Swarthmore Free Online Classes

Swarthmore invite you to join them online, as they are providing Free courses available to all Leeds residents. Each week they will release a range of courses from Art to Health and Well-being to Languages, to take part in these courses fill out the simple enrolment form and they  will contact you soon after to walk you through how to access the courses.

The courses run on Google Classrooms so you will either need to use Google Chrome as your browser or the Google Classroom app on tablets and phones – Swarthmore will help with this.

This week’s courses include, Poetry, Felt Art, Upcycling paper boxes, Somatics (movement for easier breathing), Creative Writing, Sewing, Making a Planter and lots more see Swarthmore website for the full list and all the information you need to enrol.

If you need assistance you can contact Jackie, Student Advisor on: Jackie.holding@swarthmore.org.uk or call 07946761930

For this week’s courses you need to enrol by 4pm on Wed 1st July and then you can access the course up till 4pm on Sunday 5th.  Tutors will be online at specific times – givien in the course details for each subject.

New courses for next week will be on the website for enrolment after 1st July.


‘Cutting edge technology’ written by Oliver Cross

Dear all,
I’ve never been one to go overboard on original research, but once I noticed a vegetable peeler in a hardware store which intrigued me so much I felt obliged, quite against my usual journalistic, practice to make a telephone call.

The peeler, although this was only five or six years ago, struck me as coming from my childhood – the 1950s or 60s maybe. It had a broad, pointed metal blade with a slit in it which did the peeling. The blade was attached, by tightly-wrapped orange string, to a wooden handle.

The peeler, according to the box it came in, was made in the UK and there was a telephone number on it, presumably so I could cope with any technical difficulties or order new peelers for my friends.

So I bought one, for less than £1, and phoned the company to ask why they hadn’t realised that Britain no longer manufactured cheap and useful household goods, leaving that sort of thing to other countries.

I asked to speak to the press department, but the receptionist said she would put me through to the managing director, who answered so quickly that I concluded he  was probably in the same room and possibly on the same phone.

He had a delightful Black Country accent (which sounds like a contradiction, but he was so friendly and enthusiastic that any sort of accent would have won me over) and he explained that ‘metal bashing’ of various sorts had been the family business for decades – the peeler bring a being only one of many example s.

He accepted that the other countries did make a similar-looking product, but the give-away difference was that the orange string was not string at all, but was moulded in plastic as part of the handle.

The Black Country string was real and wrapped around the handle before being secured, without pins, knots or glue by a process which he called ‘sort of doubling back on itself’. He couldn’t do it himself  but one of his workers who was especially deft had been doing it for decades, and he didn’t know what would happen to the peeler side of the business should she become troubled with arthritis, or decide she needed to move on from string-winding.

As the interview with the managing director was winding down, I asked him whether there had been any interesting developments in peeler technology during his time in the peeler industry.

Well, he said, there had been the invention of the left-handed peeler, although he couldn’t say much about that because he had never peeled anything in his life on account of only having one hand. I know, as a journalist, that I should have followed this up in some way but found myself speechless, disability being a difficult area for the over-sensitive.

And all this came back as an unintended consequence of the present lockdown, which causes you to notice things you haven’t noticed in years. I found, during an idle moment, the Black Country peeler at the back of a kitchen drawer and reflected that it had hardly ever been used because, whatever its proud industrial heritage, it’s no more use than any short, sharp knife,

See picture below

Thank you Oliver, I used to have one similar, not seen it for ages, and yes the Midlands accent is a delight…….until next time

The Black Country refers to a region of more than one million people covering most of the four Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. The first trace of the phrase “The Black Country” as an expression dates from the 1840s. The name is believed to come from the soot from the heavy industries that covered the area, although the 30-foot-thick (10-metre) coal seam close to the surface is another possible origin. Back then the population experienced perpetual twilight reigns during the day, and during the night fires on all sides would light up the dark landscape with a fiery glow. Sourced The Black Country Living Museum: bclm.co.uk

‘Monday Mind Workout’ – Answers from Monday 29th June 2020

Dear all, please find below the answers from yesterday’s workout. How did you do?

  1. Dark Sunday or Saturday? Black Sabbath
  2. Unemployment card – UB40
  3. Champagne and orange – Buck’s Fizz
  4. First book in the bible –Genesis
  5. Lads that run an establishment selling animals –Pet Shop Boys
  6. They gather no moss – Rolling Stones
  7. Refined Association –Culture Club
  8. The direction where it is lovely –Beautiful South
  9. Merlin – Wizard
  10. Nosey feline is dead –Curiosity Killed the Cat
  11. Sinatra is off to make a film – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  12. They need straightening out –The Kinks
  13. B.A., B.Sc. and M.F.A. – Three Degrees 
  14. Cadbury’s very warm – Hot Chocolate
  15. Could be joiners or cabinet makers –The Carpenters 
  16. Sun Casts Them – The Shadows
  17. 7.Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – Four Seasons
  1. Anne, Mary, Elizabeth or Victoria –Queen 
  2. Stag, Cowboy, Dung and Colorado – Beatles
  3. Late night athlete on deck C – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
  4. Throw Small Fruit– Chuck Berry
  5.  22.John Toilet – LuLu
  1. The Legend of the Chocolate Bar– Aerosmith
  2. Best Pal is Prickly Bush –Buddy Holly
  3. Both of You –U2

‘Monday Mind Workout’ – Monday 29th June 2020

Good morning,

Today’s ‘Monday Mind Workout’ is themed around cryptic clues for bands or singers past and present. E.g Enticements = Temptations

  1. Dark Sunday or Saturday?
  2. Unemployment card
  3. Champagne and orange
  4. First book in the bible
  5. Lads that run an establishment selling animals
  6. They gather no moss
  7. Refined Association
  8. The direction where it is lovely
  9. Merlin
  10. Nosey feline is dead
  11. Sinatra is off to make a film
  12. They need straightening out
  13. B.A., B.Sc. and M.F.A.
  14. Cadbury’s very warm
  15. Could be joiners or cabinet makers
  16. Sun Casts Them
  17. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
  18. Anne, Mary, Elizabeth or Victoria
  19. Stag, Cowboy, Dung and Colorado
  1. Late night athlete on deck C
  2. Throw Small Fruit
  3. John Toilet
  4. The Legend of the Chocolate Bar
  5. Best Pal is Prickly Bush
  6. Both of You

Best of luck and let me know how you get on.

Shared Moments: Day 77 ‘Thomas the Tank’ Written by Maureen Kershaw

Day 77 – Rain at last! After a few glorious days and being able to get ‘all dolled up’ in Summer clothing – to visit the supermarket – today is a day for staying at home. To watch the long awaited rain, catch up on household tasks (what are they?) maybe with a catch up of recorded TV progs playing in the background. Find photos to accompany my Lockdown blogs ready for the book. Ironing perchance? Mmm, we’ll see. E-mails to reply to, phone calls to make, the next batch of ‘Memories’ to write, a story for a magazine, prep. my next piece for the Museums & Galleries – the days are not long enough for all that is to be done. Thank goodness I’ve not got into bread-making, it took long enough to download ‘Zoom’ properly.

I promised myself I would read more; many books were started but remain unfinished. They remind me of being halfway through knitting a garment before the novelty wore off and I would start another. In 1984 I started knitting a jumper in a cosy white wool with an occasional cerise and grey fleck. I loved the feel of it until, in pregnancy, I couldn’t bear to touch it and it made me feel ill! The jumper was packed away whilst I knitted babywear with no problem. I never returned to the unfinished  jumper but I loved to knit all manner of knitwear for my young son. The one disaster though was a ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ jumper. I didn’t quite master the art of all those different colours being successfully brought to life and Thomas’s face did not smile but was cross-eyed and looked in excruciating pain. I was too embarrassed to photograph it but Darren wore it with pride. Maybe during Lockdown I could return to knitting? Perhaps not. I have more than enough to occupy my time, in particular this very day……unless I get a better offer.

We are pleased you were able to fit an article in for us too Maureen, thank you, until next time…..

Global Online Coronavirus Response Summit (happening now) and an all star concert this evening

Political leaders and celebrities from around the world are taking part in a global online coronavirus summit.

It’s part of the ongoing effort to raise money to develop affordable vaccines, tests and treatments for the virus.

Speakers include the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are also set to speak at the event.

It will be followed by a concert that will feature performances from the likes of Coldplay, Justin Bieber and Shakira to name just a few

Summit is happening now and then the concert will stream at 7pm – Global Goal Unite for Our Future

A message from Leeds City Council on Armed Forces Day

Celebrate Armed Forces Day at home this Saturday

Leeds Armed Forces Day, Saturday 27th June. How you can get involved.

People of all ages across Leeds are encouraged to celebrate the courage, dedication and commitment of the British Armed Forces, as part of Leeds Armed Forces Day on 27 June.

Armed Forces Day is usually marked by hundreds of events across the UK, however due to Covid-19 these events have been cancelled so people are now being encouraged to celebrate from their own homes.

During this week we are honouring the role of the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force, Reservists, veterans, cadets and the wider Armed Forces family in society and also thanking them for their support in helping with the ongoing Covid-19 effort.

Despite not being able to hold the flag raising ceremony this year the Armed Forces Day flag will still be flying from 20-27 June from the Civic Hall and Leeds Town Hall and we will still be lighting up our council buildings in red, white and blue during this week.

How will you be marking Armed Forces Day?

For resources and ideas on how to get involved, you can go to: https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/

We are also supporting the Salute Our Forces campaign. You can pay tribute to the British Armed Forces by posting a photo or video of yourself or your family, friends and colleagues saluting using the hashtag #SaluteOurForces #LeedsAFD20 and tagging @LeedsAFD and @ArmedForcesDay. For more information go to https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/saluteourforces/

Chapel FM will be doing a special show for Armed Forces day. This will include several veteran radio hosts introducing pre-recorded oral histories about life in the Armed Forces from people from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds and areas of service. Saturday 27th June 10am – 4pm. Tune in to the Armed Forces Day broadcast:

  • On FM radio at 94.6FM in many parts of Leeds
  • On elfm.co.uk anywhere in the world
  • And online later for listening on demand

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor said:

“I’m delighted and honoured to be hosting the city’s Armed Forces Day celebrations. Unfortunately we cannot hold the usual Flag Raising Ceremony or the parade this year but we can still come together at home to acknowledge and show our thanks for the Armed Forces.

“As a city, we are extremely proud of our long and distinguished military history and of our current Armed Forces personnel who work in various deployments at home and abroad – addressing emergencies, providing security and supporting numerous initiatives in dangerous situations, with great dedication and professionalism. I would like to thank them all and especially for their contribution with the ongoing pandemic”

Cllr Jane Dowson, Leeds Armed Forces Champion said:

“Leeds Armed Forces Day is a chance for us all to say a big thank you to our service men and women. I think everyone will want to join with me in thanking Armed Forces personnel for all the work they are doing currently to help during the current Covid-19 pandemic. I would like to offer a big thank you to everyone taking part and I will be saluting them all on Saturday. I hope you will join me.

“I hope you will tune in to Chapel FM – 94.6FM on Saturday 27th June from 10am – 4pm for a dedicated day of activities including pre-recorded interviews, phone in’s and dedications throughout the day.”

Leeds City Council is most grateful to the Ministry of Defence for their funding towards this event.

Leeds Armed Forces Day to be marked with a day of festivities and excitement: Armed Forces Day salute

Lots of things to give us entertainment and food for thought from Leeds Playhouse

Here’s a little round up of theatre performances and short videos that our friends at Leeds Playhouse have been sharing for you to see at home.

We are looking forward to the day when we can come back and visit the theatre.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Celebrating the infectious music of Ian Dury and the BlockheadsGraeae’s Reasons To Be Cheerful is a punk rock musical and gritty coming of age tale, which leaves audiences shouting for more.  Graeae is a theatre company championing deaf and disabled actors  – a force for change in world-class theatre – breaking down barriers, challenging preconceptions and boldly placing Deaf and disabled artists centre stage.

Watch Reasons to be Cheerful

Available to watch until 3rd August. Film captioned & audio described versions also available.  Please note that this contains language and themes that some may find offensive.


Northern Ballet’s Dracula  Returns to the Quarry Theatre…sort of.

Watch Dracula 

Northern Ballet and BBC Four have partnered to bring you this sold out show, so if you didn’t catch it last year, take this opportunity.   Step into the world of Dracula – if you dare.


Windrush: Movement of the People

Watch Windrush

Windrush: Movement of the People is a stunning original dance piece created by Phoenix Dance Theatre. If you missed the premiere at the Playhouse in 2018, now’s your chance to catch it. With dynamic choreography by Sharon Watson and original music by Christella Litras it’s a beautiful narrative piece for dance lovers and a perfect option for drama fans too.



Wannabe is a hilarious, heart-warming docu-drama about a group of women who form a Spice Girls tribute band. From Breach Theatre, the team behind It’s True, It’s True, It’s True, ‘stop right now’ and take minutes out to spice up your lockdown life with this pocket sized docu-drama.

Watch Wannabe


Nine Lives

Fleeing from his home where a fresh wave of homophobia threatens his life, Ishmael has sought sanctuary in the UK and arrives in Leeds … can he find a place to call home again?
This powerful and intimate drama was originally commissioned at the Playhouse and features Lladel Bryant of the Pop-Up Theatre company, it’s written by Zodwa Nyoni and directed by Alex Chisholm.

Watch Nine Lives


Strung Out – Refugee Week 2020

Phosphoros Theatre created a 40 minute film, exploring friendship, refugee identity and not giving up. Filmed and performed under lockdown by refugee actors Strung Out.  This short film takes a bold, sideways look at expectations, friendship and what it means to let go.

Watch Strung Out