Thursday 31 October 2019

Happy Birthday, Blog

It's an exciting day. I started keeping this blog 20 years ago today.

It's astonishing to think how much the internet has changed since then. I wrote in html (learned all the tags I needed by heart and logged on to look up anything I couldn't remember) and uploaded it via....I can't even remember. Online communication was ICQ and MSN Messenger for anybody not cool enough to use ICQ. The idea of holding it all in the palm of my hand; of not needing to scan in developed photographs to get graphics; of emojis instead of small pictures of Mr Men; of a blog editor that just required text instead of tags; of embedded videos and social media....they would all have blown my 1999 mind.

So would the idea that I would still be keeping this blog, 20 years later, and probably most of my life now. I didn't imagine I wouldn't live in London. I imagined teaching, but not as my first choice. I imagined Mr Z, but in the hazy way you think about someone you like but assume you will never be in a relationship with. I think I still imagined children in 1999 but not for very much longer.

Luckily for all concerned, the first 8 years of Diario no longer exist online (hopefully) - even now I don't really consider that I'm writing for anybody else to read, but it was much worse in 1999 when there was almost nobody reading anything and I was therefore candid to an excruciating degree.

However, here is the very first post. It was the Blair Witch Project that drove me to begin, because it was so dreadful. The biggest fright anybody got was when I put my hand up through the bottom of the popcorn box and grabbed Jen's hand when she went in for a snack. I cared less about swearing (sorry) and wasted a lot of time on boys. A very typical undergrad, I suppose.

Happy birthday to my blog. I hope we're still here in 20 years' time.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

I was in that London at the weekend so I didn't watch Strictly live; Sib and I went out to dinner, and I didn't watch the show until Tuesday night, which worked quite well because it's closer to Hallowe'en. I wasn't that taken with it: I prefer the regular weeks. It was also clearly a bit of a bad week for them with two injured participants that made some problems for them. I thought it was really restrained of them not to suggest they'd been cursed.

I picked Michelle and Giovanni's foxtrot for my favourite. They are a really engaging couple and I love the Addams Family. She acts it so well: she's one of those people that always seems to be aware of a camera on her and is therefore able to flirt with it a bit. The older competitors all seem to be doing OK, really.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Sunday Selfie

I remember reading, over two years ago, that a lost piece of Tudor clothing had been discovered in a small Welsh church, and I have been waiting ever since for it to go on display. Thus, here is a picture of me looking very excited with it this afternoon.

The Bacton Altar Cloth is cloth-of-silver, dated from the reign of Elizabeth I. That makes it fairly likely to have been part of Elizabeth's wardrobe, because cloth-of-silver was reserved for the royals. Some of the curators have speculated that this is the skirt of the dress, the bodice of which can be seen in the famous Rainbow Portrait. I'm not completely convinced but the patterning is very similar.

It was a delightful afternoon of geekery. 

Thursday 24 October 2019

Three on Thursday

We broke up for half term today. I don't know why we only had a 4 day week and I'm sorry for those of you who don't, but I am so relieved. This is always the holiday I need the most; it's not as bad as last year but I have still limped into it. One of my A-level students is applying to Oxbridge for History - a first for me - and asked me to read a mock Oxbridge exam she'd written today. I wasn't even sure I understood the task myself. Definitely not something to do on the dog day of term.

Here are three things I'm excited about for half term:

1. Hampton Court visit to see the Bacton Altar Cloth. This is most likely the only remaining piece of any Tudor royal garment. It was probably Elizabeth I's dress and maybe the one she wore in the famous rainbow portrait. It was found in a small Welsh Church about two years ago and I have been waiting for the restoration to happen so I can go and see it. FINALLY it is time. Sib has made noises about coming to Hampton Court with me; I hope he'll be happy to stand staring at a piece of old cloth for roughly an hour.

2. Having a beer with a new History teacher friend. We met a couple of years ago at a work thing before she moved to a school in a neighbouring county, and she recently got in touch about catching up and talking history and things. I'm keen.

3. It's simple - lounging. All the lounging. In fact, I'm going to bed right now. I've had two worky weekends on the trot and I am in sore need of a listless day that begins with an extended period in bed. Tomorrow is that day. I can disassemble the floordrobe and maybe even tidy the house a bit. Exciting times.

Sunday 20 October 2019

Sunday selfie

This time next Sunday I'll be on half term, finally finally.

More time to spend with this snugger.

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Really very hard to choose last night. There were so many I loved. Will and Janette's contemporary had me bawling, which I can only attribute to being over-tired because I don't normally find it so emotional.

In the end I have narrowed it to two - Karim and Amy's salsa, which was madly frenetic and I was left impressed at the adjustments: I don't think I've ever seen sparkly trainers in the salsa before but this is presumably a height issue. The end lift is so quick I had to rewind to work out what had happened. And his energy! Jealous.

Also Alex and Neil's Charleston was really entertaining.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Strictly: My Dance of the Night last week

Catching up. Last week I liked David's quickstep a lot. I am a sucker for a quickstep and I loved this one because he finally looks like he's starting to relax and enjoy it a bit. It suited his height.

Honourable mention for Kelvin and Oti's rumba. I don't love a rumba but it wasn't at all awkward to watch. He really is very good.

Monday 14 October 2019

Weekend WIP

The progress on the crochet is both quicker (because I'm getting better at it) and slower (because the rounds are getting bigger). It looks decidedly Christmassy at the moment because of the red and white, but close stalkers will be aware that my future niece is half Peruvian and will undoubtedly want to fly the flag of her mother's country at all opportunities.

Please excuse my lazy, unedited photograph but it was this or nothing.

Sunday 13 October 2019

Sunday Selfie

I've spent the weekend on a DofE expedition. This was taken at the end of today. I was voluntarily in this position.

Some wisdom:
1. 3am is not a good time to discover your tent isn't waterproof.
2. Distant, unlocateable raves in the Mendips go on until 8am.
3. If your group says they don't know how to use a compass, save everyone a lot of hassle and fail them before they even start.
4. Take walking shoes even if you're adamant you won't be walking with them.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Three on Thursday

(I know it's not Thursday, sshhh...I didn't finish it in time)

Three podcasts I can recommend

1. The Joe Rogan podcast - not that he needs any more subscribers. Many of his episodes are interviews with MMA fighters so you'd be forgiven for scrolling right past, but he has interviewed some really interesting people. I particularly liked Megan Phelps-Roper, Bernie Sanders and Louis Theroux. Also I now follow him (and his dog) on Instagram and he seems really grounded and sensible.

2. The 30 for 30 podcast series on Bikram - much as I love the yoga, this was eye-opening. Well-researched and quite fascinating insight into the bikram community - but also quite an interesting look at how people manage to build myths about themselves in order to become wildly successful. A blueprint, if you will.

3. The Mary Portas Work Like a Woman podcast - I have been a fan of Mary Portas for a long time and I can just eat up any content she cares to put out, but this series is also an interesting insight into working practices and comes with advice for improving things at work and elsewhere in life. I'd love to pick up the book, but the number of unread books I've got just makes me sad so I have resisted thus far.

Hopefully something new for you to listen to there. I'm also open to recommendations!

Monday 7 October 2019

Blue Monday

Something from Durdle Door last week.

Every time I see this place, I'm astonished it exists in this country.

Sunday 6 October 2019

Sunday Selfie

Featuring Mother Hand this week, because I found a lot of selfies featuring us together from this year, from our various adventures together.

This is from Whitchurch Silk Mill, which we visited in May during a minibreak to do a tour of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Really pretty location and lots of ducks.

And this is from the palace gardens in Copenhagen, in the summer.

Weekend WIP

The crochet blanket is beginning to grow.

I'm still struggling with the tensioning and I don't love how it looks, yet, but I am definitely getting the hang of it and splitting the yarn less, which is good because at one point this week I literally screamed at it in frustration. I think I'm on round 6; I'm intending to do 8 of red, 8 of white, 8 of red, or until the red runs out, whichever is sooner. Theoretically, there is about half a ball each of red and white leftover from when I made the Barber Pole top, but it's not in the Smoothie bag so I am going to have to declare it lost.

I think, as it grows, it will look neater. Hopefully.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Weeknote: 5/10

There hasn't been any knitting this week. There has only been the dark and foul art of crochet. I've made a start on a baby blanket for my incoming niece; I found a tutorial to help me get started and I am not getting into the rhythm of the thing, although I had to pull out about a third of what I accomplished at knitting group today because I can't really see what direction I'm supposed to be working in or where the rows fall. The Smoothie is splitty. I can't hold tension. But - I will persevere.

Going to:
On Monday we had the first of our annual nerdy history teacher meet ups, which ended with a long chat with Lizzy and a sushi take away. Yum.

On Wednesday I went on my first ever Geography field trip as an adult! We went to Swanage and Lulworth Cove, the latter of which I'd been to with a Geology field trip back when I was studying Geology #atmylastschool. We had absolutely stunning weather for the whole day, which happened to be the only day of the week where it didn't pour with rain. WINNING.

On Friday I hung out with my friends Ghaz and Kath, neither of whom I have seen for quite some time. We ate Chinese, learned about VSCO girls and watched Jimmy Kimmel celebrity mad libs. We know how to rock a Friday night.

Entertained by:
Bizarrely, I picked up Malory Towers this week at school and started reading. My brain is feel a little squeezed and it was about all I could manage.

Today I made some Levain-style chocolate chip cookies. I don't know who or what Levain is, but a friend posted pictures of some she'd made a few weeks ago and so I had to copy. Here is the original recipe I used, copied here in case it disappears and with the ingredients converted to weights instead of cups.

250g butter, cubed
200g soft brown sugar (I ran out of this so I used molasses sugar today, it added a great depth to the flavour)
100g caster sugar
2 Eggs
200g self-raising flour
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon cornflour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
300g dark chocolate, chopped (use chips if you like but, meh)
200g walnuts roughly chopped

Cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate and nuts - I do this by hand to save the mixer and avoid over-mixing. Roll largish handfuls into hockey puck shapes - I get about 15 cookies out of this mixture, but they are super big.
Bake at 210 degrees for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to set.

Significantly less overwhelmed than I was on Thursday. Time passes. Deadlines loom and pass with no world-ending consequences.
I've got two very busy weekends coming up, but then it is half term, whoop whoop!

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Really, really hard to choose this week. They were all very entertaining. I especially loved Michelle's quickstep (that woman is goals) and Dev's couple's choice dance to Aladdin (really fun and he nailed the character) but, surprisingly, it was Catherine's rumba that I wanted to watch again first. I'm not much for the rumba. Shirley said it always makes her feel awkward when it is early on in the series; it makes me feel awkward most of the time because it's so contrived, but Catherine and Johannes nailed it and I think that's why it seemed like everyone was crying. I think he's an excellent pro: he looked so proud of himself last week when Motsi complimented his choreography.

Thursday 3 October 2019

Three on Thursday

A lovely idea from Carole this week - the rose (best bit of your day), the thorn (worst bit) and the bud (something eagerly anticipated).

The Rose:
We had a new parents' evening and met the parents of our first year tutees. One of them told me tutor time was her favourite part of the week and she looked forward to it more than anything else. So cute.

The Thorn:
I spent much of the day chuckling in disbelief at the amount of work I need to get done. It's not even like it's little niggly things, either: it feels like every job is a time-limited, big, meaty, hour plus task, and none of them are fun: data scrutiny. Writing pupil references. Bidding for trip funding. Evidencing last year's targets even though I am not eligible for pay progression. Then, underneath that, the very important business of marking student work and planning lessons. The piles of paper on my desk are starting to mulch and I think it's only going to be a matter of time before somebody tells me it's a fire hazard and tidying it becomes, too, a can't-put-off task. I might just set fire to it myself. It would be quicker.

The Bud:
Well, I am going to bed as soon as I finish this which is quite exciting. But also I'm having Chinese tomorrow night with Gaz and Kath. I haven't seen Kath for 15 months and I haven't seen Gaz for about 2 years so the catch-up is going to be epic. Really looking forward to it.