Telling Children About Richard Dawkins is Dangerous

Should we ban Richard Dawkins?

Telling children about Richard Dawkins could be dangerous for their health, claims common sense

According to a somewhat controversial notion of common sense, telling children about Richard Dawkins could be bad for their health and well-being.

According to his entry in the Daily Mail of June 4th (note at this point the writer is thinking we could also replace Richard Dawkins with the Daily Mail for this article) he has now warned us of the dangers of make believe.

Well heaven help us. Without make believe, where would imagination come from, where would the dreams of young minds, the lofty goals of kids come from? Who would we look to for inspiration to better ourselves? To look upwards from our own perspectives? Where would the new inventions of tomorrow be derived from? I don’t mean the reworked versions of the microwave, or the latest iteration of the iPod. I means the things that aren’t even thought of yet. They come from imagination and imagination is sparked by stories, of make believe. For yesterday’s make believe has been made into reality in some cases.

Some could say our generations of children could be inspired by people of today. Look to their peers. The Beckhams, the Dahli Lhamas, the Mother Theresas, The people we would wish ourselves to be. Sadly, I fear they are overwhelmed by the glut of other figureheads fed to us in the media who frankly I would not want my children to know about, let alone emulate. I would rather my kids believed themselves to be able to be Peter Pan than David Cameron.

“Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasy of childhood?” asks Dawkins. Well frankly yes it is, because its called CHILDhood for a reason Dick! It is a time of play, of fantasy, of fun and excitement. It will end all to quickly, without the need to ‘Foster a spirit of scepticism’ I believe the only thing we should be sceptical of is Mr Dawkins really.

He has also questioned whether we should let children believe in Father Christmas. Now even as a christian who believes that Christmas has become all about the latest playstation console and no longer about the birth of Christ, I see no harm in allowing children to dream about sharing gifts and spending time together.

Like everything in society these days everything can be taken and stretched beyond all recognition. Moderation seems to be a word missing from our vocabularies recently. We have to have it all, to have everything we want, believe, desire, even if that means someone else should go without.

Maybe we should look to teach our children about a fantasy world where we look at each other with equality, where everyone is fed, clothed, housed, welcomed, loved, respected with equal measure. Maybe that is something to get our children to dream about.

But according to Mr Dawkins, we shouldn’t be doing that. Because at the minute, that world only exists in the realms of Make Believe!

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A change of tack…..

So I am the worst person in the world at keeping up with blogging etc. However, it seems i do have some things to say, so be warned. From now on I intend to vocalise my innermost thoughts on here. They may be photography related, they may not. They may be funny, they may not. If its in my head it will go on the page. That’s the warning.


Now, in case you missed it this morning, here is today’s thought on (Poor?) David Moyes.


“First off can I say I know nothing about football. Secondly I have no bone in the Moyes In/Out fight.

That said, if the players are the same (near enough) and are still getting paid the same ridiculous money for their supposed skills. How can they all have got so crap in the past 10 months? Did Fergie tell them which boot to kick with and which foot to run on? Have they all had lobotomies? (honestly in the case of Rooney the jury is still out)

I don’t feel sorry for Moyes. Anyone following Ferguson would have got canned. If he gets his reported 5million payoff, I suppose he will just have to tighten his belt for a while, like the rest of us.

Maybe he should have shouted a bit more, maybe he should have thrown a few more boots. Maybe he should have told the owwners and management to sod off and let him get on with it.

Perhaps, rather than sack the manager, they should have clauses in the player’s contracts. Play like crap, get fired!

It only goes to show that Ferguson was a ego massager, counsellor of twits, hot air confidence blower & general all round highly paid ass kisser.

At the risk of encurring the wrath of many of my football loving friends, surely there are better things in this world to worry about.”

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Love is patient……..

To Dad,


Today was the service of thanksgiving for my mum. It was a lovely ocassion of people gathering together to celebrate the life and achievements of a very special lady. But yet I found myself drawn not to recount the lifetime and exploits of my mum, but a different story I have witnessed during these last few weeks. These words are penned not from me, but form what I have witnessed by watching my dad in these last few days.


­”Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.



We all know these words, or another variation of them. Some of us may even have spoken them or had them read for us on our wedding day. I must have heard them recited during at least 30 weddings now myself. For sure, if most of us heard the words ‘love is patient’ we could follow them with the next couple of lines at least.


But, even with the love I have been blessed with within my family for all these years, I have only seen their true meaning in the last few weeks. I have seen that true meaning brought to life in the gentle hands of the man I am proud to call my dad.


If you would, allow me to rewrite them in their true meaning to explain to you how I have witnessed them in these last few weeks.


Love is Patient : When you do not want to take your medicine, when you do not want to go to bed, when you do not agree with me, when you are frustrated with everything in general, when you are tired and grumpy, I will persist until you are cared for and at rest.


Love is Kind : A word of encouragement when you are feeling low, a gentle touch of your pained hand, a goodnight kiss on your sleeping forehead, a sharing of your pain, a holding of your hand to sit together in silence.


Love does not envy: But if I could take this burden from you, I would.


Love does not boast: I do not do these things for praise. Only you and I will ever know the extent of what we go through together.


Love is not proud: Whatever you need, I will do it, whether you ask it of me or not.


It is not rude: I will always try to have a loving or encouraging word, even when I want to scream at the world


It is not demand its own way: You are the most important thing to me.


Love is not easily angered: No matter what life throws at us or how unfair that may be. It does not mean I will not be angered, but rather that I will save my anger for what deserves it.


It keeps no record of wrongs: Whatever they may have been, they are not important.


It does not rejoice in injustice: It is not right that we should be parted like this.


It rejoices in the truth: I have loved you all of these years, that is my greatest truth.


Surely it has protected you, it has trusted in you, it has hoped upon hope with you, it has endured with you, in all of these days.


In all of these I have witnessed Faith, Hope and Love like no other in these last few weeks, months and years, but truly, through all of them, the greatest of these has been Love.”

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Love My Park – Month 4 – I take the Low Road

April saw me taking a wander along the Lower Newtownabbey Way. At this point I would like the reader to note the sacrifice I made this month, by undertaking this journey in what was possibly the coldest day without snow I have ever felt. I do this so that you might get to undertake this same journey in relatively mild climes. No need to thank me, although all donations will be gratefully received.Lower Newtownabbey Way-14

Its been a while since I’ve been down this way, which is odd since I studies at Jordanstown and used to be here all the time. I’ve been up and down the coast road as well loads of times and in Jordanstown Loch Shore Park more times than I can shake a stick at, but seem to have walked past the entrance to this little gem every time without noticing it even being there.

Lower Newtownabbey Way-45For the unitiated, the entrance to the Lower Newtownabbey Way is the entrance to the old Hotel, at the beginning of Whiteabbey Village. Its now a very nice development, lined with trees and a lovely place to start a little exploration. Walk on up through the development and past the open area next to the estate and all of a sudden you’re in a hidden forest paradise. Its not a big forest, or even a long walk, but its well worth the effort to go see, for all sorts of reasons.

Lower Newtownabbey Way-20First off, it is so peaceful and quiet here you could be forgiven for thinking you were on a deserted island. The little dip into the valley, along with the canopy of trees, kills every little niose but the local sounds. The gentle rush of water, the birds, even the insects are so clear.Amazing, given you are only half a mile away from one of the busiest stretches of dual carriageway in the country.

But its the water here that draws me. The river is making its last ditch to join the sea, but its not in a hurry to do so, rather taking its time in a leisurely way. The peaceful trickle would make you go to sleep, I am sure of it, if you were to rest your weary head.

Lower Newtownabbey Way-25And framing this watery path is a joining of the old and the new. The old Viaduct is majestic, a perfect throwback to olden days, to a time when architecture was big, bold and built to last.Lower Newtownabbey Way-33 A beautiful natural frame to the pathway that lies before you. (Can you tell I liked this place) Just past the old world, lies the new, the new railway bridge. A clean example of modern style, simple, clean and very elegant. Lower Newtownabbey Way-38Keep on heading up hill as far as the statues, to reach the edge of Monkstown Wood and complete your journey for this section. The path opens up, the view breaks into the distance with Monkstown ahead, but that’s for another day, so I head back towards the car. I must advise, if you intend to do the whole way, get a friend to drop you off or pick you up, its a long way back from the other side!

Lower Newtownabbey Way-35But the other beauty of this place is there is so much to see on the way back that woul would naturally have missed the first time, so many little side paths off to explore, to see the natural beauty of this hidden space. I think i must have photographed the viaduct form a dozen different places and a dozen more different angles.

Lower Newtownabbey Way-44Another aspect of this place is the people. If I met and chatted to one I met a dozen or more. Every one friendly, happy to chat about ‘their space’ and pass the time. Whether you are looking for a bit of peace, or a place to explore, or a place to just chill out, make your ‘Way’ to the lower path!


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Love My Park – month 3. The idiot who went up a hill and came down a mountain

This month, the brief for our jaunt into the wilderness took me to Carnmoney Hill & Rathfern Wood. What’s that, a wood in Carnmoney? Seriously? Carnmoney Hill-1The more I go through this journey, the more I am amazed at what exactly lies within our boundaries. The little gems of nature waiting to be discovered. Carnmoney Hill-2Here lies a little of something for everyone. When you enter the park itself at Carnmoney Community Centre, there is a short path for a quick walk around, some sculptures for the kids, a lake for the wildlife and some lovely open green areas to enjoy. Carnmoney Hill (8 of 194)_HDRHowever, short walks are for wimps and I had my sights set on loftier prizes. Beyond the initial area, there are no frills, no sculptures, no fanciness beyond a solid path to walk on. Carnmoney Birds-1Here, nature has been left to its own devices and to what an effect. The hill and woods are teeming with wildlife, with birds so cheeky, one even landed on the end of my lens. It is so peaceful here, you would be hard reminded you are on the edge of the city. The only sounds are the wind in the trees and the song of the birds. The tranquility of this place is fantastic, moreso perhaps, given its proximity to such a troubled area in recent history. Carnmoney Hill-15Carnmoney Hill-16There are several entrances to this haven, as I said, from Carnmoney Community Centre, form the back of the service station on the main road, near Carnmoney Cemetery and way round the far end of the path. All worth a visit, there is plenty of opportunity to revisit this place a dozen times and find something new every time.

Carnmoney Hill (35 of 194)_HDRBut back to the goal of the day. Carnmoney Hill-5I had noticed a viewing point on the map, and had heard of the view it offered. Halfway up the hill you say, doesn’t look that far on the map you say, can’t be that bad you say. Needless to say I need to brush up on my map reading. However, I would not change a single step, nor do I claim any of the time it took to get there wasted.

Carnmoney Hill-11    Carnmoney Hill-10

Instead, I breathed in the fresh air, cherished every step and eventually climbed the stairway to a breathtaking view I never knew could exist. I honestly think more of us should see our city form up here. I believe if they could see the beauty of it, and how small each of our individual little parts are in the totality of it, that we would understand how we all exist together, how we bring our city together. It is a somewhat spiritual place.

Carnmoney Panorama 2

Perhaps I did go up a hill on a crazy whim, but I certainly came down with a different view of our city, and an open mind to where we live. I can only recommend you go and experience it for yourself.

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White all around me

I missed my weekend away last week, due to the massive amount of white stuff round my area. This week, with the family away and my courage restored, I decided to have another go at climbing the mountain. Snow March 2013-10Last time the white stuff appeared, I tried to drive up the back roads round Slemish, managed to get to about 200 yards form the crest, only to have to reverse half a mile to find a spot I could turn around in without sticking my car in a drift. Yes, I know it was stupid and they say ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’, but I decided the shame was worth it, at least to try.

Snow March 2013-14I had the idea I would approach it from the other side this time, but when I drove round to bottom of Slemish, it wasn’t looking promising.



Snow March 2013-13A little further round and amazingly I found a couple of other colours in the mix as well. Maybe this wasn’t such a foolish thing after all……..

Then I got to the bottom of said road and wahey, its a 50 50 toss up whether I can even see the top of the road.

Snow March 2013-16Believe it or not, the top of the road is near enough exactly where the straight line from the road meets the crest of the hill. I just couldn’t see the whole way up.

Bearing in mind the channel cut through the snow drifts was about 6 inches wider than my car and the road was far from straight, there was no reversing out of this one.

However, fortune favours the brave (or the stupid, insert appropriate word here depending on how well you know me) so off I went.

It was hairy enough, half way up the road ends in a half and half drift covers snowy way. It was interesting to say Snow March 2013-18the least and at one stage I do remember thinking I could probably make it half way home before I froze. (OK I didn’t really think this through and your Sunday best is not really fit for purpose on the side of a snow covered hill)

To give you an idea, the photo on the right is of a gateway beside the road. Yes they are gateposts, and usually they extend about 5 feet from the ground. There ya go.

Snow March 2013-20I did manage to get over the top eventually and I never was as happy to see a stretch of downhill asphalt. For posterity, I stopped at the same old gateposts I managed to get as far as the last time, albeit looking at it from the right direction this time.

Along the way I managed to bump into a couple of folks, who were mighty happy toSnow March 2013-10 see me, maybe not so much when they realised I had no hay in the car. I also very aptly bumped into a couple of new lives on the way down. Very apt for Easter Sunday and for the start of Summer.

They left with a spring in their step. I left with a numb face and no feeling in my fingers.

Snow March 2013-12

However, there is a cautionary note in this tale. I got lucky today. If I had got stuck, I would have been stuffed. Several people this season already have come on the wrong side of this beauty of nature. On the way home, I found  a local farmers yard, which was perfectly sound and solid before the snow started. Look at it now. It ain’t pretty and frankly not a lot of use anymoreSnow March 2013-21.

But the rub of this all, is, I did make it! I got home safe and sound, I passed over the crest of the old ways and into the new path of Summer. And this is what greeted me as I passed the point of new return. May you come to understand the wonder and beauty of God’s creation and understand that some times nature bites back!

Slemish Panorama Vignette v2-10


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Whip Crackin’ Good!

Last Monday was a busy day. Kids off school, my wife’s birthday, family trip cancelled due to excessive snow around about. Then, just as we were getting finished up at Lou’s birthday dinner, I got a call from the Lyric Operatic Society. I’d done a job for them a week or so ago and was due to shoot the principles of their new production in the Crown Bar. Calamity Jane-1Calamity Jane-4-2Needless to say last Friday, I managed to get to Belfast, but I was the only one. Backup plan A, meet up at the final dress rehearsal on Monday night for a quick shot or 2 in the interval.Calamity Jane-5

Hilariously I got my times mixed up and managed to catch an hour of the show itself, which I have to say was excellent. If you missed it, tough luck and better watch out more next time.

Its great to see such professionalism and enthusiasm from amateur productions these days. To be perfectly honest, I’d have happily paid to see the show, from the brief bit I caught.

It was also great to see the spirit behind it all, that even despite the snow and chaos around, the show must go on! And go on it did!Calamity Jane Stage-3

For a review of the big night, check out

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Love My Park, Month 2 (Have I made a grave error?)

Sorry about the puns. I couldn’t help it.

Kilbride Cemetery Lo Res-19

So lets go through the gate into this post (Sorry did it again). I must admit when I first read this months brief I wondered, what have cemeteries got to do with the Park? Cue a timely reminder from the council they are looked after by our Parks Dept. Nice one lads (And lasses to be politically correct) 2 Cemeteries in particular this month.

Ballyclare Cemetery would be classed I suppose as what most of us know as a cemetery these days. Neat, modern, very tidy rows of orderly and near enough the same headstones.  I suppose I don’t think much about Cemeteries, as thankfully as yet I have had no need for one. But standing (or kneeling in my case) in one for an hour makes you think a bit. You get to meet the people who work and who visit. In the course of this shooting I came across 2 funerals and one very surprised vicar (More about that later)Ballyclare Cemetery Lo Res-7 It sharpens the mind when you think that this is the last place you commit your loved ones. You look after your family as they grow up, when they grow old. Why should you stop looking after them when they pass on? I met several people visiting their loved ones gravesides and it hit me, how would I feel if I visited my loved ones Ballyclare Cemetery Lo Res-9resting place and found it looking like a dump? It may be unsung, but the work the Parks Dept put into our cemeteries is deeply appreciated by those who use them.

OK so that’s the reason we are there this month, but what about the important aspect of this. What exactly do you photograph in a Cemetery? In a old cemetery you have loads of options, the detail, the features, the headstones, the history, (in some cases the dereliction). At first I Ballyclare Cemetery Lo Res-16thought that it would be intrusive to photograph individual headstones, and grave. But then I came to a conclusion that each graveside and headstone is a reflection of the individual who now resides there. As a portrait of someone is a reflection of their personality and their mood in  life, can a Photograph of their graveside do the same for them in the life beyond?


Kilbride Cemetery Lo Res-9So that was the first day over and done. Now on to the Kilbride Cemetery. Now I was happy! This is what I call a cemetery! Handmade headstones, family mausoleums, graves standing the test of time for hundreds of years. Graves standing, fallen over, damaged, worn. A photographers, or Goths dream. This place just screamed history, personality and character. I must also say fair play to the Parks Dept for not over fixing everything in this cemetery. The age and the wear and tear is the heart of this piece of sacred land. To start returning it to the way it looked a hundred years ago would indeed be a sacrilege. Instead, they have sympathetically tended to its needs and left the old girl with every ounce of dignity she has well earned. Kilbride Cemetery Lo Res-15

Of course, there is only one time to photograph such a place. That would be on a dark and misty morning just as the sun is breaking and the cold mist is wrapping round your ankles. Or so I thought. I don’t think either the Vicar or myself will ever forget bumping into each other at that time of the morning. There’s a reason cemeteries are gothic and spooky at that time of the day. Because it scares the bananas out of you!

Kilbride Cemetery Lo Res-2Well, my wet trousers besides (from the mist and not the encounter with the unknown in the darkness) this months assignment is over. On to March. Please can I have somewhere less spooky this time!

One thing this month has taught me though, if you gotta go and you find yourself in need of a final resting place, there are a couple of really nice spots in Newtownabbey!


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You CAN teach an old dog new tricks

At the start of this year I have been thinking about doing something different. Something new. Last year I read a lot of Joe McNally, a great blog and I can highly recommend adding it to your list, just for the variety and the history of the stuff he posts. But that’s a different post altogether. However, to get back to the point, he once said “do something every day that scares the hell out of you”

So in fine Joe style, when the opportunity came up to attend a workshop locally on Hair & Beauty photography I dutifully hit the ‘sign me up’ button. To be honest, I didn’t do much research, I just hit it and said ‘I’m bound to learn something’

So you can imagine my delight when I get the details and find out it is hosted by Jim Crone of Jim Crone Photography, a man who definitely knows his stuff. OK, that was a good day. Come last Sunday morning it was definitely in the ‘Scaring the hell out of me category’. Like, what do I know about Hair & Beauty photography? Anyone who has met me lately knows I have little experience these days with hair, and never really had any personal experience with beauty!

photo copyAnyways, I kiss the kids goodbye and wave to my poor long suffering wife and head off to Catchlight Studios for my day of instruction. Definite nerves now, I’m off to join ‘real photographers’, one who  have honed their craft, who actually know what they are doing! What the heck am I doing here?

Thankfully everyone else looked just as panicked as I did. I must admit as well, by the time lunch came we all were wondering why we were worrying about it anyway. It was a brilliant day all round. Jim was extremely patient with us novices, very informative (a couple of the tips and tricks he divulged were worth the session fee alone. However, if you think I’m passing these on, you can go and join his next session yourself and learn them for yourself.) It was refreshing to see a photographer freely sharing his craft and his experience without reservation. These days everyone seems to be wary of sharing anything for fear they will lose the business. Not so Jim, but I reckon he’s so well established these days he has nothing to worry about.

photo  photo copy 2

Jim wanted it to be a very organic day for us, so nothing was pre prepared. Each time our model Jessica was ready, he’d look at her, decide what way we were going to do each shoot and we would set it up from scratch. No question was too daft or too much trouble. Time to sit and talk about different aspects of each shoot and of the business in general. Then it was time to get the cameras out. Obviously, there wasn’t much time to change it around, so we all pretty much shot the same thing, but for me, to get a chance to see the setups, to have a go at directing the model, to watch others do it as well, was far more informative than you can imagine. Jim Crone Workshop-7Now, I can hear you say ‘Sure you can watch videos like this on Youtube or Vimeo. There are dozens of them!’ Well, my friend, I have watched dozens of them, probably more than would cover the 8 hours of the session on Sunday if you added them up. They are worth nothing compared to the day I spent in Belfast. You can watch all the free videos you like, but nothing compares to getting your hands on the actual equipment and taking the actual shot and seeing the actual photograph in your hand!

When I left at the end of the day, I had a head full of ideas, a notebook full of annotations, diagrams and sketches and a camera full of test shots to play with and add to the old portfolio. A thoroughly enjoyable day spent with like minded photographers, eager to learn.

Jim Crone Workshop-3I also have to say, a great day made so much easier by the professionalism of Jim, our model Jessica Edlin and out make up artist Uana Tovar. More about all of them in a later post.

But as I was leaving, I did manage to finally get it. Why do something every day that scares the hell out of you? Because once you’ve done it, you usually find it was nothing to be afraid of in the first place and if you don’t try something new, how will you ever grow?

I wonder what will scare me tomorrow? Or you for that matter.




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A man out of time

Some of the downsides to working shift patterns;

Social life out of sorts. Sleep erratic (although my mother always said I could sleep on the handlebars of a bicycle). Weekends that aren’t weekends or vice versa. Holidays that never coincide with kids holidays or schools.

However, in the midst of all this, it is easy to forget the good things, such as time with my boys during the day. School pickups I missed for years. Time during the day to fit in the things you used to have to take a day off for. But tonight, the best thing about night shift patterns is;

They make it perfectly acceptable to have a glass of this!


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