Sunday 27 January 2019

Weeknote: 27/1

I am extremely proud to say that I almost stuck to my goal. I didn't manage a stripe on Monday or Friday nights, when I was out late, but I did manage one on the other three days and yesterday I managed another five (basically had RSI by the end of the day); I've knitted one row of colour 14 today and hopefully I'll get to colour 15 tomorrow. I am not convinced I'm going to finish by the end of January but it will be close. I am considering extending my January goals deadline to February 3rd, as the inclusion of an additional weekend will make all the difference.

My thoughts turn to my next jumper. I'm considering knitting Mother Hand a cardigan with a Scandi-noir pattern, a la The Killing, to celebrate our summer holiday to Denmark. I was thinking about making another shapely boyfriend cardigan but steeking it this time. I've got all the yarn I need. It would be a good bus knit for skiing. The difficulty will be deciding on a size - I want it to be a surprise so I don't want to ask. Since she's a similar body shape to me, albeit it much slimmer, I might start with a 38 but increase to a 42, as I do with things I knit for me. Or I might go a size up from that, because it doesn't matter too much if cardigans are over-sized, does it?

Going to:
On Monday we had our usual history teacher geek-out night that happened every January. It was fun to chat teaching ideas with colleagues, as always.

On Friday I went for a drink with friend Charlotte, of notable drunkenness in December, and then on to dinner and drinks with Naomi, Rachael and Susanna from work. We tried to eat Caribbean food but, it turns out, everybody wants to eat dinner at 6.30 on Stokes Croft, so we ended up eating Vietnamese food instead. No regrets here, it was delicious. Then we went to Hotel du Vin for some cocktails. Rachael decided she wanted cigarettes but did not want to walk to the shop, so bought herself a £19 cigar (except it was charged to my tab, thanks Rach) and we attempted to assist her in smoking it. I left feeling like someone had trodden on my chest.

Entertained by:
I've been on tenterhooks all week, waiting to see what HMRC would allow me to keep from my pay cheque, so that has been entertaining. Thankfully it was more than I'd dared to hope.

Yesterday I had a complete day of relaxation and hit Netflix hard. I watched La La Land - I didn't love it. I am a big Emma Stone fan but it just felt like an excuse to relive old Hollywood cliches - a bit self-indulgent, if you ask me, which nobody did, but it's my blog.

After that I watched Sex Education. I'm proud to say I watched the entire series in one day. I found it extremely entertaining - I loved all of it. It did give me a big of cognitive dissonance. For a start, it's got a kicking 80s soundtrack, 80s cars, 80s clothes - but it's set in the present day. Then, it was clearly written about an American town and high school: all the classic high school cliches were there, from tannoy announcements to letterman sweaters - but all the actors were British and it was clearly set in Britain. It became quite clear in episode 2 that some of the themes would not have been possible to tackle in an American high school setting, however. I wondered if it had been written for an American setting and then, at the last minute, Netflix decided it would be banned in certain states if they kept that so they just cast all British actors in it, but they're already built all the sets and started work on the costumes, so they kept it all (even the Americanesque dialogue).

When I woke up this morning and continued meditating on it (I don't know why, either) I decided it was probably a deliberate decision to make it relevant to American high school students without drawing the wrath of their parents. 'Look! This setting is just like yours! These students are, by the same token, just like you! All that stuff you're worrying about is OK!'

I decided the 80s theme was just for fun, because who doesn't love the 80s?

Anyway. Do watch it. It is hugely fun and the characters are all fabulous, particularly the outrageously cool Gillian Anderson, to whom I obvs relate to most as she is the main adult character. It's all set up for a second season, too.

My personal trainer, Jenny, tells me off quite often for overthinking things. I can't think where she gets this impression from.

Determined and accomplished. Not many things have been ticked off the goals list yet but many of them are in progress. I've been doing ski trip planning and other school trip planning and generally Doing The Work. There needs to be more of that this week, but I am still feeling full of beans. The whole day sitting on the sofa knitting and watching TV helped, I think.

Sunday 20 January 2019

January Goals

I know it is January 20th. It's very late for goal setting. However, I was reminiscing about years gone by when I used to make a little goal list at the start of each month and then review it at the end, and how motivating I found it. In my current mood of Getting Things Done, I have made the mental list I've been considering all year something solid.

I've split it, this month.

1. Finish the lesson planning job (eight to go. I should be doing that instead of this, you know...I'm two weeks past my deadline).
2. Write the worksheets to go with the lesson plans (around 60 in total. That is six per day).
3. Write the exam papers - 1, 3 and 4.
4. Book all my meeting accommodations for the summer.
5. Apply for the fellowship I've had my eye on.
6. School marking - sixth form mocks, 12H, 12P and 13H. The official deadline for these isn't until the first week of Feb, which I find is not helpful. I want them done. I've had them for over a week now.

1. Get the floor man round to measure up the hall/stairs/landing for new flooring.
2. Choose new flooring and stair carpet.
3. Put away the clothes I took on holiday.
4. Put away all the clothes over the banister.
5. Finish knitting Westbourne.
6. Wash the kitchen floor.
7. Finish reading a book. I have about three that I'm halfway through - any one of those would be fine.
8. Do two exercise sessions apart from seeing Jenny.

I am not sure I will get all 14 things done, but I'm going to give it a good go. Luckily I have a PGCE student now so I am about 10 lessons light in the timetable. The knock on effect of this should be considerable. Feeling determined. Grrrr!

Weeknote: 20/1

I spent much of the week steadfastly ignoring Westbourne. The sleeves were just so fiddly and I was being sulky about the very tiny job of rewinding all the colours so I had two mini balls of each. Thankfully I managed to get over myself and put four new colour stripes on over the weekend; Mr Z is now chipping in and rewinding the balls for me so I have no excuse. Ten colours left. I am making it my aim to do at least one per day, because I really want to finish this before the end of the month. One stripe a day - 8 rows - is just on the edge of achievable; I also find myself in the delightful position of having no plans for next Saturday though, so I should be able to make some serious progress if I can find myself a good boxset to watch.

Going to:
I went to see The Favourite on Monday. It had a gratifying amount of very bad language in it (very of the time) and I much appreciated the extremely heavy make up on the men vs no make up on the women (unless they were off to a ball) - surely a deliberate choice on the part of the costumers. All three lead actresses were very watchable. I was slightly distracted by trying to guess which stately homes provided which parts of the set: the gallery where Queen Anne shouts at the musicians to leave is in Hampton Court and I walked down it with students last month, and stood in the fire place, so I was a bit over-excited about that.

I can recommend. I am hoping to make a Monday movie a regular fixture in my week, since the cinema offers cheap Monday tickets.

On Tuesday we had the ski trip meeting at school. I am way too overexcited about the impending ski trip - under four weeks to go. I'm mostly checking the webcams daily and stalking the long-range weather forecast. I was excited to discover that the region we're going to is close to where Zoe and I went and had our Austrian spa experience. I think we'll take the students over there - not to the clothing optional side, though, obvs.

On Wednesday I went to an interesting evening training on Curriculum. There were some interesting speakers and I ended up randomly sitting by someone who I have spoken to often on Twitter but never met IRL. The longer I teach, the more I recognise what people are saying in their lectures, but it's nice to be reminded of these things.

Entertained by:
ITV2 has been showing all the Harry Potter films, so I've been watching them. Very enjoyable, though it makes me want to read the books again.

I've continued to watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I like the fact that her American customers are so utterly uncynical. In general, the series makes me sad about two things - one, I would like to declutter but feel hamstrung by (a) a lack of time and (b) a lack of storage; and two, I wish they had made more seasons of Life Laundry, which had a bit more substance to it than Tidying Up.

On Friday night I tried a Netflix movie, Dumpling, mainly because I like things with Jennifer Aniston in them. It was a pretty light and gentle film. I enjoyed the accents. I should try to browse more Netflix things.

Monday is meant to be the most depressing day of the year (though apparently this is a marketing device of Sky Travel) so I have roped in the other Humanities teachers to bake cakes for everyone and make it BREW Monday instead. I had a humbling experience, baking two tried and tested recipes and messing them both up.

Firstly, the brownies - I heated the sugar and butter too rapidly and ended up with large sugar crystals throughout, but because I had run out of butter and didn't want to go out again, I just bunged the whole lot in the batter anyway and hoped for the best. Luckily, they seem to have largely baked out, thankfully.

Secondly, the caramel slices - I attempted the coffee version I tried before Christmas, only this time, I stirred in instant coffee at the end of the caramel cooking process. The granules did not disssolve. Indeed, they went crunchy. Utter fail. I think I will take them along anyway but add a little sign to explain that I can do better. I'll have another go: third time will be the charm, I'm sure.

Much less tired this week. More productive, though still not productive enough. I got all my dates through from the exam board so I am planning the rest of my year now and looking at summer holidays so I have something concrete to look forward to. I'm excited that I might have got a place to go on a free teacher trip to America at Easter, but more on that next week, when it will hopefully have been confirmed.

This week is going to be a solid week of Doing The Work!

Sunday 13 January 2019

Weeknote: 12/1

I got the sleeves onto the needles and have managed one stripe so far. It's fiddly and annoying striping when you're doing sleeves two at a time on one long circular. I knew this already but I the fear of running out of yarn partway down the second sleeve necessitates this approach.

My aim is to get five stripes done before going to knitting group on Saturday. Hold me accountable.

Going to:
Sleep, mostly. My body clock is MESSED. UP. It's not behaving like normal west-to-east jetlag, which would be up late and sleep late. It's bed early, wake early - still. I went to be at 10.30 last night (I made myself stay up) and was awake at 6 this morning, though I made myself stay in bed until 7.30. On Tuesday I was in bed by 8pm; on Thursday, by 7. It has had a devastating impact on my work rate, which is almost lower than it was in the holidays. I am hoping next week will be better.

I have been to our sister school in the south of the city twice this week, once to deliver some training, a second time to do some joint observations, and I've hosted my opposite number to observe too. This is part of a plan that was put in place last term and I'm quite enjoying working in a different school a bit. It's very different. It's given me an epiphany or two.

Yesterday I went to London for the day for a big history meeting. There are big changes afoot. I got promoted to a role that won't require any additional work from me. That was exciting.

Entertained by:
I haven't had much time in my life for entertainment, what with all the sleeping I've been doing. No books have been read. Barely eny TV has been watched, though I did watch the first episode of Marie Kondo on Netflix. Hilarious. When she suggested the children might like to be included in the clothes folding as a fun activity, I thought the parents were going to crack up, but they did hold it together. I'd heard of Marie Kondo before and some of what she says makes good sense. I was encouraged to do some putting away and some tidying today.

Sleepy, obvs. Excited about skiing - only 5 weeks to go. Keen to get started on the next set of house plans - new hall flooring, stair carpet and built-in shelving under the stairs.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Weeknote: 5/1

I have continued to voraciously knit Westbourne, which I started the weekend before Christmas. I was desperate to get the body done and knitted on the flights home, only to realise I didn't have enough yarn or the right sized needle for the final rows. However, today (which is Sunday, I lost a day to travelling) I caught up with Christmas Poirot and finished the body. I am thrilled with it. It is a little longer than I was expecting but it's such an excellent fit. The stripes sort of blend in the middle and then come out again as the colours get brighter. I thought I would be annoyed about this but actually, I think I like it better. Secret squirrel stripes.

I've tried to weigh down the bottom so you can see the curved hem. Even though I changed the last 4 rows to garter stitch to try to ward off the curl, it is still curly. Hopefully blocking will help. The neckline is a lost cause though, I feel; but it's also very wide so I'm not too sorry about picking up for a neckline that isn't in the pattern.

Now, to rewind the colours a bit so I can knit my sleeves two at a time. I am afraid I am not going to have enough grey yarn for full-length sleeves. I have 3 skeins and I had to break into the 3rd for the final few rows. When it comes to it, if I'm unhappy with the sleeve length, I can always frog back some of the body. We'll see.

Going to:
I spent the week in Vegas, being spectacularly lazy. Mr Z and I went to see Lady Gaga's show, Enigma, and for a wander around Red Rock, but other than that our excursions were limited to IHOP and various shops. It was a very lazy holiday.

It's odd, being at Father Hand's. I always feel like we should be doing things but it is also like being at home, where I mostly don't do anything other than relax. I couldn't be bothered to go skiing in the end, because I decided it's just not fun to go on your own and Mr Z would not be convinced. So I spent much of the week feeling slightly guilty for not going out and making the most of Vegas, but, meh. I've been there a lot. I'll go back. I saw a very good show. I ate some pancakes. I slept a lot. It was a win.

On Thursday, I decided to put a price on how much I didn't want to drive back to LA and it turned out that flights to LA + the penalty for returning the rental car to Vegas airport instead of LAX was less than this price, so we didn't have to do that drive again. Hurrah. I was so relieved about it. The drive isn't awful but it is long and we would have had to have left very early because the car rental people wanted a whole day's fee for returning the car after 2pm, even though our flight wasn't until 8.35pm. It was much more civilised doing it this way. I really must not repeat this folly next time. It was a big saving on flights initially, but not worth it.

Entertained by:
As always, when visiting Father Hand's, many movies were watched and series tasted as he reacted with horror to my lack of broad movie viewing. We watched Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Burn After Reading, Gold-diggers of 1933 and probably others that I have already forgotten. I got through the rest of series 2 of The Crown, all of the IT Crowd (still don't understand why I didn't watch this the first time round) and half of American Gods. Good to see Ricky Whittle has moved on from Hollyoaks. In return, I introduced Father Hand and Frankie to Whiplash and Killing Eve.

I didn't get much reading done. It was all about the knitting.

Slightly harassed by my workload. So much to do for tomorrow. Those mock papers are haunting me. Two classes and two papers - I knew it was going to be painful, but I wish I had been a bit more motivated to do them before the holidays. The data deadline is tomorrow so time really has run out.