Monday 29 October 2018

Blue Monday

Spotted this blue-ish bench at the Vyne when we visited last week.

There was a lot of beautiful blue sky around today before it got dark at what felt like midday, but I am trying to stick to my pledge. Next weekend is a north Wales coastal weekend though, so my pledge may crumble.

Speaking of that - I booked my tickets to Llandudno so I could stay an extra day, Sunday, and explore the area. Turns out there are no trains in or out of Llandudno station on a Sunday in November. Conwy Castle is only a 70 minute walk away, though. Hopefully it won't be raining.

Sunday 28 October 2018

Selfie Sunday

As I mentioned yesterday, after receiving news that I had an unexpected windfall from the exam board, I went and bought All The Things. Well, mainly some new bed linen, towels and kitchenware from John Lewis. I couldn't walk out of the shop without a pair of these glasses, though. I have enough G&T glasses from the gin festivals I've been to, but I might have to shunt them out in favour of these. So delightful.

They're silvered on the inside too. Looooooook....

I wish they did a martini version.

Weekend WIP

I've made almost three complete Christmas tree cones now.

It's really using up the ball of Cascade. I'm hoping to get six cones in total out of it - one full small and one full medium tree. So far I've knitted the largest base cones for both sizes and I'd say I'm more than halfway through the skein. This is good: I am going to be using up a lot of yarn, it seems.

They are quite addictive little things as my previous blog posts (from 2011, weep) on the topic remind me. I can hardly wait for my 5 hour train journey to Llandudno at the weekend.

Weeknote: 27/10

I've been getting on with some Christmas tree cones. Well, one, to be specific; I thought I'd start with the largest size. I was going to stick with them until the green was used up; the Cascade was the only thing in my stash I hadn't labelled the location of on Ravelry, and of course it was at the very bottom of the chest - the most inaccessible place in my entire stash storage - so I had to make it worth while doing all that digging. Mother Hand has just requested a new purple hat though, and I have the yarn sitting in my stash (in the same place as the Cascade, urgh) and an Ysolda Teague pattern I clearly purchased years ago and never used, so I might cast that on this week.

Going to:
The first three days of the week represented me at probably my most sulky. I nearly cried in frustration during a middle leaders meeting whilst doing a task that I felt was pointless, only realising afterwards that we were probably only doing that task because I'd complained about the way we did it last year. Well done.

On Monday I went and made my 7th blood donors donation. The nurse tested the blood from my finger prick as usual, but wasn't happy with how quickly it sank, so decided to do the second test. 'Oh, it's not coming out...' she said, squeezing my finger harder and harder until, with embarrassing force, it spurted out, all over her arm. This didn't hurt, by the way, so don't be put off if you're thinking about going.

We finished school on Wednesday so on Thursday I went off to north Hampshire to spend a couple of days at a spa with Mother Hand. I managed to score us an excellent break which included all meals and two spa treatments each, and we were meant to be going to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery for a tour, using a voucher Mother Hand bought me for Christmas, but I forgot to book the tour and it was full (duhhhh) so we went to the Vyne instead. It's a National Trust place but also a genuine Tudor house, full of genuine Tudor period features. Henry VIII slept there. I was in my element.

Now I feel rested and relaxed, ready to make the most of my half term. Winner.

Entertained by:
Words can barely express how much I am still loving Killing Eve.

One more episode left. I'll be in north Wales next weekend and the temptation to watch the final episode ahead of time is excruciating. I don't know if I'll be able to wait.

I've also picked up some reading this week, in the form of Travellers in the Third Reich. I started reading it in the summer but the busy past couple of months have put pay to almost all reading. I can highly recommend it as a book: it's a collection of letters, diaries and other written materials from people who visited Germany in the interwar period. I studied travel writing as a form of history at university so I'm finding it particularly enjoyable.

However, I did realise at the end of this week that there is a new Shardlake out and now I am struggling not to buy it and begin reading immediately. They're my favourites. But, if I read it now, how long will I have to wait for the next one?

Increasingly human and increasingly positive. Half term stretches out ahead of me with almost no plans in it. Then it's only six full schools weeks until Christmas.In that time our new sofas will arrive. I've begun booking holiday things for next summer. I had some very good news from the exam board about an overpayment, which it turns out was not, so I've been shopping. I'm going to tidy and clean the house properly today for the first time since my birthday. It's all good.

Now, how can I prepare for next September/October when I will undoubtedly have an equally tough time of it? I never seem to be ready.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Ashley's Charleston was very enjoyable and Stacey was superfierce, but the winner has got to be Faye's jazz dance. I can't stop watching the bit on the toes. You know, that bit on the toes? Amazing.

Monday 22 October 2018

Blue Monday

I'm attempting to find some blue pictures that aren't sky or water but, really, I should be kinder to myself so don't be surprised to see more sky and water coming up over the next few weeks.

Today I trekked along the shortcut back from the pub to the staff car park* last Friday, I came across this cerulean shutter.

I'm not quite sure what they sell when they are open, but I like the cut of their jib.

* no drinks were consumed at the pub but I did find the social interaction mildly intoxicating after so many months of being chained to my desk.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Selfie Sunday

This is feeling-sorry-for-myself-on-Hereford-station-platform a couple of weeks ago, when I'd missed my connection due to a delay and thought I might have to spend the night.

I am also calling it, 'Oh-please-half-term-now-please-please'.

Weekend FO

It's finished!

Pattern: Alice Starmore's Elizabeth I, from Tudor Roses (2013)
Yarn: fivemoons Comet, 40% merino, 40% angora, 20% nylon - nearly 4 skeins (1600m)
Needle: 3mm, 2.75mm
Mods: I knitted it in the round after I'd shaped the curved hems on the body and sleeves. I added extra length to the body and the sleeves.

I was a bit worried it was going to be way too warm to wear, but weirdly it doesn't seem to be so far. It is really snuggly, but not stifling. I assume that's because it's 4-ply; it's the first 4-ply garment I've knitted that I will be getting wear out of, I think. make a start on Catherine Howard...

Saturday 20 October 2018

Weeknote: 20/10

The blue jumper is finally finished! More on that tomorrow. I am delighted that it is done and I can start thinking forward. I pulled out some Cascade and started knitting Christmas tree cones again at knitting group today. I first made some of these back in 2011 and vowed that I would knit a forest of them ready for Christmas 2012. So, that went well. I'm thinking I might spend some time knitting trees, roses and hexagons for a while. I need things that are achievable.

Going to:
There was a good lecture day on the Suffragettes on Monday, that I took students to. Very enjoyable, even if I did stress myself out by driving them there on the minibus.

I went to an excellent lecture on Wednesday night about bronze statues, why they are erected, who pays for them, whether they should remain, etc. It was mainly about a prominent unpopular Bristol statue that I won't name for fear for Google. The audience were teachers, students and a bunch of old men, as usual. I knew we were in trouble when the old man next to me muttered, 'Oh, dear old Gladstone!' when a photograph of a Gladstone statue was shown, and sure enough, the lecture descended into a very sedate slanging match when the presenter said, 'Are there any questions?' and the man in front of me put his hand up immediately, beginning with the words, 'Well *I* think...' #thatisnotaquestion
Some of my students went and I was pleased that they got to see how adults disagree.

I went back to ballet after not going for a while. I have realised that I don't like it because I want it to be exercise whereas it is actually art. This, weirdly, has helped me to enjoy it more. I won't be sorry when the course finishes, though.

Obsessed with:
Trying to get to yoga. I have not managed it. My neck hurts basically all the time now, so it is becoming more urgent. Roll on half term.

See above. HALF TERM NOW PLEASE. The students are all looking a bit dead-eyed too, which makes me feel better. Three more teaching days to go.

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

So hard to choose today! I really loved Ashley's rumba and also Danny's jive was incredible. However, Stacey's samba was the one I wanted to rewind and watch again. I thought she played it really well.

Monday 15 October 2018

Weekend WIP


Excuse the yellow hue of my skin, I'm not jaundiced; I just played with the colours to get the jumper colour as close as possible to its magnificent self and that is what happened to my skin.

I'm mostly delighted with it, though reserving full delight until it's cast off and I can see how wide that boat neck really is. I think I've got three more rounds and then the cast off. The rest of it is an excellent fit, to my relief.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Really tough competition this week, mainly because there wasn't anything I was desperately taken with but there were quite a lot of good dances that I enjoyed. I nearly picked Dr Ranj's paso but I tended to agree with whichever judge it was that said it felt a bit like Janette was placing him and dancing around him - no problem for me, I really love Janette's dancing so I could watch that all day long, but that's not really in the spirit of the thing I guess.

So, I'm picking Charles and Karen's salsa, not least because he has been in the bottom two twice and therefore might go home soon.

I thought they did it better in the dance off, where they nailed that last lift. It must have been a bit of a shock to Charles when Karen adjusted her grip to compensate for the miss on this version.

Really love this song too, which helps.

Selfie Sunday

Going out out.

I finally got those magnetic lashes to stick on my eyes and, although it felt like someone has stuck a gorilla costume on my face whenever I looked in the mirror, I got good compliments on them. Win!

Edited to add: I'm not sure if I ever mentioned these lashes on my blog. In July, when I was chained to my computer for hours a day doing exam work, I bought a steady stream of things that were of questionable use. Jewellery cleaner, one of those whizzy make up brush cleaner spinners, a number of ill-advised playsuits that all went back...I was an online shopping queen. Amazon have recently sent me something asking me if I'm buying for a business, to give you a hint about how often I hit them up.

The magnetic lashes were possibly the craziest purchase. I think I've worn false eyelashes twice in my life before and I was a teenager both times. I don't know why I bought them and I took them everywhere with me in the summer but never quite plucked up the courage to put them on. However, they didn't prove to be too impossible to apply last night and I quite liked them in the end.

Weeknote: 13/10

I achieved my goal of getting the sleeves sewn in and the neckline picked up for the weekend. I'm currently about eight rows away from it being finished, plus a thousand ends that need weaving in, of course.

My thoughts have already turned to my next project and I find myself thinking about knitting some more Christmas trees to decorate the house, now that we finally have the sort of living room where Christmas decorations don't look like something strategically placed to conceal a pile of rubbish.

Going to:
It's been a busy week so I went to ground a bit. No ballet. No yoga. On Thursday I did go to visit a colleague at his school in Wiltshire. I interviewed against him for that job and it was really weird being back at the school for the first time since. No regrets at all, except perhaps for this amazing classroom view (I still think mine is better though).

On Friday it was a half day and I gave a lecture to the PGCE group and went to have a drink with a friend at The Botanist, a lovely bar just off the triangle that you wouldn't know unless you knew. I had some rhubarb and bramley apple gin which was amazing.

Then I popped off to Portsmouth for the rest of the weekend. Mother Hand and I went for a long seafront walk on Saturday afternoon, with lunch at the Tenth Hole.

Then I went out with my old school friends Zoe and Leila and Zoe's sisters and friend for a belated birthday celebration. We crawled the bars of Albert and Palmerston Roads. I was deeply disappointed to have to explain to a barman in a cocktail bar what a martini is (??!!?) but pleased to find an excellent variety of gins available at all of the locations we went to and I sampled them all heartily. Most of my photographs are blurry. This isn't a coincidence.

It was lovely to hang out with these two again after so long. I like to think our 17 year old selves would be proud, though they would doubtless of had some negative things to say about our outfits.

I'm faltering this week, which is why there isn't much more to add to this weeknote. Half term is looming, thank goodness. I have felt like the plates have all been wobbling and threatening to crash all week, so I am looking forward to having a week and a half off to chill out and catch up. I'm going spa-ing with Mother Hand and I've just booked a yoga weekend at the end of November to look forward to. Loading up on the me-time treats.

Friday 12 October 2018

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

I finally managed to watch a full episode of Strictly on Saturday. They're so long at the start of the series that I never manage to catch up if I'm not at home to watch.

I really liked the quickstep from Grease, but it was Kate Silverton as Jessica Rabbit that I wanted to watch again. The way she covered that stumble was masterful. I loved it.

And now I'm back to wondering how I can possibly become famous enough in my current profession to be invited onto Strictly...

Thursday 11 October 2018

Throwback Thursday

This time last year I'd just spent the weekend in Portsmouth doing some lovely bits and pieces. Education conference, history lectures and a wander around some green bits of Winchester with Mother Hand. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and the surroundings were idyllic.

I'd quite like this to be my back garden. Pool steps down to the river. Ideal. 

Monday 8 October 2018

Blue Monday

In the summer, Mr Z and I spent some time in southern Italy. It was hot, hot, hot. Too hot. We spent much of our time indoors in the air conditioning. With hindsight, we should have stayed on the coast, not in a city.

On the last day we drove round the coast a bit and stopped in Otranto for lunch. This is probably where we should have spent the whole holiday. Loved it.

Next year.

Sunday 7 October 2018

Weekend WIP

I posted yesterday that I had almost finished the second sleeve and that I hoped to get it finished and both set in ready for Friday. I'm happy to report that I am well on the way to my goal: I finished the second sleeve earlier today and then spent part of Vanity Fair sewing in the first sleeve, but didn't get far because I obviously had to spend some time breaking my heart over poor Dobbin's predicament as though in this particular adaptation he might end up without Amelia Sedley.

I'm quite looking forward to getting both sleeves sewn in so that I can try it on and attempt to take a better picture of it. It really loses something being photographed: it looks a bit like a crumpled dish rag, I'm afraid. The lighting probably isn't helped. It is much more delightful in real life.

Selfie Sunday

A bit of inception going on this week.

I went into the Tatty Devine shop on a whim while I was in London at the end of the summer holiday. I came out with a rainbow starry necklace and these mirrored leaves, which are light gold in colour, though you can't see it well here. I am enamoured of them.

Saturday 6 October 2018

Weeknote: 6/10

I finally cracked the second sleeve and am onto the sleeve cap. I've got about 40 rows left, I think, then I need to sew them in so I can do the neckline. I've got a train journey to Portsmouth coming up so I'm hoping to get to the neckline point in time for that.

Going to:
On Sunday I had a wander around Stanborough Park with my old friend Stu. I was staying in Herts for the weekend. Driving around it was really weird; I spent a lot of time there in my formative years but never as a driver, so it looked entirely unfamiliar whilst at the same time being very familiar, if that makes sense. It made me think about echoes of people. Are there echoes of me left there still? That makes even less sense!

I stayed with my friend Dawn in Herts. On Sunday night we were going to have a restful evening in with Heathers, but then one of her radiators started a huge and inexplicable leak all over the TV so we had to turn it off. Turns out British Gas installed it less than two weeks ago. Yes, the same British gas whose boiler went pop in our house (and was installed on a combustible backboard, thanks BG) two weeks ago, thanks to their extremely dodgy 'service' plan that doesn't actually involve doing any servicing. I told her our tale of woe as a warning.

Monday was a ski day. I didn't have to be at the ski centre until 10am so I got a decent lie in, too. A whole day of skiing! What a treat. My quads were not happy by the end, though. I was irritated by a teacher from a very, very posh and famous private boarding school who introduced himself by saying that, as a private school trip organiser he wasn't forced to follow the same tough risk assessments that state schools have to. Er, yeah mate, you are on the same course though....and also, I'm glad I don't have any kids going on your trips, with that attitude.

But the skiing was good.

The rest of the week has been quite quiet, really. Just trying to get back on top of the workload. Thursday was brutal but the light is on at the end of the tunnel now. Two and a half weeks to half term.

Entertained by:
Dawn and I saw Six the Musical on Saturday night; it was A. MAZ. ING. I bought the soundtrack on the train away and booked tickets to see it in Southampton as soon as we got home. I know the words to most of the songs now.

I have been loving Killing Eve. I want half the wardrobe, for starters. I always think Jodie Comer seems so familiar and I'm sure I must know her from something other than a supporting role in Dr Foster.

I watched that two-part series about Princess Margaret today, that was on the BBC last month. Very interesting; I hadn't realised she was quite so scandalous. Go Princess M.

Last Saturday was spent in Oxford, workshopping lessons with the author of a book about the lives of black people in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was inspiring to spend the day with geeky like-minded history teachers and I met a few people I have interacted with a lot on Twitter, which is always nice.

I had some after-school training for yet another new exam board role I've picked up, that I now feel I've been mis-sold. The training wasn't very informative. The trainer was snotty about 'unprofessional email addresses' and suggested everybody register a specific gmail account to use for their exam board work. I am fairly sure he meant mine, which is of the same domain as this blog. I might register {exam board name}@{domain} and use that instead. Or I might just quit. It's not my usual exam board and I think they've been underhand about the amount of work the job entails.

A little frantic at the end of the week, but I've had a very chilled out day today and done absolutely no work. Just knitting group, knitting in front of the TV and this blog. Delightful.

Monday 1 October 2018

Blue Monday

My last picture from Llandudno, I promise.

For now, anyway.

So many blues in this one!