Saturday, 26 March 2011

What a day. I got up early and ended up being late getting to an industrial estate in Eastleigh to join an NUT coach to London. I was a bit stressed by having cycled on my hybrid at time trial effort to get there, then was not sure where the coach was, so abandoned my bike for R to pick up later and waved down a passing coach, which was the right one. On arrival in London we got on a ferry to take us for free to the end of the march, and then spent a while snaking up the outside past the assorted people there before finding the NUT. There were loads and loads of NUT people there, marching alongside the NASUWT, another teacher union. There were an unbelievable assortment of people - A Ghurka with medals amongst a gang of similar and their wives, all tiny and smiley, and this one chap shouting alleluia all the time. There were librarians against cuts, nurses, even physiotherapists, for heavens sakes, and it takes a lot to get them riled. Firefighters, Unison people who work for councils, Prison officers, court workers, the Boiler makers, goodness knows who else, all manner of people from every nook and cranny of the UK. Half a million people, giving up their Saturday and some of them forking out a lot of cash to get to London. Unbelievable. It was my first big march and I had a fantastic day of solidarity and unity, saw no violence ( the protesters causing trouble were not on the main march, but elsewhere) and took 4 hours to walk about 1.5 miles. It wasn't exactly one for getting the heart rate up, ( I had done that on my race to Eastleigh in the morning) but I was very glad to be there and think this is the start of something bigger, of ordinary people fighting for basic public services to be available, for the people who need those services most - the poor, the young and the elderly - they are the people who need schools, health care and libraries. After all the walking, we sneaked in and had a cuppa in a cafe and then strolled back to get the coach back - luckily for me I found a different coach heading back to Southampton. There were a lot of young people on the march, young teachers, which is encouraging. The day was well organised, the police were smiley and polite and so were the stewards and to everyone I asked to come with me who didn't - you missed a great day which I am glad I didn't miss. Next time, come with me! Even if it is your birthday.

Yesterday at work was great, I had my lovely class back, as my student has finished her placement with flying colours. I loved having her and learned a lot from the experience, but it was nice to just faff around after school on my own, tidying up and so on and catching up on little things that need doing. I am very fired up about school at the moment, as I have been offered and accepted a new post there which will mean more responsibility and a leadership role. We have a great team and a lot of potential for growth and improvement, so my job will be to nurture that into reality among the youngest classes. Watch your back, Michael Gove, I am telling you, I am after your job.

One of my favourite placards of the day was a picture of Garfield with the slogan Eat more lasagne. Some had pictures of Cameron planted inelegantly on the end of large pink tubes. Another favourite on the coach home was the sign that said 'Let this be a sign'. See what they did there? The girls were fascinated this morning by my plan of the day, hence the breakneck cycle to get there, with them asking me so many questions as I tried to escape. They watched it on the news when I got home and were asking good questions about it all. I am delighted to be developing their political awareness and hope they develop their own opinions which they follow through with actions, which are about the poor, the marginalised, the outcast. I don't want to be growing pew fodder who sit and nod inside churches. Let's hope today helped in that regard. Amen.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Weird phone call today. On my way to work, with my mobile in my bag on my bike, I became aware of a lady talking to me out of my bag. I told her I was on my bike and then stopped so I could talk to her properly. It turns out that I had rang her! from my bag! And she was from a hotel in Beaulieu! How weird is that, she was not on my contact list, my phone had jiggled about and rang her, I guess the chances of getting an 0 and a 1 at the start are getting quite remote, and then to get a proper code and number of a proper, and local, business, I thought was fairly remarkable. I thought you would like that.

I have had some great sunny bike rides lately, even in shorts - da da! Spring has sprung. Today I planted trees with my class and I heard one boy say it was the best thing he had ever done. That is why you become a teacher. surely.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Two trips to Bitterne in two days. That's more like it! Both by bike, in stunning sunshine. Monday I made excellent time up the hill to get to the doctors for my annual blood letting, the thing about sitting in the doctors waiting room is that I feel like a fraud because I am not ill. Still, the NHS really is cradle to grave, and I have to give a phial of blood once a year until I die, which is checked by my consultant, although she may die first, so I am not sure what happens then.

Yesterday, it was a social trip to Bitterne metropolis, as Ang had offered to take me clothes shopping, as a birthday gift, so I jumped at the chance to do the charity shops. I found a lovely top in the local charity shop on Thornhill Park Road, and then found a over top made of wool in Barnados, so a new outfit for £5. Ang and I also had a very pleasant cup of tea in Greggs, although it needs refurbishing in there, but the place brings back happy memories of little girls in pushchairs and teetering on the the dogdgy loo when toilet training.

Today Fareham - that charity shop treasure trove - but sadly not for shopping, but for part 3 of 4 of my Magnificent Middle - not an abs exercise class, but the leadership development course I am doing at work. It was not as inspiring as the others in terms of content, but still great to be with other like minded people and inspirational head teacher leading it.

I have not told you about the Dinghy show, so I will. First. Do not ever go to Alexandra Palace. It is a stupid place to get to and takes hours and hours and hours. H, R and I went, A wisely decided to stay with the cousins and play. It was fairly interesting in a boaty kind of way, I entered a trillion competitions, some to win things I have never heard of, some to win boats and holidays, which I have heard of. The tickets were a win, so the only cost of the day was to our patience as we sat in traffic in north London. Bumped into a few people we know from the sailing world, Chay Blyth, Ben Ainslie, Ellen Macarthur - well, none of them actually, just a few guys who sail 15s and a dad from my class at school.

I have just read a great book about a new settlement in Oklahoma which did not have a rail road station, and so was starving to death, and about how the community was formed and who did what and the role of children in civilizing the adults. It is one of those books that makes you gasp with shock. Now I am back onto Lance Armstrong, book 2. He should have changed his name to Legstrong.

Amazing news, after months off running I have done a few jogs lately, and not too much trouble with my foot so far, so hopefully the inserts are doing the trick. I have done a lot of swimming, but a rather inaccurate clock that I used for timing ( no second hand) seemed to imply that my time has not improved very much over the last two years, despite all the training I have done. When I look at the times from my first tri, which I am repeating this year, I am hard pressed to see how I can shave any seconds off any sections of it. Surely two years worth of training can be worth something?

On Friday night, the girls were at granny's as they had an INSET that day, so R and I were alone and could have gone out but no, we opted to spend two hours doing our month end finances and budgets for this month. This is our fourth month sticking to our system of writing everything down on the kitchen wall. Will soon need a redecorating budget. It is going really well, and despite having to buy a washing machine, and having just come back from skiing, our monthly figures are standing up quite well. Let's hope the government don't cut our pay, it is frozen for two years, which is as good as cutting, but not as bad a situation as some are in. I am going on a march against the cuts, and have free transport on the NUT bus from Eastleigh. What a result! I love things for free. Sadly there are almost none of them, but lets hope I win the electric jam maker I have entered for from the WI.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Today I cycled down one of my favourite roads, favourite because of the comedy names the residents have chosen for their houses. One is called Gazebo. Another is called Random Oak. Love it! it sounds like the kind of name a rock star would give their child - Gazebo Random Oak. A friend of a friend of a friend has a baby called Matilda, going by the name of Tiddles. Tiddles Gazebo is a nice twist.

Apart from swimming, cycling and wearing my new trainers to walk around the house, I have been skiing! It uses the same leg muscles as cycling so it counts. I am sure you would be bored by the details of the scenery, perfect snow, sunny blue skies and happy children in ski school, so I won't bore you with them. Instead I will tell you about our progress. I am the lower attainer in our skiing family, using the whole piste ( they were lovely wide ones) to make my turns, I like to get my money's worth on the lift pass by covering every inch of snow with my agonised snow plough and attempts towards parallel turns. R, H and A are all above average achievers, we can all now do red runs, but I take twice as long as everyone else. A challenged me to a race, and she was out of the chair lift and down the hill before I had fumbled my sticks together and untangled my legs from the bar. R and I went to the top of the mountain on a grim snowy afternoon, and then on the next sunny day I went back all by myself! I love the views, and the solitude and quiet pistes, and I hate being on busy red pistes when everyone else swooshes down really fast and I am gently snow ploughing my way down. I did not overtake anyone all week. H injured her thumb and is in a plaster cast, with a date next week at the hospital. She missed 1.5 days, and luckily for us, Granny Mary was staying in the same village and was happy to do the childcare. that left r and I free to explore a different ski area, the unbelieveably good Tauplitz, with one of the best snow records in austria and a wealth of options for the blue / red skier. and the most amazing panorama of mountains covered in snow from the top of the lift. I got on well with the chair lifts, I was a bit worried about them as in Switzerland I found them a bit nerve wracking. As well as skiing we walked on a frozen lake, I struggled to have faith in the ice, although it is 25cm deep, it just felt all wrong. We ate out and I partook of a couple of apfel strudels, you really need to immerse yourself in the culture, I feel.