Sunday 30 December 2018

2018: Part 3


I started the month hot-footing it up to Leeds for the usual conference, which was a lot of fun as usual, although this year my workshop clashed with England in the World Cup quarter finals, sigh.  From there I went to see Jen and Ben in Sheffield for a boozy barbecue school night and then drove to Manchester to staff an assessment centre for a few days. The folks there were weirdly deferential. In some ways, the job I do does demand that deference I guess, but it is still really weird.

Anyway, I stayed with my old boss Nigel in his lovely flat with gorgeous views and drove home during the World Cup semi-final that England played, so I had the roads almost to myself. It was good to reap some rewards this time round.

While I was away, the new floor was laid downstairs. I love, love, love it.

The rest of July was really just work. More work. Lots of work. So much work. It was neverending. I was supposed to be going to London for the very final workday on the last Saturday of the month but that deadline came and went. I was sad, because I had to miss another Uncomfortable Art Tour (the one I'd tried to go on in June was cancelled due to the Portrait Gallery changing their opening hours without notice). I was pretty sick of work by this point. I even went into school for a couple of days and did preparation work for this academic year, just for some variety. I've never done that before. TBF, it has helped this year go more smoothly.

I did make it over the Bradford on Avon to have a nice lunch with Caroline, my old work friend. I also went for a lovely dinner at The Bull on Whiteladies Rd with Mr Z, to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. So, yknow. Bits of July were OK.


In the first week of the month, I took a bus trip to London for the evening for a lecture on Columbus and colonialism, which I saw with my friend Burhan. He thought I was mental for going there and back in a day, and he may have had a point, but the National Express ticket was less than £15 so it seemed doable.

We were, of course, still in the middle of a heatwave at this point, so I got myself a little paddling pool and started doing more of this:

The first weekend in August was a big birthday for me. I had a party. Much gin and much joy. No pictures to speak of. Jen and Ben came down to stay with their daughters and the next day I made everybody pancakes before we waved them off. It was a really fun party, even if more than half the people I invited were on holiday at the time.

Shortly after my birthday, Mr Z and I jetted off the southern Italy, where we stayed in a tiny apartment in Lecce and spent most of our time avoiding the heat. We did go to the beach one day. Stupidly, neither of us put on sun cream (in our defence, we were under a sun umbrella the whole time, but it didn't help). The rest of the holiday was spent trying to find an effective after sun for Mr Z.

I know it looks like I'm in the sun, but it was just for the picture.

On returning from Italy, I spent one night in the Gatwick Premier Inn and then jetted off to southern France with Zoe, where we stayed in a tiny apartment in Montpellier (are you sensing a theme?) Zoe is an extremely organised traveller and managed to cram a lot into our few days. I liked the beach club a lot but was sorry there were no sun loungers for us after we'd eaten lunch. We ended up sheltering in a shadow of another beach club, in a spot that smelled strongly of garbage. Not exactly French Riviera. But it was beautiful.

This water was not warm. Not even a bit. 

When I got back it was results day and I had a mini book party with work friends. My book was published at the start of August. Hurrah, hurrah!

I spent the last week of the holidays doing housey things (finally got the piano tuned after 17 years....he had to hit it with a hammer) and gallivanting. I went to Portsmouth for a few days first. Mother Hand and I went and contributed to the lego Tudor painting that Mary Rose were putting together.

We also went out for a really good curry dinner as a belated birthday treat.

Then I went off to London for a couple of days to get a hair cut and do some sight seeing. Burhan and I FINALLY made it on an Uncomfortable Art Tour, which proved worth the wait. I went and had a nose around St James's Palace and had afternoon tea at the V&A. Zoe and I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition there and then went and ate some very good pizza afterwards. It was the perfect way to wrap up the summer holidays.

Quite pleased to see that I fitted a lot in to August. It didn't feel like much of a break. The re-marks soon started rolling in.


School started again. My third year. There were various school-related things and the crushing weight of hundreds of re-marks - not more than usual in general, but double the amount I've usually done. I assumed everybody was being allocated them equally. Turns out, I was getting them all. Ugh.

Our new drinks-cabinet-of-dreams arrived and we very much enjoyed filling it full of all our booze.

The gin remains on the piano, for now. Even this massive cabinet couldn't contain all the gin. 

In the third week of the month I went off the Llandudno for the internship that represented the final part of the course I did back in January. It is a gorgeous place and I fell in love with it a bit. I'd love to go back for a little summer break. Maybe next July. I reckon I could sneak off there with a laptop and the exam board wouldn't even notice I wasn't at home. 

 The final weekend of the month was spent at a Tudors workshop in Oxford with some lovely people, and seeing Six for the first time. I am utterly hooked, it was amazing. So spot-on historically (the lyricist has a history degree, so....) and very sharp and funny. They request photograph taking in the final number.

The last day on the month I spent hanging out with my old friend Stu, wandering around Stanborough lakes, for a proper kick of nostalgia. I hadn't seen Stu since we went skiing together in 2011. But luckily, thanks to social media, it didn't feel like that long. It's definitely easier to keep up with people nowadays.

Well! This has been a marathon post. Expect a slightly briefer one for the final installment because I've been doing weeknotes all through the final three months in a desperate, transparent attempt to get me up to 127 posts. Whisper it quietly but, I think I'm gonna make it.

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