29 December 2004 - 5 January 2005:  Enjoying the fun of a gay men's houseparty week at Wastwater Hall youth hostel again this year.  Walking the hills, eating good food, dancing, workshops, and creating our own entertainment in the evenings; all in the company of good friends as part of the Edward Carpenter Community.

25 December 2004: Christmas morning and a white winter wonderland after overnight snows covered the fells and valleys throughout the Lakes.  Clear blue skies, frosty ground and an orange glowing sun casting long shadows across the hillsides.  Peaceful, magical and beautiful.  Wishing all friends a fulfilling and relaxing New Year.


12 December 2004:  Delivery of the Modern Sport programme to the Executive Committee and senior staff of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland in Perth, focusing on structures and funding arrangements for the organisation.   


6 December 2004:  Keswick's annual Victorian Fayre raises funds for many local charities.  Two performances by Keswick Street Theatre Players of The New Czar - a humorous tale of good versus evil set in pre-revolution Russia - raised nearly £100 for the Oxfam Sudan Appeal.  


4/5 December 2004: Delivery of two training programmes in Elgin for the Children's Panel Training Unit serving northern Scotland on presentational skills and training skills.


30 November 2004:  Delivery of a seminar on Working Effectively in Partnerships for sports governing body staff in Scotland.


30 November 2004: Contract awarded to develop and manage an online resource library of materials relating to Club Development activities for sports clubs in Scotland.


11 November 2004:  Annual Dinner and AGM of Keswick Croquet at Portinscale, includes the presentation of competition trophies for 2004 and the renaming of the Golf Croquet trophy in memory of Mary Hopper.  


8 November 2004:  Delivery of a Learning Networks familiarisation workshop for Countryside Agency staff and partners in Newcastle.  


6 November 2004: Annual Dinner of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club at Shap Wells Hotel.  Just two years to go to the Centenary Dinner and the start of the anniversary programme.  Good walks on Branstree, Selside and the limestone pavements above Orton.   



1 November 2004: Gay Perspective by Toby Johnson offers a highly affirming, radical and challenging approach to the gay experience.  Subtitled 'Things our homosexuality tells us about God and the nature of the Universe', the book charts the 'alternative' meanings of our lives which are to be discovered through life as a gay man.  This is explored through the gay perspective on life, bodies, sex, relationships, religion, God and the world.   Johnson extends the arguments developed by David Nimmons on the nature of the gay experience and distinctive contribution to our society.  He places the conventional dualistic view of the world (created and sustained by the patriarchal hetero male with his focus on power, procreation and status) in a far broader and often historical context, charting the very different gay perspective on the world.   


29/30 October 2004:  Delivery of the Modern Sport programme for the Board and senior staff team of the Federation of Disability Sport Wales, focusing on strategic planning for the period from 2005 to 2009 and the Olympic bid for 2012, and the development of more effective board structures.   


25/26 October 2004:  Review of the Rural Gateway website hosted and managed for the Scottish Executive with our partners in Inverness.  This included a full explanation of the model and process for online community building and development.   


15/16 October 2004: Delivery of Modern Sport weekend for Tennis Wales, focusing on the legal status of the governing body and the governance and management structures in relation to the constituent counties and clubs.


8-10 October 2004: A weekend of  Taoist tantric body in the Fire on the Mountain workshop organised by Body Electric near Amsterdam.  This powerful all-male workshop has dramatic effects in stimulating and releasing body energy through breath work and massage, and develops a greater consciousness of our sacred intimacy.   


30 September - 6 October 2004: A family holiday at the recently developed HPB site at Henllys on Anglesey and in North Wales, with trips to Snowdonia, Bodnant Gardens, Plas Newydd, and the Menaii Straits. 


27 September 2004: Completion of locum community management and moderation assignment for a large online community operated by a professional institute.   


21 September 2004: Completion and delivery of a report for Age Concern Northern Ireland on the governance options for clarifying and re-structuring the relationship between the national organisation and its local groups.  


17/18 September 2004: Delivery of a training-for-trainers programme to over 30 sessional trainers on behalf of the Children's Hearings Training Units in Scotland.


17 September 2004:  David Nimmons' The Soul Beneath the Skin is an important book which succeeds brilliantly in exploring and charting a new and far more radical role for gay men in our society.  Subtitled 'The unseen hearts and habits of gay men', this well researched (American) book reinterprets our non-violent sub-culture, distinctive altruism and voluntarism, new and diffuse patterns of intimacy and relationships, and different forms of pleasure and bliss.  In a challenging final chapter, Nimmons sets out his practical agenda for 'Manifest Love' with a quite distinctive and radical way for gay men to be living together in intimate community with each other. 


11/12 September 2004: Two performance of King Pocky and the Battle on the Lake by Keswick Street Theatre Players as part of the national Heritage Open Day weekend.  The first performance took place at Keswick Museum, with the second at Barrow House youth hostel on Derwentwater.    


4 September 2004: The annual end-of-season Borrowdale Mallet tournament was played in good sunshine on the lawns of the Keswick Country House Hotel.  Players were organised in three pools and each played a total of three or four matches using bisques to produce overall winners as follows:  Tim Pickles (3 wins and 23 scoring hoops), Jim Taylor (2 wins, 1 draw and 20 scoring hoops) and Lewis Garrett (2 wins and 25 scoring hoops).     


26 August - 2 September 2004: A short holiday with Penny and Peter Sharland at Tigh Mor Trossachs enjoying the southern Highlands.  This was meant to be a three week expedition across the High Atlas mountains, but the ruptured achilles tendon put paid to that!  Instead, gentle (actually, not so gentle, but don't tell my consultant) exercise on foot and bike, with good friends, in a less testing environment.


21/22 August 2004:  Delivery of Modern Sport programme for the Board and senior staff of Netball Scotland, focusing on re-structuring the organisation, incorporation, decision-making procedures, member benefits and communications.  


17 August 2004:  Updated briefing paper for volunteers offering help with the organisation and assembly of the FRCC Centenary Exhibition now published.  


11 August 2004:  At last: after two months, final leg cast removed (after achilles heal rupture surgery) and finally able to start hobbling around again with limited assistance.  Several weeks of physiotherapy required in order to rebuild muscle tone and strength, and to re-introduce elasticity into the foot.


31 July - 7 August 2004:  A relaxing and chilled-out gay men's week at Laurieston Hall near Castle Douglas run by the Edward Carpenter Community.  An engaging mixture of workshops, events, games and general conversation in a supportive and nurturing community environment.


27 July 2004: Review meeting with the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department  regarding the operation and management of the Rural Gateway website operated by Sift.   


26 July 2004: New contracts awarded to Tim Pickles Ventures for the delivery of a Modern Sports programme with Netball Scotland, and for a consultancy report with Age Concern Northern Ireland.


21 July 2004: Excellent post-surgery recovery report from the achilles tendon injury.  The third leg-cast now encases the foot set at right-angles and enables weight-bearing on the leg for the first time in six weeks.  Final removal of the cast and the commencement of the physiotherapy stage is likely to occur during August.


14 July 2004:  Planning meeting with Tennis Wales exploring alternative structures for re-structuring and modernising the governance of the organisation.  


8/9 July 2004: Summer meeting at the University of Warwick of FPM Associates and Trainers engaged in delivering management development programmes for various clients.   


7 July 2004: Draft version of the Proposals and Briefing Paper for the FRCC Centenary Exhibition now published with a working title of 10 Decades of Mountaineering.


5 July 2004: Review and support meeting with CIPD regarding the development of the CIPD Online Communities.  


1/2 July 2004:  Advisory and consultancy meeting with SCVO staff in Inverness responsible for the Content and Community Management of the Rural Gateway website, operated by Sift on behalf of the Scottish Executive.  


30 June 2004:  Presentation of final report and recommendations for the modernisation of the management and governance structures for Scottish Squash at their AGM in Perth as part of the Modern Sport programme.  


25/26 June 2004:  FRCC Centenaryplanning meet held at Beetham Cottage, Ullswater with around 20 members to take forward ideas for the centenary on several fronts.  Significant progress made on developing a theme for the Mountaineering Festival exhibition, including a general outline of the structure of the exhibition and the way in which multimedia stations will be deployed to display thematic aspects of the club's climbing history.  


13 June 2004:  Following a fall, underwent an emergency operation in Cumberland Infirmary for a partially ruptured achilles tendon.  My foot and lower leg are now immobilised in plaster and I will be unable to walk or drive for several months.  Discharged home on 14 June.  Plan to resume work, where practical, next week.


5-12 June 2004: Annual week-long gay men's retreat event run by the Edward Carpenter Community on the theme of 'Healing Spirit' at Laurieston Hall, Castle Douglas.  A community of 35 men exploring aspects of our health and spirituality through workshops, discussion groups, meditation and contact with the elements. This week included workshops on earth, air, fire and water; transit of venus; sweat lodge; massage; shamanic practice; as well as the usual large and small group sessions.  


3 June 2004:  Practical Online Communities Workshop for content editors and community managers of the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) working on the IDeA Knowledge websites, concerned with best practice in modernising local government.


27 May 2004: Completion of major report and recommendations on Working Effectively in Partnerships on behalf of FPM for the new Centres of Excellence established by each of the Regional Development Associations exploring barriers to creating productive collaborations arrangements and solutions in terms of networking structures, support, training and coaching.   


23 May 2004:  Alan Hollinghurst's fourth novel is, perhaps, his best yet.  The Line of Beauty succeeds in capturing the decadence, the corruption, and the greed of Britain's Thatcherite 80's in a way which reminds the reader of the social divisions created by that decade.  The main character, Nick Guest, lives up to his (ironic) surname by moving into a world which is not his whilst never really being accepted into it.  Moving in social circles that include parliamentary London, holiday homes in France, and lavish country house dances, he pursues his chase for men and his fascination with the 'line of beauty' seeing Hogarth's form in architecture, paintings and the male body.  His final fall is inevitable but unpredictable in its nature.  As usual, Hollinghurst's prose is exemplary, capturing the fine detail of situations through wonderful word pictures.  His description and analysis of gay relationships - and the unavoidable subject of AIDS - is as good as ever.  


7-21 May 2004:  Two very relaxing weeks of walking, reading, socialising and sunbathing in the Canaries.  The first week at HPB Los Gigantes on Tenerife included a  descent of the Masca Gorge, a traverse of the full El Teide ridge, and an exploration of the remarkable Paisaje Lunar.  The second week was spent with 16 men from the Edward Carpenter Community in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera.  Living together in a private complex we were able to enjoy a range of energetic walks around this fabulous island as well as enjoying several of the beaches. 


1-3 May 2004:  A weekend gathering of Edward Carpenter Community members here in Keswick was rewarded by almost continuous sunshine throughout.  Thirteen people enjoyed communal hospitality, and excellent walking on Helvellyn, Skiddaw, Bleaberry Fell, Cat Bells, and around Derwent Water.


29 April 2004:  Delivery of the Dealing with Disaffection programme for teachers, social workers and support staff working across Dumfries and Galloway, focusing on effective techniques for engaging and working with excluded young people.

v28 April 2004: Opening of the Keswick Croquet Club 2004 season at the Keswick Country House Hotel.


27/28 April 2004:  Delivery of Transforming Youth Work Management programme, third element, focusing on the strategic management of resources (including management information systems, costings, relationships and partnerships), on behalf of FPM for senior youth work managers from across the Midlands and the South.


26 April 2004: Assessment of requirements and specification for the development of member club homepages and web domains for Royal Yachting Association Scotland on behalf of SportScotland.


21/22 April 2004:  Second delivery of a consultation workshop on Working Effectively in Partnerships for FPM on behalf of the new Centre of Excellence in the South West Region, with an emphasis on youth involvement in local partnerships.


16-18 April 2004:  "The human condition: lost in thought" (Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks - see Great Reads.  A weekend-long meditation programme at Higham Hall, developing the practice of Vipassana (awareness meditation) and Metta (loving kindness meditation) together with aspects of Mindfulness and Hinderances.  A weekend of conscious joy and relaxation. 


15 April 2004: Updated planning information and programme for the FRCC Centenary published, including recommendations for the Centenary Dinner(s). 


1/2 April 2004:  Regular gathering of FPM Associates engaged in delivering a range of management development programmes for public sector clients, at the University of Warwick.


30/31 March 2004: First delivery of a consultation workshop on Working Effectively in Partnerships for FPM on behalf of the new Centre of Excellence in the North West Region, with officers from five different strategic partnerships across the region.  This workshop presents current thinking on partnership working and identifies the needs of local strategic partnerships for effective support.


26 March 2004:  Theatre by the Lake's Easter presentation of Melvyn Bragg's The Hired Man is probably the best production yet staged in the main house.  With a cast of 30 + dog, the apparently simple set belies the complex choreography and lighting designs.  With music by Howard Goodall, it won Best Musical on London when first produced in 1984.  The Keswick production is an outstanding success. 


19-21 March 2004: Relaxing and fun weekend gathering of former Framework consultants and families at Craven Arms, Shropshire.


18 March 2004:  Coming Out Spiritually by Christian de la Huerta offers an engaging and informative guide to gay men wanting to explore and reclaim their sense of spirituality.  Written in four parts, the opening section present an excellent analysis of the contribution gay men have made to society by "walking between the worlds" as counsellors, shamans, transformers, bridge-builders, consciousness scouts, and mediators.  Subsequent sections explore different routes into developing awareness of our spirituality with a whole chapter devoted to sex and sexuality as an expression of spiritual consciousness.  An extensive appendix provides an informed summary of the attitudes of most faiths towards queer practices, including western and eastern religions, pagans, fairies, and many alternative faiths. 


17/18 March 2004:  Delivery of Element 2 (Strategic Planning and Change) of the Transforming Youth Work Management programme for senior youth work staff from across the Midlands on behalf of FPM and DfES.


5-12 March 2004: A business trip to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania delivering an Online Services Management programme for community managers and web service planners working for the British Council throughout East Africa.   Whilst in Tanzania, I took the opportunity to spend a few days visiting Zanzibar, just 35 km offshore from the coast.  Staying at Imani Beach, just a few kilometres north of Zanzibar Town, this was an ideal base for relaxing on the beach and visiting historic Stone Town.  With abundant fish, the local restaurants create some excellent meals at very low cost.  Offshore from Zanzibar Town are several small islands including the privately owned Chapwani Island measuring just 400 x 100 metres in size; its small guest house is a perfect island hideaway surrounded by lush tropical forest, fantastic beaches, and remarkable wildlife. 


23-27 February 2004:  Bright sunshine and sub-zero temperatures for a week's winter walking and island-hopping in western Scotland from a short-break base in Oban.  Clockwise from top left: Bridge over the Atlantic, Seil Island; Ben Sgulaird in Appin; winter in Tobermory harbour; Ben More hills on Mull.


14/15 February 2004:  Delivery of Modern Sport programme for the Management Board of Scottish Squash, as part of the Modernising Sport agenda.  This is a development programme aimed at updating the governance, management and strategy of sports governing bodies based upon work developed over the past eight years and now being rolled out nationally. 


14 February 2004: The trilogy of books by Neale Donald Walsch have been mentioned previously on this site.  Conversations with God presents an accessible, engaging and challenging view of spirituality.  Written in the form of a dialogue between the author and God, Book Three took four times as long as the previous two volumes to complete, but it engages in far deeper themes.  This is an exploration of cosmology, truth, the universe, our inter-connectedness with each other (and all other things), the constancy of change, the illusion of time (and space), the existence of nothing, and human life as 'being physical'.  The conversation discloses the location of our spirit and its relation to past and present lives - both physical and ethereal, and offers a deep insight into our true relationship with God as revealed by so many different teachers over past millennia.  This third book is undoubtedly more profound than the previous two volumes but is perhaps not the best place to start this journey.   


13 February 2004: 3rd Facilitators Conference in Cheltenham for Countryside Agency staff and partners managing over 20 online Learning Networks for regional rural affairs forums and rural regeneration programmes.    


11 February 2004:  Patrick Gale's fiction deserves its growing audience.  He is great story-teller who begins each work with several apparently disconnected strands which are then increasingly woven together until a final and often surprising conclusion is reached.  Two of his books have entertained me in recent months.  Little Bits of Baby shows how the unexpected return of a long-lost friend can have surprisingly consequences on friends and family alike as all must make adjustments to their apparently contented lives in response; it touches on love, death, abandonment and loyalty..  Rough Music weaves an intriguing story between two time frames to explore the nature of childhood, innocence and loss.  Relationships, love and sexuality are a recurring motif in Gale's work and both books are recommended.


4/5 February 2004:  Delivery of Element 1 (Strategic Leadership of a modern public sector organisation) of the Transforming Youth Work Management programme for senior youth work and Connexions staff from across the West Midlands area. 


31 January/1 February 2004:  Delivery of Modern Sport programme for the National Executive Council of Scottish Volleyball Association, as part of the Modernising Sport agenda.  This is a development programme aimed at updating the governance, management and strategy of sports governing bodies. 


30 January 2004: Planning meeting of facilitators and tutors engaged in delivery of the Modern Sport programme to governing bodies throughout the UK.


28/29 January 2004:  Delivery of Element 3 (Managing Resources Strategically) of the Transforming Youth Work Management programme for senior youth work and Connexions staff from London and the south-east. 


16 January 2004:  Workshop on Performance Appraisal for senior managers and board of M6 Theatre Company in Rochdale who create theatre-in-education productions for young people in the Manchester area.


16 January 2004:  The trilogy of books comprising His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is a remarkable fictional achievement.  Ostensibly written for children, these books provide a depth of creativity, imagination and story-telling which is rarely encountered.  Each book holds increasing interest and challenge.  Pullman draws upon a vast range of inspiration to address some fundamental issues: the nature of life and of death, human consciousness, parallel worlds, our spirits and souls, the use and abuse of religion, power and corruption, innocence and adolescence, loyalty and love.  These are books to savour and enjoy, to read and re-visit.  Alongside the many other books I've been reading recently, His Dark Materials is a perfect complement.


15 January 2004: Delivery of Advanced Tools Training workshop for facilitators of online learning networks working for the Countryside Agency and its partners. 


3 January 2004:  Wasdale as a sacred place. "You can hear the spirit in the wind moving the trees outside the hostel windows; in the echo of the fireworks as they reverberate back from the Screes; in the sound of water lapping the shore of the lake; in the diagonal streaks of rain and sleet blowing down the valley; in the particular crunch of soft snow which has fallen, melted and frozen hard again; and in the late afternoon horizontal light as it casts long shadows across the burnt-siena hillsides."