Sunday, 16 January 2022

Weeknote 2


The 20 minutes of marking a day is, I can tentatively boast, a success so far. It means I have ended the week having cleared a couple of big marking jobs and in the mood to keep going because there is light at the end of the tunnel. I ticked 6 marking jobs off my list this week: this took longer than 20 minutes a day, but the expectation to do some marking every day rather than just leave it until I could do a batch at a time meant I got through it quicker; so, for example, I did some every morning when I got to work and I marked a set of quizzes while my year 12s were doing a mini mock. Both of these things have been in my plans before but haven't necessarily happened. 

The only trouble with doing some first thing is that I inevitably have to stop and move on to something else, but then find a real reluctance to do more later in the day. I'm interested to see how this plays out; it would be nice (and not impossible, I think) to get to the point where there is not really much marking left and I can get through it all in 20 minutes a day. Sixth form assessments have put paid to that for now but the day may come. There is always hope.

Other than at school, I have also marked in Starbucks and the library this week. The library generally seems to be inhabited by one older gentleman (not necessarily the same one each time) at one of the computers. Yesterday's came to talk to me, which was nice but annoying as I had to stop my timer. I realise how grumpy that sounds but you'd expect to be able to work in a library without somebody coming to talk to you. 

Other than that, I have been reading a lot of exams for  the exam board - final meeting for the November series is tomorrow - and ignoring everything else. I found the book I wanted for the next writing project but haven't made much headway with it yet. 


I have stuck with 20 minutes a day but it has been a bit dismal, apart from Tuesday when I saw the PT and today when I went to the gym. On Thursday I went for a walk around the neighbourhood, a 1 mile route I mapped out back when I used to do running. It was late, after parents evening, and cold enough that I was sorry I hadn't taken a hat, but I noticed all kinds of interesting things, like the frost beginning to form. Yesterday I walked around Kingswood park but struggled to make it to 20 minutes. I did get to fuss some dogs though, so it wasn't a dead loss. And there was an interesting log to look at.

The other days have been Ringfit. I figured out how to access the yoga and jogging games without playing the game, so I have done a bit of that. One night this didn't happen until 10pm and then I had to do my reading afterwards, so my sleep has definitely suffered. It is difficult to gauge whether it is worth sticking to the 20 minutes a day at the expense of everything else. My weight has gone up this week so I am going to try to get more sleep next week, see if that helps. 

On the plus side, I asked the leisure centre about lost property when I went to the gym today and they had my swimsuit, so no need to buy a new one. Yey!


Work continues on Milou. I am 22 rows into the 32 row repeat cable now - this motif will repeat three times, I think, and then finish. I am loving it and can't wait for it to be finished. 

I've been continuing to read The Drowned City although considering giving up because it's going pretty slow and not holding my attention. Maybe it's just because I am too tired. 

We have also continued to play Super Mario on the Switch. It's almost completed, just two levels left, so we have also been playing the Luigi version because the levels we've got left on Mario are so flipping difficult that they make us grumpy at each other when we inevitably die over and over again. 

Entertained by:

A bit more ER on the TV, plus the first episode of Maid on Netflix which might be a bit depressing for me to watch a lot of. 

I've been listening to a podcast, The Coming Storm, which looks at role of the internet, specifically 4chan, and the conspiracy theories around the Clintons/rise of Trump. Laughed a lot at episode 4 today, where the denizens of 4chan excitedly crow that they have memed Trump into office, that supporting and promoting a candidate has led to him being elected. So cute, these folks finding out what democracy is for the first time. 

I've also been listening to an audiobook, 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. It's sort of like a productivity book but an honest one, that says it's not possible to fulfil all the expectations you have of yourself. Depressing and refreshing in roughly equal measure. It has made me reflect that the thing I like to do most in life is travel, so I am not sure why I then took an exam board job that severely limits the amount of summer holiday I can spend pursuing this interest. Answers on a postcard. 

Looking forward, I've been trying to plan for the ski holiday we're booked to take in February. I plucked up the nerve to ask Sib's ex-girlfriend if we could borrow her family's chalet; long-time readers might remember that it is in Switzerland, which is accepting visitors, whereas we're booked for France, which is not. Was not. Once I had asked, France opened up to visitors with a negative PCR. So, fingers crossed we can keep the same plan, but if not, a few days in Switzerland would also be nice. Lake Geneva. Chocolate. Cuckoo clocks. That kind of thing. 


We got a take-home meal from Jafra last night. We had a couple of their Palestinian street food meals in lockdown and I was sad to hear they had to launch a crowdfunder in December to keep themselves afloat, but happy to contribute and get another meal from them. It's all good but the labne with butter beans, butter and savoury granola is something I would eat as part of a final meal. 


Mostly just very tired. I haven't been sleeping enough and have been trying to squeeze more work into my days, something I have managed but at a cost. I'm a bit less fed up than last week but still not back to full bliss. The idea of a little homestead in West Wales sounds more appealing by the day. 

This next week is a 4-day week, though, thanks to the exam board meeting; and the new PGCE student is taking a lot of my lessons this week, so perhaps I can keep on catching up and find the energy to do a few other non-work things. I'm meant to be in Belfast next weekend, so a first test of my 20-minutes-a-day resolution is pending. 

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Weeknote 1


The first week back at school this week, and it has been just about as normally awful as it ever is. I thought I'd dodged the new-term insomnia when I slept easily and well on Monday night, before inset day, but then it returned on Tuesday night instead. I managed roughly four hours of sleep and so was like a zombie on Wednesday. Thank goodness it was a short week.

I helped to deliver a session at our cross-trust inset on Tuesday, wheeling out an old favourite planning method from a decade ago, which got some really positive feedback from the delegates. Outside of school, we have been finishing up the November series at the exam board - one week of work left on that - and I've been tentatively making a start on the current writing project, with some background reading. Naturally, the book I really need for this is currently awol, but luckily I have a lot of books so I can plug some gaps with that. 

My resolution to do 20 minutes of marking a day is turning out surprisingly well. I have discovered that (a) I can get more done in that time than I expected to, (b) it is much easier to get started when I know it's only 20 minutes (Friday afternoon marking, anyone? How did I manage that?!) and (c) I don't always feel like I want to stop dead after 20 minutes, even though I know I can. This week, I've managed to mark full sets of Y8 and Y10 assessments, plus the Y12 essays I have been putting off since I had covid. I am quite pleased with that and hoping that I can continue until the habit forms.


The 20 minutes of moving a day has also been going OK, though I think I need to take better care to stop after 20 minutes. I observe that it is is easier for me to achieve this by booking myself into a class, but that a class is usually an hour and this builds up. Consequently, I did aquafit on Tuesday, yoga on Wednesday and saw my trainer on Thursday; this was too much on consecutive days, particularly with the poor sleep. So, on Friday and Saturday, I did 20 minutes of Ringfit Adventure on the Switch (actually quite tough and not to be sniffed at) and this morning I went out for a squelch around Warmley Forest Park instead of going to the gym, as I had planned. It was a sunny morning and there was a bit of frost left on the ground and a lot of happy dogs to admire. A definite win. 

I lost my swimsuit when I went to aquafit. I must have dropped it on the way out. It was my last one-piece suit; I bought it almost a decade ago when I was at Center Parcs for a conference and wanted a new one. It was bobbly on the bum and I really couldn't face driving back to get it. Now I am not sure whether to splash out on a new suit or go all-bikinis for all-swims in the future. A bikini is fine on holiday but does feel a bit weird for aquafit. And, come to think of it, if I had to swim in front of any students. OK, that settles it. 


I managed to finish my first book of 2022, The Betrayals. It was a very engaging read and I even chose to carry on ploughing through it instead of napping on Wednesday when I got home from school. I've also managed to knit more of Milou, to the point where it is divided for the armholes now. 

I've moved on to reading Drowned World, a novel set in Bristol in 1607, just after there was a major flood from the Bristol Channel. Coincidentally this came up in a documentary I watched this week, on historic extreme weather, 

Entertained by:

I continue to watch ER, I'm almost to the end of season 12 but it all gets a bit sad from her on, iirc. Maybe it was all a bit sad. Either way, it has slowed me down somewhat, so I have also watched two films on Netflix - Don't Look Up and The Unforgiveable. The former was a pretty depressing satire on our current world and the latter was the same but with no satire. So, yeah. Maybe I need to find some nice comedy for the coming week, cheer myself up a bit. 

I'm pleased that The Apprentice is back, although, wow. Just wow. That guy who got fired had clearly had a slip with his razor or his cabin mates on the cruise gave him a little sleep trim: this hardly boosts my faith in the business future of this nation, although tbf, he was fired. I just keep reminding myself that the main reason to watch is for Karren's arch looks and Chanel accessories. Love her. 


Today's meal prep was sweet potato, ratatouille and cauliflower roasted with onions and chickpeas in ras el hanout. I also made Nigella's clementine cake to take to work (next time will boil a star anise and a cinnamon stick with the clementines) and my annual blueberry bread and butter pudding, which I never ended up making over Christmas because we had too much food to eat. This paid off in the long run because, when I ran out of leftovers for lunches last week, I had a very bougie lunch of cheese and crackers with chutney and fruit cake, thanks to still having too much cheese in the fridge. 


Pleased that I managed to stick to my 20 minutes marking/moving/reading resolution for the whole week, even Saturday. It has made me feel less anxious in my unstructured time - I have spent a lot of time playing Super Mario this week and haven't felt like this is a mistake or that I should be doing something more productive. 

I am maybe a bit less pleased about work, though. I do love my job, obvs, and I don't want to leave it, true, but I would rather not be there at the moment. I'd rather not be working full time. I am waiting for this feeling to go away but it doesn't seem to want to. I just keep circling back to my dissatisfaction with the way it is to be a teacher at the moment and I can't seem to get past it. I am hoping it is just a phase. 

Next week I've got not much on except work. I am hoping to see my friends Jo and Kath for late Christmas festivities. I'd like to make a start on some exam board work that isn't due until February, try to clear the decks a bit. I'd like to clear out one box or drawer or type of clothing from my wardrobe: this is the next thing to be tackling little and often, I think. 

Monday, 3 January 2022

December round up

Books read: I didn't finish the history tome or the cook book (well, I mean, who actually reads cook books?) I was sure I had picked up and finished another novel but it seems I am kidding myself, because if I did, I can't remember it, nor find it. 

ETA I remembered! It was another junior fiction, recommended to me by a y7 student - Evie's Ghost by Helen Peters. And I got it from the library which explains why I can't find it in my house now.

I think that makes 15 books for 2021. Not too shabby. I think that is better than most previous years. Only in the month of May did I fail in my resolution. Some room for improvement, then. It's one of my resolutions to read for at least 20 minutes every day, so we will see how that works out.

Metres knitted: I finally, finally finished the Tegna, which I fear is actually too wide, after all that. Lenin is currently asleep on it though, so I can't try it on again. It will probably work well in the summer; I just still have this awkward 'wide woman, no wide clothes' hang up. 

I knitted two more hexagons, bringing my 2021 total to 35 (unprecedented) and cast on for the much-admired Milou, in my queue for over five years and very lovely. 

Not counting Milou, that brings my total for the year to around 6500m, which is a bit poor compared to 2020, but then that was predictable. I noticed that three of the four adult garments I knitted were oversize which probably explains the slowness and will not be repeated for 2022, because I have three oversize jumpers now. 

My knitting goals for this year are (a) more metres than 2021 and (b) finish the hexagons. I have eight more skeins earmarked - 36 hexagons - plus another four that might become hexagons but might be used for sewing up. If I can manage 35 just doing a skein between projects, I think I can manage 36 if it's a goal. Plus that would be 1500-2000m towards my goal. 

Pounds lost: I end the year at the same weight I was at the start of December: x-1 stone 10 pounds. That is a stone lighter than I was in January last year. I will take it. 

Sleep has been in abundant supply, being the holidays, though I still haven't managed much in the way of blogging. I had the usual grand plans for writing up my review of 2021 but, somehow, I didn't. I was very stubborn about avoiding anything that looked like work for a while and, anyway, I haven't backed up my phone pictures to my computer since the new one arrived so that would take a while. Excuses, you know.

Still, alongside my 20 minutes of reading a day, I also intend to do 20 minutes of moving and 20 minutes of marking. And, there could do with being some accountability for this, so I am aiming to do a weekly blog post of what I've been up to - resurrecting the weeknote, if you've been around long enough to remember those. I like reading back through my old blogs so that means, I need to continue writing them. And hopefully you'll continue to read them. My pet hate is blogs that go dead without warning so I will do my best not to let that happen for 2022. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 5 December 2021

November roundup

How is it December 5th already? The end of November flew by with all the grace and speed of a freight train ploughing through 10 feet of snow, passing deadline after deadline as I screamed in vain for it to slow down and just give me a chance. It is my own fault of course. I took on an extra job on October, from a place that I haven't worked with before and therefore didn't want to say no to. This on its own would have been OK, but then my trusty 11 year old computer died. I have a work laptop, but I am too set in my ways to find it easy to use - I am too used to having two screens now. Then the exam board dumped a huge piece of work on me without notice. School has also turned up the pressure so I ended up having just one free this past week, on Friday.

Woe, woe, woe is me. Woe, I say. 

Books read: I read To Miss With Love by Katharine Birbalsingh. She is a controversial figure in the education world but has just been made social mobility tsar, so beloved of the Tories is she, so I thought I had better read it and see what she was about. I guess I surmised that she wants similar things for children to what I want, but she has some very different ideas about the best way to achieve them. Rather than encouraging children to 'talk proper' to improve their life chances, for example, I'd sooner work towards a world in which this no longer matters. But, meh. 

I've started December reading a hefty history tome and a cook book, so I am not holding out much hope for a successful end to the year. But we'll see. 

Metres knitted: Not too many. I've finished the front and collar and I am plugging away at the first Tegna sleeve. This project is dragging, I'm bored and I desperately want to knit something new. 

Pounds lost: 1. I am overjoyed by this, because the weight I dropped during covid has stayed off. It has wobbled around a bit, especially because the calorie tracking lasted all of a week...My Fitness Pal has been sending me increasingly desperate-sounding notifications all month. But, I think the careful planning and prepping of lunches, a habit I have managed to keep up with almost all school year so far, has really helped. As has just not having time to eat anything outside of meal times. 

Sleep: Predictably awful. I've been repeating my unhealthy mantra, 'Sleep is for wimps' this past week. It's definitely not. Sleep is for people who are able to say no to offers of work in months that are always, always too busy. 

This post is all very meh, isn't it? I should be full of the joys of Christmas. I want to be. It's coming very soon. I just have a lot of work to clear before then. I should also say that I decided I was going to make a concerted effort to catch up with more friends this month, I goal I achieved with finesse, having dinners with Tom, Jo, Caroline, Vikki, Kate and a whole weekend in Wales with Rachael plus another Saturday at a conference and long lunch. Plus an in-person knit at Flock. So it hasn't all been gloom. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

October round up

October has been a weird month. It started with a cancelled ski course, so a surprise free weekend; then I went to London and ran a Tough Mudder ('ran') - my first ever 10k - and then BANG! I got covid. It started with a slight loss of taste on the Sunday evening, but the LFT was negative. Then my sleep was disturbed by fever dreams and I (very unusually) woke up in the night with a raging thirst, went to the bathroom and was unable to smell Mr Z's horrible soap. I woke him up. 'I can't smell the soap,' I said. Mr Z grunted and immediately absconded to the sofa. In the morning I booked a PCR, naively telling the school absence answerphone that I'd probably be in by lunch. Famous last words.

Luckily for me, I couldn't have planned it better, because my last day of isolation was also the last day of term, so I ended up having three weeks of October off, although I did have to spend several of them feeling very unwell and several more not going out. It was a veritable treat when I was sent an antibody test kit and got to walk to the post box to send back the sample. 

That said, all that time certainly helped with the goals...

Books read: Two. I read Ian Rankin's Resurrection Men and then polished off Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud, which a lovely friend sent me when she heard I had covid. Not too bad, considering I also managed to binge watch two seasons of ER. 

Metres knitted: I got through most of the rest of the linen cone on my Tegna; the back is done, just the front, the collar and the sleeves to go. So, maybe another 500m, plus a couple of hexagons I did on my trip to Edinburgh at the weekend. 

Sleep: So much sleep. Covid knocked me for six. The week after I was still getting about nine hours a night without a wake and squeezing in a nap when possible as well. Going back to school has totally ruined all of that, of course, but it was nice while it lasted. 

And probably assisted with the...

Pounds lost: 10. TEN! Thank you, covid. For the first four days I couldn't access the kitchen due to isolating in the spare room, and then I didn't really want to eat without a sense of taste because it seemed like a waste of food. So I am now x-1 stone, 8lbs. Ten is a lot to lose that quickly and I am afraid it will have corrected by December but I have gone back to calorie tracking for this month to try to keep the momentum. 

Monday, 4 October 2021

September round up

Books read: I managed one and a half. I finished A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint and am halfway through a Rankin's Rebus I haven't read. I introduced Mother Hand to Rankin's Rebus when I found them in the library in Las Vegas and so every time she has another, she passes it on. I have a big stack. She will be pleased that I'm making a start. 

Metres knitted: I think around 500m. I am 14 inches into a linen Tegna. I'm bored with it, but must finish. The lace around the bottom took ages and it would be a crying shame if it was never blocked and made to look nice. 

Sleep: I've been trying, honestly. I've been going to bed as early as I can on as many nights as I can. It's a bit better than term time usually is at this end of the year. 

Pounds lost: None. went up by 4 and then down by 4. Weird. 

I thought I would blog some more in September, but tbf, it was September. Always a busy month. I have not had the usual re-marks to do but there have been appeals against the summer grades: a new process to learn and, although there weren't that many, they were time consuming. 

I might be counting down to half term, yes, what of it?

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

August round up

Books read: Two and a half, go me! I started with The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes, a novel about a woman teaching Greek tragedy in a PRU, which I devoured in two days flat. I chased it with another Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships, which is a retelling of the story of Troy from the perspective of the women. I remembered just enough of the story (and had been reminded of more in my previous read) to make this refreshing and enjoyable. Cassandra's sections in particular were pretty brutal but I thought her ending was written beautifully. 

These stories are so heavily connected to my youth that they stir some quite interesting memories. I gather there is quite the fashion for this sort of retelling at the moment and I've got my eye on The Children of Jocasta by the same author and Circe by Madeleine Miller, but I have held off for now - I will borrow them from the library and space them out a bit, so I don't get Greek mythology fatigue. 

Once I'd finished with that I thought I'd better do some reading for the new A-level so, naturally, most reading progress ground to a halt. I re-started 'An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo' as recommended by Father Hand and it has been quite enlightening about Britain in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly the rise of the tabloid press and the aspects of today's society they managed to create; but it's not exactly bedtime reading. I think it's probably going even slower because it's on Kindle. So I've picked another novel off the shelf to start today. 

Metres knitted: I finished the Gemini tee - let's call that 160m. I knitted a skein of hexagons - another 187m. That's 31 hexagons for this year alone, go me! Not a great monthly total but I have spent a lot of it away on holiday. That brings my total for the year so far to 5300ish - some way off my goal but still a fair amount knitted up. I have just started a new linen top which is a mistake, I should be going into the autumn with a nice woolly 4-ply on the needles, but I will persevere. 

Sleep: very good, of course. My friend Zoe is an early to bed, late to rise person so I ended up naturally sleeping a lot more whilst we were on holiday, even though I went to bed after her and got up earlier. One week this summer, my weekly sleep average was actually over 8 hours. Impressive. 

That said, I struggled to sleep last night. I am hoping that was the bad night's sleep before the new term, as I went into school today. 

Pounds lost: amazingly, three. I have eaten well, all summer long, saying no to neither starters nor desserts, quaffing wine at every opportunity, fuelled on long drives by wine gums. But I have also done a lot of walking and been generally a lot more active. Just as well, as I have stupidly entered a Tough Mudder in October. 

Blogging: I'm in the mood for writing so there might be more of this in September.