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.