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.

Saturday 16 November 2019

Weeknote: 16/11

Yes, I have been knitting again. Finally, the crochet is finished - look out for the FO post tomorrow as it is currently blocking. That means I've been able to knit on with the Volt without feeling guilty about it, and I have flown through so far: I've finished off the ball I'd started on the front and I've got to the end of the cable detail at the bottom, so maybe a quarter of the way up the length of the front, though of course it gets bigger as it's got slouchy shoulders. My dream of possibly finishing it this month may be achievable after all, though.

Going to:
On Wednesday I went for dinner at Wahaca and then on to a lecture from Dominic Sandbrook about Britain 1979-82. He was very engaging and even made me feel a bit sorry for Margaret Thatcher. There were some good details about life in Britain in those days; he related the story of a woman who was fired for wearing a trouser suit to work (and the decision was upheld at tribunal - her boss said he felt it was the equivalent of wearing a see-through blouse) and explained that Fawlty Towers was like a metaphor for how Britain was viewed by the world at the time: outdated, a bit shoddy, cheaping out, badly run. An interesting angle.

I've had an extra day at home this week due to the exam board meeting being online, so my desk is tidy and all the washing is done. Hurrah.

I haven't made it to the gym or to yoga, thanks to a couple of bad nights of sleep (mainly my fault for not going to bed earlier) but I did buy a new journal with the express purpose of using it to log food and exercise. I must get these ski legs as good as they can be for December. Only four and a half weeks to go.

Entertained by:
I started the second season of GLOW, which I just love for the 80s vibe more than anything else. It's good on female empowerment, too. I'm having to hold back from watching too many in a row.
To distract myself, I watched all of Unbelievable. Some excellent acting and a really good story; I felt like 8 hours was a bit long but also understand that the story needed to be done justice.
The other good bit of TV at the moment is His Dark Materials. Ruth Wilson is excellent. The whole show is, to be fair.
I've been reading Tombland some more and finished Gotta Get Theroux This on audiobook; I've just started Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, which she narrates herself. It's very good so far.
I also bought Vogue, for the first time in ages, because Lizzo is in it and I'm a big fan.

Mainly tired but also still like I'm Getting Things Done. The house is looking tidier than it has for about four months because the understairs stuff is finally built and we can start putting things away. The flooring man is coming back to remeasure this week and we might even get the hall done for Christmas. I've accepted a new piece of work for the exam board that is going to keep me busy over the next two weekends, so I am trying to get as much of the deck cleared as possible, and that includes having a neat house. A messy house is a stressful place: I have learned so well just to put up with it that I never really realised it's possibly causing a low-level hum of irritation that is just always there. More tidying must occur.

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Honestly, impossible to choose just one tonight. Everybody brought their A game and it was really spectacular. I love the Blackpool dance floor because (as I'm sure I've said before) you can see the whole thing flexing and moving under the dancers and it's amplified by the fact they all have little teams dancing with them. I really could have picked any of the dances as my favourite this week but I am going with the jive and the, the, the American, the charleston....!

I was really excited about seeing the jive because they're always great on that bouncy floor. I really loved all the little nods to Elvis throughout and I thought he played the character superbly, as well as being so sharp in all the steps.

Karim and Amy's charleston has to go in because it is pure joy. Every year in my Timehop, a tweet comes up about wanting to save 'Patrick's American smooth' to watch when I am feeling sad because it's just so joyful. I don't remember that dance particularly (I probably blogged it) but this one could be in the same boat.

Saffron's quickstep was great - loved the music. I was even pleased for slightly-creepy-Anton getting his first ever 10s - I can't believe it has taken so long. Also Alex and Michelle were both living their best lives, dancing to their dream songs. Oh, fine - here is the link to the playlist. It's worth watching them all this week, I think.

Friday 15 November 2019

Food Picture Friday

Nachos, American style. I bought this plateful whilst on holiday in Vegas in 2017. We had driven up to Mt Charleston and gone for something of a hike, so I felt these were earned and ordered the full portion. You'll be unsurprised to hear that I had to take a fair amount of this home with me in a box. Nachos, cheese, jalapenos, olives I can cope with - it was the enormous serving of chilli on top that made it impossible to finish.

As far as I remember, Max (Father Hand's dog) enjoyed finishing these off when we got back later that night. He loved leftovers, did Max. Sadly, he passed away last month; he was pretty old and had been diagnosed with a tumour a couple of years ago, so it was probably his time. I will miss him a lot when we visit, though. Never have a met a dog that looked so scary but was such an absolute softy.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Three on Thursday

We're continuing to be thankful over at Carole's.

I'm thankful that I've got an exam board meeting tomorrow (slightly less thankful about Saturday and Sunday but they are paying me) because it means that it is my 4th Friday in a row with a little lie in. I haven't had a Friday at work since October 11th and I've only got four more until skiing, and even then one of those is a trip to London. Such is the luck of the calendar this year.

I'm thankful that Father Hand isn't terribly ill. He emailed to say he thought he was, due to him thinking he saw something he shouldn't have in the insurance paperwork inviting him for a scan, but it turned out to be a false alarm. I don't see or talk to Father Hand very much at all these days but I would certainly miss him if he was not around anymore.

I'm thankful for...can I say Korean food? I realise it's all very trivial, but I had agreed to get Korean takeaway from the place by work and bring it home after parents evening tonight, and I was looking forward to it all week. I bought far too much - enough for at least 6 - so there is plenty for my lunch-at-home tomorrow too. It has really cheered up a day which began with a drive to work in the snow (this, in turn, made me hugely thankful that, after 18 months, the heating engineers have finally fixed the heating in my classroom).

As a bonus, I'm thankful that I work at such a nice place. Several of my students told me tonight that I was one of their favourite teachers and the parents, too, were effusive in their praise and admiration. I get super-awkward in situations like that. It's very difficult to deflect this sort of praise and make excuses for why it's not a big deal or not really my achievement, which is my usual method of brushing off such niceties. So, I guess I will just bask in it and allow myself to feel quite pleased with myself for the rest of today (38 minutes).

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Today I wish I was...

...back on this boat, or rather jumping off this boat.

It was so wet in Bristol tonight, as we traipsed from the restaurant to the lecture in the absolute deluge, rivers running down the street and me with the new coat without the hood (as opposed to the new coat with the hood) that I was probably just was drenched as I was about half a second after I took this picture, but since it was cold, dark and November today, I felt a bit hard done by. If I'm going to get that soaked, I'd much rather it was in the Blue Lagoon on a roasting August day.

Tuesday 12 November 2019


In the summer, when I visited Malta, Mother Hand ask me if I would visit the grave of her uncle. He died during WW2 in Malta and was buried in a war cemetery there. She had an old black and white snapshot of the grave with the details pencilled carefully onto the back. She thought it might be very hard to find; I naturally hopped on to the Commonwealth War Graves website (which is superb) and had found him in a trice.

Getting to the cemetery proved a little more difficult. We left it until our last day and left the hotel a bit later than intended; two buses didn't turn up; the one we eventually got didn't stop in spite of my pressing the button (Zoe said this was my fault as we hadn't stood up and in London they don't stop unless you also stand up - something I dispute and which I did not hear placidly at the time) and the next stop was so much further along a dual carriageway that we had to wait for a bus back. We hoofed it down the deserted road, shadeless and loud with cicadas, at some point after 1pm. I was thinking, if I'd been raised somewhere around Twickenham, I'm not sure I would want to have been laid to rest here for all eternity.

Alas. The cemetery had closed at 1pm. I didn't know what to do. I briefly attempted to guess the combination padlock but gave up quite quickly. Faced with having to leave and never visit the grave, I plucked up the considerable courage it took to ring the number on the plaque (I don't like ringing people I don't know - a big handicap in teaching), hoping the site manager did not live too far away and might be able to come back; luckily, this had obviously happened before and the very friendly man gave me the combination and stayed on the phone while I put it in, to check I was in OK.

It took us a short while to find it, mainly because it wasn't marked with a cross as it had been in the picture, but we did find it in the end.

I mainly felt desperately sad, for several reasons. Firstly, he was sharing a grave with three others, which wasn't clear from the original grave marker and therefore felt a bit hood-winky. Secondly, he was only 26 when he died; he was a qualified chartered accountant, the youngest person ever to qualify at the time (according to Mother Hand) and he had been married to a lady called Joan but apparently had no children. How desperately sad that he died so young and never got to see out a promising career and a marriage just beginning. Finally, I was sad to think that I might have been the only person from his family to ever have visited his grave. He died before my grandparents met; nobody I've ever known would have ever met him or spoken to him in person. He died in the middle of the war. It's fairly safe to say neither his parents nor Joan ever made it to Malta, as it would have been costly and difficult, even after 1945. Imagine waiting 77 years for somebody to visit your grave, and even then it is someone who never met anybody in your family. And all that time, you're buried in the scorching sun, surrounded by scratching cicadas, hundreds of miles from everything you ever knew.

Of course, I am making some big assumptions here; he might have loved Malta and hated England. Joan might have moved there after the war and held vigils by his grave every night, or at the very least visited whilst on holiday. Being that he is dead, also, he probably has no strong feelings on the matter.

I have complicated feelings around Remembrance. I'm not ungrateful and I recognise that it is a mark of respect, but I am uncomfortable with the notion of a large standing military and less comfortable with glorifying millions of war dead while very little is done for our physically and mentally scarred, still-living ex-servicepersons. I don't like the Battlefields trips or looking for familiar names on the huge grave sites in Belgium. However, Tommy B brought me to a better understanding of what Remembrance is all about and why it is important. I might make a point of visiting a few more CWGC sites when I'm on holiday in future, in the memory of other war dead whose families were never able to visit them.

Monday 11 November 2019

Blue Monday

I snapped this peacock back in January, on a visit to Red Rock Canyon and its environs that Mr Z and I went on during our trip to Vegas.

Such beautiful colours, made even more startling against a backdrop of arid desert.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Weekend WIP

The rounds are getting very slow now I am up to 400+ DCs per round. I've nearly finished the fifth round of the red outer.

However...I wanted something I could work on during His Dark Materials tonight without having to stare at it, so this happened...

It is really nice to pick up something so easy after all the hard work of the crocheting. I have almost finished the ribbing now and feel this bodes well for getting all the way up the back, quick sharpish. The benefit of having exam board meetings at home now means I can knit during, as long as it is a very plain boring knitting that I don't have to look at or think about at all. I find it helps me to concentrate more, weirdly - I think this is all the training I've had, knitting in front of the TV. 

Sunday Selfie

Not exactly a selfie, but a picture of me nonetheless - dressed up as Trump, with a super orange face (dark foundation and orange blusher used liberally) and a comb over made of my own hair.

That's Kate, being Boris. She nearly rode the bike off the stage several times.

This is an utterly bizarre tradition but it is a lot of fun. Now we're on the downhill run to Christmas!

Saturday 9 November 2019

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Michelle is just so fierce. She works the camera in a way that only the utterly self-assured person can. This is a great song and a really enjoyable dance to watch.

Weeknote: 9/11

Still crocheting the blanket. Only 4 more rows to go, or until the yarn runs out. I have stopped adding a stitch halfway along each row and figured out how I can make the stitch count without it; it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference to the corners or points, so I think I will carry on.

The temptation to put it down and pick up the knitting is almost overwhelming, but I am afraid if I do that, I won't finish it in time. I've now shown Sib a picture of it, too (he needed cheering up yesterday) so I can't let it languish.

Going to:
It's been something of a quiet week outside of work and I haven't been anywhere particularly exciting, mainly because my work week has been so busy.

I did go to the gym today, though. I have decided that working out with a trainer once a week and doing the occasional yoga class will not stand me in good stead for skiing at Christmas, so I looked up some ski workouts on Instagram and went down there. It was a bit of an awkward beginning, because I haven't been for nearly two years (I told the desk guy that I do classes and work out in another gym, both of which are true, but I didn't sound believable) and my workout key thing was completely blank, so he had to set me up as a new person and then wanted to show me around. I just wanted to do a 10 minutes cardio warm up and use the squat rack, but by the time he'd shown me around and I'd done the cardio, the squat rack was infested with bros, so I had to improvise my routine with dumb bells instead. Still...if I can make myself go, skiing will be a lot more enjoyable.

Entertained by:
I started watching World on Fire, which is all sitting on the recorder waiting for me. Very engaging right from the start, I am enjoying it.

I've finally opened the latest Shardlake, which came out over a year ago but which I had been savouring. It's too easy to read - like going back to an old favourite you've read before - so I am making myself take it slowly.

I'm still enjoying Louis Theroux on audiobook and listening to it is making me want to go and watch his entire back catalogue. You know, in my copious free time.

Fairly well-organised this week and as though I am getting through things. I am really making an effort to sleep more and this is occasionally paying off.

Friday 8 November 2019

Fave Friday

I was going to implement a new Friday blog theme this week, called 'Food picture Friday', because I very often take pictures of meals I eat out but I never post them anywhere. The ones I've got would keep me going for a good few months.

However, I do have a new fave in my life at the moment.

SOMEhow, Marks and Spencer managed to get some targeted ads in my Facebook feed and they started pushing this on me some time in September. I went as far as trying to order one, but for some reason the website would refuse to let my order go through, saying it was out of stock when I could see clearly that it wasn't. In the end, I just gave up. I decided it was probably just regular jersey and would be a little stiff and not as comfortable as it looked, and forgot all about it.

Then, a few weeks ago, I went and did my marking in M&S cafe (I was hounded out of my usual Nero spot by a harassed mother but that's a story for another time) and I spotted these on the rack on my way out, and although my size was not available, the size up was. And it's not just regular jersey. Oh no. This is...well I don't have to go into it, do I. Basically, it stretches in all directions, is incredibly soft and very warm (I wore it camping on DofE) and even Mr Z wants to steal it. I am considering going to buy another just so I have one to wear while the original is in the wash, but it seems a little overkill. The matching PJ trousers, on the other hand...

Comfy lounge wear is an absolute must for the winter and this is very highly recommended. Just have a little look.

Thursday 7 November 2019

Three on Thursday

Carole invited us this week to think of three things we are thankful for. It's hard to narrow it down to three but here goes.

I'm thankful for the odd school tradition that means tomorrow is not a teaching day and we will be finished by midday. 

I'm thankful for Mr Z, who is making some nice bread for breakfast (since it can be leisurely) and looks after my rabbits even though I said I would do all the looking after. Turns out, the day is finite! Shocking. 

I'm thankful that my worries are largely trivial, and long may that continue. 

Brief tonight - I need to go to sleep so I can properly enjoy my slight lie in tomorrow morning. 

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Workday Wednesday

I read something somewhere recently about someone who had started keeping a job list of everything they do at work all day, to look back on when people asked them what they did. So here's my Wednesday.

7.16 - arrive at school
7.20 - open SIMS to see what I need to plan. It is an easy teaching day - only two lessons. I have to do some urgent marking. There are traditional school plays on, though, and I have a lead role, so I get cracking.
7.25 - ski trip admin. Check forms that were due in on November 4th. Transpose data from forms into ski trip form. Find form from parent whose daughter is not on the list. Wonder how she got the form. Spend far too long puzzling about this. Email parent to find out what is going on. Send updated form off to ski company and request updated payment reports from admin. Worry that large numbers of students are about to drop out, because they haven't sent their forms back.
7.50 - coffee.
7.55 - plan lessons. Start to look at tomorrow's lessons but can't settle.
8.05 - email ski company about the meeting in December.
8.10 - breakfast.
8.15 - more lesson planning.
8.20 - parent emails back to ask if her child can have a place. I think about how to reply.
8.28 - still planning my first lesson.
8.35 - go to teach. One hour lesson to Y11. Involves a quiz, which they love. Also involves them working independently, so I do some more emailing. Finance list has come through; worry some more about people cancelling. Help some children. Email to chase up heating as has now been broken 18 months.
9.40 - a free. Remember there's a Geography field trip next Tuesday and I haven't done the final paperwork submission. Pull data off SIMS. Update risk assessments. Do payment admin for another trip next month. Request days off for a couple of meetings. Find someone to do the minibus driving on the Geog field trips. Update the calendar on the whiteboard. Book first aid bags. Update everything for the field trips and send off.
10.35 - feel sad at the loss of an entire hour to basically trip admin but then remind myself that nobody is forcing me to do these trips.
10.40 - break. Still haven't done any marking. Have a second coffee, though this is folly as it will make me twitchy and chaotic this afternoon, but luckily it's not very strong.
10.55 - tidy my desk, because it is stressing me out.
11.00 - start to plan some lessons for tomorrow.
11.25 - look up who is missing from my next lesson so I know which essays I can avoid marking. Start marking the others. It's so cold by now in the office that I have to put my coat on.
12.00 - pack my stuff up and head down the road for my next lesson.
12.10 - none of my students have turned up. Half should be missing for play rehearsals but I am a bit annoyed at the others not coming. Apparently this is officially sanctioned. Hrmph.
12.15 - spend the rest of the lesson doing an indulgent planning activity for my Politics lesson tomorrow on civil rights. Still not finishing the marking.
1.00 - pop down to the nice bakery on the corner because my lunch is boring.
1.30 - finished lunch; change into my Trump outfit and make my face orange.
1.45 - plays begin. Y13 sending up the teachers, very funny and well-observed. Our play is second. Trump gets mightily booed - I am pleased with myself.
3.45 - end of the day. I scarper, quickly.
4.30 - home. Wash face. Do some work emails for my other work.
5.30 - training session.
7.00 - home for dinner.
8.00 - exam board work.
8.30 - publish podcast a friend and I have cooked up. I've been planning it for nearly 2 years but she has made me follow through. Quite pleased with myself. Hopefully it will go down well.
8.45 - shower.
9.00 - Apprentice.
10.00 - think about other jobs I could do outside of teaching, not because I want to leave teaching, but because one has come up I might want to do. Discuss with Mr Z. Check to see how many people have listened to my podcast. 90 already!
10.30 - blog
11.07 - I really must finish that marking. FML.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Tuesday Ten

Because it's been a while...

Ten things I'm looking forward to

1. This Friday is a half day at work. And a late start. So not even really half a day. I've only been back two days but I am excited.

2. #noplansweekend this weekend - feet up, getting the blanket crocheted. I might even get my shoe collection onto my new shoe racks. You never know.

3. I'm going to Edinburgh to see Jen at the start of December; she moved in July. I anticipate cold, Scottish, drunken fun.

4. At some point there must be Bath Christmas markets, mustn't there? Curse my school for putting a parents' evening on opening night.

5. My friend Bernie's birthday party in December. I now call him by his real name, but he's been Bernie on this blog probably since its inception and he may prefer the anonymity. I'm excited about seeing him, drinking and judging people. Last time we went out, anybody who sat down opposite us seemed to smash a glass. It was an interesting (perhaps not a) coincidence.

6. End of term Christmas party at a Caribbean restaurant. Genius idea for a Christmas buffet.

7. SKIING! That will be early in the morning after the Caribbean feast. I really hope it snows before we go. The historical snowfall looks good.

8. Christmas and new year, obvs, with the birth of my first niece somewhere in there.

9. I'm going to Belfast for the first weekend of January to see Naomi, along with Rach from work. I will finally get to visit the Giant's Causeway.

10. Miles away yet, but Zoe and I are planning a big central America trip for the summer holidays and I am already looking forward to it. I'm not wishing my life away, but still! It's exciting.

Monday 4 November 2019

Blue Monday

One from Malta this summer - this was during out harbour tour of Valetta, putt-putting around in a little motor boat for half an hour, pointing out famous sites, like these gates that were used in Game of Thrones. 

It was a fun excursion. 

Sunday 3 November 2019

Weekend WIP

It really is getting close to being finished, excitingly.

I think I've got the hang of it now, though the more I think about it, the more certain I am that I'm doing it wrong. I've been increasing halfway through each section to make sure I get enough spaces to increase by 20 overall on each round, but, looking at other people's patterns and thinking hard about the maths, this isn't necessary. I don't know why it isn't necessary (I think you have to do this to keep the stitch count right) but I think it might come down to me sticking my crochet hook in in the wrong place. I don't know how to explain it, but since there is one fewer gap between DCs than there are DCs, I deduce this is where my error lies.

Ultimately, it matters not. I've got kind of wavy star arms but, as Jenny pointed out yesterday, it just looks a bit like a flower, and that's no bad thing. I am interested to see how it blocks. I like the colour palette, which is great for a Peruvian Christmas baby. And, I am only a few rows off being done, whereupon I can go back to this squishy loveliness...

I really hope to finish both by the end of the month....we will see.

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Ooooh, I love a good quickstep. This one had me dreaming of when I eventually become famous enough to be a Strictly star and do the quickstep myself. I'd choose a piece of music quite similar to this one.

I also enjoyed Mike and Katya's charleston and Scarlett and AJ's salsa had me rewinding a bit - the lift where he puts her on his shoulders was impressive, both for its execution and the way he managed to make it seem like it was all meant to go the way it did, even winking at the judges at the end. She is similar in size to him so I suppose it was a marvellous achievement and it did look good. A bit frantic overall for me, though. Seveeeeeeern.

Sunday Selfie

Some more from my summer Copenhagen jaunt.

It was pretty cold, wet and windy the day we visited Nyhavn but the colours were no less vivid. We had a very pricey but very Danish lunch next to the harbour.

I know I've just had some time off work but looking at these makes me ready for another holiday. Only 6 and a half weeks until skiing...

Saturday 2 November 2019

Weeknote: 2/11

Well crocheting really (incidentally, I always, without fail, type that as corcheting and have to correct it. Just another example of why it is a dark pursuit.)

The blanket is coming along, and looks quite nice, even to my pensive, critical eye. I am onto the third row of the second block of red now and have about 6 rows left after this one. Pictures tomorrow, no doubt. I've managed to get some sort of hang of it, although observing other people, I can see that it's a fairly unique hang. But it will do.

Not too much longer to go and it will be done; in fact, I am thinking of setting it aside for a short time because I'm flying to Edinburgh next month and it would be good plane knitting. Also - I would really like to finish Volt, in time for the ski holiday I'm going on just before Christmas, so I want to pick that up again soon. I did treat myself to a couple of rows of ribbing on the bus. Once I get past the ribbing and the feature cable at the bottom, I hope to find I'm flying through it, because stocking stitch takes no effort on my part in the evenings and I can watch the TV at the same time.

Going to:
I was in London at the weekend and on Monday, I participated in a focus group for history teachers that was hosted at Southwark Cathedral by an obscure company that works with authors. I am a member but they found me through a different channel. The brightest and best of the history teaching world were there, plus me, and another teacher I recommended, because I thought it would be a good idea if some actual teachers were part of the group, since the others have all flown the classroom now and the discussion was around teaching resources. The fee they paid me for the day covered my entire weekend spend, including travel, so it was worthwhile just for that, but also great to have someone encourage you to rabbit on about teaching all day. Very refreshing for my practice.

The rest of the week has been something of a haze, to be honest. I had drinks with a history teacher acquaintance in Bristol on Tuesday afternoon and lunch with an old colleague on Wednesday. I forced myself back to Bikram on Thursday night - FINALLY, it has been 5 months since my last visit - for the Halloween special. I can feel the gratitude in my body although it is never easy going back. But, Sib said at the weekend that he'd been to class in Surbiton and our mutual instructor (who lives in London but comes to Bristol once a month still to teach here) mentioned she hadn't seen me for a long time. Shamed.

Overall it's been a very relaxing half term, though I am feeling oppressed by the piles of marking I really do have to do before I go back.

Entertained by:
I've been trying to catch up on recorded television so I've been watching The Confession, which just makes me sad because it's a true story, but is very engaging. I've also been watching The Accident - similarly sad, even though it's not true. The Bake Off final was an obvious highlight of the week, as was the Apprentice, when I was able to scoff at the contestants not knowing when WW2 started.

I've been listening to Louis Theroux's autobiography, Gotta Get Theroux This, which he narrates himself for Audible. I struggle a bit with audio books - my attention span is poor and I often find myself having to repeat bits because I've just drifted off - but occasionally I hit on one that really grabs me. Louis Theroux does all the accents and it's just hilarious. I find him quite comical at the best of times. I tweeted about this and he quoted my tweet, saying he was pleased to find someone else who found the accents funny rather than offensive. A big day.

I've tried a couple of new podcasts too - Heavyweight, which seems to be mainly human interest stories, and Throughline by NPR, which seems to be telling history stories from an alternative perspective. I started with the Ken Burns Country Music episode and the way he talks about History was so powerful I was nearly in tears on the bus. I can't explain it. Maybe it is the marking overwhelming me. But, he just captured the nature of the discipline so neatly, I wanted to play it to my classes.

I think we've covered this, haven't we? Generally quite relaxed. Sleeping lots. Looking forward to the coming months. Questioning my career path, which seems to happen annually at this time of year (should I stop teaching? Should I go part time? Should I ask for a sabbatical? I had this conversation with a friend in Devon who I hadn't seen for 4 years, and she pointed out we'd had this same basic conversation 4 years earlier).

Friday 1 November 2019


This is my 11th NaBloPoMo. I like to think I've got it down now. I've found a little community on Facebook that posts a daily prompt, though I'm still a bit sniffy about those on occasion because - well, their first one is 'What is your biggest fear?' and I don't know why I would want to (a) think about that too much and (b) tell everyone about it. But it must be a right headache trying to think of 30 different things for people to write about and you can't keep everyone happy. I just don't think that sort of navel-gazing is right for this particular blog.

I am determined to write daily. I'm going to say this quietly, but November doesn't look too busy at the moment (at least compared to December which is already quite full). There shouldn't be too much need to schedule posts. I managed the dizzy heights of 45 posts in 2015 and it would be great to match that. I sort of want to break my streak of 127 posts/year on purpose, but it seems achievable, which makes it hard to just let it go.

Ooh look - more navel-gazing than I realised.