Friday, 22 September 2017

Fave Friday

I'm not very good at washing my face. I don't usually wear make up to school (although I have been trying to do this more this year, now that I'm not getting the bus to work); I don't like tissue-off cleansers because they never feel very clean and my skin is a bit dry for wash off ones. I loved Lush's Babyface but they discontinued it and, although I have a stash, using it does require me to run hot water to get it off. I am not usually patient enough to do this before bed. Then I don't put any cream on my face at night because I think my skin isn't clean...and so on. I am a bit too vain for this to be OK but it is difficult to be vain and lazy.

Then I saw this on a favoured blog I read.
I picked up a tube whilst in France last month, where I could pretend that the Euro price actually made it quite reasonable when it's really just 1-to-1 now and therefore probably cheaper to buy here. I've been using it for a month and it really is as good as it reckons itself to be, and there's still two-thirds of the tube left.

It is a gel when it comes out but then becomes an oil on the skin, until you rinse, when it just melts off your face like a milky soap. This is what Clarins claim it does and, you know, they're not lying. My face feels delightful afterwards: very smooth and soft, and not at all tight. It doesn't feel greasy either, which it sometimes does after Babyface. I can do that advert-style splashing of water and it gets it all gone without the need for a flannel. Finally, it sees off make up with surprising zeal. Even waterproof stuff.

I started using a Clarins moisturiser earlier this year when I had to finally admit to myself that my favourite Lush Gorgeous is just a bit light for my aging skin, and I really like that too. I think spending a bit more on these products is just insurance against the future, right? I remember my university dentist telling me that now I was out of my "pig adolescent years" I could finally start taking care of my teeth and maybe the same is now true of my skin.

Now I need to be able to get it in a travel size and I will be 100% happy.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Scenes from the Classroom #33

I am having a blinder of a start to the term. Lessons are going well, SLT seem pleased with me (indicating my results were at least acceptable...I thought they were, but it's hard to tell in a new context), I have taken over the running of the ski trip, I love my new tutor group, all my classes seem reasonable (cautious), and I have managed two work-free weekends in a row, in line with my new year's resolution.

Then there's the little icing here and there. Today I handed out the textbooks to my year 10 class. They're the ones I wrote. I don't tell them this because it's a bit awkward to just announce it, isn't it? Then this...

M: Um, Miss...
Me: ...yes?
M: Well,'s just there's...well, there's a name on the front of this textbook...
Me: ....
M: Well, it's the same as your name.
Me: Yes.
M: Did you write this book?
Me: Yes, I wrote this book.
Whole class: WHAT?! Really? Where? Where does it say that? Did you really? Did you write the whole thing? How long did it take? How did you get to do that?
L: What do you have to read to write a book? (Best historian question: she will go far)
Me: I read lots of things. So many things. You know that book I gave you readings from the other day? That was one of the things.
L: Wow!
L2: I'm so proud to have this book!

These moments are very nice. I spend a lot of time in my non-school jobs with people who have written loads of textbooks and are far more accomplished, so sometimes I forget that it was actually quite an achievement.

The other class were nice about it, but not quite so effusive (today's class are complete geeks who genuinely laugh at my awful jokes) and T, of last week's SftC, said, "Why would anyone want to do that?" and then, when I said I'd given copies to my parents, "If someone gave me a textbook, yknow, I wouldn't read it."

It's good to remain humble.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Travel Tuesday: Italy: Milano

Tutt and I visited Milan back in 2014 as part of our Italian adventures. We took the train from Verona on a Sunday and had a day trip. The city was really quiet; we took an open topped bus tour: we nearly fell out over it as we waited ages and, when it arrived, it seemed over-priced to me and I didn't want to take it - I still don't know if I can recommend it, but we did see a lot of stuff; and we went to see the Last Supper, of course, of which there are no pictures. It was a marvellous piece of art but I couldn't quite get over that it was painted essentially as a canteen mural. I think da Vinci would be tickled if he realised how famous it has become.

The most imposing structure in Milan is, unsurprisingly, its cathedral, which dominates an enormous main square like a twiddly, twirly, sugar-crafted palace.

The detailing on it is incredible. Here are a few gems I found.

We wandered through the world's oldest shopping centre, the beautiful glass Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which has all the fancy shops in it and is near to the only McDonald's in the world with a non-yellow sign: the arches are white to fit in with local regulations. You can still see it from the middle of the galleria, though. I didn't take a picture.

During the bus trip we were also told a lot about how Mussolini had done a lot of building in Milan, and some of this was pointed out. It's modernist in style but with overtones of Ancient Rome, because the Fascists used it as another tool to promote their ideals. I'd taught a lot about this so it was nice to see some of it in the flesh....stone.

The train station, too, was clearly completed in this era; it had carved fasces on the walls and "Anno IX" which suggested it was completed in 1932, 9 years after Mussolini seized power. The walls are carved with the names of famous scientists of the day, as well as pictures of all forms of transport.

We had a wander in the park after the bus trip, and then went to sit in a pavement cafe, drink Aperol Spritz and eat ice cream sundaes (both just me, I should say). The table next to us had one Asian gentleman, his young daughter, and five women all wearing niqab. I was interested to see that they were all wearing designer glasses or sunglasses, and on some the arms of the glasses went inside the niqab, while on others they were on the outside. It was really interesting to see people dressed like this: I don't see many people in the niqab in Britain (although a parent came to parents' evening with one on last year) and, when Tutt and I chatted about it, she pointed out that religious head coverings like this would be even less welcome in Paris. This made me think that perhaps wealthy Muslim women who favour the full face covering come to shop and peruse the designer collections in Milan rather than any other European capital of fashion because it is more accepting of such things. I don't know why that might be; but it's sort of borne out by the existence, at the station, of a refugee help point for Syrians. I tried to take a picture of the sign but the lady sitting at the desk got quite defensive and sent me off, and then glared at me suspiciously when I tried to take pictures of the architecture of the station, until I went away completely. I wonder why there was a refugee point in Milan?

I think Milan might be better visited on a weekday. It felt a bit like a ghost town on a Sunday, although everything seemed to be open. Probably if we'd planned to do a lot of shopping, it would have been paradise, but it was surprisingly underwhelming for just wandering. There were also some people at the train station 'helping' tourists to buy underground tickets and robbing them at the same time - stealing the change from the machine, sort of thing - which made us both a little jumpy.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Blue Monday

Another perfect Galapagos sea view.

Here's a picture of us on that very boat. My new Canadian friends, Kristina and Diana, and our guide. I have forgotten his name.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Weekend WIP

It's not a very exciting WIP post this week for anyone except me. I have finished the Snips and Snails skein I started last weekend and cast on the final skein of Georgetown that I've had for nearly a decade...

'Eugh, more pinwheeels, do something more exciting,' you might say - but this is exciting because it is the final single skein of L&L I have for the pinwheels project. When it's finished, I will have 40 pinwheels, with approximately 90 more to go. That goal I set myself in May of last year will finally have been met! So, it is pinwheels all this week, it seems.

Also, I really love this colour, still. It's so surprising because it's not really my thing but I find it enchanting. The pastels work so nicely together.

Selfie Sunday

A little something from April last year, when I finally made it to the top of Vesuvius, only 26 years after I first started learning about Caecilius and his sad demise at the hands of its capriciousness.

It was a long climb and not comfortable, sliding and stumbling over a volcanic ash path and trying not to sweat too much because I was surrounded by students, but it was worth it for the views, both of the slightly smoking crater, and Naples below.

That linen top was the perfect thing to be wearing, by the way. So glad I managed to make a second one.

More fruit gins

You might remember my forays into lemon gin and more lemon gin from previous years; one more year to wait for the first batch to mature, so it must be nearly time to kick off batch three.

Well, the website with the recipe also has one for raspberry gin, and there were lots of ripe blackberries in the lane early in August, so I have kicked off a couple of new vintages and thought it wise to record my recipes here so that I can find them when I look them up.

The blackberries: I squeezed a large cupful into a 625ml water bottle (all the way from S America) and slugged a bunch of Bombay Sapphire over the top until the bottle was full. Today, I have decanted it into a glass bottle, a 75cl Bombay Sapphire one, berries included, and added 170g of sugar, which was all that would fit in the bottle. At the end of October I should be removing those berries and having a very boozy dessert with them, so I can add a little more sugar then and possibly top up with some gin. I have a large jugful of gin with no home at the moment.

The raspberries: I squeezed a punnet of raspberries - 200g - into what was left of the litre bottle of Bombay Sapphire and added 200g of sugar. I've just topped it up with gin today. I had a sip and it already tastes good, and they've only been in there a couple of weeks.

Both bottles are in the drawer of the fruit and veg cupboard - where else would they be? - since they need storing in the dark.

Party round mine in the autumn of 2018, I reckon. Don't come if you don't like gin.