Monday 30 October 2017

Blue Monday

This handsome pelican was floating with his buddies next to our boat, just off Isla Santiago in the Galapagos. I like to think the boat engine was providing them with some kind of spa experience.

They flew off quite quickly when a shark turned up, though.

Monday 23 October 2017

Blue Monday

Back in the Galapagos. I basically took enough pictures here for a year of blue Mondays. Sorry not sorry.

There are a few good things about this one. Firstly - the blue, obvs. Then, the frigate bird - this one followed the boat around for a considerable amount of time. Finally, you can see the lava floe coming down and meeting the shore. This is from Isla Santiago

Friday 20 October 2017

Fave Friday

Something extremely simple today - when your alarm goes off and you can turn it off and go back to sleep.

This has been an exceptionally busy week, beginning with a tramp through the Cotswolds as a Duke of Edinburgh helper (I was a last minute replacement). Thursday began at 6am and ended at midnight. So, I can be applauded for remembering to turn off one alarm, and forgiven for forgetting the other one.

Another fave: when we break up from school before the end of a week. Delightful. I have spent most of today doing other jobs, but still...I got to turn my alarm off and go back to sleep until 9am. And I'm going to go and have a nap now. Winning.

Monday 16 October 2017

Blue Monday

This amazing reflection of the sky is courtesy of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, an art museum and gallery in Quito.

Unfortunately, it was very difficult to find the way in and I don't feel like I saw much of the inside, though I did wander around the art gallery, which included an eerily lifelike, life-sized model of a clown. In the end I had to leave because I got so freaked out by it. I was the only person in there and I started to envisage a horror-movie scenario in which it came to life and chased me around, to a murderous conclusion.

There are some definite drawbacks to travelling alone.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

I watched the new series of SCD for the first time tonight. I liked a lot of the dances but the one by Alexandra Burke and Gorka was just amazing. I think she had a very fortunate choice of song, though. Part of the reason I loved it was because you can see the band bopping away in the background too, and even the judges get in on it during her first pass past the table. It is an infectiously joyful piece of music.


I wished Gorka had included Tina's signature dance move that surely everyone does when they hear this song (just me?) but perhaps it would have been a bit obvious.

Friday 13 October 2017

Fave Friday

You might know that I'm a fan of the gin. I have quite a lot of gins in my little stockpile now, so I have to be quite impressed to add more.

This gin was being offered at the gin festival I went to in May. I went to a gin school to hear about how it was made and it was very wittily sold by an ex-teacher who kept us laughing throughout his explanation of what makes this gin delicious and special. It was indeed delicious and special, so I bought a bottle. It's quite citrussy in flavour. You're meant to serve it with a slice of pear, but who has time for that?

It's quite a nice business story, too, since it was crowdfunded and they're based in Leeds, and I think they're the people who run the gin festival too so good people to support. You can buy it here. I shouldn't have looked, there's a three-for-two offer on.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Scenes from the Classroom #34

I've got a very confident girl in my year 7 class.

Today, someone asked me how to spell abattoir. I couldn't remember if it was one b or two, so I wrote them both on the board and selected the one that looked correct. I think this is an important modelling thing to do with students. Also, I don't use the word abattoir very often.

K: *hand straight up*
Me: (momentarily doubts the spelling, but only momentarily)
Me: Yes, K?
K: Miss, as somebody who very rarely makes spelling mistakes, I can confirm that that is correct.
Me: Thank you very much, K!
Class: *snigger*

She does delight in showing off her excellent literacy skills, but I had to bite back from saying, "As somebody who always uses full sentences, remind me to show you how."

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Travel Tuesday: Salzburg

When Zoe and I skied in April, we went to spend a day roaming Salzburg and soaking up the culture.

It's quite a compact little city with the river running alongside the old town, so we walked everywhere we wanted to go. By the time we'd managed the public transport from our ski area it was lunchtime, and pouring with rain, so we stopped in a little courtyard Italian restaurant before going on to the castle.

They are obsessed with Mozart, and ducks (there's some kind of sports team that explains the latter). So, this display of Mozart eyeing a rubber duck doppelganger of himself nervously whilst holding a selfie stick is not that odd.

The castle had the best views across the city and we enjoyed the funicular.

The cathedral was also very picturesque.

We came back to Salzburg at the end of the trip; the railway station has luggage lockers so we stashed everything and went off to see a couple of things we'd missed the first time round - namely, the bridge they used in the Sound of Music, and the Augustiner Brau, a brewery and monastery with a huge food court that came highly recommended by a fellow history teacher friend.

I gather we missed a few key things out, particularly the Sound of Music tour and some kind of local salt mine which gives the city its name. Good reasons to return.

Monday 9 October 2017

Blue Monday

A break from the Galapagos this week.

This is from the Basilica del Voto Nacional, a splendid church with some lovely terraces one one side. This is a gate I came across on those terraces.

Sunday 8 October 2017

Selfie Sunday

Something up-to-date this week. I've been roaming around Hampshire learning all the things and spending time with Mother Hand.

Here I am posing in the Great Hall in Winchester, where I went to a lecture on Saturday night. It was the BBC History Magazine weekender. Great lecture, absolutely crammed with geeky facts and figures about the Restoration period.

The next day I returned with Mother Hand, for a National Trust visit to Winchester City Mill, and another History lecture.

Such weekend behaviour. Can you believe I'm not even 40 yet?

Friday 6 October 2017

Fave Friday

I had been on the hunt for a good navy eyeliner for years. I was very picky. It had to be the right shade of navy - not too blue, not too dark. There could be no hint of shimmer to it. It had to have really good staying power - no smudging, to avoid that half moon on the upper lid. It had to apply smoothly - I was really only looking for a liquid. Shu Uemura nailed it with their gel eyeliner and I used it heavily until it dried up, whereupon I discovered to my horror that the colour had been discontinued. That was a couple of years ago and I've been on the hunt ever since.

I have looked at dozens, in all price ranges, but found they all had a bit of shimmer (I prefer to have the option of adding my own shimmer, ta) or were the wrong blue.

However, I am happy to report that I have found something that is nearly perfect. I'm back to wearing eyeliner at school again, which is a bit of a shock to my students since I don't think I bothered once last year.

The liner in question is by Urban Decay. It was a lot more than I would normally pay for an eyeliner pencil, but the colour, matte finish and consistency were too good to pass up. It goes on like a liquid, sets almost immediately and lasts through all the early morning eye-watering, and all day long, until it dissolves effortlessly during my evening face-washing. It even made it through a Bikram class this week.

The colour is Sabbath. There are some dreamy colours available, but the list of colour names does make me chuckle. I mean, really. Asphyxia? Does their creative team sit around thinking up the most depressing and dystopian words they can when they're naming products? Yes, I realise I sound about a hundred years old, but it would be helpful to have some indication of the colour in the name.

My only issue with it is that it's very difficult to sharpen. The colour stick doesn't seem to quite meet its wooden surroundings, so if it is sharp it is precariously long. A great trick to ensure I use it up quickly. Perhaps I need to buy one of their sharpeners. 

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Travel Tuesday: St Johann im Pongau

Zoe and I went skiing in St Johann im Pongau this Easter.

It's a nice little town, less than an hour on the train from Salzburg and with good transport links - buses and so on - if, like us, you're not going to bother hiring a car when you're spending most of the week on the piste.

We stayed just outside the town in a place called Alpendorf, in the very charming and very lovely Bergkristall apartments. There were epic views across the valley from our balcony and, because it was spring, we were able to spend some time sunning ourselves out there.

It was a very quiet place (I was pleased, Zoe less so) and the space was big and comfortable, with plenty of hot water and good heating. The only drawback was that it was up a long and steep hill, but there was a free ski bus down and up, which was good.

The skiing was quite good, also.

There were lots of smallish slopes that we could bash around on for most of the day and the snow was holding quite well, although best in the morning, as usual. I think my ski triumph of the week was really going for it down a black run, catching an edge, falling over and losing a ski and then skidding a further 40m or so on my back with my feet in the air. A couple of small children picked up my lost equipment and brought it down for me. Humbling. I did check my Snowtracks though and I had apparently been doing 70km/hour when I stacked it, so I am not too unhappy about being shamed by a couple of small children when I could have ended up in traction.

This ski area links up across a massive cross-valley cable car. We went over one day. It took us until lunchtime to get to the top of the opposite mountain, and then a very long time to get back, in the heavy spring snow. Zoe was a real trooper but I think I nearly broke her that day.

Still smiling here so that must have not been the day of the cross-valley cable car. Or it must have been before it. Getting down there was horrible.

This was my favourite piste, but I didn't find it until the last day. It was a black run but only little and the chairlift over the top was short, which meant I could keep going round and round. 

Happy times. Did I mention I love skiing?

I would go back to this resort, but I think it would be better earlier in the season. There's quite a lot to ski that we couldn't ski because it was so late in April and so warm. We only ended up skiing for four days out of the six (Zoe three - I toughed it out on a zero visibility day so I could ski with my former colleagues, who just happened to be there with my old school, Deirdre-Chambers-what-a-coincidence) but there were lots of other things to do locally. More on that at a later date.

Weekend WIP (sort of FO)

It's exciting! I've finally done it!

These are the last hexagons-from-single-skeins and they are finally done! I'm now up to 40 pinwheels with an estimated 90 to go, so I am almost a third of the way through. Well, plus sewing up and edging and stuff.

(Yes, I know it is Tuesday. Having stubbornly not worked for the first three weekends of term, I binged like a fat girl on a diet and worked Friday night, Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, and I'm not even sorry about it. So not much knitting happened apart from at knitting group and I had to finish the last one during the Dr Foster finale tonight.)

Monday 2 October 2017

Blue Monday

Another blue Monday, another Galapagos shot. 

This one features several frigate birds, who can grow very large. The males have big red pouches in their throats that they use for attracting lady birds at mating time. I tried to capture one in its nest but was not completely successful. Still, you'll get the gist.