Friday 30 November 2018

Fave Friday

The new sofas are finally here!

Mother Hand bought me a gorgeous Habitat sofa bed for my birthday at some point in my mid-teens. It was dusky red, gorgeously soft and ultra squishy. I couldn't take it with me when I moved out and it sadly ended up rotting in an alley near a place Sib was renting.

Other than that tragic story, I've never had a brand new sofa that I've chosen before, and now we've got two! We bought our house from a slightly tragic man who had just split with his partner of 20 years, and he sold us essentially all the furniture for £1k. The old three piece suite came along with that. It was nearly new but that was 17 years ago and it was cream so, yeah. It was time that it went, though I did feel a big twinge of sadness when I came home last night to a big empty space.

These are very lovely though. I was a bit worried that the generic beige we'd gone for wouldn't turn out to be very nice, since they only had a small sample square, but it works really well with the rest of the room. They've got electric footrests and they recline. The only problem is working out how to get them next to each other without the recliners clashing. Nicer problems to have.

It also means I've been able to finally break out the little stash of cushion covers I've been collecting on various holidays. The florals are from Singapore Botanic Garden. The Bayeux Tapestry is from....well, Bayeux, right? Or it might have been Mont St Michel - somewhere in that vicinity. The weird bird in Tudor dress (Gondran, apparently) is from Carcassone. Those last two are both by the same French designer, Jules Pansu, and I considered them to be over-priced when I bought them (but I was on holiday so, meh) but now I see the Conrad Shop sells them for more than double what I paid, which makes me feel better.


Thursday 29 November 2018

Throwback Thursday

Mr Z came across this picture today.

Taken circa 2001, at Loseley House in Surrey, taken by Mother Hand with my very first digital camera, so thankfully there is not significant amount of detail.

I've still got that T-shirt and I wear it to the gym. I loved that skirt, from Lipsy - I bought it with my staff discount at Fenwick. I think it might still be lurking in my house because it has good memories attached to it so I thought I'd make it into a cushion or something.

I've still got that man, too.

Wednesday 28 November 2018


I can't believe I missed a day in November - and I had a post ready to go, too. I could backdate it but I can't lie to myself like that. I have reasons though, and one of them is amusing. Firstly, I was at the ballet and I didn't get home until after 11 last night. Secondly, when I sat down at the computer to post my pre-written blog post (it's about beeswax wraps, you're going to love it), I found an email from Hermes informing me that my parcel (new Boden, mmmm) had been successfully delivered.

I checked with Mr Z. No parcel that he knew of.

I checked the online tracking and found this.

Hmm, the plot thickens.

We don't have anything that I think you could call an outbuilding. We've got a garage, but it has a padlock on it. We've got a porch, in that there is a little roof over the doorstep, but it's not a building. People quite often leave parcels there because we live at the end of a sleep cul-de-sac and we cultivate a thick front garden for the sake of our privacy, so it's hardly out in the open. But Mr Z had not picked anything up, and I hadn't seen anything, and the green box had been on the street most of the day because it's bin day.

Ah! Here! This should help. Apparently, the delivery driver has left a photograph of the location of the parcel, to prove its delivery.

This deserves something of a reveal. I can sense you're tense with anticipation at this amazing photograph that will clear everything up. I'm going to add some tense spacing so you will need to scroll down to see the picture.



I just didn't know what to say. I was so speechless, I totally forgot about my blog. I think you understand. 

When we went and looked the parcel was on top of the green box, soaked, though the insides were fine because it was double wrapped in plastic. The weird thing is, the green box had been on the road until about 6pm, according to Mr Z, when he came home and brought it in. So...yeah. 

Well done Hermes. Sterling work. 

Monday 26 November 2018

Blue Monday

Harking back to last autumn, when Mr Z and I went tramping around Mt Charleston on our last trip to Vegas.

This place is on my mind at the moment, as we prepare for our next trip to Vegas, coming up very soon. I'm going to go skiing on Mt Charleston this time, very exciting - my first skiing outside of Europe. Mr Z has NOT SAID NO to snowboarding lessons either, which is huge progress.

Hopefully we'll have some lovely bluebird days like this one (and some snow).

Sunday 25 November 2018

Sunday Selfie

Since I'm feeling all festive - here's the selfie I took of myself in a Santa hat when I gave my year 13s some extra time for a coursework task two weeks ago.

One month to go! I can't remember the last time I was this excited about Christmas.

Weekend FO

Mother Hand's Christmas Hat

Pattern: Ysolda Teague's Gretel - well, the first part was, anyway
Yarn: Noro Cash Iroha, a bit less than one skein
Needle: 3.75mm and 4.5mm
Mods: I hadn't intended to make any. Then I did the next cable row after the first set of crown decreases and realised I was 30 stitches short of where I should be. I cannot for the life of me figure out where I went wrong. So, faced with the prospect of ripping back a week's worth of knitting or carrying on but making it up as I went along, OF COURSE I opted for the latter. Hence this is a purple beanie, not a purple beret.

I did ask Mother Hand if she wanted a beret, to which she replied, 'That would be nice for a change.' The last two hats I have knitted for her have been slouchy berets, but for some reason she always folds the ribbing back and pulls them right down. So, it did not surprise me too much that she did not consider my previous efforts to be berets. This one is just a close-fitting beanie. I might put a pom pom on it yet.

I think it would suit a pom pom. 

Weeknote: 24/11

Mother Hand's Christmas hat. It didn't quite go according to plan, but I cast off today and I think it will work OK. More on that tomorrow.

I was browsing and came across a very old plan I had to knit a t-shirt out of bamboo, so I am thinking of starting that next...or the baby Santa jacket for my colleague...we'll see. Probably the latter because it will be easier to just pick up and knit.

Going to:
There hasn't been a lot of 'going to' this week. It's been a quiet one and I've spent a lot of time watching bad TV. I have enjoyed it a lot.

The only break with that was on Thursday, when I went to Bath Christmas markets - see yesterday's blog post about that. It felt very Christmassy on Thursday morning when my car was fully iced and I was delighted to be getting the bus in so I could avoid scraping it. Then after our browse, we had a Thai dinner at Thaikuhn, which does delicious food.

Other than that though - a lazy week. Today I did not leave the house. Bliss.

Entertained by:
Mr Z and I watched all four episodes of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix today and were both inspired. It's a very enjoyable cooking show and I'm hoping for a god at that crispy Iranian rice dish sometime soon. I remember, when I was a teen, having friends from Iran and Iraq - Shara and Neem. Shara had us round once for dinner and made that rice dish. It was epic.

I'm enjoying reading Outcasts in Time that I started last week. Our anti-heroes are currently in the 15th century and wondering why everybody thinks their clothes are so weird. I'm looking forward to when they end up in the 18th century.

FESTIVE! Well-relaxed, too. Bring on the Christmas party season.

Saturday 24 November 2018

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

This week the dance of the week crown must go to Stacey and Kevin, who managed to camp up the paso to such a degree I almost laughed. Particular favourite bits include the 'talk to the hand' and when Kevin plays with her skirt. I saw that they struggled with this one in training so I wondered if the choreographer made it deliberately just on the edge of a parody to make it more palatable. I do love a good paso to a really traditional track, it must be said,

However, I cannot let this week pass without also mentioning the fantastic effort of the live band covering House of Pain's 'Jump Around' - a song integral so to my youth, we had a dance to it. It's all samples in the original (as far as I can tell) so trying to score it for live playing must have been a nightmare; though a little research tells me the squeal played at the start of each bar is actually a tenor sax and not some scratch of a record, so it was probably a little easier than I thought. I wasn't an enormous fan of the dance (high energy, though - good job) but hat's off to the band.

Friday 23 November 2018

Fave Friday

It's time for the sheds.

You may remember from previous years that it has become a tradition to hit the famous Bath Christmas Markets on opening night. My old workplace still has a training day on the following day so I met up with friend Caroline and Vikki for the usual shed-browsing, mulled-wine drinking experience. 

Certain traditions must be observed. 

1. Cheese must be purchased from the Welsh cheesemakers who sell their cheese in small truckles covered in different colours of wax. This year I bought two pickled onion, one chilli and one fig and honey. 

2. Puddings must be purchased from Georgie Porgie's. They're the best Christmas puddings ever. I was overjoyed when Mr Z discovered one in a plastic bag behind the fridge in the summer. Christmas pudding in the summer is a win. The stall always have lots of free samples, too. I bought a couple of chocolate, orange and Bailey's and an apple and cider. 

3. Gin must be sampled, and sometimes wine and other spirits too. Last night I sampled the new Bath Gin orange sloe. It was very good, so I bought a medium bottle. While I was there, a girl came over to ask for a sample. She definitely seemed underage to me but the chap handing out samples gave her one of the rhubarb and started explaining about the brand. She necked it, nearly choked, looked horrified and literally ran off in the middle of his spiel to her mirth-filled friends waiting on the corner. Ahh, her first neat gin: I was glad I could be there to witness it. I could have told her that drinking it neat gets easier with practice.

4. Mulled wine must be purchased from the place where they ring the bell outside and provide a free mince pie. This year they'd upped their game by offering a shot of brandy for an extra £2. 

5. Something with a robin on it must be purchased. 

My obsession with robins remains healthy. Last year I bought a smaller version of this, which is by Robyn Coetzee Glass. She does some amazing other birds, too. I want to buy them all but they are ...well, I'd say they are fairly priced for the effort that has gone into them. Luckily, when I was looking up the name of the stall for this blog, I discovered that she mainly sells her stuff from a shop that is approximately 10 minutes' walk from school. I foresee a lot of glass birds in our future. 

Christmas can begin now. I'm feeling festive. I was so demob happy at school today that I found myself thinking, oh I can't fit that in with y13 because it's basically the end of term. Still nearly four weeks to go, though. 

Thursday 22 November 2018

Scenes from the Classroom #37

There's a lot of chat at the moment about how strict teachers should be with students.

My general rule of thumb is, strict. I like my own way. My classroom is my kingdom. Lessons are short and should be all about learning. I also like to think I can spot a fake illness at 40 paces, with 95% accuracy. They usually occur when a challenging task has been set or when there is a bigger issue going on outside of the lesson.

This week with Y7...

A: *high pitched mumble*
Me: Pardon?
A: *squeak squeak* really sick *squeak* [pained expression]
Me: Sorry, what?
A: I feel really sick can I go
Me: Oh, I'm sorry you feel sick. Have you got a drink in your bag?
A: Yes but I feel really sick
Me: OK, well, just sit back down and have a drink, and lay your head on your arms and have a rest and we'll see how you feel in a bit
[Long pause, during which nothing happens]
A: But I feel really sick. Can I go to First Aid?
(Note: if they really feel sick, they always ask to go to the toilets)
Me: The nurse isn't in until period 2
A: But they will let me sit in First Aid
Me: First Aid is for emergencies in lesson time. I'm sorry, but we were reminded about this in our staff briefing this week so I can't let you go. Why don't you try having drinks?
A: I feel sick though
Me: Yes, I know, try having a drink and just resting for a bit. I won't make you do any work...
A: Mrs F said I could go to her in the library if I ever feel bad can I go to the library? (spoken like this, with no apparent punctuation)
Me: I'm afraid not, because Mrs F isn't in until period 2 either
A: [stares, with tears creeping out of her eyes]
Me: Just try sitting down for a bit quietly with your drink
A: [stares some more]
Me: A, just pop yourself down and get your drink out and we'll see how you feel in 5 minutes
A: But...
[Another long pause]
Me: Just settle yourself down on that chair, A
A: But....I don't want to

THERE it is.

And then when I followed up later in the day, it turns out she's having some issues with her friendship group.

I feel the need to justify myself now: don't think me heartless. There's just a lot of time wasting that could go on in schools if you let it.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Scenes from the Classroom #36

When I walked into my classroom after lunch today, one of my year 10s was sitting opening and closing her mouth in a fishlike manner and her friends were suggesting she hold her breath. Assuming she had hiccoughs, I shouted BOO! in her face as I went past. She screamed and then burst out laughing. I burst out laughing. The rest of the class also burst out laughing. There was much merriment.

'Did I cure your hiccoughs?' I asked, a minute later.

'Oh no Miss, I didn't have hiccoughs! They were just trying to teach me how to roll my Rs....'

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Travel Tuesday

When Mr Z and I went to Italy in the summer, probably the best thing we did was take a cooking class. I felt very fortunate to land a place as I only emailed about a week beforehand, thanks to the craziness of my summer schedule, but luckily we managed to bag some places alongside a Canadian-Italian couple who clearly didn't need any help.

Neither did Mr Z as it turned out, because he spends a lot of time watching videos of nonnas cooking on YouTube. Who knew?

It was a very relaxed evening that began by meeting Gianna and then taking a trip to the local food market, to shop for the freshest and best ingredients with which to make our dinner.

We stopped on the way back to her kitchen for a little coffee with almond milk, which is a Leccese speciality. It's not really almond milk: it's almond syrup. I approve. 

Once we got into the kitchen we started cooking a feast. It began with making some focaccia, which involved grating a small boiled potato in with the flour and and yeast. I got to press the dough into the dish when it had risen. That was a lot of oil. No wonder it tasted so good. 

With some caramelised onions and my favourite buratta cheese. 

After that we were taught to make pasta. We made a couple of different kinds, including the local orechiette, which are meant to look like ears, and little tubes. What was leftover, we made into spaghetti. 

It was quite hot in there. 

We made a fresh tomato sauce to go with the pasta, which involved squeezing the tomatoes underwater to get rid of all the seeds - a good tip. We also wrapped chicken thighs around sun dried tomatoes and then rolled them in good bacon, and made another meat dish that I have already forgotten about...clearly I didn't take enough pictures...and Gianna made a panacotta for us to enjoy afterwards with her three home-created spirits.

These were limoncello, rhubarb and the third? I forget. They were quite strong. 

It was an excellent experience that came with plenty of wine and I really enjoyed spending some time cooking with assistance, as well as chatting to the nice couple who was there with us. Gianna had good English but her daughter, though heavily pregnant, stayed the whole time to act as translator when needed. I can definitely recommend going along to one of these sessions if you ever go to Lecce. In fact, I might go again if (when) we return to southern Italy - I'm thinking next May half term. Already queuing up next summer's holidays. 

Monday 19 November 2018

Blue Monday

A throwback to my last big adventure.

This was the train that transported us from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, or 'Machu Picchu town' as it is otherwise known. It was a comfy tourist train with windows in the ceiling and a friendly snack trolley. And look hoe blue it was! Almost as if it was meant to be.

I'm having fond memories of my trip there this evening and wishing I could go back again, though there's not much to warrant a second visit. I guess it was just nice to explore and see new things.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Sunday Selfie

I looked back through my phone for the week and my only selfie is a very bad one I tried to take with the Six queens in the background (they actively encourage this) so I am sharing this one of me and Mother Hand at the Vyne, which we visited in half term.

Happy new week, everyone!

Weekend WIP

I finally cast on the purple hat Mother Hand has requested for Christmas. I'm using Ysolda Teague's Gretel pattern, which I discovered in my library but have never knitted - I must have bought it years ago and then never cast on.

The yarn is Noro Cash Iroha, which I bought from my knitting group friend Emma's stash some years ago. I think I've used all the other stuff I bought so it is high time this was made up and loved. It's a soft blend of silk, cashmere goat and wool, with a bit of nylon in there. It's been quite nice to knit with so far and has a good sheen, which is good because this purple is daaaaaark and it could do with a bit of shine.

Ysolda offers three options for this beret - fitted, regular and slouchy. I think I might go for fitted, purely because every time I make Mother Hand a hat she seems to try to wear it like a beanie, even though I always knit it as a beret. At least this way it might work both ways.

Weeknote: 17/10

I did eventually pull out the purple yarn this week and cast on for Mother Hand's hat. The yarn came out midweek but the casting on didn't happen until this morning. I was annoyed that I didn't have anything to knit all week, but not annoyed enough to go to the trouble of doing the long-tailed tubular cast on (which in the end I didn't do anyway).

It's been a while since I knitted a hat and I am pleasantly surprised with how quickly it is going.

Going to:
I went to an exercise class at the leisure centre on Sunday, for the first time this year. I am ashamed to say I pay a monthly fee for the leisure centre and have not been since New Year's Eve last year. That means that exercise class cost me £350. I am booked to go again tomorrow though, so I will get a bit more of my money's worth, particularly if I can keep up my attendance. I hadn't realised my nearest centre, Longwell Green, was offering Les Mills classes and I quite like those, formulaic though they are, because you always know what you're getting.

I did some training for some primary colleagues on Tuesday which was fun and interesting - they face such different challenges, I think, that's it's always a pleasure to chat to them.

On Wednesday I went to a Henry VIII lecture by Tracy Borman. It was very entertaining. I went beforehand to ask her to sign my book (Private Lives of the Tudors, I recommend) and she was very lovely. She asked if I was studying History and, when I told her I was a teacher, she had the grace to pretend I looked young enough to be a student. Thus I adore her and will be buying all her books.
In the questions at the end, one man asked about the rumour that Henry VIII was syphilitic. He turned out to be something of an expert on the topic and gave us all his evidence to support this theory. Fascinating, but also made me think of what I often say to my A-level students - never underestimate what old white men are willing to argue about. Tbf he wasn't that old but I think my point stands.

On Friday I went to a Japanese-themed birthday party for my ex-colleague Xannah. I was caught short for an outfit so I went on Parpy Jo's suggestion and wore a tabard covered in sarcastic comments - 'a bottle of saki'. The first person to ask, when I said, 'I'm saki!', replied, 'Who's that?' so I don't think I can claim this as an unmitigated success, but it was OK.

On Saturday, after knitting group, I went to Southampton with my friend V to see Six again, and then had dinner with my old colleague and friend Paul and his not-so-new boyfriend, who I hadn't previously met. Six was as excellent as it was the first time round and I am already plotting a return to London in 2019, when it goes back to the Arts Theatre. It was great to see it with V, a fellow historian, so that we could discuss how clever and spot on it all was.

A busy week! I am getting my life back.

Entertained by:
Six, obviously.

I have picked up a fiction book I bought last year, Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer. It's good so far. It's about two brothers living through the 1348 plague - I haven't got any further than that yet.

I've been watching the Little Drummer Girl on the beeb (they are killing it for drama this year) but finding it quite hard to follow. Still, the late 70s vibe is very good visually. I want all their coats.

Quite enthused, really. Christmas is in sight. I've got a week at school with no interruptions next week, for only the third time this academic year. There are some other fun events coming up over the next month that I'm looking forward to, and minimal additional work, for once. The new sofas are being delivered at the end of next week and the new curtains will follow shortly after, and then we can put the Christmas tree up and really enjoy the space. Hurrah, hurrah.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

CONTROVERSY this week, as I go for the pro dance. I absolutely adored Gloria Estefan as a kid and had her greatest hits album, a fact I had actually forgotten until I saw this number (all my albums got stolen when Mother Hand moved house, in the days before digital music was really a thing, so I have only replaced what I've remembered...hence the gap which I shall be addressing shortly).

Truthfully, this pro dance gets me out of a hole as no way could I even narrow it down to two this week. I can't remember a season I have enjoyed as much as this one. Stacey's salsa, Fay's paso doble, Joe's quickstep, Ashley's jive and Charles's samba - all joint top for me. Graeme's sheer pleasure in dancing the jazz theatre was also delightful to watch. And Kate and Lauren came a very close third to all of this. Impossible to choose.

The final is going to be incredible.

Friday 16 November 2018

Fave Friday

I love a good history T-shirt. Here are two that have come my way this year.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Autumnal Caramels

I am a big lover of a baking blog though I rarely make things from them. Sometimes a recipe pops up that I'm keen for though, and this is what happened last week when I came across Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels on the Sprinklebakes blog. They were duly made at the weekend and have kept us going on a sugar rush all week.

I adjusted the recipe a little from the original; I subbed in golden syrup for corn syrup because, yknow, Britain; I roasted and salted my own pumpkin seeds (worked fine); and when it came to the bourbon, I added some kind of blend of Jim Beam and apple sours that Asda had available. I'm not a whiskey drinker and trawled through pages of whiskeys in the Asda online store; they were mostly scotches which Mr Z tells me is categorically not the same. The few available bourbons were expensive for something I expected to bung in a caramel and never drink. This was the very last available item on the scroll, but it has done its job well. There's a slight alcoholic kick and a slight taste of apple which is just perfect with the rest of the flavours. Although Heather is a dyed-in-the-wool southerner and might well be horrified at the idea of adulterating good bourbon with some fru-fru liqueur knocked back by barely legal drinkers on the sesh, I like to think she would enjoy the apple flavour.

225g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
225g light brown sugar (I had to add in a bit of dark to make the weight up)
240ml golden syrup
170g can evaporated milk
400ml double cream
120ml pure maple syrup
120ml apple bourbon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
300g pumpkin seeds

Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt (you'll know how salty you like it. I'm quite salty myself so I added a big pinch). Roast at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes - keep a close ear on them, they will be popping and ticking when they're hot. They keep on popping and ticking for a while after they come out, too. Cute.

Put everything except the booze, salt and seeds into a saucepan. Heat gently with lots of stirring until it all dissolves together in one big sinful, diabetes-inducing mass. Put in a sugar thermometer at this point, when it's still coolish.

Bring to the boil and boil until the thermometer gets to 120 degrees C. It took about 25 minutes. It doesn't need stirring as long as your temperature isn't too high. The caramel will probably have reduced by about a quarter and be much darker. I heated mine until it hit temp but really I should have kept it at that temp for a few minutes, I think - mine hold their shape in the wrappers but they're very sticky unless they're straight out of the fridge.

Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and the whiskey. Be prepared for a lot of heavy bubbling.

Pour into a lined rectangular tray and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over straight away. Refrigerate when cool enough. When you're satisfied with the set, turn them out and cut into pieces, wrapping each one in greaseproof.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

More spare cats

After introducing you to Spare Cat yesterday, this post popped up on Twitter today and I thought it timely.

Japanese guard is very gentle when keeping stray cats out of a museum

I love this. It seems the museum held a cat exhibition in 2016 and the cats have been trying to get in since them. More videos and information in this news article.

I hope when I'm reincarnated I come back as a cat. I feel we already share a lot of traits. I love sleeping, ignoring instructions and doing exactly as I damn well please too.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Spare cat

There has been a mitten-shaped hole Chez Z since her demise in January. Both of us have moments when we see her ghosting around the house and last week I thought I'd trodden on her. Weird.

Luckily this monster has been heroically trying to fill that hole.

Introducing Spare Cat.

He's been around for a while. He used to be an acquaintance of Mitten's. He'd come round in the evenings and they'd sit either side of the French window, chirruping at each other. Then she'd go outside and hiss and wave a paw in his face, and he'd slink off a little way. It was kind of cute. 

When Mitten died, we didn't see him for some months, and when he came back he had a shaved back leg and a pronounced limp. He pops round every so often (probably because we feed him) but he is a nice cat to have around. He goes quite nicely with the floor, for one thing. For another, he really loves being fussed, which is a nice treat.

Last week did mark a new level of bold, though. If we ignore him, he sits on the rocking chair in the back garden, and when you go near the back window, he rocks it. Such a character.  

It is nice to have a cat around again.

Monday 12 November 2018

Blue Monday

Dreaming of the Galapagos this week.

Nice weather, nothing to do but snorkel, loads of wildlife to look at, new friends made, bonding over trying not to throw up when the sea got rough, star gazing miles from anywhere, sea lions popping up all over the place, Sally Lightfoot marking, no planning, no meetings, no training days, no emails...

I was meditating today, though, that Theresa May must be exhausted. The news said something about* her needing to have finalised Brexit by midday on Wednesday. Just typing that made me facepalm - I thought my schedule was jammed. She must have not had a decent night's sleep since she took over. I feel like she's basically doing the equivalent of all of my jobs, but whilst also inhabiting a pit of snakes, under the full glare of all the world's media.

She's not my cup of tea but you have to hand it to her. It defo makes me feel better about my workload.

* I was scrolling through Twitter so I wasn't clear on the specifics of what needs to be achieved by then.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Sunday Selfie

This week were the special plays at school. They're an annual event. Year 7 are told that they're very boring traditional plays in ancient languages and to bring knitting and things to keep themselves occupied; the whole of the school goes along with this fiction which is quite nice (and surprising). In reality, the teachers get together and write some ridiculous script that always involves a dance off, a play fight and the same (unpopular) member of staff getting pied in the face, while the Year 13s write a similar play lampooning the teachers. It's a bit weird but very much part of our traditions.

I found out in my first year that those not involved in the play ended up covering those that are, so I have always volunteered. This year we became stereotypical teenagers. I literally rubbed my gold highlighter palette all over my face and added a brown stripe under my cheekbone. Here some of us are in costume:

Weekend FO

I both completed and felted my trees today.


There's still a bit of stitch definition so I might felt them a second time, but I thought I'd wait until they'd dried and see how well they stand on their own before deciding. This is one quick wash 60 degree cycle.

I've used up two and a half skeins of Cascade on these. 2018 Sally is very irritated at past Sally for not noting down what colours these skeins were before winding them, or at least keeping the labels - I am not sure what exact shades of green I've got here. However, I am happy that these exact shades of green are no longer in my stash.

Onwards. Mother Hand's purple hat next, I think; though my colleague is due a baby around Christmas and I have an almost-finished Santa cardigan for a 0-3mth old that I should maybe break out to work on.

As a complete tangent - I was looking through last year's posts for something today and came across this one where I explained my wish for beautiful, herringbone, wooden floors. Looks like that wish came true.

Weeknote: 10/11

Trees, trees, trees. I am finished though, and they are felting in the machine as I type. All the green yarn is finally used up and can be ticked out of stash.

I have, as a result, discovered that two of the four yarn colours I used for the watermelon bag I made nearly a decade ago have been discontinued....phrasing it like that, actually, it's not so shocking. However, I had it in mind to make another so I must either find another shade of green I like or beg the original colour out of people's stashes on Ravelry. I did love that heathered green with the touch of red in it; although Mr Z pointed out that the red wasn't quite appropriate and that a darker green or a yellow would be better, I did like that red in it.

This is all moot, of course. I haven't even got time to knit the things I want to knit. It's probably better if I pull out the old watermelon bag and try to fix it up.

Going to:
I started the week in Llandudno. I wandered around Conwy, saw the castle and the Tudor House and then had dinner at Dylan's back on Llandudno seafront with my colleagues. I can highly recommend the Swn y Mor B&B though how it's pronounced is anyone's guess. The views are stunning, however.

From the breakfast table. 

Some on Conwy Castle.

I spent Monday at the local school, leading some of the training for their teachers which was superfun and very inspiring. Then I hopped on the train home which was hellishly delayed. I got home at 12.45am, thus ruining all that credit rest I had built up over half term. C'est la vie.

The rest of the week was rather a frantic time of cramming five days into three, since on Friday the whole school was at a commemoration event, except for a few of us that were sent over to our sister school to do some work with their teachers. There's a weird feeling there, because we are top grade and they are bottom, that they're going to assume we're swanning in with all the answers. Absolutely not. Different context and all that. However, I did see probably the worst lesson I've ever witnessed during the day (thankfully not in my subject) so perhaps we do have something to offer them. It was, as ever, fun and useful to go out to another school and see how they do it, with the added bonus that I was home by 2pm and managed to get lots of chores done and go and shout at the accountant for messing up my tax return.

So yes, a good week.

Entertained by:
There hasn't been much free time for this sort of thing. I have caught up on all the things I had recorded to watch and I'm still plugging away at Travellers in the Third Reich, which is suffering the same fate as most other non-fiction I pick up - I'm losing interest because there's no story to be resolved. I've been ruminating on why I don't read very much anymore and I'm concluding it's because I keep buying lots of non-fiction books when I have never been successful at reading them. I'm buying for the person I want to be, not the person I am.

I contributed to a crowdfunder for Mr B's bookshop in Bath, though, so I should be getting a few fiction books through in the post soonish.

I've been attempting to make beeswax reusable wraps this weekend. It hasn't been excellent but I will share the results of that in a separate post (still chasing that 127...)

Still quite frantic. I am getting tired of having to go out for days here and there. Next week I have to be out of lessons for nearly two entire days. Out of eight teaching weeks so far, I've only had two where I have been in for the full week. It's a little bit too much. I miss my classes and I miss the frees that come along every so often.

Saturday 10 November 2018

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

It's getting quite tough to pick a favourite now. I don't think it's very clear who will end up going home tomorrow although I imagine it will be Charles and Karen because they keep ending up in the Dance Off.

I loved Faye and Giovanni's retro 40s jive a lot, but in the end it has come down to two that I can't decide between.

Ashely and Pasha's contemporary is worth watching again. It was really moving: I think the judges were crying by the end too, not just Shirley. She's an excellent dancer and this was very entertaining.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, though, was that salsa by Graeme and Oti. What a weird choice of song for them! It really seems very fast and difficult to dance to. It looked like a couple of the lifts went awry, too, but for sheer entertainment value I couldn't let it pass.

Friday 9 November 2018

Fave Friday

No picture, because I'm not taking a picture of my bed, but this week my favourite thing is the new duvet cover I splurged on last month. It is brushed cotton. The sales assistant comment on how flipping heavy it was putting it into the bag, but I can confirm that it is the warmest and snuggest thing I've ever bought for the bed. The worst thing is that, we're so warm and comfy, that oversleeping becomes a real possibility and it's even tougher to get out of it in the mornings.

I got mine here. My main worry now is, what will I do with it when it's not winter? I might have to build a shelf in the airing cupboard. I don't think it will fit in the blanket box.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Throwback Thursday

I was very excited at the weekend to come across this story about tracking whales from space. This is quite cool, but it wasn't really the story that got me excited, but the person who shared it. I first saw it on her Facebook page and congratulated her there, though it is her PhD student's project to be specific; but then she appeared on TV and I squealed with excitement.

I've known Jenni (as she was at school) since I was 5. We went to the same school together for 13 years and were friends at intervals for various parts of that time. We fell out now and again; at one point she felt I was copying her, which may well have been true. She was very quirky and happy to do her own thing, which is utterly cool when you're 12. We took up bell-ringing and both kept spiral bound notebooks full of dots for playing that game where you make boxes. There were school discos and shopping trips (which seemed a massive production at the time) and lots of visits to one another's houses, although once we managed to wrench open a door in her loft bedroom that had been painted shut and get into the attic crawl space, where we found a baby shoe and a whole lot of trouble when we showed her parents. She came to my 1994 NYE party and the boy I had a crush on picked her up and ran across the road with her at midnight.

I couldn't help feeling really proud of her in a very shy way when I saw her on the TV. Being proud of someone is a weird emotion, sometimes - I didn't contribute in any way to her success, after all, so I don't feel like I have any right to feel proud; but she was always massively into whales and ocean life and it was really exciting to see her on TV being everything she'd hoped to be. I sort of wish I could pop back in time to our 11 year old selves and show them this.

Pics or it didn't happen... here we are at my 10th birthday party, and again on our Y9 geography field trip to Winchester.

Observing my outfit, circa 1991, I think those are Mother Hand's Converse; I loved rolling my jeans up even though it was achingly unfashionable; everybody I knew seemed to have those primary coloured rugby tops. That fringe! It took me years to grow it out.

It's tempting to look back through my diaries for the entry about this trip but it is 23.41 on a weeknight and that's a rabbit hole best avoided.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Adventures with pastry

I've been trying to get really good at making breakfast pastries. I'd like to be able to nail it every time, since home-made croissants are epic and have ruined me for shop-bought ones forever.

At the end of the summer holidays, I made some for work. I got up extra early and baked them before school started. I was very proud of myself (and very tired) and I got to start my school year off with a freshly-baked croissant and espresso in the back garden.

My year 13s bought me that plant as a leaving gift and Mr Z brought it back from the dead after I left it in school for half of half term and it nearly expired. Cute, huh? Mr Z is very green fingered. The plant on the right is a Thai basil he grew from a sprig that came in a packet in a Hello Fresh box.

Back to the croissants. I think it would be fair to say that, although they tasted good, they weren't my best work. The butter ran out of them quite a bit. That does seem to happen.

Not so, though, with my attempt at Danish pastries. I made these last month for my contribution to the Team Hums bake off.

I made caramelised onion, goats cheese and fig, and chocolate with tinned pears (I love a tinned pear). The flavours were good. I made a creme patissiere for the first time and it worked. Um, some of it might still be in the fridge actually...I should probably throw that away. None of the butter ran out onto the trays. They were really moreish.

But they were still a bit cakey for my liking. They didn't seem to have the lamination of a good flaky pastry. The trouble is, I don't really know how it's meant to come out. I know what a shop-bought Danish is like, obvs, but this isn't like that; then, the croissants I make aren't much like the ones I buy either.

I shall keep persevering. Maybe one day I'll make one I'm satisfied with.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Travel Tuesday: Pont du Gard

In the summer, Zoe and I went to Montpellier for our summer break. Zoe is a very organised tourist (even more so than me) and had found lots of things for us to do and usually the public transport to do them, so on the first day we went to the Pont du Gard. We took a train to nearby Nimes and then the bus from Nimes to the Pont.

It is a Roman era aqueduct that remains in astonishingly good condition for its age.

It was a blisteringly hot day. It's an easy walk up from the visitors centre (we booked tickets online beforehand) and then across the bridge. You can take a steep path up to an overlook so that you can see it from above, but the heat discouraged us from doing that and we went and drank Aperol Spritz in the shady cafe instead.

The river was the colour of fudge but there were any number of people enjoying water activities. These mostly consisted of canoeing, leaping off the low cliffs (we watched one little girl spend a good 5 minutes plucking up the courage to hop in) and some higher cliffs and splashing in the little shallow pools that had been roped off for youngsters to use.

Spot the jumper.

We didn't clock that such pursuits were available or we would have taken swimmers with us. The French seem to swim in all their bodies of open water - I guess it must be a Europe-wide thing. I know we don't in the UK because of Weil's disease but surely it can't be more common here than there?

Anyway, I had a splash.

My new Saltwater sandals. Worth their weight, though we walked so much (and in water a lot, too) that I ended up with a couple of wicked blisters after this, their first day of wear. 

After a good prowl around the museum, learning about the Romans in that part of the world, we caught the bus back. It was an excellent day out and I can recommend. Such an iconic piece of the ancient world, I'm pleased to say I made it there at least once.