Wednesday, 25 April 2012

25 April 2012
A strange feeling.  My mum passed away last night and I'm feeling very sad and very tired today.  She's been ill for a couple of months, firstly with double pneumonia which left her very weak but then she gradually became weaker until finally last night.  I've given colleagues my schemes of work for my classes and told my boss a few things that he needs to do (actually that's not meant to sound rude) and said that I don't know when I'll be back.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Studying all done!

It's months since I posted and I guess lots has happened, but today I thought I'd write up that I finally posted the last assignment for my MA.  I can't quite believe it's over - I started in May 2007 and was hard at it for nearly 18 months, then we moved and I just couldn't get back into it for almost 2 years.  So for the last 18 months it's been nose to the grindstone - 3 hours at least 5 times a week.  My poor brain.

Last week was  a particularly bad week for brain.  I think I may have been having several conversations at the same time and when talking to a colleague at school I explained that instead of putting paper in the photocopier, I had apparently put 'fabric in the washing machine'. She looked surprised and laughed and  I just shook my head wearily.

Anyway today I came home and felt slightly lost.  I've got loads of things to do - tidying up the rooms where my books, files, articles, general reading/writing stuff have been strewn - but nothing i HAVE to do.

What a good feeling.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Friday 8 July

It was my appointment (again) at the gym this morning.  I turned up and met the owner of the place.  He took me through my 'baseline assessment' which just turned out to be height, weight, BMI and stretch.  Not rocket science.   I'm still not sure why it couldn't have been done a week ago and asked him.  He didn't know either but assured me that as a client, I was very important to them.  I did a circuit of the equipment and left.  I've signed up for 6 weeks so I suppose I should make use of it.

I recorded last night's 'Question Time' and the big news, of course, is the 'News of the World'.  Based on what I saw, I'd vote for Hugh Grant at the next election.  He was honest, fluent and made sense.  As did Shirley Williams.  I remember years ago at an embassy abroad where I was working, she was Minister for Overseas Development and on a visit she was very demanding, so since then I've been a bit negative about her.  However, she also made sense.  The conservative and labour party reps were each blaming the other for mistakes, and completely missing the point that this is an occasion where principles count, not trying to score points.  The whole business is depressing: it's brought in whole areas of society, not just celebrities and politicians, but also the police and people whose only reason to be in the spotlight was being related to someone who'd died in violent circumstances.

Thursday 7 July

I was met by one of my students screaming at me that there was only one pen for the interactive whiteboard and they'd practised with two pens.  Stress, poor thing.  Then there was a problem with the camera.  I stayed well away from that - one look from me and machines stop working.  Their presentations are done in pairs and have to be filmed so that the moderating panel can check on the marks that I give them, so we couldn't start until the camera was up and running.   Their names were pulled out of a hat to give the running order and then we were off.  Including the Q&A session, each one lasted about 25 minutes, during which I had to make notes on language range and accuracy, content, body language, use of Powerpoint, use of voice, knowledge and effort.  Nearly 3 hours later they were ecstatic and left with big smiles.  I now have to write it all up.

Earlier it had all been a rush and I was slightly later than I'd wanted at school as it was pouring down with rain and my beloved was driving me but had misplaced his glasses.  We looked everywhere and in the end could only surmise that they'd come off when he'd gone to post a birthday card and had slipped over.  Sure enough, there they were on the pavement covered in grass and leaves.  A lucky find - they're special glasses which are expensive and time-consuming to replace.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Wednesday 6 July

My Foundation group aren't ready for their presentations tomorrow.  They're a good group but the amount of work they're having to do is overwhelming.  They handed in their geography assignments today, so have been concentrating on that, rather than my assignment.  Most of their topics are natural disasters of some sort or another, so I hope that they're using their geography knowledge well.

Another blast from the past on Facebook.  A boy from school (well, a man now, I suppose) who I haven't seen since the age of 18 has befriended me.  It was good to see from his photos that he's as eccentric now as he was at school.  Or rather, he's grown naturally into his eccentricity.  He was the one in the 6th form photo who, when we were all casual sitting on the steps, wore a gas mask and twirled an umbrella.

Have spent some time trying to see how to edit the layout of the this blog.  I don't always manage to write on the same day, but give my own heading of the day I'm blogging about.  Unfortunately, the date that I'm writing on automatically comes up, giving 2 dates.  Need to explore some more to see how to change that.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tuesday 5 July

We're bursting at the seams a school with over 600 students this week.  We're double shifting, with 5 minutes between classes and have also rented extra premises at adult education centres in Penge and Crystal Palace.

To add to the mix, we had 22 student teachers from British universities come for the whole day today for teacher training before they fly out to China on Friday.  It was my job to run them through principles and methodologies for teaching young learners and also show them the material they'd be using.  It was fun but hard work.  I had them singing 'Baa baa black sheep', using a screwed up piece of paper as a ball to throw to each other, sitting on the floor listening to me telling them a story, jumping up and saying numbers in sequence - all sorts of good educational stuff.   Some of their comments made me slightly uneasy though: one thought for the topic of 'celebration' that making a wedding card (colouring and cutting out clothes for the bride and groom to stick to a card) wasn't a right celebratory occasion and preferred a 'christmas' card.  I asked her to think about religion in China but she didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with her suggestion.

The allotment people emailed me to say that I'm now on the waiting list and gave the password to see the list online.  They reckon that 15 people get allotments each year - I'm No 77 so that means 5 years!  I should be ready by then.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Sunday 3 July

Our appointment with the beekeepers at the allotments was at 11.30am so we made sure we knew where were going and how to get there.  There was a very discreet entrance, in fact so discreet that you wouldn't know it was there, no sign just a single driveway between 2 houses.  The beekeepers were already smoking out bees, some with veils others wearing just shorts and T-shirts.  Unfortunately, it quickly become obvious to us that our garden isn't suitable.  It's a shame as it's such a fascinating hobby.

One of the beekeepers told us he had a winery at the allotments, 20 yards away, and offered to show it to us.  We tasted his red wine - amazingly good!  There are 7 vineyards on this allotment who have got together with 'premises' and equipment and have a great time doing it.  So we decided to wander around and spoke to a few allotment holders.  We were extremely impressed - there's a clubhouse, running water, electricity and you don't have to grow vegetables or flowers, you can use the ground as a leisure area which some people have done with tables, chairs, barbecues, ponds.   After talking to the manager, I've put my name down for an allotment!   I've always said that I'd like a dog and an allotment so with a 2-5 year waiting list, the timing might be about right.

Last year my beloved and I participated in the UK Biobank, undergoing a series of tests which took about 4 hours in total.  Today I received an email asking what I'd eaten yesterday, down to the last peanut (no, I didn't actually eat any peanuts but I did have an ice cream).  Apparently this information will improve the health of future generations.