Tuesday 28 April 2009

Tuesday Ten

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

(Originally it was ten things which enrich my life but that seemed like too grand a title for this motley collection of material items).

1. Jersey wrap dresses
I think I discovered my love for the jersey wrap dress the year I got married, and my addiction has grown steadily ever since, mainly fed by ebay and Boden.

This collection is missing two - the one I am actually wearing, and one more which really I should part with. The one on the right is a bit of a cheat, too, since it's not actually a wrap dress, but I like it a lot and wanted it to be in the picture.

I think my favourite is the blue spotty one....that was also the most expensive, and most recently purchased. The second in from the right was the dress I wore all honeymoon and, even though it's too short for me since I gained some weight, I can't bring myself to part with it. The brown one second from the left I have never worn, since it was an ebay bargain and a bit too clingy when I first bought it - but I have just put together a lovely outfit for tomorrow with it, so it will debut.

I figure it doesn't matter that I own so many dresses, as long as I actually wear them. I am thinking of going for an all dress/skirt wardrobe in the future.

2. Fresh flowers
I think this has crept up on me as I've got older. I never thought I was an especially floral person, but since I started filling my vases from the florist opposite our Sunday brunch spot, I think I might be. This week's offerings are particularly nice, since I splashed a bit more cash to celebrate getting paid.

The top pictures are pink tulips and little purple lilies from the florist, and the bottom picture are Queen of the Night tulips and lilac, both from the front garden. I am amazed at those tulips - I planted 5 bubls a couple of years ago and one came up, I was gutted. Now there are about ten, and they last for almost a month. Perhaps I am not so brown-fingered after all.

3. My mobile phone
Of course it's good for keeping in touch with people, but I really like that I can get online with it, and it's so handy for taking pictures of things. Like, last week, I was held up because some chavs were fighting in the street so I took a picture of them, and it's a good resolution, in case the police were to need it. It made me feel better, at least.

4. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
I can only think of two other albums that have had such a potent effect on me - Coldplay's Parachutes and Keane's first album which I can't remember the name of. I haven't been able to stop listening to it since I got it. There isn't a single song I am apathetic towards. I think every one is like a dance.

5. iGoogle
Helps me waste hours of time. I like being able to keep track of all my favourite blogs and the headlines, and access YouTube without actually accessing it. It's very handy for looking at filtered sites at work without going through the unfiltered proxy - and, as the kids have discovered, you look like you're just searching for something when it shows up on the task bar.

6. Dorothy Dunnett
Her historical fiction books have kept me enthralled for almost two years now - they're so richly detailed and the story is so good. I sort of begrudge times like now, when I am mired in coursework marking and only have about five minutes of reading time a day, which is not enough to pick up the current Dunnett. I am pleased that it takes me quite a while to read each one, and excited that I am only part way through one collection, because that means the books will continue to amuse me for years to come.

7. Holidays
I love holidays! Everything from just a night away to the big three week full monty in the summer. Next holiday will be in half term, when I am going to the grim north to see Sian and meet Jen's new baby; then there's a weekend in Brighton for Beccy's wedding (seafront hotel!) and then it will only be 6 weeks until the summer holidays and we'll be off to America. My compensation payment for the accident I had in October is due imminently and will be covering most of the cost of the tickets.

Then there should also be Malaysia in the autumn - not exactly a holiday but how much work can 16 lovely teenagers make? hur hur - though I am holding fire on getting too excited about that one (I am already very excited but am trying to hold a bit back), since the head hasn't squared it with the rest of SLT yet, and I am by no means certain that they will permit me a week off during term time, even though it's a school thing. With my paranoid head on, I fear he will not fight my corner very hard so that he can go in my place.

8. Knitting
No big surprise there. I like knitting for all sorts of reasons - it involves colour; it's very tactile; it provides useful things; it can involve books and magazines; there's an excellent website associated with it which can drain as much time as I want it to, not to mention millions of blogs; it's very portable; it's sociable; and it makes me feel a bit clever when I finish something and it comes out looking great. Hurrah for knitting!

9. Pretty stationery
I love stationery. I think it's a bit of a pre-requisite of being a teacher. I love the time of year when the new budgets come through, and Ian brings me the stationery catalogue and a blank order form and tells me to order what I want for the year. That day is up there with Christmas for me. I especially like unusually shaped post it notes, spiral bound notebooks with bright covers, and fineliner pens in unusual colours. And Sharpies - I love them, although they are not good for writing on actual paper because they go straight through.

I currently have three pretty spiral notebooks on my desk. One is currently in use, as my AS notes book, but the other two are really just there to look pretty. They look very pretty.

I love stickers too. I don't care that I mainly teach 14-18 year olds - they are getting stickers. I think some of them might be even more excited about the stickers than me, though.

10. Looking at old photographs
Particularly my wedding pictures. I can spend hours looking at my old pictures, particularly now a lot of them are on Facebook or in my Flickr.

Here's my favourite wedding picture, to round off. Makes me giddy with joy every time I see it.

Monday 27 April 2009

Weekend FO

My hundredth post on this blogger-hosted blog! How exciting. Only took me two years. I hope I get to 200 before this time next year. I wonder how many posts I've done in total - I'll have been blogging for an entire decade this autumn. Wow, that makes me feel old.

This weekend's FO was sadly not finished until Monday but if you do a bit of time swapping and pretend I did the coursework marking today and the knitting yesterday, you can just about stretch it...

Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Maya - leftovers from the Central Park Hoody. I think I used 3 and a bit skeins, but I was dumb and didn't count, and I can't remember how many skeins I started with. 3 and a bit works out to be the right yardage, but it might have been 4 and a bit.
Needle: Knitpicks Harmony, 7mm
Mods: None, really, since this pattern is made to be modded. I knit the wider neckline, stopped at hip length, and went for elbow length sleeves. I also knitted the 38, which is 2 sizes down from what I would normally choose for a cardi meant to have a little positive ease, but I wanted something tight. Drapey cardigans are not friends to girls who really have to show off their waists to prove they are not completely rotund.
I did just mean to knit one size down, though. Not sure how that happened.

I used the icord bind off again, it looks good. I also bought some big poppers for closing, but I am not sure about them yet - I might have one popper at the top, and then stitch some ribbon half way down so I can tie it shut.

I am moderately pleased with it. It certainly busted the stash (though I have just under 2 skeins left...) The sleeves are a little tight - just means I can't wear it over anything long sleeved which is kind of the point anyway - and they might not be quite long enough, but that would be easily fixed if I changed my mind.

The picture was taken at knitting group last week so I could get an idea of the length. I am having a fat day today and can't manage to take a good picture of myself in this, and Mr Z is sleeping, so the blurry camera picture will have to do. There might be a better picture in the future.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Happy Wednesday!

I don't know whether I explained this before, but Wednesday is a bad day for me this year - at least, Wednesday week 1 is - because I have 6 lessons. We teach a 5 lesson day, but sometimes sixth form have period 6 because that's the only way the timetable works. If you have period 6, you get a protected free, which is supposed to be earlier in the same day. My protected free is on Tuesday. So today I teach double year 11, double year 10 (Business Studies, followed by History) and then double year 12, and I am fit to drop by the end of it, and then ruined for the rest of the week.

Today is a happy Wednesday indeed because it was one of those Wednesdays AND IT IS NOW OVER! That means, only two more of these horrible Wednesdays left, ever. I have them marked on my calendar. Thankfully, being mostly exam classes, as of May half term they will never be the same again.

At least my other Wednesday has a free in the middle, so I only have to put up with this horrible day once a fortnight.

Anyway, I was looking for pictures of the magnificent lynx in my History lesson today; we were talking about the Norman Forest laws and how they protected the deer, and I recalled a news story about the lynx being reintroduced into the wild in the UK to control the spiralling population of deer. I may have dreamt it, but it made an interesting 5 minute diversion to the lesson at a point where one was beneficial to all.

I wanted to find a picture of a lynx next to a person or something for scale, so I looked quite a long way through Google images, and then I found this -

Maybe you had to be there, but it did strike me (and the class) as very funny that this picture should come up, in the midst of pictures of real lynx. Lynxes. Lynxi. Er....whatever the plural is.

So, it turns out this cat is actually named Lynx - or was - which clears it up, but it did look a bit out of place in amongst the others.

There's a cute blog that goes along with this cat - I especially like the picture of the birthday cake. I'm trying to imagine, though, what might happen to me if I were to put my cat into a little striped shirt....and I'm sort of imagining being asleep and really warm and cuddly but feeling a bit unwell, and then slowly waking up and realising, yes, she is lying on my face and smothering me to death.

Here endeth the pointless post of today.

My next post will be post number 100 on this blog!

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Weekend FO and a rant

And there, you thought I wasn't going to post one this week....

Pattern: Baby Poonam, free pattern from the Berrocco Design Team (and it is Poonam, as I thought, and not Poonan, as in the URL - though I will tag it wrong anyway, because I tagged it wrong last entry).
Needle: 3.5mm wooden Knitpicks, 4mm nickel ones (bought them for a change because the 4mm wooden tips are tied up in something mulching at the bottom of my knitting bag...I like them).
Yarn: Wendy Peter Pan, lemon yellow. Less than one ball, so it must have been a 100g ball to start with. Of course I lost the ball band.
Mods: I didn't make any. I made a couple of mistakes - well, one very noticable mistake anyway, with the knotted cable on the right side, and I made a shocking job of picking up the stitches for the collar, but other than that, the pattern was knitted as is. Except that, I wasn't quite getting gauge, so I knitted the smallest size widthways and the middle size lengthways. It measured up right at the end.

This didn't take too long to knit - less than a week for the front and sleeves - but it feels like a long project, because I cast on for the back in January. I think the finished sweater is cute but I wasn't very happy with it while I was going - I only finished it because it was for Jen. I don't think knitting in pastels agrees with me. This might be why I'm never going to finish that beige chicken viking hat I started a couple of weeks ago.

Found some cute buttons for the shoulder though - check it....

It's the day for the Tuesday 10, I know, but I have been procrastinating all evening long and it's now 10.53, and I must plan my lessons for tomorrow, and get to bed. So you'll get some waffle, and you'll be happy with it.

I was VERY ANGRY tonight. I watched James Gray, MP for Nroth Wilts, on BBC Points West, trying to whip up some public fury against a community of Irish travellers who have purchased a piece of land in Hullavington and moved onto it without waiting for planning permission.

Honestly, I have never been more shocked by a piece of reporting. His comments were nothing short of racist. He called the Romany "Romanian gypsies" at one point (at that one point, the TV might have been smashed had I had something to hand for throwing). He also said that all "gypsies" (there really is no place for that word when talking about travellers, surely?) should live on the same site, even though the new ones from Ireland don't get on with the Romany - apparently he doesn't think that's a good enough reason for them to have their own site (which, let us not forget, they have LEGALLY PURCHASED).

Perhaps next he will go to Gaza and tell the Palestinians and Israelis they shall live next to each other and that's the end of it. Seriously, with insight and diplomatic skills like that, he could have the Arab-Israeli conflict wrapped up in seconds.

Why is it OK to persecute travellers? Even if one thinks they were wrong to break the law and move there without planning permission, surely it's not OK to talk about them like that on the news? What about if a group of Jewish people moved onto a piece of land and the locals leafletted "Get the Insertanti-semiticslurhere OUT!"
That wouldn't be acceptable. Why is it acceptable because they're travellers? The Romany are still a race.

Have just realised they have moved very close to where my head of department lives. I'll ask him what he thinks about it tomorrow. And I'll ask him what he thinks of the MP.

Friday 17 April 2009

Friday blues

It's a very grey day outside - in fact, it's been drizzly all week, after an unusually sunny Bank Holiday Monday. I haven't marked any coursework, mainly due to the fact that I'm into day 4 of the first cold of the school year, which has now settled into a grinding cough - but at least I haven't slept most of today, as I have during the rest of the week. Henry the Ka is refusing to start, probably due to some blockage in the fuel line or maybe the fuel pump or something. And worst of all, I just found out that my favourite Playscheme kid died this morning after several weeks of illness. I am gutted.

My favourite story about him is this....his mum dropped him off one morning looking very tired and when we asked if she was OK, she started laughing. It seems she'd got J into her room - on the third floor of her home - and they'd been playing, when the phone rang, and she went to answer it. While she was down there, J...made very good use of his nappy, shall we say....and then managed to get it off, and had a good roll around on her white-linened bed, and then decided to investigate where Mummy had gone, so dragged himself down three flights of white-carpeted stairs - on his bum.

She said she was cleaning until nearly 2am and crying the whole time, but all the while she was telling us this story she was giggling away and ended with a "Serves me right for having white carpets!"

I suppose this is part of the territory when you work with special needs children, but it's still a very sad business.

Hey ho.

I am starting to be a bit concerned that I won't FO anything this month, which would break my good habits of 2009. So far I have six FOs for this year, and I have another seven projects OTNs - although three are in very deep hibernation, and one I began as a ski hat and don't like how it has turned out so I will probably just not finish it....and not frog it either, because it was 50p yarn from Shaw's.

I have been working hard on the Baby Poonan for Jen's baby (which she had a couple of weeks ago - a girl, Abigail, over 9lbs, difficult birth but mother and daughter both blooming now) but I am not so keen on how it is turning out and I made a mistake with one of the cables and couldn't fix it so I am not very motivated to finish. I've also been working hard on Liesl, a stashbusting lace cardigan I started in February with the yarn left over from the Central Park Hoody - but, even though it grows quick, the feather and fan pattern is kind of dull and it's hard to keep up the hard work on that, too.

Still, I have knitting group tomorrow and a burning desire to finish SOMEthing for the month of April, so watch this space.

Embarrassingly, I totally misread the pattern for Liesl, and decided I would email the designer on ravelry to correct her mistake, on the basis that I would like to know if it was me. I double and triple checked and was certain it was an error in the pattern. I sent the message - and then almost instantly saw that I was wrong and had to send a second message saying sorry. I never heard back. I have the urge now to buy all her patterns as a way of apologising for my mistake.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Tuesday Ten

Ten tales from the ski trip....

1. Going just a little stir crazy with Benny on the bus, after 18 hours of travelling....the coach was late fetching us and then had to pack a load of suitcases into the spare seats (not good) and then we missed the ferry....and at the other end, it couldn't get up the mountain, dumped us partway up and then drove off into the blue yonder, leaving us to trek upwards for 20 minutes without warning.
That was the worst bit of the week, though.

2. Lift buddies!
Cara is my official ski lift buddy. She takes lots of pictures on the lifts together.

Here, we are both wearing headbands I knitted - hers is the beautiful Calorimetry featured recently, while mine was a stockinette rectangle I found in my old knitting stash and seamed just before we came away. In fact, that little marvel was from when I taught myself to purl. It was an entire ball of yarn I found on sale in the Get Knitted warehouse. It did as a headband and also a neckwarmer. Lovely colours - I know the yarn is discontinued but I wish I knew what it was.

3. Snow angel - sort of.

I honestly thought, when I threw myself face down in this virgin snow, that I would sink a foot or more into it and it would be the best outline ever. So I was quite surprised when this did not happen, and I was left, instead, with a rather sore nose - and a perfect imprint of myself.

4. There's only one things cooler than teachers doing karaoke....
...and that's teachers dancing, whilst doing karaoke. Especially when they are singing Copacabana. Oh YEAH we were so cool!

5. Really hard work...
Cara and I made an effort to drink plenty of hot chocolate. This place served a particularly delicious kind, along with some very yummy chocolate rum cake. On the way out I tried to dive head first into the snow, again. Fail, again. Cara has pictures of that. I won't share.

6. Really great weather.....

We experienced this until Thursday. I have a rocking tan and yet managed to avoid panda eyes.

7. And really bad weather.....

Visibility was very bad on Friday and it was very cold. It snowed all night Friday night and all day Saturday, and we were all bundled up and very wet and cold by the end of the ski session. I haven't skiied in fresh powder since I was 12 (and therefore, don't remember it). It was fun, ish. Then we went on the button lift. At that point I gave up and went and drank a very alcoholic version of egg nog and waited for the injuries to roll in - which, miraculously, they didn't.

8. Cards.

I learned two new card games whilst away - President, and Frank. I kicked arse at Frank, which mainly involved being speedy. Here we were playing in the pizzeria, which took a record hour and 40 minutes to get the food out to us, and the people on the table behind came over and asked us to be quiet. Restaurant full of kids, and WE were the ones told off. Doh. It got worse on the Friday night when we went to the disco, where the bar was serving soft drinks only, and had our bottle of lemoncello confiscated. Didn't really see why it would be a problem, but apparently it was. Sorry, disco venue. Sorry, tour operator. .Sheepish.

9. Olympic piste.
My first black (I'd done one the day before, trying to get down the mountain quick for an injured pupil, but in my panic had slip-slided most of it) - and I did it without falling, until I got to the bottom and Tom cut me up and I fell over. Bloody snowboarders! I was very proud of myself, though - Sestriere was very very busy and the slopes were terribly churned up and quite slushy. Shortly after this I had my most comical fall to date - I actually managed to fall on top of one of my skis and it took me a while to work out how to get up again. Meanwhile, Tom was stranded off piste, unable to continue thanks to his fits of laughter, and Cara was so hysterical she fell over too.

Still, feel quite proud of myself for skiing part of the men's downhill and part of the slalom (parts of both were shut, but I did what I could).

The head of art did the design for us - he said we wanted something that looked a bit Fat Face and sketched this out in about 3 minutes. Talented people, eh - don't they make you sick?!
I originally wanted purple, but the boys thought it too girly, and fixed on this colour instead.... Which, I think, is actually my favourite colour, so it all worked out for the best.

It was tough to only make 10 points! It was an amazing trip - best ever. The snow was great, the kids were wonderful, the hotel was lush, and we had very few injuries. There was another ski party in our hotel - a sixth form college not a million miles away from here - who did not fare so well - and my favourite moment of the holiday was when one of their girls, sunbathing in a vest in the deckchairs in front of us, was absolutely covered in snow by one of our sixth formers, who thought it was a kid on our trip and did it for a laugh. Oh boy, did we laugh. She didn't, though. I can almost forgive him for giving me the stinking cold I am suffering with now, for that little jape.