Monday 14 February 2011

Bad Wife

It's Valentine's Day today. We don't mark it. I have concluded that Valentine's Day is marked according to the preference of the female in the relationship: if she says no, it's no. If she says yes, it's yes. This explains why my circuits class tonight was half empty, and the half that were missing were the men.

Anyway. When I got in Mr Z expressed that his intention had been to cook a surprise three course meal with prawn cocktail and everything, but that the Mitten* was ill and he had to take her to the vet. When he got back, he said he'd just have soup or something, so I decided I'd get pizza from the supermarket after class. I thought I'd pop home first though, and discovered he was part way through cooking an extremely healthy low fat Chinese stir fry, and had concocted 100-Island-Dressing for the prawns in an attempt to meet my health-kick criteria.

And so what did I do? Well, I pouted, because I had set my heart on pizza by then. So he is going out to get me pizza while I have a bath. This is troo devotion. After I had pouted, he showed me the oven-cooked pork, and the star shaped carrots, and had me taste the 100-Island-Dressing, and so then I got bad wife guilt for being so ungrateful. I said sorry, a lot. "Oh, go and blog about it or something!" he said, before peeling me another grape.

Now I have to think of a way to make it up to him....

* She's fine now.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Four Things Tag

I have lately become a fan of the Lazy Designer and her blog, which is all about her adventures in a little Italian shop, her cats and other aspects of her life in Italy. I am a fan of Italy. We went there on our honeymoon. I like the fact that each of the four places I have visited there were almost unique, like they were different countries. Venice, Lake Garda, and two ski resorts in the Alps; those of course were quite similar, but totally different from the other two. We do a little background on the formation of Italy during A-level History at my school, so I can well understand how this is the case.

Anyway. Bobbi didn't tag anybody specifically, so I am going to neb in on her tag and do this for myself, as a break from marking.

4 shows I watch
Skins (original British version, and not least because it is filmed in Bristol)
Human Planet, an epic documentary series on the BBC at the moment looking at communities living in extreme environments
The Big Bang Theory

4 things I'm passionate about
Live and let live
The colour blue, in all its wondrous variety
Spelling and grammar

4 words or phrases I say a lot
Oh!.... (I seem to begin the vast majority of my sentences with one of these two words).
Man up.
Oh YES! I am loving that.

4 things I have learned from the past
Don't be afraid to hoe your own row.
The truth is almost always a lot less painful in the long run.
If the doctor says you're not sick enough to refer, get a second opinion.
Too much vodka is A Bad Thing (or at least...I assume. I don't remember.)

4 things I did yesterday
I went to knitting group at Get Knitted.
I was called a rude name by a bad driver who changed his mind at the last minute about the way he was turning, and therefore nearly ran me over.
I caught up on some TV shows I haven't had time to watch.
I did lots of backreading for my team. Yawn.

4 places I'd like to go
Machu Picchu, Peru
Skomar Island
To bed...

4 things I'm looking forward to
The end of exam marking, on Tuesday.
Iceland right after that, and seeing the Aurora Borealis, I hope.
Thursday knitting group weekend away at the end of March.

4 things I love about winter
Not being too hot all the time.
Hoar frost building up on the trees.
Beef stew and dumplings.

4 things on my wishlist
I want a little Mac Book Air. I really do not need one.
A third shelf for my knitting room.
A new pair of Uggesque boots, but with a decent, sturdy sole that copes with snow.
A woodburner.

4 bloggers I'm tagging
There are a lot more than four bloggers I would love to read more from. I always think these sorts of answers are a bit of a cop out but I cannot narrow it down to four! Please consider yourself tagged if you are reading this, and respond on your blog. And tell me if you do! I am not allowing myself into Google Reader before Tuesday, when marking finishes, so I might miss it otherwise. I sneaked a little peek earlier and saw the tag, but now I have wasted nearly an hour of good marking time and I really must be strict tomorrow!

Friday 4 February 2011


This week, Scribbles whispered, in a soothing tone, "Therapeutic."

There has been a dearth of this type of action at Bunny Towers this week, thanks to the additional pressue of the GCSE marking (see below). But next week I will be all about the therapeutic. Here are some things I like to do.

1. Baking
Easily the most relaxing thing I can find to do. We catered our own wedding buffet, and I made all the cakes and desserts. People were amazed, but it was literally the best way to keep myself calm in the days leading up to The Big Day.

2. Baths
I get my best ideas floating in the tub. In fact, I shouldn't limit this to just baths, because I find water in general to be extremely relaxing. I remember swimming across the lake and back in Wisconsin, when I did Camp America, and it was twilight; a huge turtle suddenly surfaced in the water by me and swam with me some of the way. One of my favourite water memories, and one which never fails to calm me.

3. Knitting
The regularity of it; the repetitiveness: it's very predictable, and if you follow the rules you know what you'll end up with. It's nice to have something utterly within my control. I also find that my knitted items hold good memories from when I was knitting them, but mysteriously not the bad ones.

4. Reading old books from my childhood
Things that are easy and take minimal brain power and effort, but that don't leave me feeling a bit soiled and lazy, like cheap trashy novels do; I'm currently re-reading What Katie Did Next on my Kindle (it was free!) I love the 19th century American take on Europe.

5. Mr Z
The husband is a very calming chap. He has taught me not to sweat the small stuff, although I still do sometimes. He's also very good at providing blankets, slippers, hot water bottles, fans, cold drinks, hot drinks, hugs, supportive words, soothing words, sleep-inducing petting, amusing distractions and healthy hot meals, and he runs a mean bath. I think I would be a basket case without him.

6. Paul, at work
I don't talk about specific work people much, but Paul has been very therapeutic for me this week. He has tremendous and unshakable faith, as well as being extremely passionate about, and good at, his work, and this is a huge inspiration for me on both levels. I find talking to him always makes me feel better; I am very lucky to have such good colleagues. I don't share my blog with work friends so he's unlikely to ever read this, but hopefully he realises how much I value him. We might get to work together on a project soon...

...I went for "a chat" with the deputy head about this project yesterday, which turned out to be an actual interview, which was a surprise. I wish I had known in advance. Paul had his today so I prepped him thoroughly beforehand. We're hoping they will tell us we can share it. We find out on Monday.

In between now and then, there is a LOT of marking. I can look forward to something therapeutic at the end of it. Maybe not something from my list, though. Maybe gin and a nap, my favourite pick-me-up.

Next week's weekword is over at Junebug's, and it's a doozy! Leave a comment over there on Monday to take part.

An explanation of the exams

I just realised I very rudely never explained about my exam marking, in answer to a comment last week, so I will take a moment to do that now.

GCSEs are compulsory exams in the UK, that students must take at 16 (10th grade) before they can leave school. They are set nationally, by several exam boards, so that they are the same for every student. They cover an enormous range of subjects; most pupils sit around 10 different subjects. There are some compulsory subjects, like Maths, Science and English Literature/Language.

I am a team leader for the exam board, for a History paper. That means I am in charge of a team of examiners who are all marking the paper, and I have to mark a bit myself, and make sure they are sticking to the markscheme and keeping the standard. This is my 8th exam series, and my 3rd as a team leader. Normally I only do this in June, but big changes to exams in 2009 mean that my paper is now modular, so students can opt to take a paper in January instead of two in June.

We used to mark actual paper exam scripts. Enormous bundles of these would arrive at my house and I'd have red pen all over my hands for the entire marking period. Samples had to be trusted to the Post Office so that marking could be standardised.

Now it's a bit easier, because all the exam papers are scanned in by the exam board and made available through a special online marking program. This makes the whole job a lot easier, especially because we can put in "mystery answers" - responses we have already marked - to check the examiners are keeping to the markscheme. The computer does a lot of the hard work now. However, it still takes a long time, and I am a bit miserable with it this week. Normally the exam period is 3 weeks long, bit this time it is only 10 days, so I am run a bit ragged.

It makes me a better teacher, doing this extra work, because I know my subject and the exam criteria better than most other teachers. And also the money is extremely handy. Wink.

Hope that explains it some!

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Tuesday Ten

Ten Confessions

1. I really wanted to do project 365 but I failed after the first week. It was just too much effort. I think it would be easier to start in the summer when it's light in the evenings.

2. That thing on the back of the door was down to ME (I can't tell anybody this).

3. I used to think if I won the lottery I'd stay in my job. These days, I'm not so sure of it.

4. People that admit to not being tech-savvy and seem proud of it really annoy me. LEARN. It's not going away.

5. I forgot to brush my hair before going to work yesterday.

6. I have favourites in most of my classes. I can't help it; I'm a human being.

7. I have never admitted it, but that Valentine I was accused of sending when I was 14 and denied over and over again? I sent it. And I MEANT it.

8. Sort of related to number 7 - I find some bits of my teenaged diaries so embarrassing I actually can't read them.

9. I am secretly quite wussy, but make myself do things that scare me or that I might fail at because I always feel a bit sorry for people who won't take any risks, and I don't want to end up feeling sorry for myself.

10. I am a terrible procrastinator, but wish I wasn't. I want to be one of the doers. I just don't know how to make myself.