so this morning's dive: pea soup, really poor viz; this was a shame as it was Teun's birthday and last dive of the holiday. Teun and Maria have been dive buddies on 3 or 4 of the dives I've done this last week. We did see another black lionfish (see below for a pic) and I think it was am eagle ray we saw but need to check that.


So, this morning's dive took me back to the shipwreck 'Harmony' or 'Orestes'. 25m down, just off Galle fort. We saw a similar sized grouper to the one in the pic, sat under the bow ov the ship. Majestic, a word I probably overuse to describe things down below :-)
also saw a blue spotted ray, do your own search for that one. Today's image from:


this morning's dive

saw one these this morning whilst on a shallow dive in unawatuna. Majestic and as you can see, quite big close up. It's called a "napoleon wrasse" or humphead wrasse.
Picture from


Saw one of these today on my second dive. Was with a large group of divers who had stupid amounts of gear and a full on camera man. I waved him over when I spotted it, but he culdnt see it and started filming a rock before swimming off disinterested in said lifeless rock. I stayed and watched the "black lionfish" for a few minutes before the camera man came back past, kicked the fish with his fins as he did so, and then finally saw it and got excited, called his mates over with some clever underwater signal and the fish became a sub aqua niomi Campbell for a while.
Picture from


Land locked frustration

Frustratioan. Came to dive and my nose started running immediately upon arrival. When you dive you have to equalise pressure as you descend, can't be done with a head full of mucus. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be breathing freely again.  


Goin' Down south in a few days to a place called Unawatuna Which is just south of Galle on the map to the left.

Intend to read lots, dive twice a day if weather permits and eat lots and lots of good seafood (the prawns and the calamari are wonderful).

I'll be takin' Iain M Banks' 'Transition' and Steven Erikson's 'Toll the Hounds' for reading material. My lovely iPhone for keepin in touch with the world, my Fins that were a pressie last xmas from ma + da and my newish Mares diving computer also a pressie last xmas. Neither have seen that much action, for various reasons, this year; I intend to put that right over xmas unless another truck runs me over and puts me in hospital again.

And I'll look like this for much of the time (but without the wrist brace):

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
to one and all.

Devil's Dictionary

Two definitions one from a standard dictionary and the latter from 'Devil's Dictionary'
Can you guess the job?

1. a man in the past whose job was to tell jokes and make people laugh

An officer formerly attached to a king's household, whose business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume. The king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of all mankind. The ****** was commonly called a fool, but the poets and romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise and witty person. In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the patrician sense of humor and tapped the tank of royal tears.


Things to ponder before switching to IWBs

A colleague asked for advice on some things to consider before switching over from low-tec to hi-tec classrooms with IWBs. I thought others may be interested too, as most of them are general. One or two are British Council specific; ignore those.

  • The term before you switch over to IWBs, make it compulsory that teachers do the free online Promethean Activstudio foundation course (they have to register at )

  • Have a small back-up whiteboard (normal non-tech) in the classroom because things will go wrong, but a large whiteboard just encourages teachers who are ‘reluctant to adapt’ to carry on as usual.

  • If you only have a 40Gb T: drive(shared resource drive), upgrade if at all possible, to something larger, once you start building up a bank of materials and digitised audio, it’ll fill up quickly.

  • If you use Cutting Edge at all, get the digital coursebooks for the IWB, they are brilliant. The other digital books or digital add-ons are not that great, though definitely more professional looking than a badly scanned worksheet (Face 2 face & the English File iPack are not exactly user friendly or comprehensive)

  • Get together with teachers and decide what file structure you will use on the T: drive for shared resources (labelled by book, labelled by level, topic etc, find the system that’ll work best for you. Decide now, not when materials have started to build up in a random fashion.

  • Instil best practice from the beginning; there is a document (I’ll try to find it and attach) which outlines appropriate styles, colours, fonts etc for flipchart creation. The guidelines are good and not just there for bureaucratic BC reasons, font size and colour are important. Teachers tend to go a bit crazy with colour at first, this, in general, is not good. Use branded templates right from the start, then teachers don’t get into bad or lazy habits.

  • If you have people there with IWB experience, consider putting them on the Promethean level 2 course, which focuses on pedagogically sound IWB materials creation, these people can then help, assist, train and run insetts.

  • Talk to your IT guys, how old is the BO/FO bridge? (usually this is also the internet entry point too), if it’s old or you often lose the internet, think about getting it replaced. This can be a nightmare, if the link between the Back Office (where teachers are preparing material) and the Front Office goes down, they have no way of getting their material into a classroom. The USB device restrictions will soon come in to force and they won’t be able to write to non-encrypted USB keys, so you either have to have lots of encrypted USB pen drives as back-up or ensure that the tech that’s in place will work once its throughput is increased.

  • If you have lots of YL classes and your classrooms are used for Adult / YL, then spend the extra money on the newer boards with the projector attached, these can slide up and down the wall allowing access to little ones and big ones alike. But you have to have proper walls for these to be installed; thin partition walls can’t take the weight.

  • Decide whether each teacher will get there own IWB pen or whether they’ll be one pen per classroom. We use the latter, but they go missing all the time. Have lots of spare pens!

  • What will your security policy be? will the doors be locked to the classrooms? Where will remote controls and IWB pens be kept? Will students have to leave the room at break? Can you trust your learners in a classroom full of tech?

  • If you can get someone with experience to draw up a simple trouble-shooting doc of the most common problems, and then deliver training to the teachers & management team, you’ll save yourself a lot of griping and hassle.

  • If you don’t have someone with the above skill set, pay for me to come to your centre and I’ll do it!


Great game for the IWB in the classroom

A game I got a bit addicted to a year or so ago, a friend recently brought it to my attention again (actually I'd been searching for it but couldn't find my way back through the wilderness that is the net). Works fantastic on an IWB and the kids love it. One of my young learners (13!) got to level 8! I tell myself it was beginners luck, cos I can't get that far.

I tried to embed the game widget in here, but my HTML isn't up to it without playing around for hours with the settings. It just kept appearing over on the right of the screen and random bits of text elsewhere.'s the link


Fat Boy Slim and Juggling

A few years ago now Fat Boy Slim put out a track and held a competition for the best juggling video set too his track.
Here are a couple of the results. One solo affair by one one the worlds best jugglers and another that's a compilation of the World Juggling Federation finals a few years back featuring the top 5 or 6 best jugglers in the world.
Everything you see is stupidly difficult, do try this at home, but don't be disappointed if you get nowhere near this level.



IWBs in the language classroom

So, here goes; let's open the metaphorical 'can of worms' as Mr Dudeney has called it.

In 2005 I walked into my first British Council job to find that all the clasrooms had IWBs installed and no back up whiteboard! After my first induction session (with the IWB) I was overwhelmed. I'm a bit of a nerd, I love technology. So, I was really excited but scared stiff at the same time. I had ten days (lucky, I know) of induction before being expected to go in to a classroom and teach with this thing, I didn't think I would be able to do it; the intro session was a farce, ran by someone who knew next to nothing about IWBs or the software that ran on them. I was as I have said, filling my trousers with fear.
I locked myself in vacant classrooms for the next 2 weeks at every available moment and went through the manual and did the level 1 Promethean course. When I eventually walked into a classroom to teach, I was confident I could use the thing, but not really sure how it was going to enhance my teaching; besides looking neater and more prepared that is.
How wrong I was and how quickly I began to feel; how will I ever go back to not having one of these things in my class. Here's why:-

1. As I've said above, I can prepare my class and the things I want to board beforehand, it looks better, more professional and opens the board up for student interaction (see below for more details).
2. In the classroom when questions arise or areas of weakness become apparent, I'm able to respond in a way that I wouldn't be able to in a classroom not equipped with tech. Sure I could draw a pic for a vocab question, sure I can model the pronunciation of new words, sure I can show them common collocations and wrack my brains for authentic examples of usage. I can also drag a pic from the resource library to illustrate vocab, or bring up the internet and do a Google image search.
I can bring up the Longman interactive / Oxford multimedia dictionary, which will show learners where the stress is, common collocations and opposites, authentic usages from newspapers and literature and I can play them the pronunciation in both British and American English thus exposing them to different accents to my own; which o you think is better?
3. It gets learners heads out of text books or stops them staring at worksheets and handouts, when learners heads come up; they start looking around and lo, they start talking to each other!
4. Once again, if I walk into class with something that I soon realise is not actually what the learners need, but what the syllabus or can do statements tell me to do, I can react! I can give....OMG...surely not....but yes...a dogme lesson! I can throw my planned lesson in the bin and draw from an infinite number of resources to give my learners what they need, it may be a piece of software that allows us to explore stress patterns or other elements of phonology, it may be a video that exemplifies a certain state or feeling, a newspaper article with examples of difficult language areas and / or models and examples of different genres.
5. Maybe most importantly, I can give control of the board and therefore the control of the lesson to the learners! They can board their work, they can come and correct others work, they can come and manipulate images and words in a way that a standard classroom does not allow. We were watching a youtube clip the other day, a student asked a question about a scene (in this case a beach / surfing scene) so i took a screenshot of the scene, put it on an IWB flip and the learners using their collective knowledge annotated it, I facilitated the screenshot and the watching of the video; the learners did the rest.
6. Have you ever shown learner clips of film that are 7ft by 5ft and backed up by a decent sound system? Impact! That's what we are talking about!

I don't really think I need to go on. I know the common argument, "they take over the lesson and become the focus!". No, they do not. If something takes over your lesson and becomes the focus, you're doing something wrong, don't blame the tech! "It's too expensive for the common or garden developing country". So! A laptop / desktop is too expensive for most schools, so is a decent smart phone or digital camera in such places. Should I not use them if I can? I'm in a developing country, my school is wealthy enough to have them, should I not exploit the technology, because others don't have it? I don't see this as an argument against them. We all use computers and mobiles and digital cameras, do we stop using them because others in the world can't?

I love IWBs, I can't imagine going back to a classroom not equipped with one! Teaching with one is a million times better than without. It's not the focus of my lesson, never has been. It enhances my lessons in countless ways, that if you've never used one, you wouldn't know.

Please, I want to know what you all think. Tell me.


Thanks for your comments


Thanks for your comments; Burcu - I've taken your advice on-board and removed the BBC news feed and replaced it with Yahoo, I always like a bit of news myself. The video was the smallest size I could get it by just embedding the code from youtube, is there a manual way I could have changed the size? The juggling video works for me and I can tell from the comments that it worked for others too, maybe it's your browser.

Yes Jools, I am, I'm ashamed to say, Juggling and Smoking at the same time, at least it wasn't a cigarette ;-)

And Isabel, yes Sri Lanka is another world, too me too! I've lived here 2 years now. You really should try diving though, it's wonderful beyond words.


Diving in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Went diving this weekend, first time since April (because of the monsoon) and while visibility wasn't ideal, it was good enough. Saw some interesting stuff, a very large grouper (4ft long, 2ft wide), a few large Moray eels, lots of lovely soft corals in various hues and clouds and clouds of tropical fish too numerous to mention. It was great to be under the waves again, so easy to forget how amazing it is down there.

If you don't dive, I highly recommend it, it's access to a world that we wouldn't otherwise sea (sic).

On the down side, whilst clearing my mask during a decompression stop, I let in a small jellyfish which proceeded to sting me in the eye, that hurt a lot! I really don't recommend that bit.

PADI official website

All about Eve:

Hi all,

Welcome to my first posting on my first (real) blog; I microblog occasionally on twitter (Twitter ID = fruitus)

This is a pic of me, taken on my phone, as I am setting up the blog and immediately uploaded.

I am 40 years young, currently live and work in Sri Lanka.
I am Deputy Manager ICT for the British Council in Colombo and have been here for just over two years. Wondering where the hell to go next, any suggestions? (it has to be East!).

I Juggle (working my way back to 5 balls after a nasty accident this time last year when a truck almost tore my arm off) and scuba dive as my main hobbies. I read a lot of Sci-Fi and fantasy type stuff, my favourite authors of the moment are Steven Erikkson (Malazan book of the Fallen series is spectactular and unique) and Iain M Banks (whose Sci-Fi has been top drawer for the last 10 years at least.)

My first career was in IT, operating main frame and supercomputers. I actually got to work for my schoolboy hero Seymour Cray in the late eighties and early nineties, I won't bore you...look him up! At the end of 92, disillusioned with IT in general, I changed paths and started doing voluntary conservation work 5 days a week, where I became interested in Botany. I decided to go to university and study it; it's been a passion ever since.

I did my CELTA in 2002, because my wife (at the time, we are sadly seperated) was an EFL teacher and we wanted to continue travelling and working. Very glad I am that I did it, I love my job, most of the time, and get a great sense of satisfaction from it. I also love travelling and this job allows me to do both.

I'm in love with an MMORPG called 'Eve'

Probably the hardest yet best game in the universe. The graphics alone make it worth a look.

I used to spend lots of time on Second Life, but while in hospital with the above mentioned accident, they tried to renew my subscription, failed cos my credit card had changed; so closed my premium account, took my land from me and kept all of my possessions and told me there was no way to reactivate the account. I will never step foot in Second Life again! Linden Labs suck.

So, feel free to comment, give me suggestions on where to go next, recommend stuff to me, whatever!

Thanks for visiting