Thursday 28 February 2013

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: February

Rachie picked this month's topics.



Lots of snow! On a very sunny day. I find this sort of weather very inspiring - tramping around in it, making snow angels, then snuggling up with something warm on the sofa. It was a great recharge time and I hit the ground running ready for the Ofsted surprise the following week.

Something I Made


I knitted another seven flowers (one was hiding in this picture) for my felted roses chair. This has been a WIP for over a year now.



I've been enjoying these immensely for the last week of February. They are growing on the wrong side of the garden wall, so I only see them when I am coming home. They're a good portent of spring!



Just before I gave up sugar for Lent, I iced these. I decided I was sick of not being able to pipe properly when it came to icing cakes, so I had a little rummage online and found a piping practice session at Swinky Sweets in Bristol. We each got a dozen cakes and there were 15 bags of icing floating around for playing with, along with lots of decorative bits. Some of these didn't turn out quite the way I'd planned but it was fun and I definitely feel more confident with a piping bag now!

Motif: Triangles


Excessive cheating, sorry (I have a feeling I have cheated on a category before, with a picture of the same thing taken in the same bar!) but after Ofsted, relief came in a triangular glass.

Thanks for picking this month Rachie! Pop along and see what everyone else photographed.

Memory Lane

When I went to the Smoke last month for the exam board meeting, I had, astonishingly, a whole free morning. It is rare to have free time during the day in London as I am invariably there for meeting someone or some people, so it was a real treat. I toyed with the idea of London Aquarium until I realised the price has risen considerably since 2000 (whodathunkit) so instead I wandered up to my old university precincts to see the new building and generally wander around.


We were based at this end of Senate House, and in a house on Russell Square. The library was in Senate House, though, so I spent more time there, or in the bigger UL library with the massive stack. When I read Dominion last month, the Nazi German Embassy was sited in Senate House. It wasn't difficult to picture it.

We used to sit on that grass to the left before or after lectures some time. Obviously not when there was snow on the ground.


In my final year I took a Travel Writing module. There were seven of us, and three lecturers. The university didn't much like that ratio and sometimes we didn't have a classroom to meet in, so we had lectures in the basement of this cafe a few times. They did very delicious cakes. I can't remember what I used to drink, as it was before I drank coffee; half of us used to smoke through the lecture. It felt very bohemian, and as though we should have berets and cigarette holders. Now I think we probably just looked like a bunch of pretentious undergrads.


This sunken park is between the cafe and Senate House. The day before the final exam for the Travel Writing module, we sat here and revised. I remember Julia asking me what secondary sources I had studied, and me looking blankly at her. This was a month before I graduated; not my finest hour. In my defence I think I might have been a bit scatty from over-cramming. I believe I wrote about this incident on this blog at the time, because it sent me into a blind panic.


Mecca - though it was Dillons back then. I remember spending hours browsing. When I finished my finals I went in and bought Bill Bryson books, which I had avoided but wanted to read all through the travel writing course (he hadn't covered eastern Europe at that point). I never finished them.


The vagaries of 12-month leases really brought out the nesting instinct in me. I longed for a lottery win (though I very rarely bought a ticket) so I could buy a flat here. I had it all planned out. It had to have three bedrooms and I sometimes wandered along the furniture shops on Tottenham Court Road and picked out furniture for it.


For the second and third year I lived on the Northern Line, so this was my tube station. In various drafts of my dire and unpublishable and unfinished novel, this tube station features several times. Usually there was someone waiting outside it for me, with varying consequences. In real life there was never anybody waiting outside it for me, except the Evening Standard man who I knew well enough to say hello to, if memory serves.


This is the new HQ of my old college. It was opened a while ago but I have never been for a look. I think it suits the place really well - we always were a bit quirky.

And fnally...


You can still spot a halls bedroom a mile away.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Les Diablerets

It feels like a month ago already, thanks to a visit last week from the Dreaded O, but here are some pictures from Switzerland. In terms of ski holidays, it was an utter disaster! I skied on Monday afternoon, when I managed to snap both poles on my first trip up the lift thanks to not paying attention and had to borrow a pair of poles from the liftman to get back down; it was quite snowy and I was so demoralised I tramped back to the chalet, pulled off all my ski clothes and promptly fell into a five hour snooze. I was telling myself I would only stay in bed until I was properly warm, and that was how long it took.


Tuesday wasn't much better. Not that I noticed. I managed to eat something that strongly disagreed with me and, as such, I was chained to the chalet all day. I spent the time dozing on the sofa and reading Dominion by C.J.Sansom - an absolutely cracking book that I managed to finish in two days. I can't remember the last time I devoured a book with such vigour. It was just as well, because I wasn't able to devour anything else. I forced down a vanilla croissant in the evening because it was Shrove Tuesday and I have given up sugar (as far as possible) for Lent, and didn't want to miss out on my last hurrah. But Tuesday was a bit pants other than that. I reckon I was probably only awake for 8-10 hours out of 24. 


By Wednesday morning the whole place looked like a chocolate box, or a postcard. It was so very lovely to look at, and actually relatively mild - all of 2 degrees, though it felt warmer in the sun. I gathered myself to go outside and have a walk, and buy new poles.


When I finally mustered the strength to go and dig the steps out, something had been here before me! No idea what - with pairs of prints like that I am wondering if it was some kind of bunny, or a spritely deer.


The chalet from the road. Very pretty!


They get a considerable amount of snow in Les Diablerets. More than the last time we were there in 2011, at any rate. I can understand why the locals were so worried that year.


A hasty detour into a cafe in search of their facilities necessitated buying an espresso, which I enjoyed in the sun with this view. I sat outside under an awning with what sounded like rain drops pattering on it - the snow melting in the sun.


There were many awesome icicles to be viewed as a result of this snow melt, but this one was the winner for me - on the corner of the house, and hanging not just onto the eave but also the tree. Impressive!


At least I look rested.

So, that was that. On Thursday, I came home. One run! Still, one run, better than none. It was very relaxing to spend time in a place where I didn't have to fret about tidying, or cleaning, or decluttering, or just doing this bit of work or that bit of marking. It was also a bit of an adventure to get there under my own steam on a foreign train system.

Of course, when Ofsted rang I was sorry I hadn't spent a little more time working but - c'est la vie.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Scenes from the Classroom #1

You'll know (I have mentioned it) that I have birdfeeders hanging outside my classroom window. These have provided endless entertainment for me in the past month or so. However, this character has also made an appearance.

You see him here, raking out seed from the massive hole he has chewed in the side of my birdfeeder.

So, I bought a couple of new birdfeeders. They were cheap and screw into a plastic bottle; I anticipate they will not have survived half term. I hung them on flimsy branches to deter my furry rabies-spreader. He came out to take a look, trying to inch his way down the smooth branch and chew through the handle holding the bottle up, but either his balance or the tree branch was lacking and he soon gave up. Unfortunately the base was too small for the goldfinches and chaffinches, so I wedged one in the nook of a tree branch, and sure enough, he was back.

It was the last day of term. My year 10 class were sitting in silence, completing an assessment (they may well be my favourite GCSE class of all time; if I fail to acquire a new job for September it will really be a good thing because it will mean I can continue to teach them). The squirrel arrived at the new birdfeeder, a little napkin tied around his neck, carrying a miniature cruet.

I sidled over to the window as nonchalently as possible. The class maintained their workrate. I hastily threw the window open, which has in the past been enough to get rid of him, but he did not budge. I fetched a piece of paper, screwed it up and threw it at him. It missed. He stayed put. By this point, lovely or not, the class were staring from me to him with incredulity, wondering what would happen next.

J: Do you want me to go out there and chase him for you, Miss?
Me: Nono, you just carry, 20 minutes left....I just need something long that I can prod him with....wait
(I retrieve a ski trip crutch from behind my desk and approach the open window)
Me: Ha! Take that! (I wave the crutch out of the window. It does not reach the squirrel who looks at it, and carries on eating.)
Me: Ohhhh! GO! AWAY! (More frantic waving. The crutch smacks the underside of the cardbaord tray of mealworms that the Y10 boy with the long arms filled for me the week before. Mealworms fly all over the place. The squirrel watches, enjoying the dinner show. Then he slowly moseys off the rob some other birdfeeder.)
Jk: You're not very good at that, are you Miss?

King of the understatement there. 

Sunday 10 February 2013

Flying away again

I am off the Switzerland, to ski again. I'm currently at London City airport, which Sib described as a large, clean train station, and he wasn't wrong. The only problem with the place is getting here; and on my way off the DLR a nervy looking woman who checked her plane ticket at least 5 times between bank and the airport list control of her monster suitcase, sending it tumbling down the escalator at me. Danger is everywhere.

Anyway, I made it. I have prosecco, a new book and a fresh magazine. There's plenty of snow and a whole chalet waiting for me. Very ready to enjoy half term!

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Weekend FO

Mother Hand's Mittens


Pattern: Ginni
Yarn: The luscious Debbie Bliss Andes - about a skein and a half
Needle: 3.75mm and 4mm
Mods: None. Mistakes don't count as mods, right? I messed up the cables a bit on the second one but it doesn't really notice, as it sits right where the flip top begins.

 It was a good pattern: I just found the lay out a bit irritating. It would have been helpful for me to have the symbols on the same page as the charts although it did become quite intuitive after a while. I had to print the charts out, too - they were either the wrong size or orientation for me to look at on Mr Z's ipad. But these are very minor whines for what is a beautiful, and free, pattern. I don't understand why it doesn't have more projects on Ravelry.


They will be perfect for Mother Hand. The last time I gave her a pair of mitts must have been in 2007, if my projects information is to be believed; on Monday she rang me up to tell me there had been a catastrophe and SOMEHOW this mixture of Kid Classic and Kidsilk Haze had SHRUNK in the washing machine (who would credit it?) and how could she stretch them back?

It was lucky I had just finished these. I hope they don't meet the same fate, but if they last her five years I don't think I can really complain.

I just hope she never machine washes that Jade Sapphire cashmere cowl I knitted her.