Monday, 29 August 2016

Blue Monday

On our first full day in Hanoi, I went for a wander by myself after it became clear that Tutt had little motivation to move from the hotel room. I was looking for the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum; it's probably lucky I didn't find it as I was not dressed conservatively enough to file past his body*

Instead I wandered towards a nearby body of water in desperate search of a cooling breeze (there was none to be had). I came across these rather fetching mosaic park benches on the way, in various hues:

There was a dark blue one as well, but someone was kipping on it and I was already attracting enough attention by being a sweating, gigantic westerner, wearing clothes made in Vietnam but shipped halfway around the world for me to buy and carry back there.

I sat by the lake for a while, avoiding several men who were trying to sell me motorbikes, until a young man dressed all in black (wtf) came over and asked me to fill in a survey about tourism. The survey was all about Saigon, which made me suspicious, but I didn't want to be rude so I did what I could. He then told me he worked for the Red Cross and was selling toothpicks for a blind man. It was a real mish-mash of charitable opportunity for me, but I was not in the mood. Eventually I managed to make him believe that I didn't have any cash of any currency on me - he had stated that he would happily take British pounds - and he went away in a huff.

If he'd told me he was desperate to buy some clothes that weren't black, I might have been in a more giving mood.

* not actually his body, if popular gossip is to be believed. And what is with ignoring the wishes of communist dictators when they die? Ho Chi Minh wanted to be burned. Lenin wanted to be buried next to his mother. Both (ostensibly) ended up embalmed in glass cases, being goggled at by ignorant tourists. For a fee. It's like the ultimate revenge of capitalism.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Weekend WIP

I started this the day we went to Italy and have been working on it off and on over the summer. Mostly off, tbh - it was too hot in SE Asia to consider working on it much, and I have been trying to read up on the Tudors ready for new jobs next month.

In spite of that, it is getting there. The gradient kit is from Moonlight and I got it at Wonderwool in April; it was meant for a particular pattern but, unlike the Wingspan kit, she did not include the pattern and I didn't like it enough to pay for it. I LOVE this one: like polka dots, almost. The grey is maybe a little on the dark side (it looks lighter in the picture) but other than that I really like how it is knitting up.

Naturally, there's a mistake. In the first colour gradient section, the final few rows should have been worked in the grey. I missed this: the pattern instructions says, "In CC1, work x repeats of pattern 1. Work one repeat of pattern 2. In CC2..." etc. So, I just carried on in CC1, missing the instruction contained at the start of the pattern 2 instructions, which begin, "In MC..."


I realised when I started the grey section, which was on the flight home from Singapore, and I was in no mood at that point to pull out the entire summer's labour. I quite like the way the gradients stack against each other, anyway; my only concern is that I will run out of the colours.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Bon Voyage (again)

So it seems I made it almost through July without a post and I thought I should rectify that, since I've generally been doing quite well with spreading the posts out this year.

July was busy, as usual. Marking went on for what felt like longer than usual. I went to Portsmouth for a school reunion and to Leeds for the history conference, where I presented a workshop I had no confidence about and got glowing reviews (and was full...go me!) - this sort of thing never stops being a surprise. I finished my teaching job with a couple of great nights out and about 4 crates of stuff.

And last week, I went to Italy with Mr Z. We went to the Gargano peninsula, staying in the same hotel I was at with Tutt two years ago. Utterly blissful - peace, sun, hammock, great food, gelato, beautiful views, sea, local wine and our 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years! Coo.

No pictures of him, of course, but this is basically what I looked like for the week when I wasn't dripping in sea water.

Now on the Heathrow bus ready to go to Vietnam with Tutt. Very exciting but feeling uncharacteristically nervous. It's so far away! Luckily I have a new book and a new knitting project for the plane.

Feeling very fortunate, all things considered!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Scenes from the Classroom #21

Feeling pretty fed up at the referendum news today; I am trying hard to see it as a win for democracy and how over 17 million people are happy with the result, but members of my family are being vile about it on Facebook and that makes it significantly less ok. Meh. This too will pass.

The mood was bleak in school, among the staff, which was juxtaposed with the student body who were pretty happy. This is the town that, on Thursday, hung an enormous (visible for miles) "Vote Leave" banner from their significant local landmark, so that just explains that. One girl said she had been rudely awakened in the morning by her mum whooping in joy. Unlike my neighbours, who were probably rudely awakened by me howling, "NOOOOOOOO" as my alarm went of at 6am and Radio 4 informed me that the vote had gone leave and sterling had fallen to a 30 year low. There aren't many worse wake ups I can remember. As a Facebook friend said, I'm not sure how many more times I can vote and then wake up to a dystopian nightmare the next morning.

Not to be hyperbolic or anything.

Even the relatively good news about Cameron's resignation was spoiled, when he walked out of Number 10 at exactly the same moment that the senior leadership team walked into the staffroom to begin briefing. Tim had been watching on his laptop for 40 minutes, waiting. He was not best pleased. We surreptitiously checked our phones until the news broke. Then an unpopular teacher strode in late, put his hand up and announced the resignation in briefing. Silence. Tumbleweed.

Anyway, some very funny kid things that were said...

C: I am very upset. You know what this means? No more Magic Stars.
Me: Er....I think you will still be able to buy Magic Stars C.
C: No, no, it says on the packet, not to be sold outside the EU!
Me: Well. It will take a while so you can stock up.

And then this, when I told my year 10 class that Cameron had resigned...

K: Wait. But one of the people who might be our next Prime Minister is that bloke that ruined education, isn't it?
Me: Er...Gove, yes. Well, maybe. I mean, he is in the frame.
K: So you're telling me that the man who ruined my education might end up being the leader of this entire country?
Me: (small voice) Yes.

Kids are still kids.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tuesday Ten

This week, Carole asks about -

Ten things on my summer bucket list

1. Celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years! Ludicrous.

2. Kayaking with Mr Z in the Adriatic on romantic getaway to celebrate said anniversary.

3. Jumping off rocks/a pier/a low cliff into the Adriatic.

4. As a variation on that theme, jumping off a boat into Halong Bay, Vietnam.

5. Having some clothes made for me in Hoi An.

6. Drinking a Singapore Sling at the Raffles hotel in Singapore (where we are staying for three nights!)

7. Maybe, driving a right hand drive car on the wrong side of the road. Tutt has this vague plan of going to Normandy for a few days when we get back from the Far East. She suggested camping!

8. Turning over and going back to sleep at 6am on September 1st, then sending my ex-colleagues Snapchats of me drinking bucks fizz in bed. My new school doesn't start back until the 5th. Bliss.

9. Reading as many books about the Tudors as I can. There are several extremely good reasons why I need to know as much as possible about those gingers by September.

10. Possibly getting my nose firmly onto that grindstone with yet another book. Yes, I know, I don't know why I say yes either; but this was too tempting an opportunity to turn down.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Weekend WIP

I have had a bit of a whirlwind weekend. I had to leave school at lunchtime on Friday and head straight to London to present at a conference at the British Museum (a life goal achieved there); the taxi I had booked didn't turn up so I only just made my train, which made for a very stressed Sally sitting on the train. Knitting was the only way to turn. Hence...

20 down, 107 to go. Yep, I managed four in one weekend. This is also thanks to the obnoxious drunk who sat next to me on the train home and attempted to philosophise with me. "Stick to your knitting" has rarely been more apt: I got a lot done. I also realised I had done a giant miscalculation and if I can knit two a week then I should be done with all the single skeins by the end of the summer. Very motivating.

This skein was That's Just How We Roll. It reminds me of Uptown, that I bought on my first visit to Jimmy Beans in 2009 and knitted this top out of. There's a bit more grey in the limited edition, though.

I must get back onto the linen top now, though. I was wearing the orange one for giving my presentation and remembered how comfortable it is, particularly in situations that involve a lot of sweat (it doesn't matter how many things like this I do, I never get less nervous). Ergo, the blue one would be ideal for Vietnam this summer.

Here is a bonus picture of me feeling very proud of myself down by the river. The city was all humid and heavy and overcast like it was when I finished my finals and felt similarly pleased with myself. It was a good nostalgic moment.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Blue Monday

Another throwback to Lisbon in 2013, from the aquarium. This is still the backdrop to my iPad. These shots never come out as well as I hope and this one isn't perfect but I was pretty pleased with it.

Today was my last first day of term at my school. It is my 78th first day of term there. The grounds crew were in cutting the grass again, striding under my open windows with their ear plugs and their stinking petrol strimmer, then following up with the sit-on mower like my classroom is not a place where teaching occurs. And that happens on a weekly basis now it's the summer term. I love being in a mobile classroom BUT I am not going to miss that.

I need a bonus underwater picture, just thinking about it.

I bet that wretched strimmer would be quiet under here.