Tuesday 31 December 2019

2019: Part 4

Now fully back into the swing of things at work, in spite of this, October had some nice events. The very first day was a trip to Drudle Door, in my new role as Head of Geog. And excellent reason to have that job.

Mr Z and I spent the second weekend of the month camping with the DofE crowd. My group gave me additional grey hairs; his were a dream, of course. It was fine all day but then rained all night, and it turns out that our silly festival tent from several years ago isn't waterproof, as we discovered at 3am. Mr Z considered going outside to put the gazebo up over the tent but I convinced him to just throw the tarp over our sleeping bag and we'd go back to sleep, a decision I regretted an hour later, when he turned over, disturbing the tarp, and I got a faceful of freezing rainwater. This whole drama played out to the accompaniment of a thumping drum'n'bass soundtrack, courtesy of some party somewhere distant, that went on until 8am. It wasn't what you'd call a relaxing night of camping, tbh.

The following weekend was much more pleasant, as I went off to Devon on Thursday night, spoke at an inset on Friday, spent two nights with my old friend Amanda and went to a party in honour of one of her friends, drove around Dartmoor for a bit getting lost and watching the rain and met my friend Caroline and saw her new house. A very pleasant time. Then it was back for an exam board meeting...less nice, but then less than a week to half term.

I spent the first weekend of half term in London, attending a nerdy teacher event on the Saturday, doing a nerdy history visit to Elizabeth I's lost dress at Hampton Court on the Sunday, and combining the two for a nerdy history teacher event on the Monday, which was a focus group, for which I was paid. A lovely little break, that was.

(Lost dress just about visible in the background)

At the end of half term I spent some time recording a new podcast I've launched with another nerdy history teacher. So far it seems popular.

I blogged so much in November, you must be bored of hearing about it. It was a relatively quiet month. There was knitting. There was working. I gave blood. I played Trump in the silly staff play. I went to Friday club a couple of times, for a change. I mostly worried about how I would make it through a busy December, and tried to prepare.

What a whirlwind the month has been! Even if I hadn't made the decision to gracefully fail to meet my target of 127 posts for the year, I don't think I would have made it.

The month started with the ubiquitous visit to the Bath Christmas markets with Caroline and Vikki. Mulled wine was quaffed. Puddings were bought. Dinner was eaten. Work was complained about. All pretty standard.

Also in this week I had a ski meeting and a hustings at school, and then at the weekend I flew off to see Jen in Edinburgh, where I promptly came down with a cold and spent most of the weekend wanting to be asleep. Not a good way to start yet another eye-wateringly busy week, this one ending in a mentor meeting at the uni on election day, the carol service, a sad, empty, post-election mood and a visit to Hampton Court with 50 lovely students...

(felt like this though)

...and then a catch up with Sib and Sib-in-law (so pregnant she almost couldn't walk), a hair cut, some Christmas shopping and a really fun party in Twickenham to celebrate Burhan's birthday, at which I took no pictures because there were too many interesting people to talk to. 

And then it was week 3 which was just as frantic but only filled with nice things, really. Monday night was Christmas evening in with Kath and Jo. Tuesday night was the work Christmas do...

...Caribbean buffet and all the rum punch we could drink. Winner. Then skiing!

With lots of cheese.

And then back for Christmas.

And since then it's just been sitting around, relaxing, trying not to think about the work I need to do. The new niece has been born and I'm off to Belfast for the first weekend of 2020, but then London for the second weekend, to meet her. Happy New Year, everyone!

(Yes, I fully cheated and wrote this after new year, but it's my blog, so...)

2019: Part 3

Time for the picture heavy months...

As per usual, I hurtled into the end of term feeling completely unprepared for the holiday. We appointed a new history teacher - my first choice, hurrah. We waved goodbye to some beloved colleagues; I did a song and dance to C'est La Vie by B*witched in front of the whole staff. A classic moment. I went to Leeds for the history conference as usual, but this year it didn't coincide with the end of term boat party, which meant I was able to go, drink and be merry.

Bye bye Naomi, you are missed.

The rest of the month involved a few fun things: a party at Naomi's to drink her leftover booze, a trip to Highclere for a picnic and a nose around Downton Abbey...

And we adopted this little pair of snuggers. So cute. They are so much bigger now, obvs. 

I also went back to London to finish off my teaching fellowship: it was great to catch up with the other people taking part. There was lots of exam work too, naturally.

Mr Z and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary at the Pig near Bath. A fantastic meal, definitely recommended.

I began the month with a birthday barbecue, on a Monday, not really considering that most of the people I'd invited (the family Z) were working the next day. Fun was had regardless. The next day, Mother Hand and I flew to Copenhagen for a little break. It was beautiful, expensive, not hot and very welcoming. I went and did yoga outside the hothouse in the botanic gardens. We ate lots of delicious Scandinavian-style breads and meatballs. I knitted and read a lot.

This was definitely my favourite Copenhagen statue. I mean...what one earth is going on?

This building houses the crown jewels but I put a picture of it on Facebook and said it was our AirBnB and some people believed me, awks.

No sooner had I returned from northern Europe, I flew to southern Europe with Zoe. That holiday could best be summed up with these pictures -

We swam in the sea, ordered cocktails on the private beach, went to the spa, explored the island a bit, went on some boat trips, jumped off the boat and generally had a very relaxing time. The weather was predictably glorious and I reflected that I hadn't spent time just sitting on a beach not doing anything for a number of years too large to remember. It was a tonic, even if I did have to do little bits of work while I was there. Already looking forward to our next one....hopefully Costa Rica in the summer.

August ended with the Downs festival. My friend Lizzy took my extra ticket and we went to see Neneh Cherry, Grace Jones and Lauryn Hill perform. We also went on the chair-o-planes. A fantastic end to the summer.

Grace Jones, bionic woman. She was incredible.

September began with a trip to Portsmouth to see Mother Hand getting baptised in the sea, and then school began again. I had to leave my school to do some training at our sister school for part of the first day, for which I had to wear formal dress - UGH. I am still bitter about it. In the end I just put a jacket and some heels with a playsuit and called it formal, I think I got away with it.

Then we were into the new term maelstrom so not much happened for the rest of the month. I went to see David Olusoga speak at the Gloucester History festival with Charlotte and Marianne...

Truth, he nearly fell on me coming around the desk to take this picture with me. So close.

There was another Flock gathering. Another nerdy history group meeting. I submitted some more papers to the exam board (I do NOT like it when this process is timed to coincide with the start of the school year). My pictures reveal that I fell over running for a bus, which I do remember but I can't remember why I was out late on a Monday night - very curious. I guess we'll never know.

2019: Part 2

April was lots of fun. It started in London with a teaching fellowship, at which I met lots of lovely people and was able to really immerse myself in the teaching of a particular topic. Loved the geeking out and the amazing input we had from academics, as well as the Caribbean food we were treated to.

From there I went to see Zoe, staying at her place for the first time (long story), going for a wander around the Tate Modern and booking a summer holiday to Malta. Then I had a few days at home before it was back up to London for flying away on a free teacher trip to Alabama - undoubtedly the freebie of the decade. The tour company who took us has launched a new trip there and wanted reviewers. It was just a quickie - Saturday to Tuesday - but we packed in loads of stuff around Birmingham and Montgomery, and I am desperate to get a school trip out there, if only I could convince the senior team that I'm not taking on too much. I knew two of the people on the trip already and the other two have become friends. It's become trite to say one is 'so blessed' but, really, I am.

I mean...this is Martin Luther King's pulpit, for crying out loud. For a history teacher, it rarely gets this good.

The month closed, as always, with another trip to Wonderwool, staying in a bunkhouse with fantastic views and hanging out with the usual lovely bunch of people, plus a few newbie lovely people.

The installation this year was gulls.

Yep, April was a good month.

The first few weeks of May were overtaken by the sprint to the exams. There were a few 'drinks after work' nights out and, in the last week of the term, some momentous news from some colleagues that they were moving on that has had a big impact on my working life this year. I waved goodbye to three teaching groups. We bought a new table and chairs at home. I managed to get somebody round to quote for building in the understairs furniture.

In half term, Mother Hand and I went back to the same spa hotel we visited the previous October, only this time I remembered to book the tour of the Bombay Sapphire distillery. It was a relaxing couple of days.

Then it was back to Bristol for a trip to the Caribbean restaurant and some cocktails. Naomi was an excellent events organiser and I miss her ability to pick a date and get everybody to agree to it. I've certainly had a lot more nights out since I started working in Bristol.

After the fun and laughter of April and May, June was a bit of a bump back down to earth, as the exam machine rolled into action. It was a lot better than 2018, I have to say, which is just as well - 2018 made me considerably greyer and I'm not convinced I could have coped with another summer like it. 2019 was my year to be completely slated by my peers on social media for asking questions they didn't like (of course they didn't know it was me, but I took to reading the comments with a large glass of wine as my evening's entertainment). I managed to get a hotel with a swimming pool for the meetings and went swimming first thing every morning, which certainly improved my mood. And I took all my assistants to see Six.

At the end of the month it was the usual school prom shenanigans and summer fayre. I invited some teachers for interview at the start of July. Naomi got a job and my role for this academic year changed accordingly - hello, head of geography. The term wound down. The year was half over.

2019: Part 1

The year began in Vegas, making a Boston Cream Pie for my step-sib Alex and hanging out with Max for what would be, as it turned out, the last time, since he sadly woofed his last in the autumn.

The rest of January seems to have been fairly uneventful. I went to London for the usual history meeting. We had the usual Bristol history meeting. There was a night out with Naomi, Rachael and Xanna for pho and cocktails which ended in Hotel du Vin with us sharing an enormous cigar - this seemed wise at the time but I felt like I'd been kicked in the chest the next day. Mr Z smoked things in his new smoker. I ran a successful history pub quiz with my friend Rich. We packed out the pub, even though we made it fiendishly difficult.

As all good Februarys do, this one began with a snow day - bliss - and I didn't have to spend the whole of it chained to my computer, writing a book - double bliss. I did have other jobs to do but they weren't quite so onerous. I am absolutely determined to stop saying yes to things next year. Even my line manager has suggested I should stop putting my hand up.

I went back to London for some training and at some point out for cocktails at Browns with Jo, Ali and Kath. Then it was time for SKIING again!

This year we stayed in St Martin am Tennengebirge and skied in the Gosau region. The town has its own, deserted nursery slope, were we spent the first and last day (the last day it rained so it was quite miserable). Notable moments included falling off the t-bar with Rachael and having to roll over the off-piste to get back; the bus breaking down and having to get the public bus; Ruby's Stella McCartney ski suit and losing her phone; the infamous swimming pool incident that almost led to a phone call to the police; having Carl and Rhys as our drivers again; getting stuck in a tunnel on the way back because there was a fire on top of it; Alex being too ill to ski one day; and the tubing. The tubing was amazing! So much fun.

I honestly cannot remember a time when I have ever screamed like that but it was definitely required.

February after skiing was a little flat, as usual.

March was a good month for parties. It started in the pub with an ex-colleague, Emily, back visiting from Canada. Then there was Rachael's house-warming party, which produced a 10-year drunk for me - I danced so much my skirt literally fell off; I was very sick; I fell asleep on the bathroom floor; I stumbled back to Naomi's and was sick there too; I had something approaching a hangover the next day (I don't really get hangovers). I also visited Sheffield and went to a Take That tribute band with Jen and her friends. Sadly did not drink enough to make that enjoyable.

I also presented at a big conference towards the end of the month, whilst in Sheffield, on the theme of diversity in the curriculum, which made me more nervous than I can ever remember being before. Plus I went to a superb lecture by Professor Hazel Carby and the Matthew Bourne production of Swan Lake, so it wasn't all raucous drinking.

A fair amount of raucous drinking was done, though. Go me.

Monday 30 December 2019

2019: The Year in Knitting

I have really rediscovered my knitting mojo this year. After a dismal showing last year (tbf I was really busy) and the year before (no excuse) I have managed to knit up more than both years combined in this year. Go me!

I have just FO'd the Volt, last Friday - pictures to come tomorrow, hopefully. I need to block it but I am putting it off.

More than half of my projects this year were for somebody else, which is a change. I have enjoyed new challenges like the picot beaded edging, steeking, colourwork socks and crochet. It was good to get the diatom shawl kit out of my stash, finally.

Much like this time last year, I am seeing the new year in with a stripey 4-ply Isabelle Kraemer jumper - this time I'm working on Ravello in some blue tweed I bought in Copenhagen in the summer, matched with some blue tweed I bought at Wonderwool coughcough years ago. Hopefully I will be able to beat my 2019 yardage in 2020. I'd really like to finish up some of the long-term projects I've been working on, too.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Sunday Selfie

I spent the weekend in Edinburgh with my friend Jen. Her older daughter, Abi, taught me how to use Tik Tok. Her younger daughter, Isla, kept me amused by being generally hilarious all weekend long.

She'd had reindeer facepaint but kept rubbing her face. Small person problems. 

Flying to Edinburgh and back was supereasy and I can see myself doing it lots more in the future. I have, however, got some horrible sinus cold to contend with now. Hoping this is my usual Christmas illness getting out of the way before I go skiing. 

Sunday 1 December 2019

Sunday Selfie

I got some new glasses. I wanted some this shape and sent Mr Z and Mother Hand pictures of the options; then I picked the pair they didn't prefer anyway, because I liked them better. Mr Z says I look very waspy. I am enjoying feeling like a 1950s office worker.

Weekend WIP

The Volt is starting to look close to finished!

It's the most 80s shape and design imaginable. I'm looking forward to the sleeves going on and seeing how this will change the neckline.

On Saturday I managed to finish the back, shape the back shoulders, three-needle-bind-off the front and backs together, and pick up and knit the neckband. Now I need to sew the side seams and pick up and knit the sleeves. I've got one full ball and a partial ball - maybe a quarter, maybe a third - left, so not loads and therefore, in theory, shouldn't take too long. The problem is that it is now quite bulky and difficult to tote around with me. I might not be able to drag it on the plane to Edinburgh next weekend.

Late in the day edit to say: I have now sewed the side seams and picked up for the sleeves. I'm taking the bus to work tomorrow so might drag it with me for the long journey to Bath after school for the Christmas markets but, as I said - bulky. We'll see.

Weeknote: 1/12

I've made some great progress on the Volt - see my WIP post, but here was me trying it on before I'd done the neckband, at Flock yesterday.

I have been plotting a new small cardigan for the new niece, using up some Lorna's Laces I've got, so it has been killer not casting it on this week because I reckon it will be really speedy.

Going to:
Not many places this week. Still trying to keep my head down before ultra-busy December.

I went to dinner at the Spaghetti Incident on Stokes Croft on Friday night - fantastic food and cocktails, though you'd likely walk past it without thinking much about it, as it doesn't show off from the outside. Then we went to 51 for a drink and I felt all nostalgic about going there with my old school friend Beccy, who I haven't seen for a couple of years now, thanks to her residence in Australia.

Yesterday was a knitting day and we went on the Flock afterwards, though I left early so we could pick up our Christmas tree. Sorry, not sorry. I don't care that it's early. It's sitting in the back garden for now but will be brought in and decorated soon.

I finally went back to a yoga class after school, on Tuesday. It has been a long time getting back on a weeknight and it may be a while before I can do it again, but I have done it once and that's once more than before.

Entertained by:
Similar to last week - continuing with the same books. Enjoying the Apprentice a bit more now that there are fewer candidates and they all get a bit more screentime to look inept. This week led to an idle conversation about a product to sell to Lord Sugar if one was to take part in a series and I managed to think of one, so perhaps that is my route to being on Strictly.

I've been listening to a podcast series from the BBC; the first one was Murder at the Lucky Holiday Hotel and it was put together and narrated by Carrie Gracie. The second series is Phillippe Sands on the Ratline. I think it's called Refinery 29; worth a look, as the episodes are only 20ish minutes long.

Accomplished - I moved along three trips (two abroad) at school this week and managed to get through a fair whack of my to do list - but also daunted by December. It's a fairly even balance of work and social things, so I shouldn't feel like this, but I do love a lazy weekend at home and there won't be one now for a long time.

Saturday 30 November 2019

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

I do love musicals week! Tough choices again tonight but I do love a Charleston and Emma and Anton's was such a classic that I had to choose it, even though Hairspray is among my favourite musicals and I thought Karim and Amy's jive was epic.

Only two more weeks to go!

Friday 29 November 2019

Fave Friday

This week, a simple fave of a drink after work turning into several hours of fun chatter in good company. I've made it out with my work friends two Fridays in a row. Definitely winning. This morning I slept through my alarms and woke up 18 minutes after I needed to leave the house for my usual bus, but I held my nerve and caught a later one (the same time as the one I caught when I was almost late for interview for my current job, a journey that probably shaved 2 years off my life) so I could still have a drink and not have to slope off early because I was nearly asleep. 

I am very pleased to be working in Bristol now and have such lovely colleagues. I mean, I always had lovely colleges, but it is much easier to sit here on a bus home than the palaver of going out after work in Wiltshire and having to make plans around my car. 

Thursday 28 November 2019

Three on Thursday

I'm devastated that I forgot to blog yesterday. I don't really know what happened, but I also forgot to upload the fourth episode of my podcast and I didn't realise until this evening. I forgot I hadn't blogged until I opened Blogger to blog today. It's like Wednesday didn't happen. I'm blaming the Y13 marking: I worked on it before and after The Apprentice, to the detriment of my actual life. But, ah well. I nearly cheated and back-dated but I would have known. And I had Y13 parents' evening tonight so it really did have to be done (I didn't find it but, close).

What am I thankful for this week? Mr Z says him but I have already said him and it is ongoing.

I'm thankful for my PT, Jenny. For months now she has not pushed me too hard in our sessions, but she's noted that I've gone back to the gym/yoga in the past few weeks and she set me a killer circuit last night. I have been seeing her now for nearly 10 years and she's very good at knowing how much I can cope with on any given week.

I'm thankful for my lovely work colleagues. I remember when I moved schools and decided I wouldn't make friends because I had enough friends. I'm glad that didn't last. Three weeks until skiing with some of them. Very exciting.

I'm thankful for knitting group. I made a mental calculation this morning on my drive to work, that after this weekend I can't go again until early February and then not until April, which made me sad, though I now see there is a 5-Saturday February - a phenomenon that happens only once every 28 years - so the extra one will keep me going. It is so nice to hang out with other crafters and chat and get help and cheerleading.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Tuesday Ten

Ten new things I've done this year

1. I went snow tubing on the ski trip. Bundles of fun. So much laughing.

2. Jumped off a boat in Malta.

3. Went to a Scandinavian country.

4. Ate southern fried chicken in the American south.

5. Shortlisted, interviewed and appointed a new staff member.

6. Ran a pub quiz...two, in fact. Another one coming up in January if you're feeling historical.

7. Went on the end-of-year boat party with my colleagues. I always miss it because it clashes with the conference I go to every year, but not this year!

8. Steeked a cardigan.

9. Donated my 10th pint of blood to Blood Donors.

10. Adopted baby rabbits. They're not such babies now but they are still very cute. Maybe not quite this cute, but close.

They struggle to keep still for long enough to take a non-blurry photo. 

Monday 25 November 2019

Blue Monday

Nearly 10 years old, this one! November Timehops are always full of me planning, packing and going to Malaysia on those school trips in 2009 and 2010, so I often end up back looking through my pictures. This was from when I went there on holiday, to stay with an old work friend, Rhiannon. We went to the bit of rainforest still in the centre on Kuala Lumpur and this is a picture taken directly up into a tree, next to the communications tower. An excellent place for exploring.

I like this picture because it looks as if extra-terrestrial life might be landing on the tower. 

Sunday 24 November 2019

Weekend WIP

I have really put some rows on the back of Volt this weekend.

Excuse the very lazy photo taking. As I said - exhausted. I nearly fell asleep round the Parents Z after dinner tonight.

I've managed to put around 80 rows on it since last week. I have finished the increases and joined the 4th ball of yarn. I have 36 rows left before I can join the shoulders. I've got to go to London tomorrow so I am hoping to get a lot of those done on the train journeys. It would be the best possible scenario to get the front and back joined before next weekend, so I can do the boring sewing up at knitting group, pick up and knit the neck and then start on the sleeves. The sleeves are meant to be worked flat but that doesn't sound like something I would do.

This would make a very good skiing jumper so that gives me a heavy incentive to get it done before December 15th, so I can take it with me (or 17th if I can cope with not blocking it first). I think sleeves in the round will help with that.

Sunday Selfie

As I mentioned, I've been trying to get more exercise in, with the impending ski holiday. Three weeks in a row now, I've been to the gym and done a leg workout and the past two weeks I have managed to make use of the squat rack, purely by being there in a gap between when men are using it. The first time, I was waiting patiently, but it then became clear that other men who had arrived did not realise I was waiting, and I didn't want to have to be pushy about it, so I used other equipment. Last week a man actually started using part of the squat rack while I was squatting in it, without asking or commenting about what he was doing, which I understand is poor squat rack etiquette. Maybe it's listening to Invisible Women that is influencing me, but the free weights area is definitely not a gender neutral space.


Today I was a bit more confident and set the rack up just as I wanted it, so I squatted heavier and more sets than last week. I am exhausted. And then I took a gym selfie and posted it on my Instagram stories with a hashtag. I hated myself just a bit for being a parody, but I still spent less time on my phone than anybody else in the free weights area today.

Saturday 23 November 2019

Weeknote: 23/11

I've been working through the stocking stitch back to Volt. I think I'm about halfway in terms of row numbers, but the top portion is wider so not really halfway. I am a bit bored with the endless stocking stitch, particularly purl rows - I so much prefer working in the round; but I am now starting to get worried about having enough yarn so that is keeping me at it. I reckon I've used about half of the available yarn now. Logic tells me I should be OK because I was only about 20m shy of what the pattern calls for, but I am keen to see how much yarn I have left at the end. Must also remember that it has drop shoulders so the requirements for the sleeves won't be quite as high as I'm used to.

Going to:
On Thursday I had dinner with my friend Rich and Mike, my old tutor. It was a really nice catch up, particularly since Mike has recently left the role that meant we were working together: he was the ultimate professional so it's nice to hang out with him in a non-professional way. They talked me out of trying to go to the conference next summer and concentrate on Sib's wedding instead: definitely the right choice, but I was in line to do a keynote and didn't want to say no. It's good to have somebody else point out that your expectations of yourself are unreasonable.

I went for a drink after work yesterday that turned into a curry and a late night. Always fun to hang out with friends from work. Only three and a half more weeks before a few of us are off skiing together - so exciting!

Entertained by:
I've been reading an excellent book called Under a Scarlet Sky, which was recommended to me by one of my GCSE students. It's about an Italian teenager living in northern Italy under the Nazi occupation, and it's very engaging.

I've also been listening to another audiobook - Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez. She narrates it herself, which I think really improves the quality of an audiobook. I keep reminding myself that she is coming from a very clear position and also that, like many similar books about big data, data can be framed many ways. However, a lot of what she's saying is irrefutable and it's very interesting. If anything, though, it makes me feel quite old, because I find myself thinking that this is the world we're in and it's not going to change very soon. It strikes me that the younger generations are not of this opinion, which gives me hope.

I've continued watching World on Fire which is really quite fascinating, whilst at the same time being quite sad so far.

Tired but also STRONG! I've started going to the gym to do more lower body strength stuff ahead of skiing and I can feel the difference that moving around a bit more is making. I just need to get better at making time for it. As always.

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

The number of dances to choose from is getting smaller! It felt a bit like all the couples this week were suffering from a Blackpool hangover - lots of good dances but I didn't think anything was going to wow me, until the end. I wasn't sure Chris would be able to pull of a Paso Doble but I really enjoyed it: he played the character well.

I've only got one more Saturday when I can watch this at home and then I'm away for three weekends in a row. I am looking forward to all these events but I'm going to miss cosying up on the sofa for Strictly.

Friday 22 November 2019

Food Picture Friday

It turns out that I don't really take as many pictures of food as I thought I did, so this may be quite a shortlived series. It has afforded me an hour of scorlling through old pictures, though, which has been fun, and I came across this, to date my most-liked picture on Instagram (81 likes...move over, Kim Kardashian).

I took this picture in San Pedro market, Cusco. They sell everything from smoothies to dried llama fetuses (used for spells, apparently). I loved this purple corn but the Peruvians like it in a heavily-sweetened drink, which I was less fond of. Looks pretty, though.

Looking through the pictures is making me keen to return, especially now I know the history a bit better. I suppose with a Peruvian sister-in-law, that's now much more likely. 

Thursday 21 November 2019

Three on Thursday

It's been quite hard to think of things that I am thankful for today, which sounds awful, but isn't. Mainly, I find it hard to narrow it down. There is a lot in my life to be thankful for. So I thought I would make today's post about being thankful for things about myself, in an ultra-narcissistic way.

Firstly, I am thankful that I am healthy - physically and mentally. It's rare that I catch a cold and my body and mind work the way I want them to. I'd always like to be a bit thinner but I'm relatively satisfied with the rest of it.

Secondly, I am thankful for my work ethic. I had a busy day today, with lessons and meetings from 8.30 to 4.30 and only lunch to catch my breath. Thankfully, I am conditioned to the point where I really thrive on days like this and I got a great many small tasks completed that I, weirdly, might have floated on less busy days. Tomorrow is a less busy day but I don't think I'll be as productive.

Finally, I'm thankful for my stoicism. It's rarely impossible for me to put a positive spin on even the most negative of situations and I think this is really important for my mental health - particularly to keep practising it, both positivity and letting go of things that I can't square away.

Long may this continue...though perhaps not the work ethic. I work so much. I know this has been obvious for a while and I keep saying it's unsustainable but, really, this is dawning on me in a more serious way recently. I have terrible work FOMO but I need to get over it: I don't need to do everything.

Wednesday 20 November 2019


The best thing about getting up and leaving for work in the dark is being at work in time for the sunrise. They've been particularly good this week but today's was a stunner.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Tuesday Ten

Ten things on the to-do list

1. Write the Christmas cards - I managed to get myself over to the Natural History Museum for some lovely Wildlife Photographer of the Year cards, so I really must write them and send them in good time this year.

2. Make the 2019 lemon gin.

3. Taste the now-fully-steeped 2016 lemon gin, that I believe is a lemon-lime blend.

4. Finish Volt. I am about 40 rows up the back, which needs to be 156 rows in total. It's quick, but not when I spend the evening messing about with work things and not actually knitting.

5. Knit a little baby cardigan for the niece. Excellent news today - my sister-in-law's visa came through, so she will be back in the UK to give birth next month. I'm trying not to be a horrible grump about this as it *is* good news and the fact I may have to spend part of my Christmas holiday going to London to see the new addition is just a natural part of family life and *not* a massive inconvenience. My inner hibernator will just have to get over it.

6. Do my tax return. I'm sort of regretting sacking my accountant but they made such a mess of it last year, it will be quicker to do it myself. I do actually have to do it though. Hrmph.

7. Tidy the spare room. Mother Hand will probably be visiting at some point so it needs to be fit to be seen.

8. Ring the gutter man and get the gutter clearance booked - ideally before it rains again.


(It's really, really hard to think of 10 things that don't involve work)

9. Sort out something nice to wear for party season. I should aim to shop my closet, as they say, as there are bound to be all sorts of goodies in there that I haven't seen for a while.

10. Insure the rabbits. I was waiting until they were neutered but now it's just forgetfulness that is preventing me. We need to be covered for when one of them inevitably falls ill. When the vet on Bake Off said that rabbits just want to die, I think she was spot on. They are super cute, though.

Monday 18 November 2019

Blue Monday

There's a special light to a ski resort first thing in the morning, when you're walking in the shadow because the sun isn't high enough to reach right into the valley yet. Ski resorts are full of tricksy colours, in my head, because when you take your goggles off at the end of the day everything is startlingly blue, as well (at least it is if you're wearing orangey lenses) and it is marvellous to me that my perception can be so altered and yet my mind doesn't even seem to notice.

Here's an early morning ski trip picture from last February. It was our first morning and our rep showed us a footpath to the town that went through a small wood and some fields. It was a rare treat to walk somewhere so quiet and peaceful - and so blue.

Sunday 17 November 2019

Weekend FO

It's finally finished! My thumb joint is pleased. It has been very sore.

Pattern: Beth's Little Star Afghan
Yarn: Paton's Smoothie, about three balls
Hook: 4mm (I probably should have gone up a size or two, it's fairly bullet proof)
Mods: Nothing intentional, but as detailed before, my inexperience with crochet patterns led to the inclusion of an additional DC on every arm for the first 17 or so rounds. It has led to a bit of bunching here and there but I'm not unhappy with it. The colours are vivid, it's really warm and it will be perfect for wrapping my niece and wiping up all her baby vom and other associated fluids as it washes in the machine without any running or shrinking (unsurprising because it's an all-acrylic yarn).

I did 8 rounds of red, 9 of white and 7 of red - I thought I would run out of red if I did another round. The blanket is 35 inches from point to point and 28 inches from dip to point.

Sunday Selfie

Mr Z and I were talking about the Christmas decorations yesterday, because I pointed out that if he left it any longer to put the camping stuff in the loft, I would be insisting that he brought the Christmas decs down with him. He was not impressed. Then I went to Sainsbury's and guess what they had outside...

I did resist. It's a bit early, even for me; but my busy December weekends dictate that the tree must go up very early, or not at all. I'm aiming for a December 1st decorating day.