Friday 27 January 2012

Weekword: Weather

Emma picked weather for this week.

There has been a lot of weather this week - too much, I have decided, as I got caught walking across London in the pouring rain on Tuesday, and watched the students screaming and running as the heavens dumped a healthy dose of hail out two minutes after the last bell went today. What I really wanted (of course) was some snow, because we've got a new boiler now and the heating works properly; and I could really do with a snow day or two to catch up.

But really, what the word made me think of was the old phrase, "It never rains but when it pours" - because it is pouring in my life at the moment, and has been for some time. I've never considered the phrase to be negative (but then, I find the word rain wholesome and comforting, somehow, in a homely way; so perhaps I am odd) and I like to have a lot going on but sometimes it feels like too much.

This has been prompted, today, by being offered a possible place as a lead learner at the next Google teacher thingie. This is a thing above and beyond excitement and I would fall over myself to say yes - but it's happening while I'm on the ski trip. ARGH!! This must be the only time ever I will be slightly disappointed to be going skiing. My life is a bounty of opportunities: I just wish I had time to take advantage of them all.

Please go and read the other entries this week, and look out for a new word from Carmen on Monday.

And don't expect me to be chattery for the next week or so because I am well and truly mired in exam board work. They replaced a team member who dropped out with TWO others so I am frantic. It never rains but...

Friday 20 January 2012

Weekword: Ultracrepidarianism

Please go and read...

Emma at the Gift Shed
Helen at Autistic Inner Space
Funky La La
Tails of a Biomouse

..and I'm tagging Emma for next week. She wished for a simpler word!

And I present my advice about driving. I am obviously the best driver ever, because I spend nearly 2 hours a day doing it.

If you don't know how wide your car is, get out of my way before we get to the narrow bit through Bradford on Avon.

If it's a 60mph limit, don't drive at 40mph. That's not an upper limit, it's the actual speed you should be driving; this, at least, is the case when I'm behind you. And if you're driving at 40 then don't brake sharply when we get to the 40mph zone.

When you overtake me at speed on the chevrons at the end of the dual carriageway, pull into my 2-second gap and brake sharply, don't flip me off when I flash my lights at you. If I've had a bad day I might drive into you. My car isn't expensive and I have a protected no-claims bonus. Also you did dangerous driving and deserve my pathetic attempt at a punishment.

NEVER flash your lights at me, ever, for any reason (unless I've forgotten to put my lights on, which never happens). Some builder-types in a car-van did this to me today, as I was actually overtaking another vehicle. When I eventually moved over and they passed me I was gratified to see somebody had written the see-you-next-Tuesday word in the grime on the back of the van. Like they read my mind.

Fog lights are only for when it's foggy. If you have "day lights" you claim cannot be turned off, remove the bulbs. We all have day lights - it's called daylight. Moron.

There is no conversation so important that you have to have it whilst loitering by your car at a petrol pump which I am waiting to use. Have some manners and get out of my way.

If I want to overtake you, take the hint and move over (I won't flash my lights at you, I have some standards, but you should have enough self-awareness to notice me in your mirror). The reason I always stay in the same lane is because I need to be in this lane to turn, and anyway, nobody could ever want to overtake me - I drive at the speed limit (honest....and brake when I see a speed van). Anybody who wants to overtake me is quite clearly a git. And I don't move over for gits.

Loud music improves driving. Stop glaring at me, pedestrian. It's not that loud, is it?

Big lorries should not be on my route to work. It's a minor A road. Go a different way, especially in rush hour. Which, by the way, is between 7am and 8am. And don't illegally drive cross the Medieval bridge in Bradford on Avon - have some social responsibility. The people in BoA have social responsibility: they work in shifts to watch the bridge for irresponsible drivers like you and photograph them and report them. So it's probably best to heed this advice.
The same goes for bin lorries and tractors.

Let me out, please let me out I'm late, please....thanks.
(2 mins later) Er, no, I'm not letting you out - how dare you presume such a thing? Wait for the natural traffic gap, for goodness' sake!

Driving brings out the rage in me. Sometimes I get embarrassed by my rage, which is silly, because it only ever manifests itself when I'm in the car alone, so nobody to be embarrassed in front of. Mr Z might think this isn't true but he hasn't seen the half of it. I become totally unreasonable and utterly selfish. It probably doesn't help that the roads I drive down for work are narrow, windy, hilly and quite dark, being largely through woods. I've been doing this particular version of the journey for six years now, so of course I know it like my own hands, and have to keep reminding myself it might be quite intimidating for someone who's never been down it before.
Try telling me that at 7.36am ahead of a full teaching day, though. Don't - I'll probably punch you in the face.

Thanks for playing, everyone! Good effort this week.

Monday 16 January 2012


This week's word is courtesy of Mr Z. His first effort was "pen" but I told him that wasn't good enough so we're going with his second choice, ultracrepidarianism. That's a link to the definition because I needed to look it up.

Being a teacher I'm going to do my favourite thing, and give you a suggestion for how to blog about this word which you can use if you're really stuck. I'd like to read some advice from you on a subject you know nothing about. I, for example, might blog about gardening, or raising children. Naturally you don't have to follow my suggestion!

Please leave a comment for me and I'll post a list of participants and my ultracrepidarianism on Friday.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Weekword: Accord

In spite of my usual forced-sunny outlook for January - it's not as bad as everyone makes out, poor old January, etc - I have found that blogging, like many other things which don't involve napping under a duvet, has been quite a struggle so far this month.

This week's weekword, picked by newcomer Helen, is no exception. An exciting word, with several meanings: just the sort of word I like for Weekword. But it's been buzzing round my head all week and all I can think of is perfume. I am used to seeing "sweet cream accord" or some such thing on a list of notes in perfumes from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab but realised I never quite knew what it meant. I'd always assumed it meant the purest form, but then concluded that would be an absolute. Turns out, an accord is a combo of scents which together make a familiar fragrance: hence, sweet cream, which of course has a smell but cannot be added to a perfume. Who knew?

Incidentally, though, when trying to find out what an accord is in perfume, I found this which just calls loudly to the bit of my brain that goes gaga for mind maps. I'm a bit famous in the History department at school for loving mind maps more than is perhaps proper. I sometimes feel a bit sorry for students in my classes who are not visual learners, because mind maps or spider diagrams or whatever it is I am calling them on that particular day make up, I would gues, roughly one third of my starter activities.

Finally, the word did make me think of this song.

Weird Al has done a lot of polkas, but this is the one I know best. There's a lot of accordion in it. It also sort of makes me think of the man who plays the accordion up the 'wood. He's there all the time: not just Saturdays, but weekdays too, if the week before Christmas is anything to go by. He plays in all weathers. I guess it's good practice and he has a good busking spot so hopefully he makes some money as well. I think he shows remarkable dedication, though. He'll have got his 10,000 hours in before he knows it.

Turns out, I did have something to say! And I'm picking for next week, so please pop back on Monday for the word, and post a comment if you'd like to play along.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Tuesday Ten

Ten Goals For 2012

1. Go Spinning 50 times.

2. Do the Sodbury Slog.

3. Learn to crochet (I really AM going to do this this year).

4. Finish knitting my first pair of socks.

5. Say no to more work things. Once more, I find myself hopelessly over-committed. I do NOT want to feel like this next year.

6. Do something outstanding at work. Possibly it will have something to do with iPods.

7. Sell 30 things on ebay.

8. Get shelves put up in the spare room so that I can get it looking slightly tidier.

9. Blog more than 127 times. The last three years look nice to my bit of brain that loves patterns, but I think I can do better.

10. Lose weight. I really didn't want to make this a goal, but I have been sat here trying to think of a number 10 for ages and this is a huge elephant in the room. Insert easy joke here.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Weekword: Epiphany

Katy picked this week's word.

I've been having a bit of an epiphany of late. I've been working out very hard for the past few months, to be as fit as possible for skiing; and I am definitely much fitter. I really notice the difference in my stamina, in my shape and in my health. I was able to keep up with my ski friends - one head of PE, one whippet-fit cyclist and one marathon runner - just. I was pleased that all my efforts appeared to have paid of. This is definitely the fittest I've been in my adult life.

However, it's still hard. It still hurts, and I get very tired. I still get very out of breath and can't keep up with the runs in circuits or spinning. And here's my epiphany, depressing and apt for January - these things are never going to go away unless I lose some weight. I can be fit and healthy and work out five times a week, but as long as I'm carrying around all these extra pounds (and there are a LOT) I'm never going to be as fit as I want to be. I do like to think that, if I ever lose the weight, I will be superfit because I've been working out with all this additional resistance for so long....but this is small comfort!

Every year, though, I make resolutions to lose weight, and try and put things in place to make that goal achievable; it hasn't happened yet. I am severely lacking in whatever that final push is. I wonder what it will take? Perhaps this epiphany will be what it takes to make me put down the buttered toast.

Katy has picked Helen to choose next week's word, so pop on over on Monday if you'd like to play.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Bonne Annee

I have returned from the slopes of Serre Chevalier with a heart-warming tale of human kindness.

On New Year's Eve, we ventured to Briancon's park for their fireworks, which turned out to be a performance of Blanche Neige and the Seven Dwarves, complete with dancers, stampy queen, penguin, polar bear, and creepy man in what looked like a black death doctor costume, dancing in a tree. It was in French so I was unable to unravel the intricacies of the tale, but the fireworks were marvellous and there was a free cup of mulled wine at the end of it.

We rushed home for our New Year's raclette, whereupon I realised I'd lost my phone. I tried hard not to hyperventilate and suggested Jonty ring it, to see if it was in the apartment somewhere. It wasn't. But a girl answered! And then passed it on to her dad, who thankfully spoke English. She'd found it in the snow and would we like to come and get it?

We walked all the way back, and then as far again up a hill, to meet the man in a cemetary. It did cross my mind that this might end badly, especially when Jonty ran on ahead to ring him. But in fact, he'd picked up my phone by the time we caught up with him, so I never got to meet this gem of gentleman. When the man realised we'd walked up he was appalled and said he would have driven down to drop it off! He said he was pleased to be able to help, and it was a great start to 2012 for me. I couldn't agree more. Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.

So, then we ate lots of melted cheese and waited until midnight (difficult, because we'd spent the previous night drinking until nearly 2am and nobody was really very with it on NYE) whereupon the residents of Briancon started letting off their own fireworks. From everywhere. From street corners, from bridges, from balconies - the people in the opposite apartment block had them going from the coffee table out of the window, which kept hitting the eaves. We were open-mouthed but I gather this is very normal for France. Then we saw a fire eater, and a fire spinner, and then some Brits turned up on balconies banging pots and pans which felt proper homelike. Marvellous. And then we got up at 8am and skied for the best part of 8 hours on New Year's Day, which just added to the awesomeness of the whole situation. Then only thing that could have improved it would have been the presence of Mr Z. But, well, you can't have everything.

Now, I know it's hardly the same as the back streets of Briancon, but if you haven't yet seen the footage of the London NYE fireworks, I strongly urge you to watch it now. Happy New Year, everyone.