Saturday 29 September 2018

Weeknote: 29/9

I haven't done much. I have added a few rows to the sleeve and was pleasantly surprised to find I am quite close to being ready to shape the sleeve cap. It would be great to be finished with it before October half term, so I can start something brand new in my week off.

Going to:
I went to the new Bristol Museum autumn exhibits private viewing on Thursday night with my friend Elaine from work. It was Japanese prints (Elaine used to live in Japan), African fabrics and clowns. Quite an eclectic mixture. Must as when I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A, I was shamed to realise I've never properly been in to the museum to look around. Something to do this winter.

Cardiff, to buy new sofas. Arriving some time in November, with any luck. We got double recliners. I'm so excited about them - when we recline them together it'll like having a sit-up bed in the living room. We had to go to Cardiff because we'd exhausted all the sofa shops in Bristol (and their sales assistants).

They're not this colour. I love this colour but it wouldn't have been right for the floor. Everything has to match the floor now.

I'm taking a beginners' ballet course at the moment, so we've been learning various ballet steps with names I haven't a hope of spelling. There was one called a frappe, which seems to involve kicking the floor. This seems unwise; surely you will always come off worse? Anyway, I thought I should go to beginners because I haven't done any ballet in *coughcough* years so I thought I wouldn't remember anything, but it turns out - I remember a lot. Bit like my experience with skiing. Unfortunately my big calves don't want me to turn my feet out and I'm not very good at doing the arms at the same time as the legs, so beginners is probably the best place for me, even though I am a little bit bored.

I've upped my game a bit at work this week, a result of having done that training in the Welsh school last week - it's made me think a bit harder about my lessons. I had my GCSE students making paper boats and mapping journeys. It was fun. Their resulting essays were good, too. Also the teaching assistant taught me the proper way of making paper boats. Mine were apparently just hats.

Entertained by:
Not much TV watching has happened, though I did manage Bake Off. I'm still being haunted by exam work. I keep thinking it's going to finish and then it just doesn't. I am nearly a week late with the last batch. I am so desperately looking forward to not having any more to do.

I've been trying to read some more, but that hasn't happened either. Tiny violin for Sally.

We're having a Humanities team Bake Off and I did dessert week. I made this:

It's an apple pie cheesecake. I saw the idea on Tasty but then went with my usual cheesecake recipe with a Biscoff base (this was a stroke of genius) and made up the apple topping, since they used inferior Granny Smiths because Americans don't have Bramleys, poor them. It was quite nice but the cheesecake texture was a bit weird. Probably a result of basically being baked twice.

A cold has been chasing me all week. It's nearly got me. I have been a bit croaky and a bit spacy, especially today (it's Friday....I'm going to Oxford for the day tomorrow. But for the sake of routine, I'm pretending it's Saturday.) I'm hoping that it buggers off soon.

Friday 28 September 2018

Weekend WIP

A progress photo of the knitting that I forgot to post last weekend.

I'm really getting there. Slowly. I am very motivated by the cold snap at the beginning of this week: it will soon be the right temperature for snuggly angora.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Scenes from the Classroom #35

I published another book in the summer holidays. This one was about teaching and I wrote it all by myself - hence the dearth of blog posts at the start of the year. It's weird seeing it in print and even weirder when people talk to me about it. A picture of it made it onto the head's opening slide for the year, alongside announcements of two engagements and a birth. I did chuckle.

The students don't know about it, other than my year 13s, who I happened to be teaching the day I discovered it was on Amazon, but today my year 10 class were asking about the textbook they're working from (which I also wrote) and I couldn't resist showing them the new one on the board. I let them flick through my copy and they were wildly excited to see excerpts from my lesson slides and pictures of tasks completed similar to the ones they do. 'PAPER PEOPLE! THERE ARE PAPER PEOPLE IN HERE!!' Er, yes, it is a book about how I teach you's not that surprising.

The nicest bit though was when one of them said, 'Miss, I hope you realise we are incredibly proud of you,' and the whole class burst into applause. So lovely. I didn't know where to put myself.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Selfie Sunday

I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A at the start of this month and was most taken with her braided and bescarfed hairstyles. A bit much for work, though, I feared. Then, this week, the PSHE slides were all about Frida, so I took the plunge and did this on Monday. It was stupidly easy and got me lots of compliments, except that when I got home, Mr Z said he was going to ask why I had a dishcloth on my head....

I wore it with a smarter scarf the next day, tied at the back, which worked better I think.

Happy Sunday, all.

Saturday 22 September 2018

Weeknote: 22/9

This week I have been...

The blue sleeve continues. I am nearly finished with the increases, which means I am nearly up to the cap. I got quite excited today, thinking that the end might be in sight. My FO count for the year is dismal, though, so giving 2018's form, I will probably finish it in December.

Going to:
On Wednesday I trekked north for five hours, after a very fraught journey to the train station in the rain that involved an Uber u-turning metres before picking us up, the heavens opening, a begging conversation with the behaviour manager who was just driving off for the day, some use of the knowledge of the backstreets around Temple Meads I've built up since knitting group moved to the vicinity, and a short run. We barely made it, but since it was the last train of the day that would have got us there on time, thankfully we did.

I was travelling, with my colleague C, to Llandudno to intern with an organisation doing some training in a school there. I did the course for this training in January and this is the final stage of that. The trainers were inspiring and the staff enthusiastic and energetic, so it was already off to a good start, but what I didn't anticipate was how outrageously beautiful the north Wales coast is. Looooooook....

We finish the training in November, so I have already booked to go back to the same B&B, in the same bedroom with the seaview, but for an extra night this time, since the training is on a Monday. I'm going up on the Saturday. The train away revealed a wealth of pretty places I could visit; I might have to actually go back for a holiday some time. Give me a pebbly beach in driving rain any day. Reminds me of basically my entire childhood.

I've been reading a book about black people living in Tudor England, which is very interesting, both from a history point of view and thinking about how we construct history and what records we have available to us.

Entertained by:
There's some cracking TV on at the moment. I have mostly been enjoying Bodyguard (who hasn't?), Press (Ben Chaplin is so good and in general it is so darkly funny I wish it was on several times a week) and Killing Eve (Sandra Oh ordered a G&T for breakfast in tonight's episode, confirming that this is basically written for me). I've also been watching Bake Off and Black Earth Rising, though I'm behind with both, and I have episodes of Trust and the new Princess Margaret series waiting for me to get to them. And Strictly is back.

But the re-marks have continued to roll in, so there hasn't been too much time for TV watching. I was nostalgically remembering my former life this week as we cleared out the old CDs and DVDs and I came across a boot-legged copy of every season of Teachers. I remember binge-watching it across a series of holidays while I played Zoo Tycoon on my laptop, cuddled up in my armchair for days at a time. That never happens now. At best I can manage a couple of hours before a deadline levers me out of my bum groove and back to my desk.

Accomplished, but a bit jaded. I was asked to keynote at a well-established and popular history conference this week, which prompted a couple more people to ask me how I get asked to do such things. It's always awkward when people ask that because I don't think anybody wants to know the answer. It's at least ten years of never saying no, not missing deadlines even if it means working on holiday, taking work into hospital with you, doing certain jobs for much less than you think they're worth, doing other jobs that are mind-numbingly boring because you hope they'll lead to better things, being super-accommodating and basically giving up any semblance of work-life balance in favour of a work-work balance, where the first work is your teaching job and the second work is everything else. There was also, I think, a fair amount of being in the right place at the right time that helped me considerably. Do you think people want to hear that? I don't think they do, and I'm afraid to say it anyway, for fear of seeming to suggest that I work harder than they do.

It was also interesting to be in the position of intern trainer. I have run quite a lot of training now, but it's all been specific to my subject. It was interesting going back to the bottom again, and offering training that wasn't subject specific. I was quite out of my depth. The trainer I was shadowing wrote the entire training package and has been delivering it for at least a decade. It was humbling to watch him work and I'll never be as good as he is at it (unless they let me rewrite the training pack, anyway). However, he was very complimentary about the sections I delivered and that was nice to hear.

Incidentally, I had to pay all my own expenses to intern. Essentially I was paying to train other people (hence I stayed at the B&B with the sea view and not the Premier Inn with the rest of the trainers - if I'm paying, I'm getting a sea view). If I get picked to go out and deliver the training in the future, they will pay me back then. This is the sort of thing I mean: playing the long game. It's unpalatable.

Now I'm counting forward in weekends until the next time I don't have a deadline. I'm into December. The box sets might have to wait a bit longer.

A rare moment of reflection. Please expect the usual diet of selfies and knitting pictures to resume tomorrow. I've got a particularly good selfie to share.

Monday 17 September 2018

Blue Monday

Guys, I might be in trouble. There are not enough days left in 2018 to get to 127 posts for the year; but I really don't want to miss it this year, because it would be 10 years of 127 posts a year and then that would be a thing. There might be some double post days coming up. I didn't really anticipate how busy I was going to be. I thought that the exam board work might pay enough for me to give up teaching, and I was right, but it never occurred to me that that was because it's basically a second full time job, even if it is only for part of the year. I think I managed 10 days clear of it over the summer, but I was away and couldn't blog.

But anyway, enough of that whinging, as the post it on my monitor reminds me daily - I wanted the job. In short, hopefully you will find me chatty over the next few months but hopefully not too chatty.

Here's a fruit of my summer holiday. Zoe and I went to Montpellier and visited Nimes. It has a sky the colour of jeans, which was fitting, because the city claims denim as its invention (de Nimes...). I loved this statue.

She actually had what looked like the Parthenon on her head, which, it turned out, is a representation of the Roman ruins of the town, since the figure is an allegory of Nimes. Pretty cool.