Sunday, 24 August 2014

Blog move

Due to the various problems I've had with Blogger, I have made the move over to Wordpress.

You can find me here:

I may transfer over some content at some point, as well as some content I have elsewhere.  But for the time being, it's a fresh start at Wordpress, which I'm already finding MUCH easier/better.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

#Bookaday - 23 to 29

Day 23 - Made to read at school

I've never actually owned a copy of it myself...  But one of the best things I had to read at school was 'The Crucible', a play by Arthur Miller.  We went to see it performed live, and it's absolutely amazing.  Despite it having been 13-14 years since I did it at school, I still have my ear to the ground to listen out for anyone local-ish, and decent, putting it on.
And funnily enough, a quick Google has revealed that the Old Vic are doing it this summer.  Got me a ticket. :D

Day 24 - Hooked me in to reading

Are we talking about kids books here?  I guess the Enid Blyton books were pretty pivotal for me.  I first read 'Mallory Towers' age... 8 or 9-ish?  I loved those.  Then I read the 'St Clare's' series, which I also enjoyed.  I also read many of 'The Famous Five' around that age and enjoyed them as well.  Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were what I read most of as soon as I was a confident independent reader.

Day 25 - Never finished it

I don't like "not finishing" books, but there have been a few that I've either just given up on, or just ended up putting down and not picking up again.  Memorable examples would be 'Helen Of Troy' by Margaret George.  I got about a 5th of the way through it at least twice, before giving it a final shot, and finishing it.  I enjoyed it a lot in the end.  But I think the issue with her books is that they are HUGE, and to start on one is a big commitment.  Similarly, I have her book about Elizabeth I that I got about a 5th of the way through and then dropped.  Like the other, I do intend to give it another go sometime soon.
I'm currently reading 'The Wasp Factory' by Iain Banks, but am considering dropping it.  Nothing much is happening, and what is happening is odd and not to my taste.  I'll give it another 20 pages or so, and then decide.

Day 26 - Should have sold more copies

I wouldn't know what has sold lots of copies, and what hasn't...

Day 27 - Want to be one of the characters

Pretty much anyone from the Wilbur Smith 'Courtney Family' series will do!  It's an epic tale of the "adventures on the high seas" type.  Great fun.  Failing that, perhaps Ayla from 'The Earth Children' series.  An epic 6-book marathon that both Mum and I enjoyed a lot.

Day 28 - Bought at my favourite independent book shop

I have very rarely been in any independent book shops, and certainly not enough to have a favourite book from one.  I make it a personal point to support Waterstones, because I'd be sad to lose a dedicated-to-books shop from the high street (as opposed to WHSmiths, who sell lots of books AND lots of other things), but I wouldn't consider them very "independent".

Day 29 - The one I have re-read most often

Hmmm...  There are many on my shelves that I have read at least twice...  I wouldn't say that there were any that immediately jump out at me as having been read a lot more times than that.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 22

Day 22 - Out of print

Eh.  I don't know.  I don't have that many books, and the ones I do have aren't that old...  Although I suspect the James Herriot's aren't currently in-print...  Damnit, they're on Amazon with fancy trendy covers.  I prefer the retro 70s covers I have, which are of the same era of the ones I first read at the parentals.


Other News -

  • I am waiting for my new glasses to arrive.  I was horrified at the cost, but they work out at something like 15p a day to wear.  And for the quality of life they provide etc etc, it's actually very worth it.  I couldn't function without them.  I got sunglasses as well, in a style much cooler/trendier than my current pair (which I've currently mis-placed somewhere), and generally more practical for summery weather.  I'm particularly looking forward to wearing them this summer. :)
  • My tenure at UMPS comes to an end in 4 weeks and 3 days.  There are thoughts/feels to be had about that, but I'll save them for a proper post nearer the time.  I will be starting at IIS in September.  I know nothing about that school save what is on their website and things I gleaned during interview.  I go to spend the day there on the 7th July AND meet my new class at the same time.  Excitement. :)
  • Plans are in the works for the summer holidays!  The festivities kick off on the 20th July, a few days before the actual end of term, with a Boyzone concert, literally a 5 minute drive from my house.  My inner 14 year old is DYING.  So excited to bop along to some feel-good classics. :)  The only other date set is Adele and I's "sort of annual" trip to Ragdale Hall on the 13th August.  And I'm almost certainly going to Liverpool for at least 2 - more likely 3 - nights on the 4th.  Adele and I are also planning a trip to Birmingham for shopping at some point.
  • I don't have anything planned for the second half of August yet.  There has been talk of meeting up with Joanne from SPS at some point, and my current TA Kerrie and I are determined to get together for a soozled evening of merriment. ;)  There is also plans for BBQ's at Catherine's new house with the UMPS Team Awesome.  And yet more BBQ's with the lovely Lauren and Cate.
  • I am thinking of re-locating this here blog.  I am increasingly falling out of love with Blogger/Blogspot.  It's clunky and won't let me do images without a hell of a fight.  I hear good things about Wordpress, so that might be the way forward.
  • I have just over a week left with my PGCE student.  It's been fun having her, a learning experience for me, and I've been quite lazy as a result.  However, this past week, and this week as well, I've been used to do all the necessary cover down my end of the school.  I don't mind that much, but it's always harder work in someone else's class, when you don't know the kids as well as you know your own.  It was sold to me for this week as "it'll give your student a chance to manage them all by herself, because whenever you walk in, they switch off from her."  Hmmm...  Dress it up in half-compliments but let's be honest, it's actually because the person who is meant to do the cover just doesn't like doing it very much.  I can sniff through her BS a mile off.
  • Got some bad sunburn on Wednesday during sports day.  It was fine on Thursday, but Friday and Saturday, it itched like a devil.  So much so that it really hurt.  I wasn't a happy camper.  Fortunately today it seems to have calmed down a lot.  It's still super-sensitive and doesn't much like to be touched, but at least the itch is all but gone.
  • Making some plans for celebrating my 30th at the end of September.  Pretty much know what I want to do, now just deciding who I want to invite.  Keeping it small certainly.  Just the bezzie mates.  Need to crack on with that over the new couple of weeks.  It's still 3 months away, but I know how places/people book up quick.
  • ... I think that's it!  Almost time for the finale of 'Fargo'.  What a great series it's been!  Kind of reminds me of 'The Returned' in terms of creepiness, but without the subtitles. ;)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 16 - 21

Happy Midsummer's Day!

Today I am trying to finish off writing school reports (why are the last 3 always the hardest?) and battling insanely itchy sunburn.  It's quite bad.


Day 16 - Can't believe more people haven't read
Basically anything by Margaret George.  She writes historical fiction based on the lives of people from long ago.  I've read and loved her books on Cleopatra, Henry VII, Mary - Queen of Scots and Helen of Troy.  I struggled with her book on Mary Magdalene, and I've started twice - and given up twice - on her book about Elizabeth I.
But still, when she's good, she's amazing.  And she's not well-known.

Day 17 - Future classic
I don't known it, but read it last summer holiday - and it was 'The Orphan Master's Son' by Adam Johnson.  It's about life in North Korea, which is a place I find fascinating.  I could never put my finger on what it was I loved about this book, other than I did.  It was one of those books I was very sad to put down at the end.

Day 18 - Bought on a recommendation
Over the Christmas break I read Stephen King's "On Writing".  In it, he mentions a great number of his books (obviously), but one that stuck in my mind as one I might enjoy was 'Misery'.  I've yet to read it, but it's on my shelf.  Previously, the only book of his I've read was "Carrie", and that must be 10 years ago, at least.

Day 19 - Still can't stop talking about it
My 2 all-time favourite children's picture books are "Dogger" and "Burglar Bill".  Whenever they come up in conversation at work (and working in a primary school, that conversation often happens), these 2 are the books I talk about.

Day 20 - Favourite cover
I couldn't tell you.  Covers are basically insignificant to me.

Day 21 - Summer read
I don't actually own this book any more, but one I've read before on sunloungers etc is "Beach Babylon".  It's a behind the scenes, somewhat fictional (I'm guessing) expose of life at a luxury resort "somewhere".  It's quite funny, silly and a guilty pleasure. 
The "something Babylon" books are a series, of which I've read most of them.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

#Bookaday - 11 to 15

Day 11 - Second-hand bookshop gem

'Birds Of Prey' by Wilbur Smith...  I'm pretty sure I got this one from a charity shop...  I enjoy Wilbur Smith books very much.  They are a bit "boys own", but they rip along, plot-wise, at a cracking pace.  'Birds Of Prey' is the start of a trilogy, followed by 'Monsoon' and then 'Blue Horizon'.  I've read all of them twice, I believe, but not for at least 5 years.  I would like to re-read them again - in sequence - at some point soon.
These books are just topped by Smith's River God/Warlock series.  There are two more in the series, but they aren't anywhere near as good as the first two, which stand on their own absolutely fine.

Day 12 - I pretend to have read it

I own, and keep meaning to read Richard Dawkins' 'God Delusion'.  I have started it twice, and not got very far either time.  But it's been a few years since my last attempt, so perhaps I should give it another go soon.

Day 13 - Makes me laugh

Any from the James Herriot vet series have me laughing every time.  But I have talked about these already...  'Yes Man' by Danny Wallace is very funny, and always has me with a little tear at the end. ;)

Day 14 - An old favourite

'Notes From a Small Island' by Bill Bryson.
I was first introduced to Bill Bryson by my old English teacher, Mr Austin, who said that we had similar writing styles, and that I'd probably appreciate his humour.  I bought 'Notes From A Small Island' and found that he was right on the money.  There are so many passages in there that make me laugh, and it's one of those books that you can just pick up and read from almost any page.

Day 15 - Favourite fictional father

Erm...  Never thought about this before, but I'm going to go with Francis Courtney from 'Birds Of Prey', a swash-buckling privateer, who is both moral, brave, loving and tough.  He's a good guy.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 9 and 10

Day 9 - Film or TV tie-in

As a general rule, I don't like books that have an image from the film on the cover.  However, I did recently buy and read a book that had that...  'The Railway Man' by Eric Lomax.  I bought it after seeing it read and mentioned favourably on the Top Gear Burma special.  I did enjoy the book a lot, and am now waiting to pass it on to Mum.

Day 10 - Reminds me of someone I love

That's harder.  I'm going to go with 'The Witches' by Roald Dahl, because mum was the first person to read a lot of the Roald Dahl books to me.  We used to sit on the settee in the lounge together, she'd read, and I'd listen.  She was really good at doing voices for all the characters.  And as I got to be a better reader, I'd read over her shoulder and point out every little mistake she made. :)  "You missed out the word "and" there."
Incidentally, we were reading a Roald Dahl book together (I can't remember which one), when we were disturbed by a strange noise...  W then realised the hedge on the other side of the road was on fire.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 7 & 8

Day 7 - Forgot I owned it

I wouldn't say there are were any books that I had forgotten I owned...  I don't have that many!
That being said, last summer holidays I re-discovered some children's picture books I thought I had lost along the way in my various school moves.  I hadn't seen them for some years...  In fact, I didn't particularly remember seeing them since I trained...  I was a bit disappointed, as some of them were quite decent.
Then last summer hols I tackled the spare bedroom, and found them in the bottom of a filing unit I clearly hadn't looked in for some time... ;)

Day 8 - Have more than 1 copy
Nope.  Don't have any in that category!

Friday, 6 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 6

Day 6 - The book I always give as a gift

There are two books that I have repurchased to give to other people.  One is 'Encyclopedia Of An Ordinary Life' by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the other is 'Brothers' by Bernice Rubens. 
I currently own neither of them myself. 
My copy of EOAOL was leant to an (ex) internet friend, who never returned it.  Hence now why "ex". 
'Brothers' was a library book originally...  But I ended up buying a copy to give to my sister.

Both books were originally read when I was about 17-20 years old.  And perhaps there is something in that, because I guess that's a very impressionable age.  But those 2 have stuck with me all these years as books that blew my mind.

Another in that category is 'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamant.  I am on my 2nd copy of it, and that one is falling apart.  I keep meaning to replace it.


In another topic of conversation...  At school today, I had my camera out to take some photos of some kids work.  Then I stood it on the side as I readied the children for the next activity, and put it on to video record...

I am just out of frame (you can just see my knee) throughout the 4 minute recording.  But what is there is so interesting.  I hate my voice on it (doesn't everyone?!), but it's interesting to hear what I say without really thinking about it.  And it's fascinating to watch the children's faces as they interact with the game of 'Simon Says' I start up.  I should record these daily snippets more often!
It's an insight you don't get whilst involved in the middle of the action!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 6

Day 5 - Book doesn't belong to me.

My books on my bookcase all belong to me...  There is one possible exception though.  Last week I acquired a book called 'Lost Horizon' by James Hilton.  Mum passed it on for me to read.  We often have very similar tastes in books, so whatever she likes, I tend to like - and vice versa.

I've never heard of this book, or it's author.  So it is currently at the end of the very long "yet to read" pile I have!  Luckily, the summer holiday is approaching, and I tend to make a good dent in the pile then. :)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 4

Day 4 - Least favourite book by a favourite author

This one is very difficult...  Let's choose least favourite from the Harry Potter series!  Hmmm...  'Chamber of Secrets' is probably my least favourite.  It's still good though. ;)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 3

Day 3 - One with a blue cover

The first one my eye fell of was Stephen King's 'Misery'.  Which I haven't got around to reading yet.  Fail.

The only other mostly blue covered book is Dan Brown's 'Angels And Demons'.  A book which I loved!  People make fun of Dan Brown, but he's sold many millions of books, and made many millions of pounds.  Which isn't to be sniffed at.  Yes, they are no literary masterpiece, and funny how the lead female is always an insanely attractive foreigner.  Apparently the Robert Langdon character won't work with average-looking women...  Jerk.
'Angels And Demons' is probably my favourite of his books to date, and the book is much better than the film.  And his latest book 'Inferno' was only really okay.  It picked up towards the end, but the first third was very clunky.  Like he'd done a tremendous amount of research, and he was going to get it into the final book, whether it made sense of not.

Monday, 2 June 2014

#Bookaday - Day 1 & 2


Forgot that I was going to do #Bookaday this month...  In essence, it is a chance for book lovers to share old favourites, new favourites and general book-related things.

Day 1 - Favourite book from childhood.

Well...  If we go riiiiiiight back, I guess it was 'My Day' by Lynne Bradbury.  It is a toddler book by Ladybird, which documents a day in the life of a baby.  It is all terrible white middle-class in the 70s, so is terribly dated and non-PC now.  But I loved it as a baby.
As a slightly older child, I loved the 'Alfie and Annie Rose' stories by Shirley Hughes.  They told the story of Alfie, who is about 4 or 5, and his toddler sister, Annie Rose.  Lovely, gentle stories, with beautiful illustrations.  I also loved 'Dogger' by the same author and 'Burglar Bill' by Janet and Allan Alhberg.
Getting even older, I enjoyed all the Roald Dahl books immensely.  'Matilda' and 'The Witches' were probably my 2 favourites.  I also liked 'The Famous Five' and The 'Malory Towers/St Clares' school stories by Enid Blyton.
Basically, picking a childhood favourite is too hard.  Tastes change so much during childhood, that to pin down one is very tricky!

Day 2 - Best Bargain.

A few years ago now, on LiveJournal I believe.  I happened to mention that I loved the James Herriot series of vet stories, but was sad that I didn't have my own copies.  Then the lovely Zoe piped up that she had them, had no interest in keeping them any longer, and would I like them?  YES!
I now have the complete James Herriot collection on my bookshelf.  A series that I love, that are great at cheering me up if I feel a bit under the weather, and all for free!  Thank you Zoe!

Back To Work!

Today was the first day back at work after a week off. 

I spent the week with my lovely friend Kimmy, who was over here on a trip that has been the better part of a year in the making - but that's all coming in my next post.

Today I wasn't in class first thing.  Well, I was there to greet the children, generally say hello, and then left to have my PPA time.  Then towards the end a message comes to me that G (a child) wants to talk to me "because she feels scared".

(G's brother has cancer.  He is in and out of hospital a lot and recently had surgery.)

Right away I go and get her and we sit on the sofa outside together.  It comes to light that she is worried about her brother.  And so begins one of the gentlest and hardest conversations I've ever had with a small child.  We talked about how it was perfectly okay and normal to be worried about him.  We talked about the medicine he was taking, and the physical side effects (losing his hair).  We talked about ways she could show him that she loves him (lots of hugs and kisses), and we talked about ways she could look after herself when she is sad.  And of course I made it completely clear that I would always have time to listen to whatever she wanted to say.  She seemed reassured, and even laughed as we talked about how his hair might grow back (we decided ginger and curly would be best), and I think she went back into class happier.

But I see a lot more of these conversations in the future...  I spoke to leadership afterwards, who are going to phone her parents to see how they would like us to proceed.  It's a very hard conversation to have with a 6-year-old...

Let's just say, teacher training courses don't prepare you for this.

It is these sorts of moments that remind me sometimes, of the incredible role teachers have in children's lives.  For some children, their class teacher is the only predictable, consistent and constant adult in their lives.  And to be the one adult who a child who "feels scared" wants to turn to, is a real honour.  A scary one, but an honour nonetheless.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A mid-week update?!

Look at me!  Updating mid-week!  What's happening?!

So...  What's the gossip?

Nothing that interesting to be honest...

Although I'm starting to enter that sad phase at work, where I realise that I'll probably be leaving again before long...  I've had an interesting and busy week at school, where I've had compliments thrown at me from all angles.  And because of past issues, that is both extremely flattering and oddly depressing, when I realise that I'm not going to be around to make the most of that good feeling.

And I got a lovely text from my TA yesterday to say that another TA had stopped her yesterday to say "how lovely I am", and my TA had agreed with her.  I am both sad and flattered.  Because I do make a conscious effort to be nice to people at work.  I say good morning and ask how they are, and try to listen to the answer.  I try not to get involved in work-place bitching and I've tried really hard to be caring and supportive towards the NQT working with me.  Yesterday she was trying to engineer situations in which I could stay with her for another year.  :)  And I guess it has been noticed, because after my PGCE student had some difficulties with a parent and another member of staff yesterday while I wasn't in class, when I came back and went around speaking to various senior management on her behalf, there was lots of talk of "Sally will look after you, ask her anything, she'll help you, she's great, etc etc".  Perhaps a little more went into my selection as a final placement mentor beyond "we're getting a bit short of qualified staff"?  I don't know.

Speaking of my student; her tutor came in today and we did a joint observation on her.  Afterwards, the chat the tutor and I had outside was most interesting, and great for me.  We'd noticed the same things, and commented on the same things.  This was reassuring for me in that I was able to comment confidently on the good elements of the lesson, and make sensible suggestions for areas to develop.  And was yet further reassurance for me that I do know what I'm doing.  I get validation on that every single day practically.  Yet I've not completely shaken off the evil demons who tell me otherwise!

Anyway, enough self-reflection for today!

Looking forward to the weekend!  It's Eurovision on Saturday night, which I completely love!  It's funny and quite fascinating!  It's even better if you get a little drunk, which makes it all the more absurd and surreal.

In other news, I went to another of the National Theatre Live screenings at the cinema.  It was King Lear this time...  For some reason, I wasn't completely feeling the love.  I was very tired that day, and was struggling to remain with the Land Of The Conscious.
That being said, I did manage to win myself 2 free tickets to the next NTLive screening of my choice. :D
The manager always comes in and asks the audience a question to have a chance to win.  And I knew the answer.
I knew that Tom Hiddleston had played Coriolanus in a recent NTLive event.
I knew that because I went to see it.
I went to see it because I have a soft spot for Tommy boy.  ;)

Who knew that indulging in Shakespeare because you have a crush on the lead actor could ever pay off?  ;)

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Update Time!

It's a bank holiday in these parts, which is lovely!

It is sunny, but cold, and I am feeling relaxed and at peace with the world at large. 
I'm pretty sure it was the Saturday of May bank holiday last year that I did one of my epic walks, and afterwards decided to do the 'Shine' walk!  Fun times. :)

I have just returned from a pleasant lunch/Starbucks with my mate Adele.  We went to a new place in Kingsthorpe, where we had a big old feed for very little money.  The only downside was the screamy disabled man on the next table, who shouted loudly and aggressively at regular intervals.  Oh, and the appallingly bad bank holiday drivers out and about.  The worst were (I think) a father/daughter pair on bicycles, who decided to veer across my path with no indication of their intentions.  This was on a main road, and they were quite lucky that I didn't hit them.  I mean, I wasn't "that" close...  But if I had come into contact, it absolutely wouldn't have been my fault.  They simply weren't concentrating.  Or looking.

Anyway, Adele and I indulged ourselves in lots of idle chat about our mutual love for 'Sherlock'.  Specifically Benedict Cumberbatch.  And then we played "Deductions" on a clueless woman sitting across for us.  It was fun. :)

In other news, my student teacher started on Tuesday.  I have yet to see her teach a lesson, and that will be the moment where I discover if she is good/bad/or otherwise.  I hope for good, but we shall see.  On Thursday she read the class a story.  Which felt strange for me.  I hoped the children would behave and I hoped she'd do a good job.  But at the same time, it was odd to see the children looking to someone else as "teacher".  They're my babies!  I don't share! LOL.  It is also odd to find myself in the position of being the knowledgeable one!  And realising that I do actually know what I'm talking about.

We'll see how this progresses, anyway!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Almost Back To School

Well, the Easter holidays is almost done for another year. 

As usual, in some ways it feels like it has been nice and long (like my trip to Cambridge to see Laura on the first day of the holiday seems like aaaaaages ago), but in other ways it's blink and you'll miss it.


  • I've discovered a game that I like to play, and am reasonably good at.  This is Rummikub.  I was introduced to it on game night about a month ago by Adele and Ed.  We also played Pandemic that night, but it seemed unnecessarily complicated to me, and not enough skill involved (or indeed any as far as I could make out).  I played it quite a lot with Mum, and have also discovered that it is available to play online as well.  Each game is about 15 minutes long, which is just the right length for me.
  • The trip down to Cambridge to see Laura was uneventful in terms of the journey.  Which now means I can manage to NOT end up in an ambulance on 66.66% of my trips to Cambridge!  Laura was substantially late however, due to someone jumping on the train line.  I entertained myself well enough though.  Luckily, I'd thought to bring a good book along.
  • I spent Sunday-Friday in Shropshire, which is about the perfect length of stay.  Long enough to settle in, but not so long that I miss my own space and my own time table.  Did a few day trips out, which was nice.  We went to see red kite feeding at Gigrin Farm, which was quite a spectacle.  Perhaps 70 kites in total.  We also went to the RAF museum, which turned out to be more interesting than I had originally thought it might be.  There was just the right balance achieved I thought, between geeky "plane facts" and "human interest/history stories", when I am substantially more interested in the latter.
As an aside, while at the RAF museum, I read about MAD (Mutually Assured Distruction).  About 3 nights later, listening to a quiz show on Radio 4, one of the questions was asking what MAD stood for.  It was one of the only questions I could answer. ;)

  • I spent one day with Adele, shopping in Milton Keynes.  I had a lot of vouchers to spend, earned via my various survey jobs I do.  I also finally got around to spending the not-insignificant sum of John Lewis vouchers I was given when I left my previous teaching post back in October.  I got myself an Egyptian cotton sheet for the bed, and a smoothie maker.  Both things I'd wanted, but not quite enough to spend my own money on. ;)
  • Whilst with Adele, we watched the first two episodes of the new Game Of Thrones!  Love that show!
  • I went to IKEA in Milton Keynes this past Thursday, and came away with candles and a side table, which I then put together by myself.  I'm getting quite handy at this flat-pack assembly malarkey!

  • Somehow, I've no idea how, I spent a good 48+ hours with quite bad pain in my left shoulder.  It came on completely out of the blue on the Sunday afternoon, and gradually got better over the next few days.
  • On the day we spent seeing the red kites in Wales, before that we did some cemetery hunting.  It was cold and quite windy, and then having spent perhaps 6 hours outside, with a sore shoulder, I got deeply cold.  That is one of my biggest pet hates.  When all you can think about is a hot bath.  That made me v-grumpy. lol
  • I've spent this last week of the holidays, on and off, preparing for school again.  Unfortunately, I'm also back on the job hunt.  It seems to have come round extraordinarily quickly, but when I consider that this is for work to start in September, some 5 months away, it doesn't seem so strange.  Finally though, what with being back in sync with the academic year cycle, there are permanent jobs out there to apply for.  But whatever I get, really.  I'll be content with!  Just as long as there is money coming in!  It's just that the whole job hunt is a whole other thing to think about!
Neither High Nor Low:

  • Changes are a-foot for my class this coming term.  We're getting another full-time teaching assistant in the class to be a 1-1 support for a child.  This will change the dynamic of our little team quite considerably.  I have only met her incredibly briefly, once, in a crowd.  So I hope she gels with us okay.  I guess she's starting the first day back, but I don't know for sure!
  • I am also getting my first ever PGCE teaching student.  And they are a final placement student...  Which is the placement that really matters.  Having never had a teaching student before, this is unchartered territory for me.  And it's brought an awful lot of old memories to the surface of my own final teaching practise, which was incredibly memorable in many ways!  I am still in touch with my own mentor from my final practise, so it feels rather like coming full circle.  However, I know NOTHING about this student, gender, age, ability.  Nothing.  I'm not even sure when they are starting.  *shrug*  But this is another adult to shake things up a bit!  There will be 4 adults in the room, which seems like a lot!  My class won't know what's hit them!  LOL
  • Kimmy comes to stay in just over a month!! YAY!  That will be such a fun half term!  But it also means that all the school work I'd usually do gradually over the week off, will need to be done during this working term instead.  And let's just say that I'm not quite sure how that is going to happen!  Although, hopefully, with this teaching student coming, some of the burden of planning and marking might be off my shoulders...  Here's hoping!

Friday, 4 April 2014


We've finally got through the term, and now 2 weeks off!  Whoop!

When March started, I knew that it was going to be "the month of work", with nothing really to look forward to, other than getting through it.  It was just going to be a solid month of school, and I had nothing planned with friends, or anything.  But it was fine, because April was going to be significantly more fun, what with the Easter holidays. :)

So, us folk at school, had been looking forward to today, but in the end, left on a downer.  The reason being that we'd had to send off a child in an ambulance, not 20 minutes before the end of school.

We'd done a little swap around of classes.  My children were in the other Year 1 class, watching a DVD as a year group.  And Year 2 had come into my now-empty classroom to watch another DVD.  Suddenly there is running around and commotion outside.  My TA sticks her head in to say they are calling an ambulance for a child, and I go to lend support, being reasonably sure what I'm doing, with regard to first aid, and the like.  And, in MY CLASSROOM is an unconscious Year 2 child, who has had an epileptic fit on the carpet.
I suddenly became the communication relay-runner between the office manager on the phone in the corridor to the ambulance HQ, and the 2 members of staff with the child.  There were various back and forths on responsiveness, state of consciousness, breathing, heart rate etc, until the first responder arrives.  Because, you know, unconscious child tends to be a priority call.*

Once the first responder arrived, the job was to keep children away from my classroom. 

There is a "runner" in the other Year 1 class, who was severely pissed when I physically prevented him from choosing that moment to leg it out of the class.  There was no way that child was getting through "the wall of me".  Because I can be even more determined than a stubborn 6-year-old when it comes to body-blocking a door.  ;)

Eventually got all my class dismissed at the end of the day, and reported the large puddle of urine on my carpet.  ;)


*The epileptic child is now fine.  Regained proper consciousness very soon after leaving in the ambulance and is doing A-Okay.  Thank goodness!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Weekly Review

How are we all, bloggy friends?

  1. I meant to update last weekend, but I got busy with other things, had half a post written, and then got distracted and never posted it.  And reading it back now, it's too out of date to post.
  2. This past week has been a busy one.  Actually made busier by the fact I only worked 4 days of it.  The reason being that I was out on strike on Wednesday.  Unfortunately the strike has happened to fall in the middle of the busiest week of the term - assessment week.  I ended up spending the 4 days I was in work, grabbing children whenever possible to come and read with me, then marking, marking, marking.  Then there were 2 nights of parents evenings, and then a Friday night at helping out at the school disco.  Thus I pulled 11+ hour stints at work, which wasn't much fun.  I'm hoping that this coming week is a little more relaxed.
  3. Looking forward to the Easter holidays at the end of this coming week very much!  Touch wood, but after a tough first half term, I've enjoyed this past one, having mostly got the children settled, and learnt how to work with particular colleagues.
  4. Next term looks to be very different.  There is a new teaching assistant coming in to support my most demanding child, who has both autism and ADHD.  He's lovely, and very bright, but very intense and a real time-suck away from the other children who are just as needy.  There is also going to be a final placement PGCE student joining the class for me to mentor.  I have never been a PGCEr mentor.  And as my own PGCE placement was so memorable for so many reasons (and I am still in touch with my own mentor), it a little bit feels like coming full circle in some ways.  Like...  I have my own skills to pass on now?  Gosh.  And the class I have now are VERY similar to the class I had on placement, particularly in terms of behaviour.  They aren't going to give the student an easy ride, that's for sure.  ;)
  5. Tomorrow the parentals are coming to town.  Mum has an invitation to the 90th birthday party of an elderly friend of hers tomorrow night.  And as it's mothers day as well, they thought we could all do something. :)  For some reason, it seems like a particularly long time since I last saw them.  I guess it was Christmas, so it's 3 months.  Which is a long time actually!  But then I'll be seeing them again a week later when I head up to Shropshire for a few days.  I always make the Shropshire trip completely school-work free, which I'm very much looking forward to!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Weekly Round-Up

It's been a typically busy week!  But it seems as if Spring is finally beginning to arrive in Northamptonshire!  We had 2 days of very dense fog mid-week, but the temperatures have been much better, and just about warm enough to go out without a coat!  I'm not currently quite brave enough to go to work without a coat (it is still March after all, and I leave the house at 7:15am.  I might think differently if it were, say, 8:30 instead), but it is just about warm enough to leave work at 5-ish with my coat tucked under my arm, or slung over one of my many bags.
  • This past week, as background noise, I've been playing our family DVDs.  It started off last Saturday night when I felt a bit sad for no reason (I've put it down to female hormones) and just needed some idle comfort.  Watching some old, well-loved clips and hearing some well-loved voices cheered me right up.  And I suspect the 2 large glasses of wine also helped.  This was confirmed when I found myself laying on the sofa, drunkenly narrating the video to some invisible companion. ;)
  • So pleased that Gogglebox on Channel 4 has started up again.  It first started up about 2 years ago, in a late-night slot (on a Sunday) I think.  It felt like no-one apart from me had even heard of it, never mind enjoyed watching it.  But it is clear that many people actually DID love it.  Because it's now back for it's 3rd run, in a prime time, 9pm, Friday night slot.
  • Did my weekly food shop early yesterday morning and went out without a coat.  For some reason, the warm sun, but slightly chilly breeze reminded me of being a child.  I couldn't really put my finger on what the memory was, but at the same time, it felt very clear.  Perhaps I'm associating this sort of weather with about the time of year I'd start spending more time out in the garden, or playing out with Melanie and Michael as I did from about age 9-11.  A lot of happy memories from the hours I spent with those two.  But that's another post for another time.
  • Whilst out at Tesco yesterday, I noticed and bought my first bunch of daffodils.  Daffs are my favourite flowers, by far, and during these short couple of months where they are available, I like to have them in my house as much as possible.  A pound a bunch, once a week, is so very worth it to me.  They are now in a pint glass on my window sill, catching the evening sun which my flat gets flooded with.  They aren't really open yet, but it seems that they open a little more every hour.  I love them.
  • Yesterday I took a little afternoon stroll over to the garden centre 5 minutes walk from my flat.  It is probably the most middle-class place on earth.  I stayed for a pleasant hour, looking at the assorted gift items, candles and books, and then had a mocha and a toasted sandwich in the Costa Coffee branch that has opened up in there.  One of life's biggest (but also smallest) pleasures is a nice coffee, in a comfy seat, with an interesting book.
  • There is a programme on Channel 4 tonight in which the International Space Station does a live stream as they go round the Earth.  I really hope the footage focusses on the view of Earth from space, rather than "chat with experts".  The programme is over 2 hours long, and could either be beautiful, or ghastly, if they get the focus wrong.  It's either watch that, or the 2nd part of the latest Top Gear special, but that is easy to catch up on iPlayer later in the week...  Because I think this space programme might lose it's magic if it's not watched live.
  • I've been disappointed with the lack of coverage of the winter Paralympics.  A 30 minute catch-up programme wasn't what I wanted.  I wanted what the BBC did for the winter Olympics, and did a 2-hour programme at the same time.  Which was perfect for me to have on in the background as I did school work.  The Channel 4 Paralympic coverage didn't fit my schedule in quite the same way, and as a result, I've seen next to none of it.
  • A strange night last night...  I'd stayed up a bit later than intended, having poured a large glass of wine rather later than planned, which I then drank rather slowly, whilst perving over Benedict Cumberbatch, my latest muse, on Pinterest.  I finally went to bed shortly after 11, and around 11:30 was disturbed by an engine running outside for quite a long time.  In the end I got up for a nosy.  Outside was a lorry, 2 men, and a car.  For some time they fiddled around with the bins, and then proceeded to transfer a washing machine and a fridge freezer from the back of the lorry, into the car.  Making them fit...  Somehow!  I found the whole operation rather strange.  Particularly as this was 11:30pm at night...  Needless to say, I did take down the lorry's number plate.  I thought it wise.
  • Continuing on the strange events of the night.  I can't have been asleep long when I was hit by something that has not happened to me for a number of years.  I can only liken it to something between sleep walking and a hallucination.  Basically, I was woken with a start, convinced I was in a hotel room, and that Andrew Scott, the actor who plays Moriarty in 'Sherlock', had broken into my room and was standing at the foot of my bed, trying to steal my duvet.  I came out of it quite quickly, and fell back asleep again.  Only to waken again later hearing someone singing a mindless tune really loudly in my ear.  I couldn't get them to shut up and couldn't open my eyes.  I had to reach up and physically open my eyelid to break out of the moment.  Both very strange.  But made perfect sense in the middle of the night.  I can tell you a few other stories of this, should you be interested.  But, like I say, this is the first I can remember of this happening since I was at university.
  • I think that's it for this weekly round-up...  Same time next week?
  • Sunday, 9 March 2014

    Childhood Memories

    A post I read via Feedly this morning got me thinking about photographs.

    They talked a bit about the modern technology of today, where, via Google Maps street view, you can revisit places that have special memories for you.  Via this medium, you can revisit childhood homes, old schools, the houses of old friends, and every other place that was once important to you, and the centres of your very existence.

    This led me to thinking about photographs.

    Children today live in a different world, when it comes to photography.  With pocket cameras, and decent phone cameras, every moment is “snap-able” in an instant.  This wasn’t the case in my childhood.  Even 20 years ago, photos were reserved for “occasions”.  Birthdays, holidays, family get-togethers, Christmases.  There aren’t that many of the “every day” moments that children today get snapped doing.  That being said, Mum was pretty snap-happy, and there are some.  And we are extremely lucky to have quite a large collection of video clips from big sister aged approx. 6 months, up to me about age 8 (which continued on and off until I was about 12, before stopping completely for unknown reasons).  I love to watch those videos and have done for many, many years.  I have also observed with interest how MY interest in them has changed and evolved as I’ve gotten older.

    Anyway, I found myself today, thinking of the things that don’t exist in photographs.


    ^ This was my first childhood home. 

    Things that aren’t photographed:

    • In my mind, it is always sunny in Combwich.  In virtually every memory of the place, it is warm and sunny.  In the two times I have visited since moving away 25 years ago, it has been blazing sun, so I have no reason to think it is anything BUT sunny in that little Somerset village.
    • The day I “ran away”, got about 200 feet down the road with my pink cotton-lined straw basket, only to turn and see Dad meandering down the opposite side of the road behind me.  He suggested I “play running away in the back garden”, to which I enthusiastically agreed.
    • Being in the house of an old woman down the road, who dressed Hazel and I in old fashioned outfits to sell lavender sachets at church events.
    • Walking to the local shop, over the bridge, with my 20p pocket money, to buy penny sweets.
    • Keeping my pocket money in an old Boots prescription paper bag.
    • Being pulled across the school playground in a hurricane by an 11 year old, to go to the toilets.
    • Getting my foot stuck under a cupboard at school, and being too embarrassed to ask the teacher for help.
    • Not being able to spell the word “a”.  Getting confused, crying, and being told to go and play with the Barbies instead.
    • Failing to work out how to put on a t-shirt so that the logo was on the front.
    • The cheesy biscuits they would occasionally serve in the home corner at playgroup.
    • My weekly bag of Monster Munch to eat in the car on the way home from shopping. 
    • One week, instead of my usual Monster Munch, I got a Double Decker chocolate bar, and didn’t much like it.  Regretted the purchase.
    • Seeing Pound Puppy for the first time in a shop in Bridgwater.  Wanted it immediately.  Got it for my birthday some time later.  Still have Pound Puppy today.  She’s asleep in my bedroom.
    • Enjoyed playing a game that consisted of wrapping up my toys in scarves, like they were presents.  Being confused that mum didn’t seem to enjoy the game as much as me, very quickly getting bored and making excuses to go elsewhere.  One of the first times I realised that people might not always like the same things as me.
    • Dancing in the dining room to my nursery rhymes record.
    • Using the cassette tape flap as a home for my playmobil people, and getting a shoe stuck in there.
    • Dad spilling gravy on my head.
    • Sitting on the loo, thinking that I’d been 3 for a really long time.
    • Visiting “the maze” at the bottom of the road.  I liked it there, even though there was a bit where you had to step over a bit of water, which made me nervous.
    • Running ahead one day during a trip to the maze, and falling over.  Regretted running ahead when mum wasn’t immediately there to pick me up.
    • At the park, trying to swing as high as possible to see over the bank.  Never quite got mum to push hard enough.
    • Being jealous that Zoe at playgroup’s hair was long enough to fit through the toy bridal veil we had.
    • Taking my cup of apple squash to playgroup, because I didn’t much care for milk OR water.
    • Standing on the bank at the back of our house, nervous because it seemed to slope into the water very steeply, so clinging tightly to the chain-link fence, but not wanting to miss seeing the ducklings/goslings.  Always a little relieved to get back into our mercifully flat garden.
    • Winning at races at the playgroup we had to drive to.  Because all the other children were disabled.  I did indeed go to a playgroup for children with special needs.  And it never once dawned on me that the other kids there had anything different about them.  The same goes for Jack, who lived in our village.  A year older than me, and badly burnt in a barbeque explosion.  To us kids, he was just “Jack”.  Yes, he looked different, but not “bad different”.  Just different.  So innocent.
    • Getting bored during Sports Day and wandering off with a friend to ride tricycles around the playground, with no adult supervision.  Found some time later by an adult, who was very unbothered to find two 5-year olds unaccompanied on the playground, whilst the rest of the school were on the field.
    • Wearing an eye patch to school to help my lazy eye.  Realising that during “hands together and eyes closed” prayer time in assembly, that I could shut one eye, and keep the eye behind my patch open.  It felt like the ultimate in rebellion.  I was meant to take it off mid-morning, but often forgot, finding myself still wearing it as I played outside at lunch time.
    • Must have been one of my first days at school, playing with a duck in the water tray and wondering why parents were still hanging around and some children were crying.

    Sunday, 26 January 2014

    Things That Have Been Good

    It's been another busy couple of weeks in Sally-Land.

    Work is generally good.  The kids aren't where I wish they were in terms of behaviour (lord knows what they were doing from Sept-Dec), but new strategies are gradually coming together and there is improvement.  For instance, this week I finally found the trick to get them tidying up to a level I find to be acceptable.  This coming week, it's nailing down on a group of boys who will do no work all afternoon unless I breathe down their necks the whole time.  They aren't maliciously NOT doing it.  It's just a case of 6-year-old boy-itus.  They WILL be trained to my whims!


    Things That Have Been Good -

    • After watching the recent season 3 of 'Sherlock' on BBC1.  I've now been working through the earlier seasons and wondering why on earth I didn't watch them previously?  They are clever, witty, funny, intelligent.  And Benedict Cumberbatch is insanely hot.  ;)
    • I am STILL working my way through 'Winter Of The World' and am now just passed the half-way mark.  It's huge, over 900 pages of dense type.  I am still enjoying it a lot, but am increasingly ready to read something else.
    • A while ago now, the new Dan Brown book 'Inferno' was realised in hard-back.  Say what you like about him, but I LOVE his books.  Nope, they aren't particularly high-brow, he plays rather fast and loose with the truth, but they are a darn good read.  Now, when it was released, I thought I'd be frugal and wait for the paperback.  Why pay £9 at Tesco, when I could pay £3 at Tesco in a few months?  Well, months and months have passed, I keep checking online, and there is NO indication that 'Inferno' is going to be released on paperback any time soon.  So I have caved in and paid £7 for a secondhand copy from Amazon...  The intention was there, at least.  I can't wait to read it, but am going to hold of until I'm finished with WOTW.
    • Since September, I have been actively documenting all the surveys/product tests I do.  I don't think I've talked about them previously, but since then, I've made about £140 in vouchers, and perhaps another £30 in physical products.  Then when you add that to the £400 I've made doing my once-a-week tutoring, it's not to be sniffed at.  There isn't really a need for me to be doing any of this, but it adds up and has sort of morphed into my "treats" fund. 
    • Currently, the tutoring is showing no signs of coming to an end.  And while it is still worth it to me, I'm not going to be the one to end it.  It's 10 minutes prep and a very easy/quick hour of tutoring.  If would be stupid of me to say "I don't think there is any more I can do".  And when this deal comes to a natural end, I will actively look for another client.  Who'd have thought I would ever end up making money as a private maths tutor?  Certainly not me!  But perhaps me, as someone to whom maths never came naturally, but now has a teacher qualification, is actually the perfect tutor.  Because I understand just what it is like to NOT get it, and have the necessary patience to really break it down?
    • I've been enjoying Pinterest a lot lately.  You can check out my account here:

    Sunday, 12 January 2014

    Hello there, blog.  How's things?

    Things round here, are busy.  The new job ticks along and I am getting into a routine.  There always seems to be an awful lot to do.  That "to do list" never seems to quite get down to zero, but I guess it's all about trying to prioritise what needs to be done right now, and what can wait a week or two.

    Ummm...  I haven't really done anything this weekend...  I've read a lot of "Winter Of The World" by Ken Follett.  It's one of those massive paperbacks, that are almost too big to hold comfortably.  It's the second in a trilogy.  I didn't love the first one, but this one was so cheap (£3 in Tesco) that I thought I'd try it, and so far, I'm enjoying it a lot more than the first in the series.  I do like a big book that I can get stuck into.


    So...  I read a lot of that...  I watched a LoveFilm disc that I've had hanging around since pre-Christmas, which was stupid of me.  It was 'Salmon Fishing In The Yemen' and was on my list as just a "might be okay to watch sometime" film, and when it was delivered, I was never really in the mood to watch a film I was only "blah" about seeing at all.  Anyway, yesterday, I resolved that I'd watch half an hour to see if it grabbed me, and then send it back in the post today.  In the end, I watched the whole thing, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
    I really must get better with LoveFilm.  It costs me £8 a month, and if I'm on the ball, I can get through 1 a week, with turn around times.  But I go through phases of being into it, and watching a lot of films, and other phases of being completely not-thrilled.  Which is weird, because actually watching a film is a fantastic relaxation/wind-down activity for me, and with a hectic, pressurized job, I should make better use of the relaxation techniques I know work for me.  And I know what films I like.  I like comedies and dramas.  I don't like horror or sci-fi.


    I had a text earlier from my NQT partner teacher, saying she was poorly and probably won't be in tomorrow. 
    We alternate who teaches what, on what days, so I've had to make sure that her class have something to do tomorrow, in case she doesn't provide anything.  I mean, she's sensible so probably will, but I don't want to be scrabbling around at 8am tomorrow morning in case she doesn't.  Anyway, I didn't really need that at 6pm on a Sunday night.


    I got given an iPad from school before Christmas.  Loving it!  It's too nice being able to lie in bed to catch up with my YouTube subscriptions, or to have access to the web in a matter of seconds, as opposed to a 5-minute desk top boot-up.  It's also great for answering those sudden random questions you have in the middle of a TV programme.  For instance, shortly into the new year, I had a sudden desire to know how old someone on the telly was, who happened to be in a programme I was then watching.  The iPad gave me the answer in less than a minute.
    I've also used it a couple of times to hook into YouTube at bed-time for some relaxation music/guided meditation tracks.  I used them on my iPod sometimes, when I was having all the saga at Berkshire school, and still use them intermittently when my mental to-do list won't stop rattling round my head.  And now, with my newly-upgraded unlimited internet, and the iPad, I can lie it on the bed next to me and find a suitable track on YouTube, of which there are LOTS.  Very useful.


    My mate Louise contacted me yesterday to ask if I wanted to do a spa afternoon at Rushton Hall with her in February.  I had an afternoon tea there early last year and was very impressed with the place, so I've agreed to go to that, which will be nice.
    I still need to re-arrange my trip to Cambridge with Laura...  But keep putting off actually setting a date.  I'm still kind of anxious at the thought of it, which really annoys me!  I was actually thinking about my accident yesterday evening.  I don't know what triggered it, but it put me in a right bad mood.  It was the first time in weeks that I'd thought about it, to be honest.


    Let's finish with a funny video. 
    I've got a lot of time for Ricky Gervais.  Many people hate him, but I find him hysterical.