Monday 31 December 2007

A small CPH woe

I am motoring along with the Central Park Hoodie. Concerted knitting on the back piece since I finished the Christmas knits meant that I finished it on Boxing Day; I short-rowed the shoulders and will connect them with the main piece with the three-needle bind-off. I read few tutorials on this and decided it was not going to be difficult and was definitely the way to go, but unfortunately I didn't bargain on reaching the short rows at the same time as a cable row, and this led to quite a lot of head-scratching. Then I had a problem picking up the wrap with the stitch but I think it's OK. I'll have to wait until I attach the fronts to be certain, though.

I was slightly concerned about the back being all the same colour, since I used nearly 3 balls and the joins between them are obvious to me (the 2nd ball had greater variegation than the others). I consoled myself with the fact that, to the untrained eye, it wouldn't notice. I checked the labels for dyelots but there were none - it must be a kettle-dyed thing, sadly I'm too ignorant of such things to be sure.

Then I cast on for the left front. I am 4 cable repeats in. As you can see from the picture, this piece is quite considerably darker than the back. I am fairly worried about seaming it and it looking like I used two different colours of wool; I am very worried about joining a second ball which is the same colour as the back, and it looking just terrible. But, I guess there isn't anything that I can do. Boo. I am sort of hoping that when I finish the whole sweater and wash it, gently, that the colour will even out a bit.

It's sod's law that the first time I break my own rules and try and knit a whole garment, something like this happens.

But, check out my swanky new Knitpicks Harmony needles! I LOVE them - so smooth and lovely to knit with. Unfortunately one of the 4mm tips won't screw into any of the cable ends, but I am hoping a trip to Get Knitted will sort this out toot sweet, as they say.

Wednesday 19 December 2007

More quickies

I am barrelling along with my Central Park Hoody and managed to finish my first ball of wool on a trip to London a couple of weeks back, but then it occurred to me that Christmas was almost upon me and I should get on with some gift knitting.

So here it all is....

A cupcake for Pam at work for secret Santa...Pam is the staffroom mummy and always nagging us to bring in cakes for Friday breaktime, so I knitted her this. Well, I knitted her another one after this because I made several fairly serious mistakes with my first attempt (pictured) and I wasn't happy.

In the course of this, I discovered that the local Poundland stocks soft acrylic in DK and a wide range of colours, for only £1 per 100g. How exciting! This means I can buy some pale lemon balls to knit Mother Hand a sweater she wants and can't find to buy.

Then, I bought some suede lacing and made my friend Kath a whip...'s not quite finished because I needed cable ties and I only just got some. This was really fun to make and super easy; the 30m I bought made 2 with a bit leftover, although that doesn't really add up because the tails account for 12m and then there's a knitted bit, and with 7m left over....well, you don't have to be great at maths to work out that perhaps Jillybead sent me too much.

Finally, I knitted Ali a beaded cuff bracelet...

SO. Pretty. I love it! It was really fiddly to start with, and I couldn't do the tapered end I wanted to, but happily the project takes to shaping and wiring together at the end, so I was happy with it in the end.

I have now cast on for Mr Z's binary scarf: I was putting it off, since I've never done Fairisle and have no desire to. But I think it will be OK. I'd like to finish Binary and CPH over the Christmas break; you never know. I also need to find something for friend Jo, who I don't want to feel excluded when I dole out knitted gifts to Ali and Kath. I think I will make her some reusable facial pads and a little mesh bag to wash them in. Time is running out, though.

It's the last day of term for the kids today. We finish in about 1 hour and 19 minutes. Roughly. It can't come quick enough. Last night I took my tutor group out on a trip, where I was almost thwarted at every turn by incompetents at both Pizza Hut and Bowlplex (if only I could find the time/energy to write a letter of complaint), and spent much of my time trying to prevent the boys from feeding all their money into the fruit machines. Now they're back. I will come back and add to this later today, after I've consumed a bottle of chenin blanc in the bath.

Edit: I was in such a hurry I forgot to add the pictures, even!

When I got home, I had a 2 hour bath and a 3 hour nap, and I'm now coddled in a duvet watching Die Hard and thinking every day should be like this one. I have been feeling positively inhuman for the past couple of weeks; to quote Bilbo Baggins, "Like butter spread over too much bread." I couldn't catch up on everything by the end of term and this put me in an even worse mood. Plus, on Monday I had to drive down to Calshot for a one-hour course to refresh my knowledge of ski bindings. This utterly pointless waste of time involved a 4-hour round trip and when I arrived and the instructor said, "Wow! You've come along way - do you have to come all the way down here?" I had to restrain myself. I tell you, sometimes it feels like I've had more training in the name of this damn ski trip than I did to become a teacher. Hopefully it will all be worth it, and I won't end up having 2 weeks off with an ear infection afterwards, like last year. With 6 staff members to 32 kids we should have enough leeway for some evenings off.

Anyway. Tomorrow is TD day and I managed to avoid fire extinguisher training (the story goes, that the head didn't put anybody in History on that list because we're in mobiles and they'll go up so quickly if they catch alight that we won't be able to use an extinguisher; how comforting) and first aid training, so I have an entire day of faculty time stretching ahead of me, a prospect that I find disturbingly thrilling. Ian doesn't seem to have a great deal planned, so I am hoping to get some reports written and some marking done, and then slope off a little early to the Limpley Stoke hotel for the Christmas party. I'm even more thrilled at this. For the first time, I'll be stopping over in the hotel, and not even driving home the next day. I feel a very drunken night coming on.

Also tomorrow, in my absence, we can expect the arrival of Mother Hand's latest silly purchase. Now, I don't really think it's silly - I just think she is. When I went to see her in London for her birthday a couple of weeks back (note to self: never again - London on a Saturday in December = NOT FUN) she handed me an envelope wrapped in wedding paper and was barely able to contain herself as I opened it to instructions fo a pink Smeg fridge freezer. I'm rarely speechless, but on this occasion, I didn't know what to say. How exciting! We've been putting off doing the kitchen since we got married, but may have to move on that soon, since the new fridge freezer will not fit neatly into the space left by the old one.

Monday 3 December 2007

I *heart* quick projects

I love things that knit up quickly.

A couple of weeks ago, somebody on one of the fora I frequent asked if someone would have a go at knitting a marine coloured snood she had been bidding on, but had lost. I offered to oblige - I quite like a challenge. I had to order the yarn because they didn't have the right colours in Get Knitted last weekend. The yarn arrived yesterday, and by the end of the evening the snood was done. How was that for speedy?

Speedy Snood
Pattern: I made it up.
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride bulky in Jaded Dreams and Aztec Turquoise (2 strands held together). I JUST had enough.
Needles: 12mm straight
How I did it: I knit the whole thing in garter stitch. I cast on 50 stitches, knit 2 rows, did a row of YO,k2tog, knit 10 rows, another yo row, knit 6 rows, another yo row, knit 10 rows, YO row, knit 2 rows, cast off.
I wanted to knit it with a moebius cast on, but I wasn't sure what needle size I would need and didn't want to fork out for more circs than I required. So, I knitted it back and forth and added a twist to the rectangle when I sewed it up.
I got about 2 stitches per inch, but the first time I cast on 70 stitches and after 8 rows decided it was much too wide and frogged it. Even with that it only took about 3 hours, and that was with distractions; also my hands were very mariney when I'd finished.

Babushka will sit on her own and make you feel guilty.

We colour corrected the last one because it is a very tealy colour, not as blue as the pictures made it. But it's too green in the last one - the telltale sign is that my eyes are green, too - my eyes are not green, at all.
I REALLY like it. I am only sorry it is not for me.

Finally, Ester pictures! Here we go -

Very warm! But definitely going in the wardrobe until the spring.

Don't worry - I can't see myself wearing it closed very often...

I have quite a lot of the silk left, so I am thinking of knitting Lelah (a patterned boob tube type garment) to go with it.

And I also swatched for Central Park this weekend, since the extra Maya arrived with the yarn for the snood. I was bang-on with the suggested needle size, both horizontally and vertically. I am slightly gutted that I didn't manage to cast the thing on this weekend, but it just got too late today and I had too much work to do. I am going to aim to have it finished by the end of the Christmas holidays. We'll see.

Friday 30 November 2007

Crisis averted

Mr Z handed me his credit card on Tuesday and invited me to order the new Knitpicks Harmony Interchangeables for my Christmas present (yeyyyy! SO excited). Well....I took the opportunity to try and order another 3 hanks of the Debbie Bliss Maya, and they were shipped yesterday, so I guess I didn't clean them out and I can knit Central Park in the biggest size and with the hood and everything. YEY. I plan to swatch it this weekend.

I noticed yesterday that one of the chav kids I work with has made off with my stress bat. My work friend Caroline bought it for me for my secret Santa in NQT year, and it has been hanging around at home for years gathering dust. Last month I finally brought it into school, where I used it once with my year nines, for an extremely successful game of Mallet's Mallet... an aside, I was not surprised when the kids hadn't heard of this, but I was slightly upset when the student teachers also looked at me blankly as I explained the game. Just how old am I these days?...

...where instead of associating words, the pupils had to give reasons for and against Haig being blamed for the Battle of the Somme. The game went down a storm and I vowed to keep the bat in school and do it again. Except that some chav kid had other ideas. Le sigh. Four years in the corner of my living room....less than four weeks in my classroom (and hidden in the cupboard, at that) and it's gone forever. I expect it's popped and covered in alcoholic vomit, screwed up in a bush in the local park or something.

Anyway, I was thinking about how I could replace it on the way home from work yesterday, and I decided to try and knit one. I think I could do it quite easily, and I've worked out how it would be constructed. I will add it to my list of dream projects, and perhaps get round to knitting it before I retire. Perhaps.

I know I promised Ester, but I'm not at home. Tomorrow, after I've had my hair cut. PROMISE!

Sunday 25 November 2007

Restless Needles

I don't know what to knit next.

I mean...I am knitting. I cast on yet another pair of Eowyns; this time in pink wool and purple Kid Silk, but I went down a needle size because the last time I did this they were a bit loose. Now they are a bit tight. But, I have big wrists, and they aren't for me.

But Eowyn is a 3 hour project, and I am hankering after something bigger. I went to Get Knitted today and, after half an hour of browsing, during which I was unable to find a satisfactory colour match for Rowan's Herring tweed (which they irritatingly do in DK and chunky, but not the aran I needed), I snapped and bought 10 skeins of Debbie Bliss Maya in dark purple. It was a bargain at £50 ( was a bargain) and I feel at peace because that yarn has been on sale on the GK website for at least 18 months. I had it in mind to knit the Central Park Hoody with it, as my first proper sweater project. I read the pattern carefully tonight and it seems simple enough. I was all ready to swatch.

And then I realised...I am approximately 300 yards short. And that's 300 yards, if I knit a size down to what I intended and block the crap out of it and hope it fits. Now, I could knit it without the hood but that seems to defeat the object. I could go for it and hope for the best, but I know I'll probably end up unable to frog it if I get to the end and realise I don't have enough for a satisfactory ending. I bought the last stocks the shop had, so I can't go back. And if I decide not to go for it - what will I use it for? And when will I feel happy about splashing out on yarn for the Hoody?

Big questions, folks. I bet you're glad you don't have my problems.

I'm blocking Ester as we speak. Finally. I pinned it all out nice and spritzed it with water scented with a little autumn BPAL, to disguise the fact that the bottle used to hold antibac spray (if I was going to wait until I remembered to buy a clean spray bottle, I wouldn't have Ester by spring 2009, let alone next year). Pinned, in a bright light, I can see lines running across the piece where obviously the yarn was dirty or something. I don't know that washing it will help. I am not even sure dying it will. I am just hoping that it won't be too obvious when I'm wearing it.

In the end I blocked it to 2XL even though I'd intended to make it just XL. This is a direct result of the wonder that is Ravelry. I finally received my invite for the beta version of this uberknitting site last week, and I have spent a vast amount of time on it since - which is why I know that people found Ester to be meanly sized. This website is serious about being good. It's like someone has taken the best ideas on the web and applied them to knitting. I have found loads of ideas for projects I want to knit, and it's so much fun to see other people's takes on patterns. Best of all, it synchs my blog to my profile. If this wasn't already mostly a knitting blog, it's going to be now.

It's got very wintry recently. I am starting to feel a bit festive. I saw a promotional poster in a card shop today of a slutty Santa girl in a Santa boob tube and hat. The whole thing was slightly repellent, but for the fabulous Santa wrist warmers she was wearing. This may be my next turn with Eowyn - red, with white lacey bits. I wonder how many times I can knit the same pattern. Maybe I should give up knitting anything else and just stick to this one item.

No pictures today, I'm too pensive. But you can expect a nice picture of me wearing a properly finished Ester in my next update. Promise.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Antifreeze. DONE.

And none too soon, although thankfully I don't live in the eastern counties, where it's currently snowing apparently.

This is a stick up. Give me all your yarn.

Let's try and do this properly...
Pattern: Antifreeze (Knitty, winter 2006)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Merino DK
Needles: Addi circs, 3.75mm and 4mm
Pattern Mods: I don't crochet, ever. So when I got to the cast off, I knit 3 more rows as directed, in the CC. But I still wasn't happy - the opening still did not seem small enough. So I knit another round, and then I knit a round of K2,K2tog and then another round, and then I was kind of OK with it but figured I wouldn't know for sure until I cast off, so I did that.

But it's not great. If I pull it down and up so just my eyes are showing like it's pictured in the pattern, it doesn't look quite right.

I'm thinking wide-mouthed frog.

Really I should unpick the casting off and knit a serious decrease on the sides whilst adding rows to the top and bottom....but let's be realistic about this...

It fits with my ski goggles, so that will do. This may be the most technically difficult pattern I've done to date, so I'm not going to sweat it. I'm not even going to mention the couple of little holes where I obviously didn't do the w&t on the short rows quite right. I'm just going to revel in how warm it is, how cute the ponytail slots are, how that ribbing is right on my face actually isn't it....yargh. I had the right horizontal gauge, but I cast on for this so long ago I can't remember if I measured the vertical gauge as well. I am wondering whether that wasn't quite right.

Anyway. Onto bigger and better things. I am still pondering what to tackle next. Meanwhile I dragged this out...

The world's most useless bag. It was my first cable project....first big project, really. I remember thinking it was very extravagant because the yarn cost me nearly £20. If only I'd known. It is meant to be a yoga bag, knit in Sirdar denim chunky, from a pattern in a 2006 issue of Simply Knitting. Unfortunately, I was not about to knit the mat to go with it, since I don't do yoga, and it is much too stretchy to make it in life as a normal bag. So I have unpicked the component parts, and now have a strap knit in herringbone tweed (a stitch I love and must use again soon) and a big cabled rectangle. I quite fancy transforming it into some sort of knit skirt (to be worn over a slip, natch) but it is not quite big enough....I'd need to knit some sort of triangle to graft in so that it became a-line and not a garment that exacerbates my addiciton to cakes.

This week, I will be mostly concerning myself with that conundrum.

Friday 16 November 2007

Of balaclavas and Wiis

I am so finished with Ester, at long, long last. I cast off a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't finished it in that I haven't blocked or seamed it yet. I have woven in the ends, though. I am really pleased with how it looks, it's so soft and warm, and even though I intended to dye it when I was finished, I like it in a sort of "natural". I am a little bit worried, having read all my knitting books, that it's going to be droopy and stretched before too long, because it is quite a heavy fabric; but I think it'll be OK because the garment's quite short.

Yeah baby, it's ribbed (and cabled) for my pleasure.

Last time I ever put it over my sweaty gym t-shirt, I promise.
But check out my lovely manicure!

The top part is plenty big enough but the lower half seems narrower than it should be, hence the need to block. Before I do that, though, I have to remember to buy a new spray bottle, since Mr Z left ours in the garden and it is filled with green slime. I don't think green slime is the way to go for this particular garment.

Anyway, even though it took me six months to finish, and I lost the will to knit while it was OTNs, now it's finished I am really inspired to do another big project like this. For a start, Ester has made me really quick - I have whipped through two and a half small projects in the past week: a pair of Eowyn wristwarmers for Mother Hand, squares for a new Hexed, and half an Antifreeze (that issue of Knitty has to bethe best ever; Mr Z is badgering me often to knit him the Binary scarf although I must admit I find it a bit formidable, and there are at least four other projects from that I'd love to try).

I am loving Antifreeze and how quickly it knits up; I only had the four inches of ribbing done on Tuesday (which, I must admit, I have had OTNs since February - I told you Ester killed my mojo), but now I am all ready to pick up the stitches for the face, and then it's only a few rows until I'm finished -

And all because the lady loves Milk Tray.

I am hoping that it will be cold enough on the ski trip this year to make such a garment necessary. It is going to be very cute with the ponytail holes and I'm going to do the final edging in a contrast colour, maybe pink or green. It's my first attempt at short rows, and I like the fact that they shape the garment as if by magic; I am also all over the fact that it's knit as one-piece so there won't be any seaming. I am knitting them on some Addi circs I bought from Get Knitted for the project and I am LOVING these needles. They're so smooth and perfect! Mr Z promised to get me a set of Knitpicks Harmony interchangables for Christmas, but since we discovered they don't ship overseas and I discovered how lovely the Addis are, I may ask for something else instead.

Indeed, I might be asking for some Wii games. I love my new Wii. I may have paid over the odds for it, but I managed to get it and an extra controller and nunchuck without having to wait....well, I had to wait a day, since I rang the Wii shop and was told they had one in stock, but by the time I got down there is had sold! Luckily they managed to get me another for the next day. It is definitely worth trying to little places - I got mine from a games shop in Hanham, just in time for our Hallowe'en party. Later that night, there were a fair few witches and ghouls drinking punch and play Wii sports. I have become slightly addicted to Paper Mario (although there's a lot of storytelling - you'd be stuffed if you were that one in five primay school kid who can't read), which I have nearly completed; and last weekend Mr Z bought me a classic controller, so I can start playing Super Mario World again. I love Mario with the little tail.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time for Wii-ing. I feel like I've been playing catch-up at work since half term. I spent last weekend closetted in the office marking endless assessments (I am going to have a rubber stamp made up that says, "Use capital letters for names, eg Britain, Germany" - and that's for year nine!) and my lessons this week have been, at best, patchy. On top of that my year 12s are so thoroughly confused Ian had to step in and tell me to do a "big picture" lesson with them, and I'm not allowed to use the staffroom milk on my muesli in the mornings anymore because somebody whinged there isn't any for drinks at the end of the day. This, in spite of the fact that
(a) I don't have milk in my hot drinks
(b) I buy my own coffee and never use the drinks machine
(c) the last time I brought my own milk in, it was poured into other people's drinks before I'd had 2 breakfasts out of it (staffroom fridge = worse than student fridge for thieving)
(d) there was never any milk at the end of the day even before I started eating cereal.

I am pretty incensed by this. I think I will, in an act of pure, unadulterated pettiness, start pouring some milk down the sink every time I have a cup off coffee, to represent what I am entitled to.

Piss and moan. I'm tired and ill and I've had neck pains for 2 weeks now that come and go, and I haven't been able t get to the gym because of being ill and having a sore knee, and that has just made my mood even worse. I'm so glad it's Friday. I plan to spend the whole weekend, apart from 2-3 hours on Sunday afternoon when I'll have to do some work, knitting, sleeping and Wii-ing. Mother Hand is coming down, so I can't do much work anyway. I might even decide on my next big project and go to shop for the yarn for it. I am liking the idea of the Central Park Hoodie - I just love cables.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Getting my knitting mojo back

It's been a long time since I updated. I meant to write more about our trip, bt we were too busy enjoying it to spend time writing about it! And, I was using this kaleidescope of a diario more and more to write about my new knitting obsession, but I totally lost interest over the summer. I was still plugging away at Ester, but when it got up to 200+ stitches and took me 20 minutes a row, I couldn't face it. Ester travelled 6000 miles to the US, 2500 miles round the US and 6000 miles back without havin a single stitch added. How embarrassing.

Well, I decided this half term was the half term to finish it. I am just entering the final 25 rows of ribbing. I'll be posting picture in the next couple of days, hopefully of the finished article! I am now worried it'll come up a little small, but I can always block it a bit bigger. The pattern says to wet block, but the No Sheep For You book says not to wet block that will be an adventure in itself.

Meanwhile, I am also trying to knit another Hexed for a friend...and I am still buying I had better keep knitting this time. I am slowly turning the spare room into a little snug where I can read and knit and generally hang out without the distraction of the TV. I just need to decide what colours to paint it now.

Wednesday 8 August 2007

Written Wednesday August 1st

So, we're camping.

Here we are in Yellowstone, America's very first national park. So far today, we have seen a bison, an elk, a couple of chipmunks, some unidentified rat-like creatures with very long tails that stick straight up, and, an hour or so ago, wandering directly through our campsite, a deer. Not bad, considering we have only been in national park space for approximately 8 hours.

We drove up through the Tetons national park and stopped so often to take photographs we didn't arrive at our campsite until 5pm - just in time for the first smattering of rain, during which we discovered that our tent had no under-tarp. Shortly after, we discovered that the camping shop was shut. Boo. Luckily we found another one nearby which was still open, and which sold all manner of things, including some very good angus burgers, which we've just flame-grilled over an open fire (take that, Burger King) and even a wide selection of Haagen-Dazs.

This was our first indication that the American approach to camping was not what one might expect. On closer inspection, the toilet block in the centre of our camping loop (loop K at Grant Village) had not only running water and flushing toilets - complete with ample paper and plenty of soap - but also power outlets and payphones. So much for the wilderness. The family opposite us have brought an extra gazebo to cover the picnic bench that accompanies each pitch, as well as a gas barbecue and a salad bar.

We're being very careful to pack everything carefully in the back of the car and in the cooler, for fear of "Waking up covered in bears" as Mr Z put it. I haven't seen Yogi yet, but then, it's early days.

About the only thing this place doesn't have by way of conveniences is wireless internet, so this update, and the rest, will have to wait. At least I don't have to worry about running out of battery power now - there was a man sitting on the loo charging his laptop earlier, according to Mr Z: the cable went all the way over the stall walls. In our ignorance, we forked out $40 for an in-car power point earlier today so that we could charge all our cameras and other paraphernalia.

The $40 seemed like nothing after our first purchase of the day. Whilst on the second leg of our driving yesterday, from Salt Lake City to Jackson, WY, we began to discuss the necessity of an SLR. They seem much cheaper over here in the States, so we decided we'd have a look when we got back to Vegas. But, upon rising this morning, we both seemed to have decided that it would be stupid to take a trip like this and buy the amazing camera AFTER we'd returned. So, we spent the first hour or so of the day driving to all the camera shops in Jackson. We struck lucky on our third try - and so did the sales assistant, who couldn't believe her good fortune when she pulled out what must have been the most expensive model in the shop, and we walked out with it, a couple of SD cards and a camera bag. I bet she took the rest of the day off. Poor Mr Z had to have a bit of a walk to think about it, as it involved breaking the cherry on his Capital One card again and finally using up that 15p credit it's had on it since January. Unfortunately for him, he had me at his elbow, whispering the benefits of the new toy, and truth be told he didn't take a lot of convincing. It is an amazing piece of equipment; I'm a little bit afraid to hold it for fear of breaking it, but Mr Z has already taken some fabulous shots with it.

I took this one, though *grin*

Thursday 24 May 2007

Exercise junkie

After a particularly lazy week last week, and a Thursday at Step when I found the class so hard that I had to remove all the risers and do the class almost on the flat (Clive's Camp Quote of the Week: "TWO! TWO! OH MY week I'm going to bring in a counting chart from 1 to 10 and we're going to LEARN TO COUNT..."), I have been to a class every night this week *is smug*. I went to two in a row on Monday, and spinning on Tuesday, blergh blergh.

Going so often allows for a lot of daydreaming and making up interesting stories about our fellow exercisers. Annoying Tigger Woman is my favourite. Why is she so bouncy? It is not good for her, she's so busy trying to kick highest or pivot furthest that she totally loses form. Ali and I think it is because of the guy she comes with. Perhaps he is her husband, and she is trying to show off because he had an affair and she is trying to save their relationship. Hence the insanely fast cycling at spinning - with no resistance.

Clive's Camp Quote of tonight: "You're all CRIPPLES!" and "It's not bad. It's not good, but it's ot bad." The other women in the class were all complaining about him tonight, and saying he's boring and they autopilot through the whole thing, and that he's really rude. He's not rude, he's funny! And if he's that boring, how come they're always getting it wrong? We went to a Sunday morning step class with Linda a couple of weeks back - now THAT was dull as shit, and she's not motivational and in fact a bit sneery. I appreciate an instructor that calls me a cripple. It makes me work harder and also makes me laugh; although, I suppose it's a bit un-PC.

All this exercising, but I feel more of a blob than ever. Too many sweets, too much bread. More fruit needed. My 5-and-20 thread on the forum got deleted and I haven't been too good about focusing on my goals since I can't post every day. Excuses, excuses!

In a mere 36 hours, I can make Mr Z cut the front jungle.

Sunday 20 May 2007

I am a cliche

This afternoon, while Mr Z slumbered deeply during his nap, I decided I was sick of looking at the long grass in the back and front garden, and that maybe if I mowed the back garden, he might do the front. This was also a ruse to get out of going to the gym this evening, as I thought that some pushing-up-and-down of a mower would count as exercise.

It was all going swimmingly, until I decided to do the edges. And now the lawn mower doesn't work, and one of the pieces of wood on the border is badly splintered. I fear I have become the cliche of woman-with-machinery. And now, we are have this situation.

And in the front garden? Wild fucking kingdom.

Not only can we not finish trimming the back garden, thanks to a dearth of cord for the strimmer, but the only way the front garden will get cut before next weekend is if I take my nail scissors to it.

Here are a couple more gratuitous garden shots - there's some lovely colour in the front garden, and the sneaky Christmas tree is growing again - we put it outside in its pot in January 2003, intending to burn it, and it has rooted through the pot, but it keeps pretending to die and then coming back to life.

...and one further gratuitous shot, of Mr Z peering out of the window, trying to work out why I was taking pictures of my butcher job on the lawn.

It has been a week of weeks. Due to the early commencement of the GCSE exams this year, the year 11 leavers' ball took place on Tuesday. It was the usual mixture of drinking, being ignored by the kids and dancing to the Cha Cha slide. This year, Paul, the very definitely inclined dance teacher, got tongues wagging by dancing extremely suggestively with Katie, whilst his staff "girlfriend" Cara looked on, green-eyed (oh how we love spinning these yarns for the kids); Rob and I tried to re-enact our Christmas Strinctly Come Dancing success to McFly's "Stargirl", succeeding only in knocking Heidi's drink from her hand; and I managed to get all three men in my department into a picture together. Sadly, the cover supervisor also decided to join us, since she spends such a lot of time in the History department, but oh well.

The highlight of the evening, however, has to be when Carol, the head of repro, decided to have a good old boogie in her gorgeous green satin boob tube, and forgot that she had to keep her chest lifted and shoulder blades back. The unfortunate year 11 who was having his picture taken at the time got an eyeful and is possibly scarred for life. At least it was just the one that popped out. This is why strapless bras are an absolute must under boob tubes.

Anyway, the year 11 ball was tres fun, but it was a TUESDAY for crying out loud, and I didn't manage to catch up on my sleep all week. It was so bad, I spent all day Saturday with chronic indigestion, napping on the sofa. The whole 5-fruit-and-veg-and-20-minutes-of-exercise plan has totally gone out of the window, and I am not feeling great. Back to it this week.

An aside: I am annoyed that the option to change my text into Times New Roman has gone *pout*

Tuesday 15 May 2007

The end is nigh

I parted my hair on the other side today.

During my daily morning break preening in the staffroom toilet mirror, I found a white hair.

Granted, it was only a couple of inches long. Granted, the end that was not attached to my scalp was tapered and not coarse, as though it had once been a hair of normal hue, but the shock of something had stripped it of its shade. Granted, it was buried beneath a lot of other normal-coloured hairs, and could have been mistaken for a particularly bright blonde one (there are a lot of blonde hairs on that side of my scalp, unusually). But, it's still not a good sign. In fact, I take it as an indication that I am not the bearer of Mother Hand's lucky, hardly-any-grey-before-50 genes, or Maternal Gran's luckier, still-got-some-colour-at-83-thank-you-very-much. Instead, I appear to be laden with Father Hand's....let's just say, not-so-lucky genes. I suppose it was always on the cards.

I pulled out the offending hair and put it in my handbag. I shall take it home and tape it into my journal, as a reminder that vanity can only be the indulgence of the young.

Sunday 6 May 2007

Rainy May Day

What a surprise! It is raining. I spent the weekend in Hastings with Sam, and it was so overcast and windy that I couldn't even go in the sea :-( I wanted to go cycling tomorrow, since Amaryah (colleague at school) leant me her bike, and I want to see how long it takes to cycle to Keynsham, the local train station. They have started to do an hourly service to school now, and if it's cyclable it might be a good alternative for when the clutch goes on my car (I fear this is imminent). Of course, the return train journey costs £4 a day more than the petrol, but still.

Maybe it will be nice enough for the bike ride. Otherwise I'll be sat inside all day, ignoring my piles of work, and Ester, which is now over 200 stitches wide and takes me half an hour per row and therefore I have now lost interest. I have such a poor attention span. I even just zoned out on this entry for a few minutes.

I have spent 2 days filling my body with junk food and alcohol and smoking more cigarettes than I have in the past 2 months (I managed to quit for nearly a whole month...). Consequently I feel pretty rough right now. I might go to bed and read a fitness magazine as penance.

Saturday 21 April 2007

Current obsessions

Knitting books

I bought two last month and have pored over them endlessly. One is Stitch'n'Bitch Nation, which has at least a dozen patterns in it that I want to knit, and the other is No Sheep For You which has taught me a lot about non-woollen fibres and been quite helpful in the knitting of Ester. I have added at least another three to my wishlist. This is pointless - I already have more patterns than I can ever knit. I feel I am just using knitting to justify the augmentation of my library.

I am exactly halfway through Ester. I lazily decided against buying a circular needle today since it involved a car trip, but I realised today I can't continue without the circ. Boo. It will have to wait until next week now, I expect, only I am so into it now that I don't want to stop and I may find myself driving over to John Lewis tomorrow to buy one, even though I don't have enough petrol to get to work on Monday, let alone fork out for knitting supplies.
Here are some pictures, anyway -

Above, the whole thing in beautiful lustrous silk, and to the left, a close up of that beautiful cable work.

Yes, I'm a knitting geek at the moment. I'm loving it.

20 Minutes a Day
I managed to stick to my 20 minutes of exercise a day for a whole 13 days in a row. Unfortunately I slipped up yesterday - I was so tired after my first week back at work I went to bed at 7pm. Now I have a new challenge - trying to beat 13 days in a row. It is very motivating to know I don't have to do longer than 20 minutes.

Being green
Today, I walked up the 'wood (thus reducing fuel emissions), went to the green grocer (supporting local businesses), bought mostly British/local food (cutting food miles), put them into string bags (reducing the amount of waste), and walked home. I was so smug, because this included my 20 minutes as well. I am trying to work out the cheapest way to buy a bike, too, because I have discovered there is a train from the nearest station that I could take to work. It would cost almost double what the petrol costs, but once in a while it might be a nice change. I really want a bike with a basket on the front, so I can carry the mitten around in it with a bunch of flowers and a baguette, or something. I'm sure she'd love that, and wouldn't at all try to jump out and commit suicide under the front wheel just to escape the indignity of being such a shameless cliche.

Nice weather
It's been utterly gawjus this week. Apparently it's going to be 23 degrees tomorrow. There may be much hammock-dwelling, ahead of the rain predicted for next week.

Thursday 19 April 2007

Predictable as ever

Of course, I went back to work and the entries tailed off immediately.

ICI's quotes of the week:
"Oooohhh you're all doing so WELL! I'm so produ of myself."
"I'm not saying anything this time. I'm not speaking. I won't say a thing. ................. STRADDLE! Ooohhh I can't help myself"
Extreme comedy value.

I have kept up the 20-minutes-a-day extremely well; the weekend was a bit hairy, I actually hauled out Yourself! Fitness and went back to Maya for 15 minutes. She was very pissed off with me and our 15 minute session consisted of weighted squat-lunges (3 sets on each side) and 100 side crunches. Note to self: do not ignore computer program for so long again: programmers have a sadistic streak.

I tried the dress on this week. It still fits, in that it stretches over my inflated frame, but I couldn't do it up without some serious corsetry or a minor miracle. It will be a good measure of success (or lack thereof).

My tutor group seem to be having something of a meltdown this week, there have been some very strange goings on, from even the most quiet member. We've had the usual "EVERYONE HATES ME AND THIS SCHOOL IS SHIT AND NOBODY CARES" rant from C; L has been excluded for most of the week for throwing a rock at someone; and today, there was a big row between S & S - S says she's going to punch other S if she doesn't stop sending her rude texts. It's like a little soap opera, it really is. The highlight of the week so far was when Ca refused for a day and a half to remove her second pair of stud earrings and was removed from lessons as a result. I find this extremely petty, on both sides, but she is the only one I had a chance of talking round. It didn't work. More of this school's shit and I'll go somewhere else. Le sigh.

Funny moment today when Sarah, the PGCE student, quietly and cautiously voiced her concerns that K always seemed stoned, to which Caroline and I responded in tandem, "He is." I then realised how matter-of-fact we'd been about it and was momentarily a little shocked, but then, he's been stoned for the past 2 and a half years, so it's no great shakes. At least his ambition has moved on from pimp or drug dealer to scaffolder - he won't need Maths GCSE for that, not like the other two.

I have been rather hurled into the deep end with the new job. The Head caught me on Wednesday and told me I needed to find 2 gifted year 11s staying on in the 6th form who could afford to fork out £700 to go on a G&T conference to Hong Kong in November, by Friday. Deadline for said trip passed 3 weeks ago, so needless to say my predecessor (who has the jobs of about 4 different people combined and a very sick baby at home) is named "Muddikins von Mud Mud" with senior management. I was torn between wanting desperately to complete Mission Impossible and impress, and being very aware that I don't officially take the job until May 1st - I haven't even had the confirmation letter. In the end I threw myself into it. I think I may have sorted it, although I don't have any paperwork about it at all, even application forms, so that makes the possibility of success slightly slimmer. Still, I have my first G&T meeting tomorrow so perhaps I can get one then.

SO tired. Bed and Ian Rankin novel, I think.

Friday 13 April 2007

Holidays are almost gone

Gutted for myself :-(

Mother Hand is here. She has come to sort out my garden, though I have a feel she is going to sow some seeds in a hanging basket, repot my desperately over-crowded aloe vera and then leave, with all the weeds still intact. She has hurt her wrist, so I may let her off. And she did bring me a magnolia.

I've done some good exercising. I went to circuits last night, I swear it was easier, I worked my arse off and felt I was able to put in more than usual, so either I am slightly fitter or that cold was slowing me down more than I thought.

Tonight, back to Step with the incredibly camp instructor (ICI, from now on). I found the routine a lot easier this time round, muscle memory or something, and he commented on it at the end - how it had really clicked for me. Not so the two teens who sneaked in 5 minutes late and had their steps way too close to the back wall. You could tell they weren't going to make it - one wasn't wearing a sports bra and she really needed it - a particularly energetic 3-knee repeater and she'd have knocked herself out, with 2 black eyes to show for her efforts. She managed about 45 minutes and then sat the rest out. They had no grasp on the routine at all.

Ali was also much happier this time although still finding it hard, and we cackled to each other all the way through and shouted to each other over the music and were generally loud and obnoxious (there were only 8 people there) but had a blast. At one point, ICI, shouted, "Have you got that?" and I was there, stepping away, giving a big grin and thumbs up in an overly-cheerful, if-I-stop-I'll-fall-over way, whilst Ali shouted, "NO!" and waved her hands about. ICI jumped off his step and advanced several paces, cocked his hips and put his hands on them, screwed up his eyes and cooed, "Oooohhhh, you have REALLY!" at which point, I would have rolled on the floor laughing if I'd had enough breath. He is such excellent value for money, even without the amazing exercise.

My arse hurts like buggery now, though. Oh....that's maybe not a good simile. But still. Between the endless leg lifts at circuits and tonight's mega-step, I'm sure my posterior must be at least 2 inches higher and an inch tighter now.

Ali wanted to do circuits tomorrow but Mother Hand will still be here - just as well or that would have been 4 days in a row at the leisure centre. I must sort out a membership, it'll save me a fortune.

I have finished marking one whole coursework studdy. Huzzah! The boring one is done - now, the tedious one. Maybe I will do that at the weekend, in between the 50 reports and 85 assessments. I am so crap at time management. I am wishing this blog had smileys.

I am nearly halfway on Ester, and now that the cable repeat has had some time to, well, repeat, I am LOVING it. So much, I may not even dye it when I'm done. It suits the undyed look. I reckon one more repeat of the cable pattern and I'll be ready to cast on for the top part, at which point I'll have to go out and buy a 4.5mm circ, because I have managed on straight needles until now, but the number of stitches is going to double, or maybe triple, I forget. So, even though I hate back-and-forthing on a circ, I may have no choice. I am tempted to buy 2 circs...but that's just crazy talk. What a waste of money I don't have. I really want to get the first part finished by Saturday, though, so I can cast on before going back to work. It's so much easier to pick up a nice cable pattern for a couple of rows than it is to spend an hour casting on and picking up stitches.

I found this cartoon. Laughed a lot. Enjoy.

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Memory Lane

In an effort to avoid the 5 pieces of coursework I need to mark, and inspired by an episode of Sex and the City, I had a flick through the photo albums containing all the good pictures from university this evening. I have some questions -

1. wtF was going on with my HAIR?! That fringe - well, I always knew it was a problem, but by my final year that thing had a curl on it to rival Jerry. Had straighteners not been invented in the 90s?
2. I know I was poor, but would it have killed me to get myself to New Look once in a while and stop wearing my old Camp Black Hawk staff shirts?
3. Did I own any make up? Why didn't I wear it?
4. Was I physically inacapable of buying trousers that were long enough?
5. When I looked in the mirror, why did I not consider how pale and unwell I looked, put down the cider and pick up a carrot?
6. It's not fair that I can't wallpaper my rooms with photographs anymore. OK, that's not a question. Suck it up.

I think I thought I was being edgy and cool, not caring about fashion and wearing my DM Mary Janes with EVERYTHING (even brown ones black opaque tights and lilac dresses, and bare legged with little skirts in the summer, IIRC) but, now I realise I was just achingly dorky. Still, if Carrie Bradshaw looks in her photo album and cringe at outfits she wore 10 years ago, I suppose it's an indication that everybody has some painful pictures in their past. Thankfully, I can't seem to find any of mine on the web.

With all this in mind, I'm quite glad I am nearly 30. Look how improved I am! I make an effort to look and smell nice now. I get facials and waxes and the occasional professional hair cut. I buy clothes that don't have elasticated waists. I may not be thinner, but my face certainly is, and I no longer have that pasty, deathly look that screams, "I live on red wine, Marlboro and toasted sandwiches and rarely see daylight". I would never belittle the 20s me - I had an absolute riot at uni, I wouldn't change any of it (apart from, I might be more hedonistic) but I am also really enjoying my current phase of life and looking forward to the next one. I can't believe I am still only in my 20s.

It's 2.10am now (the publishing clock on this blog is all snafu'd) because I have been reading old diario in a self-indulgent way - specifically, the Ibiza chronicles. It reminded me that I was going to tell a tale from the Chronicles of the Evils of Alcohol - from my visit to Jen in November. I wrote about it once and then the dongle got fried. It's kind of late now, I hve a new magazine calling and if I sit here much longer I might feel the need to mark something....bwahahaha! Evils of Alcohol tomorrow.

I went swimming this evening. That was my 20 minutes - although I did about 35. 20 lengths in a variety of ways. My arms ache, it's good. I did mainly back stroke and sculling, and then got a float and did a few lengths with just my legs, so I didn't overwork my upper body. Get me. I could so be a personal trainer. All I need is the yellow lycra trousers and I'm the new Ms Motivator.

There's a very long thread on the forum about whether people feel embarrassed to go swimming or not, which was started by a girl who is, and is a size 12-14. I feel a bit sorry for people who are too embarrassed to get their cossies on and get splashing. In the pool tonight, the only thing I could see was people's heads bobbing up an down as they swam lengths. A more concerted squint revealed that many of them were overweight, but then, swimming is great exercise, so why not? I saw a lady in the showers with a massive belly but killer legs, and another with a teeny tiny waist and hips that were so wide that they were, by comparison, slightly comical - fantastic hour glass shape but I bet she finds it hell to find well-fitting clothes.

I also saw a couple who I fear may have been breaking the "No petting" pool rule. I was more interested in the reaction of the 2 women stood next to me in the shallows, who were absolutely outraged (but didn't complain to a lifeguard or anything) and complained about "filthy French folk", oblivious to the fact this couple were speaking some slavic dialect. I was slightly more concerned when they got out of the pool and I realised the girl had the figure of a 12 year old - I really hope she was not a 12 year old, because I then had the misfortune to be in the changing cubicle next to the one they were in. Together.

Fastest I've ever changed in my life.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

I found the pictures

They were in a bag of Stuff (tm) under the bed.

I also marked 5 pieces of coursework - though it took me until midnight to get around to it, and I was working for an hour because I kept getting distracted by really fascinating things like paint splatters on the wallpaper and the rubber Mother Hand bought me from the Tate for my Christmas stocking.

And I did a half hour workout. I did one yesterday too - I am trying this thing where I exercise for at least 20 minutes every day. This is mainly because I have stopped officially dieting for the first time in ages and I need to do something so I feel still in control. So today I did Davina's core workout, and yesterday the pump one, and the day before I walked for 20 minutes (lame, I know, but whatever) and the day before....well, I was still aching from the hour of step I did on Thursday.

I used to be totally addicted to this Step class at the leisure centre, the instructor was the best. Her routines were super-hard and I'd be concentrating so much on the steps that I'd forget I was exercising. Often I concentrated so hard, I'd fall on my arse. Literally. Anyway, I stopped going when I joined Fitness First, and then when I quit FF I went back and it was a different woman, she used to attend the class and she wasn't the same and I was disappointed and not willing to bust a gut to get there by 6pm, so I only went the once.

Last week I decided to go back (in no way a knee jerk reaction to the amount of cherry sorbet with melted chocolate I'd eaten by Thursday) and I made Ali come with me, and it is a new instructor. A man. Not just any man. The campest instructor I have ever come across. He had his tunes on, getting ready for the class, and he was dancing around to them in a very earnest way and calling us all darlings. He put me instantly at ease and not only that, but his routine kicked arse. As in, I fell on it, again, in fact within 10 minutes of the class starting - definitely a good sign. Ali and I stumbled through the steps, giggling and shrugging at each other - it was impossible to keep up with. It made me really want to go back this week and get it right.

I also fiddled with my blog template today. I managed to make the text bigger and in a wider column. I am still not happy - now I think the text is too big, and maybe it should be a different font. But, I'm getting there. I haven't had any comments, so it's only me that cares at least *grin*

Monday 9 April 2007


Following my house cleaning yesterday, I got looking at some old pictures and spent a couple of hours last night putting all the teacher-related ones into an album (yes, that's right, that was the couple of hours I should have spent doing my schoolwork). In the course of this, I realised I am missing the photographs I took at our wedding last year - I had Salcam which came everywhere with me and I got some really fun pictures with it.

A concerted rummage until nearly 3am did not reveal them, and so this evening, having ascertained they're not in the special hidden compartment in my car, I searched much of the rest of the house. They are not here. Boo. Mr Z, still off playing pirates, told me they are here somewhere, but I am certain they are not. I am hoping they turn up in the boot of my car - I mean, who WOULDN'T keep their photographs in the boot of their car?

Anyway, in the course of all this rummaging I found several other things I had lost, including my tutor group's year 9 class picture, the Prince of Persia CD Mr Z spent hours looking for a couple of months ago (in one of my boxes of "stuff"...oops) and the CD of photographs from the first year 11 ball I attended, which included this cracker of myself and Caroline, an art teacher who joined as an NQT the same year I did. This photograph went up on the staffroom wall after the ball, as revenge for me sticking up the one of one of the PE teachers in his pants, drying his jeans under the hand dryer at the Christmas party. We were singing "Summer Nights" and I had just flung my arms out with such vigour, I'd knocked Caroline's roll-up right out of her hand - and this after she'd rolled me the one I was holding. Good times.

It's been a gorgeous day today. I donned a boob tube and one of my new linen skirts and sat in the garden, and I think I am a bit brown. Work on Ester has continued apace - I finished the ribbing today, so keen was I to get onto the cabling (I despise ribbing, even relatively inoffensive 2x1 ribbing like this). I think it looks good! Mmmmm, crossing cables....(I made it very little but if you click on it, it gets bigger. Ain't technology grand?)

Still haven't done any schoolwork. I honestly thought about it very seriously today, but decided to clear off my desk and watch Grey's Anatomy instead.

Saturday 7 April 2007

The polka dot obsession continues

I was stood behind a man in the queue at Tesco Express this evening. He was wearing a black shirt with white polka dots. He wasn't particularly hot or anything - in fact, kind of had an aging lothario thing going on, as if the shirt should have been stained with tanning oil, and unbuttoned to the navel over a hairy, medallion-adorned chest. Still, I couldn't stop staring at his amazing shirt. At one point I actually raised my hand to pull the collar out so I could see where it was from, before I remembered it was being worn by a person with whom I might prefer not to have physical/verbal contact.

Seriously, need to get over the polka dots.

I have been a TOTAL domestic goddess today. Mr Z is still off playing pirates and I intended to hoover the lounge and put clean sheets on the bed so I can really enjoy having it all to myself tonight. But in the end, I did the following...
* Cleared out the corner of the dining room which has been piled with clutter for at least a year, hoovered it, dusted it, recycled/chucked half the stuff, reallocated half of what was left and tidied the rest into a neat stack
* Done pretty much the same for under the stairs
* Cleared off and polished the piano
* Washed up EVERYTHING, including all the stuff Mr Z doesn't bother to do when he washes up
* Cleaned out the grill pan (note to self: do not put hot grease into a yogurt pot)
* Changed and washed the bed linen
* Washed the tea towels
* Washed the blankets we keep on the sofa for snuggling
* Hoovered all of downstairs
* Dusted the TV and its surroundings
* Cleaned the inside of all the downstairs windows
* Washed the kitchen bin
* Put all the washing away

I am SO SMUG. The mitten doesn't know what's going on - she's wandering around sniffing bits of floor that haven't been exposed to the air for months. Earlier, she stood in front of the piano and balanced on her back legs to see what was on top of it now that it was clear, and repeated this all the way along its length. It was hilarious. She spent most of the day keeping out of the way and practising being long.

The other thing I have been doing is knitting, since it is the holidays and I have a shedload of work to ignore. I am currently working on this very cute little shruggy cardigan thing which will be an excellent warming something to throw on over the boob tubes this summer. I am knitting it in recycled sari silk I bought off ebay with a skirt in mind, only it is too coarse for skirt-knitting; it is deliciously soft and quite slubby, so the fabric is coming up shiny, sheeny, bumpy and irregular, and it looks great. I am not certain that I love it yet, but this may have something to do with the fact that I totally messed up the ribbing when I started. So I spent a painstaking hour and a half last night dropping the stitches and pulling them up the right way with a tiny cable needle (the picture to the left was taken about halfway through the process - I literally had to fix every 2nd and 3rd row for two-thirds of the width of the fabric - thank god for Stitch'n'Bitch or it would have just had to look crappy forever). I'm also slightly concerned that the fabric will be too heavy to support the cables on the back, but I guess I'll just have to try - there's no way this yarn will take frogging, so if I don't like it, I'll have to give it away =D

So, it's 11pm. I promised myself I would mark 5 pieces of coursework and do a Davina workout today. Lucky I slept in this morning, it won't matter if I am up superlate not doing either of those things.

Friday 6 April 2007


OK, it pretty much works. Yey me! I have not lost all my techieness, in spite of taking up knitting and stuff. Alright, it doesn't work PERFECTLY, because it should be uploading to the diario folder, and it's just uploading to the main folder - but that's OK. I can change my links (read: get Mr Z to fix it when he gets back), and anyway nobody reads this anymore. I KNOW YOU DON'T READ! Otherwise, you would have emailed me. It's OK. I know I'm boring now. I don't care.

Well, it's exciting. Yes, it is an exciting time. Exciting times! Interesting times, if you will. It is spring. Spring is springing all over the place. The weather is great. I did 4 loads of washing today and line-dried the lot, in the space of one day - and I didn't even get up until 11am. I bought some new (pink) gardening gloves and a trowel and mini fork and dug the garden. Alright....I dug a square foot of one flower bed whilst waiting for dinner to cook, but my heart was in the right place. I am hoping there is a magnolia on the way - Mother Hand has hinted there will be a magnolia in place of an easter egg. I have wanted a magnolia for a very long time. Last year, Mother Hand presented me excitedly with a camelia. Eventually I had to come clean and explain why I wasn't as excited as she thought I would be. So, I need to clear a space for the magnolia. Our next door neighbour has just removed all growing things from her front garden and gravelled it, so I feel the need to
(a) replace the foliage which previously shileded us completely from the street, so I don't feel so exposed
(b) plant something that will shed leaves and flowers on her gravel, thus punishing her in a very small way for removing the shield of plants that hid us from street view (only in a very small way - she is very nice and I will probably help her clear up any rogue foliage).

So, want my MOST EXCITING spring news. I got PROMOTED! Yey me! I had started reluctantly, to look around for new jobs, since I have been at my school for 4 years now, and one risks getting stuck in a rut. I didn't feel ready to leave, but I said I'd look when my luscious tutor group got to year 9, and my little babies are there now so I thought I'd better show willing. I got some details for a school closer to home, and guffawed at my arrogance - the school is bigger, with an 80% A*-C rate in History - yeah, right! I wouldn't have had a prayer.

Then, the day after I rang up for the details, I was having a bit of banter with the Head of Personnel, and she went a bit quiet. I froze for a second - she is one of those turn-on-a-dime people and is also in charge of cover, so not the type to piss off - and thought about what I might have said wrong... but then she leant over and whispered, "There's a job coming up. An internal vacancy. You might be interested in it." And I forgot about the other school instantly, because I thought, well, if the head of personnel is giving you insider tips, she obviously has you in mind, and that's a good sign, right?

It was. I applied. I panicked a LOT about the letter getting to the head before the deadline. I went out and bought a new dress (as you see - although it is listed as a top and I did wear it over trousers, and the colours are much nicer in the real thing - very aqua and springlike). I picked the forum's collective brain for hints and found out one of my fellow forumites works for the relevant department at the DfES, and she was able to give me some excellent pointers in terms of what websites to look at. And I had my interview. And I got it! Although it was crap, and when the governor asked me what I did at the school my mind went totally blank and I ended up reeling off a list of subjects I teach instead of talking about mentoring PGCE students, which is ACTUALLY what he meant although I totally didn't get that at the time.

So, I was the only applicant, but the head made a point of saying that they had me in mind for the job, and that even if there'd been a dozen applicants I would have been a very hard act to follow, which was really nice of him to say.

The job is Lead Teacher for Gifted, Talented and Able - which is a very posh way of saying head of G&T. Well, the job was obviously mine - I love G&T. I wanted it when I was an NQT and didn't apply, and always regretted it. Now it's even better, because it's a fat payrise and I will have hours in my timetable to dedicate to it, and I get really decent training which could count towards a Masters (yeah, cos I need another post-grad qualification...). This program is being rolled out to all schools and I think that eventually it will mean I can apply for a job as Head of G&T, like people apply for pastoral or senior management jobs. I am stupidly excited.

The job is mainly going to involve me observing teachers and telling them how they can better provide for gifted students in their lessons. Guess I'm going to be off a lot of Christmas card lists. Oh well, better for the environment. This is where the PGCE mentoring comes in - I am lucky I have been doing that for so long, it probably swung me the job.

That's all for now. I mean, how much excitement do you want in one post?

This is sort of a test

It's been like, 2 months since I managed to update this. Lots of things have happened - of course they have! And I finally decided that I was much too crap to be writing Diario in Notepad and FTPizzling up to my webspace on a regular basis, so I took the plunge and here I am on Blogger. This is my first post. Mr Z has gone for a night out on the boat with BIL Z (brother-in-law...DUH!) and so I have just tried to associate Blogger with my webspace....putting in the FTP details and such. I don't have a lot of confidence that it's going to work, so I'll keep this short. I might come back later and tell you all the exciting things that have been happening to me.

(This is now my second attempt - I got the password wrong and had to jump through several hoops to find the correct one. I was also momentarily distracted by the funny funny Evil Devil - the only shining star in the heap of shite that is Balls of Steel. Totally want to carry a bag of fake sick onto Nemesis now.)