Friday 24 June 2016

Scenes from the Classroom #21

Feeling pretty fed up at the referendum news today; I am trying hard to see it as a win for democracy and how over 17 million people are happy with the result, but members of my family are being vile about it on Facebook and that makes it significantly less ok. Meh. This too will pass.

The mood was bleak in school, among the staff, which was juxtaposed with the student body who were pretty happy. This is the town that, on Thursday, hung an enormous (visible for miles) "Vote Leave" banner from their significant local landmark, so that just explains that. One girl said she had been rudely awakened in the morning by her mum whooping in joy. Unlike my neighbours, who were probably rudely awakened by me howling, "NOOOOOOOO" as my alarm went of at 6am and Radio 4 informed me that the vote had gone leave and sterling had fallen to a 30 year low. There aren't many worse wake ups I can remember. As a Facebook friend said, I'm not sure how many more times I can vote and then wake up to a dystopian nightmare the next morning.

Not to be hyperbolic or anything.

Even the relatively good news about Cameron's resignation was spoiled, when he walked out of Number 10 at exactly the same moment that the senior leadership team walked into the staffroom to begin briefing. Tim had been watching on his laptop for 40 minutes, waiting. He was not best pleased. We surreptitiously checked our phones until the news broke. Then an unpopular teacher strode in late, put his hand up and announced the resignation in briefing. Silence. Tumbleweed.

Anyway, some very funny kid things that were said...

C: I am very upset. You know what this means? No more Magic Stars.
Me: Er....I think you will still be able to buy Magic Stars C.
C: No, no, it says on the packet, not to be sold outside the EU!
Me: Well. It will take a while so you can stock up.

And then this, when I told my year 10 class that Cameron had resigned...

K: Wait. But one of the people who might be our next Prime Minister is that bloke that ruined education, isn't it?
Me: Er...Gove, yes. Well, maybe. I mean, he is in the frame.
K: So you're telling me that the man who ruined my education might end up being the leader of this entire country?
Me: (small voice) Yes.

Kids are still kids.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Tuesday Ten

This week, Carole asks about -

Ten things on my summer bucket list

1. Celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Ten years! Ludicrous.

2. Kayaking with Mr Z in the Adriatic on romantic getaway to celebrate said anniversary.

3. Jumping off rocks/a pier/a low cliff into the Adriatic.

4. As a variation on that theme, jumping off a boat into Halong Bay, Vietnam.

5. Having some clothes made for me in Hoi An.

6. Drinking a Singapore Sling at the Raffles hotel in Singapore (where we are staying for three nights!)

7. Maybe, driving a right hand drive car on the wrong side of the road. Tutt has this vague plan of going to Normandy for a few days when we get back from the Far East. She suggested camping!

8. Turning over and going back to sleep at 6am on September 1st, then sending my ex-colleagues Snapchats of me drinking bucks fizz in bed. My new school doesn't start back until the 5th. Bliss.

9. Reading as many books about the Tudors as I can. There are several extremely good reasons why I need to know as much as possible about those gingers by September.

10. Possibly getting my nose firmly onto that grindstone with yet another book. Yes, I know, I don't know why I say yes either; but this was too tempting an opportunity to turn down.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Weekend WIP

I have had a bit of a whirlwind weekend. I had to leave school at lunchtime on Friday and head straight to London to present at a conference at the British Museum (a life goal achieved there); the taxi I had booked didn't turn up so I only just made my train, which made for a very stressed Sally sitting on the train. Knitting was the only way to turn. Hence...

20 down, 107 to go. Yep, I managed four in one weekend. This is also thanks to the obnoxious drunk who sat next to me on the train home and attempted to philosophise with me. "Stick to your knitting" has rarely been more apt: I got a lot done. I also realised I had done a giant miscalculation and if I can knit two a week then I should be done with all the single skeins by the end of the summer. Very motivating.

This skein was That's Just How We Roll. It reminds me of Uptown, that I bought on my first visit to Jimmy Beans in 2009 and knitted this top out of. There's a bit more grey in the limited edition, though.

I must get back onto the linen top now, though. I was wearing the orange one for giving my presentation and remembered how comfortable it is, particularly in situations that involve a lot of sweat (it doesn't matter how many things like this I do, I never get less nervous). Ergo, the blue one would be ideal for Vietnam this summer.

Here is a bonus picture of me feeling very proud of myself down by the river. The city was all humid and heavy and overcast like it was when I finished my finals and felt similarly pleased with myself. It was a good nostalgic moment.

Monday 6 June 2016

Blue Monday

Another throwback to Lisbon in 2013, from the aquarium. This is still the backdrop to my iPad. These shots never come out as well as I hope and this one isn't perfect but I was pretty pleased with it.

Today was my last first day of term at my school. It is my 78th first day of term there. The grounds crew were in cutting the grass again, striding under my open windows with their ear plugs and their stinking petrol strimmer, then following up with the sit-on mower like my classroom is not a place where teaching occurs. And that happens on a weekly basis now it's the summer term. I love being in a mobile classroom BUT I am not going to miss that.

I need a bonus underwater picture, just thinking about it.

I bet that wretched strimmer would be quiet under here.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Weekend WIP

I forgot how addictive knitting this top is.

It's murder on my hands. I think the problem is that I hold my working yarn lightly between the curled ring and little finger of my right hand, and with it being such skinny yarn I have to grip instead of just letting it hang out. This makes the attached knuckles sore. Being a complete hypochondriac, I started to become concerned about possible carpal tunnel so I reverted after knitting group yesterday and put another couple of hexagons to bed (16 down, 111 to go).

However, I did manage to get the shoulder stitches onto holders on Friday and knit up to the third stripe yesterday. The middle blue I picked is transferring quite a lot of colour onto my hand anyway and I had no desire to go back to work with the right-hand fingernails of one long dead, so it was just as well.

Bonus pictures: in an effort to achieve my year's goal of knitting up all the individual skeins of Lion & Lamb I had sitting in stash, I wound them all into cakes.

At the top, That's How We Roll; middle left is Sookie's Last Stand, middle right is Royal Baby: Snips and Snails; bottom left is Royal Baby: Sugar and Spice and bottom middle is He Who Must Not Be Named. Bottom right is the last skein of Georgetown I bought for the shawl I knitted in 2009, my only other single skein in this yarn.

The purples in particular blend together very nicely:

I was surprised by how much nicer some of the colours were once they were out of the skein. I keep thinking they're too nice for a blanket but that is a silly thing to think: I don't know what else 200m of yarn could easily become and it's too nice to stay sitting in stash, at any rate.

If I am strict with myself and complete two hexagons a week, I should have finished with this little lot by Christmas.

Friday 3 June 2016

Half term baking: Ginger curd

I'm running a revision session at school this Sunday. This is not as crazy as it sounds, since (a) our first exam is on Monday and (b) I work every Sunday afternoon anyway, so I might as well do it in school. I'm making some cakes to take in the keep their spirits up. This is mainly an excuse to make cakes, if I'm honest: there hasn't been a lot of cake-making going on lately.

I saw some ginger curd in the National Trust shop at Dyrham Park at the weekend and thought that it would be excellent in a lemon drizzle, so I set about making some of my own. I have cobbled this recipe together by firstly, reading about how other people prepare their ginger for curding, and secondly, adapting the recipe I always use for lemon curd. It has come out very nicely.

150g fresh ginger (weight after peeling)
2 lemons
250g caster sugar
125g butter
5 eggs

The absolute easiest way to sort out the ginger is to run it through a juicer, along with the lemons. When I did this I ended up with something approaching 200ml, including the frothy layer that forms on top. Alternatively you could cut the ginger up and put it in a blender with the peeled lemons, and then press the resulting paste through a sieve. You'll probably get a bit less juice doing it this way, so you can either blend more ginger/lemons or adjust the proportions of the other ingredients down.

Put the juice in a glass bowl with all the other ingredients. Set it over a pan of simmering water and stir periodically, until the butter and sugar have melted and the curd has thickened. Pour into pots. Do not let Mr Z near it unless you're willing for a lot of it to be spooned into his mouth.

My batch isn't super thick; it probably could have taken another egg. Also, it's not massively sweet, as was my wont. I recommend tasting yours to see if you want more sugar.

One recipe I read suggested finely chopping some stem ginger to stir through the finished article, which I think sounds delightful. However, the thought of trying to finely chop those balls of ultimate stickiness is not filling me with delight, so I'm giving it a miss.