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


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


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!