Monday, 10 January 2011

First day back!

Today was the first day of my final teaching practice.

The school I am at is very different to the one where I completed my last teaching practice. The department has 3 male teachers, approaching retirement, all the female staff, bar one, qualified in the last 2 - 3 years, straight from university. The result of this is that I feel very old! Another student started in the department today. She is 21! We were discussing Chernobyl at one point and, while I wrote an essay about it at university, most of the other teachers couldn't remember it happening, and the other student teacher wasn't even born!!

My previous school was highly organised prior to my arrival. My email was up and running, I had network access as soon as I arrived, this is not the case here, and I have yet to see schemes of work and class lists for the classes I am teaching - despite requesting these some time ago. I am sure the kinks will be worked out and I will soon feel at home and at ease. The pupils seem friendly and the classes I have are varied and present challenges and opportunities. I am slightly concerned that a couple of the teachers I am teaching for have suggested that they will take the trouble makers out of the class and teach them separately. Part of me wants to jump at this chance of getting rid of the 'bad boys,' but that feels like taking the easy way out. When I am qualified I won't have the luxury of ignoring the trouble makers!

Other challenges involve getting used to a two week timetable, lessons that are different lengths throughout the day, and a compressed timetable on Wednesdays (shorter breaks and no tutor time allowing for an early finish for students and lots of lovely after school meetings for staff).

Only 49 more days to go!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

I can jump puddles...

... but I'm not very good at landings!

I've had a lovely couple of days in York, staying at the beautiful Middlethorpe Hall. Husbando was exhibiting his books at the York Bookfair, I was helping out and generally getting a bit of a break. Unbeknownst (isn't that a fabulous word?) to me, husbando had arranged to meet up with my lovely friend Andrya. Andrya now lives in Preston which means we don't see nearly enough of each other. We had a lovely day, lunch, mooching around the sales, catching up on gossip, that sort of thing.

I had a lovely run in the rain on Friday. Cold and miserable doesn't begin to describe it. After a very hot bath I took myself off to the Designer Outlet Mall for a little retail therapy. I've never been a huge fan of sales, outlet malls etc. I hate rifling through rails of clothes that are all mixed up, only to find that the one thing I vaguely fancy buying is only in a size 24! That said, I never give up hope, and on Friday was rewarded by a barginacious dress from Phase Eight and a selection of tops from Wolsey.

After a boozy early meal that evening we went to the cinema to see 'The King's Speech', easily the best film I have seen in a very long time. GO AND SEE IT NOW! Compelling viewing, beautifully acted with wonderful cinamatography.

We got home late on Saturday evening, today husbando is up in London at yet another bookfair, and I am supposed to be getting ready for my final teaching practice. I won't mention which school I am at here, in case I later say something about the school! I've been achieving simply amazing levels of procrastination. I've tidied my daughters' room, done the laundry, been to the supermarket, and been for a run.

The weather is beautiful. Blue skies, bright sunshine, such a lovely change from rain, drizzle, snow and grey skies. I set off on one of my favourite routes, I've been running in the town due to the grim weather, but wanted to see some green today.

It was not easy going, once I was off the main drag between the villages I had to tread carefully to avoid slipping. At one point (a mile and a quarter into my 6 mile run) I jumped up on the verge and ran along there because a car was approaching. I ran along the verge for a while and
then decided that, as the car had passed I should
return to the road. There was a huge puddle, about 20' long and 4' wide, which looked very deep. No worries, I though, I'll just jump over it! Jumping over it was fine, landing was not! I landed on one foot (the one in the photo) which just carried on sliding. Luckily I slid away from the puddle so did not land in the puddle, but I did end up sliding across the road on my side! I took a few seconds to check that no one was there to see me, and then pondered how I would proceed. I took it cautiously for the rest of the run, knowing that I knew people in both the villages I would be running through, so if I needed too I would probably be able to get a lift home. My lovely, purple, Asics Kayanos are a little bit the worse for wear, as is my thigh! It always amazes me that a relatively minor fall like this can jar one's whole body. I ache all over now!

Monday, 3 January 2011


Inspired by Decembermum's blog post, I though I'd share the list of books I read in 2010. I've been keeping a list since April 2003 in a little black book by my bed. I am well down on previous years, but I note that over the past few years the number of books I have read has been steadily decreasing. I don't include books I have read for my studies unless they have been so well written and amusing that I would choose to read them in preference to a novel or autobiography! Looking down the list there is just one such book.

So here's the list:

They Were Sisters - Dorothy Whipple
The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritsen
Rifling Through My Drawers - Clarrissa Dickson Wright
Blazing Obscurity - Cive James
Juliet, Naked - Nick Hornby
The Woods - Harlan Coben
Bad Science - Ben Goldacre
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
Long Lost - Harlan Coben
The Complaints - Ian Rankin
Push - Sapphire
Hold Tight - Harlan Coben
One Day - David Nicholls
The Final Detail - Harlan Coben
Last Night In Twisted River - John Irving
Careless In Red - Elizabeth George
No Second Chance - Harlan Coben
The Girl Who Played With Fire - Steig Larsson
Doors Open - Ian Rankin
Company of Liars - Karen Maitland
Never Say Die - Tess Gerritsen
Hooked on a Murtder - Betty Hechtman
Mariane - Monica Dickens
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - Steig Larsson
The Unit - Ninni Holmqvist
The Ghost - Robert Harris
Night Music - Jojo Moyes
The Help - Kate Stockett
The Savage Garden - Mark Mills
House Rules - Jodi Picoult
The Carbon Diaries - Saci Lloyd
The 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoel - David Mitchell (not of Mitchell and Webb fame!)
Relentless - Simon Kernick
Slap - Christos Tsiolkas
My Life in France - Julia Child & Alex Prudhomme
French Women Don't Get Fat - Mireille Guiliano
Traitor To Memory - Elizabeth George
Dead Tomorrow - Peter James
Picture Perfect - Jodi Picould
Dead Like You - Peter James
The Corrections - Jonathan Frantzen
Moab Is My Washpot - Stephen Fry
At Home: A Short History Of Private Life - Bill Bryson
Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
Ice Cream Girls - Dorothy Komson
Day After Night - Anita Diament
Stories We Could Tell - Tony Parsons
Sisters - Rosamund Lupton
Play Dead - Harlan Coben
Bleeding Hearts - Ian Rankin writing as Jack Harvey
The Children's Book - AS Byatt
The Fry Chronicles - Stephen Fry
Then Again Maybe I Won't - Judy Blume
Tipping The Velvet - Sarah Waters
Long Time Coming - Robert Goddard
The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
Target - Simon Kernick
A Perfectly Good Family - Lionel Schriver
Brooklyn - Colm Tobin
Noughts & Crosses - Malorie Blackman
A Very Private Gentleman (The American) - Martin Booth
Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey
U is for Undertow - Sue Grafton
How To Teach - Phil Beadle (yes, really, it is laugh out loud funny!)
Any Human Heart - William Boyd

I make that 65 - which looking back is the same number as for 2009 and 2008. So the decline seems to have reached a plateau! In 2004 I read 110 books - life must have been much easier with only 4 children in the house - and the numbers have fallen since then!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

First Race of the Year!

I have done my first race of the year! About a week ago I noticed a sign for a 3mile 'Fun Run/Walk' at Lasham Airfield. £5 entry fee, with proceeds going to Help for Heroes. Who could say no to a local race, with a low entry fee in aid of such a good cause? The fact that it was to start at 11.30am on New Year's Day did give me pause for thought, more because I was worried about possibly being over the drink driving limit after the celebrations the night before. Facebook came to my rescue. I noticed that a friend was thinking of doing the race, and blagged a lift.

I woke this morning feeling a little bit fragile. The two paracetamol and vitamin C taken as I went to bed and again when I woke, briefly, at 6.30am did not totally stave off my hangover, and as I cooked bacon and eggs for the children and our friends I did wonder if I would make it out of the house. But when you have planned to do something with someone else you can't let them down, so I left the house at 11am, trying to hold body, soul and stomach contents together.

The atmosphere was informal as we gathered in the clubhouse, there were only about 60 or 70 foolhardy people there, the race was started by a lady with the most amazingly shaggy furry boots ever, we were told to stay off the grass and then off we set. Being an airfield, the route around the peri-track was very flat. I set off well, running the first third of a mile *far* too fast (approx. 5.5 min/mile pace) and made an effort to slow down. The field was very spread out, and by 1 mile I was in 6th place, a long way behind the winner but with a huge distance between me and the nearest person behind me. I'd had a bit of a chat with him as, although I don't know him, we'd run bits of the Alton 10 last May together, so it only seemed polite to say hello as first he overtook me and then I overtook him. We both agreed we were running too fast! How I managed it is a mystery - I had a couple of moments when I thought I was going to lose the contents of my stomach!

I maintained my position in 6th place for the last 2 miles, I'd like to have overtaken the only woman ahead of me, but, in my defence, she was younger than me and looked much fitter! Being a flat course I could see all the runners ahead of me as we made our way around the runway. A small 'plane taxied and took off while we were running - I didn't expect that as I thought that the reason the race was held on New Year's Day was because the airfield was closed.

As I approached the finish line I picked up the pace and finished in 23mins 21seconds - a personal best for 5k. I had thought that I would set a slow pace, due to self inflicted malaise, that I could then take pleasure in beating later in the year. Not sure if I'll beat this one for a while!

Coffee in the clubhouse after the race with my friend, she was running for the first time since 1991 - she achieved the first of her new year's resolutions before lunchtime! I love running and runners! There can't be many sports where you get as big a cheer for coming last as you do for winning.

All in all, a nice little race. I'll probably do it next year!

Happy 2011 to you all.