Worms Move in

Well, Wednesday 4th September one group in the Climate Catastrophe Group built their wormery. We are going to look into recycling of food and break down of fruit and vegetables. Worms do create greenhouse gases, but play an important part in maintaining the soil, which has taken a hammering over the last 60 years.

Unfortunately the worms arrived late on Thursday 5th September and had to be in the wormery before the weekend. The students hadn’t quite finished the wormery, so many came up during their lunch break and helped get the worms a temporary start. Our biggest concern is the amount of moisture that we need. The wormery isn’t a draining one, so getting the air and moisture levels is important. We also had to put all the worms in the one box as the second box wasn’t ready.

Let’s hope the worms make it through the weekend. The suspense is terrible and the temperature this weekend was pretty warm, the first dry weekend in four weeks- drat.


What’s in the Police Van?

1st September 2019 and it is the canal festival, which started as Cops on the Canal. It was potentially our 8th visit, but we missed a few, especially last year as we were trapped at the Kelpies. The Police part of the festival is really growing and this year I took some photos in the vans and photos of the speed cameras, now working with laser pulses.

Thanks to all the Police who shared information and their experiences, although I am not sure giving out certificates for the kids saying “I outran the Police” is sending the right image to all those potential criminals!


Boating bother

April 2019

After giving up the SQA Examining duties to go boating it was a bit sad last year to hear that Twechar and Bonnybridge bridges were closed, but even worse to hear that Lock 6 on the Forth and Clyde canal was rammed by some hirers. This has trapped us at the Kelpies for a year!

Mostly Harmless’ Home for the Last Year, see the motorway in the back garden and you can’t smell the sewage works in this photo but it is there!

Stopping over by the Kelpies isn’t anywhere near as peaceful as most places on the Forth and Clyde canal as the motorway traffic never stops so it sounds like you’re on a mattress in the middle of a busy street.

On top of this in February someone decided to see what they could help themselves too. Obviously the name “Mostly Harmless” suggested they wouldn’t find any difficulty if they entered uninvited.

The well deck is ready for a spring clean, but the doors will need to be replaced after someone came in uninvited

But after a busy and hectic few terms, and some difficulties this year then it’s time to get back to the boat to escape the pressures of life.

First cosy fire of the year and well relaxed after an hour

So during our first trip up of the year we went to look at the progress of Lock 6 to see when we are likely to get home. The lock gates are in and the estimated opening date is 6th May, hopefully we can be the first through over the May Day bank holiday. Just before Lock 6 though we took this photo. Someone has obviously been using the canal as a dumping ground for their old tyres. It was the strip of land only between this open yard. There must have been 50 or so tyres dumped in there. Well I hope now they’ve been found out as the canal has been drained that they’ll get in there and remove them rather than leaving it to the boaters and their licence fee. It would only take one of those tyres on the prop to cause extensive and costly damage.

Name and shame, someone’s been using the canal as a dumping ground. I hope now they’ve been caught as the canal is drained they will take some responsibility and clear up their mess.
One of those tyres on the prop will cause a huge amount of expensive damage.

So hopefully we can go back and spring clean the boat this weekend and get it ready for a trip along the canal and home! 2019 should be the year of boating and enjoying the canal.


I’ve never understood why some teachers give the students a leaf and let them test for starch. How does a green leaf being boiled in water, boiled in ethanol and washed in water before drowning it in brown iodine until it turns black really convince students that green plants make starch?

I think a much better idea is to destarch a plant (put it in the dark for a week, but don’t forget it), then make a mask and cover the leaf with the card mask. Cutting out the shapes can make it fun. Put the plant under some nice photosynthetically active radiation, eg sunlight. Leave the mask over the leaf for a week and then test the leaf for starch. Now only the parts of the leaf that have been in the sun ought to have made the starch and students can tell it isn’t the act of boiling, washing and destroying that is turning iodine blue black.

Gracie, Jayden and Libby did a fab job with their leaf as you can see. It then is obvious to the students that the leaf requires light and produces starch. Be impressed and well done girls, you deserve the honourable mention.

got to show all of their photos or there will be uproar!
another cracking photo showing light is needed for starch production.

February 2019

Bogging blogging

I’ve no idea when I last put a post on here, ages ago I’m sure. I’ve one or two in the draft box to complete, but never quite have the time.

I’m just sitting back seat of the car wondering what it would be like if everyone possessed hindsight! Do you think it would drive the human race potty or would they be even pottier?

This came into my head as I thought, “who in their right mind would go to Surprise physics for a blog on SpaceU/ schols and why wasn’t surprise physics called spacephysics anyway?” It only appears to have space topics contained in there.

Oh well, I’m trying to tie up loose ends for space school and get everyone a lovely certificate and plan for my trip to the Scottish Parliament on 14th November as well as checking up on our Road safety stuff, it’s the Winter drive campaign soon. Oh and then I’ve to do the day job, which is full time teaching. Time I started marking Higher October tests..

Maybe if I had hindsight I might not do all the things I do but I’d possibly do more. I told everyone at Space U in Texas this would be my last trip buyive already booked for 2020, so if you want to know what you missed click on the link and it ought to transport you to surprise physics, which will obviously not now be a surprise and you can catch up on Space school 2028


Scottish Canals

Twechar and Bonnybridge Lift Bridges temporarily suspended to boat traffic

Scottish Canals states

Boat transits through Twechar and Bonnybridge lift bridges on the Forth & Clyde Canal have been temporarily suspended.
 The mechanisms of these bridges have been a cause for concern for some time but recent inspections show that they have now reached a point where we believe their operation could pose a risk to public safety. While we work up the technical solutions and source the funding required to implement the necessary repairs, we have no option but to temporarily suspend their operation.
 The vibrancy of the waterspace is of key importance to us and we will do all we can to generate the resources necessary to bring the bridges back to full operation as soon as possible.
 We recently met with a number of key stakeholders including the Lowland Canals Volunteer Group, Lowland Canals Association, and RYA and, as a result of their feedback, we will prioritise our works to ensure that Twechar bridge is the primary focus for reopening, with Bonnybridge second.
 Towpath access remains unaffected.

As promised a blog of our journey to our new mooring, although you’ll have to work backwards until I can fix this!

[envira-gallery id=”674″]

Boating season 2018

It’s mid April, over half way through the holidays and finally we’ve got aboard Mostly Harmless. Bless her, despite a rotten winter it looks like the shower is the only thing to come off badly. So we can’t leave the water pump on. The weather is cold, wet and very windy. Mr and Mrs Physics look like they’re in for a tough night and neither have their boating legs yet. Boating legs are when you can walk across a tipping boat without feeling sick and land legs are when you can sit on a land-based loo and not feel that the world is swimming around you. After 7 years as boat owners boating legs normally arrive pretty quickly but not today, as it’s April and the last boating was a rubbish September.

Mrs Physics has given up being on the SQA AH team and marking to go boating this year. Unfortunately this coincided with Scottish Canals closing the Forth and Clyde canal at Twechar and Bonnybridge so no access to the Falkirk wheel, Edinburgh or the Kelpies. It looks like Mostly Harmless might be heading back down South for a proper boating experience.

View from the window 21:30

Update Mr Physics is running the engine and the shower is worse than first thought. It’s never been right since it was taken off the back of a lorry and into the River Carron.

No kingfisher sightings but the gooseander looked good. We’ve also got the newly painted Antonine and Campbell Christie who are also stuck this side of the bridges.

At least the relaxing is taking hold. Pictures will be added when it’s light and the decks have been cleared of algae.

winter growth

view from the bank

Come on Scottish Canals, the Scottish Government and the engineers, if you want to charge boating licence fees similar to England we expect to be able to get boating.

Maybe the Scottish Government and Scottish Canals can check out the SQA Higher Engineering Science folio pieces. This year they’ve had to construct a bridge over a canal as their folio piece. Scary how that’s a bit of déjà vu.  I bet several of them have a suitable solution- ask them.


An Evening with Chris Hadfield

With the concert hall packed and the embarrassment of not being able to find the ladies, daughter and mum sat down in the Royal Concert Hall Glasgow to hear Col Chris Hadfield. I’d heard him sing in 2005, when he was the lead singer of Max Q, the most elite band as you have to be an astronaut to be a member.
He was inspiring, and at the end daughter captured the song for which he is now famous.

Thanks for an inspiring night Chris Hadfield, and a great idea for a night out daughter!

Chris Hadfield has lived a life that most people can only dream of. As well as serving as an astronaut and Chief CAPCOM for over 25 shuttle missions for NASA and being an international celebrity, he has also had the remarkable privilege to see Earth in a way that truly alters one’s perspective.

Millions followed Chris’s news-making twitter feed from the International Space Station. There he showcased breathtaking photographs of the planet, while at the same time using his extensive knowledge of geography and geology to teach important lessons on the processes that shaped the continents we call our home.



New Year Resolved

Well what have you set as your target in this New Year?

  • Lose weight (or mass for a Physicist!),
  • Spend less,
  • exercise more?

What about making some different resolutions? Maybe choose something from the list below. You don’t have to make up resolutions on the first of January, what about being different and doing something new at any time of the year?

        1. Set a target to learn something new every day. Maybe keep a note of what you’ve learned.
        2. Read more. What about trying to read something new, different, out of your comfort zone etc.? You’d be surprised at the link between your performance in exams and life and your language skills. Readers tend to have better literacy skills.
        3. Be more grateful. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in what we are doing that we forget what others are doing for us. Think of all the people today who have got you through the day, e.g the people who made your clothes, washed you, fed you, drove you to school, served you in the shops, stacked the shelves so food would be there for you. It is so easy to pass through the day without giving a thought to others. If someone has helped you get through the day give them a thank you. You might just make their day!
        4. Set aside time to fulfil your dreams. Now unless you want to be a top sportsperson, like several of my former pupils, it ought to be in moderation. Think what you would like to achieve in life, then ask for advice and help in the best way to achieve it. Then go for it!
        5. Don’t judge others. I’m sure most of you have never read this but I think this is a great way to live your life.

           The Message (MSG) A Simple Guide for Behaviour Matthew: 7 v 1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole travelling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour”.

          Here’s some honesty here. I’ve only just got to grips with this one. I apologize if I’ve judged you. It is none of my business, unless I am marking your exam! I’ve certainly been judged in return and very harshly at times, just as I have harshly judged others. You do indeed get back what you dish out, so dish out some positivity and get some of that back!

        6. Enjoy little things. Are you someone that judges things by how much they cost? If you are then you could be missing out on some wonderful experiences. See if you can have a good day out with friends without spending anything. What about agreeing with friends to make something for a gift instead of buying something and then try to make something that uses your time, skills and would be appreciated by your friend.
        7. Stop Procrastinating. Are you someone who waits for the last moment to do homework? Do you wait until the last minute to do any task? What about trying to do something as soon as you are given the task. Get out there and do what needs doing; it is likely to change your outlook on life.
        8. Be resilient. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. There are plenty of websites devoted to building resilience but some things on the list include good family and friend relationships, realise you can’t always change things so look beyond the present to what can be achieved in the future, take decisive action when faced with problems rather than running away. Keep a hopeful outlook and take care of yourself. Your friends can come from many areas of society and any age. When I was younger I had a family that I could go to, they weren’t my parents and they weren’t my peers. They were great at giving sensible advice and unprejudiced.
        9. Give back to others and start volunteering. It is when you realise that there are the bulk of the world’s population that are worse off than us that we can be grateful, so go and give back to the world for all it has given you. Try seeing if you can volunteer in a care home, go and offer to do the shopping for a neighbour etc. There are so many people that would love your time and skills. How Rich am I?
        10. Play more. You’re never to old to play, laugh, and make others laugh.
        11. See the beauty outside. If like me you live in the countryside get out more, listen for the birds and try to identify their song, look for hills. Make your own I-spy book of things you’d like to see, deer, badgers, hills, orchids etc. Look out for all the different types of grasses and stop thinking grass is just the green stuff. Until you stop and take note of your surroundings you will miss so much.
        12. And if you can’t manage these, still be good to yourself. Don’t bash yourself for things you can’t do but start looking at what you can achieve and let that cheer you. Lots of people in social media and on TV only show you a part of their life- it isn’t real.

      Happy 2018! I’m off for a walk.



Olive Grace Meakin


Driving down to my former home to try to catch a last goodbye to mum. All I can hope is that I get there in time. No, I’m not driving, I drove the first bit to Scotch Corner.

Currently I can’t shed a tear as I’m too numb, but the journey has me thinking. I love education and think it is one of the most important parts of a society, but who educates you to be a mum? It’s ok if you had a great role model, but what happens if you don’t? How do you break that cycle? How do you learn the skills? Who guides you on right or wrong, especially when each child is different?

I’ve not always found my mum one who opens up easily, she’s a very private person but I know she did her best and really wanted the best for her children, and grandchildren. What more can you do? Likewise, I suppose as a daughter I’ve not always been the one you’d choose as a daughter, but you don’t appreciate how hard a job motherhood is until you try it yourself. Not sure I did motherhood as well as my mum, I certainly didn’t show the selfless sacrifice she did for her children..

So as we race to the hospital, mum, I want you to know, “Thank you for loving me, thank you for teaching me about life, and thank you for all the sacrifices you made for me, i hope I didn’t let you down.”

Now I’m shedding tears in buckets.

We got there in time as did the family who drove through the Channel Tunnel and we said our goodbyes.

We’ll all miss you mum, you were wonderfully and fearfully made.