Monday, April 28, 2008

Busy week!

I'm not quite sure where the time has gone! Thursday was the teachers' strike: I wasn't on strike - different union - and was lucky enough not to have any lessons to teach that day (only Year 11s were in, in common with many other schools in London, I think). H arrived back on Wednesday (minus hand luggage, but he caught up with it later, so it was okay!) and before that I was busy filling in application forms. On Friday we spent the day interviewing pupils with their parents, and at lunch time I got called for an interview (have had it, didn't get it, but was relieved because I spent the last task wondering whether or not I should withdraw, so it obviously wasn't right, but was a good experience and also made me think about the good things about school). Anyway, I didn't know all that then, so the afternoon was spent running around like a headless chicken trying to organise things! Then went home, packed and drove north because we had a wedding the next day!

It was a beautiful wedding. The weather was perfect, dry, sunny, not too cold, not too hot, and we arrived and pulled over just as the bride arrived in her horse-drawn carriage! We met up with some of my uni friends (one of whom was the bride, another one was in the choir), which meant that it was an extra special day. Took loads of photos: the church is a beautiful old one with lots of interesting history and stories, and a lovely big churchyard. The reception was in a marquee in the Bride's family garden, and it was beautiful as well. We had a roasted pepper tart, lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and veg (my favourite!) and a deliciously creamy cheesecake. The speeches were excellent and very funny - discovered that the Groom went to school very near to my present school - and then we danced to a ceilidh band that played sort of French type music, with a hurdy-gurdy and some interesting pipes (Aha! Perhaps they were those French ones we learnt about in school ...). As well as dancing, we talked lots, which was great.

We stayed in a nice hotel, meeting up with my friends in the morning for breakfast, then had to rush back south to prepare for the interview. But first we visited the school, and first impressions were ... not too hot, shall we say, which worried me a bit but also relaxed me. So overall, as I said, I'm not upset about not getting the post, but am now not too sure what to do! I don't want to rush into anything, so, we'll see.

I am pretty exhausted now though, so I think I'll head off for a bit of a rest before facing clearing up, dinner, and planning for tomorrow! And there seems to be a good programme on BBC4 tonight as well. So maybe I'll watch that ... !

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Updating my list ...

1) Watch London marathon (want to get pics of the Maasai warriors that are running)
2) Visit our friends with a newborn baby
3) Plan a unit on the Holy Spirit that involves art
4) Mark another set of books (and possibly pop in to school to pick up some more sets of books, and the two sets of year 7 assessments that I left at school by accident)
5) Buy an outfit for my friend's wedding, and a present
6) Buy a present for our nephew's first birthday
7) Plan the forthcoming lessons
8) Tidy the house!! (I've done it, but it has to be continually kept up to date!)
9) Sort out the car insurance stuff following my accident the other week.

So, as far as school goes, I still need to:
1) Mark the other half of Y9 books
2) Mark the other set of Y9 books
3) Mark the two sets of Y7 assessments
4) Plan lessons for Y9 assessment
5) Plan lessons for Y8 assessment
6) Plan lessons for new Y7, Y8 and Y9 schemes of work
7) Plan LOTC scheme of work on religion and art for Y9
8) Arrange times for Parents' Day
9) Complete Risk Assessment for school trip

Also need to:
1) Send off car insurance stuff
2) Get the car keys back
3) Possibly buy coat and gloves for wedding outfit (Done - Sunday)
4) Complete at least 2 applications
5) Arrange graduation stuff (at least I've started on this by asking for time off!)
6) Bind my dissertation

Hmmm. So I still have quite a bit to do tomorrow ...

PS GREAT NEWS! I got the car keys back!

What a day!!

I was still tired when I woke up so I stayed in bed for a while, before eventually thinking I better get on with everything. Phoned the garage - the car was ready - and the best time to bring it back was 3pm. Which was annoying, but had to be done, so I got up and ready and planned to go shopping and get back from there by then. So off I went.

Arrived at DLR - no train. Had to wait for replacement bus. Eventually, it arrived, and I got to Canary Wharf around noon. So I had about two hours to shop. Quite a few things on my list, but the two main ones were shoes and wedding present.

First shop, tried on nice pair of shoes. But I like to look elsewhere ... so in the next hour or so I tried on every other half suitable shoe in every other shop in the Wharf - well, there was only one other suitable pair, as it turned out, but I had to go through every other shop to find that one - and eventually had to head back to the original shop to get that first pair! Could have saved myself an hour ... ! Also managed to get the present, which was a funny story in itself ... basically I was trying to make a choice and work out the prices, when a couple came along and took them all from under my nose! So that was a bit annoying, but not a lot I could do about it. So I had to get something slightly different, but perhaps they can change them later if they want!

Went to Itsu for lunch, in empathy with H. Had miso soup, chilli salmon with obe (?) leaf, rice, spicy vegetable dumplings, and Valrhona chocolate mousse with pomegranate seeds, with an Itsu zinger on the side (ginger, lemon and mint juice). Very nice ... but more expensive than I had expected!

Got home in time for the car man. Got the call, man on his way; turned out that was the courtesy car man, but the garage man arrived just as I was about to go and get the courtesy keys, so I waited to pay the garage man first. He had the pin machine with him, so I paid for the car, he gave me the documents and explained a few things, I headed back indoors for the courtesy keys, signed for that, saw that man off, went upstairs - and realised I didn't have the car keys!!! Phoned the courtesy car people and the insurance company, but neither of them had a mobile number for the garage man. Remembered that there must be a spare key somewhere: turned the drawers inside out, found a few interesting things and discovered where the odd socks disappear to, and eventually got the key. However, the man has still not returned with my key yet ... !

All in all, I have a headache, and haven't managed to get very much else done. Still haven't got a coat and gloves either for next weekend. Oh dear.

Right. Glad to have written all that down. Let's see what I can get done before bed ...

ADDITION: 12.40am The garage man has brought back the car keys! He eventually discovered them in his pocket and has returned them! So now I can go to bed ... a bit later than planned, but at least happy in the knowledge that I can drive to work easily on Monday, and maybe even go shopping tomorrow!

Friday, April 18, 2008


There was an article on The Message (Radio 4) today about children's TV programmes. It featured a Wombles' viral to illustrate the fact that only 1% of children's TV programmes today are made in Britain. A number of children were interviewed for the radio programme, and only one of them mentioned a British programme as amongst their favourite programmes (Tracey Beaker) - all the rest were American (Eg The Simpsons, Sponge Bob Squarepants, and others that I hadn't heard of).

It got me thinking about my favourite programmes as a child, so, in no particular order, other than the way they come to my mind, here they are (well, some of them anyway!):

Mr Benn (YouTube link)


The Flumps (YouTube link)

Let's Pretend

Button Moon (although I associate this more with my sister, for some reason - she's younger, so maybe I watched it with her or something) (YouTube link)


Grandad (YouTube - Clive Dunn singing "Grandad")



King Rollo

Rhubarb and Custard


SuperTed (YouTube link) (The Official Website)

Pigeon Street

Sesame Street

Sooty and Sweep





... and many more! And I think that most of these are British ...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To teleport or not to teleport ...

Just recalled a conversation I overheard when H and I were having lunch in between trying on dresses. (Me trying them on, not him, obviously...)

A man and his nephew (I presume - they looked fairly alike, and the teenager spoke about his mum and dad, so it was not his father) were discussing whether or not people would want to use a teleporter.

Now, the reason my ears pricked up at this (other than the fact that we were right next to each other, barely a gap between tables; you can't have a private conversation in London, I think!) was that I have recently started reading another Man Booker nominee, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (I'll put the review on my other blog when I've finished it), and in that book, the narrator is asked to value a company that specialises in travel - using a teleporter. He works out how much people are prepared to travel by Concorde, thinks of the amount of time saved by being able to go from New York to London instantaneously, and values the company at a couple of billion dollars or so. The interviewer then points out that he has greatly overvalued the company because there is one factor he has not taken into account: whether or not people will actually feel confident in using this means of transport, which would somehow require their atoms to be dispersed and somehow reformed elsewhere.

And this was the topic that the man and teenager were discussing. What were the odds of someone dying using this machine, and what did the odds have to be before people would actually want to use it. The boy suggested if the machine was 99.9% safe, then that was quite good. The man then worked out (and forgive my shoddy maths, the following figures might all be completely wrong, if so then it's because I can't remember what he said so I'm making it up - his figures sounded quite accurate) that if someone was using the transporter roughly three times a day, then they would use it about 1000 times a year; at 99.9% this would mean that ... Sorry, I can't even begin to make those calculations just now!, but let's just say that he worked out that you would be at quite a high risk of dying ... The two recalibrated the figures until they got a percentage they were happy with, where you might by likely to die once in fifty years or so ...

Then there was a philosophical discussion of how someone might die. If it was known how you would die, ie if when you used this machine, the manner of death (on those rare occasions when it malfunctioned) was always the same (eg the box you were sitting in would fill with smoke, the walls would begin to collapse, you would ... ), would that make you more or less likely to want to use this form of transport? The man proposed that people don't mind travelling in cars because they wouldn't necessarily know how they might die if they were in an accident, there are so many different ways.

Finally, there was a discussion on whether or not people would choose to use a manner of transport that they didn't understand. The boy thought that it could be frightening if they didn't understand how the machine worked. The uncle pointed out that by the time such a machine was invented, we would understand how it worked - no one understands anything that hasn't been invented yet. Other than me curiously wondering how that statement would apply to Jules Verne or Leonardo Da Vinci, the boy contemplated the thought that people wouldn't have understood that rubbing two sticks together would make light (and heat) until they did it.

By now the time was passing on, the ice cream sundae had been devoured, and off the two philosophers went.


All the excitement recently has been around H's trip overseas. It was a bit last minute, but he managed to get a ticket and got on the flight in time. Just! I've been finishing off some form filling for him, and have posted two parcels this morning. So now I have some forms to fill in of my own, as well as trying to tidy this place up.

Let's review that list from earlier this week ...

1) Watch London marathon (want to get pics of the Maasai warriors that are running)
2) Visit our friends with a newborn baby
3) Plan a unit on the Holy Spirit that involves art
4) Mark another set of books (and possibly pop in to school to pick up some more sets of books, and the two sets of year 7 assessments that I left at school by accident)
5) Buy an outfit for my friend's wedding, and a present
6) Buy a present for our nephew's first birthday
7) Plan the forthcoming lessons
8) Tidy the house!!
9) Sort out the car insurance stuff following my accident the other week.

Hmm. I thought I'd managed to complete more than that!! I am very happy with my outfit, which we got a couple of days ago - I'm just hoping that none of my old uni friends have made the same choice as me! I imagine it would look very good on any of them - that could be interesting! I still need to get shoes. And the presents ... so it looks like a day's shopping in London is in order at the weekend. I think I'll concentrate on number 8 (again!) for the next hour or so, in order to have some space to complete numbers 3, 4, 7 and 9. Unfortunately I think number 2 will now have to be put off for a couple of weeks, until H is back and after the wedding. Fortunately my friend also has a blog with some great photos of the newborn - not so new now, he's a month old! - so at least we're keeping up to date with his progress that way!

Right. Tidying, while listening to the Elgar Enigma Varations. Great!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

London Marathon

We made it to the Marathon again this year! Armed with a map to get us to our first destination and a print out of the expected times for each set of runners - Wheelchairs, Elite Women, Elite Men, 2:30 pace, 3:30 pace etc - we managed to leave only about 10 minutes behind schedule. Warmish jackets, handbag emptied to make it as light as possible, umbrella dangling over arm, we made our way to the place we had stood at last year. The first wheelchair athletes had passed by only two or three minutes before, according to the friendly policeman, but no women had arrived yet. Music was being played and the St John's Ambulance Crew was standing around at the ready.

We did not have to wait too long until a few more wheelchairs arrived - and left pretty quickly! I managed to get some photos and video footage, but it's hard when they move so fast! Eventually there were a few more police outriders and a van came into view; straining into the distance I could just about make out the first of the Elite Women running over the hill.

We cheered on quite a few, including the eventual winner, then decided to head back along the road that the runners had come from. We eventually arrived under a bridge beside a large group of young people dressed in blue. As we walked past some older leaders I immediately recognised the anchor on their badges - it was the Boys' Brigade! (I used to be an Anchor Boy.) (Sort of.) We waited under the bridge, cheering on the women and the wheelchairs as they passed by, and then the band started up, all drums and bugles. I got excited by this, and turned to take their pictures - almost missing the Elite Men whose arrival the bugles heralded! Well, we managed to get some pictures of them, then the heavens opened, so we sheltered under the bridge for some time, enjoying the music, watching the MS volunteers handing out balloons and noisy things, taking pictures and generally enjoying the atmosphere, then we decided to move on.

The rain had stopped while we walked up towards Canary Wharf. We took that walk slowly, stopping to cheer on the runners every so often.

It was a great day out. And now I'm off to bed!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This week so far ...

I wish the lack of entries indicated a host of exciting activities, but instead it probably represents the simple relaxation of being on holiday! I haven't really moved far from the computer, but have been fiddling around with other programs and keeping in touch with people rather than blogging here.

So, F left on Tuesday morning, at the same time as I headed into school. We had a revision session for any GCSE students that wanted to come along. There were about thirty or so, which was a good number, really, for 9am on a holiday morning. I don't think I'd have been there if I'd had the choice! Unfortunately most of them were there to catch up with their friends, so it was more of a social club than a revision session. Even pointing out that we hadn't given up the morning to spend time with them but rather to help them prepare for their exams didn't seem to make any difference, so we cut the class early, but offered the option of staying for any that had particular questions.

Three of mine stayed, and we had a purposeful hour and a half. I was able to go through the exam with them, revise a couple of important parables, answer their particular questions and hopefully encourage them a bit as well. It was just what I had hoped for - a shame there were so few of them. But often smaller numbers helps. We'll see how they do in their exams next month ...

It was also nice to be able to go home, rest for a bit, then head back out to meet a long lost friend in Marylebone. Well, not exactly lost - Edinburgh is hardly the back of beyond! - but we hadn't seen each other since uni! However, it was as if hardly any time had passed, and the couple of hours we had together over hot chocolate and tiramisu passed by very quickly! So it was a great week for catching up with new friends.

That theme continued on Facebook over the past few days. I have now linked up once again with a couple of old friends, one from about nine years ago, the other closer to nineteen years ago ... One of the benefits of Facebook is the way you can communicate with people all over the world quickly and easily, sharing photos and videos easily. (However, the TES had an article this week warning teachers to watch out what they post online, since those photos and comments then become public property, and teachers can be disciplined for bringing their school - and the profession? - into disrepute. I am conscious of this, and probably self-censor a bit on here and on Facebook - I'm often surprised at colleagues that don't!) Anyway, over the past few days I've had some fairly lengthy catch ups with friends, which has been nice.

The other main "event", if it can be called that, is my continual difficulty with swallowing tablets. I know it is entirely psychological, but that doesn't help! Drinking litres of water resulting in a horrible taste as the tablet gradually dissolves is not pleasant, and mixing it in with microwaved banana and chocolate didn't work either. The last couple I've taken I've had to crush and mix with lemon curd, or at least wash down with smoothies, but the instructions clearly say that I am not supposed to do that. So I think I'll have to phone the surgery again on Monday and see if there is an oral suspension liquid thing I can take instead ... I really ought to be more adult about it, but I just can't!!

At least with it being holidays I've managed to mark two sets of books (very briefly, tick and flick, I'm afraid, and with the inspection coming up I'll need to set some more extended writing for them to do so I can give more formative comments!), write a proposal for a new project, and read two or three easy crime fiction novels, as well as have a few lie-ins.

So, for the rest of the holidays? Here is the plan:

1) Watch London marathon (want to get pics of the Maasai warriors that are running)
2) Visit our friends with a newborn baby
3) Plan a unit on the Holy Spirit that involves art
4) Mark another set of books (and possibly pop in to school to pick up some more sets of books, and the two sets of year 7 assessments that I left at school by accident)
5) Buy an outfit for my friend's wedding, and a present
6) Buy a present for our nephew's first birthday
7) Plan the forthcoming lessons
8) Tidy the house!!
9) Sort out the car insurance stuff following my accident the other week.

Well, that's not too bad, and it makes a change to have more than simply marking and planning on the list! I am finding this holiday quite relaxing. Was certainly in need of it. Now, number 8 ... kitchen sink, here I come!!!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Quick Outline of Monday

On Monday, F, H and I met up with B in London. We walked from Tower Bridge to Westminster. Here is a list of the places we visited (sorry it's so sparse! Will try and add more ideas to it later!)

Tower Hill Tube Station

Tower Bridge Exhibition

City Hall

Dim T for lunch

Tate Modern

London Eye (just passed by!)

Westminster Tube

Nelson Mandela Statue

London Walks: Old Westminster by Gaslight

Crossed Westminster Bridge, passed Lambeth Palace, back over Lambeth Bridge, through Georgian streets to Marquis of Granby pub and back to Palace of Westminster


A long and enjoyable day!

What's been happening during the holidays?

What a good question. And there have been a few days so far! Let's see. Sunday ... ah, it snowed! I remember that because I took the car to church again, despite the bad experience last week! I was almost late as well, since I was trying to get some nice photos of the snow! The sad news was that one of our congregation died last week. He'd been in hospital unwell for some time, so it was expected, but sad news nonetheless.

After church, I had the pleasure of meeting up with an old primary school friend for a couple of days. Well. We had arranged to meet at Angel. When I got to the tube, I realised that the Northern Line wasn't working. That made Angel a bit harder to get to ... So I tried to get in touch, but unfortunately her mobile wasn't working, either! I kept trying to send texts and messages, but with no luck, partly through tunnels, but mostly through a dodgy phone system, I think. Had phoned H to ask him to pass on a message to her as well, but he hadn't heard anything by the time I reached Kings' Cross. I headed up the stairs, looking for signposts to bus routes for diverted Northern Line passengers, but there were no clear signs. What should I do? Head back down the stairs into the tube station to ask about buses there, or into Kings' Cross station? I paused, and noticed a customers' rest area. Perhaps someone could help me there. I took about two steps towards that glass door, before suddenly noticing ... my Friend! She was on the phone, but not managing to get through to me, with her brother, who was also visiting the capital. I ran over to them and flung my arms around her, at which point she shrieked! But it was quite funny, and, as she said, "He knows his own". A bit of a miracle to start the long weekend!

The next task was to make it to Angel for lunch ... So off we headed, in what I hoped was the right direction. I was surprised to find myself in Bloomsbury, near the British Museum. Not sure when we would ever reach Angel (!!!), we decided to stop at Strada for lunch. Very nice ... it's a while since I had Italian and my pizza was very tasty. It was good to catch up with some of the local news from home over pizza and pasta, then F and I decided to visited the British Museum while her brother, whom we'll call B, went to visit his friend. We had a look at a map and discovered we'd probably have had to visit Antarctica before we reached Angel if we'd carried on the direction we'd been heading!

It was good to have a flying visit to the Museum. We saw the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen, the Egyptian Mummies, the Sutton Hoo treasure, the Life and Death exhibition, the Currency exhibition, the African gallery ... loads of stuff!

Feeling suitably cultured, we left when the gallery closed down and headed home for a delicious dinner cooked by S of spaghetti bolognese.

Right, I think that's enough for one blog! Will catch up on Monday's visits later!

Saturday, April 05, 2008


I'm shocked to have heard just now of the sudden death of Steve Sinnott, General Secretary of the NUT. Although I'm not in his union, and I may not always have agreed with his policies, he always struck me as an interesting and amiable person. Shocked.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Notes from this week

A busy sort of week with some late nights, and a few observations.

On the tube today, I heard one word in English, then a whole stream of conversation whose language I could not make out. What was it? Then, I tuned in ... the two boys sounded like my cousin, and were speaking in a broad Scottish accent! It was bad enough when I had overheard two Geordies that I thought were Dutch, but two Scots ...!

A couple of days ago ... I did not see the face of the woman, whose head was covered in a grey scarf, as she was walking away from me, and I was stuck in traffic going nowhere ... but the man stood for quite some time, looking her way, his fingers kissed by his lips, his Italianesque face gazing after her, stopped in his tracks.

One of my students did a great impersonation of his Dad dancing in class today. Very funny - and very good dancing!

I've been on the tube a couple of times this week. I enjoyed the walk through the park to school this morning. The grey squirrels skip up the trees as if attached by velcro.

I've rearranged my classroom, and, apart from the students who have been rebelling against the seating plan, I've noticed a bit of an improvement in behaviour. In some of the classes, students have produced more work.

After my accident, we are still waiting to get a date for the work to be done on the car. Next week some time. We need to get a new tyre first.

It's annoying ... there were a few funny things that happened that I wanted to share, but now I can't remember what they were! I had a few late nights, and also a couple of busy nights, so I couldn't write at the time.

Right. That will have to do then!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool

The traffic was an April Fool's Day joke today. The road was closed - but no diversion signs, so a queue of traffic made its way up and down roads, struggling to choose which way to go, ending up in long static queues of traffic. Because there were no signs, we couldn't work out how to get back onto the main road. It normally takes about 20 minutes for me to walk to church - after 40 minutes of driving, I found myself outside my church. I crawled past, and 30 minutes later, I was back outside it again but on the other side of the road ... I tried a third time to get onto the main road, a few miles further north, but with no luck. I eventually gave up and drove through the busy streets between home and work. I missed my planning lesson, and arrived a bit late for the next lesson.

At the end of the day I rushed out to collect my dissertation. I took a wrong turning, and, once again, found myself running late. The woman at the uni had said she was leaving at 4.30pm - I drove up the uni drive at 4.25pm. Fortunately she answered the phone when I called and asked if she could wait 5 more minutes, then it was like challenge Anneka, running down to the office while on the phone giving her my name, then running up the stairs, then leafing through the shelves of dissertations trying to find mine against the clock. I did, and was back in the car at 4.37pm. Phew.

On the way home there was another diversion, then I got lost, so again it took me a long time to get home. What a day - I think I spent about as long in the car as in the classroom!