Friday, December 28, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas ... at F&M's ...

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,

Ten lords aleaping,
Nine ladies dancing,

Eight maids a-milking,

Seven swans a-swimming,

Six geese a-laying,
Five gold rings!

Four calling birds,
Three French hens,

Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Christmas catch up continued

On Boxing Day we hit the sales ... the first time I think I've ever done that! We headed to Canary Wharf first, where some of the shops were open. H bought a new outfit at Gap. Then we went to Oxford Street ... we avoided Selfridges, and instead bought new shoes in Barratts, Skechers and Nike.





We decided to go to Islington for dinner (Turkish at Gallipoli). We were shocked to see loads of graffiti all over Angel tube station. I've taken some photos on my mobile that I'll upload later, but in the meantime there are lots of links to other images and articles. It's also interesting reading some of the comments. Personally, it was such a shock and a surprise, that it made me realise how well kept the tube stations are kept most of the time. Everyone coming off the tube was looking around them, amazed. I overheard a couple of guys making a comment like "well, it's artistic", but the thing was, it wasn't! It was amazing, in that you couldn't take your eyes off it, but it was so mundane, boring, and simply vandalism, without any uplifting or amusing features. Of course, it's got people blogging about it, like me, so I suppose that means the vandals have achieved their aim, but it's not good. And to think that some had the audacity to write "Happy Birthday Jesus" on the wall opposite the platform! I don't think Jesus would really have appreciated it that much ... Also, it seemed really dangerous, although I've since discovered that the tube station was closed for Christmas (just as well we didn't go out for a meal then ...!)

So, suitably outraged but filled with bemusement rather than wingeing, we headed home.

The next day was spent in a similar way, although only on the shopping side rather than the looking at graffiti side. This time we did Canary Wharf and Fortnum and Mason ... look out for this year's Christmas windows once I work out how to download them from my mobile! And the biggest news of the year ... as we were going down the escalator in Canary Wharf ... was to see the Evening Standard headline "Bhutto killed in Pakistan blast". That was a real shock. I looked at it for a few seconds, not believing it to be true, wondering if there was another Bhutto that it could mean, before realising that of course it meant what it said, and drawing H's attention to it. Tried to buy a paper but no cash ... Got one eventually.

Today ... H went shopping and got a new guitar, I stayed at home and played Bogglific on Facebook. Honestly. I have loads of marking to do ... but at least it's relaxing! Washing and marking tomorrow, honestly ... !!!

Christmas catch up continued

It was good to have a lazy lie in, so we woke up before lunch time but it seemed like only just ... probably about 10.30am, although I can't quite remember now. First of all we opened our stockings in bed - one of my favourite Christmas traditions! Then pancakes for breakfast ...

Then I started the cooking for the day. We had decided to eat whenever each course was ready, so there was no stress or panic. Kylie was playing her favourite hits on Radio 1, so that was our background Christmassy music while we had our entry of goats' cheese on brouchettas ...

... our butternut squash soup ...

... and our prawn cocktail with avocado.

While the main course was cooking, we watched the Queen's Speech, and other festive entertainment. We also remembered we had some presents to open, so opened those!

After the main course, it was almost time for Doctor Who, so we settled down on the sofa for the fun.

By now it was beginning to get late, and we still hadn't had the Christmas pudding. So I phoned my sister for the recipe for foamy brandy sauce, and made some for the first time - delicious!

By now it was late, so we watched some more TV then retired for the night.

A lovely peaceful Christmas!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Catch Up

Christmas Eve was spent shopping at Sainsbury's, getting ready for Christmas. Prawns? Check. Potatoes? Check. Melon? Check. Turkey? Well, let's stick to big chicken legs instead, seeing that the preferred duck breast option is sold out. Oranges? Check. Wine? Check.

On to Oxford Street, in a search for decorations. A few crystal hanging decorations here, some silver packaging ribbon there ... eventually I took the last tinsel from the shoulders of a sales assistant in Clinton's Cards, the last tinsel in London it seemed to me!

Off home to pack everything into the fridge, then tidy up the house, decorate it beautifully, and cook a meal of venison burgers, chips, spinach and avocado. Delicious! And finished just in time to head to church, for Midnight Mass.

The Church is always beautifully decorated for special occasions, and tonight was no exception. The lights were dimmed, and the church was mainly lit up by scores of red candlelight. The large fir, which has gradually become covered with red labels throughout Advent in memory of loved ones, had a large star and lights shining on it. Under the altar was a nativity scene, with shepherds, donkey and cow, Mary and Joseph, and an empty manger.

For half an hour or so we sang carols, accompanied on the organ, and listened to the Christmas story in the readings. It was a suitably Christmassy way to begin Christmas.

The procession at the beginning of the Mass was a long one, with all the readers, Eucharistic Ministers and altar servers joining in. A young boy and his father brought the baby Jesus and laid him in the manger under the altar, and the scene was complete.


I headed back home, and having put out the stockings and left a sherry and mince pie for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph, on the table, I went to bed.

(Not sure why this image is the wrong way round ... Will try and correct in the morning!)

Anyway, next installment tomorrow!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Christmas Holidays!

Had a lovely last day on Friday. Only a few students came in, but we played pass the parcel and they all joined in with the forfeits - a bit half heartedly, and so that they could win the chocolates, but still! - and we danced a bit to some music, and when I started singing "We wish you a merry Christmas" just before we left the classroom to head to the hall for the Carol Service, they all joined in! So that was great. The Carol Service was good too, and then it was nice to go back to my HoD's house for pizza with our new PGCE student. Absolutely shattered by the time I got home - a great idea on H's behalf to order a takeaway, after which I slept for about 12 hours.

We went shopping for the first time this Christmas yesterday. H bought me a new jacket for Christmas, and persuaded me to buy a smart black one that was in the sale. I bought him a couple of small things for Christmas, and he bought himself a laptop bag and a sleeveless jumper. We had a lovely lunch at Nandos - chicken livers, chicken burger in pitta bread, quarter chicken, chips, rice, coleslaw and corn, with tasty frozen banana yoghurt for pudding to cool down my mouth. Don't worry, we shared the rest, that wasn't just my dinner! Then we came home and watched the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was fun.

Have just arrived back from church, and am waiting for H to get up and dressed so we can go to Sainsbury's for the grocery shopping and maybe buy a little Christmas tree and a few small decorations for the house. Then the plan is to come home, tidy up and decorate. I might even get a bit of marking in to try and get it done before Christmas. Then some London shopping tomorrow ...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

DVDs at school

Back at school again. A fairly easy day, since it consisted mostly of showing DVDs. I remember when I was at school, the last day or so before the end of term, we used to bring in board games. I wonder what other people did?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Off work, ill.

I hate colds. This is the first time I've been off ill this year, and the first time in ages. Blowing my nose constantly, head feels woozy, and I'm not going in tomorrow either. So there. Still not managing to get any marking done, unfortunately. Too tired, lethargic. Haven't done much other than mope around. Must have another lemsip.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Carol Service

When I looked out the door this morning, I wondered what had happened - I couldn't see anything! Then I realised it was really foggy, so misty that I couldn't see far at all. Frozen fog. And the alarm hadn't gone off, so I had slept in. Then I couldn't get rid of the frost, so I had to pour hot water over the windscreen before I left. Still managed to arrive in time though.

So tired I curled up on the two comfy sofa chairs in the departmental office at lunchtime and slept for half an hour. Haven't done that before.

At the end of the day a few of us went out for dinner then came back and enjoyed the Christmas Carol Service.

However, the highlight of the day was one of my Year 9s reciting his lyrics about how men should treat women (ie with respect, well) and it was excellent - great lyrics, rhythm, rhyme, meaning. Unsure how I', going to manage to assess all these poems though!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Beautiful skies

Some of the nicest times of the day are spent driving. Not so much when there are queues of traffic, those are times that are hard work, but early in the morning and at dusk, when the light is low and beautiful.

This morning I was met with candy pink cream and frosty white blue skies, heavy mist lying low over the frosted green leaves as I drove past ponds and roadside verges. Then in the evening, the blue to navy sky had a thin white crescent moon shining out as a beacon on the way home, hovering above the white, red and blue lights of the Canary Wharf buildings that I was driving towards. At times like these I wish I could paint, or record in some way the peacefulness, the beauty of these sights. At least if I can sketch them in words, then when I read back over my blog I might remember the images.

Half my lessons were taken up with invigilation. One of those periods should have been a Geography cover - I asked another teacher if she wanted to swap, and to my astonishment, she agreed! So that was nice and relaxing. I also had two Year 9 lessons. They had to write poems reflecting on issues of evil and suffering, and Christian responses to those issues. A couple of pupils were adamant that they couldn't write poetry, but then one boy revealed that he was a lyricist - not a rapper, more of an MC. I asked him to recite to me one of his lyrics - it was excellent. But he still said he couldn't write about the sort of suffering we had been reflecting on, so we discussed in a bit more detail. I explained that there was a lot of suffering in school, for example loneliness or bullying. He revealed a bit about his life, but didn't want to write about that, so then put some lyrics together. They were great. Students do have hidden talents some times! (Quite often in fact!)

Some of our Sixth Formers are on retreat this week. Sort of wish I were with them! It will be nice and relaxing and they'll get to do some fun outdoors stuff. However, I wanted to be at home - H is still not too great, he's obviously a lot better but I'm still worried about his chesty cough. Being here won't really help him, but I feel happier!

My year 7s did some display work on the Jesse Tree. I do like this as an idea, an alternative to the Nativity Advent Calendar, which gradually tells the story of God and his people, using symbols to remind us of key people, like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary. We'll finish it tomorrow. It's a shame though that a few pupils spoil the atmosphere for the others by throwing pencils at each other.

H has a photo shoot tomorrow, so he's tidying up the place. Better and go and finish helping! (I've done the dishes, so that's one chore out the way!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Invigilation

Very tired! What happened today? Well, Year 11s had exams, so I had a cover - English, write about an unpleasant experience - and an invigilation. Last night I made a photo/music montage for the Year 9s, and that went down fairly well. Will show again tomorrow to inspire them to write poems. One of the Year 11 exams was our one, so lots of marking now! At least my second Year 7 assessments are quite short ...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pigeon

Took the tube this morning. Arrived on time, but with the photocopying was a few minutes late for my registration ... I think my form are getting a bit annoyed with me! Then the Year 9s seemed a bit subdued - but still some didn't do any of the work. Took it easy with them, went through evil and suffering and wrote notes on the board.

The Year 11s are on mock exams, so it made a nice change to have invigilation rather than teaching. Even then, they still found it hard to concentrate - and were none too pleased when half the group left ten minutes earlier than the other half, and made noise, so the second half were given an extra five minutes in case they had been disturbed. One got up and wanted to walk out! It is boring in mocks when you have finished the exam ... I remember feeling frustrated about it too!

At break a pupil called me over - he had seen what appeared to be an injured pigeon against one of the doors and was trying to protect it in case any of the other pupils came to hurt it. We called for a caretaker to come and deal with it - I didn't want to touch it myself. After a while we realised that there was a teacher in the room behind the door, so I called him over and made signals through the window not to open the door. He looked down and saw the pigeon, and slowly pushed open the door. I was a bit worried about the pigeon, but then it hopped up and walked away! Then the caretaker arrived with a broom and pan, went towards the bird - and it flew away! So we decided that it must have just decided that the door looked like a good place for a rest!

After that I was on a course at the other side of London, so a long tube ride there, then another long one across London in the evening, getting home just before 7pm. So a long day, but we've had tasty salmon, leeks and spinach for dinner and now Blue Velvet is on, so I'm half watching that, half writing this, and half planning tomorrow's lessons ... Maths was never my strong point ... !

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Getting there!

Well, last week wasn't so bad! Apart from having no coaches on Monday for the trip, then having to put two groups together at the last moment so that no-one missed out on the half day on Friday, when we had our staff do. Tidied up the place yesterday, and today we've had a neighbour round for lunch. H booked the Mayweather-Hatton fight so we were both up in the middle of the night, and since I had to get up for Church, I've now got a sore head and am very tired. Struggling to plan my lessons. Haven't finished my course report. So ... lots to do.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bit better today ...

Apart from the fact that the coaches didn't arrive, the Year 11s didn't do much work, the Year 9s were loud and two of them shouted at me in detention, the Year 8s were so noisy another teacher came in to see what was going on, the Year 10s were videoing each other happy slapping each other, and the arrangements for tomorrow have been changed so I'll be the longest teaching teacher in the Sixth Form conference at the end of the day ... apart from all that, it's been a much better day! I think I'm perhaps even more positive under adversity ... Or maybe its the prayers of the sisters at church! Tomorrow is another big day, with the conference, an inspector in school and a Year 7 school trip (of which 19 out of 40 students have so far been given permission to go), so I wonder how that will go ... I think I need my sleep ... I'm sure I've forgotten something!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Back again ...

Well, I'm hoping that normal service can sort of be resumed now we're in December! I managed just over 20,000 words during NaNoWriMo. Not quite 50,000 words, but an interesting experiment nonetheless! Also managed to hand in my dissertation, attend a marking feedback course, give a successful presentation at a conference, entertain Mum and Dad while they were down in London for the weekend, prepare a video for our Sixth Form conference, and prepare and teach a few lessons.

Unfortunately the past week has been one of hardest I've faced for a long time. Not so much in terms of what has happened during the lessons, just in terms of general morale; it's partly because of poor pupil behaviour, but more a sense of feeling that there's not much I can do about it. I've been generally uninspired. In turn, that has made me put less effort into my preparation, which has probably then caused the lessons to be less successful. However, even when I've put in lots of preparation that has been sort of thrown back in my face, which is depressing.

So a tough week ... I hope next week is better! Hope you all have a good week too!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Where have I been?

Well, mostly sitting here at this desk at this computer. But not on my blog ... It is November, and NaNoWriMo is here. National Novel Writing Month ... I have managed to write about 18,000 words so far (I should be on about 34,000 by now if I am going to reach the target of 50,000 words in a month). I also managed to hand in my dissertation - exciting stuff!! - and I was on a course today, so I've been quite busy recently!

Don't worry, the classes have been as normal - ie some great ones, some awful ones, some mediocre ones - and I spent the whole of last weekend trying to get up to date with my marking, but I've still managed to bring loads home this weekend too. Anyway, it's getting late now, so I think I'll head to bed!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Non exploding head day!

My head didn't almost explode today! However, that doesn't mean the classes were all excellent ... Year 11 were copying out key words though, so at least that meant that most of them have something in their books. Not great, I know, but still ... sometimes you just have to get them to write something. We did have a good discussion, though, since the new topic covers contraception, abortion and euthanasia.

Had a strange experience with two year 9s who kept on insisting that they wanted to print out their essays - I told them know, I'd print them out later, but they kept arguing, even after I started teaching - strange because it was really unlike them.

I have had some great Year 9 work, though. One level 8!

The Year 7s were taking part in an enterprise activity in the hall, which was fun. They made hats out of balloons, and had to explain what the hats represented. There were some really good ideas, like the hat that came with a jumble of balloons, which represented sharing good ideas - all the links were different ideas that the wearer had got from people.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back to School

My head almost exploded today. It started during the Year 8 lesson, but as the Year 10s bounced around all about me, and one boy who had been particularly uncooperative at the start of the lesson started saying, "Listen to Miss, everyone! Help her out! I feel sorry for her", the tension in my body got worse and worse, the pressure in my blood obviously getting higher and higher, until I felt as if I were about to explode. You're not allowed to throw things at the pupils to get their attention, but I came very close to taking off my shoe and banging it on the whiteboard. Probably not a great idea, though, so I think it was best not to do that.

Two members of staff out, so that didn't help, but it wasn't too problematic. For me, anyway. It probably was for the poor teachers having to cover the lessons.

Have printed out all 20,000 words of my dissertation so far. Still have quite a bit to do, tidying up etc, but it's coming on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Where have I been?

Well, I haven't posted for a while ... You'd have thought with it being half term, that I would have been posting lots of exciting updates!

However, the deadline for my dissertation is approaching very quickly, so although I'm at my computer morning, noon and night, I've been offline, analysing data and trying to work out different methodologies. Tough stuff!

I've also written an essay for my other course that I was on a few weeks ago, and today I learnt that I have passed! I'm very happy to have it out the way!

It's getting late, so I'm off now!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

I think you can tell it's getting near the end of term ... the pupils have been hyper all day. A few year 10s ended up having a 20 minute detention at the end of the day, but even when they left, the room was still in a state. Which leads me to the topic of Blog Action Day ... we are supposed to write about the environment. Well, my classroom environment was not good today. Even the displays are now tattier than ususal. Pupils seemed to be throwing themselves around the room today . Interestingly, the Year 8 assessment was about the environment and how it should be treated. I got some really good responses - the toilets sound really disgusting, and I hope the description of the canteen food and hygiene standards is purely artistic license! The pupils were also quite vocal about the state of the classrooms. It is depressing working in a room with peeling paint, graffiti, gum in the carpets, and a never ending supply of broken chairs and tables. It's a microcosm of how our outside environment should be - somewhere nice, pleasant, not spoiled in any way by thoughtless people.

Talking of thoughtless people, I was tidying the aforementioned classroom at the end of the day, when I saw a man (a parent?) get in his car, right in front of mine. Noticed there was very little room ... And then his reversing lights went on! I knew there would be no room for him to go back, so I frantically started banging on the window, but to no avail. He went back, right into my front bumper, and our car moved! He then drove off, and I went running round to inspect the damage. Fortunately there wasn't any I could see, but I wasn't impressed with his driving technique at all.

The other interesting thing that happened was the visit from Trident. They were excellent, and there were pictures of guns that you had to guess if they were real or fake. The difficulties we had telling one from the other showed how hard it is for armed police officers to make up their minds whether or not someone has a real or fake gun. There were also images of victims of gun and knife crime, which weren't very nice.

There have been about 21 young people killed in London this year so far. It is worrying when it sometimes seems to be getting closer to home.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Almost didn't update!

It's been a busy, eventful and generally positive week - and a busy weekend - again! - hence the late entry.

Monday was fun - we had the TV cameras in, and the Year 7s were excellent. Very well behaved. I've managed to make some nice certificates for them which should be handed out in assembly this week. I took off the two lessons before filming, which was just as well since some of the websites I wanted to use weren't working, and we had to get them up and running first!

Our next big day was Wednesday, a special day for our House. We had a visitor to the school, a man whose son was killed a couple of years ago. He spoke very movingly - you could have heard a pin drop. Shame the students weren't so attentive during Mass in the morning!

The next major event was after school on Thursday. I had to give a presentation of my findings of my research. Just need to get it written up as my dissertation now! It was a fun evening though, especially on the way home in the bus with some other teachers, where we discussed how we could use new technologies to move the school forward.

I've spent the weekend marking the Year 7 and Year 8 assessments. The Year 9s will finish theirs tomorrow, then the Year 10s and 11s later in the week. And then it's half term! (And writing up the dissertation ...)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Disappointment at Formula 1

Well, I'm feeling really quite sad at the moment, since we've just watched Lewis Hamilton go off the pit lane and have to retire from the Chinese Grand Prix. So there's just Brazil in two week time. I hope Hamilton manages it ...

Highlights of the week? Well, my Year 7s gave their presentations, and some of the students in the lower group did particularly well. They had to speak about their community, and there were some very clear and confident speakers. It's a shame that in between times, so many of them are rude to each other, shouting out, pulling faces, drumming, getting out of their seats ...

My other Year 7s were practicing using the computers. I got them all logged on - and the website was blocked! Great. Such are the pitfalls of using the ICT suite!

It's been quite busy, but mostly okay. The Year 11s were much better than last week, and the Year 10s had a couple of good lessons, mainly because some of the more disruptive students were not there.

We had a parents' evening as well, which was interesting ... it was an explanation of what parents should expect with the SATs coming up, and one parent made a big scene about the lack of communication with the school (I think she thought it was the sort of parents' evening where you meet the teachers rather than an information evening), then another parent asked her to talk to someone by herself rather than wasting everyone's time, so that was interesting.

Busy weekend trying to get ready for tomorrow and a presentation of my research on Thursday.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The end of the week ... the start of a new one

Well, it's been quite an eventful week. Some of the problems that we read and hear about in the news occasionally find their way into school, and today was one of those weeks. A bit close for comfort, but other nice things make up for the bad ones.

A couple of colleagues were off on Monday, so I was trying to hold the fort as well as stop fighting from beaking out in my own class too. Fortunately the supply teacher is excellent and settling in well, building up a good reputation for taking no nonsense and teaching good lessons, so that's one less thing to worry about.

Had Open Evening this weekend. Always fun - the room looks nice filled with candles and with sacred music playing in the background. We leave the lights off and it's very calming. Had some sixth formers there this year to help out - they were great!

There's a friendly little girl in one of my Year 7 classes that stays behind at the end of the lesson and tidies up the class for me. On Thursday, as I wrote her a thank you card to take home for her helpfulness, she said she was going to sing one song. So that was my surreal moment of the week, me sitting on the desk, her standing at the end of it, singing "You've got a friend" - a song she learnt at primary school. Very sweet! There's another little boy in my other year 7 class who is always so friendly and polite. He says thank you, Miss, at the end of each lesson and gives me a beaming smile when I tell him he has done well. These sort of moments are the moments that make teaching very worthwhile and enjoyable.

I have almost finished my third set of books that I brought home to mark this weekend. Spent the whole of yesterday marking and planning for the upcoming week. Didn't manage to do any of my literature review though. Oh dear. I have to give a presentation in just over a week ...

Came home on Friday feeling very ill and went to bed just after 8pm. Was woken up by H with a big plate of delicious Lebanese food. He'd gone out to get some, and the lamb and okra stew was just what I needed (I hadn't eaten - or cooked - any dinner because I felt so horrible). Woke up around 8am on Saturday, did the washing and shopping, then worked all day - in between blowing my nose, drinking lemsips and vit V juice and generally feeling yucky - and went to bed at around 10pm. Didn't go to church this morning - used that time to rest in bed and to try and get better. Don't want to spread my germs too much. Trying to get better for tomorrow. Have eaten grapefruit, and bought kiwi fruits.

Disappointment of the weekend? Biught some of those strawberry iced buns from childhood as a treat. Very dry. Won't make that mistake again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Sunday again

It's really busy at school, so I'm not managing to make as many entries as I'd like! So the highlights of the past week?

Well, we will be having the TV cameras in next month, so I've a bit of planning for that.

Yesterday on the tube, someone touched my hand to get my attention - I turned and looked at the teenager, who said "Hello Miss" - then I recognised him, a former pupil who is now at college. But I'm still kicking myself, because I still can't remember his name. Which is really annoying me. It's about the first time I've been in that position - I'm normally quite good. Actually, that's an interesting reflection in itself - I'm not normally that great at remembering people's names if I meet them socially, but considering I've had to teach hundreds, if not thousands, of pupils over my teaching career, it's quite surprising that I'm not too bad at learning the names fairly quickly when I have new classes. Although they sometimes slip my mind when I meet them the following year ...

I gave a presentation on some research I did a couple of years ago last Wednesday. Seemed to go down okay.

Had my other course yesterday - learnt that I can write a lesson plan instead of writing an essay, so that's good - I'm going to try and start that later this afternoon.

Of course, some of the biggest news of the week was the leaving of Jose Mourinho from Chelsea. We are in mourning ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Catch up time!

A few thoughts from last week ...

Geese flying overhead, through the blue sky. I looked up and watched them fly directly above me, in a V formation. Beautiful.

SACRE meeting on Wednesday night went very well, although there was a lot of running around trying to find the correct keys etc. I made a presentation, and it went across well. There were some very interesting questions, particularly about how we teach about sex and relationships in a Catholic school, and whether or not there is a tension between Science and RE in how we teach about the creation of the world. There isn't, I don't think, although some of our pupils have a different point of view on things ... Anyway, left school at 9:45pm that night. Had arrived at 7:45am ...

On Thursday, a TV researcher got in touch about another one of my blogs and the technology I use in my classroom. We had a chat, then she emailed asking if they could come and film me with a class in the ICT suite on Monday or Tuesday! I'd expect longer notification for an ordinary observation! Have told her I'll need to get Head's permission and pupil consent first, so we'll wait and see what happens.

Friday ended up being really busy - I had 3 non-contacts, but they all got taken up with admin type things, so I still haven't planned my lessons for this coming week. Am about to do that now.

On Friday evening, we were going out to an opening, so I met up with H in town. We went to a gallery just off Bond Street (some nice shops around there!!!), but then discovered it was all locked up. The exhibition there had obviously been on for a while. Later we discovered that the gallery did have another opening on that night - in Munich!

We wondered what to do, and H remembered that there was another opening in Whitechapel, so we decided to try and find it. Eventually found the opening to the Fieldgate Gallery near Atlantis. That was quite fun. I particularly liked a couple of works by Maria Anwander, for example a video of someone swimming in a pool that is set inside a sink. There was also an excellent painting by Andy Harper, which looked very realistic. You can see some pictures from the exhibition here.

Seeing we were in the area, we decided to head down Brick Lane to Chutney's. As we were about to enter, a girl standing outside was calling out, "We've got a celebrity dining here tonight - Carole from Big Brother!" And, sure enough, she was there - in fact, we were almost placed right beside her, within elbow knocking when you use your knife distance, but H prefers to be further inside the restaurant, away from the door, so we sat nearer the middle of the restaurant. I had chicken passanda - very nice, as always.

Yesterday I had another course to attend, which ran from 10am to about 3.30pm. I found it really hard to keep my eyes open! Afterwards I wanted to buy a pair of more casual shoes, and the Dorothy Perkins next to Bond Street tube station had a huge selection - nice to be able to find some so quickly and easily! Then I headed across to Mexx, where a little top caught my eye. I tried it on, and bought that too ... Will go back, I liked their look.

Today I've been to church, and now I have to plan those lessons. This week I am giving a presentation on Wednesday to teachers from other schools, and we need to plan for our upcoming open evening. So I expect it will be busy again! And I still need to finish my dissertation ...

Busy, busy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday

Had another Year 11 "Muslim" pupil today. I suspect he got the idea from the first one ... so two letters sent out today.

With the first Year 11 pupil not in my lesson today, it was a much better class. Not great, but better. Have them again tomorrow ... hope we get something done!

My Year 9s were writing about their dreams today - I look forward to reading them. One boy said "that was a good lesson today, Miss" on the way out - still not entirely sure if he was being slightly sarcastic or if he had enjoyed writing about his dreams! Anyway, he's quite a happy, smiley, cheeky wee boy, so hopefully he had enjoyed it!

Nice easy year 7 lessons today. They have lots of questions, and one of the groups is quite slow, but hopefully we'll make good progress as we go. Hope at some point to really think about differentiation.

Have to prepare a presentation for the SACRE tomorrow night. Will plan tomorrow after school, since I'll be staying there.

Had poussin for dinner. Tasted just like chicken ...

Monday, September 10, 2007

A full day

It surprises me that pupils do not own coloured pencils. Fair enough, some pupils might not want to bring them to school in case they get lost, and perhaps year 9 students might think that they are too old for colour pencils (although whoever is ever too old for colour pencils?!). However, for year 7s to claim not to have colour pencils at home is a sad state of affairs indeed.

One of the features of a Catholic school is the prayer at the beginning of each lesson. One year 11 decided to interupt this twice by calling out that he was Muslim so was going to pray a Muslim prayer, trying to say "Salaam Alaikum" (but failing), then lying down on the floor. Not even close, mate! When he was sent to the referral room he decided to kick up a fuss, and it took three teachers to eventually move him. He can work, but the amount of chaos that he causes in between his bouts of working are too disruptive.

Year 10s were also quite chatty today. Three very noisy pupils in particular. And the top set Year 9s also surprised me by their attitude. A few did not seem to come prepared to learn. A similar case with some of the Year 8s. Three girls were 20 minutes late, their excuse not exactly watertight (we were with Miss ... don't you believe us?), and were still complaining at their detention. At least they turned up, of course. One year 8 and one year 9 didn't. So some chasing up to do ...

My legs are aching - they were out of the habit of heels and standing on my feet all day! Hardly stopped - a full complement of lessons, a pupil came to see me at break, detentions at lunch and after school, a whole school meeting (boring!) after school, notes about pupils in other teachers' trays after that - school is well and truly back!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday

Had a great night last night. We went to the Lee Hurst Backyard Comedy Club with a friend; I haven't laughed so much in ages! Lee Hurst, the compere, was really funny - especially in the way he handled hecklers - and the last comic was really good too. There was also another couple of guys, one with funny hair, the other a magician, who made a dove appear, which was quite impressive - the first time I've seen that done in real life - but was also a bit strange. Dark humour.

I was also a bit shocked when some barristers in the audience, asked by Lee to share some interesting cases with us, gave us some examples of stories. One girl shared a story about a current case which featured some unusual points, which seemed really unprofessional to me. I don't think her client would have appreciated everybody in the comedy club knowing about it. Then a young man told us a story which I presume is a legal type joke - he was defending a burglar, who was bad because he kept leaving fingerprints everywhere, and kept getting caught. So the barrister told him to stop burgling, or at least wear a pair of gloves. A few months later he was in court again. Why didn't you wear gloves?, the barrister asked him. He had worn gloves - those fingerless ones. (Hope it was a joke ... we wondered about the professional advice burglars are receiving from their defence barristers these days!)

Today I was walking to church when I saw a family all dressed smartly in black and white, carrying food, obviously on their way to the local gospel church with a pot luck lunch. I was thinking about how the black and white clothes reminded me of Jehovah's Witnesses, as they crossed the road in front of me, and then I noticed that the mother's skirt was quite short. I was wondering whether that was okay - the knee high boots, the lacy black tights, the short skirt - when I realised that her skirt was hitched up from walking. And that she had a slit in her skirt, that had also ridden up. And that her underwear matched the black and white theme ... Oh dear. I hope someone told her quickly and that she wasn't too mortified that she had been walking around with her underwear showing ...

Right. I'm off. Shopping, tidying, some lesson planning, then hopefully a bit of relaxation and an early night!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back to School

Apologies for not blogging this week! School started back on Monday. Pupils gradually arrived back, and although there have been phone calls home, detentions, incident reports, and trying to arrange counselling, it's been a generally positive start.

Although no pupil diaries have arrived, exercise books arrived on Wednesday night, timetables arrived on Thursday morning, we have no target levels ...

Have had two openings this week - one on my birthday, the other last night, followed by a delicious Vietnamese meal. Highly recommended. Especially the lemon water!

Computer is annoying me at moment - very slow. So I'm off for now!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nelson Mandela et al ...

Had to go to the American Embassy this morning. Website said "Do not bring cameras, mobile phones, iPods, blackberries etc ... to the Embassy", so we didn't. Turned out I had two dead batteries in my handbag that I had to hand in, then collect again at the end. And everyone else just handed their phones in there. Anyway. Got there early, the security people were all quite friendly, and when I caught up with H at the IRS section, the man was very friendly and helpful. We were only there for about 20 minutes or so. Would recommend it. Although they are digging up the whole front section looking out over Grosvenor Square. Hmmm.

Then went to H's agent to hand in some documents. The first time I've visited, so very interesting to see it. Realised that his agent (well, the boss) reminds me of the editor I worked for. Quite severe and serious, but with a more humorous side.

While there, we asked what time the Nelson Mandela statue unveiling was at. I had thought it was around 1pm, but I had obviously missed out a 1 there. Turns out it was 11am, the time it was when we asked the question. Far west of Westminster. We decided to head down anyway - it would be nice to see the statue on the day it was unveiled. Anyway, we didn't have our camera or phones, so wouldn't have been able to take photos. Took the bus.

When we arrived, we could hear a choir singing "O Happy Day". We looked over the heads of the crowds - and there was the man himself! We could just make out Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, in yellow. We moved round to another side, as Mandela left the stage to claps and cheers. Some people started going up to stand and have their photos taken next to the statue. Here are the people we saw during the time we watched:

Richard Attenborough; Naomi Campbell; David Lammy; David Miliband; Jesse Jackson; Tony Benn; Ben Okri; Benjamin Zephania; Kwame Kwei-Armah; Adam Boulton from Sky News; Brian May; Nicholas Glass from Channel 4 News.

I'm sure we saw other well known people but didn't recognise him, and H also saw Hilary Benn, but I haven't included him in the list because unfortunately I missed him. David Miliband was really working the crowd - talking to people, shaking hands, signing autographs, asking people how they were, smiling lots, that sort of thing. Kwame had a long golden-bronze gown on, and as he went along the line where we were, he stopped occasionally, smiled at the people taking photos, and gave a small bow. Brian May stuck his thumbs up a couple of times at those taking photos. Ben Okri spoke to a few people, he seemed very relaxed and chatty. His wife (?) stood quietly back to one side out the way.

We were quite excited to see Kwame Kwei-Armah, and a couple of people near us asked who he was. We got chatting to one - turns out she's a journalist, and she took our photo and sent it to us, which was good of her - we now have proof we were really there!

The police then moved us all along, so we decided to head to Covent Garden. Had fun wandering around the shops there. Eventually made it home. A nice day. Fun had by all!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The London Eye and other adventures

We've had a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend with a visit from a friend for a couple of days. Yesterday we set out to see the last day of the Tate Modern exhibition, Global Cities. She's a geographer, so it was particularly relevant and we both took lots of photos. Had a refreshing watermelon and ginger juice. Quite a hot day - nice, but I wish I had worn a dress!

On the way to the Tate we had visiting a very interesting to a small glass monument that we hadn't seen before. It was part of a Geocaching challenge. This was my introduction to geocaching, and although it was a virtual cache rather than an actual one with a box or something, it was great fun. Geocaching is a bit like a technical treasure hunt, where someone hides something then you have to find it. There are objects hidden all over the world. We were going to try and find some more but decided we didn't have time. Will look forward to doing more next time though!

As always, it was nice to walk along the south bank, past the street entertainers, hot dog vendors and a carousel tomake our way to our main destination - the London Eye. We got our tickets, and it did not take long to make our way along the queue to the pods. Stepping onto the moving pod was the first challenge, but we managed and them began our ascent. It was great! At first I mostly took pictures looking up into the sky at the other pods, but as we moved further up it was great to see the London skyline appearing and then the rooves of London. We took lots of photos, and wandered around the pod, simply loving being up in the air, taking photos of each other with clouds behind us, or looking down at the buildings beneath us. The sun began to set and I took some fuzzy photos of the sun. It was a lovely half an hour. (The only slightly annoying thing was when we were about to have our photo taken in the pod, a lady in a wheelchair spoke to me and I turned slightly, just when the photo was taken. However, it's a great photo of H, it looks like it's his photo, he is hosting us in his pod!)

We then made our way to the Palace of Westminster (in order to find another cache, but, alas, we didn't make it), and enjoyed the views of the now lit up Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Then we got on the tube to Angel, and visited Sedir, fast becoming one of our favourite London restaurants. I had taramasalata and bread - yum! - followed by Islim (marinated lamb wrapped in aubergine with tomatoes), which came with rice. Yum yum! Then baklava and ice cream for pudding! Mmmmmmm! H had chicken livers (delicious) followed by lamb cutlets, rice and salad, then chocolate cake (the only let down - probably because it's not traditionally Turkish! I think H had been bouyed up by that delicious hot choc fudge cake we'd had in Scotland ...). Our friend had prawns - huge in what she said was a tasty dressing - followed by grilled lamb, rice and salad, then baklava. She said she couldn't think of the last time she'd had a meal in which every course was good, with no let downs or complaints. She even had the Turkish coffee. The waiters were very friendly too, joking especially with H when he didn't finish his three huge lamb cutlets, that the dishwasher man was huge and wouldn't be too happy! He also read our friend's fortune in the sludge in the bottom of her coffee cup, and said that she will be rich with five husbands and twelve children!

All in all, a great day out.

Today we visited the Notting Hill Carnival. Unfortunately my friend and I had to leave a little early, but H stayed on and I'm looking forward to seeing his photos!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Prince - the Aftershow Party

H decided to get tickets for the Prince Aftershow Party. Although there was no guarantee that Prince would show up, we were also keen to see the inside of IndigO2, the nightclub at the O2, and thought it could be fun. Doors opened at 11:30pm, and there was still quite a queue around midnight, when we arrived. It didn't take long to get in, though, so we dropped off our coats and made our way to the bar. Everything is on one level, and very open, which is handy, but I overheard some guys talking about the decor and not being impressed, and I suppose it's not great, but it wasn't that bad either. There is actually an upstairs with tables and seats, but I'm not sure how you get there, and it didn't look as much fun anyway.

There was some fairly utilitarian music coming out over the system, but quite a crowd of people had gathered around the front of the dancefloor, where there was an empty stage with a purple curtain and lit up by purple lights. We decided to make our way to the dancefloor, wondering if anything would happen. Occasionally some smoke would come out of the machines, and there were occasional movements behind the curtain. There was a security guard at the front of the stage to stop people from getting up there, so we decided that at least there must be a band going to play, and we were still hopefully that Prince might make an appearance.

A man with a ponytail came out and played a few riffs on the guitar, presumably trying it out for sound, then disappeared again behind the curtain. The piped music was still coming out of the speakers ... and then came the sound of live music, the curtains opened, and a band were on stage! The first person I recognised was Prince's female drummer, so I realised that it was his band, which was great - but that still didn't mean that Prince would be there. However, the band are great so we knew it would be a good night, and the atmosphere had immediately become more electric.

A guy in a dark t-shirt and trousers with a flat cap walked on stage and started singing and rapping. H told me that it was Common, which was exciting, because he is the most played artist on our iTunes! He was great, and was around for a while during the evening. Then ... in the corner of the stage at first ... a more diminuitive artist, with a three quarters length jacket, slicked back black hair in a black bandana, the artist known as - Prince!

What an amazing night. For two hours, Prince, his band, his backing singers (sometimes fronting singers), his dancers, The Twinz, and Common entertained us, jamming, singing, dancing, as if this was the gig they had planned to play that night. You would never have guessed that they had just all performed for over two hours in the Arena, entertaining 20,000 people, some of whom would have been miles away - and here, we were standing about 6 yards away, watching the faces that Prince pulled as he played his guitar solos, watching him dance without inhibition as Common sang or his band played jazzy solos, watching him sit down, strumming his guitar as one or other of his singers took the lead, watching him on the electric piano synthesiser, standing quietly in the background, accompanying the others, watched him working the crowd, as we all whooped and roared and clapped and sang and danced ... A great evening.

Some other funny observations ... the way the security guards performed a three way pincer movement on anyone with mobiles out - the security guard at the front shone a bright torch at anyone illegally recording the gig, a guard upstairs shone a green laser at their head, picking them out, and a guard with a blue laser walked behind them, then assertively, quietly, without fuss or argument, escorted the offender off the dancefloor.

Some of the bizarre dance moves of a few people - well, one anyway who was standing right in front of us and who threatened to knock me over with almost every move - who were obviously enjoying themselves and giving it everything without much consideration of those around, but provided entertainment value!

The black sparkly floor with little silver and gold stars set in them that was around the dancefloor.

The palm tree at the back of the stage.

Eventually, some time after 2am, Prince and his band eventually finished, and, after one encore, officially left the building. Scores of people headed straight for the doors, keen to make a quick getaway after what may have been, for them, a long but wonderful night. That left a few of us who were still keen to dance (despite heels), who were finally able to get some space on the dancefloor to freak out, and dance the night away. There seemed to be only about twenty of us dancing, which was great - there was so much room, although we had to watch out for plastic pint glasses, straws, bits of lemon, and slippy patches where drink had been spilled. But we didn't mind, and H and I danced until the music stopped and the lights came up.

I think that was about 3:15am or so. We just managed to catch the bus home, and, only pausing to make the bed, were asleep by 5am. So I'm just up, sharing this with you at what should be lunch time! But what a night!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

England 1 v Germany 2

Went to Wembley last night. Enjoyed the evening (I'm not English, although I was supporting them, so wasn't too bothered about the result ...) Thought the German fans were great - very vocal, musical and showing a good sense of humour (singing England songs in an ironic sort of way ... You only sing when you're winning, Football's coming home, Arsenal etc). Thought the England fans were pretty rubbish. One smallish singing contingent - mostly about German bombers and the RAF from England shot them down - and the loudest noise seemed to be during the German national anthem. Seems very childish. When my pupils start dissing the other houses during sports day I tell them to support their own house louder. Makes more sense. Wish the England fans had been doing that. I was shouting a bit and wanted to sing, but I could hardly start off the singing, and I couldn't sing "I'm English till I die" because I'm not.

Other than that, a fun evening, but very wet!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Space Centre

For some (slightly worrying) reason, we're still on-line ... so I'm still waiting to be cut off ...

Anyway, in the meantime, yesterday I had a lovely day out in Leicester with a former colleague of mine and her little brother and sister at the Space Centre. We all really enjoyed it: the cinema experience ('Astronaut', narrated by Ewan McGregor) was excellent, lying back and feeling as if you were zooming through space and time, and the simulator was also great fun, where we felt as if we were landing on Europa - the 3D effects were good, and we were bumping all over the place!

Got home, where I discovered that my phone was still on silent, so I had missed the message from H saying he had gone to the cinema, and maybe I could join him - it started at 8:30pm. Well, it was at least 8:40pm by then, but the bus only takes about 10 minutes to get there, so if I was lucky I might not miss too much - so I ran downstairs, and waited for a but. I must have just missed one, because there was no sign for ages, and the next one was running late, so it didn't arrive until about 9:15pm. Anyway, I ran to the cinema and was only about an hour late in arriving. I sat at the front until the screen lit up a bit more, when I looked for H. He loves sitting right in the middle of the audience, normally not too near the back, so I looked around there - and found him! I thought there was a seat beside him, so began walking along the row, only to discover too late that there were people on either side of him. So I sat a couple of seats along. I think he was pleasantly surprised to see me! I hadn't missed too much (well, about 40 minutes of chases and fights, apparently) so managed to work out what was going on pretty quickly and quite enjoyed the relentless pace of the rest of the film.

Tonight we're going to watch England v Germany at Wembley, tomorrow I'll go in to school to collect the GCSE results (which hopefully will be miles better than the A Level ones), and on Friday H has booked us tickets for the Prince aftershow party at the O2. So a busy few days lined up!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

There may be some disruption to the service ...

We are changing internet providers over the next couple of weeks. There may be a disruption to the service ... Apparently we will lose (Virgin) internet access in about three or four days. It could then take another 2 to 15 days before we can access our new provider (Sky). Seems a bit excessive, but hopefully it will be at the quicker end. But just thought I'd let you all know in case you wondered why there were no updates! This is a shame, since it could coincide with my visit to the Space Centre, the England v Germany game and the GCSE results (which I hope will be loads better than the A Level results, which were appalling).

So, come back in a couple of weeks and see what's going on then!

Tour of London

Yes, you read that correctly ... tour of London, not tower of London. Specifically, a tour of University College, London. We started in Bloomsbury, learnt a bit about the Bloomsbury Group, saw where TS Eliot worked for Faber and Faber (and heard about how he turned down George Orwell's Animal Farm, apparently with the comment that no one was really interesting in animal stories these days. (However, I've just done a search, and have found the following quote on The Antigonish Review:

With relevance, controversy and exceptional artistic merit, was it incomprehensible then that Animal Farm barely made it into print? Numerous British and American publishing houses rejected it. One, Dial Press, New York, returned the manuscript and, according to Orwell, told him that it was '...impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A."6

Faber and Faber, London, rejected the book despite it being termed a '...distinguished piece of writing', according to T.S. Eliot, one of the firm's directors and managing partners. 'The fable is very skilfully handled ... the narrative keeps one's interest on its own plane - and that is something very few authors have achieved since Gulliver.'

Eliot added: 'It is certainly the duty of any publishing firm which pretends to other interests and motives than mere commercial prosperity, to publish books which go against the current of the moment; but in each instance that demands that at least one member of the firm should have the conviction that this is the thing that needs saying at the moment. I can't see any reason of prudence or caution to prevent anybody from publishing this book - if he believed in what it stands for."


Another publisher to turn it down was Jonathan Cape ...

We then wandered through the streets and learnt a little more about the University of London, and saw SOAS then Birkbeck College, the evening school started by a professor from Edinburgh University.

One of the most interesting parts of the tour was when we visited one of UCL's collections, the Grant Museum of Zoology, a collection of skeletons arranged in taxonomical order. Highlights of the collection for me included the glass models of creatures such as slugs and anenome that cannot necessarily leave a skeleton. They are anatomically correct and are very beautiful (strange when you consider they are slugs and stuff! I was also impressed by the huge skull of an ancient ancestor of the giraffe, and the skeleton of an anaconda, wrapped around a branch.

We then went into the main UCL building, where I was delighted to finally see the stuffed body of Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism. (I think the UCL Bentham Project website is a very interesting and informative one, so have linked to it here.) There is also an interesting exhibition, Collecting the Dead, curated by the final year UCL Museum Curating students. It was a shame not to have longer to look at this exhibition, but perhaps we could visit it again later ...

After that, we visited the Petrie Museum of Egyptology, another fascinating place. I particularly liked (although "liked" is perhaps a strange word to use) the person buried in a pot, since it was quite unusual; I'm sure I haven't seen anything quite like it before. This tunic, possibly belonging to a 10 year old girl, was also very interesting - apparently it had been taken off inside out, and was found in a crumpled heap. As the tour guide (a friendly and professional teacher named Alison) said, some things don't change ... the archaeologists had to study the crease patterns at the elbow to figure out which way round the tunic would be worn, then they carefully used some sort of gauze in order to be able to display it. Quite a fashionable tunic - I'm sure I've got tops in a similar style!

Overall, it was a very interesting day. H said that if I'd told him we were visiting UCL he wouldn't have wanted to go - but he also really enjoyed it. A very interesting day!

In the evening we went to see Rush Hour 3 at the O2. A good laugh. So all in all, a busy day with lots packed in (including a lovely lunch near Russell Square tube station, which I would highly recommend but can't remember the name of - H said the Madras Chicken was the best Indian food he's had in London so far! I had a ham and mozzarella panini, which looked quite plain, but was delicious, and we both had milkshakes. All for £11. Which for London, seemed a particularly good deal! Must go back when we visit the Museum some time ...)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nothing Compares 2U ...

Wow! I have been truly blown away. From the opening chords of 1999 as the Sign flashed up in reds and golds, to the final Nothing Compares 2U which we all sang to Prince as he came back for about his third encore, and the sitting in the stadium as it slowly, ever so slowly, eventually, finally, wistfully, regretfully emptied, until the security staff had to come to those of us remaining and sorrowfully tell us that, yes, Prince really had left the building (or at least the arena, since some lucky people would be enjoying his presence at the afterparty at Indigo2), we were amazed, entertained, Partying, Crazy, in the Purple Rain of His Purpleness's throne room.

The doors opened at 6pm - we left the house about fifteen minutes before this, not sure when the concert would actually begin. Took about less than 15 minutes to get there - the O2 is my local!!! Then queued for 15 mins for the toilets. Tip - ignore the first toilet - there are plenty more in the arena! Arrived, to a real sense of occasion, then was a bit disappointed not to be able to go straight in to our seat - the actual arena doors did not open until about 7.15pm. But lots of nice places to eat and drink. We got pepperoni pizza and cod and chips. Not bad. Wine, beer, water, and other things to choose from, including healthier options.

Our seat was right up at the very top, in the very back row. It's a lot steeper than Wembley, and there's not as much leg room. But since we were dancing most of the night, that didn't matter much, and the great thing about Row U is that you can stand behind the row and dance. Fantastic!

H informed me that our support act was Beverley Knight. She was very good, very energetic; it was a shame the arena was still mostly empty and people were wandering around rather than giving her their full attention. She kept on saying Thank You and exclaiming how great it was that we were there to see Prince. After she left, we had fun sending Mexican Waves around the arena. Everyone joined in, and I think we went all the way around about three times.

There was another short break, and around 8.45pm ish, the lights dimmed, the roars started, the music began - and we watched a ten minute or so long video of people talking about how great Prince is. All eyes fixed on the dark stage ... steam billowing ... strum roar ... then all lights blazing, everyone immediately on their feet, a huge grin plastered across my face, which lasted the whole night, and we were partying like it was 1999!

It was a great evening. Prince is a consummate performer. Listening to his guitar solos was awesome. The roar reverberated through the seats and floor so my whole body was shaking with the noise. Mesmerising. The drummer (in a black and white striped dress). saxophinist, trombonist, pianist - all were excellent. The singers and dancers gave it everything. (The dancers in particular had the most amazing energy, throwing themselves around the place in good rhythm and time. When Prince disappeared, in a cloud of smoke, through a trapdoor in the middle of the stage (which was shaped like his Sign), we all clapped, cheered, whistled, as the band continued to play, until he came back. Crazy. Then he went away - but we wouldn't. The lights came up but still we cheered, no one daring to leave. And eventually he came back.

Overall, a fantastic night. Great performance, a party that made us dance and sing the whole night through. The visual light effects were excellent. The sound was great. I could hardly take my eyes off Prince, tiny on stage so far away from me.

A wonderful night. Nothing Compares 2U ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'm back!

I hadn't realised it had been so long since I had last blogged! In fact, it hadn't really dawned on me that I hadn't blogged once since I had been on holiday!

We've had a lovely holiday, and I especially enjoyed yesterday when we had a large family party at home, and I got to meet my (third?) cousin for the first time. She is lovely - four and a half months old, very sweet, curious and strong - she is keen to start dancing and exploring, I think!

I am also delighted to say that I managed to write 1200 words or so of my literature review, so I'm about one fifth of the way through it. Another highlight was the day my sister and I visited our Gran and had a girly day out. Not something that we do very often! Also came across an old story "what I wrote" when I was young ... lots of exclamation marks. Has anything changed?!

Now have to tidy the house, finish that literature review, write the methods and methodology review, write ICT and Asssessment policies, finish the SoWs (at least the first three ...) and plan my AfL and Literacy displays. Still, I think I have just under three weeks to do all that. Oh, and we are going to see Prince tomorrow night, so watch out for my report on that!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Enjoying London in the sun

I do enjoy London in the sun. Yesterday we went to Islington to meet up with a friend in Islington and went to the organic pub I mentioned a few days ago. Very nice. Then went to Sedir for another Turkish meal. Very nice - and I managed not to have a dessert this time!

Today we went for a walk, and ended up visiting a nearby bird sanctuary that I didn't know existed - it's very close to Canary Wharf, and is in the middle of lots of buildings. Very peaceful. We then wandered along to the Thames, enjoying the sight of the O2 and some cormorants, then kept walking until we reached South Quays.

Other than that, I've been spending quite a lot of time on Facebook. Very moreish and addictive. So that's probably why I haven't blogged much recently ...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Baptism

Had a lovely day today - H's cousin was baptised, and it was a lovely celebration! Quite tired now though!

Our anniversary ... continued!

Having readjusted our eyes to the bright light, we made our way towards the big cats, following the arrows. First, though, our path took us past the big gift shop and the penguin enclosure. By the size of the crowd, and the sign referring to peckish penguins (or something), we realised that we were fifteen minutes into feeding time. We wandered over - but I have to say, they were not as exciting as the penguins in Edinburgh!

So we wandered on, past some interesting birds (did I mention the bright blue hyacinth maccaw last blog?) and towards the big cats. We saw a serval sunning itself, and wondered where the tiger was - then turned a corner and realised it was walking up and down next to the window where all the spectators were gathered. No one was going to move, so I got a bit fed up and wandered on - before pausing, looking up, and seeing a large reclining lion! I took a few pictures, then caught up with H, who complained that he hadn't seen any lions yet! So I pointed them out, and, as I did so, the male lion lifted his head and looked straight at us! I think he must have heard H.

Having seen the cats, we went passed a couple of donkeys; soon, though, we heard the announcement that the zoo was now closed and we had to make our way to the nearest exit.

So off we went, stopping to take a few sunny photos of each other, and soon we were on the street.

This meant to get home we had to walk through Regent's Park, and what a lovely walk that was! We sat on a bench in the sun for a while, and as it began to get cooler, we wandered through the beautiful gardens.

Having left Regent's Park, we travelled to Islington, where we had dinner at Gufaa, and Indian Restaurant. It was very nice, but I was a bit too greedy - I think I should have stopped before the ice cream! So we rolled home, stuffed and happy, having had a very lovely 6th anniversary!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our anniversary!

Well, what a lovely day - and I don't just mean the weather, which has been glorious (at least until the walk back from the tube just now, when it has started raining).

We started off a bit later than I had hoped, but arrived at Camden Lock Market around 1.30pm or so, and found some Caribbean food for lunch - goat curry, jerk chicken, peas and rice, plantain, spinach. Very filling and tasty. Then we wandered briefly around the market, and I bought a few chocolates, since apparently the 6th anniversary is "candy and iron" - I bought a couple of cola flavoured balls, which I suppose is candy, but I haven't managed to find anything iron so far! Maybe later ....

We then walked along the canal in order to cross under the road and tried to get on a canal boat. Unfortunately the canal boats at that side only do tour cruises, not trips to the zoo, so we had to go back to the market side where we found the waterbus. Soon we were on our way!

It was great to arrive in the zoo grounds by boat. We stepped out, and very soon we were in the Africa section, and what a feast of animals we saw there, after being welcomed by the meerkats.

First up was the red river hog. Very pig like, and very big. Quite cute, and red, and stripey. We then wandered on to see the African Hunting Dogs, which looked very much like hyenas. They were golden, black and white and very speckled. Next in line were the warthogs, which reminded me of the family of warthogs I saw in Liwonde in Malawi.




The animals then began to get bigger. Hiding behind a tree we could see some white and black stripy legs, but they didn't look like they belonged to a zebra - in fact, it was an okapi, a strange looking horse like creature. Next door were the zebras, which looked all smooth and well toned, and were mostly enjoying a rest in the sun. Then were the most mentioned animals (or so it seemed to us) - the giraffes. They were both sitting down enjoying the sunshine as well, their long necks making them look proud and elegant. Unfortunately we couldn't see the tapir, since she was having a snooze in the shade.


We then went to visit the Biome, which had a sloth, a couple of giant rat but quite cute like creatures called "agouti", marmosets, some birds and other interesting creatures in a rainforest environment. It was fun watching them, especially when the two agoutis started chasing each other round in circles right beneath us! The sloth is well named indeed - he never moved the whole time we were there.




The next stop was downstairs to the Nightzone. This is where all the animals that move around at night are. Some great animals there. But my favourites, by far, were the bats. At first they all looked spooky enough, hanging upside down like mini Draculas, sleeping. Then one opened up his leathery wings to stretch, and then to flap around. That was quite a spectacle, his plasticy black claws still gripping the branch that he was dangling from. But then he began to pull himself up, with what would be his hands and arms. He held onto the wire mesh along the ceiling of the habitat, and then clambered along the way that any climber would if having to grip the underside of a rock and move forward to safety. He climbed right along to another bat at the edge, and they proceeded to have a conversation, of sorts. Later he hauled himself back, flung out his arms and leathery black cape, then drew his arms - and cape - back tightly around his body. Just like a miniature vampire! No wonder people have been inspired to think of them as blood sucking strange little people for so long!

Eventually we went back out into the daylight, and decided to go and see the big cats. More tomorrow! Goodnight!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A quiet day

How enjoyable, to sit and read a book all day. I have finished the trilogy, "His Dark Materials", by Philip Pullman. My reviews can be found on my other blog, Louisa's Library. Other than that, I baked a roasted butternut squash, and we had fajitas for dinner. And it's our anniversary tomorrow! Our plan is to go to the Zoo. We shall see - could be another good entry in a day or two!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Enjoying the Holidays

We headed towards Oxford Street yesterday. H bought a nice paisley patterned pink shirt and bright yellow shiny trainers, and I bought a black cardigan and a green jumper. Very seasonal! The tube was very hot and very crowded. Fortunately I had "Northern Lights" with me, which I started on the tube on the way into the city and finished this morning. Another good book.

Today, along with finishing "Northern Lights" and reading over half of "The Subtle Knife", the second in the trilogy (which I may well finish this evening), I have baked some banana bread, taken lots of photos of H for his author photo, typed out some KS3 Level Descriptors, worked on a SoW and made a seafood paella. Lots of enjoyable things to do - I do like the holidays! Still feel as if time is running out though - I've so much to do before I go back to school! Haven't even started on my dissertation yet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Tourist in London

It was a lovely day yesterday so we decided to visit some interesting tourist sites in London. We had a great time, and saw some historical sites, an exhibition, beautiful views, and an organic pub. Come with me as I take you on a tour of London!

We made sure we had a good start to the day with a delicious breakfast of fried egg and asparagus tips. I have to confess to slightly over cooking the egg, but the tips were succulent and just right.

We then headed on the tube to Monument. But would we be able to find the Monument when we left the tube station? I picked up a map of the area just before exiting, but before I could even look at it - there it was! All 311 steps and 202 feet of it. Right in front of us, huge, pointing high into the sky. We walked round it quickly, before paying our two pounds and beginning the ascent. It's very spirally, and just when you think you must be almost there - you look up, then down, and realise you're only about half way! Fortunately the steps are just about wide enough for two people to pass ech other comfortably without feeling at great risk of falling down. I did wonder what the effects of a Harry Potter spell that made the stairs become a slide would be - the ultimate helter skelter! But it was too frightening prospect at the top of the Monument, so I decided not to try it!

When we got to the top - what views! I tried to take a panoramic photo from between the bars. Starting at Tower Bridge, we could see the Thames, with a number of boats and ships, including HMS Belfast, either moored or whizzing down the river. There was Canary Wharf, with the new building with the blue tipped new skyscraping looking like a giant calligraphy pen. Further round were other interesting buildings, rooftops, cars, buses, minipeople, Monument tube station. Then we reached the other side of London - looking through the telescope we could see tiny people walking round the cupola of St Paul's. Next was the BT Tower, before we arrived back towards the river again, seeing the London Eye in the distance, then other landmarks and bridges sweeping along the Thames, including Tate Modern. What a beautiful view, and what an amazing city, with so much interesting architecture and history.

Soon, though, we decided we should go back downstairs, and thus began the long descent. As we left, we were presented with a certifacte to prove that we had climbed the 311 steps of the Monument - twice! When we left the building, we decided we would walk along the river to meet up with a friend near the Hayward Gallery. However, we were by now a bit disorientated. Which way was the river?! However, we found it, and crossed the bridge to the South Bank.

What a lovely walk, along the South Bank of the Thames in the sun. There is so much to look at, so much to listen to. We came across the Golden Hinde quite by accident. This replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship is moored near some upmarket buildings, and has sailed over 100,000 miles - more than the original. We decided we should get on board, and had a great time wandering over the decks, sitting on Sir Francis' bed and chair, and shuffling carefully under low beams. Highly recommended.

Another place of interest that caught our eye was The Clink, an old prison museum. We should visit it sometime, but since we were meeting someone, we decided to leave it for now. Instead we stopped for a bite of lunch at Wagamama, which is always pretty good. I had a salad for a change, and to be honest, I expected it to be a warm salad, since it had courgettes, sweet potato, mooli, and other such vegetables in it. But it was cold. So that was a bit strange. Nice to be able to eat some of H's noodles! Overall, good, though.

We then wandered along to Tate Modern, where we were a bit underwhelmed by their "Global Cities" exhibition - I have a Geography teacher friend who would have loved it though! Then we met up with our friend and headed to the Hayward Gallery, which is hosting the Anthony Gormley "Blind Light" exhibition. That was great. I enjoy Gormley's work anyway, but the experience of walking into a cloud room, like a cold steam room, that makes you cough, makes your nose run, and means that all you can see is whiteness, with dulled disembodied noises and voices floating to you from the cloud, is quite an experience. At first you can see the outline of your companions, but take another couple of steps, and it's just you in the cloud. Then occasionally a figure looms right by you. It's like being in a dream. Very strange, very good.

We also had fun trying to see as many of Gormley's Event Horizon figures as we could. They got smaller and smaller, as our eyes gazed along the horizon, trying to see these tiny figures standing on the tops of distant buildings, in corners of balconies, one standing on the street. All of them looking at us, the Event Horizon. And the visitors to the galleries coming out and pointing up, gazing towards the Event along the Horizon. Very intriguing.

After this event, we decided to head into Angel, where H's friend knew a good pub. After a short stop at The Tinder Box for cheesecake and a coffee milkshake (the milkshake was tasty, the cheesecake was an American-style cooked one, quite cloying and heavy, which wasn't what I had been expecting), we headed towards the only organic pub in the UK, the Duke of Cambridge, which was really nice and well worth another visit. I had an apple and ginger juice, which was delicious. The food all looked great, too, if a little on the more expensive side. However, I liked the rustic tables, the odd chairs and the homeliness of this local. We'll be back.

Then it was time for our friend to catch his train, so we headed home today. A lovely day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

To do list

At Christmas it really helped me to have to do lists to help keep me on the straight and narrow. So here is my list for this holiday:

1. Literature Review
2. Methods and methodology review
3. Rewrite all KS3 SoW
4. Attainment Target levels for KS3
5. GCSE grade descriptors
6. Posters for form noticeboard

I'm sure there are many more things to do but Mum is on the phone so I can't think properly! Washing, tidying etc.

Nice walk

Walked home from church and shopping by the canal. Beautiful sunny day, the sky bright blue, the clouds white and fluffy. The water was high but calm. Listened to the chirping and calling of the moorhens. The slightly fishy sea smell reminded me of Scottish holidays by the beach. A cricketing chirrup drew my attention to the wildflowers and the grasshoppers. A very pleasant walk.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter - no spoilers!

I decided I didn't want to accidentally find out what happened - who died, if Harry died, what would happen to Voldemorte, what the Deathly Hallows were etc - before having read the book, and in this multimedia age it's very easy to do that by accident. So H and I made our way to the supermarket just after midnight (I had wanted to be there for midnight, but H had been out with a friend who phoned when he had arrived home while H was booking tickets for the England v Germany game, so in the end we left just after midnight), and there was a longish queue of people waiting to buy the book, which was being sold as quickly as the assistants could get the copies out of the boxes. We also got given a magic wand, which was great, and which I have been waving around as I've been reading it.

I read for about an hour or two after arriving home, reaching page 92 before giving in to sleep. Woke up around 8.30am, and I finished the book at 5pm, with only about half an hour or so off for washing my hair and eating lunch.

So now I know what happened!

Well, now I need to get on with the rest of things that need doing! But at least now I know!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Holidays!

The rest of the week has passed well, with some boys' "etiquette" and some more dance. We had an assembly today - and now I'm on holiday!!!!!

I'm going to have a snooze now, then I have some editing to do for H, then I may take a walk up to our local supermarket to purchase a book just after midnight ... Will let you know if I manage that or not!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Etiquette and Martial Arts

Today I learnt what a teacher should do if a pupil slaps another pupil in my class. Ignore it, and ignore the return slap that will follow. Mothers tell daughters to slap someone back if they are slapped first, and my sending someone to the referral room will make no difference. If the person who was slapped first does not retaliate in kind, then they may be thought of as weak, so they will lose face. Not good. As teachers, we are paid to teach, so we should ignore any of this kind of behaviour.

If a pupil who has been ignoring us all year comes to us a week or two before the exams asking for extra help in our own time, we should help them, rather than telling them that they should have concentrated all year then they'd understand - after all, that is what we are paid to do. If a pupil decides not to focus all year, they should still get our help. We don't have free time. We don't need time to mark, prepare or assess - we should be at every students' beck and call for whenever they need us.

If someone asks me which area I'm from, it's probably safe to tell them if I'm in my own area - otherwise tell them that I'm visiting my grandmother in that area, or say I'm from outside London (still best to be visiting my aunt or someone).

If my little brother or sister "borrows" my new shoes and returns them in an appalling state, then I should beat them.

Overall, the Etiquette session was an eye-opener. Very interesting ... it ended up being about conflict and assertiveness rather than etiquette, and would probably have benefitted from another session on the difference between agressiveness and assertiveness.

After the break, I decided to try out Ka-Zimba, an African form of martial arts. It was very interesting to watch the instructor demonstrate what this martial art can look like. One of the boys, whom I think does boxing, tried to fight with him, while the instructor glided around, avoiding any hits and showing how he could have got some fatal blows in, but doing this all fairly slowly and not hurting the pupil in any way. It was dance-like, and even funny at times, and you could see how effective it could be. We learnt some key moves - ngoma, stepping in and out, and another called spear and shield. Then we "freestyled" against each other in the ring. Fun!

More etiquette tomorrow, although I think I'll have a look and see if there is something else active that I could swap to do in the second session!