Tag Archives: grown-upness

We’ve gone on holiday by mistake

Well not quite, but that’s almost what it felt like. Without much notice, I found myself heading upto Northumberland for a few days and the Mrs came with me. The reason for this will become apparent but it meant we had a good 3 clear days available to us – even if the clarity was of diary commitments rather than the weather which obviously hadn’t received that message! It’s the first time I’ve been to Northumberland for any time. This Devonian Expat has made it to various places considerably further North than she ever thought, but you can’t get any further away from Devon before reaching the national border! It meant I was rather keen to explore and eager to see what is so special about this area of which I’d heard so much about. All the people I’ve met who have spent much time in the North East have praised it very highly.

So, our travels started with a good drive through mid Northumberland along the coastal road with a rather keen castle-spotter telling me about each as we found it. Devon’s not big on Castles… Northumberland on the other hand… We stopped for lunch at a really beautiful village (with a motte and bailey castle, apparently) for lunch. Should you ever find yourself in Warkworth and need a bite to eat I would very highly recommend the pub on the left, although the one on the right looked good too. Also, the cake shop with the chocolates looked an experience worth having although we were rather stuffed from the food at the Mason’s Arms. The whole area is beautiful.

We headed over to join the coast road in order to see the views… we hadn’t, however, managed to combine this sightseeing trip with appropriate weather. It was foul! Visibility was non-existent and it’s worth saying this was the weekend of the severe weather warnings and flood alerts for Northumberland! Despite this, the environment still managed to look good. We headed up through Seahouses to Bamburgh, whose Castle was the most impressive in stature of all we saw that weekend. Bamburgh, too, was very beautiful but very different to Warkworth. The plan was to stay there for a couple of nights and head over to Holy Island. The weather, however, suggested this wasn’t the best plan.

The following day, rather than head to Lindisfarne (barely visible due to the morning weather), we went back and explored a couple more coastal settlements. Seahouses offered us a good set of proper fish and chips as well as a look over the very large waves to the Farne Islands. It wasn’t the day for a boat trip round there either! We carried on, and the weather improved so we set off for yet another castle… Dunstanburgh. Accessible from Craster, it’s a walk along the coastline and it was truly stunning. The rough seas had brought with them the beauty of a soggy and windswept environment but it also meant only a few people had decided to do the walk. The moorland, complete with sheep, went right down to the coastline. The coast I’m most familiar with has cliffs but these gentle slopes meant we had such a great view. The castle looked like it had always been there; it’s ruined form looks truly part of the landscape and I could never imagine it in its fully functioning state. We didn’t make it over to the castle itself, and heard later that the tide made it inaccessible. What, for me, was also an interesting part of the landscape was both a sad but rather striking aspect of the pollution. The strong tide had left a track of foam in its path. The foam formed interesting shapes and danced in the wind, reminiscent of some of the mythical creatures seen in Hiyao Miyazaki’s films. They did almost seem to have lives of their own, especially when the wind caught them and they began to dance. Our return to Craster wouldn’t have been complete without picking up some of their world famous kippers, and the smell of the sea and the smoke house was definitely a defining memory.

Our evening trip included a trip to Seahouses for some fish and chips which we duly ate in the car while watching the sea and the lighthouses of the Farnes. The final element of the trip was a visit, on the final morning, to the RNLI museum to Grace Darling, a heroine of the area who I’d never heard of. It turned out she was a figure of celebration in the Victorian era who, along with her father, had been involved in a notable rescue. It turned out that she didn’t want to be a famous person so I shall not linger on her any longer, however interesting her story was.

What made the holiday so special was the knowledge that we didn’t have to rush around and see everything in that visit. While it’s not an area I’d seen much of before, I would almost certainly get the opportunity to go again as the Mrs and I will be moving to the North later in the year.

The holiday had been something of an accident, rather than a mistake, because I’d been up North for a job interview, and it was one I got. I found out the night before we set off on our Northumbrian mini-holiday. It is hugely exciting to know where we’re going, that we’re going together and we can settle. I always intended to move from this job towards the second half of this year and now we know to what role I’ll go, and when. Horray for these things, and horray for an exciting and beautiful place to settle.

It must be the middle of August (rant alert)

Every year at this time the news media in the UK seem to be filled with the similar comments about the education system. Take your pick from the following: “standards are falling”; “exams are getting easier”; “the opposition condemn (x element) of the education system”; “the problem with easy(?!) subjects e.g. media studies”.

I would like to stand up and be counted as one who truly hates this annual ritual and thinks it to be incredibly unfair and belittling to both students and teachers. It is not acceptable to undermine the work and commitment of some (even most) striving for the best results possible, and suggest that in some way it is less significant than the work of their predecessors.

Teaching is one of those jobs that I would not do for all the money in the world because it would drive me mad, but (and partly because of that reaction) I have a huge respect for teachers. Many of my friends and several of my family are teachers while my sister amongst others wishes to make it her career. And to make that commitment, even for all the rewards it brings, requires a submission to the education system which is fair political game for point scoring and bickering.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some of the developments over the last few years have been appreciated while others haven’t. Growing up, however, I was used to curriculum changes (and sometimes very significant ones) occurring as regularly as every other year. No chance to get used to one set of goals and targets before the next is implemented. It is not going to be possible for either students or teachers to be able to fully reach their potential when there is no continuity from one year to the next.

It seems that the continuing and various methods of assessing students and their schools are never viewed as adequate. That may indeed be the case, but why is it that the majority of the discussions are focussed on this particular week/weekend (at least in the media). Every August, in the run up to A Level and GCSE results it seems that all those frustrated with the system or looking to score cheap jibes crawl out of the woodwork.

I would like to say to all those people: If it matters, keep talking about it and working for it throughout the year BUT shut up now! If you want to increase standards and celebrate achievement, do not do all you can to undermine them at the time when students are at their most anxious about results. Let us take the opportunity to celebrate with those who’ve done well, for themselves as well as by objective standards. Let us commiserate and have sympathy and understanding for those who have not achieved what they wanted or hoped for. But whatever you do, do not condemn the same students for the challenges or failings of the system over which they have no control.

Still Not Having a Heart Attack

On Wednesday morning very, very early, I woke up with a rather bad pain in my shoulder.  It’s still there and is the reason for a rather interesting week.

After a few hours, and knowing the doctors surgery was open I arranged to go and see an expert.  As all the doctors were all busy I went to see a lovely nurse who did all the tests she could, arranged for a doctors appointment for later in the day.  Then she asked if I had pain in my chest – I had pain in all of my upper left side so the answer was yes.  Then the fun started.

During the ECG the fire alarm went off, so the nurse, healthcare assistant and myself were trying to work out whether we needed to evacuate.  Fortunately we didn’t and I managed to get seen by the doctor during this quiet time.  It turns out that I hadn’t had a heart attack (part 1).  Some blood tests were requested, and after about an hour I left the clinic with no less blood than I’d arrived with and only the knowledge that I didn’t have a heart attack.

The following day, still being in pain and still needing to have bloods taken I went back.  We established that I still had pathetic veins but I still got no more information and was advised to try the hospital on Monday.

On Friday one of my congregation took her physiotherapist hands to my shoulder and made it better for a while, but it didn’t last.  It turns out that my shoulder is not capable of sitting through The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  It worked out that the weekend, a time hoped to be highly enjoyable and relaxing, was rather focussed around my shoulder.  Eh well.

On Monday I went to the hospital for the blood tests (I do have blood after all).  After the tests I went to A & E.  Once again I was checked out for heart attacks (still not had one).  After a couple of hours it was finally decided that I have a frozen shoulder, I was given some appropriate medication and sent home.  Yay, I thought.  While the problem could last for months it was an answer.

So, after taking the tablets (and thus being able to go back to work) I thought I’d keep going like this, and go to the doctors next week if the problem was still there – as per instructions.  Life carrys on, I thought.

So this evening, the phone goes and it’s the GP.  He wants me to go into the doctors tomorrow for an ECG… *sigh* I still don’t think I’m having a heart attack.

Things I’ve learned today.

Today I’ve learned that Fajitas can be hot in more ways than one, especially if you use only half the ingredients to a full pack of mix.

The post office is the cheapest place of A4 paper.

Stiletto heels help (??) find the holes in the floor that were being covered so well by the vinyl.

It’s an interesting and potentially dangerous thing to try on high heels when you have a foot in bandage and it’s sprained.

And finally, washing dries better when it’s not in the machine.

I’ve got a lovely comfy chair

I’ve been given a lovely, really comfortable chair and it rocks, literally. It was quite a chore to get it into the flat as it’s wider than the front (well…) door. Eventually, after surgery, we got it into the flat and it’s so comfortable. I can get really settled now.

It was quite weird though as me and my friend were discussing my time in the convent. She said did I by any chance know of a certain person who had also gone to stay in a convent. Yes I did know her. She had been in the same convent as me at the time I was there! How bizarre. It’s such a small world as I’m not that near to convent now.

On a different tangent, I’ve started a new routine and I’ve been doing it for four days. I’m so hopeless at these things I thought I’d not make it past two days.


I’m sure I get more readers when I’m not writing

I’ve just been checking the recent visitors bit of the site and I’m sure things are creeping up faster now I’m not writing much than when I am. Hmmm…

I’ve now been in the job for over a fortnight and things are picking up which is good. I’ve even had proper things to do for *my* bit of the job rather than everyone else’s.

My flat is looking a lot more sorted now than when I last wrote and I even had the opportunity to visit another wiblogger. Arti even wrote all about it!!!

On the whole I’m knackered having to adjust to looking after myself. Having been in the convent where I was suitably pampered in as much as I worked part time, had my meals cooked for me and my room cleaned, the differences are definately noticeable. 😉

People are being absolutely brilliant tho. In the absence of a washing machine and fridge I received several offers of locations to do washing and the offer of a loan of a fridge. Unfortunately I couldn’t take *all* the offers of places to do washing. Neither could I take the fridge as it just hasn’t worked out that the right numbers of people with the correct mode of transport could be gathered in the same place at the same time. It doesn’t matter tho as Mum is coming to stay next week and we’re going shopping for such things. The problem with this arrangement is that I have to go home. Eugh…

Anyway I should go and find something to eat. It’s amazing how different my diet has become seeing as I don’t have a fridge and for the first week only had one saucepan.
I skipped lunch today, which is bad, because I was having my hair done and then I needed to get to work. It does mean I’m feeling a little tired and hungry now tho.

Oh, and for those people who know what I’m talking about… the EPKAC has a main speaker. HORRAY. At last. What a relief, etc.

Me and my bright ideas

I have plans for the future and they’re bright. But definately not orange. Blue, Green, Pink and Purple but not orange. I’m thinking of going and living out in the real world (which this isn’t really) on my own. Having been a student I have a collection of odd things scattered all over the country so I was trying to remember what I have and haven’t got. I didn’t have plates. The three I’d aquired from charity shops didn’t last the two years I was there so I needed some new ones and now I have some. I bought enough bowls and plates to legitimately call it a dinner set. A 20 piece dinner set unless cups and saucers are seperate then I have 24!! I’m all happy. Sad isn’t it. The Dinner Plates are blue, the side plates are pink, the pasta bowls are green, the olive bowls (the names they give to things – who has olive bowls?) are purple and two of the cappucino cups and saucers are blue and the other 2 are purple. It’s great even though I think of them as big bowls and plates, small bowls and plates and cups and saucers. None of those funny titles. They were in the sale too so they should have been roughly £97 and I paid £30. It’s great. Can you tell I’m pleased?

I’m going to apply for another job or two depending on what I see and things are looking up. Especially as things get back to normal here tomorrow. It’s been a retreat week in the house which means I’ve been confused. Not that it takes a lot.

In my infinate wisdom I’ve agreed to make a banner for an organisation I’m involved in. This is a good plan except for the fact that I have to make it, well I did agree, and it needs to be made by Greenbelt if possible. I’m trying to find cheap but suitable fabric for this venture and you wouldn’t believe it could be so complicated on the internet. I know that it doesn’t normally make sense to buy fabric on the internet but I’m trying to cost the thing while waiting for updates to download. I’m sure I’ll get there in the end.

Last weekend I bought anti-virus software complete with firewall and all the extra jazz. It’s been really fascinating to track where people are trying to access my computer from. Everywhere from Boston to Lambeth and Moscow to Hong Kong.

Anyway, it will be nice to talk to the sisters again tomorrow.