fawlty-towersI have been on the road with Learning Pool for almost 6 months now and it has been a real change from my life in the public sector. 

There are so many things that are new to me and every day on the road is an adventure.  I hadn’t realised how naïve I was in the ways of travel and hotel life.

Last month I found myself booked into a hotel at the Basildon Festival Leisure Park.  It sounds, great doesn’t it ?  Well it wasn’t.

Picture a very large car park surrounded by a couple of hotels, a bowling alley, a cinema, a night club (known locally as Baz Vegas) and lots of eateries that would love to be classed as restaurants but are just food chain outlets.   Those Essex youths love the sound of their big exhaust pipes.

I foolishly ate at a Chinese buffet.  Now, in my humble opinion, Chinese food should be fresh, hot from a wok and subtly flavoured not left sitting in big vats under electric warming lights, getting  gloopier by the second.  And this delicate food deserves to be eaten in more sedate surroundings than something that resembles an aircraft hanger and sounds like a school canteen.

The service was good, too good.  When I asked how the buffet process worked, my waitress who had just showed me to a table told me to get up and go help myself.  What she actually said was “Get a plate and eat as much as you can.”  It felt like a challenge but I didn’t take her up on it.

Whilst on the subject of food on the road I must mention the glory that is hot sausage sandwiches available at some train stations.  Never, never be tempted by a hot sausage sandwich at a train station.  I did and have fortunately lived to tell the tale. 

I just didn’t expect the woman behind the counter to take a cellophane wrapped breadbun that contained already cooked sausages and stick it in the microwave  for 2 minutes.  This cookery method results in a chewy, steamed bread roll that rubberized sausage –not for the faint hearted.

Something else I have found out about whilst hotel hopping down the east of England is bed scarves.  Seriously, bed scarves.

I don’t know when it started and I don’t know what they are for but often I walk into a hotel room to find someone has draped a large piece of shiny material across the bottom of the bed.   Occasionnaly this “scarf” is accompanied by matching bed cushions too. 

Why?  Surely cushions are for sofas and chairs, scarves are for necks?

All I need on my bed are covers and pillows.  What I don’t need are bed accessories that I have to remove at night before I get into bed and that I feel obliged to put back tidily in the morning so the maid doesn’t think bad of me.

Finally, to close this ramble I must mention last week’s hotel.

I turned up at reception and gave my name and the receptionist said “Ah yes, Learning Tool.”  We laughed at the typing error when I worked out that she wasn’t  being rude.

There are other stories, some not fit for this blog, so this may not be the last you hear of my Learning Pool travels. 

Chris

On the right track

March 27, 2009

choc-digestives1The days of eating like a Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings are over.  Well, for the time being that is – until I go on a cruise where the food is all inclusive.

I’m miserably restricting myself to a reduced amount of calories a day, based on the Weight Watchers Points system – I have been wondering whether my attempt to lose weight via this method will prove to be more successful than previous attempts I have done by myself.

I am so peckish all the time and am missing things like bacon rolls, crisps and chocolate.  The system does allow you to eat what you want, as long as you take account of it in your daily points allowance.

Unfortunately for me, having a large glass of wine, or a pint of larger and a lovely delicious (ok…fattening) snack, just about uses up all my points for the day.

But I have lost a fair few pounds these last few weeks, so I’ll just have to persevere if I want to feel comfortable in some of the posh frocks I have for the cruise.  I’ll just have to make sure I wear them on the first few days!!

I have tried several ways to lose weight myself in the past couple of years, but I’ve never had much luck.  I don’t seem to have much will power when it comes to food and drink and I seem to convince myself that something as small as a few tiny squares of chocolate or a few odd biscuits won’t make much of a difference.

So, why is this working for me now?

Well, Weight Watchers has been operating successfully for years and the secret to its worldwide success is due in no small part to ‘tracking’ and ‘monitoring’.

 The process of tracking everything you eat, as well as examining activities and achievements, has been proven to help.

There is also the notion that someone else monitoring you via weekly weigh-ins also spurs you on to achieve your goals. Believe me, you want to ensure you have done as well as you can each week, when you know someone else is monitoring!

So, this got me thinking about our DLE and the various reasons why we monitor and track learner progress.

In the main, it seems DLE users are monitoring and tracking courses which learners ‘must complete’ to comply with legislative training needs.  The DLE is perfect for this and the monitoring reporting shows most mandatory courses are being completed satisfactorily.

However, there are other occasions where DLE reporting suggests other courses aren’t being used as much as a council would like.

So, maybe we should do more to encourage learners to complete courses by reminding them that they are ‘being monitored’? It might help nudge them on more.

Given that most learners have set goals to achieve in line with their performance, maybe they too could keep some sort of tracker about their progress through courses?

Maybe their line manager could do the equivalent of a monthly weigh-in of sorts, using the information in the DLE, to check the learner is keeping on track.

The people behind the Weight Watchers organisation know a thing or two about motivating and encouraging so maybe some of their methods can be used elsewhere.

Now then, back to my own tracking.  How many points have I got left today, I wonder?  Enough for a jaffa cake? 

Dawn

Sowing the Seeds

March 26, 2009

seedlingIsn’t it good to chat to someone who knows what they’re talking about?  There’s something really satisfying about talking to people who are the experts in their chosen fields.  It’s almost as if their wisdom might somehow magically rub off on to you.

This thought struck me recently after I’d had a lovely phone conversation with one of our customers, Phil, who just happens to be a very keen vegetable gardener.  I’d called him up to talk about something to do with work and got into chatting about what seeds and bulbs he’s sown recently and what lovely dishes he was going to cook up with all the produce from his allotment. 

After a good fifteen minutes of chat talking about everything from using seaweed as a fertiliser to growing tomatoes in hanging baskets we realised the time and got back to the work in hand.

This is a bit like the conversations I also have with my father-in-law, Seamus.  There’s another very lovely man who is an undertaker, musician, Web 2. 0 enthusiast, author, songwriter and, in his spare time, a fiddle repair man.  It’s fair to say that he has many strings to his bow. 

Seamus has many visitors from all over Ireland and the UK who bring their precious fiddles and violins to him for repair and he’s often to be found surfing eBay, on the lookout for a broken instrument in need of some tlc or major overhaul.  The irony is that he doesn’t play the fiddle very well himself, he’s a guitar man, but however he does it, he manages to make even the sorriest instrument sing high and sweet again.   His next project is to build a full size harp from scratch, when he gets a moment.

I also met a true craftsman recently, Joe from Alpha Stained Glass windows in Derry.  Joe and his team create the most beautiful windows in a whole rainbow of colours from all sizes of what is just, essentially, pieces of coloured glass.  But the skill that goes into making the windows, large or small, traditional or contemporary, is something else. 

We’re very lucky to have one of their creations here at Pool Heights.  And the way the staircase lights up on a sunny afternoon as the sun streams through the window that Joe and his team created for us is truly uplifting.

Not only is it soul enhancing to listen to someone talk with a passion about their ‘thing’ but it’s amazing what you can learn.  When you hear the enthusiasm in their voice or pick up the knowledge from their written words you get your own little ‘can do’ bean to sow yourself.

So thank you to the Joe’s, Seamus’ and Phil’s out there – you’re an inspiration.

Janet

m-learning: just another fad?

March 23, 2009

mlearningDuring the mid to late 1990’s we saw the emergence of e-learning; during the early 2000’s the new phrase of ‘blended’ learning was all the rage; and over the last twelve months m-learning has become the latest buzz word to grip the learning and development profession. 

So, will m-learning be the next big thing?

In this article Darren Hockley, Managing Director of DeltaNet International Limited, explores the relative merits of m-learning and gives us his views on how successful it will be.  But before we consider the merits of m-learning, perhaps we should look back at the impact e-learning and blended learning have had on the way we learn today.

e-learning can no longer be considered a new way of learning.  According to a recent study, over 57% of Learning and Development managers confirmed that their organisation now offered some form of e-learning to its staff. 

In the academic world, e-learning is widely used by schools, colleges and universities.  e-learning is firmly established as an accepted method of providing learning and development opportunities.  But to reach this level of acceptance has taken over 10 years and a few ups and downs along the way.

Blended learning is the phrase used to describe a learning strategy that includes more than one method of delivering learning and development interventions.  A blended learning solution will normally included some e-learning which will be combined with one or more of the traditional methods including face to face training, books, videos, training DVDs, seminars, workshops, distance learning packs, etc.

The reality is that we have been using blended learning solutions for as long as we have been learning, we just didn’t call it blended learning.

So, what is m-learning and what does the future hold for it?

m-learning (otherwise known as ‘mobile’ learning) takes e-learning one step further; rather than completing a learning intervention on our desktop or laptop computers  will we now be able to study an m-learning course on portable computer devices such as PDAs, mobile phones and palm top computers?

Technology has advanced at lightening speed and in particular, convergence has had a major impact on how we live our lives.  Little more than a few years ago a mobile phone was exactly that; now the latest mobile phones are powerful computer devices that allow you to listen to music and watch videos, take photographs and send these to our friends and family, send and receive messages and emails, browse the internet on the move and basically perform any activity that you can use a personal computer for.

And with relatively short contract periods and high levels of saturation most people will have one of the latest mobile phones in their pockets or handbags within a short space of time.  Add to this the list of other portable computing devices commonly available- such as PDAs and palm top computers- and you can see why the technologists think that m-learning is the next logical step.

So, if we accept that most people will soon be carrying a device capable of accessing an m-learning course then the next thing to consider is how the course will be delivered to the device.

Network providers are investing heavily to upgrade the networks, with 3G services already providing broadband connections to our portable computer devices.  Coverage can be ‘sketchy’ outside of the bigger cities and towns and physical barriers can significantly weaken the strength of the signal, for example in certain parts of a building. However, with continued investment these problems will soon be overcome; or at least be minimalised.

The large amount of digital storage available on these new devices could be used to download and store the m-learning courses locally when there is a network connection so that the learner can access the m-learning course later even if the network connection is no longer available.

We have seen that potential learners have the devices readily available to become m-learners, and that the infrastructure is there to support them, but what else do we need to think about?

Existing e-learning content can easily be repositioned to work on the smaller screens that these devices come with; organisations have built up their own resources to be able to produce e-learning internally and there is a ready made industry of willing e-learning developers waiting to build content.  So, if there is a demand, the content can quickly be made available to the willing m-learner.

This leads us to the final question: Will the learners be happy to use m-learning?

Undoubtedly, a small percentage of people will readily embrace m-learning, enjoying the freedom this will bring them; and these people are likely to be keen adopters of new technology.  However, the vast majority of us are likely to be more sceptical as is common with all change.

It has been proven that if you provide a comfortable and practical environment you can significantly enhance the learning experience, and this is often reflected in the investments made in our training rooms. If the learner is not comfortable and receptive to learning then learning will not happen; or at best will be diluted.

To expect learners to spend significant amounts of time interacting with small devices that have tiny screens and keyboards is likely to be a doomed strategy.  For this reason, I believe much of the learning we undertake is unsuitable for m-learning and will need to be done using more traditional interventions. 

One opportunity would be to use business strategy games to help learners develop and practice new skills.  The serious games industry is now firmly established and is one of the more creative approaches to using e-learning. These solutions are expensive to produce but, with many people already playing games on these devices, they are likely to be more appealing to the learner.

Probably the best opportunity available to us is to use these devices to provide support to employees within the workplace.  Increasingly we treat information and knowledge as a commodity expecting it to be available to us at all times.  So why not make our knowledge bases available to people in the field through these mobile computing devices?

A widespread example of how this has already been done is the use of satellite navigation systems.  No longer do we consult atlases or route planners in advance of a journey; instead we arm ourselves with a postcode, jump into the car, tap a few keys and off we go.  We don’t expect to ‘learn’ the journey through this experience; we know we can always use the satellite navigation system if we need to make the same journey again.

Using this concept, why not provide work related support to our employees?

If you are a central heating engineer and are working on a type of boiler for the first time wouldn’t it be great to access an interactive guide on how this works and what needs to be maintained?  Or maybe, your sales people could access important information about a client before going into a meeting? 

The applications are endless but critically are designed to provide small amounts of information ‘just in time’.

When e-learning was first introduced back in the 1990’s we were told to expect a paradigm shift that would see an end for face to face training.  History tells us this is not the case, and the e-learning industry suffered several setbacks of a result of this misplaced enthusiasm.  Therefore, a more conservative approach will need to taken if m-learning is not to suffer the same setback.

Darren Hockley

Mind your language

March 18, 2009

lga-banned-words-wordle

Just so that you know,  if you work in local government you shouldn’t be using these words as they’re meaningless, confusing and generally not understood by most people.

Going to be pretty quiet round here then …………..

Janet

PS.  Ok, you can use them.  But if you’re absolutely, cross your heart sure that the people you’re talking to do actually have a tiny bit of intelligence.  But only if you’re sure.  Wouldn’t want to confuse the poppets.

“No nay neverrr, no more”

March 17, 2009

bodhranWorking up in the garret in Clarendon Street, sometimes called the eyrie, is a new experience for me.

Firstly, there are three Andrews up here at the moment which makes any form of meaningful communication virtually impossible.

Secondly, I didn’t realise how much I missed the office banter… bouncing ideas off the creative team (having my ideas purloined for our in house competition!).

You just don’t get this working from home, nor do you get the occasional cup of tea which, as anyone who has attended a recent Authoring Tool workshop will understand, is best when made by someone else.

Highlights, so far, has to have been getting first pint of Guinness in with the band in Peadar’s bar striking up ‘Wild Rover’, then moving on to ‘No Man’s Land’.   How clever was I to coincide my visit to colleagues with an international day of celebrating all things irish?

Later in another pub up the road the we sang along to ‘Whiskey in the jar’.  It’s St Patrick’s Day today (loved the Eastenders take on getting the day wrong) so possibly more merriment tonight.  Possibly?  Who am I kidding?

Now did I pack my bodhran? Altogether,  “And it’s no nay never, tum, tum tum tum…”

Andy H