Friday, 15 November 2019

Food Picture Friday

Nachos, American style. I bought this plateful whilst on holiday in Vegas in 2017. We had driven up to Mt Charleston and gone for something of a hike, so I felt these were earned and ordered the full portion. You'll be unsurprised to hear that I had to take a fair amount of this home with me in a box. Nachos, cheese, jalapenos, olives I can cope with - it was the enormous serving of chilli on top that made it impossible to finish.

As far as I remember, Max (Father Hand's dog) enjoyed finishing these off when we got back later that night. He loved leftovers, did Max. Sadly, he passed away last month; he was pretty old and had been diagnosed with a tumour a couple of years ago, so it was probably his time. I will miss him a lot when we visit, though. Never have a met a dog that looked so scary but was such an absolute softy.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Three on Thursday

We're continuing to be thankful over at Carole's.

I'm thankful that I've got an exam board meeting tomorrow (slightly less thankful about Saturday and Sunday but they are paying me) because it means that it is my 4th Friday in a row with a little lie in. I haven't had a Friday at work since October 11th and I've only got four more until skiing, and even then one of those is a trip to London. Such is the luck of the calendar this year.

I'm thankful that Father Hand isn't terribly ill. He emailed to say he thought he was, due to him thinking he saw something he shouldn't have in the insurance paperwork inviting him for a scan, but it turned out to be a false alarm. I don't see or talk to Father Hand very much at all these days but I would certainly miss him if he was not around anymore.

I'm thankful for...can I say Korean food? I realise it's all very trivial, but I had agreed to get Korean takeaway from the place by work and bring it home after parents evening tonight, and I was looking forward to it all week. I bought far too much - enough for at least 6 - so there is plenty for my lunch-at-home tomorrow too. It has really cheered up a day which began with a drive to work in the snow (this, in turn, made me hugely thankful that, after 18 months, the heating engineers have finally fixed the heating in my classroom).

As a bonus, I'm thankful that I work at such a nice place. Several of my students told me tonight that I was one of their favourite teachers and the parents, too, were effusive in their praise and admiration. I get super-awkward in situations like that. It's very difficult to deflect this sort of praise and make excuses for why it's not a big deal or not really my achievement, which is my usual method of brushing off such niceties. So, I guess I will just bask in it and allow myself to feel quite pleased with myself for the rest of today (38 minutes).

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Today I wish I was...

...back on this boat, or rather jumping off this boat.

It was so wet in Bristol tonight, as we traipsed from the restaurant to the lecture in the absolute deluge, rivers running down the street and me with the new coat without the hood (as opposed to the new coat with the hood) that I was probably just was drenched as I was about half a second after I took this picture, but since it was cold, dark and November today, I felt a bit hard done by. If I'm going to get that soaked, I'd much rather it was in the Blue Lagoon on a roasting August day.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019


In the summer, when I visited Malta, Mother Hand ask me if I would visit the grave of her uncle. He died during WW2 in Malta and was buried in a war cemetery there. She had an old black and white snapshot of the grave with the details pencilled carefully onto the back. She thought it might be very hard to find; I naturally hopped on to the Commonwealth War Graves website (which is superb) and had found him in a trice.

Getting to the cemetery proved a little more difficult. We left it until our last day and left the hotel a bit later than intended; two buses didn't turn up; the one we eventually got didn't stop in spite of my pressing the button (Zoe said this was my fault as we hadn't stood up and in London they don't stop unless you also stand up - something I dispute and which I did not hear placidly at the time) and the next stop was so much further along a dual carriageway that we had to wait for a bus back. We hoofed it down the deserted road, shadeless and loud with cicadas, at some point after 1pm. I was thinking, if I'd been raised somewhere around Twickenham, I'm not sure I would want to have been laid to rest here for all eternity.

Alas. The cemetery had closed at 1pm. I didn't know what to do. I briefly attempted to guess the combination padlock but gave up quite quickly. Faced with having to leave and never visit the grave, I plucked up the considerable courage it took to ring the number on the plaque (I don't like ringing people I don't know - a big handicap in teaching), hoping the site manager did not live too far away and might be able to come back; luckily, this had obviously happened before and the very friendly man gave me the combination and stayed on the phone while I put it in, to check I was in OK.

It took us a short while to find it, mainly because it wasn't marked with a cross as it had been in the picture, but we did find it in the end.

I mainly felt desperately sad, for several reasons. Firstly, he was sharing a grave with three others, which wasn't clear from the original grave marker and therefore felt a bit hood-winky. Secondly, he was only 26 when he died; he was a qualified chartered accountant, the youngest person ever to qualify at the time (according to Mother Hand) and he had been married to a lady called Joan but apparently had no children. How desperately sad that he died so young and never got to see out a promising career and a marriage just beginning. Finally, I was sad to think that I might have been the only person from his family to ever have visited his grave. He died before my grandparents met; nobody I've ever known would have ever met him or spoken to him in person. He died in the middle of the war. It's fairly safe to say neither his parents nor Joan ever made it to Malta, as it would have been costly and difficult, even after 1945. Imagine waiting 77 years for somebody to visit your grave, and even then it is someone who never met anybody in your family. And all that time, you're buried in the scorching sun, surrounded by scratching cicadas, hundreds of miles from everything you ever knew.

Of course, I am making some big assumptions here; he might have loved Malta and hated England. Joan might have moved there after the war and held vigils by his grave every night, or at the very least visited whilst on holiday. Being that he is dead, also, he probably has no strong feelings on the matter.

I have complicated feelings around Remembrance. I'm not ungrateful and I recognise that it is a mark of respect, but I am uncomfortable with the notion of a large standing military and less comfortable with glorifying millions of war dead while very little is done for our physically and mentally scarred, still-living ex-servicepersons. I don't like the Battlefields trips or looking for familiar names on the huge grave sites in Belgium. However, Tommy B brought me to a better understanding of what Remembrance is all about and why it is important. I might make a point of visiting a few more CWGC sites when I'm on holiday in future, in the memory of other war dead whose families were never able to visit them.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Blue Monday

I snapped this peacock back in January, on a visit to Red Rock Canyon and its environs that Mr Z and I went on during our trip to Vegas.

Such beautiful colours, made even more startling against a backdrop of arid desert.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Weekend WIP

The rounds are getting very slow now I am up to 400+ DCs per round. I've nearly finished the fifth round of the red outer.

However...I wanted something I could work on during His Dark Materials tonight without having to stare at it, so this happened...

It is really nice to pick up something so easy after all the hard work of the crocheting. I have almost finished the ribbing now and feel this bodes well for getting all the way up the back, quick sharpish. The benefit of having exam board meetings at home now means I can knit during, as long as it is a very plain boring knitting that I don't have to look at or think about at all. I find it helps me to concentrate more, weirdly - I think this is all the training I've had, knitting in front of the TV. 

Sunday Selfie

Not exactly a selfie, but a picture of me nonetheless - dressed up as Trump, with a super orange face (dark foundation and orange blusher used liberally) and a comb over made of my own hair.

That's Kate, being Boris. She nearly rode the bike off the stage several times.

This is an utterly bizarre tradition but it is a lot of fun. Now we're on the downhill run to Christmas!