Wednesday 30 March 2022

Weeknote 10? 11? 12?

I jinxed myself, didn't I, by saying that last week I wrote about wasn't busy. Two days after that last post, the inspectors called, but we successfully put them off due to covid absences, which seemed good but actually just meant a prolonged stress period, where we knew they were coming but not when. I found myself in the happy position of having everything marked that needed to be marked and thus dropped that resolution like a hot potato, something I am now deeply regretting. So here's the bumper edition...


Isn't it funny how an inspector visit can sharpen the focus? Displays I've had waiting in the wings for years went up. Curriculum documents that had been open tabs on my work laptop since November suddenly found themselves well and truly spruced. Student profiles left dusty since September found themselves squinting into the light. Line management meetings moved from cosy chats to laser focus. 

Alongside this, I started the online modules and buddy meetings for the professional qualification I'm undertaking, which almost seemed like a nice break. 

They came last week for two days but didn't scrutinise anything on my line, so it was a fairly quiet couple of days for me. Actually a fairly pleasant couple of days, because my lessons were far more meticulously planned than usual and so I wasn't scrabbling around at lunchtime for a starter activity or a bunch of photocopies. I had a good conversation about curriculum with one for 45 minutes, which was interesting and positive for me. Now I guess we will just wait to see what happens. 

In other work news, I've been finishing the third drafts of my papers, ready for our committee meetings; gently worrying about the status of my two quite abstract big jobs that I am struggling to get started with; doing some reading around for them; preparing for the summer exam series from an examiner point of view; fighting with the exam board about their demands on my time, and winning. I actually said no to them this week, even though I feel terrible about it. 


I have been to the gym and lifted as heavy as I can. Twice. Twice!

I've been to my trainer sessions, obviously, and to a yoga session which was much needed after a particularly heavy glute session. 

And last weekend, I went swimming in the quarry. The quarry looked gorgeous; it was a bright and sunny day. The quarry water was 8.5 degrees. The outward swim was fine, with the wind behind me, but I did not enjoy the return swim, with the wind slapping the water into my face. It was so cold that I started to get intrusive doom thoughts - supposing a huge monster is lurking down there and is about the come up and grab me (I was the only one in the water); supposing my toes are getting frost-bitten and when I get out of the water they are black; should my fingers be tingling like this? I'm sure I've been in the water for too long; I must stop this swim immediately right now (not a possibility at the quarry, where there is only one entrance/exit point). 

Trust me when I say - the hat was not overkill. 

Still, I made it back. When I got out, I actually felt pretty warm, but after drying and dressing, my body felt cold for a couple of hours (body, not limbs...weird). I was wearing my wetsuit, which has no legs, so this seemed to be odd. 


Yeah, that just hasn't really happened. I'm reading a book I'm not really enjoying and for some reason, I'm not interested in picking up my jumper to knit. I finally watched series 1 of The Outlaws, filmed in Bristol, which I enjoyed hugely, although I found it quite heavy to watch. 

This past weekend I went on a little jolly, something combining work with the hobby of travel. I went to Manchester for a teaching event. I spoke at said event a few years ago. I have to admit (this makes me feel like a huge snob) that I don't get masses of professional development out of it; I am at that jaded point in my career now where almost everything people share at this particular event feels like a reminder of something good that I have been forgetting to do, or something I already do, or something I don't think is worth doing. Still, I like hanging out with the folks that go and so I booked myself a tres fancy hotel in the centre of Manchester, with a spa, and had very good breakfasts and a sauna and swim on Saturday morning. And some of the speakers were very good; I just could have seen them from the comfort of my hotel bed, if I'd thought about it. 

Going back to Manchester is always weird. I'm always trying to figure out if I remember anything about my surroundings from my visits in the 90s. It's like I expect to turn a corner and be confronted by something that sparks a memory. I doubt I ever go anywhere that I went back then; indeed, I'm pretty sure the only place I ever went in actual Manchester was the station, which looks similar but different. In spite of that, I do find myself getting a little overwhelmed with memories of turn-of-the-century Sally. Turn-of-the-century Sally would have been overwhelmed to be staying at the Midland though, tbf, so we're probably even. 

If we're counting travelling as hobbying then there have been some good developments on that front. I've got a weekend in Portsmouth coming up this weekend, then a week of skiing, then a weekend in Wales (finally WONDERWOOL!), then another weekend in Wales, camping in Snowdonia. Mother Hand has booked us something nice for May half term and I've just booked flight to Edinburgh for June, so I can see for myself how late it stays light around the solstice. Zoe has booked us some travel to Spain in August: we're getting the ferry to Santander, driving the pilgrim route and then flying home from Porto. I'm quite giddy at the thought of it all. 


All very springlike, tbh. My mood has lifted. I feel upbeat and positive. I've got much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. Hibernation is no longer the order of the day; today I actually cleaned something. Bring on the warmer weather and the good vibes. 

Sunday 6 March 2022

Weeknote 9


It has not been the busiest of weeks, I must say. The 20 minutes of marking a day had to cease at the end of the week because, incredibly, I ran out of marking. I know. How? It's amazing. The marking has, of course, started to come in again and the discipline requirement will shift slightly to focus on doing it without an imminent deadline, but that's a problem for next week. 

I did some paper redrafting and a very small amount of reading for other projects - not enough, but at least some. I have these two meaty projects needing my attention that I just keep parking because I am not yet sure how to break them down into stages. I've never considered this as a cause of procrastination before, either because my projects are usually broken down into stages for me or because I've never been willing to examine the procrastination properly. I suppose that when I was writing the teaching book, it took me over 12 months just to write the chapter outline - probably longer than it took to write the whole thing - and that was mainly because I was the one who had to make the decisions, rather than writing to someone else's plan. 

What to do? It would be easy to pass it off as imposter syndrome but it's not. Nor is it a lack of productivity. It's more a lack of experience in formulating a plan, I guess. Something for me to consider in the coming week, when those plans really better get done or I am going to start to feel stressed and agitated. 


I had a day at Tamworth snowdome which was some pretty hefty exercise (and also comes under the category of Working, because it was a refresher for a ski course). I haven't been to Tamworth on a weekday before and it was refreshing to find it almost empty and with plenty of space for doing the necessary training and picking up some tips from the coach. 

The day left me a bit stiff for my visit to the trainer on Thursday but it was good to get back into the gym and I had high hopes of a weekend visit as well, but then came down with a minging cold that has kept me in bed most of the weekend. It's not covid - I tested and it isn't similar to what I had before - but it has floored me. Either it's a particularly virulent strain or my immune system is completely wrecked from two years of isolating. 


Basically no hobbying occurred this week. I did some reading, of Alison Weir's Six Wives: Katherine of Aragon. It's good but I should probably have read it before I taught the Tudors at A-level for six years, because the story is super-detailed but they're mostly details I already know, so it feels a bit wordy for me. There are some interesting asides in there that I wasn't aware of, to be fair. I just wish I was reading something else.

Something else did arrive this weekend in the form of Jerry Brotton's This Orient Isle, looking at the relationship between Elizabethan England and the Islamic world, which I am looking forward to getting my teeth into, but it's hardly bedtime reading. 

I've been playing around with my new phone but it's a bit half-hearted. I really miss my old phone. I'm still considering getting a new battery and reverting to it, but that would be a chronic waste of a brand new fancy phone. 

We finally finished Super Mario for the Switch so have started all over again, naturally. 

Entertained by:

I haven't done much TV watching, either. Today I binged the series Close To Me, that I had saved on the TV box, which was OK but probably would have been better spread out over a few weeks (or viewed when not feeling like a phlegm-producing sawmill). 


Fine, until I was overcome by the cold of doom. Thankfully it does seem to be lifting.