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.)