Thursday, 31 January 2013

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: January

This month's topics were chosen by Starla.

1. Inspiration

Provided this month by Mr Z, who has been at the fruit again, and who inspired my starter with Y9 this week (we had studied photosynthesis the day before so this was not apropos of nothing).

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2. Something I made

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My only FO of the month was the Dragon Jumper, but here is a bonus picture of the neatly-sewn-in zip of which I am overly proud. The green/white was not lined up, I must admit, but it wasn't as bad as it looks here.

3. Resolutions

I haven't actually made any. I haven't done any goal setting for this year either. I have been trying to think of something but all it amounts to is lose weight and get a new job, which is kind of dull but also big things which need a lot of focus. So here's this instead -

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I have had my eye on this sock kit for a long time and I finally bit the bullet and bought it. So, I resolve to knit it up before the year is out.

4. Retro

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Brass plate I caught sight of when I was wandering around London. I had a whole retro post in mind (it may yet materialise) because I spent a good hour tramping around the old haunts close to my university and taking pictures; but this very shiny thing caught my eye. I always dreamed of somehow winning the lottery and living in one of these gorgeous brick flats, to the point where I scoured estate agents' windows and bought home decor magazines to plan what I'd do with it. The irony is, now I finally have the security of home ownership, my interest in home decor magazines has definitely waned. Now I just look at them to scoff. I accidentally bought one at Christmas and it had a styling suggestion for a bell jar - fill it with plums and satsumas. Yes, it looks amazing, but how are you meant to get the fruit out?!
I digress.

5. Sequins

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Some King Cole Galaxy, stocked in quantity at Get Knitted. I keep looking at it, but I just don't need it and I can't think of a project I could use it for, that I can't use a yarn from my stash for.
I don't know how long I will hold out, though.

Thanks Starla, and sorry I was so late!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dedicated to Mrs Tyler

Mrs Tyler was my year 7 Maths teacher. She was head of Maths, I think, at my all-girls public school, which can't have been an easy job, even in the 90s.

I was definitely an annoying child. I'd been very good at Maths for the first three years of primary school; I remember, in Y3, being sat with two other students in a separate corner of the classroom and asked to complete some work from a new book because we'd finished all the other stuff. Unfortunately, that was the height of my Maths career. It never got any better than that (there are some murky, unpleasant memories about my Y3 teacher being quite unkind to me and I wonder if that had anything to do with it) and by the time I started senior school, I was no better than anyone else.

This was a fact Mrs Tyler spotted almost immediately. I have a solid memory of a lesson with her in my head. I remember the classroom (it was the same one we had for a tutor base in Y8) and where I was sat (in the middle row, in the middle). I was doodling in my spiral bound notebook. We all had them back then. We used to guard them impossibly closely, as though they contained the Enigma code, and write things to look mysterious; in fact their primary function was to play endless rounds of the imaginatively named "boxes", where one connects the dots to create boxes.

In this particular lesson, I was doodling away in my notebook, undoubtedly writing something terribly important like the true story of the JFK assassination, when I was unceremoniously called out by Mrs Tyler, who made me stand up, face a'flame, and throw my precious notebook into the (almost empty, save for pencil sharpenings) bin. The clique tutted and my friends tried to look sympathetic but I'm fairly sure they had warned me.

I did not take this well. I complained, loudly, to my friend, "I won't need Maths, anyway. I'm going to be a famous writer, and when I am, I'm going to dedicate my first book to Mrs Tyler, for making my life so awful in Year 7."

Mrs Tyler unfortunately heard this lofty claim. I can still remember the look of tight fury on her face. She pointed to the corner. "SALLY! GO AND STAND IN THE CORNER!" she shouted. It was probably the most shameful moment of my school career at that point; luckily I got into some very shameful scrapes later on during my formal education so it isn't the worst ever. But it was the only time I, or anybody else, was made to stand in a corner.

Mrs Tyler did not teach me again after Y7. She concerned herself with top sets and I was put in set 3 of 4, where I remained until about this time of year in Y11, when an astonishing mock grade enabled me to move up, thus entering higher tier and achieving the A I hold in Maths. I most definitely needed it, or I wouldn't be teaching. When we got into the sixth form, Mrs Tyler taught the A-level Maths crowd, who adored her - any student enthusiastic about Maths adored her, and it was mutual. She was an awesome teacher. But then she got sick. She got cancer. And she planned her funeral, and she died.


Well. Now it turns out that a portion of my prophetic words have come true, although I'm not exactly famous. This is my first book. It is finally published (and my name is first on the cover, in spite of the picture on that link). I am prouder of it than anything I have achieved in my working life to date. They didn't ask me for a dedication - it's not really that sort of book. However, I must dedicate this, in total fairness, to the memory of my Y7 Maths teacher, Mrs Tyler. She didn't make my life hell, it was only that one day, and I know she'll never know - she was an atheist, and stubborn, so I presume her spirit would refuse to stick around on the basis that it didn't believe in itself, should such a thing have occurred. But, a promise is a promise.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tuesday Ten

I'm back on the bandwagon with Artsyville - this week, things I collect.

1. Yarn. Last stash count (May 2012) suggested 55km but I have knitted some and bought some since then....

2. Buttons. I have a really thing for glass buttons, especially black glass buttons.

3. Other knitting paraphernalia - stitch markers and project bags; vintage stitch holders (the metal ones that look a bit discoloured with age are my favourites).

4. Boden dresses. I wince sometimes when I leave the house and realise I am in head to toe Boden, since all my coats and most of my dresses came from there. But it flatters my figure and I love their colours and the dresses are always long enough and never see-through, which is more than can be said for some other clothing emporiums.

5. Pens. Not really on purpose - this is more of a hoarding thing. If I find a pen that is nice to write with then I will buy many of them in case I lose it. Of course, when I own many of them, I never lose them. I am thinking about splashing out on a very lovely fountain pen when I get my first royalties cheque (a nice pen for a writer, type thing). I blame Elizabeth.

6. Brooches. I like to trawl around charity shops for old ones, and I have a fairly new obsession with Lea Stein acetate brooches. It started with the ladybird but it's grown much bigger than that now. I think it's the magical combination of bright colour and deco styling that has me smitten.

7. Red and white polka dot stuff. It has moved past obsession into actual fabric of my being. I dressed my bridesmaids in this print. I try to tone it down and keep it just to kitchen stuff now.

8. Things with a Union Jack motif. This was a new one last year, when everywhere was Union Jacks for the Jubilee and Olympics. I do like the colour combination and I like to feel patriotic. I have a good collection of tins and a nice Emma Bridgwater shopping bag which are probably my favourites.

9. Tea party peripherals. Mostly cake stands, but also tea cups and , if I had room, teapots. But I only have one of these. It is red and white spots and matches my favourite tea cups, and one of my cake stands (see point 7).

10. Looking around at all the other things that make up the jumble of my possessions, it ties somewhere between perfume, knitting magazines and Lush products. I probably have about equal quantities of each. Knitting magazines are the only growing concern among those three, though; I live in fear of not buying one and then finding a pattern I want to knit in it, many years later, when it's out of print. This is an irrational fear, I know, in this digital age.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Weekend FO

Here be dragons.

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Pattern: Improvised. Dragon chart from here.
Yarn: King Cole Merino DK - roughly 5 balls
Needle: 4mm

Parpy Jo wanted a hoody with a zip right up the back. She wanted it to be taupe. This is what she got - but she was so pleased she nearly cried (I think...she may have been lost for words due to horror but if that was the case she hid it well).

I kept very detailed pattern notes on the Ravelry project page so it is worth looking there if you'd like to make something similar. My most triumphant part of this was setting in the zip. I used an icord bind off on the zipper band and it made it so easy to get the zip in evenly. Firstly I blanket stitched in the outermost stitch, and then I went back over in running stitch, using the knit stitches on the icord as my guide. It came out invisible which was particularly amazing as the green cotton I used for the job did not match the yarn.

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So, yeah - if you want to put a zip in a knitted garment, an icord bind off is the way to go. In fact, I think it would even be worth picking up stitches and adding an icord bind off if necessary - like if you're applying the zip to a vertical edge and not a horizontal one.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Fave Friday

This week: The Blow Dry.

It's terribly extravagant, but one of my favourite things to do. I have only ever had a few, but this is more to do with the logistics of getting to the salon at a convenient time than anything else; I suppose that is why it is such a treat, because it takes a good hour and that is a lot of time to spend. Plus, it's paying somebody a fairly substantial sum of money to do something I'm perfectly capable of doing for myself.

However, it is still my favourite beauty treat. So this week after my first exam board meeting on Wednesday, I found myself with two hours to spare. I was near Covent Garden, the site of my first blow dry, which I had when Jen was getting her hair cut before an Avalon meet. I tried Aveda but was feeling confident enough at that point to reject their senior stylist at £60. So I wandered around until I found a likely salon*. It had prices for ladies on the menu, but I could only see gentlemen inside; I dithered a bit but then it started to sleet so I went for it.

"Hello," I said hesitantly to the intimidatingly cool and perfectly-coiffed ladies on the desk. "I was wondering if you had somebody available for, um, who could blow dry my hair?"

They stared at me for a moment. Was it my ancient and extremely bobbly gigantic purple cardigan? Was it my awful, frizzy, lumpy, greasy mop that looked beyond redemption? Was it a barber? Was it a front for human trafficking? I opened my mouth to take it back but caught sight of a woman having her hair washed behind the desk and she looked so relaxed, the washer girl having just got to the massage part of the wash, that my retraction died in my throat. I waited for the girls to decide.

They consulted in whispers and looked at the schedule. Then the price list. Then one of them disappeared towards the back to check, while the other said, "We're just checking - our senior stylist might be available." The first one appeared again with a Japanese stylist who looked at me doubtfully. Makeupless, in muddy Uggs and a black maxi dress with the woolly cardigan around me, I can't have looked particularly promising. But he gave a brief nod - clearly not one to knock back a challenge - and then remaining receptionist instantly quoted me a price. It was steep. But not as steep as Aveda; and I'd come too far to back down.

The second receptionist came back. I could bear the silence no longer. "It's just so awful!" I burst out, pointing at my head. "I mean, it's just so flat, and yet lumpy, and frizzy...I just want it to look good!"

It was like I'd canted a spell. "Oh, you poor thing - yes, and it's been snowed on too," comforted one, soothingly, "let me get you a robe. Can I take your co...er...jumper?" "Would you like a drink of something?" asked the other, warmly. Clearly, I had not been speaking their language at first. My doubt and frank embarrassment at asking for such an everyday thing had put them off. I'm sure people regularly turn up to ask for these things.

It was all glorious after that. A silk robe. A chair that mechanically lifted from the middle to set me in a flat position at the sink. A gorgeous lavender-and-rosemary-scented shampoo. A washer girl who asked if I wanted conditioner all over, or on the ends. A head massage. A lapful of magazines including the newest Elle which I hadn't read yet. Two people working to comb out my tangles and exclaiming over how long my hair is (I always like that, though I'm not sure they always mean it as a compliment). A stylist who artfully curled segments around clips and straightened segments and worked most of the blow dry with his fingertips until I looked like a new person; who called my hair "dark blonde" when I cocked my head to look for greys, and smoothly lied that they were invisible instead of trying to sell me an appointment with the colourist; who gave me advice on how to get the layers cut back in and told me I should do it soon; who told me I had a gorgeous natural wave. I walked out feeling a million dollars, and the magic blow dry was still working to give me confidence in yesterday's very long and full-on meeting (which I might liken to taming lions for 7 hours straight), and it STILL looked good today when I sadly had to wash it. And he used only a teeny amount of product, too, because he had a magic hair dryer where the cold shot actually worked and it did a magic thing to my hair at the end: it was fluffy, and then it wasn't. All previously stylists have said, "Gosh, it's fluffy, isn't it!" and thrown product at it, with varying but unsatisfactory degrees of success. 

It is testament to his artistry that I am actually trying to work out how I can get back there for a cut. He did ask if I wanted it cut. But the blow dry alone was worth every penny. And it was my reward to myself - the advance copy of my book arrived on Wednesday and it will be on sale very soon. Eighteen months of hard work coming to an end! Sadly the prosecco I opened in its honour was flat; but at least my hair still had bounce.


* Having found and nosed around the website a bit for this post, I understand my experience a bit better now.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Birds

I have been feeding the birds at work. I attempt to feed them at home too - I bought a special bird feeder Christmas wreath this year - but they are wise to the fact we are cat-owners and we don't see many. I did watch a robin scavenging for hay in the bunny's run over the Christmas holiday though. When I crept to the door to get a picture it heard me, panicked, started flying around the run and then squeezed out through the bars - roughly 1 inch wide. Amazing.

Anyway. Back to work. Before Christmas I put out lots of peanuts which attracted a fair few birds and a family of fat, healthy-looking squirrels who were an endless distraction to my students and ran around on the roof of the classroom in a scratchy, Grudge-type way. I tried some suet balls and a bird feeder filled with peanuts, but both had disappeared during the holiday - there was a shard of green plastic on the ground from the feeder. I can only assume the squirrels ate the rest, mesh and all.

But I was undeterred. I bought a seed feeder that stuck to the window, and Caroline at work bought me a cardboard tray feeder filled with mealworms. Shuddering and ignoring the fact they are top 5 creepiest creepy crawlies for me, even dried, I hung that out and then managed to wedge the feeder in a tree (it wouldn't stick to the window). I saw a couple of blue tits on Thursday, much to my delight.

Then it snowed, of course. I was pleased I'd left them food. A combination of poor soil drainage, a broken gutter and the kickback from my furnace heater keeps a pool of water on the corner of the building almost constantly and the History Swamp, as we call it, is a little too densely wooded to be popular with our larger scavengers, the crows and gulls, yet undisturbed by other animal life. I hope. So, it's a little birdie paradise.

Indeed! Upon returning to work today, the feeder had been emptied to the point where the rest of the seed could not be accessed. I'm certain this wasn't squirrels because it was still intact. I refilled it and set out to watch them. And I received a rich reward! Today I saw (in order)
  • Blue tits
  • Robins
  • Blackbirds
  • Redwings (first sighting since 2011!)
  • Mistle thrushes (I thought these might be song thrushes but then one sat in a tree preening and it was huge - about the size of a pigeon - so I am fairly sure it was a mistle thrush)
  • Goldfinches
  • A lonely Chaffinch
  • Greenfinches (hogged the feeder for 20 minutes and squabbled with each other over it, but also scattered a lot of seed on the ground trying to get to their favourites so kept the other birds happy)
  • Long-tailed tits (this is my first sighting of the last two)
I was so excited! It's lucky today was a light teaching day - I was veritably obsessed with spotting and identifying and trying to get pictures. Naturally, pictures from my phone camera at a distance of 20ish feet through glass was not going to work. I did get this little video though.

video

I prefer to watch the blackbirds and redwings throwing leaves around - we had one in the back garden who was at it for ages last week, I was only sorry I couldn't get him to throw them all in aneat pile - but they are much shyer and don't come as close to the window.

So yes. Birds! Amazing. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

2012: That was the year when... (part 2)

July
I spent a couple of days at Bath University for the annual conference I organised, probably for the last time because it's not going ahead this year. Boo. It was very successful as usual and a nice break from routine, although I really struggle to sleep in halls of residence - too loud and too uncomfortable.

There was no respite though, because I had no sooner finished there than I was off up to Leeds for a History conference, back in student halls for two nights. These were new build but I was in a disabled room which was VAST and had no shower curtain. Quieter, though. The drive up was terrifying, being completed in torrential rain. At one point on the M62 between Manchester and Leeds, I was overtaking a coach and an actual wave went over my car.

The conference went well though, and I made a new friend, Lizzy, who was just on the cusp of moving to Bristol from Wakefield. I had a good chat with the wife of one of the bigwigs of the circle who helped to calm my nerves before my session, which I was afraid was not as good as it could have been - but I have been invited back, so maybe not as bad as all that.

Being an Anglo-Saxon King at the Saturday night fun session, which is a highlight every year.
The rest of July was just about finishing work (and waving around an Olympic torch) and then right at the end, there was the Olympics opening ceremony and Phillipa's hen weekend. This was meticulously planned by Cara but all rather rained upon by the fact that the bride-to-be got so roaring drunk on Friday night that the paramedics had to be called and the rest of the weekend was one long hangover.


 On Friday night we had to dress up as a country; on Saturday it was a 60s themed Murder Mystery - the same one I did for NYE in 2010, and I played the same character! An aging nightclub hostess. Worrying.

August
A month spent sitting, knitting, supporting TeamGB. I taught myself to crochet and went to the gym a LOT. I also celebrated my birthday with a tea party and barbecue at my house, and went and visited Mother Dusty in Portsmouth. There was some extra work; some reviewing of revision activities, and some writing of perfect answers for the exam questions in my book.


There was also Phillipa's wedding, a delightful country festival affair in Wiltshire, with lots of ciders and a ceilidh, and camping in our new spotty tent, bought for the occasion. The weather held for the Saturday, at least, and the bride looked radiant.

 Tom and me making like Bolt. Phillipa trying to win the flower pot race (as bride, naturally she won).

School team jubilant at beating the team from the groom's school in the tug-o-war. We finally won something! Oh yes, and we had our best results ever. History was up 20% at GCSE. Not that anybody said well done or anything.


September
Work began again. It quickly became clear that this was not going to be the easiest of years, nor was the new head the best of leaders. I cancelled the ski trip due to lack of interest which just made everything a bit more depressing.

There was a fun evening, though, towards the end, when Parpy Jo and I went on a champagne vs English sparkling wine tasting event at Hotel du Vin in Bristol. We also enjoyed a very expensive (for me) day out at the antiques fair at Shepton Mallet, during which many brooches were bought. There was also a night out in Bristol with work friends for Cara's birthday, which ended in Reflex with me feeling quite old. And there was the tequila-fueled evening following the sponsored walk, in Bath. So this all served to balance out the general (but not severe) unpleasantness at work.

The first proofs for my book came through, which got me all excited.


October
Term dragged interminably on. There was a very good teachmeet which I attended with Paul and Cara: we heard the head from Educating Essex speak, which was quite exciting. I finished my first piece of crochet.

Then I got to go skiing. I went to Tignes and stayed in the Hotel Chalet de Melezes which was very comfortable, and everybody was very friendly, considering I was on my own. I only got two days of skiing in due to adverse weather on the glacier, and it felt a bit extravagant, but I was definitely well-rested by the time I came back - all ready for a week of pumpkin baking and lunching with friends, which was what happened in half term proper. I do appreciate those extra couple of days in the October half term. 

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Hotel room view - it snowed heavily from the second night onwards. No lifts open below the glacier - it was October, after all - but still enough snow to look beautiful and necessitate snow chains on the way down.

November
November was extremely well-documented because I did NaBloPoMo, as usual. Highlights including finally passing my ski qualification (so very happy!), getting off the second set of proofs and finally putting the book to bed, finally being paid for the review work I did in August, and watching what was happening at work with increasing incredulity. I also ran the Sodbury Slog....well. Run is a strong word. I completed it. I came last. It was still an achievement, believe me.

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December
The year drew to a close with lots of baking and knitting and merry-making. I did a Santa run around Bath with work friends and organised the staff Christmas party, which is always one of my favourite evening of the year. The weekend before Christmas, I was able to catch up with my entire family at my cousin's wedding in Southampton, minus Father Hand, which was really lovely. My favourite cousin was over from Australia and he came to visit after Christmas for a day on his tour of the west country.

Me and the cuz at the wedding, in the funny photo booth.

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Up by the suspension bridge on our post-Christmas tramp around the sights of Bristol.

Mother Hand came to stay for Christmas and after she'd gone I just spent a week mooching and relaxing and eating, of course. New Year's Eve was spent having afternoon tea in a new favourite cafe, Tart, with my lady friends and the baby Morgan, and then chilling with Mr Z. And that was basically it!

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I had champagne with me tea. This is the best way to have tea, in my opinion.

Not a bad year. Here's to 2013!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

2012: That was the year when... (part 1)

January
I began the year in France with friends Jonty, Louzle, TK and Stu, skiing. We were all tired following a big night out on the 30th so we played Storycubes and stayed up long enough to watch crazy French people setting off fireworks out of their windows. The next day was quiet and the weather was gorgeous.

We just made it out of Briancon before it started snowing heavily, so were unfortunately home in time for school to start on January 3rd. BOO.

January passed much as it usually passes, with the exception of Jen's hen night in Sheffield. Wigs, cocktails, stripping students in tiger onesies - it had it all.
Just like old times - except I don't really suit blonde.

I also marked for the exam board (managed a dinner with old exam board survivor Burhan, too, which was lovely), and worked on my book. Like a fiend. There wasn't much time for anything else.

February
The month of four trips. Firstly, I spent a night and a day on the school trip to the Brecon Beacons, relieving Louzle who was off on the Gambia trip (us skiers like to get on as many school trips as possible - or did). There are no pictures of this, but I do remember seeing "Schoolinnexttown is better than Myschool" inked onto the bottom of the upper bunk - bloody typical, we're always being compared with them unfavourable, it's impossible to get away from it! - and I did put on some absolute gigantic waterproofs and some wellies and slide down a natural waterslide. In February. It was cold. When I took my waterproofs off, my legs steamed.

Then there was Naples with Tom, Tutty and the Geology crowd.

 I was so happy to finally get to visit Pompeii after all that school Latin, even if it was bloody freezing (you see me here wearing all the clothes I had with me that day). Highlights included the boat trip around Capri and the enlightening walk up Vesuvius - clearly a popular site with promiscuous locals.

We flew back on the Thursday and I was home for less than 24 hours before it was time to fly to Scotland for Jen and Ben's nuptials. We stayed in an absolutely awesome little place called St Cuthbert's Barn - I meant to blog about it but never got round to it (as you see, February was BUSY) - it is a 4-bunk barn meant for walkers, I think, but we were very snug there for two nights.

Saturday was the big day. Jen looked gorgeous, her daughter Abi was an angel, Ben wore his kilt with aplomb and the weather was just perfect - bright sunshine until about 3pm when there were some wild flurries of snow so Jen and Ben could run outside for pictures. Just what one needs at a Scottish castle wedding! Then we all retired to the Groom's parents' B&B for drinks and dancing. Such a fun wedding.

Unfortunately, Jen and I somehow managed to avoid being in almost any pictures together on the day (gutted - not quite sure how that happened) so here is one of the happy couple.


As if my passport hadn't had enough of a work out in February, the weekend after the wedding was the first ever school trip to the trenches in Belgium. That week at work I had had some utterly horrible news which brought me to my lowest ebb. I don't want to go into detail because I don't particularly want this blog to be picked up in Google searches for it, but I learned quite a lot about myself that weekend because in spite of going home and drinking a whole bottle of wine and some spirits besides, and railing into the night, I was still able to do my job and be at work by 5am the following morning for the coach.

The trip was depressing. I'm not sure if it was my state of mind (I managed to hold it together while we were there but the following week was a washout for me - I basically cried for the whole week) or the nature of the trip, but by the second afternoon at Tyne Cott, there felt like there was something a bit distasteful in searching memorials for family names. Not my sort of trip, I think.

And for February, that about wrapped it up. PHEW.

March
There was no rest for the wicked. I had the Murder Mystery to plan and run - this year's theme was the Olympics (of course) and we killed the head (again) - it was awkward, but having invited him before The Horrible Thing I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of uninviting him. I think I also knew that it wasn't personal to me - I was merely a pawn in his power games. There were several of us stuck in the same situation. By the middle of the month it had come right, thankfully. Then they announced there would be redundancies. FUN.

Anyway, Murder Mystery was fun but tiring as always which meant this is the sort of thing we got up to in our down time.

As well as that, I was rehearsing hard for the staff Strictly Come Dancing competition, for Sport Relief. My partner Jonty and I did something that might be a tango in some books, to Poison. We won! There's bound to be a clip on YouTube somewhere. I will have a rummage. That week we also interviewed for, and failed to appoint, a new head; and I gave out my hard-knitted balaclavas to all the ski staff which they were very pleased with. I also worked on my book like a mad thing to meet the end of March deadline. That was basically all I did, I think.

One the 30th March we all donned our bright orange ski hoodies and set off to Kitzbuhel for the ski trip. The deputy head and head both came to wave us off. I don't think I said goodbye to the head. It was his last day. We had been having some very good staff training on that day and the day before, so we were all buzzing on that - well, I was, anyway. We had a whole coach to ourselves for the first time ever! And a last minute staffing change - Huw came instead of the head's PA who had done her back in.

April
Started off in sunny Kitzbuhel. Much too hot for balaclavas!
 As always, the whole week was good, but particular highlights included the fancy dress day when we skied as pirates and made Yakob dress up as a parrot, and his feather boas left feathers all over the slopes; skiing the Hahnenkamm, in parts; doing jumps in the snow park on the penultimate day and utterly wiping out Yakob by accident; sharing a room with Ra and the crazy parent who rang the emergency phone in the middle of the night - the ringtone was set to me and friend Paul shouting a teacher's name over and over from a prank we had played, so I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was went it went off at 3am. "My son's ear hurts and he's still awake, " - yes, maybe stop ringing him then!
I also bought some lovely Birkis. We didn't like the hotel or the rep much but the bus drivers were amazing ("Oh look, this bridge has a 3 tonne weight limit and we're 17 unloaded - nevermind!") and the skiing was mostly pretty good. One of our pupils dropped his backpack - with expensive ski jacket and lift pass inside - on one of the lifts but it was returned intact. We only knew it was his because he had an old-man-fancy-dress pipe in there. Our rep said, "Only a bag with a flute had been handed in" and it took us about half an hour to figure it out.

Upon returning, I made April even better with a trip to see Steps in Cardiff with Paul, Barbra, Tutty and Becky. We made a stay of it and did some shopping too. They were as good as I remembered from the year when I graduated - a very enjoyable show indeed.


Then there was Wonderwool.Such a good day that this year the folks from my knitting group and I are going for the whole weekend - ticket bought and everything! Heaven knows how I'm going to get through all the stash from my previous Wonderwool excursions before then, but I have a good reason to try.

I do hope it is a bit warmer this year, though.

May
May was fairly uneventful. I spent a lot of time trying to mark coursework for my two Y13 classes and my horrid Y11s, and counting down the lessons until they left for good. I had to do a redundancy matrix at work but we found out at the end of the month that there were enough volunteers to avoid compulsory redundancies being necessary, so that was a weight off the mind. I also did lots of book rewrites. In the spare moments I could snatch, I knitted like a fiend.

I also went on a good conference in London, about elearning, where I heard some very inspiring speakers. London looked beautiful, decked out for all the Jubilee celebrations.


 June
After what felt like an eternity, June half term arrived. I spent a lot of it watching the various Jubilee celebrations - the regatta was a particular highlight.I spent a very soggy afternoon drinking mulled wine (yes, it was that cold) in Victoria Park in Bath with these lovely people -

As usual, I did a lot of knitting. Part way through the month I buzzed off the London for the exam board work, having reached the dizzy heights of assistant principal, where I worked solidly on exam board work for two days solid while the news was full of Gove's plans to scrap GCSEs. Nothing like having 10 years worth of work undermined in a single day. THANKS.

I got a new phone in June, too. I went for the HTC One X. I loved my old phone, but its lack of internal memory was becoming extremely irritating. 

Part 2 coming up...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Today I wish I was...


I know, I know - it is the holidays and I've no right to be wishing for anything, but we have been talking about our summer holiday California plans and it made me think of this place, and after all the rain and dankness and rich food it seemed perfect.

Driving out of King's Canyon NP and towards Yosemite there were lots of these little fruit stalls. Big bowls of enormous peaches and apples and plums, plus taps for washing them. We sat in our car and ate peaches in the sun - such a lovely memory!