tinyjo: (Cassiecat)
So, I was going to post something interesting, I'm sure, but we got new kittens! It was a suddenly availability after their planned adoption fell through and they're super super tiny - only 6 weeks old. They are basically adorbs and so I have been unable to do anything useful for the past few days :)



The ginger/cream one is Harry and the tortie is Clare

tinyjo: (wine)
So, I didn't manage to post last weekend, because I was having a really lovely weekend off. I'd had two interviews the week before and ended up not getting either of them. I really didn't do a great job with the teaching session on the first one - combination of nerves and over planning and they ended up going with an internal candidate who, to be fair, was probably more experienced than me as well so that was fine. The second one went fairly well, I thought, but I ended up not getting the job, which I guess is just how it goes sometimes. I didn't actually get any detailed feedback on that one, although I probably could have asked for it, but I was feeling a bit battered by the week. I'd forgotten what an up and down, stressful experience interviewing can be and two in a week took quite a lot out of me.

As such, I was quite pleased to have the chance to completely forget my job hunt for a bit and go to London to graduate. I had occasionally wondered this term why I was going to all the trouble of going to the ceremony but actually, I'm really glad I went with my instinct and did it. I even got quite choked up by the whole experience - partly, it was that time of the month, but I have always found the OU message that education is for everyone to be really inspiring and it felt really nice to finish off my degree with something a little special like that.

After the ceremony, we went for a really rather good dinner with my folks before seeing them back to Liverpool street and onto their train and heading for a hotel in Kensington for an overnight stay. On the Saturday, it was a really perfect day for me to enjoy myself - sunny and bright but with just enough spring chill in the air to make walking a pleasure. We headed out with no real plan in mind other than to end up near Imperial college and to catch some pokemon and ended up having a gentle saunter through West Bromwich cemetery, which was just lovely. I find Victorian cemeteries like that fascinating - the ways the memorialised the dead speak of such different ideas about life and society from mine that I find them fascinating.

After that, we ended up making our way to the V&A where we spent an absolutely lovely 4 hours or so wandering round, enjoying their beautiful Islamic Art gallery, admiring the costumes through the ages (I think if I time travel, the only era where I'd quite like the the clothes I'd have to wear would be the 20s) and being fascinated by the Rapid Reaction Collection, which has a selection of items acquired in the last 5 years which the musuem staff have collected as saying something interesting about design or culture, including a 3d printed gun and a pussy hat. Definitely recommend it for your visit to London, [livejournal.com profile] elyssa and [livejournal.com profile] stevieg. We rounded off the weekend with an evening at the Festival of Bad Adhoc Hypotheses, where I learned that aliens are using our junk DNA as long term storage to back up their kittie pictures, and other, equally fun suggestions. On the way out of London, I caught the last Magikarp needed to make a Gyrados literally from the bus and all in all, it felt like a really perfect day and a wonderful way to recharge my batteries.

And I really needed to recharge my batteries because on Thursday I'd fired off a speculative application for a teaching job in a village school which I hadn't managed to visit, what with everything going on, but which mentioned developing a leadership role in the description and sounded potentially interesting and on Tuesday I found out that I'd been shortlisted for an interview on Friday. I actually found it the easiest interview task that I'd had to plan because they'd been quite clear in what they wanted to see without being too constraining - pick a topic (space, mountains or chocolate) and teach a lesson to develop writing skills in the area of poetry, characterisation or setting and then in the interview tell us how you would develop it from there. I particularly liked that they acknowledged when setting the task that you might not get to a written outcome in 30 minutes - it all added up to something where they'd clearly thought about what they wanted to see and whether you could realistically get at it from that constrained 30 minute teaching experience. I ended up doing Space and teaching a session where we created some colonists to go on the Mars One colony expedition, which would lead into lots of story writing as well as a tonne of cross curricular stuff if you made it a unit and they were very happy with how it went. In the interview, they explained that the job would be as head of KS2, 3rd SLT member in a small school and teaching Y5/6, all of which fit very well with what I'd been imagining when I first started job hunting, and they'd be offering a chance to do leadership training as well. Overall, by the time I headed home after a tour of the school with the head teacher, I knew I wanted the job so I was back to the up and down stress rollercoaster feeling but this time, everything clicked into place right and they offered me the job! I was so happy to be able to accept and now the only thing I need to think about is how much handover work I'm going to have to do!
tinyjo: (Default)
I am now motivating myself to do tasks by rewarding myself with Stardew Valley. It's such a pleasing game and totally addictive! I've been playing quite a bit in the evenings this week to help me to calm my nerves about next week, which is looking pretty crazy. I have *two* interviews at new schools, one to be a deputy head, one to be maths lead, and then I'm graduating my OU degree on Friday and going to the Festival of Bad Adhoc Hypotheses on Saturday. I guess ideally, I'll have something to celebrate as well but right now, I'm feeling very nervous. I think that I don't come over well in the "teach a 20 minute session" bits of these interviews because my teaching style works best when I know the kids well and is better in longer than shorter sessions, but hopefully my charming interview manner will be good enough to get past that... Keep your fingers crossed for me :)
tinyjo: (Default)
Have accidentally spent all day playing Stardew Valley instead of doing Big Write marking! I am now watching River Cottage as it's really put me in the mood :) I have chickens called Buck, Buuck and Bugurk, which pleases me very much.

We went to see Logan last night and it was really an amazing film. It reminded me of a really good piece of fan fiction in that it spent zero time introducing the characters or the world, just really focused on the character story it wanted to tell and what it would be like if this crazy premise was actually happening to real people. It's something that Iron Man has toyed with (Tony's PTSD) but not really committed to. I actually cried a couple of times and I'd thoroughly recommend it but it's definitely not a light hearted night out.
tinyjo: (cassie by jeremy)
Thank you for the lovely comments on my last entry. Sadly, things moved fast and Cassie continued to deteriorate and not eat over the weekend. She spent quite a bit of time curled up in my lap, sleeping and having strokes, which was good, but she was obviously in a very bad way. We took her into the vet on Monday, who told us that her kidneys were shutting down. They took her to cat hospital and put her on fluids to see how much remaining kidney function there was but when we checked in the next day, her blood work hadn't improved at all, meaning that her kidneys were basically completely non functional. There was nothing that they could really do for her so I went after school and sat with her for an hour or so giving her strokes and fuss before the vet put her on my lap and gave her an overdose of anaesthetic.

It's the first time that I've lost a pet in that way - we had goldfish, who used to get regularly pinched by herons, but that's nothing like the same. I cried a lot on Monday and Tuesday and was pretty fragile most of Wednesday and the rest of the week. Now I just get ambushed by odd rushes of sadness. Charlie has been doing her best to look after us by coming and sitting with me on the sofa and so on but I miss Cassie very much.

I have quite a few versions of this pic where she's sitting on my lap giving me a very definite *look*


And quite a few where she's curled up on the bed. My photo albums all together seem to suggest she spent quite a lot of time chilling out and relaxing, which is a good thought.




Rare photo with her eyes open <3
Cassie is queen
tinyjo: (cat don't care)
Am very worried about Cassie at the minute - she's barely eating suddenly and is looking very little and old :( We're taking her into the vet for a checkup but I'm really worried about what he's going to say. She's 17 at least and she's had a good time with us, but still. She still makes purrs though and doesn't seem to be in pain or anything, just not really eating.
tinyjo: (Default)
As the end of half term rolls round again, I've finally managed to get through reviewing where all my class are for writing. It's not too bad, but it's not brilliant either - lots still to do, and one or two annoying cases of children who just need to remember when to use a full stop! Still, it's done for now, thank goodness.

I feel like I'm finishing this half term with masses that still needs doing. There's certainly plenty still on my task list. I'm not really sure where all the time has gone - apart from yesterday, when Cassie came down and sat on me all evening, I don't think I've wasted loads of time, but still, somehow, I have loads to do. Ah well. Maybe now that I'm feeling a bit better I'll be able to catch up on Friday.
tinyjo: (droplets)
Gosh, I wish that I could get rid of this cold! Or at least have my tonsils out - they've been up and down like... well, I can't think of a good simile, but they have. They were really painful yesterday, but they're rather better today and I'm feeling pretty good overall, which makes me feel like I might be going to get actually better, but I've had false dawns with this cold before so who knows whether it'll actually happen. It'd be nice to be well for half term though. This afternoon, there was nice sun and mild weather so I got out and did some hard work in the garden moving plants - it felt good. I just can't wait until I can be outside again - sunshine always improves how well I feel in myself.

I went on my first protest since the Iraq war on Monday. Wish I could say I expect to have such a long gap before the next one. It felt good to be out there saying something, even if I doubt it'll make much difference.
tinyjo: (down in the dumps)
Am feeling weird right now. Sort of stressed and uncertain and adrift. self-indulgent and not very coherent thoughts )

Other than the rising sense of impending doom, it was actually a lovely week, if pretty busy. It was really nice to see [personal profile] coalescent and [livejournal.com profile] bibliolicious for dinner and girly night cocktails really hit the spot. I had an amazing cocktail which was made with apple pie syrup which I wish I'd remembered to photo. I had my first go at applying for a dep head job, although I didn't get shortlisted, and went to look around another school today. It looked nice, but was pretty big and seemed very serious - I'll apply but I suspect they're looking for someone with more experience than me.

I think maybe I should focus on trying to get well this week. If I could swallow without pain and didn't sneeze all the time, I might feel better able to cope with other stuff.
tinyjo: (laden coal creature)
Am sitting in the coffee area at the garage waiting for my one year service on my Leaf to be done. It's hard to believe it's a whole year since I got it but I have to say, I've really loved it. When I was buying it, I was expecting to use it only for my Oxford driving and do parental visits in a loan petrol car but actually, we've ended up driving it to Norfolk most of the times I've visited, which feels pretty cool. It's just a really pleasant drive and it makes me feel good to be bowling along without any worries about what damage I'm doing, particularly given that we pay for 100% green energy at home so I know even charging up is not doing much damage.

The one blot on the otherwise happy story of electric car ownership has been Polar/Chargemaster. They have a model where you can subscribe to their service, in which case you get an RFID card, or you can pay as you go using their app. The trouble is, their app is absolutely terrible. I can't think of a single time I've used it where it hasn't taken about 20 minutes to get it to load the charge points close to me and then get the one I want to use activated. We planned a trip to London a couple of weeks ago and parked where they had a fast charger only to discover that PAYG customers didn't have the ability to use it, something that it didn't say anywhere in the app! It's got to the point where I was just planning a trip to my parents with an extra charge because of the cold weather and I filtered out their chargers - they might be more conveniently placed sometimes but that's no good if they don't work properly! Fortunately, the ecotricity chargers have been much more reliable and easy to use, even when they switched over to using an app rather than an RFID card but still, it's kind of a pain. I guess they basically don't care about PAYG customers or possibly even think that if they make that service rubbish then people will be more likely to upgrade.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the electric car experience, but if you're thinking of getting one, just make sure you won't be relying on Polar /Chargemaster for any key journeys!
tinyjo: (droplets)
I promised that I would post some photos of our time in Senegal, and so here we go! It's just possible that I'll manage to actually get the right link from Google photos first time, but I never have before so if I mess it up again, do let me know :)


The rhino and some of the waterbuck antelope having an early evening drink at the watering hole.

many many pics )
tinyjo: (girl and boy at night)
I see, as is fairly typical, I stopped updating once I'd done my complaining :) In my defense, the wifi at the reserve was pretty slow so our photos didn't back up to the internet until we made it to Paris for the most part. We were talking in Dakar airport about how unusual it was that actually, if we'd had our phones stolen at that point, we would have lost really quite a lot of data - usually, it's very little.

I will do a proper entry when I get home with all the photos and details of our time at Fathala, but suffice it to say for the time being that it was a really wonderful holiday and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere peaceful and beautiful. Our luggage never turned up at the reserve, despite repeated contact by the reception desk with the airport but once we had a change of clothes, kindly run up in a very short time by an obliging Senegalese tailor, we actually managed fine. On our way back, we got to Dakar airport ahead of time and so decided to go via the left luggage area on the off chance and lo and behold! Our case, sat there waiting and probably had been for a week. It had lost it's tag, meaning that it hadn't been connected with our lost luggage report, description notwithstanding. Still, we found it, which was a relief as it had my favourite bras in and were able to sort out the details and take it with us on the next leg. It was also perfect timing because it meant that we could collect the other half of the malaria prescription from it just before we would have run out of tablets. It was a bit unnerving to collect it and then immediately check it in again, but it made it to Paris with us, where our two cases were one of the first ones out!

Paris was really lovely - we stayed in a beautiful apartment with some very friendly cats and also some lovely Canadians (<3, [livejournal.com profile] ailetoile and [livejournal.com profile] stevieg) and it was also very restful. Rather than do the museum thing, we alternated chilling in the apartment, with poke-walks and enjoying the ambience and architecture of Paris and actually, todays wander up to Notre Dame, followed by open top bus along the Champs Elysee made me think actually I'd quite like to go back again. Now, we just have to manage to get onto our plane home and off with luggage and then home to kittons!
tinyjo: (Default)
So, when I left things last, your intrepid heros were stranded in Lisbon airport, but with optimisim that we would be able to reach our final destination without any further mishaps. More(!) travel woes, and finally arriving at the reserve ) The reserve really is everything I could have hoped and more - the staff are lovely, the food is delicious, the accommodation is incredibly comfortable and there are monkeys everywhere! I keep taking photos but they haven't all uploaded yet (the internet isn't very fast) so I'll save that until I get back :) We haven't even been on the game drive yet!

There was hope that by today, our suitcase might have turned up but thus far, there's no sign. We were taken into the nearest town, on the Gambian border, today, where we stopped off, bought some fabric and then left it with a tailor who's going to make a change of clothes for us! There'll definitely be photos of those tonight, when they are supposed to be arriving. We managed to pick up some deoderant and tooth brushes and fortunately, the reserve already provided things like shampoo and body wash, as well as having some insect repellant on hand, so we're pretty much set for the moment and tomorrow we'll be ready to get out and start taking part in some of the activities on offer here.
tinyjo: (sea-mist)
So far, holiday going not quite according to plan. A tale of delays and me being sad )
tinyjo: (candle trail)
I am fed up with being bunged up. I need sunshine...
tinyjo: (tiny kitn)
Have just spent far too long fiddling with a new journal style on Dreamwidth. I'd forgotten how oddly absorbing tinkering with CSS could be. It turned out to be just the level of engagement I was up for this afternoon, given that I am full of cold and feeling lazy.

Tomorrow, I will have to snap out of my lethargy to get things done because we're actually only 6 days away from our exciting adventure holiday! We're going to be spending seven days in Senegal, staying on a wildlife reserve where you can walk with the lions(!) and then flying to Paris where we're sharing an apartment with [livejournal.com profile] elyssa and [livejournal.com profile] stevieg over Christmas! I felt so inspired by the experience of winter sun on our Caribbean trip that we just sort of decided to go for this. It'll be the first time I've ever visited Africa and I think you could reasonably describe me as hella excited :) I have no idea what the net connection is likely to be like, but I'll try to post the odd update while we're away.

So now I just have to get through the last few days of term. Fortunately, I won't have to do too much in terms of teaching as we wind down, but given how coldy I feel at the moment, I probably couldn't cope if I did have to so that's just as well! Roll on next Friday!
tinyjo: (handbag)
So, after the referendum, I needed something which was about people being nice to each other to watch, and after a lucky encounter when I left the TV on after Today at Wimbledon that thing turned out to be The Great British Sewing Bee. I finished the latest season and then went back and binge watched the other ones and, perhaps inevitably, bought myself a sewing machine :)

So far, I haven't done loads on it - unsurprisingly, once term kicked back in, I haven't had tonnes of time or energy to do so - but I have made myself a couple of bags. One very simple tote bag just to try the machine out which I use for all my bits of material and stuff and yesterday I finally finished the laptop bag I'd been working on!



The main body of the bag is actually made from a denim skirt that I got from a charity shop and the lining is part of a duvet cover (it turns out that's a great way to get cheap fabric!) so it wasn't too pricey to make but I think economy is not really going to be an overall benefit of making stuff. I enjoyed it as a creative thing to do and I really like the ability to make stuff to my own specifications so those are the main attractions really.

Immediately I finished it, I came up with several things that I want to do differently next time so I thought I'd note them down here in case I ever do get around to repeating this pattern.

  • Pockets! Firstly, put the outside pockets on earlier in the process so I can machine stitch them, don't forget about them until the end because they're not in the pattern I was following.
  • Secondly, inside pockets of some kind would be good. Maybe with fastenings?
  • Put in a side/bottom panel so that it's got more of a base to it
  • Different main fastening - I'm not that in love with the velcro
  • Maybe catch the corners of the lining to the bottom of the bag?
  • Wider strap. I love how the finish of the strap turned out but I think a wider one would make for easier carrying


moar pics (same as on twitter if you saw them there) )
tinyjo: (Default)
This is education related, not related to any of the other chaos going on in British political life...

letter to my MP )
tinyjo: (laden coal creature)
Somehow, coming back from a holiday always seems to mean that I've fallen so far behind with things that I have to scramble to catch up again. Thus, I see that I haven't written here since getting back from the Caribbean, even though that was about a month ago now. I think this was compounded by the fact that (a) I was sick for a lot of the Christmas holiday and so didn't manage to get much done then, so I felt like I was trying to catch up for most of term 3, (b) we were away for most of half term, which is when I would normally get caught up with things and (c) the amount of pressure we're under as a result of the ridiculous farce that is KS2 assessment this year means that there's much more work than normal to keep up with. Still, I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere, which is nice and probably not unconnected with the fact that there's more daylight and the occasional glimpse of sun. I even went out and did some garden cleaning up last weekend.

I'm finding the whole thing with assessment this year is really weighing on my mind - I seem to be spending much more time than usual feeling really stressed out or, alternatively, furious with the DfE for putting us in this ridiculous position. We're teaching practically nothing but Maths and English at the moment, even in the afternoons, which is depressing and tiring for all concerned but given that there's no way we're going to reach the targets set this year, we have to show that we've done everything possible to achieve them. Parents evening consisted of a lot of me saying to parents "the expectations have been massively raised this year and while your child would have met the old writing targets, they won't meet the new ones". A few parents asked why the expectations have been raised so much, which is a fair question, and it took all my self restraint not to just say "Because the DfE are fuckwits who don't know what they're doing and have no idea about how teaching and learning actually happens".

Between all that, and the current behaviour of the democratically elected government, I am currently giving serious consideration to leaving the country. Unfortunately, it looks as if my teaching qualification would not be accepted in Canada, which is annoying, so I'll have to look into doing some further study before we could do anything about it, but that's not the end of the world and will hopefully be useful even if things change and we end up not flitting. Bah. I miss just being able to enjoy my job. At least SATs are in May - after that, we can have some fun again, but right now, it feels like a long time coming.

I need to think about what I want to do next educationally anyway, as I'm about to finish my OU degree. Currently, I've reached the bit of this course which I find least interesting, but at least it doesn't matter too much as my mark in this module is irrelevant to my end result and there is another interesting bit before the end. I just can't find it in me to like Dickens! I rather surprised myself in the last assignment by actually writing a poem though, which was a completely unexpected but rather interesting experience. I don't see it starting a trend or anything but it was still very rewarding as a one of experiment.
tinyjo: (jasmine)
So, since my last update, I have:

- Been to the Grenadan Independence celebration at the National Stadium. Lots of marching up and down, fun with the police marching band and a stirring address by the Prime Minister (to a lot more cheering than I can imagine any PM at home getting!). There were lots of songs about how lovely Grenada is and how the national characteristic is being friendly and welcoming (story checks out) and all in all, it was a rather fun, relaxing morning.

- Been snorkelling for the first time to look at the underwater sculpture garden. I didn't love the actual experience of snorklling - I could never quite get the mouthpiece to feel comfortable and I had to pause for breath quite a bit - but it was totally worth it to see the underwater sculptures, which are gradually turning into an artificial reef, as well as all the little fishes floating around in the clear water.

- Actually done some teaching in school! I taught them some maths, which was interesting. They're good on concepts but they are much more used to being led than my students so they really struggled when I was asking them to spot patterns or reason for themselves. They're very keen though, and were very excited to try out some of my times table games :)

- Been to Brownies, which was lovely! I am going back next week and I'm going to teach them a song and a game from our Brownies and hopefully video some of their Brownie things

- Spent more time floating in the Caribbean - rather necessary after a long hot day at school! The road down to our favourite beach has a drainage ditch next to it, which is lined with hundreds of crab holes - if you walk along in the evening between about 5 and 6 you can see them all out grazing and sunning themselves, which is rather lovely. I have discovered that I can't stop pointing them out even though there are probably literally hundreds there :)

- Been to a Golden Oldies, Caribbean style clubbing night! Not exactly my kind of thing, particularly as my body clock seems to have adjusted to early mornings, early nights while we're here (partly because it gets dark around 6/6:30, which makes it then feel really late!) but we did have quite a bit of fun.

- Visited Fish Friday in Gouyave, where local fishermen basically cook up their catch for the day on street food stalls and sell it to tourists. We saw some great drumming and ate some delicious fishy dishes.

- Hiked around the shore of Grand Etang (it's a big lake near the centre of the island)! All the locals we've told this to have said variants on "gosh, how adventurous!" I think most people just go to the bit of the lake shore by the bus stop but we went all the way around. The trail was pretty muddy in places and there were a few slots where there didn't seem to be much trail at all, but it was actually an amazing experience - we felt like jungle explorers! And we saw a monkey! A real live wild monkey, just eating fruit from a tree near the visitor centre!

- Visited the Palmtree Botanical Garden and the Laura Herb and Spice garden, both of which I highly recommend, especially the Palmtree garden. We got lovely guided walks of both places, saw some massive caterpillars, some more lizards and some really beautiful blooms.

moar photos! )

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tinyjo: (Default)
Emptied of expectation. Relax.

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