Tuesday, 30 January 2018


I've had one of those stupid 10 day events that occurs every so often in my working life. A four day marking meeting in London, followed immediately by a three day training event in Birmingham, followed immediately by a two day tour of the Battlefields with 38 teenagers. Around the middle of this sequence I came down with a horrible cough and so found myself huddled, napping on the coach as the students toured the site of Ypres in the capable hands of my colleagues. I was grateful to get home on Saturday night, but knew something was wrong, thanks to Mr Z's odd silence.

Very sadly, he had to take the mitten to be put down on Friday night. She had a saddle embolism which had cut the blood supply to her back legs. By the time he got home from his 4 day London meeting, 20 minutes after Sib Z had been in for the evening feeding, she was crouched between the radiator and the sofa, unable to move, and had wet herself. He took her to the emergency vets where a very tearful young woman gave him the bad news.

Her most recent favourite sleep spot.

I am really very sad. She was a present from someone in my first year 11 class and she's been with us for nearly 14 years. On Thursday night, when I did her eye drops, I petted her under the chin until she was sitting almost nose to nose with me, purring on my face, and I thought, 'You're not long for this world' because she would never normally let me have moments like that.

Well, she knew what she was about. She was almost 14, almost blind and had been off her food for a few weeks, so perhaps she really did know. I'm quite grateful it wasn't drawn out longer, but I am so sorry she is gone. Rest in peace, mitten. I hope there are endless bad-at-flying baby robins wherever you are now. 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Weeknote: 7/1


I managed to put a lot of rows onto (Ooo) Wonderwoman earlier in the week...indeed, it was all I could do to drag myself away from the project to do some much-needed work. You've seen the update in the previous post, so I won't say any more about it. I was very tempted to cast on a massive snuggly jumper in my leftover Lopi, after reading a KAL thread on Ravelry, but managed to resist the temptation.

Going to:

It was back to work on Wednesday, but (whisper it quietly) it's always something of a relief to get back to the routine after the Christmas holidays. I find them really chaotic.

I went and got my nails done in a new-to-me place. I couldn't manage the timing of an appointment at my usual salon. Well, they did a neat job of the manicure but I can't say the experience was wholly enjoyable. It smelled very strongly of nail chemicals and didn't seem to be very clean. The man (first time it's ever been a man) was working on me and another client at the same time, and was quite scruffy. And didn't talk - at least not to me. Made me realise how spoilt I've been with my usual salon.

On Friday I got the train the Sheffield to see Jen and celebrate her 40th birthday. We drank a LOT of Prosecco cocktails and danced around the kitchen to the greatest hits of our youth. It was a lot of fun.

I think we'd worked through 11 bottles of Prosecco between 6 of us by the end of the night. Strong work. The best cocktail included ginger wine and lime juice.

Entertained by:

I've been listening to a few more Joe Rogan podcasts. They're very long but really interesting. This weekend I listened to a Russell Brand one and a Megan Phelps Roper one - she's the granddaughter of the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, who left the church 4 years ago. Really interesting.

Over the end of the holidays I managed to finished watching the second season of Victoria - really enjoy this, although it is a bit revisionist in places, I fear. I'm not convinced the Queen's dresser would have manumitted 20 slaves instead of selling them and retiring, due to having a social conscience; but it may be true.

The other thing we watched last week was Mindhunter on Netflix. Creepy and quite disturbing, but compelling. Looking forward to the next series of that.


Keyed up. January has a crazy busy 10 days in the middle of it, during which I have to set 6 days of cover back to back. It's been about 7 years since I last had to do that. I'm looking forward to all the bits of the crazy 10 days, but I find myself slightly on edge about getting everything organised in time; this is made even worse by the looming book deadline. I'm making myself write 500 words a day, which seems to be working so far. If I can keep it up, I should be done on time.

Weekend WIP

Oooo! Wonderwoman. She continues apace.

I doggedly knit the colourwork on this all the way to Sheffield on the train and then most of Saturday afternoon while I hung out at Jen's, waiting for her 40th birthday party to start (like, how are we so old now?)

On the train home I knit the extra red rows on the back so I could join in the round, and here we are. It's all red from here, possibly with a blue ribbing band at the bottom. I've toyed with the idea of adding yellow around the waist, in the style of a belt, but I worry that the red would look a bit odd continued underneath, and I've got to stop being so literal about it. This is not her outfit. It is in the style of her outfit.

I am really thrilled with it so far. Some of my stars might need fixing with some Swiss darning but it's turning out better than I expected. I think I have been putting it off for so long in part because I didn't think it would look as good as I'd hoped, so it is a relief that the fear was unfounded. So far, at least.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Blue Monday

I took this out of the car window on the way back to LA from Vegas in October (hence the weird reflection thing). It's near the state line and we've driven past it a few times and always wondered what it was.

This time I had internet access, so I looked it up. It's essentially a sun farm. The panels on the ground are mirrors, all reflecting the sun to the central tower, causing it to heat up to a dizzying temperature and drive steam turbines, which generate electricity. Pretty cool, huh? It's called Ivanpah, and I think it might be the biggest of its kind in the world, though I can't remember where I read that.

We've only driven past it in the evening, previously, which is why I was so confused about what the towers were for. There's not mistaking what they're for in the daylight. You can't even look directly at them.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Sunday Selfie

The last picture of 2017. Covered in flour from croissant making, in my Galapagos t-shirt, full of cheese and Prosecco. Here's to 2018. Happy New Year!

Weekend WIP

I have completed 60 rows of the yoke.

This is meant to be where I stop knitting the yoke and cast on for the underarms/start knitting in the round. I'm not sure I'm quite there yet, though, even though it has reached the required 8 inches specified in the schematic. Might need a couple more rows....and then I need to figure out how I'm going to do the rest. My inspirational jumper has a tapered join between blue and red that I quite like, so I might try to do the same.

I am really pleased with how it's turning out so far, though. The colours are so good together.

2017: Part 2


The first month of holidays. I began in Spain, with the students, eating churros and trying not to go blind.

I took the students on a slave trail walk around Bristol and went to the usual history conference. This year I just took picture and videoed bits of other people's sessions. It was great.

Then, before most schools had broken up, on a half empty plane (yes, that's an entire empty row of seats I am taking a selfie with), I flew to Lima, where I spent 10 hours before flying to Quito, then the Galapagos, then Quito again, then back to Lima, then to Cusco, then back to Lima, over the course of three weeks. I met a lot of interesting people, snorkelled with sea lions and turtles, saw Machu Picchu, practised my Spanish and enjoyed my own company. It was quite an epic holiday.

Galapagos. So many amazing experiences.

Machu Picchu. Top of my bucket list for so long. And I was the only one there in a dress.

Qorikancha, in Cusco.

With Sib's girlfriend's sister and brother-in-law, in Lima.

I ended the month doing much the same thing as I had done at the start:


The second month of holidays. I began the month in Lima. I went for a very expensive but very amazing sushi tasting lunch at Maido. Two of the courses were served on rocks. One of the rocks was edible. Best not to mix those up.

I flew home from Lima and celebrated my birthday, at home for the first time in years. I went to knitting group, had afternoon tea with my local friends and then went for a nice dinner with Mr Z. On Sunday I hung out with Tutt.

On Monday, I flew to Italy with Mother Hand. Five days just outside Siena in a grand hotel on a vineyard, with its own pool; two days in a really nice AirBnB in Lucca.

After arriving back from Italy at Gatwick, I drove to Heathrow, via Sib's new flat, and spent a short night there before flying to Newcastle the next morning for a teacher course at Durham University. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to live like a student for three days, even oversleeping on the second day just to make it realistic. The course was great and included dinner and a ceilidh in the grand hall of Castle College. I did a bit of Harry Pottering.

Upon my return from Durham, I stayed at home for two whole days before going off to Wales with Mr Z for my friend Tom's wedding. It was in a castle. Epic.

Bank Holiday weekend saw me popping off the France with Tutt. We stayed in southwest Normandy. You could see Mont St Michel on the skyline. Once again, we lucked out with a lovely AirBnB on a farm with its own pool.

Tutt bought me this Minnie Mouse sippy cup so I could drink my Fanta Limon in the pool. In return, I let her use my watermelon rubber ring.

This is actually the last time I saw Tutt. She has gone off the radar. I'm not really sure why.


Back to school, all ready for my second year and feeling happier than ever.

The first weekend I went to London for a conference. I caught up with Zoe for an early birthday celebration and went to an education conference on the Saturday. I found this cool thing nearby, at lunchtime.

The next day I went to mooch around Hampton Court with my friend Sian. I ended up getting a membership, so I can come back and impersonate Henry VIII any time I like.

I was back in the Smoke at the end of September for another exam board meeting, but it was just a flying visit.


I started the month in Portsmouth, Southampton (for another conference) and Winchester, for some History lectures. Mother Hand came with me to the one on Sunday. I ate a lot of sushi in a restaurant obsessed with dry ice.

I have eaten a lot of sushi this year, it seems.

At the end of the month, Mr Z and I flew to Vegas. For some reason, it seemed sensible to fly to LA (half the price) and rent a car and drive to Vegas, since it's a brief hop, skip and 4 hour jump across the Mojave to get there. Yeah. The drive there did not go so well. We drove for an hour each at a time while the other one slept. It wasn't fun. When we got there at 3am, we'd been up for 29 hours. Luckily Max was pleased to see us and didn't go mental when we got inside.

We did a few Vegas tourist things while we were there, for once, including a hike up Mt Charleston.

And the downtown zipline, under the Fremont St Experience. This was soooooo fun. I would have done it again immediately if it hadn't been so costly and so busy.

I did a bit of bikram, too. The first time, the instructor was British, which was weird. The second time, I got sick from the water. I think I already wrote about it. Very odd.


I started the month with another History lecture, this time in Bristol. It was really good, since it was delivered by local favourite Ronald Hutton, but the jet lag was strong and I might have dozed a little. The first week back at school was a toughie.

I went to see an ex-colleague Priscilla Queen of the Desert on stage in Bath. It was hilarious and very rude. Sib came to visit his friend for the weekend and we went up to view the bridge.

I went to see the English National Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet, with Parpy Jo - absolutely amazing, if very long. I had my usual tramp around the Christmas markets, with Tom and Paul. They found me by the gin stall. Not surprising.


I did a bit more Christmas marketing. I went to my 100th Bikram. There was the staff do - I should have worn the lower shoes, since I had to leave early due to being basically hobbled by my choice.

It was Christmas. Now it's New Year. I have doggedly blogged every day, sort of, for the past two months, so you are probably feeling quite up-to-date with my life recently.

Happy 2018, everyone!