Saturday, 31 December 2011

Resolutions, resolutions, resolutions.

So, it's that time again and yes, they may have all gone to pot by the end of January (if you're extra good), but I'm a firm believer in New Years resolutions. The change of the year forces us to reflect on the past year and think about how to make the next year better, and resolutions provide just that bit more focus.

However, I don't buy into the whole "self-improvement" thing. I think putting pressure on yourself like that only sets you up to fail and forces you to put pressure on yourself which in turn makes the thing you strive for more difficult. So, this year, my new year resolutions are simple:

  • To smile more often;
  • To live in and enjoy the present;
  • To make more time for myself.

I want to remember this feeling, the one I have today, feeling completely happy and content. I want every day to be like that and to do whatever I need to to make that happen. Taking more time for myself I guess comes into that, but that also involves making sure I see more of the people who make my life special, do more of the things I love and do more of the things that I want to do. I want to be on my own, loving every second of this year as I find out more about myself, watch my best friends get married, take steps in my career and really settle in my new life. I want to be happy, all day every day and make sure I don't get stuck in another rut with someone or doing something that brings me down.

2012 is the year of the selfish... Bring it on!

Friday, 30 December 2011

It's almost time to say goodbye.

Goodbye 2011, you've been a year of ups and downs. I think I will miss you, but that will depend on where 2012 takes me.

I'll give you credit where credit is due, the ups were definitely more numerous than the downs. In fact, this was the year my dreams came true and the year that I truly proved myself. You gave me the opportunity to move to London, the one place I have always wanted to live; I got my dream job at a school which is more perfect for me than even I realised when I started; You are letting me live the dream, on my own, and you have helped me to find out who I am and what I want from life.

I knew that this year would be my year. You didn't disappoint. Thank you for letting me be selfish and finally get to where I wanted to be without anyone or anything to hold me back.

Thank you for bringing me closer to the people in my life who I love, and thank you for helping me get rid of those who dragged me down. All I ask is that next year I meet lots of new people, or get to know the new people in my life at the moment and don't end up wasting any more time with anyone who can and will bring me down.

Oh, and thank you for giving me confidence. I've never had it before, it feels good.

I guess my only complaint would be that you helped me to find out who I am and what I want through a few too many "learn from your mistakes"-type of experiences. Sort that out please, none of that rubbish next year. Not that I regret any of it, you always regret the things you don't do more than the things you do, but I would rather just learn through positive experiences, i.e. learning what I am and what I like rather than working it out based on what I'm not or don't like. But all in all, I can't complain.


So, 2012, you have a lot to live up to. Bring it on!


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The dreaded NYE kiss...

The dreaded kiss at midnight on New Years Eve, as the clock strikes twelve and we welcome in the new year... surely it only serves as a reminder that actually, you are going into this year completely on your own.

Don't get me wrong, I'm loving being single. But not having someone, even a friend, to kiss as the year turns? That's plain sad, and to make it even worse, I will be the only single person at this party. All of my other girl friends are in relationships and are bringing their other halves along, and so are all the other guests. I will literally be sat there, on my own, without so much as a peck on the cheek to see in the new year.

This is the first time that I'm single for NYE and the first time I'm having plans which I am actually looking forward to but yet, I am beginning to wish that I weren't going. It never occurred to me that this was one of those "couples only" evenings, how stupid of me not to notice.

I feel your pain my little gummy friend :(

Plus, I think I'm passing into the third phase of my "stages of being single" plan and being at a party full of couples means no new people to meet so no chance of meeting anyone half decent. Which sucks, because I think I need to go through that pulling someone just to prove that I'm still desirable phase. A bit trashy, but true.

So all in all, the being single/new year's eve/couples only party combination could not have come at a worse time.

Damn.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish all my lovely readers and followers a very Merry Christmas! I hope this Christmas lives up to its expectations and you get everything you have wished for :)


Merry Christmas! :)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The best gift ever.

Linking up with Mama Kat's writers workshop today, following the prompt: "The best gift ever!"


Why does my wrapping never look that neat?!
My first thought when I read the prompt was that I should, through the course of writing, come to the conclusion that the best gifts you get are the ones which are free, i.e. love, happiness etc. So I sat and soul searched, rummaged through photos of Christmases and birthdays past to find some inspiration but it turns out that, if I'm being honest, I'm a bit too materialistic to remember most of the "priceless" gifts that I feel like I should be sharing.

Of course I have priceless memories (my Dad dropping the flaming Christmas pudding on the carpet, my Grandad getting drunk and trying to reverse his classic car out of his garage at my birthday party, so many classic nights out with my amazing friends I couldn't recall them all), but I don't consider them gifts as such. Yes, they are the things which make a day memorable, but the presents are the cherry on the cake. Or, at least, they should be. This got me thinking about last Christmas and how the gifts I received really do stick in my mind, but probably for the wrong reasons.

My boyfriend, last year, bought me a whole array of presents, but each one was selected to correct one of my faults. By this I mean that I asked for a new watch so he bought me two, and wrote on the tag that the second one was for when I lose the first one. Charming. And basically, everything in the bag was either to replace things I had lost or broken in the last few months (complete with little gift tag reminding me that he had bought me new ones because I was too useless to have kept the last ones) or gifts I just didn't really get.  So why am I writing about this? Because these presents gave me the gift of knowledge - he didn't love me despite my faults, he liked pointing them out because he was one of those people I tend to attract who need to put other people down to make themselves feel better. I was then able to keep an eye out for more of this, more times when he made me feel shit and eventually things, not through lack of trying, finally came to an end. If only I had paid more attention to the sign, rather than putting up with more attempts to put me down, maybe I would have had a better year. But hindsight is a beautiful thing, and you can only learn from your experience.

The Christmas before that gave me the knowledge that actually, my family didn't know me. The presents they chose were so far away from what I would have chosen for myself that I realised it was no wonder they didn't choose things I would like because I had so badly distanced myself from them. I therefore made it my new years resolution to spend more time with my family. I did, and we're closer than ever, plus, I finally have a non-volatile relationship with my Mum.

So I guess, whilst probably not having approached this writing prompt in the way that was intended, without those presents I would be living a different, potentially worse life. They made me realise what needed to change and I hope now that those things have, this Christmas and my whole future will be better for it.

Or they taught me just to ask for money to buy my own presents in the sales. One of the two...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A new haircut.

It's funny how a new haircut can make you feel a million times better. Not that I needed much of a boost, I'm feeling pretty good right now (famous last words, but life is actually good in every sense for once), but  I feel even better now.

Yay for self-esteem! I've missed you...


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The stages of being single.

I go through stages when I'm single, and I'm sure I can't be the only one? So I thought I'd share my stages with you all in the hope that someone relates to me, confirming that I'm not completely mental and heading for a life as a spinster... although this may be a real possibility anyway (hurray for cats!)

My stages of singledom.

1) The initial break-up - This includes the initial upset, anger, guilt, denial, attempts to rebuild the relationship or any combination of these.

2) The "men/women are wankers"stage - You convince yourself that actually, being a spinster with a lot of cats isn't actually that bad. (I'm at this stage right now and I'm still convinced my life will be better if I'm on my own and independent).

3) The "men/women are still wankers but I still have needs" stage - Yes, I mean sex. This is when the desperate attempts to pull on nights on tends to occur, along with the dreaded one-nighters which always seem like a good idea at the time.

4) The "total independence" stage - You realise that actually, you are doing fine on your own. The desperation has gone and you've realised that when the time is right, someone will come along.

5) The "what do I have to lose?" stage - You begin dating again. Nothing comes of it, but you go out with one or two guys and are not really bothered about the outcome. Your love life settles for a few months with a few short-term relationships or the odd fling, between which you are happy to be single.

6) The "oh shit, I'm actually going to be single forever" stage - If you don't end up in a relationship out of the previous stage, panic sets in. Online dating profiles are made and standards are lowered.

7) The "I've given up" stage - This will then, ultimately,  result in a repeat of stages 2-6.

Please tell me I'm not alone in this?

Monday, 19 December 2011

This week I have embraced...

I'm linking up with FTLOB's hop today (and Mingle Monday, of course!) and thinking about the things I have embraced over the last week. However, I feel that the last three weeks have been such a rollercoaster that I've had so many new things to embrace I couldn't just limit it to this week! I reckon this well and truly deserved its own list post and we all know how much I love a list post.


Things I have embraced in December

  • I have embraced being single!
  • Therefore, I have embraced having time to myself to indulge, do the things I love or just sit and do nothing.
  • So, I have re-embraced knitting and baking.
  • Oh, and blogging!
  • I have embraced having a disposable income for the first time since I started university. Overdraft paid off, money back in my savings account and hitting the shops.
  • I have embraced Christmas. Normally I don't really "do" Christmas as I find it boring, stressful, expensive and generally over-rated but this year I'm looking forward to spending it with my Dad for the first time since I age 5. I'm well and truly in the Christmas spirit this year!
  • I've also embraced the new people in my life since having moved. I've started to form friendships with a few which extend outside of school and have something resembling a social life.
  • So I guess, to sum up, I'm just embracing life! Makes a change from feeling like life is a constant battle to balance a million-and-one things, it is just about what I want to do and what I want to achieve. 
Happy, happy happy :)

What are the things you have embraced recently?


Mingle 240

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Relaxing Sunday.

This must be the first day I've had off since August. No school work, no housework, no Christmas shopping, no travelling... just nothing. Normally this makes me anxious, I guess because I generally live my life at 100mph, however today I didn't feel a shred of guilt or anxiety. Just pure relaxation and indulgence.

It has definitely made me realise that one of my new year resolutions has to be to make this a more frequent occurrence. I want to get back into those hobbies I have neglected so badly over the last few months which I really enjoyed doing today. I've baked for the first time in months (chocolate fudge, nomnom), I've knitted and I've given my little blog a HTML overhaul. I've started re-reading my favourite book, watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the old version, of course!) and had a long bath just for the hell of it.

I will definitely be making more of an effort to prioritise this sort of day more often. I should have more spare time now I'm rocking the single boat, and seeing as I have no intention of finding another man any time soon (yes, I'm still going through my "men are wankers" phase), I should have plenty enough time. No, strike that: I will have enough time. I need to find more time, I need to regain my life...

So, how have you all spent your Sunday? I hope you've had as relaxing a day as mine! 

P.S. Any feedback on the new blog design would be much appreciated (does it look fine in IE, Chrome, Firefox? etc).

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas is here!

I did it! I made it through my first term of teaching (pretty much) in one piece! I may have seen the back of a healthy diet, hobbies, weekends, time off and a relationship but I am achieving in the one area that really matters right now and tonight we are out on the town to celebrate our survival. Then (hangover permitting), I'll be heading back to Devon tomorrow to see my lovely friends and family, before heading to my Dad's for Christmas. I'm sure that, for the first time in a few years, this will be a truly special Christmas and one I cannot wait to get stuck into as of tomorrow.

Plus, who wouldn't feel happy sat wearing these shoes?
Dotty P's (here)
Bring on the festivities! (And, of course, by "festivities" I mean copious amounts of wine)


What are you all excited about for the upcoming celebrations? 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Reasons that I hate winter.

I chose the blogging alias "Summer" for a reason and that is very simply because I love the summer! I love the sun, the long days, the warmth, the barbeques, the time on the beach, the time spent in beer gardens drinking chilled cider... I really could go on forever. I won't, however, because this post is geared for the exact opposite - an "I hate the winter" rant.

I mean, seriously, who likes winter? All this nonsense about loving to snuggle up indoors is a load of rubbish. The only reason we have to snuggle up indoors with duvets and hot water bottles is because the weather outside is horrible. It's cold, rainy and windy and without looking like the michelin man, there is no way to escape that once you step outside. And yeah, don't get me wrong, being snuggled on the sofa with a hot chocolate and a duvet is great... once in a while. When it becomes a necessity because otherwise it's just too cold to sit there, the novelty very quickly wears off.

I'm not denying it's pretty, just better to look at than
to be outside in.
The short days are the worst, and there is nothing more depressing than getting up in the dark, walking to school in the dark and getting home in the dark. When the only daylight you see is when you are on playground duty you know this is a season that cannot end soon enough. It makes everything harder, particularly getting up, and even the smallest of trips outside becomes the ultimate chore (taking the bins out, walking to the corner shop etc) because not only is the weather foul, but nipping out even for a minute involves putting on layer after layer to avoid completely freezing.

I guess in some ways I could be swayed by the food (when has my stomach not dictated my mood?), because the warm, hearty meals you can indulge in at this time of year are a treat which wouldn't be so pleasant if it weren't for the cold outside. But even that is with its downfall because the heavy food only instills even more lethargy than is already being felt due to the lack of daylight. Bring back the lighter salads any day, as much as I do love a stew.

And please do not get me started on snow. I mean, in what way is snow fun after the first 15 minutes? The whole country grinds to a halt, it's cold, wet and debilitating. Not fun.

Christmas might just save it for me this year, because it's all new being in London and, for the first time since the age of 5, I will be seeing ALL of my family over Christmas. But even so, I'd be much happier doing that in the sun...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Happy Sunday.

Happy Sunday everyone!

I've had an absolutely lovely day to round off a great weekend. I went out for the afternoon with a couple of the other teachers from school and one brought her little'un along. We went to Greenwich park to play on the slide and swings (and the adults blatantly enjoyed this more than littlie in the cold), then we went for lunch in an absolutely lovely restaurant where I had a goats cheese tart with caramelised onions and rocket salad with dripping chips on the side. (I realise you didn't need/want to know that detail, but I tend to remember places and events through the food I ate. Is that weird?)

It was such a lovely, relaxing day and so nice to finally get to know some new people. Obviously I see everyone at work and we get on when we're chatting in the staff room, but having friends to call upon outside of school really is my aim right now and it was lovely to have that today. I think this is another one of the many things I missed out on through having to traipse across London to see my ex every weeken but now that my time is my own, I can make new friends.

Yay for me :)


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Another new era.

I began this week as if the last six months hadn't happened. Single again.

And, in all honesty, I love it.

I love being on my own, being completely in charge of my own life and making decisions purely based on what I want. This may sound selfish and make me sound like a complete spoilt brat, but having to think of someone else first has pretty much ruined me over the last few weeks so perhaps, actually, having it all thrown back in my face in the way that it was simply was a lucky escape. Maybe it means that it's OK to think about myself for a while, to focus on what I want my life to look like and spend some time making sure I reach those goals. I've been able to do that this week and I can already see the rewards. I'm happier, less stressed and generally feeling more like my usual positive self>

So, to celebrate, I had a Single Saturday (which a few friends and I came up with to describe a completely self-indulgent day). I...

  • Slept on my sofa so I could fall asleep watching telly (it's a comfort thing...);
  • Had a lie in and then sat curled up in my duvet with a cup of tea watching Saturday Kitchen;
  • Made a sausage sandwich for breakfast and sat with a pint of tea;
  • Sat and read a trashy magazine;
  • Spent over 2 hours online shopping;
  • Made a lovely stew and baked a small cake just for myself;
  • Listened to cheesy music and danced around the flat with my hoover;
  • Watched crappy telly and aimlessly surfed the internet;
  • Had a long bath with a hot-oil hair treatment and a face mask;
  • Finally sat back in the same spot I have been in all day with a cup of hot chocolate and my duvet.
Bliss <3



How have you spent your Saturday?


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Theology according to seven-year-olds.

Another little gem from some children in my class.

Child A: "I wonder who will win next week. I bet it will be the boys."
Child B: "You don't know that, only God knows."
Child A: "Yeah but God is getting really old. That's why he doesn't look after everyone very well any more and why there are lots of hungry children and bad things that happen."
Child B: "Oh that makes sense, because I was wondering why if God was so nice why horrible things happened."
Child A: "Well now you know for sure."
Child B: "Yeah, thanks for that."

Only a seven-year-old could come up with such a flawless explanation. I love them!


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Facebook photos and our online persona.

I have a reputation amongst my friends as being a serial de-tagger. I am very fussy about which photos make the cut and de-tag myself from any photo which makes my face look a) pointy (yes, right now I am too thin, don't nag), b) insanely pale or c) just makes me look a bit weird. And unfortunately, this encompasses about 75% of the photos which seem to appear on facebook, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that the cameras only ever seem to come out after a few cocktails when, let's face it, no-one looks their best. Particularly me, because I am particularly unphotogenic at the best of times and whilst I'm hardly stunning, I don't think I'm that ugly? Or at least, I'm not as ugly as certain photos make me appear.

But I'm still not sure why I de-tag photos. My friends who would look at those photos were there on that night so they are fully aware what I look like, so who am I trying to kid? Why do we become obsessed with the virtual representation of ourselves and why do we try to present this perfect image?

I guess that is the joy of the online world, or the downside, depending on which way you look at it. You can be whoever you want to be, present a more refined, pleasant version of yourself which to a potential friend/partner (if you're into the online dating scene) will make you seem more appealing. But at the same time, we all know those who take it too far; Those who upload old photos to dating sites; those who lie to get attention.

I have had far too many experiences of those in my past. As a teenager growing up with few IRL friends, I found solace in an online forum. I had many friends there and no matter what had happened in my day, they would be there. They saved me during dark times, cheered me up and made me realise my own worth. They gave me what little confidence I had at that time and to most of them, I will always owe them that.

There were two girls, however, who were not who they said they were. One girl, "Daisy", told us of how her Dad died as a consequence of something she did, her step Dad sexually abused her and she was hardly ever fed or looked after. She turned out to be a girl from a very affluent family who had both parents, lived in a large house and had horses. And she had never been abused.

She was one of my closest friends and the day I found out, I was crushed. We all put our guards up that day, realising how misleading someone could be over the internet and swore we'd never be taken in again.

Then another girl, "Sarrah", came along. She seemed lovely, was a single parent who had been orphaned at 13. She had cancer, and was struggling to raise her daughter as well as work to pay her hospital bills. She turned out to be a fraud too, and was using someone else's pictures. The girl whose photos she used found out and set up a facebook group to inform us all but we never found out who she really was. I wasn't so affected by this but it was still a shock. What sort of person would lie like that, and what were they getting out of it?

I guess no matter how hard we try, no matter how careful we try to be, we can never be truly sure of who we are speaking to online. After all, we all inadvertently censor what we say or post sometimes and so the online world will never quite be a fair representation of reality. And yet, when so much of our day and social lives revolve around social networking, could we even work out where reality ends and the falsities of the internet begin?

Food for thought.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Another reason for loving my job.

A child came in to the classroom today and told me that I looked sad. She gave me a hug, told me I looked pretty, then got on with her task.

I instantly felt a million times better and haven't looked back since.

I love my class ♥

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Standing on my own two feet.

This last fortnight has been really tough, I've been pushed to the limits in every sense of the word and this weekend I felt the cracks starting to show. I now see the effect 16-hour-days are having when I look in the mirror, I am starting to go down with something and I've lost a stone since September. I'm trying to be the best teacher I can be, make new friends whilst keeping in touch with my old ones, keep up with my family whilst my Grandad is going through his treatment and my Nan feels lonely, as well as be a girlfriend, sleep and eat.

Something had to give, obviously, and given that list I still don't regret my decision that the least important element of my life was my relationship. I thought that for two or three weeks I would have the support and compassion of my boyfriend and that he would be understanding and patient in the knowledge that this wouldn't be forever.

What I did not expect, however, was to have to endure 2 hours of abuse in which I was told I was working too much (because obviously I just waste most of my time and make extra work for myself), NEVER tried in our relationship (and whilst I admit that has been true for a fortnight, that hasn't been true for the rest of the time), was selfish, a chore and didn't care. This continued until he was satisfied he had reduced me to the point of breakdown before he finally chucked me.

I was doing fine until today. Yeah I was busy and stressed and the cracks were starting to show but with a 4-day-week coming up I thought I was getting there and then suddenly I get this.

Men are basically just giant 5-year-olds. Selfish, self-absorbed and always on the verge of a tantrum if the universe doesn't revolve around them.

So back to the single life. Not that I have any time to enjoy it...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Being indecisive.

I'm so indecisive, I drive myself mad sometimes. I struggle to decide what to have for my dinner, never mind make a major life decision. I generally wait for a sign, something to really push me one way or the other but if that sign never comes and the situation continues without changing I just cannot make a decision.

I don't think it is cowardice, I just think that I need to be so sure in anything I do that when there is an element of doubt in any way, I am just not able to make a decision. And it's always that same thought which goes through my head - what if I get it wrong? Which is a fairly succinct summary of my mind-set to be honest: everything I do is through fear of someone realising that I'm wrong, useless and a general failure. I believe I've made it through life pretty well hiding this fact until now and so I must be on borrowed time until I make a spectacular mistake. Is this going to be it? Or is my failure to make a decision the mistake?

I realise I'm being a bit cryptic here but, for the reason I've just mentioned, until I've made a decision I don't want to go out on a limb and say what I'm talking about. Let's face it, it is just as likely that within a month it will have all calmed down as it is that I will have acted upon it. But right now I'm hurting, I'm confused and feeling the pressure. Something needs to give somewhere, I just need to decide what...


Now, do I want a green tea or English breakfast to snuggle up with?
Blanket or hot water bottle?
...

Saturday, 19 November 2011

I knew it would be mad...

...but this really is something else. No matter how many people told me, "your NQT year will be the toughest year you will ever go through", "teaching is so much paperwork" and "the autumn term is the hardest term" I never really believed them. I thought a few late nights a week would sort it all out but in reality I work 7am-7pm at school then come home and work until 10pm. And I do this everyday. Yes, weekends too.

Am I exhausted? Am I ill? No. Why not? Because I fricking love my job and every minute I work is worth it to see the kids making such fantastic progress. I love my class, I love my job and I even love the paperwork.

However, I am going to need to regain some sort of work-life balance soon before the novelty wears off. I used to go to the gym three/four times a week and I haven't been since I moved here, so that will be the first thing I aim to pick up in the new year. I want to have one evening a week off completely too so I can meet friends, go to the cinema or just laze about at home and I would like time to do all of those hobbies I used to have... knitting, sewing, cooking, blogging. It all seems like a lifetime ago now. Writing a blog entry seems like such a luxury and my bank of ideas is practically overflowing. Maybe this should be my way of weening myself back into a work-life balance.

Yes, actually, it will be. From this week onwards, I aim to write at least 2 blog posts a week. They might not be long, they might not be interesting (given that 60% of my life is teaching and the other 40% sleeping) but I will try. Being eloquent and entertaining may be the next step to regaining a balance...

In other news, I'm about to be kicked out of my flat. My letting agents haven't told me, they've just put my flat up for sale and not mentioned it.

Wankers.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Trust.

Trust is a funny thing, and it's something I think we can only define when we don't have it. I, by nature, am very trusting and will trust anyone until they give me a reason not to. Give me even a single reason not to and you're out without argument, and I guess this is how I therefore expect to be treated. I forget that for a lot of people, trust must be earned.

But either way, after nearly 18 months with someone (admittedly on and off), I expect to have earned some degree of trust from that person. I expect them not to worry whenever I go out that I might go tramping off with some randomer. I expect that I could go a whole day without giving them a blow-by-blow recount of my day without that worrying them. I expect, basically, unconditional trust.

I do not have that right now.

And do you know, honestly I could forgive the lack of trust if I had indicated in any way that I had ever been a cheat or a liar before. I have not because, basically, I am not a cheat. I think cheating is for people too cowardly to admit they are unhappy in their current relationship and so decide they want out but need the safety net of having someone else there to hold their hand when they start to feel a bit lonely. And I don't lie either for the same reason - lying is born from being too scared to admit the truth. And actually, I am a lot of things but a coward is not one of them: if I am done with you, you will be the first one to bloody well know about it and nothing I have ever done or said will indicate otherwise. Therefore, I expect you to trust me.

Yet today, I realised for the first time that my other half does not. He may say that he does, but apparently he trusts that what I tell him is true but he finds it hard to believe it.

Um, is that not the exact same fricking thing?

Basically, you don't trust me. You need to know where I am all the time, not through curiosity, but through not trusting me. You need to know who I am with for the same reason. You hear a male name mentioned and I practically see your ears prick up. You have to know who everyone is that I'm with and how I know them, why I did what I did and why I went where I went. You want to come out with me and my friends because you don't trust me to go on my own... The list goes on.

And I'm fed up with it. Yes, I know people have insecurities borne from past experience but after 18 months, if you don't know me well enough to trust me then, well, that's not a good enough excuse anymore.

I don't know what to do anymore.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Something you've looked for...

This is my post for Mama Kat's link up today and I'm answering the prompt:

Write about the last item you looked for. Why did you need it?


This prompt instantly called out to me because my Mum and I have been looking for something all weekend You see, on Saturday, we went into the city centre to start our Christmas shopping and, most unusually, we had a specific present idea for my Nan. She's normally one of those who never knows what she wants but when we rang her she was clear - she wanted a plain knit, dark/chocolate brown scarf and matching gloves.

Easy! Or so we thought...

Every year other than this, there are plain knitted scarves in every shop regardless of the fashion. They are such a classic wardrobe staple that they are always in the shops but this year, what with the chunky-knit scarf being in fashion, could we find a plain-knit scarf? Could we hell.

M&S, surely would have such a classic piece? No.
BHS? No. House of Fraser? No. Debenhams? No. Edinburgh Woolen Mill? No. Matalan? No. Millets? No. Accessorize? No. Every other shop on the high street? No. The internet? We can't even find one online.

So this blog is not so much an answer to a writing prompt but more a plea - if anyone sees a shop selling plain knit scarves, please let me know! Typical that the one year my Nan has an idea she would give us a suggestion that just does not exist...


Monday, 24 October 2011

Half term is finally here...

...and I'm finally back home in sunny Devon with my friends and family. I had a lovely weekend, almost too lovely in fact because it is actually making me more homesick than ever (which might sound odd given that I am home) and I'm now dreading having to go back to London on Wednesday. I know it sounds stupid to miss this place when I had been counting down the days before I moved away pretty much since the age of 8, but I guess whilst this place still is and always will be a shit-hole, the people here are amazing. My family and friends are what I miss really, and I guess it doesn't help that I don't really have any friends in London yet and, although I know that will eventually change, it's still not the same.

Although now I think about it, it's not like I have time for friends and family when I'm in London anyway! I'm still pulling 12 hour days at school and whilst that may seem insane and like I should be stressed, I'm really not. The truth is, if I didn't need food and sleep I would happily work 24 hours a day and I wouldn't moan because I love every fricking second of it. I love my class, I love my school, I even love all the paperwork because I am just that much of a nerd. It really is my dream job, everything I knew it would be.

The only slight downside is that I've gotten very thin again and my size 8 trousers are hanging off me for the first time since I was 16. I'm back down to 8st 2 again (I'm 5ft 8) and whilst most people will hate me for being one of those people who finds it hard to keep weight on, this is pretty bad even by my standards. I do eat despite being busy (and I eat a lot, I always have done), but I think the stress is burning off as many calories as I eat and maybe I need to start eating bigger portions? I don't know how to sort it out, because it's not like the stress will ease at school what with Ofsted due any day now and I've been eating chocolate like never before to have enough wrappers to decorate my classroom for our new topic (which is chocolate, obviously!) so it's not like I'm not eating enough fat.

Any ideas? Someone make me hungry!


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Hopping about on crutches...

I've been stuck on crutches now since Saturday and whilst I can at least put my foot down now, realistically, I'm going to be stuck on the bloody things for the rest of the week. And it is driving me slightly mental.

Hopping mad, actually. Couldn't ignore the obvious pun, sorry.

But seriously, it has been a very revealing few days.

1) London hospitals are much more efficient than Devon ones. I was in and out of A&E within two hours on Saturday, saw the same doctor the entire way through and he even remembered my name. Much kudos to the NHS South London.

2) People are generally kind and courteous in that they will hold doors open, provide lifts etc, but only if it suits them. If it involves leaving someone alone with a class of 30 children whilst unable to walk so that you can keep your own teaching assistant to do your sticking in, people will choose the sticking in rather than helping. My so-called colleagues have made me cry so many times this week I've pretty much lost count and just plain stopped leaving my classroom. I hate that place this right now.

3) People apply health and safety rules when it suits them. We have a culture in this country of being too scared to do lots of things in case of health and safety concerns but if it means paying for a supply teacher, no-one cares. Get in to school, teach PE, keep doing playground duty... oh, but cancel your school trip and make your children cry because you had spent all term getting them excited for meeting a real Roman and going to a real Roman town and now you're not going. Because it's fine to be a health and safety/fire hazard when you are in school, but don't show us up outside of school.

4) There is a nice sense of camaraderie between people who find walking etc difficult. It's the first and only time that a stranger has spontaneously spoken to me in London just for a chat and to exchange stories.

5) Walking with crutches is the best way to get around central London markets on Sundays. People move out of the way, part a path to any stall you want to get to, you always get a seat on the tube, bus and train.

Every cloud has a silver lining...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

When I retire...

Inspired by Mama Kat and her writing prompts, this post is in response to:


"10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work."
And, let's face it, we all know I love a list-post although this one is harder than I thought it would be.

1) Even if I didn't HAVE to work, I still would. I love my job and although I wouldn't work full time, I would definitely still teach two or three days a week. Probably with children with special needs, because that is still my absolute passion.

2) I would become a foster parent. I can't imagine anything more rewarding than sharing my home with children who desperately need love and attention. I know how challenging it can be and, like teaching, there are so many rules and boundaries that it is even more of a challenge but I would absolutely love to be able to offer that kind of security and family for a child who is suffering turmoil.

3) I would train for and run a marathon. I'll never have the time whilst I'm working (nor the patience) so if I didn't have to work, I'd hit the river.

4) I would make amazing, home-cooked dinners every night. Not that I don't love a ready-meal, but let's face it, there's nothing like a home-made macaroni cheese.

5) I would go back to being a Rainbow & Brownie leader. I miss those crazy girlies :(

6) I would move to the south of France. When I worked there on my gap year I didn't get to see half as much as I would have liked but I saw enough to know that it is the perfect place for me. Calm, peaceful yet at the same time, urban, modern and vibrant. So if I were in a place financially where I didn't need to work, I'd be on the next channel crossing.

7) I'd become a lady who lunches. I don't know who I'd go to lunch with if my friends were still working (I don't know how far this hypothetical situation stretches) but I'd find someone and have lunch with them lots because I've always fancied being one of those women

8) Let's be honest now, I'd go shopping. A lot. Probably just like my Grandma who always seems to need something (despite her having 3 wardrobes and a whole kitchen worth of food) and spends goodness knows how much money on things she doesn't really need. Maybe I wouldn't be that wasteful, but I like shopping so I'm sure that would fill much of my time.

9) I'd take up walking. I've always liked the idea of being a rambler, like one of those old-lady ramblers with a walking stick, big walking boots and a big ruck-sack. Don't ask me why, I swear I'm an old lady at heart.

10) I'd have a dog. For as long as I work full time I could never have one, so I'd have a little dog to take on my old-lady walks and to go on runs with. 

Bring on retirement! (Yes, I know I've only been in full-time work for 4 weeks...)

Monday, 26 September 2011

Unexpected homesickness.

When I moved to London in July, I had been counting the days, hours and minutes for months (if not years) because getting away from there was my ultimate dream. I finally did it: I moved here, set up home, managed on my own despite threatening neighbours, living in a dodgy area, having all my furniture go missing and being skint. It has been absolutely everything I thought it would and more and I am so glad I did it. I love my pokey, slightly rough-round-the-edges flat and I love the independence I finally have.

Yet, I am still feeling homesick. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't want to go home on a permanent basis by any stretch of the imagination but I am having serious Devon cravings and I miss my family and friends so much it actually hurts to think about. I need a pasty, a walk to the beach and a chat with my Grandma; I need a flipping good night out with my girls and a catch up in the pub; I miss my guinea pigs and more than anything, I miss the people. It really has been a don't-realise-what-you've-got-til-it's-gone moment with them: I spent so much time focussing on what a shithole Plymouth is (and it is, I'm not denying that) that I forgot that actually, especially in the last couple of years, I had been very happy there and it was entirely down to the people. My friends picked me up when I was down, my family stood by me even when things got very tough between us all and now I really miss their companionship.

I guess I am, actually, getting a bit lonely here. I haven't seen anyone other than work people or my boyfriend for weeks because I've been so skint and it is, unfortunately, the one downside to living alone. I must rectify that this week, I must get out of the house.

I've booked my train tickets back home for half term at least, but it still seems like an age away despite how quickly the last three weeks have flown by.

Just down the road, the exact spot I intend to stuff my face with pasty.


It'll come round soon, though. And bring on the pasty 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Easy like a Sunday morning.

The most depressing feeling is waking up on a Sunday morning, thinking "ahh, bliss, another day off", before realising that actually, your job has taken over so much of what you do that you will spend the entire day doing work.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job but man do I need to reclaim my weekends. I already work 12-hour days plus marking at home during the week and, seriously, I cannot do this six days a week without burning out pretty soon. I'm already starting to feel the pressure and the stress and whilst that comes with the job, I need to be able to leave that at the door on Friday evenings to chill out, recover and regroup over the weekend ready to be the best teacher I can be for the kids on Monday morning. And right now, with things as they are, I can't imagine being the most amazing teacher tomorrow because the stress makes me feel like the teaching is the inconvenient bit between the paperwork and marking and that is not a good attitude to have.

So, as much as it sucks, I'll work all day today and get everything done for the week. Then, this week, I can get ready for next week and hopefully, reclaim my weekend.

Actually, I'm going to go and make plans for the entire of next weekend to make sure that I am too busy to do much work. If that doesn't give me a kick up the backside to get on with my work this weekend then I don't know what will.

Note to self (because I seem to have forgotten)
Weekends should involve...

  • Lazy lie-ins on BOTH days;
  • Yummy, indulgent breakfasts (I'm feeling the love for american-style pancakes);
  • Seeing the boyfriend AND seeing my friends (not one or the other);
  • A lazy nandos lunch;
  • A cheeky bit of post-pay day shopping;
  • Sitting, at some point, and just doing nothing;
  • A long, indulgent bath with bubbles;
  • Catching up with the family via phone/skype etc.

I can't fricking wait...

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dance like no-one is watching...

...and sing like no-one is listening.

What am I on about? Well, today, I come to you with some advice.

I walked home in the dark today, by myself, for the first time since I moved to London. Now this is a slightly scary proposition: I won't lie and say I live in the best area plus I'm hardly a large girl who looks like she could defend herself (I could, by the way, the last guy who tried to grab my friend found himself very quickly taken to the floor, black belt kick boxer thank-you-very-much) so for me, this was a big thing.

But, actually, following the advice of my Grandma, I don't feel so scared any more. You see, she looks after an old lady in her village who is, sadly, losing her mind and this little old lady sings to herself most of the time. My Grandma observed how this changes the way she is treated in the street, with people not offering to help her as many would an elderly lady, but rather crossing the road to avoid her. So she said to me, and I quote, "if you sang to yourself all the way home, people would think you were mad and find someone else to rape".

Yes, my Grandma is a legend.

So, following this advice, I did. I walked home today, in the dark, singing to myself. And, whilst it is too early to say that this is due to the crazy-lady singing, I am pleased to report I did not get raped. Plus, I felt pretty cheerful and pretending to be crazy, even for ten minutes, was strangely liberating.

So even if it is just to feel free for a while, try it next time you're walking along a road. Just sing a few lines along with your Ipod and I guarantee it will make you smile and that perhaps, maybe, you may be less likely to be raped.

Gotta love Grandmas.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I wish I could record more of this.

This last few weeks have been absolutely amazing. There have been ups, downs, more ups and more spectacular lows. I just wish I could record more of what happens but I neither have the time nor am I actually allowed which is a shame because I've had some spectacular things to deal with so far and, after only two weeks of teaching, I can definitely say without a shadow of a doubt that teaching is the career I always thought it would be. Fricking awesome. Don't get me wrong, I'm stressed and beginning to wonder if I will ever have free time again, but every minute of what I do is absolutely amazing.

My particular set up is, of course, not without it's frustrations. The main one being my year group colleague who I of course cannot bitch about offline for want of being professional, but he really is doing my head in. He's struggling, big time, and it's getting on my nerves because he's dragging me down with him. It takes him over 2 hours to prepare for one lesson, he re-does the planning we do together over and over and over again for absolutely no reason and then spends the rest of his time crying to various members of staff about how he is struggling and how we have been put in an impossible position because we are both newly qualified in our year group. No, we have been put in an amazing position to show what we know and to become amazing teachers, and you whinging and bitching about it is making me look bad too. He's actually having his planning done for him for the rest of the term, so I have to do my half and then he does... not a lot. And I'm fuming. Although at least I will get the planning in advance, rather than the day of the lesson which makes differentiating further for my own class impossible.

To be honest, it is a sink-or-swim situation, and I wish he'd hurry up and do one or the other. Otherwise, we're going to have issues.

Anyway, rant over.

So I thought I'd leave you with a couple of gems from my class:

Me: "What is a thesaurus?"
Child: "It's a dinosaur"


Me: "So what colour are you going to need for your camel?"
Child: "Camels are brown because they don't drink much water. Like when plants have no water."


Museum guide: "They used to sell all of this jewellery to earn lots of..."
29 children: "MONEY!"
Child: "FISH!"


Me: "Why did the Romans want to invade London?"
Child A: "Because they wanted to go on the London eye"
Child B: "No, the London eye wasn't invented then. They wanted to see Big Ben"
Child A: "Oh yeah, I bet they liked the Royal wedding"
Child C: "Will they invade for the Olympics?"


Not sure if I should laugh at that last one or worry about my teaching...

Monday, 12 September 2011

What women really want.

I'm a member of a few different online discussion forums, and one thing that keeps coming up is to do with dating and the associated hopes and expectations. I guess this is a fairly common conversation? I suppose it's not something I've ever really noticed before, I've never been single for longer than 5 months and even now I'm off the market, I still thought this combined list would be worth sharing with you all.

So what have I observed from these discussions? And guys, you may want to listen up. (I'd like to point out that these aren't in order, nor are they necessarily my opinions.)

  1. We don't like guys who smoke, unless we smoke ourselves. So open up your possibilities and quit. It's nearly the first complaint on everyone's "don't" list, so it's a biggie.
  2. We like guys who are self-motivated and driven. Apathy and lethargy are very unattractive traits. It doesn't need to be career, you don't need to be a high-flyer and raking in the cash, we just want to know that you want more from life and that you have a passion for something!
  3. We don't want to compete with a guys affection - if you love yourself more than us we are out the door. That doesn't mean a well kept man isn't desirable, of course it is, but if you take longer to get ready for a night out than I do then you'll quickly find yourself uninvited.
  4. Oh, and to elaborate - "well-kept" means no BO, no bad breath, no messy hair, tidy facial hair if you keep any, and an ironed shirt. Also, clean, appropriate and neat shoes. So many girls judge a guy by their shoes!
  5. Never ever ever use a chat-up line. Or that stupid book in the UK that apparently tells men how to chat up women. We don't want to talk about your stupid made up jobs or whatever else it tells you to do. You know you are not a 'dolphin shaver', so do I, and we think it's offensive that you consider us unworthy of any real conversation.
  6. And in a similar point, don't play games. Don't do the three-day-waiting rule, we're worth a text at least!
  7. If you've made it past the first few hurdles and you are in with the family too, great. But do not, under any circumstances, slag off your partner's family (this isn't just for guys either). I may hate my mother, she may be a bitch and she may be pretty stupid sometimes, but only I can say that because they are MY family and I love them regardless. And God forbid you diss my little brother... (ok, that bit is me speaking). Oh, and the same goes for friends.
  8. Everyone has the right to be picky: us girls do (this blog being a prime example!) and you should too. So, if I feel for a minute that I meet your standards simply because I'm the right gender, then you're gone. I don't want to be who you 'settle' for because no-one else came along. Have some more self-respect and confidence in yourself than that, and more respect for us too.
  9. Tardiness. Don't be late. For anything. Ever. (Ok, it may just be me who is that bothered by this, but a lot of people I spoke to hate to be left waiting, and persistent lateness really is a no-no for everyone.)
  10. Manners - this means different things to different people, but we all want to be treated with respect and we want to see that you treat everyone with that respect too. So saying please and thank you, tipping in restaurants, holding doors open (not in a chivalrous way, I can open my own door thanks, but if you walk through it first don't let it slam in my face)... everyone pointed out something along this line which was a pet-peeve for them.  So remember what your Nan told you, it still stands true today.
  11. When you text/email/IM/BBM us, remember that you have to talk to us in the same way via any medium. So be nice, polite and think: "would I say this to her face at all/in that way/in that tone?" If the answer is "no", don't say it.
I started writing this on 12/4/11 and have had it saved as a draft for a while, adding more as I ask more people and try to establish some sort of consensus. I've tried to keep this from being a bitch-fest about certain men, and at the end of the day, there's not much about ourselves that we can change - if someone doesn't love you for you then let them walk away. If, on the other hand, you're guilty of any of the above, sort it out or at least tone it down and you, by my reckoning, stand a much better chance.

Hope I helped/hope you agree!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Autumn is upon us.

I hate autumn. Mainly because it means that summer is over and winter is fast approaching and I hate winter even more than I hate autumn.

I think winter is the marmite of the seasons, 'love it or hate it'. Some people love cold nights cuddled up on the sofa in a duvet, I just see it as being stuck indoors. Some people love being tucked up in bed listening to rain beat against the window, but it just keeps me awake. Some people love snow, I consider it pretty debilitating. And, let's be honest, not having a car this year is only going to make winter more miserable - after all, I can't escape the rain by nipping somewhere in the car, I have to walk in the rain, wait for buses in the rain and do my shopping in the rain.

Snowed in at my Nan's house last winter. And yes, that is a baking tray we used as a sledge. 

Plus, there is nothing more miserable than playground duty in the cold. It truly is one of the most depressing jobs, standing there with happy children running about, laughing and smiling whilst you stand there, huddled over a mug of tea (if you have a nice teaching assistant) and shivering into the collar of your biggest coat.

Although, actually, I do love my coat. And hats, scarves and boots. So I suppose that is one thing I love about autumn and winter.

But otherwise, it's bloody awful. Long nights which mean you go to work in the dark and get home in the dark, only going out in daylight during the weekend are, without a doubt, the symbol of depression. It makes getting up harder, it makes motivating yourself harder, it makes life in general more stressful because everyone is in a slightly worse mood. Christmas, too, is more of a stress than an enjoyable experience (money, family, having even more to do) and generally, it's a grotty time of year.

In case you can't tell, I'm not looking forward to the coming months. Least of all, Christmas...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The value of freedom.

At my school, we teach a values-based curriculum, and this month our 'value of the month' is freedom. It's an interesting one to start on because surely freedom means different things to different people? Freedom to the children in my class would mean very different things to children in a less economically developed country but this is really hard for my children to understand - freedom to them involves being able to play whenever they want to and not having to do things at school that they hate.

But actually, it's a fine line.

Am I any less free because I have to go to work? Are the children in my class any less free because if they step one toe out of line (yes, I'm being a demon teacher at the moment) they get told off? Does that compromise our freedom or do we simply have to balance freedom with responsibility in order to appreciate it? Or do we have to keep our responsibilities because it contributes to living in a free country where we are free to make our own life choices?

And who controls our freedom? Even as an adult I don't feel 'free' because I have senior management going on about planning, I spend all of my 'free time' doing paperwork and can't do what I want at the weekend because I have no money. So, to get even deeper, if I didn't go to work and earned money, how much freedom would I actually have? Not much, I reckon, because despite being a 'free country', it's actually an expensive world. My choices are limited and to be truly free from everything, I think, would be impossible.



Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

My first day has been and gone...

Twelve hours, three panic attacks later and having sat and cried for at least two hours at various points throughout the day and evening, my first day as an actual teacher is over.

It was awful. I forgot the one thing I really, desperately needed to remember.

Plus, my class are... challenging. To say the least.

And I'm overwhelmed and don't think I can actually do it. There's so much to remember, so much to do and the teaching bit of things seems to take up such a small part of the day and is almost 'that annoying thing you do between paperwork'. Teaching really is the easy bit, and I never thought I'd say that.

Anyway, back to the marking. And target setting (despite not knowing the kids or even their names yet). And lesson resourcing. And lesson planning for next week. And tracking. And sorting out my NQT file. Maybe I'll just curl up in the foetal position instead.

Shit.

Is there anyone else with any "awful first day" stories to share? I could do with the "you're not alone" sense of camaraderie which I get from my lovely readers...

Monday, 5 September 2011

Tasty Tuesday


I've been waiting for a chance to whip up a big batch of this to photograph and share with you all. It's a recipe which has been in my family since my Nan first heard about "exotic Mexican food" (oh how times have changed!) and is, guaranteed, the nicest chilli recipe you will find. Plus, it's cheap and yummy, what more could you want?!

Again, please excuse my photography. No excuse this time, I'm just dreadful. 

Chilli con Carne
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 large onion (or 2 medium), diced
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
500g minced beef (or quorn alternative)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
3 teaspoons of hot chilli powder (or less to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
2 tablespoons tomato puree
150ml of red wine
1 can of drained kidney beans.

1) Saute the onions and garlic in a large saucepan until softened (I use a stock pot for this).
2) Add the mince and cook until brown, stirring to break up the lumps.
3) Add the tomatoes with their juice and a quarter of a can worth of boiling water. Bring all to the boil and then let simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Mix the chilli powder, cumin and tomato puree with a couple of spoonfuls of the hot tomato/meat mix. Stir until smooth and add to the meat. Then add the red wine and season lightly. Stir, cover and let simmer for a further 45 minutes.
5) Serve and enjoy! 

Lovely with tortilla chips or a sliced tortilla wrap, rice or a jacket potato and a big dollop of creme fraiche.

This also freezes well, so cook up a batch and freeze what you don't eat. Then simply defrost on the day you wish to eat it and chuck it back in a saucepan and heat through. 

Monday, 29 August 2011

Notting Hill Carnival

Yesterday, me and a friend from university (who also moved to London recently) hit the Notting Hill Carnival. Neither of us had been before and it was, well, amazing!

This was the exact reason I moved to London.


When we first got there, we kind of followed the route around having a dance and generally joining in with whatever we went past. Some of the floats were interesting to say the least, some were beyond bizarre

Then after about 3pm, it really got going and we found this absolutely insane rave going on in  a school playground:

I realise this looks like more of a squish than a rave, but it was.


And it was absolutely brilliant! We raved there for a while before we went for another wander, ended up joining in with another two different raves which had just pitched up on a couple of street corners before we headed back to the school-yard rave until it started to get dark and wind down.

So, how would I sum up the day? If you ever get the chance, GO! It was absolutely amazing, there's no structure or plan so don't try to have one, just turn up and roll with it. You'll meet some amazing people, dance to some amazing music, stuff your face with some amazing food and generally rave like you have never raved before with a different party on every corner.

Can't wait until next year!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Some secrets are best kept hidden.

I've been with my boyfriend for about six weeks now and he does not, nor will he ever find out about this blog.

I don't mean it  in a harsh way, and I will never say anything here about him that I wouldn't say to his face but sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to have somewhere to vent something.

Like today. I posted a vague tweet earlier in which I said I wanted to go home. Why did I say that? Because yesterday and today I am bloody homesick for Devon and Plymouth. It's not because I'm unhappy here, it's just because I miss it because it's beautiful and calm and I really want to go and sit on a beach right now and then pop to my Grandma's to watch X-Factor.

But even so much as mentioning it in passing and I get a full-blown inquisition and it is then decided that I absolutely must be very depressed or that I am not happy in my relationship.

Actually, I just miss my family and being at home. Nothing personal, no imminent signs of depression and nothing unusual or odd about missing friends and family and being jealous because I can see all my Plymouth friends are going on a night out tonight and I can't go.

Yet I get grilled about it and forced to talk about it for hours, which I don't want to do. It's not a big deal, it really isn't.

So for those moments, I'm glad I have my blog and I will strive to keep this little thing going as long as possible to keep me sane during these exact moments.

If you read this and help me keep this going, then thank you.

In other news, I'm off to the Notting Hill Carnival tomorrow. Any words of advice as to what to check out, let me know, though I'm sure it will be a great day regardless. Can't wait!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

New routines.

I have a desperate need to have a routine. When my boyfriend is here or I stay at his, I can cope out of my routine for three days absolute maximum before I start getting anxious so it's been great over the last couple of days to settle, finally, into a routine again. It's just mornings really, at night other than turning the lights off and snuggling with a cup of tea for half an hour before bed time, I tend to do whatever takes my fancy but in the mornings, if I'm not in my routine, I tend to spend lots of time fussing and faffing before getting nothing done. Then I get anxious.

And lie-ins stress me out anyway, they are such a waste of a day and this really bothers me during the holidays. Clearly I am weird for thinking this but give me an early night and an early morning any day.

So this morning I started over, set an alarm and despite it being the school holidays, got up as if it were a school day.

This is every weekday morning for the rest of the year:

6:30 - wake up
6:45 - wash, get dressed and straighten hair
7:00 - take vitamins with a glass of orange juice whilst the kettle boils to make a cup of tea. Prepare breakfast whilst tea is brewing. Eat breakfast, sit and chill with a cup of tea and some breakfast telly.
7:20 - clean teeth and (if bothering) put on makeup
7:35 - walk to school
7:45 - arrive at school

I then finally got home from school at 7pm. For the fourth day in a row, and the eighth day in total for the holidays.

Didn't someone once tell me teachers get 6 weeks holiday a year? Who are these mythical teachers and where can I get their job...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Two weeks to go...

This time in two weeks, I will have woken up after an awful night's sleep (more than likely). I will have danced my way around the flat with excitement. I will then have picked up my keys with shoes, bag and coat on and ready, stood at my front door and realised what I'm actually going to do and then, probably, cry.

This time in two weeks, I will have gotten over that panic attack (or at least will be doing a fricking good job of pretending I'm calm) and walked to school. I will busy myself with a few odd jobs which won't need doing because everything is already sorted for the first day. Then I will go out to the playground and collect my class.

My class. With 29 real, live children. Children who are my responsibility. Not just to keep them safe, but to actually manage them and oh my goodness is that going to be a challenge and a half and then, on top of all that, I actually have to teach them things.

I'm fairly certain I don't know how to teach.

Shit.

/panic

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

My two furry new flatmates

I realise I have been a truly awful blogger this month and I would apologise but we've been having far too much fun enjoying London to sit indoors on my laptop... which makes a change (not only to the weather but also my attitude). But as of tomorrow I'm getting myself back into a routine of working so normal service will no doubt be resumed.

So anyway, I thought I'd share my two furry new flatmates with you all: a couple of days ago I went out and bought myself two new dwarf hamsters to keep me company when I'm here on my own! Here they are:

Rosie and Posie the hamsters! I can't tell them apart in any way though so they will just have to be referred to in a collective sense!

Although my plan for them to keep me company seems to be going to pot right now because they don't like me and don't get up if I put the lights on when it gets dark. But I'll have a nice cheap electricity bill so I guess it's swings and roundabouts.

They like eating spinach leaves, papaya chunks and sweetcorn. They like me when I feed them those things and they will already happily run onto my hand and sit there to eat. So fricking cute :)




They are already very spoilt, with a big cage and a wheel, two exercise balls, a run with a large maze and a see-saw, plus lots of wooden chews! They blatantly got better treatment this week than my boyfriend did...

Monday, 15 August 2011

London observations: Left or right?

Just a quick one... why is it that everywhere in this country it is polite to keep left when on staircases, yet on the London Underground you have to keep right on escalators?

This has always made me wonder. Any suggestions welcome.

That is all.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

London riots.

I know I'm a few days late with the commentary on this, but I've had a friend to stay this week. The poor girl had no idea how to cope with what we dealt with on Monday, she'd never been to London before and it was very much like, "welcome to London, mind the burning car".

Not sure where this was taken, but two other Police cars were torched in Woolwich too.

Monday was obviously the worst night and it truly was terrifying. Another friend we were having dinner with lives on that road in Tottenham you saw on the news on Saturday, the one they looted to the point of there being nothing left. But actually, it was safer to stay there than it was to come back to Woolwich. Not that we could have gotten back if we had tried, it kicked off so badly in Woolwich that they cancelled all the trains and buses so the decision was made for us but clearly that part of Wood Green was the place to be - there was nothing left to loot so there was very little trouble. We did get evacuated out of Morrisons at 6pm when a very large group of people started to decend down the High Road (I don't think any of us have ever walked so fast), but other than that it was fairly peaceful.

Coming back here on Tuesday was a shock, Woolwich looked like it had been bombed. Stepping off the train and being met by the smell of burning is scary to say the least and it was at that point we felt we couldn't stay alone that night without the boyfriend there. And in fact, we were pretty much ready to all go back to Plymouth after we walked down Plumstead High Street to find two blokes trading the two biggest knives you have ever seen in broad daylight, clear as anything... that is how scary London has been this week. It's either been full of riots and burning buildings, or drug addicts and various other crimes happening in broad daylight because everyone knows the police are after one lot of people and one lot only. Only in London could they put 16,000 police officers on the streets and it make the city a scarier place.

The post-riot commentary on various news channels is now driving me insane. Did you know that as a child raised in a single-parent family, I therefore have no respect and enjoy a bit of recreational looting? Oh, and I also own a Blackberry which obviously means I use BBM to arrange riots. And to top all that off, I also use twitter! Who knew I was such a dastardly criminal. For goodness sake...

The one thing I think these riots have proved, however, is that as much as most people in London don't know the names of their neighbours, never say hello to anyone they don't know (even in shops, did you know it's weird to talk to shopkeepers here?) and generally have a reputation for being unfriendly, actually, Londoners are far from it. Despite what the media said, I spent most of Monday night watching twitter and 98% of the #londonriots tweets were messages of support, prayers to keep people safe and people passing on information to keep people safe - not to encourage rioting, but to keep people safe. Then, for every one rioter who was out on Monday night, there were probably 50 people out the next morning with brooms, bin bags and some good old-fashioned elbow grease ready to clear up the streets. Life continued the next day, we spent the day on the Southbank and although as 5pm drew near it was evident everyone was nervous and twitchy, otherwise people were defiant and lead a pretty normal day. Londoners are actually pretty brilliant and everyone went from being scared to being pretty flipping proud to be here.

A boarded up shop in Peckham with messages of support. Image from the BBC here.

Have a look through the pictures if you're interested:
Riots on Monday: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14453918;
Some pretty scary before-and-after shots: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14461868;
Other parts of the country: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14471098;
The clear-up - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14478066.

Let's hope this never happens again. Heal well, London.

Monday, 8 August 2011

London observations: Religion.

Religion is a massive in London. Like, really, really huge. Churches are over-subscribed to the point that Sundays usually require several services, Mosques are huge and Fridays see outpourings of people which I have only ever previously seen at large events like football matches and to me, that is amazing. Religion, here, is mainstream. Not for the 'sad' or the 'losers' or just that place you go on Christmas Eve for midnight mass.

In Plymouth, those religious few really are just that - a few. They are the minority who are mocked by the rest (the non-religious population) and most churches and the synagogue are struggling to survive. Bearing in mind the fact that there is so little demand for a mosque that the only 'mosque' is essentially someone's converted garage, and you get an idea of how different it is here.

That's why I find it so amazing that everyone is so religious. I knew of the diversity before I moved, but the fact that churches are so over-subscribed here that some services attract upwards of 1000 people? It amazes me, it truly does.

Religion in general amazes me to the point of being almost jealous of those who are religious. To feel that strongly that there is an all-loving God who looks over them and their families and to have that to turn to when you need support or guidance must be a great comfort. I don't know what I believe, but I don't believe that. I don't believe that if there truly is an all-loving God (I am talking Christianity here, although it applies to all religions I guess), that he would just sit by and watch the awful things which happen in this world go on. I know he gave us all free-will, but if I were God and I sat upstairs watching a man rape a child and I were truly all-loving, I would take free-will back and kick some ass. Or I would at least have a cheeky flick of some clouds in the direction of Somalia. No-one would ever need to know, but suffering would end. Simple.

Which is why I can't believe in God. It's not that I don't want to, I spent most of my teenage years as a part of the local church community through Girls Brigade and Sunday schools, and whilst I strongly believe in the Christian values and ways of living (tolerance, patience, forgiveness, treating others as you would wish to be treated etc), I just cannot bring myself to believe the stories or the existence of God at all.

Or if there is a God, he's rubbish. If I were marking his work I'd be using a "Try harder next time" stamp. And therefore, I wouldn't worship him anyway.

So, religious people of London, enjoy your communities and enjoy your beliefs. You're lucky to have them here, and lucky to have it at all.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

So, today I start my health-kick!

Being in London has really messed me up. My diet has gone to pot; I haven't done any exercise other than walking and the one day's cycling round London; I can't afford a hair-cut, nor have I found a decent hairdresser who can style my hair in any way other than an afro or corn-rows (a consequence of living in a predominantly black-african/black-carribean area)... generally, I'm a state! My hair, my skin, my energy levels are all generally dreadful so I need to get back to being healthy.

I kick-started this this morning by whipping up a nice big pot of carrot, lentil and coriander soup for my lunch, I've planned my meals for the rest of the week to keep healthy when my friend comes to visit and I've found the details of the kick boxing club near me which I can join. I used to do kick boxing a while ago but when my school closed I couldn't carry on so when I saw the same chain of schools had a club near me, I became very excited. I love doing it so much, it's a killer workout and such a confidence boost and, of course, means I can finally get my black belt! I'm only about a year away if I really get training... might even have a cheeky practice tonight and kick-box my way round my front room before I have a nice long bath, deep-condition my hair and generally sort out the state that is, well, me.

All this as well as having cleaned the entire flat this morning and, at some point, starting the massive to-do list to get my classroom ready for September. It's already looking better now I've moved the furniture to where I want it and put up the backing paper and boarders for my displays but it's still looking empty and lacking in personality (despite the 20 hours I put in there last week - anyone who says teachers get 6 weeks holiday clearly has no idea...). Once my friend goes home next week it really will be time to get going and blitz that place, and I can probably fit in 5 hours before I go and pick her up at 1pm on Monday anyway. For now, though, I shall get back to my laminating and VCOP pyramids...

Monday, 1 August 2011

London Observations: Personal Space.

Now I've been living in London for a month, there are many things I have noticed which I thought I would share. I hope in doing so I can find out some of your stories and assure me that it isn't just me who attracts the weirdos and unusual experiences! So here's the first of many.

Personal Space.

In every culture, and particularly ours, there are very clear social expectations about personal space. There is a limit we all know and understand about how close we can get to someone without it seeming awkward and uncomfortable and this is even more pertinent when meeting strangers.

Yet, in London, and particularly on public transport, all of these social norms seem to fly out the window (or they would if there were any windows on the tube). Whilst we all understand that overcrowding means we are often forced to stand very close to, often touching, someone else, there is still a certain Britishness about the way we pack ourselves into the carriages side by side in order to maintain this sense of personal space. This usually involves being stood with one arm firmly on the lowest point of the rail to hold on and the other firmly rooted to our side.

I only make this observation today after spending nearly 20 minutes stood pretty much inside a fat man's armpit. And let's bear in mind here that it has been 27 degrees Celsius in London today and on the unventilated underground, said gentleman's armpit was of course, not a dry one. And it was at this point that I realised the sense of personal space, and everyone's understanding and respect of trying to maintain this at all costs on the underground, and how we take it for granted.



And isn't it just typical that I would be the one subjected to said torture. He could have held onto the vertical bar as opposed to the horizontal one on the roof; he could have held on directly above his own head rather than stretching out to be well above my head; the guy opposite could have helped me out of the situation in some way rather than giggling at me and winking... But this opens up another of my London observations which I will write up another time.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

A long over-due update.

This week has been absolutely amazing.

I did it. I gave him the letter. We talked and he listened to me, he understood and the whole thing went better than I ever could have imagined. We aired everything that was a problem, we talked about things we didn't even realise were causing problems and it felt great to be free of it all and to really have him listen to me. A lot of my suspicions were confirmed (mainly to do with other people butting their noses in) but the main ones were not. I know he loves me for the right reasons now, I know he always did and I'm only sorry it's taken me until now to realise it. But now it's out, we both know where we stand and at that moment, we sat in the restaurant and looked at each other, realising everything we had ever wanted and, when all is said and done, that we have nothing to lose but perhaps a whole lifetime of happiness to gain from trying again. I fell in love with him all over again in that second and from the moment he reached out and grabbed my hand, we took on a completely different relationship and laughed, joked and talked for hours.

Actually, not just hours. Days. This was last Tuesday, it is now Sunday night and I have just got back home. I could try to explain how amazing these last few days have been but they would not do it any justice at all because they have been the best few days I've had in years and suddenly, my future, as well as my present, seems so much brighter.

If only I didn't hate being at home now because you're not here.

And so the soppy, new relationship type thing starts. And I could not be happier.

Back to reality tomorrow. I have a classroom to sort...