Talks and demonstrations

I am an Essex based WI approved speaker and give talks and demonstrations on an eclectic mix of subjects.
COVID Update: due to Covid restrictions I am currently offering talks via Zoom. This obviously means that I am not restricted by travelling distance, so can give my talks to any groups across the UK. There is also of course no mileage cost for zoom talks. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements.
My talks currently include:
  • **NEW** ‘Around the world in 33 years and 7 months’
  • ‘A Year in Beekeeping’
  • ‘The View from Space’
  • ’90 years of Social History Through the Eyes of Mildred, my Austin Seven’
  • ‘Blacksmithing: from then to now’
You can read my testimonials here. I have spoken to WI, U3A, Townswomen’s Guild and Probus groups, amongst others, and am also in the WI book of ‘approved’ speakers.
I also have a version of my ‘Year in Beekeeping’ talk specially adapted for Blind and Partially Sighted (BAPS) groups.

For my talks I use PowerPoint including video (I have all my own projection equipment) and am comfortable talking to groups of all sizes: from small clubs meeting in halls or pubs, to a 200 seater auditorium. To assist with viewing of the PowerPoint slides it is important that venues for daylight talks have the capability to reduce natural light. I do not use PowerPoint for my BAPS talk.

Charges: for regular groups I charge £75 for talks given to end of 2021, plus travel costs, currently at 35p a mile (WI county mileage rate), from north Essex. Payment is due at the end of the talk. Please contact me to discuss your needs for larger groups.

Around the world in 33 years and 7 months

I spent a large part of my business life traveling the world, eating strange things, and meeting interesting people. Once I truly did fly right around the world in one trip.

In this talk I take a meandering journey through my business trips, recounting some of the stranger things that have happened to me (including having to bribe my way out of Nigeria), remembering some of the interesting people I have met, and reflecting on a few of the lessons I have learnt, including the benefits from learning just enough Mandarin to worry our distributor.

A Year in Beekeeping

My wife and I have been keeping bees for over 24 years. Using a real beehive as a prop, supported by videos and slides, I talk about a year in beekeeping, explaining what needs attention month by month, and talking through the seasons from a beekeeper’s perspective.

I talk about some amazing ways in which bees have featured in our history and cover some of the current questions about falling numbers of bees, and what we can all do to help them thrive.

I will also bring honey and hive products to sell.

I also have a version of this talk suitable for Blind and Partially Sighted (BAPS) groups.

The View From Space

This talk looks at some of the amazing things we see from space, both looking to Earth and looking out into the Milky Way galaxy and the Universe.

Are we really likely to be alone? What amazing discoveries have national space agencies, including NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency) made, and what will they be doing in the coming years?

The talk also examines some of the myths and realities of what can be seen from space; can you actually see a car number plate from a satellite as spy films suggest, and is the Great Wall of China really the only man made thing you can see from space?

90 Years of Social History Through the Eyes of an Austin Seven

I have owned an 1933 Austin Seven for the last 12 years. She is called Mildred, for reasons I explain in my talk. This is not an oily rag ‘car club’ talk (unless you want it to be!), more a social history story.

I start by looking at life on and around the roads in the 1920s and 30s, the days of the Austin Seven. What made the Austin Seven so popular and why were the roads so much more dangerous than today?

I look at how the Austin Seven became the ‘Motor for the Millions’, finding its way into people’s hearts to this day.

I also  talk about the realities of driving an octogenarian car with string brakes, lights little more than candle power, and just enough power to reach 40mph… downhill… but you wouldn’t; it’s a little too scary.

I intersperse my talk with some of the strange stories people have told us about Austin Seven ownership, often involving buying an Austin Seven in the 50s or 60s for a few pounds, and then driving it with umpteen passengers to a seaside adventure. My favourite story involves a Nigerian Governor, his wife, the Sahara Desert, and an Austin Seven Chummy… but you’ll have to come to a talk to hear more.

Blacksmithing, from then to now

In this talk I will take you through the story of blacksmithing.

I explain its beginnings, its peak through the medieval period, through to its decline in the 20th century, with some thoughts on where it goes from here.

I will also look at how the role was synomynous with the farrier, until eventually splitting into 2 trades.

I will also argue that in their day the blacksmith was as important to the smooth running of the systems of society as the computer engineer is today.

Contact me for more information or to book a talk.