Thursday 30 November 2017

Throwback Thursday

I've got to stop dipping into my old diaries when I'm looking for a TBT post. They distract me for hours and are almost never anything I can cope with sharing.

Instead, I scoured through some old pictures and came across this, which is the class picture from our sixth form ball, in 1996. It wasn't a prom. We didn't use that word. And we didn't even have a Y11 version.

Some notables: on the right end of the front row, Caroline, and standing behind her, Beccy, in a dress her mum made for her (still love it). They were among my besties and we'd gone together. Third from the left in the teacher row, my long-suffering Latin teacher ("sloppy work") and, on her left, my endlessly patient, eternally cheerful and super-supportive form tutor, who Mother Hand still occasionally sees on the choir circuit in Portsmouth. The bearded man with glasses was my politics teacher.

This was a fun night but I was practically delirious. I'd suffered extreme sunburn the day before; flown back from Tenerife on one of those awful middle-of-the-night package holiday flights; got a taxi home from the airport to change and then on to school for the last day (I think my school is the only one that expected its leaver students to go back in for the last day of the school year); handed out yearbooks; been told off by the headteacher for not censoring the yearbooks (no faculty support = no censorship, was my point of view); had a laugh about how pointless the telling off was, coming as it did after I had left the school; got into this outfit and rushed off to the Holiday Inn. I was overtired and emotional and nearly burst into tears when Beccy's boyfriend made a mildly inappropriate comment. Luckily my boyfriend turned up later and we all got drunk and had lots of fun.

I think I might still have that dress somewhere. It was fabulously slinky.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Today I wish I was...

I was back in Bath for the second round of Christmas markets tonight, although they were all closing, so not much market-ing was done. However, I did get a couple of pictures, unlike last week.

Very festive.

A political message in the local M&S.

I am feeling very festive and wishing to be more Christmassy this week. I am excited about the carol services, getting the decorations out, doing some shopping and seeing lots of people. Also about getting dressed up and going out to drink festively. This isn't really wishful thinking because it is all on the way, and I don't particularly want to speed it up because it is such a fun time of year. I think I've been missing this for a couple of years because of being so flipping busy with a million non-work work projects, so hopefully this year I can take my time and enjoy it.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Travel Tuesday

It would be impossible to write a blog about the Galapagos that did it justice. I think it was my perfect holiday location. Since it's late I'm not even going to try; I'm just going to share another GoPro video, which doesn't quite have the surprise factor of last week's but is probably my favourite.

I'd swum off a bit from the crowd: every time a sea lion showed up to play, everyone crowded around trying to take a selfie with it and I was a bit bored of that by this point, so I was off exploring by myself. That meant I was the only person to see this.

The quality isn't great; there's my surprised, 'OH!' at the start when I realised what I was looking at; and you have to put up with my, 'IS THIS THING DEFINITELY ON?!!??!!' face at the end, but that is still a video of a marine iguana being harassed by a sea lion on the shore of Los Lobos island. Yes, Blue Planet, I am available for your third series.

Monday 27 November 2017

Blue Monday

It was such a hot, hot day, the day we went to the beach in Malaga, on the school trip in July. A hot, sunny, balmy day, where we lay under palm trees in the breeze and tried to avoid sunburn and I 'impressed' the students by knowing the words to a Tinie Tempah song.

November me is jealous of July me.

Smug July me. I'm glad you had a swollen eye. It serves you right for soaking your contact lens in soap and then trying to wear it.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Weekend FO

So excited to finally have a FO post!

Pattern: Serenity by Rachel Booker
Yarn: Fivemoons Luna 4-ply, 5 mini skeins
Needle: 4mm
Mods: This pattern was very easy for modifications and I adjusted the width of my stripes according to how much I had of each colour. I knitted a double wide lace panel in the first colour, then a one and a half times repeat in the next two; then I knitted one lace panel in colour four, followed by a panel and a half (roughly) in the last colour, using a lace bind off.

It needs a bloody good block, but I am pleased with how it looks, and with how quickly it went.

Selfie Sunday

Something from the summer today. This was our first evening on the Galapagos Islands. We'd been snorkelling in Darwin Bay and were walking back to the hotel, and came across all the sea lions hauled out on the beach, getting warm.

It was so exciting!

Saturday 25 November 2017

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Debbie really does move in an impressive way. I know she's a trained dancer and she probably weighs very little, but this dance was just spectacular. I was also quite impressed that she talked about how hard she has been working. It must be exhausting. And she looks so chic, all in black.

Special mention for Joe's quickstep. I did love that too.

Weeknote: 26/11

I'm very close to being finished with Mother Hand's shawl. I have one more row and then the bind off. I am hopeful that I might finish it tomorrow, or at least this week.

Going to:
I went to see the English National Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet on Tuesday. It was stunning, of course. Amazing dancing and quite amusing choreography in parts. And, of course, there was a full, enormous orchestra, which made it even better.
Thursday night was the opening of Bath Christmas Markets, so I went down there, as is tradition. Most of my old colleagues let me down by not coming too, but I did catch up with Paul and Tom, who arrived just in time to catch me trying a gin sample at the Bath Gin shed. Timing. We went for dinner at the Stable after we'd wandered around the markets until we were bored. I bought some Christmas presents, some more glass robins (personal obsession) and the obligatory Christmas pudding. Oh, and some gin of course.
I caught up with my old friend Aliboo today. I haven't seen much of her for a few years and it was lovely to natter for a few hours and hear all her news.

Not much learning has happened this week. I've marked all my books and entered all my data, so I've got the decks cleared for the year 11 mock papers, but there hasn't been much time for any personal learning.

Obsessed with:
Trying to get our home into some sort of order. Now the decorating has finished, we have started to move things back to where they came from, but the problem is that we don't have the shelving we used to and we don't necessarily want all of the objet that were on them. I'm trying to throw out as much as possible. I'd like an uncluttered Christmas.

Entertained by:
Snowfall. I've caught up now. It's quite depressing but also compelling.

It's been an interesting week for emotions. Everybody seems to be feeling short-tempered, so there's not a great deal of patience out there. I found someone else in yoga particularly annoying on Wednesday (though thankfully I refrained from telling him off) and the students have been snippy and over-sensitive, as have we. I am hoping everyone will be slightly more patient next week, myself included, since we will be another week closer to Christmas.

Friday 24 November 2017

Fave Friday

I mentioned before that I enjoy country music more the older I get. My interest in Nashville (the TV series) might have waned quickly but country stations are still my first choice when driving around the States. It was quite comforting to find that the same old cliches are still doing the rounds in the charts when we were visiting in October.

I quite like the video, too. Apparently Gwen Stefani's kids are in it, because he's dating her. Yes, I went and read American gossip websites about him and Miranda Lambert (country star, now ex wife) and ended up reading far too much.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Throwback Thursday

It was Bath Christmas Markets opening night tonight. I like to go every year. Usually there's a big crowd of my (now ex) colleagues because it's inset day for them tomorrow; this year they were all a bit of a let-down, but I did get to have dinner with Paul and Tom, two of my faces who are both now SLT and therefore can't really hang out with big crowds of their staff anymore.

We were thinking back to year 1 of this tradition, which was 2014, when we also went wine tasting for a leaving do.

It was a really fun night, though it has merged in my head with a meal out we had for Tutt leaving, which involved a particularly epic picture of everyone standing on some steps and J holding hands with K in the front of the picture, while J's wife stood behind. Completely random, and neither of them even noticed until after the picture was shown around. Very funny memories. When we went back wine tasting for my leaving do, they re-enacted it.

I do miss hanging out with this group of friends, but it's nice to look back fondly.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Strictly Movie Week: My Dance of the Night

I know this was some weeks ago now but I am only just getting round to watching the earliest episodes (they're so long!) and I am quite missing Aston and Janette. Janette is my favourite, so perfect for #womancrushWednesday too. She is always so funny in the Claudatorium and she just exudes positivity all the time.

They're so cute! Like little pocket pals. I really enjoyed the closing dance to Stayin Alive, too, but this was just perfect.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Travel Tuesday: Bayeux

Last summer, Tutt and I had a couple of day trips to Bayeux. I was super excited to see the Tapestry. No pictures, obviously, but it was amazing to see it in the cloth, so to speak. I can't believe it has survived so well for so long. It was a bit frustrating to be herded through at someone else's pace; I would have preferred having time to pore over the most important scenes for minutes, rather than seconds, but then perhaps the summer holidays are not the best time for this.

Bayeux town was very pretty.

I had some kind of Normandy take on a croque monsieur for lunch. It included sausage and apple, and a big slice of melted cheese.

After that, we went off to the D-day museum. It was a history teachers' paradise. So much information, really well laid out and informative. After that, we had a wander around the cemetery.

I'm not that into this sort of dark tourism, but I found the memorials very moving.

An excellent day out. I'm not quite sure how I managed to fool Tutt into going to two History things on the same day, but I mark it as a triumph of 2016.

Monday 20 November 2017

Blue Monday

A break from gratuitous shots of the sea and the sky this week. Over the summer I visited Durham for a teacher conference based at the university, which was excellent and, even better, afforded me the opportunity to (a) visit Durham, where I had never been before and (b) get to feel like a student again. I also visited their excellent Oriental museum which I can highly recommend. This beauty is from there:

It is a window screen in a Moorish design. I wish I had taken a picture of the accompanying information because I'm sure there was something about the spacing representing something, but I have forgotten. It reminded me of the conversation I had with Ignacio, the guide on the school trip to Spain, when we went to the Alhambra and saw similar screens. He waved his hand at them airily - 'Moorish, you see,' he said, 'because the Muslims prefer nobody looking in. You can always tell the Christian modifications - huge windows. The Moors were more private.'

I think I prefer this. This is way more beautiful than a net curtain. Just saying.

GoPro video of the summer

I had a bit of spare time this evening, so I finally got round to copying the pictures and videos I made on the GoPro when I was in the Galapagos. The pictures aren't up to much....definitely time for a new GoPro (what a pity). The videos are great, though. Here's my favourite.

We were warned they liked to do this before we got off the boat, so it wasn't wholly unexpected. Really cool!

Sunday 19 November 2017

Weekend WIP

Progress has been swift on this shawl for Mother Hand. I'm into the lace of the fourth colour now.

Eight more rows of that colour, then onto the last. I am shortening the lace panels as I go, to account for the extra width. The first one was 16 rows; the second two were 12 rows each, and I ran out of the third purple with about 12 stitches to go, so that was about right. Hopefully I will make eight rows in colour four.

I'm excited to see it off the needles. It's, of course, all squashed up on the needle so I can't get any idea of the scale of it or how it is shaped.

Sunday Selfie

Something family based from Sib's visit yesterday. It was quite drizzly and grey up by the suspension bridge, but the view is always impressive in some way, I think.

Also really excited that it is cold enough again to wear my favourite jumper.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

It was really hard to choose tonight. I loved so many of them! The quickstep is always fun to watch on Blackpool week because you can see the floor flexing as they trot across it; and I loved the Ride of Time salsa too. But I have always loved Strictly Ballroom, and this dance was so good at referencing it. I wish Susan had danced it with a bit more attack - a bit more Fran - but I really enjoyed the performance, regardless.

Weeknote, 18/11

I have added another band to Mother Hand's shawl and started the 4th colour. I am really hopeful of having it finished by her birthday, and I've got two long bus journeys to knit during this week.

Going to:
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, performed by the Bath Light Opera Group at the Theatre Royal in Bath. An ex-colleague was in it, so I went with a bunch of my old colleagues and a bunch of students that I used to teach. Some of them were normal about it. Some of them stared at me, and one asked, 'Do we still need to call you Miss?'
The show was hilarious but very rude. Particularly the ping pong scene. I'm glad those weren't my pupils, but Caroline did remind me that I booked the Berlin trip students into a cabaret that turned out to be basically nude, apart from some very diminutive underwear and some strategically placed masking tape. Touche.
After the show, there was the obligatory visit to the Canary Bar, and the obligatory martini. Delightful.
Knitting group, this morning. It was a bijou crowd, but we had a nice time.
Lunch with Sib. I took him to Bocabar where I ate a pizza the size of a bicycle wheel, and then we went for a drive and a short walk to the suspension bridge. The foliage up there is very autumnal and lovely.

Staff vs sixth form netball taught me that I am better at shooting when I am standing a bit away from the hoop.
How to contour - sort of. I'm not very good at it, but I've been trying to use the new NARS palette and prove myself wrong.

Obsessed with:
Getting the floor done, as mentioned on Wednesday. I just need to start ringing people.

Entertained by:
Priscilla, obviously.
Ugly House to Lovely House, a home improvement programme I can manage to watch, though I do wonder how a builder from Newcastle has come to be doing the luvvie kiss-on-both-cheeks thing.
Snowfall. It is pretty dark but I like it a lot.
Ujima radio. It's a local Bristol station. I have learned some things from them this week too: on Friday there was a good history of hip hop special during my long commute home.

So very tired. On Monday I fell asleep on the sofa for a long hour. On Friday I went to bed at 8.20, after falling asleep on the sofa again, and slept through until the alarm went off at 7.30, whereupon I turned it off, did NOT go to yoga and had another half hour snooze. Everyone seems very tired at present so I will blame it on the dark nights and the general mehness of the weather.
Cold. It has been cold this week. I might have to break out the tights if it continues, though Katt said at knitting group today that it is going to be warm next week. I might make it through another week, then.

Friday 17 November 2017

Fave Friday

It has been a couple of years now since I stumbled into Kiehl's and impulse-purchased some lovely skin care. I've ditched the day serum now in favour of something that feels a bit less plasticky, but when they provided me with a generous sample of this at the same time, I became a fan very quickly. I used it during my holiday to Berlin that October and found it to be very soothing, and the scent is soporific to boot. A good combination.

I have recently finished the first bottle, after 18 months; that's not to say it lasted that long, because I do go through phases of not using it, and it doesn't always make it into my holiday washbag due to it being quite heavy and made of glass. However, a little really did go a long way and I think it makes my skin look sleeker the morning after I use it. Only a good thing, surely.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Throwback Thursday

Bear with me if I've told this one before.

When I was a brand new teacher, my childhood cat came to live with us. She had a variety of medical issues that required us to dose her with laxatives and pain pills, and she had to sit on a lap or she would yowl - Mr Z tested this once, she yowled for three hours. In January, she died. I was devastated, having had her in my life since I was 12. I took the day off school to mourn, having discovered her lifeless body curled up on the sofa and realised that, for the first time, she WASN'T just pretending to be asleep when I crept up on her.


I missed a year 11 lesson that day, and shortly after, one of my year 11s approached me about taking on a kitten. "I'd like you to have her, Miss," she said. "You were so sad when your old cat died."

The day I brought her home I was driving a rental car, after someone had driven into the back of me, and I rolled it into the back of another car on a hill because I was too busy looking at her. An auspicious start.

Here we are, getting on for 14 years later. She still likes that chair, but mostly sleeps on the back of it now, where she can catch the heat from the radiator. She's grumpy and almost blind. But she is our mitten.


Wednesday 15 November 2017

Today I wish I was...

...looking at a beautiful herringbone floor. I am obsessed.

The decorating project that Mr Z started in 2011 has finally been completed. We have a full replastered, painted and papered downstairs living space. It looks lovely. There are only two things left: sorting out the curtains (helloooo, John Lewis curtain department) and fixing up the floor. I have decided this is the floor for me. Maybe even in this colour.

I have been eyeing up the original flooring in the old block at school. Anybody got a crowbar they'd like to lend me?

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Travel Tuesday: Halong Bay

As part of our trip to Vietnam last summer, Tutt and I went on an overnight cruise around Halong Bay. I hadn't really heard of it before but Tutt, a fan of Top Gear, had seen the special where they turn their cars into watercraft and was keen to see it in person, so we included it in our itinerary.

It was a very swish boat.

We boarded around lunchtime and were swiftly whisked off into the other-worldly landscape. It is truly odd: huge limestone chunks jutting up out of emerald green water, usually with a bunch of birds sitting on them and staring. All different shapes and sizes, and seemingly at complete random. While I remember enough geology to know why they look like this, I've never really been satisfied with why it happens so randomly. Why did these chunks survive the weathering, I wonder.


We sat on this balcony after our multi-course fish banquet and Tutt taught me cribbage. I am a bad loser and she kept remembering rules she hadn't told me which only made me a worse loser, but we had fun and I didn't throw her overboard. The next morning, we woke up to this.

We were hustled onto little boats and taken around a floating village, wearing these hats to protect from the extremely strong sun. It was a bit like going on a camel ride in a Bedouin village - awkwardly touristy - but I loved floating around the village. What an interesting place it must be to live. Terrible wifi though, I'm sure.

Afterwards we had some beach time. Deliciously welcome after all the heat and humidity.

I can recommend going: it is something to behold. The cruise was quite touristy but my attitude to that is always - well, I am a tourist.

Monday 13 November 2017

Blue Monday

Cusco. A sky so blue that it shows up all the specks on the camera lens...

Here is the Inca in context. Lovely fountain in the Plaza de Armas, which is (as far as I could tell) the Cusco equivalent of Leicester Square.

I have found I am a little too fond of shooting monuments against nothing but sky. Witness, here and here.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Sunday Selfie


I took this in Las Vegas a fortnight ago. Fremont Street and Downtown is lovely to walk around since it has been all regenerated and spruced up. The shoe lit up in glittery splendour after the sun had gone down.

Weekend WIP

I got my knitting mojo back a bit this weekend by casting on a small shawl for Mother Hand for Christmas.

I'm knitting it in a set of Minimoons I picked out at Wonderwool in April. The colours are Drizzle, Lavender, French Lavender, Sweet Violet and Wistful. At the moment I can't quite decide which purple should come last; I'm leaning towards the semi-solid Wistful.

The lace pattern is an 8 row repeat, with an optional 8 row repeat addition for a wider panel. I started off with 16 rows of lace but have cut it back to 12 with the Lavender, to try to ensure I don't run out of yarn. I think I might have enough for 12 rows in the next colour, then 8 for the penultimate and maybe we'll see about the final colour.

It's knitting up quickly and easily and I'm cheerful, thinking about Mother Hand wearing it after Christmas. The scarves I've knitted for her so far have been fun fur or Big Softee, since I have not been a huge fan of scarf knitting, so this will be a bit of a departure. She does like a bit of fun fur, though.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

I'm not usually a big waltz fan but I thought Gemma and Aljaz did a great job this week. The spinning! No wonder they just finished in a hug: I think I would have been sick on the floor. I was sad for them that they didn't get higher marks.

Big fan of the Charleston too, of course. That lift at the end was epic. Perhaps I'll have to do a blog post of just the Charlestons at some point.

Weeknote, 11/11

I have got as far as putting the stitches for the back of the angora jumper onto a needle, but I've lost interest again; so today I cast on a new shawl to give to Mother Hand for Christmas.

Going to:
It's been a bit of an indoors week. I went to bikram twice, and I had a parents' evening one night. So, not much to report on this front.

That I am not very good at catching a netball and it's best if I stay in defence - at staff vs sixth form netball on Friday.
About A-level politics - we're offering it as a new option next year so I attended an online training about it.

Obsessed with:
Wearing my new blue ombre stripe leggings at aforementioned netball.
The NARS Man Ray make up collection, since I saw a review pop up on YouTube. I hotfooted it out of parents' evening so I could buy some of it before House of Fraser shut on Thursday. It was an unnecessary purchase, particularly in light of the advent calendar, but so. pretty. Now must actually wear it.

Entertained by:
I caught up on Gunpowder this week, which was entertaining although not captivating. I read a review that said it was pro-Catholic because all the Catholics in it were gorgeous, while the Protestants weren't; I thought it was quite anti-Catholic, though, because there was no suggestion of them being set up.

Rested, after a fairly easy work week, a long night's sleep and a long nap today. Although slightly disconcerted by last night's dream, in which I was meant to be delivering two large presentations (one of which is a real thing I have to deliver in July) and hadn't planned either. Probably a sign I should spend part of tomorrow getting on with some non-work work.

Friday 10 November 2017

Fave Friday

It is with find nostalgia that I remember the advent calendars of my youth. I am old enough to remember the ones that were just a picture behind a window. I was excited every day to find out what was going to be there. When I got one with glitter on it - even better!

At some point in my childhood chocolate advent calendars became A Thing. Now everybody thinks of advent calendars as made of chocolate and, more than any other Christmas tradition, the loss of this makes me really quite sad. There's surely enough chocolate around at Christmas without having to scoff a small piece every day leading up to it.

I mourn the loss of my tradition. But then some genius came up with the idea of the adult, luxury advent calendar, and I am on board with it - not really because it is a countdown to the festive fun, but because it is a treat every day. You might remember that a few years ago I splurged some of my marking money on a gin version; I've still got some of the miniatures, though, because I only got about halfway through before I started to worry what drinking gin every day was doing to my face (it made me very rosy).

This week, I found an extra payment from the exam board that I'd forgotten was coming, so I spent it on this.

The Clarins advent calendar. Not a great picture, but I am trying to avoid the website too much because there's a list and picture of the contents (??!!) and I want it to be a surprise. It wasn't eye-watering, like the one I lust over from Liberty most years, but this is a big step away from the picture only ones of my youth, even when they had glitter.

I'm looking forward to treating myself daily: something that I find very important in the dog days of term, when everything is so busy and sleep is in short supply. Also, I ordered it online and it came with seven free samples, a cosmetics purse, and some sort of loyalty points which mean that the next tube of cleanser I buy will cost me nothing. So basically, I saved money by buying this.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Throwback Thursday

I had a good rummage for a diary entry for tonight. It went on for far too long and now it is far too late, but thankfully tomorrow is Friday. I didn't find anything much of interest. 1994 is the best diary but I was deep in lurve with my first boyfriend at this point in 1994 and some of that stuff is so excruciating I can barely read it myself, let alone share it.

I did, however, find all my A-level Latin books lurking at the back of the drawer, and one of them turned up this gem of feedback, roughly 22 years ago.

I have taken a special photograph of the top section, just in case you can't see it, because it's gold.


Also, a perfect find on a day when I've had to have conversations with parents about lazy year 13s. I was that lazy year 13. It mostly worked out OK for me, especially in Latin. I can probably get away with worrying a bit less. 

I'm impressed to see that we were made to go back and redraft our work, and correct the errors. This is a 'new' fad we're loving in teaching at the moment. Not so new. 

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Black and white

There's a challenge going round Facebook at the moment to post a daily black and white photograph. Although I enjoy things like this I am less impressed with Facebook as time passes and always a bit sad that I put things in there and then they're very hard to find again, unlike with this blog. So, I'm sharing my seven photographs here, and contrary to the tyranny of the chain challenge, I'm captioning.

1. The view from my desk. This was when I got to work last Tuesday morning. I can forget seeing daylight at either end of my work day until at least March, now. 
I like my desk spot. I thought everybody would covet the window seat and I would find I'd been moved somewhere else when school actually started. Turns out, it's a very cold place to sit (though the books provide good insulation) so nobody else wants it. Win. 

2. My to-do list pad, a gift from Tutt when she witnessed me writing one on the back of a receipt; my favourite coffee mug, all the way from my favourite coffee shop in Truckee, CA (undoubtedly going to be broken before the end of the year, but I am making myself use it anyway). 

3. My daily perfume choice. It's the Eau Vive version. I got captured by a salesman in Sephora who was trying to hard-sell Mr Z on some aftershave. I wandered off but he must have recognised I was the better bet so he followed me. That was in 2015. This is my third bottle. I've never used up a whole bottle of anything before...ever. I've still got the perfume my boyfriend bought me for Christmas 1995. 

4. Bristol Harbour from Pero Bridge. On Friday, school took place at the cathedral, so I walked across this way to get there. 

5. Park Street. I went up there for a course I wasn't booked on - best of wins, because I looked good but didn't have to give up my Saturday. 
There are lights up and it looks lovely, though you can't see them well. 

6. View from the back bedroom on Sunday. I love catching rain clouds when they look like this: disintegrating right in front of my eyes. 

7. Bed. Guess who forgot to take their picture on Monday. 

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Travel Tuesday: the Austrian spa experience

No pictures for this one (and you'll understand why by the end).

On one day of our ski holiday in April, Zoe and I decided we would go to an Austrian spa for the day. Zoe found the most highly-recommended local one on Trip Advisor and it was just about doable by public transport, using a combination of the train and a bus, so off we went.

The one we picked was the Erlebnis-Therme Amade. It has a large complex of salt water pools of varying heats, a number of flumes and a separate sauna and wellness centre. We were also able to rent towels, so we didn't have to pinch the towels from the flat we were staying in.

There's a lot on the website about salt-enriched water and how good it is for you, but to begin with it just seemed like any other pool complex in the school holidays. There was a big pool that was mostly outdoors, with lots of jets and showery bits for lounging and chatting; a second big indoor pool with a wave machine, which we didn't try; several hot tubs of varying heats; a very plain pool for actual swimming which had springboards, and a climbing wall erected on one side (very cool and I definitely would have had a go, had there not been an enormous queue); and shedloads of seating for frazzled parents to relax in while their offspring screamed around the place.

We had a good swim and partook of most of the things on this side for about an hour, before deciding to go to the sauna and wellness centre, which made up the other half of the complex. This took some plucking up of courage, because - as the website made clear and as the receptionist stressed to us when we paid - this was a naked area. I wasn't too surprised or concerned about this because, yknow, it's Europe and they're not weird about bodies there. Also, Parpy Jo used to live in Germany and has told me before that they consider sauna-ing in swimwear to be wildly unhygienic.

Luckily we didn't have to strip off as soon as we walked through the doors, so we had a chance to look round. As you might imagine, this side was not crawling with children and was very calm. We found a hot tub, a cold plunge pool, 3 saunas of varying heats, a steam room and some showers inside. Outside was a garden with sun loungers, a sauna with a salt floor, a sauna with a view and some more showers. Best of all, there was a big pool that, like the other one, was half in and half outdoors, with lots of whirly jets and lounging space.

Deep breaths were taken and swimmers were removed. We sat in the empty first sauna for a while, watching the people sauntering around outside in the altogether. Eventually, Zoe said, 'Do you think they can see in?' and we realised that they probably could and we should stop staring.

We tried a few different places before finding a menu of sauna treatments and deciding to go for the Vitamin Bomb one in the sauna with the view. By the time we got in there, there were already about 50 people scattered around, lounging in the breeze from the open windows. Then a man in lederhosen turned up and the windows were quickly shut.

Naturally, not understanding German, I have no idea what he was chatting about, but there were lots of mmmms and nods from the crowd. Then he started ladelling water from a bucket onto the hot coals, which smelled strongly of lemon. Then - the best bit. He picked up a stick with a towel on the end of it and started wafting it around towards the ceiling, to whip down the hot, lemonny air on us, the crowd.

The Austrians approved. Lots of happy sighing. Lots of people putting their arms in the air and tipping their heads back, the better to appreciate it. I, meanwhile, nearly lost it. Avoiding eye contact with Zoe became paramount. Everyone was so earnest, but I found the whole thing so unusual that I could barely contain the giggles. Luckily, it only went on for about 10 minutes, then everyone came out and was served chunks of fruit from a tray by lederhosen man before going back in for the second round, featuring orangey air and wafting from three sizes of towel. I almost had to stop breathing.

Luckily I made it through without shaming all British people by guffawing hugely at the ritual. We made it out and jumped into the cold tub after a very brief shower; I did accidentally squeeze past an elderly man back to back at this point and then regretted it, but I was trying very hard to throw caution to the wind and live in the lemonny, naked moment. After this we went for a long swim around the outdoor pool until it was time for us to catch the bus back, which we did, sniggering to each other like children the whole way.

Shout out to the lady with the eye catching intimate piercing, and the very proud Austrian who was so very proud of himself for most of the afternoon. We found him a bit creepy, but everyone else seemed oblivious. As I'm sure they were, since this sort of thing is totally normal. They must find British people exasperating.

If you can cope with being naked in public, definitely do this. It was the perfect foil to skiing and you're never likely to see any of those people ever again. I slept like the dead that night and my skin was super smooth for days afterwards.

The Bikram Diaries: 10

It has been nearly a year since my last post, which was nearly a year since the one before. I haven't given up, though I have become something of a sporadic visitor. Recently, however, I've been a bit more regularly so I thought I should check in.

I'm now up to class 93. I was pondering in class tonight, what special thing might happen in class number 100, like I will be able to magically get my bum on the floor between my heels or something; then I realised that was very unyoga and I should be thinking about what I can do new in class 93, so I made a huge effort and managed to grab my left foot from the inside during standing bow. I think this might be the first time that has ever happened. I have read back through all my bikram posts and see I managed it once on the right, but that was when I was going more often and I was two years younger. Sigh. I can no longer get my head on my knee and the days of being able to grab both feet are far behind me. But I guess I will get there if I keep going back.

So, hurrah for foot grabbing. I must make an effort to get there twice a week. I managed to go twice while I was staying at Father Hand's. In the first class I went to, the instructor was English. It was surreal and made more so by the fact he was wearing a headset and kept wandering out of the room, but his voice never got any quieter. The second class, the instructor was the same one I had two years ago. He remembered my name, amazingly. He kept turning the fans on, but I was prepared.

There was a terrible moment after class when I chugged half a bottle of water I'd filled from the fountain, only for one of my classmates to say that she'd had to dump hers out because it was blue and tasted bad. They were working on the water pipes. I got into the shower and then had to get out again because I thought I was going to be sick. It passed; I showered; I turned off the water; I projectile vomited, without warning. Thank goodness I was still in the shower, except urgh. I had to do a good clean of the floor with their nice shower gel. But that could have been the rental car. I tipped the rest of my water away and noticed it was indeed faintly blue. I don't want to know what it might have been. I don't seem to have suffered any ill effects.

Exciting times, getting poisoned at the bikram studio.

I also managed to get Sibling to go by visiting his local studio with him, where my familiar Bristol instructor teaches on a Friday night. He enjoyed it more than he thought and he was quite good. He has even been back without me.

New target: get to 100 classes by the end of the year.

Monday 6 November 2017

Blue Monday

I took this one on our San Cristobal day boat trip, of the coastline, with the guano that is so valuable (it also stops the dark rocks from getting so hot that the birds can't sit on them. Clever!)

I like this because it reminds me very much of Capri.