Friday 28 January 2011


This week, John wondered, "Transition?"

I had a lot of thoughts about transition. I had many grand paragraphs mapped out in my head. They had to do with work, and my life, and made me think a lot about both, which I imagine was kind of the point.

But then today I had an exam board meeting in London that went on for 9 and a half hours, and I didn't get home until gone 9pm and I have another exam board meeting of a similar length TOMORROW if you can believe that, and I have to lead that one, so it seems that all the grand plans had to instead come to this -

Paddington station, at 6.30 this evening.

Having grown up on the south coast, my gateway to London was always Waterloo. When I moved away from my home town at 17 and into my first bedsit, I went through Waterloo, and it became very familiar and comforting to me. When I moved to Bristol Paddington became the gateway and I did not like it. For a start, it is absolutely vast, or at least has the impression of being so with its vaulted ceiling; and then there are all the things like having to learn new tube routes and bus numbers. It took me until the tube strike in 2009 to work out where, geographically, it lies; until then it seemed to exist in some sort of void, miles from anywhere.

It's gradually become like Waterloo to me, though. For a start it was built by Brunel, who had a similar transition through his life to me (born in Portsmouth, lived in London, lived in Bristol), which I quite like. Then there is the shift in my outlook: for a long time moving back to London was something longed-for but impossible. Paddington was just a reminder, every trip, that I had to leave it again. Now I am older and I know I would be miserable there. There's nowhere to park, for a start. And I was a student for most of my London life, so of course I have fond memories of those heady days where responsibility was a thing of the future.

Having moved on in my life, Paddington has now become almost a refuge, because I know that once I get there I'm only a couple of hours away from home. So I took this picture this evening to share with you.

Also, Paddington has one of these -

...and I had a 40% voucher which expires tomorrow, so this was particularly good news for me! Look at all that good food, transitioning towards me. I had this conversation with Mr Z...
Me: I'll be on a later train home. I accidentally started eating at Yo! Sushi
Mr Z: Accidentally?! Your nomscuses are getting worse and worse...
Me: Erm. I tripped over on the belt and had to eat everything I touched?
Mr Z: How many times did you go round?
Me: I'm still going. This woman keeps pointing at me and asking if I'm the vegetarian option.
Mr Z: Moo at her next time round.

Nonsense. Pure nonsense, perfect for a Friday night.

Please go and have a read of all the other Weekword entries, you can find the list here. I know I will be!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Tuesday Ten

Today kicked my butt. Therefore I am now going to list....

Ten Reasons Why I Love My Job

1. No two days are the same. It's impossible to get bored.
2. I get to talk about History all day.
3. My geek credentials are an asset.
4. I have some genuine angels among my colleagues who make my life happier just by being in it.
5. I am supported in pursuing activities that interest me, that aren't to do with my actual job. Ski trip, anyone?
6. Most of the kids are really lovely most of the time, and sometimes they are even a little bit grateful.
7. There are very few people I have to work with who I genuinely dislike, which isn't bad when you consider I work with 300+ people, including all the kids.
8. My classroom's out of the way of the main school (quiet, I can get up to subversive things there) and I control my own thermostat, which is more than can be said for most of my colleagues.
9. The salary isn't bad.
10. The holidays. Of course, who isn't going to love 13 weeks' holiday a year? Though I will now refer you to this post about how most of that is actually time in lieu.

Le sigh.

C4 news cheered me up tonight. They mentioned Banksy had been nominated for an Oscar and on the tagline as they went to an ad break they'd written, "Guerilla's on the list." Masterful.

Friday 21 January 2011


Carmen cried, "MERCURIAL!"

Two of my favourite people came to watch me teach for a while this week (they are both fellow ski trippers who I love dearly) and complimented me afterwards on my quick wit, so I suppose I have proved a bit mercurial myself, this week. The kids almost never get it so I am usually just witty for my own benefit, like on days when I try and get as many quotes from Friends into my lessons as possible; although, thanks to the endless E4 repeats, they often spot those now.

I put mercurial in the same basket of words as hedonistic, probably incorrectly; but it does make me think of going out and having fun without thinking about tomorrow. I'm not very good at it. Case in point, when I was working on a small project with a colleague yesterday and he came up with a solution to the problem, I actually said, "Yes, but now let's think through the possible consequences of that...." This does tend to be an automatic reaction for me now, and it does sometimes suck the fun out of things. I have become the Very Worried Sparrow.

However, there are still some things I enjoy without fear of consequences, which are fun for the sake of being fun. Here are five of my favourites.

1. Singing along to the radio, loudly and with actions.
2. Playing endless games of cards, with wine. I like to win. Not money, though: that would involve consequences.
3. Champagne afternoon teas. Not enough alcohol to be an issue, early enough to get the bus home, and definitely very decadent. I took Mother Hand for one when she came to visit, and she was appreciative.
4. Going to bed early. Better than sleeping in, because it doesn't involve losing a morning. (I know this one makes me sound anicent and dull but I don't care. After all, it doesn't have to mean going to sleep straight away. Wink wink.)
5. Dancing. I love dancing, it always puts a smile on my face.

Looking forward to reading about some mercurial things out there over my coffee in the morning!

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Tuesday Ten

By the end of this year, I will....

1. Be capable of doing five full press ups without stopping. At the moment, I can do one - badly.

2. Wear the flowery Coast dress I bought in the charity shop to the staff Christmas party - or have worn it to the leavers' ball, if it fits by then, in which case I will allow myself to splash out on a new dress.

3. Have finished the Knitpicks sampler lace shawl I started last June.

4. Be able to crochet....yes, it is a Dark Art, but there is this beautiful crocheted scarf pattern that I have an urgent need to make.

5. Have done something high. By which I mean, parascending, sky diving, rock climbing....

6. Be a regular contributor so my savings account.

7. Have decorated Bunny Towers with lots of photographs and pictures. More to look at on the walls, please!

8. Have to come up with a new ultimate goal, having finally crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere. I know I keep going on about this but it is extremely exciting, it's been top of my To-Do list for ages and ages.

9. Finally have an A* in a GCSE, hopefully. I had better started revising now.

10. Be up to 150 projects on Ravelry. This one is going to be difficult, I fear, since I am only on 111 so far; but a challenge should be exactly that. I note, from looking at my stash, that I have quite a lot of single skeins that could be hats or mitts or necklets, and I really should oblige them.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Weeknote 15/1/11

In an attempt to return to regularly scheduled blogging, this week I have been mostly....

A sleeve for Cherie Amour. Lacework on size 9 needles with chunky wool goes very quick, but it's kind of dull. I have (unjustly) lost faith in the pattern, too, since I'm supposed to just bind off the sleeve straight and sew it into the sleeve cap and I can't envision it. Nobody has any notes about it though, so I assume it must work.

Going to:
Dinner, with Parpy Jo and Crabby Kath. We tried to go to Yo! Sushi with a 40% off voucher but there was nothing to be had from the belt except desserts and when we ordered hot food it took ages to arrive and then was wrong, so we went to Tampopo across the way and I had a delicious beef rendang which reminded me muchly of Malaysia.
To Yo Sushi's credit, our waitress asked us why we were leaving, and when we explained that we were hungry and wanted something to eat, she comped us the few dishes we'd managed to procure. I was impressed with the customer service.

The gym, a lot. At my personal trainer this week I was finally able to skip for a minute without feeling like death was near (don't tell her that though, whatever you do, or I'll end up having to go for longer) and I've started to notice a bit of definition in my shoulders, so it's not hard to motivate myself to go. I even got up and went to Zumba this morning.

Dry slope skiing. It was really difficult to do my now automatic carving motion on the matting, though, and the boots fricking killed. I am going to take my own boots next time, I think.

Slimming World food. I am very focused on my goal. My skin is looking really good thanks to all the extra fruit and veg. I'm also sleeping a lot better, which is a plus.

About transferring documents to Kindle. Twenty six Kindles arrived at school this week for my trial, and I think I've managed to talk the technician to set them up for me. Now I just need to write the content for them. I also need to find out if it's possible to publish freely-downloadable material to Amazon for download. Since they didn't even give a bulk discount, it would seem to be the least they could do, but I won't be holding my breath. They don't seem at all interested in its use in education. It's like they haven't realised that usually, once a school has a piece of equipment, it uses it to death, thus increasing the amount of stuff bought for it; and if pupils are used to using it they are more likely to buy it for themselves.

Obsessed with:
Holiday booking. Mr Z and I are going skiing in Switzerland for the first weekend of February half term, and New York for May half term. The ski weekend is tight, as we have to be at Heathrow for a 7.30pm flight which pretty much means leaving right from work; I have spent a long time this week thinking about how this might best be achieved.
I have also been slightly obsessed with NOT looking at my credit card statement. GCSE marking starts in a fortnight which is what is funding these extravagances, but until then I have built a debt back up which I don't really want to think about!

Entertained by:
So many good things back on TV this week, not least of which: Glee, season 2. However, I was not as enamoured of the first episode as I was of the first series, so I hope they haven't lost their charm. For a start the actress playing Rachel is so very thin now.

Pretty good, tbh. Quite positive about all the good work stuff coming up, and excited about all the travelling I'll be doing this year, and generally in a happy mood. Hurrah! No January blues here. We love January at Bunnyland.

Friday 14 January 2011


This week's Weekword, courtesy of Elisabeth, is a favourite of mine: RECYCLING.

I am really looking forward to reading everybody else's blog posts about this one!

I am a bit of a recycling obsessive, which leads to much hoarding. I don't like to throw things in the bin so if they can't be recycled, I tend to hang onto them. Luckily we have very good recycling facilities in this county and almost everything is picked up kerbside, so we throw out very little.

It's got to the point now where I actually wince when I see a can in a bin. Years of Mother Hand digging through my kitchen rubbish, removing all the cans and taking them home with her to recycle have had a massive effect. The Reprographics department at work save all their old batteries for me to bring home and recycle, so I am obviously a little bit famous for it.

I've tried to be a bit more creative with my recycling in the past year. Some old drawers and an unwanted bread bin became planters for our vegetable-growing exploits last summer, for example. And I'm into my 3rd year of recycling soap into washing powder. I'm not sure if that's really recycling, since I am not using the soap more than once: but I am taking something and repurposing it so it doesn't end up in landfill. I think my home-made laundry detergent is also better for the environment and uses less packaging. I haven't yet had to buy any soap for it, either, so it's saving me quite a chunk of money.

Here endeth my ramblings on recycling. As I feared, I didn't have much of interest to say, but I'll look forward to reading everybody else's.

If you want to participate in Weekword next week, head on over to Carmen's blog on Monday to find out what the word will be.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Tuesday Ten

Ten things I'm looking forward to in 2011

1. Iceland trip in February. Northern Lights! Blue Lagoon! Glacier Walking!

2. Getting a ski qualification in April which will improve my own skiing ability and help me continue to run school trips in the future.

3. My year 13 classes getting their coursework done. It will be a lot of marking but once it's done I won't have to work half as hard for them and I'll gain hours in my timetable.

4. New York in May (out of Terminal 5, woop!), and seeing my old friend Lisa in Pittsburgh for the first time in 10 years.

5. Running a seminar at the national History teacher conference in July. I'll be presenting a workshop about using Google Maps in the classroom. V exciting!

6. Our 5th wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been 5 years already.

7. Finally fulfilling a long-time ambition by visiting the southern hemisphere in August.

8. Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef!

9. This is the last full year I've got of paying my old student loans. They won't be done with until April 2012 (and I'll still have my PGCE loan to finish off) but I am really looking forward to the September statement.

10. Being THINNER. This is my year for being thinner! I lost 4lbs last week, so it is currently seeming within reach.

Saturday 8 January 2011

2010 in Review

Vast and self-indulgent post coming up!

We started the year with a 60s themed Murder Mystery party in Taunton....

Shortly after that term started but there was a lot of snow so the first two weeks were only half weeks. I built Snow Henge and made a snow angel -

February was Sport Relief and I helped to make this video (spot my Hairography) to raise the profile of the event in school. That jump and slide on the crash mat you see towards the end was a complete bust - I jumped too late and landed heavily on my knee, which swelled up like a balloon, and then remained numb for several months. It was very painful. I didn't go to the doctor though, because I was afraid he would say no skiing...
(I should add her that Mr Z had a very bad knee injury a few years ago and when he went to the hospital they couldn't look at it for the first few days, because it was so swollen. So I was waiting for the swelling to go down, and by the time it did I didn't see any point in going. So it wasn't quite as reckless as it sounds.)

In February half term I went to visit my friend Sian in Warrington and we went to Crosby Beach, one of my favourite places -

I also went to see Jen in Sheffield and caught up with her, Ben and baby Abster, who had a go in my shoes -

In March I was very busy with the Murder Mystery weekend for school and my knitting group weekend away to Westbury-sub-Mendip. It was extremely relaxing and we found a great button shop -

April was SKIING TIME!!

This was my 6th week on snow and my legs were killing me after the first few days because, thanks to that dastardly injury in February, I'd done very little training for it. But I bought my own helmet and ski boots, and had a ski lesson towards the end of the week (instructor quote: "You are not bad, for a woman") and this vastly improved my confidence, much to the chagrin of my lift buddy Cara who is now worried I will be bombing around without her next time. She doesn't know that I could never leave my favourite lift buddy behind, because drinking hot chocolate on your own isn't any fun at all!

April was also the month I drove friends from knitting group to Wonderwool in Wales, and when I realised Henry the Wondrous Car of Miracles was on his last legs. I went and ordered a new Kia Picanto and the wait began.

May was a very busy work month for me, because Ofsted came in right at the start. It was killer, and they didn't even observe/speak to me. Then my Aunt and cousin were over from NZ for the Badminton Horse Trials and we went out to dinner at Jamie's Italian in Bath, which was great for catching up, though I was utterly scrambled since it was Ofsted week.

I also managed to have a lunch in Bath with Parpy Jo.

By this point Henry was refusing to do any sort of hill, so I was basically carless for the entire month. It was difficult, but not impossible. I spent a lot of time at home, though. On the day above, I had ordered a beautiful Jaeger dress in the sale to be delivered to the Bath shop and Jo drove me over so I could try it on.

In June it was her birthday and we went out to dinner and accidentally both wore pretty much the same outfit without any communication. It was a really fun evening with Ali and Kath too. I hope there are more of those this year.

The new car finally arrived, at the end of the month. I also got a new phone and my new computer was assembled. It was a very good month for technology. I made this video as part of my entry to the Google thing. There were lots of non-techie things as well: we were extremely busy in the garden -

The year 11 ball also happened this month and one of the pupils parachuted out of a helicopter into the venue. Totally stole the show - even from the girls who had made their own VW bus out of cardboard boxes and walked up the drive.

At the start of July the conference I organised happened: 8 schools, 100+ pupils, at an Oxford College for 2 days. I was extremely proud of myself; I organised a similar event in 2009 but was too ill to attend. Of course I didn't do it all by myself but that doesn't diminish my pride. As part of the conference we had a tour round Oxford from my head teacher, who is a native, and we dressed up for a posh dinner -

It was fun, though my lasting memory is one of complete nervous exhaustion. On the way home I couldn't find a petrol station and thought I was running out of petrol (newish car, wasn't sure how empty the petrol gauge would go) so I sat in a car park and cried until a very kindly old couple invited me to follow them to a nearby Tesco. V grateful! I was in the middle of team leading for the GCSE at this time though, too, and as the only TL on the legacy specification I had a gigantic team which didn't help.

Later on in July, we went to Durdle Door on a school geology field trip, when the weather turned out beautiful by lunchtime and there was larking around on the rocks -

Who knew England had such beautiful beaches?! I was slightly ashamed that I grew up just down the coast from this awesome sight and never even knew it was there. I resolved to take Mr Z there camping one day.

At the end of the month I went to London for the Google thing, which is another extremely proud moment for me, since only 50 people were picked worldwide to participate. It was inspirational and I learned a lot, not just about Google but also about innovation, and I made some extremely helpful contacts and started to think a lot more about my practice. I also started a work blog as a result, to keep my ideas together in one place.

I also visited the V&A whilst in London and saw the Grace Kelly exhibition. It was an absolutely glorious day -

August was my birthday, and also a month of trips - Sheffield, Kuala Lumpur, Glastonbury Tor, Prague, and Portsmouth, though there are no pictures of the first or last.

Riding elephants in Malaysia -

This was at an elephant sanctuary at Kuala Gandha. We also got to feed the elephants with fruit and had the opportunity to bathe with them, but I was a bit put off since the first one lumbered into the river and had a massive poo.
Other notable bits of this holiday were a beach weekend at Port Dixon, climbing the steps at Batu Caves and guarding our property from the cheeky monkeys, buying beautiful buttons in Chinatown, viewing KL from the top of the telecomms tower, and a night at a comedy club, where my favourite comedian was Douglas Lim, particularly singing Yellow (to the tune of Halo). I really wish I could find a copy of this online somewhere.

Climbing Glastonbury Tor with Mother Hand -

It was windy, but a nice day. I had had a Brazilian Blowdry whilst in KL and so my hair was looking effortlessly gorgeous without any intervention for the whole month.

Prague with Parpy Jo -

We stayed at an awesome little apartment right off the main square, which was incredibly convenient and also very reasonably priced. There was an awful lot of looking at garnet jewellery. We also went to Kutna Hora ossuary, a church decorated with the bones of 40,000 people (creepy but beautiful), and we rowed on the river and wandered round the castle. I also finally got to see the Museum of Communism while Jo went to the Cartier exhibition at the castle.

I bought a great make up brush in Sephora, too. It's a heart shaped plastic applicator for putting on loose eyeshadow/glitter. It claimed to prevent any spillage; I didn't really believe it, but there was a special offer on, so I bought it - and it really works. I can now wear all those glitter shadows! A big recommendation from me for this little beauty.

The Portsmouth trip was brief and involved some modelling on the beach for my old friend Zoe. It was hilarious, and freezing.

September was back to work month and nothing really seemed to happen. I got a personal trainer to help get me in shape for skiing (there's nothing like a bit of forward planning). My new tutor group started giving me headaches, and I fear this will be a feature of their time at school. I made chutney and jam. It was a quiet month, all things told.

October was Jo's wedding...I have pinched this pic from her photographer's website: this is mainly because I was forgetful and didn't really take any. They were amazing wedding photographers, very friendly, so if you're looking for a wedding specialist in Bristol these are definitely recommended. Me with Kath and Ali:

I drank far too much champagne but had a great night. So pleased for her!

At the end of the month I went to London again to see Wicked with Mother Hand. We had front row seats in the Circle that were cheaper because they apparently had restricted view but we couldn't work out where on earth the restriction was. It was an amazing show.

In November it was time to go back to Malaysia again, this time with school. We visited the Islamic Art Museum in KL and an old Dutch Fort in Pangkor, amongst other places.

Which brings us to December. There was a Crystal Maze school weekend, where we let off Chinese lanterns into the completely still fog, a 60s themed party for Mother Dusty's birthday (photos on Mr Z's camera), the work Christmas do...

..shedloads of snow, and finally, Christmas. Jo and I had an impromptu mooch round the shops on Christmas Eve and treated ourselves to champagne afternoon tea in House of Fraser, which they kindly agreed to serve us at 1.30.

Then came a week of relaxation, and preparing for what is shaping up to be a very busy 2011. It is always nice to look back with posts like this (well done if you've made it through the marathon!) but now it is time to start looking forward and planning for another good year.

2010 was great! I want to make sure 2011 is even better.

Friday 7 January 2011


Christine said SIMPLICITY.

Sometimes the simplest things can be the most beautiful.

Poor old January is back. Everybody is so miserable waiting for a pay cheque, or some sunshine, or their health to return. I have been trying hard to enjoy January this week and have gone back to basics, so to speak - lots of exercise, early nights and simple, uncomplicated food, full of vegetables. As such, I have had a pretty good week. I feel like I must give January a fair crack because, with school starting so early in the month, there is an awful lot of it left to go.

Here are five favourite simple things from me:
1. Clean sheets on the bed. Sooooo easy.
2. Warm socks off the radiator.
3. A cool breeze on a really hot day (I was afraid my list would turn into all cold weather things for a minute there...)
4. Waking up and thinking it's Friday, but then realising it's actually Saturday (I fully intend to do this tomorrow)
5. Watching birds feed: they're so inventive. Like this blue tit, raiding the vent on my classroom window:

Go on over to Christine's blog to read some truly inspiring post from the record number of weekword participants this week.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Tuesday Ten

Ten things that are different from last year

1. I am an avid Twitter user.
2. I regularly part my hair in a deep side parting.
3. I drink more coffee.
4. I have a new filling.
5. I have a personal trainer.
6. I am a Google Certified Teacher.
7. I have a different car, following the sorry demise of Henry the Wondrous Car of Miracles. This car is red and I have called it Ginge.
8. I have a new computer, and thus spend a lot more time at it.
9. I now use a diary (app on my phone) instead of just remembering meetings/appointments. I have never been able to stick to this before but the new phone helps.
10. I know an awful lot more about geology. For example, I now know what a graptolite is.

So now, when people I haven't seen for ages ask me, "What's new?" I shall not say, "Oh, everything's much about the same" (although I like saying that because my Gran used to).

Sunday 2 January 2011

Project 365: Day 2

One of my favourite things to photograph is a reflection. I think it's a good bargain: two pictures for the price of one, since you get a picture of the thing doing the reflecting, plus a picture of whatever is being reflected.

I used the super macro function on the camera for this one. It's kind of like a self-portrait, four times over.

Some of you might remember my rock bowl from a previous post. I Christmassed it up with a load of baubles that didn't fit on the tree (though my Geology teacher Tom, who came to dinner on Midwinter, was not impressed). Here is a bird's eye view of it:

Check back on Sundays for my Project 365 pictures. I intend to do a weekly update, which I think is more feasible than a daily one.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Why don't you start 2011 off by looking at this BBC slide show of New Year celebrations around the world?

We saw the New Year in with the traditional games of iSketch and lots of bubbly drinks. At midnight we went outside and let off a Chinese lantern - judging by the dozens we saw floating across the Bristol sky, we weren't the only ones who had this plan! Amongst the bangs from the fireworks, I was pleased to hear a good number of people out banging pots and pans together, which is the traditional celebration I am familiar with.

I'm participating in Project 365 this year. I intend to post my pictures just once a week, but here is January 1st's. I was playing with the firework settings on my camera, and these are a couple of passing Chinese lanterns. I think I need to play a bit more!