Wednesday 27 December 2017

2017: Part 1

January was a fairly quiet month. We had some good training at school at the start - the second part of some training I'd had at my old school back in 2012. This January I'm going to Birmingham to do the third part. It has worked out well for me.

I went to London for an exam board awards day and a geeky history meet up, which both happened to fall on the same day. Essentially my only picture from January is the sushi I ate in the hotel room bed whilst watching Sex and the City on my iPad. I ordered too much sushi, as per.

I had my first big exam board meeting. It lasted for four days and was very instructive. Best of all, the meeting took place in the basement of the hotel I was staying at, so I rocked up in my slippers every day. There was one afternoon off that I spent browsing the paper stocks in Paperchase. I had really good meals with Sarah, an old friend from school, at a wine bar off the Strand, and Sib and his girlfriend in a Peruvian restaurant in Soho.

At some point in the following week my temp department member quit, with three days' notice. This wasn't really a surprise but it did sting since she rang her agency and asked them to email me to break the news, even though I was sitting in the next room. But, ah well. We did advertise her job before I told her we were going to. Learned a lot from this one. 

Surprise skiing! A colleague couldn't make it on the ski trip at the last minute, so I ended up taking her place. I forgot how good skiing in February half term is. Hopefully I will be doing it again soon.

Since it was the height of the season, there were ski shows in the evenings. Quite the experience.

I went to London for a history conference and stayed for more exam meetings.


March was pretty quiet, as far as I can remember. I've even trawled back through social media to see if I was posting anything but it all seems to be reading books and having baths and teaching. I was pretty tired after the long February. I see that the second series of the Last Kingdom was on and I was enjoying that, and that I was eagerly anticipating April.


More skiing! I went to St Johann im Pongau with Zoe. We 'bumped into' my old school on their trip (what a coincidence), toured Salzburg and had an Austrian spa experience.

I hit my best speed ever, according to SkiTracks - 70.7km per hour. I fell over a split second later and did the last 40m on my back. Some small children picked up my lost ski and poles and brought them down for me. A humbling experience.

We had fun on this gondola, having coming across the #nakedgondy tag on Instagram. Nothing I can share anywhere on the internet, of course, but it proved a good way to cool down after a hot day of skiing.

Mr Z and I tried our hand at camping, in Llanthony. It was a field with a tap. We enjoyed ourselves but I decided I might now have reached an age where sleeping directly on the ground is not desirable.

It was our 5th anniversary in the bunkhouse at Wonderwool. For the first time, Wonderwool fell at the end of the Easter holidays so Mr Z dropped me off there after camping and I got a lift back. No driving involved, though I did sort of miss seeing twilight in the Brecons on the way over.

I did a felting workshop this year and made a little sheep. Cecil. I think I called him Cecil.

At the end of the month I went to hear David Starkey lecture on Henry VIII, with April and Lizzy. I am not a big Starkey fan but he was very engaging in person: slightly self-deprecating and lots of funny asides.


Lizzy and I went to the gin festival, as per usual.

At the end of the month I went to see Jen in Sheffield for the bank holiday weekend, and we went to the gin festival there. It was a bit less formally organised than the Bristol version and we ended up, after a few cocktails in town, going back to Jen's with a bottle of gin, ordering a Chinese and playing 'Guess the song' as we got progressively drunker. It was a very enjoyable evening, all things considered.


First June since 2004 that I wasn't doing my usual marking gig. I did some other marking instead, but it was much less pressured and so I felt like June was the slack-off month it seems to be for all other teachers.

There was crazy election fever. The graffiti artists of the Bear Pit went into overdrive.

Mr Z and I went to see Elbow in concert at Westonbirt Arboretum.

There was a birthday gin night for Lizzy.

I took some students to a very wet Chalke Valley History Festival, with Charlotte, history department helper. We heard some lectures and I stalked Susannah Lipscomb until she had a picture taken with me...well, two actually, because the first one was blurry. That's why she looks less smiley in the second one. I had already delayed her enough.

At the end of that week, I was off to Malaga with 32 excitable students. Glorious. Four days of sunshine, art galleries, ice cream, the Alhambra and fun.

Photo bombing the school selfie at the Alhambra. It may have been the most beautiful place I've ever been.

An anecdote. As well as being official photographer for this trip, I was also official first aider, and in charge of all three first aid kits which our highly strung lead teacher had asked to bring. On the day we went to the Alhambra, I had a terrible problem with a contact lens, probably caused by the fact that I'd stored my solution in a shower gel bottle and it had become soapy. I was OK for half the day (I had soaked the lens in saline for 24 hours) but then it started giving me problems and in the end I took it out and threw it away, and flushed with eye drops. My eye was still very unhappy. I couldn't keep it open and it was painful whenever it moved. I made it back to the bus and promptly went to sleep (years of ski trip training) and when I woke up, it was mercifully better. However, in my hypochondriac state, I left the big first aid kit on the coach.

I came clean to the guide, Ignacio, the next day. Our lead teacher is very highly strung, did I mention, and I didn't want to tell her until I'd made all possible attempts to get it back, especially since I still had two first aid kits if anybody needed anything. Ignacio was very sympathetic. I could tell he thought I might end up getting maimed or possibly fired by the lead teacher and having to walk back to Britain. After several phone calls, after each of which Ignacio told me the bus company definitely didn't have it, it was found to be still on the coach and he went to fetch it for me personally and returned it to the hotel for the morning of our departure. Hero.

I did eventually tell the lead teacher - once we'd got back to England.

Part 2 to follow.

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