Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Write it down and then get on with it.

It's one of those rare moments that I am not actually sitting in the car, driving someone somewhere. I thought the Mum's Taxi part of child-rearing would start a little later, but it seems to have arrived already.

Saturday was swimming lessons, followed by a visit from some old friends, John and Ann. We haven't managed to touch base for a year or two, so it was good to catch up. They stopped by on their way between Somerset and their home near Wakefield (oop north).

They didn't get the best of my company (sorry guys). I was dog tired following an interview on the Friday. It was for a school nearby and I didn't get the job (again). This time I know I gave a stonkingly good interview and lesson but there was an internal candidate. I have never yet been to in interview where the internal candidate didn't get the job. The same was true on Friday. No-one else stood a chance. I was really p*ssed off; not because I didn't get the job, but because I'd had my day wasted. It was my day off too.

Anyway, I've gotten over it. Sunday was swimming lessons again, followed by Mel's cub-scout parade in honour of St George's Day. St George, being the patron saint of England is well celebrated, especially by the Scouting movement. We spotted some of Donny's friends in the parade too, so decided it was time Donny started Brownies. Brownies is on a Monday night, cubs on a Tuesday. I am that Taxi service.

Monday I had a speaker in to the school where I work. He came from Warwick University and was much more used to talking to PhD students than 12 year olds. Consequently the science went a bit over their heads and some of the kids were not all that well behaved, which was kind of embarrassing for me, because we had invited other schools along as guests. Notably the invited schools were much better behaved. It's just our school that has ignorant kids in it. Ho humm.

One thing I will take away from the talk (as I was listening, even if the kids weren't) was the speaker said: Write down all the things you want to do, and all the things you don't want to do. Then set out and do them.

It's true. It really can be that simple! I'm going to do it. There's so many things I want to achieve and none of them are in teaching.

Today was the opposite of busy. The Y10s are out on work experience and I usually teach 5 lessons of Y10 on Tuesdays. This means I had a whole day filled with whatever I fancied. I managed to fill it, no problem, and I have achieved a range of stuff I would otherwise not have managed to do.

Now, I'm off to take Mel to cubs. Mum's Taxi again...

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Purple Pants

The kids keep growing. I recently bought a whole pile of clothes for Donny, who seems to have grown about 4 inches in the past month. All the kids are also short of underwear - socks and pants - so I bought a new stock of those too.

Mel took one look at his new purple boxer shorts and went and fetched some of his less bright, old ones. I asked him what was wrong with them.

He said, "I've got PE today."


"I need to get used to them first!"

Clearly purple pants are not something you let your classmates see...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Climbing at Cleeve

Emma e-mailed to ask if anyone fancied joining them for an outdoor climb down near Cheltenham. Emma and Jan are part of Bewdley Mountaineering Club and they are experienced climbers, unlike me. Still, I'm up for anything, and climbing real rock sounds like fun, so I signed up and cadged a lift with them.

Cheltenham, or more specifically, Bishop's Cleeve is about an hour away, so we arrived before the haze had burnt off the surrounding landscape. The limestone escarpment is situated someway up the hills and has a fantastic view over the Wye Valley. You can see for miles up there.

The handy thing about this climbing spot, is that iron stakes have been driven into the ground at the top of the cliff, to enable climbers to be belayed from above (top-roped), with the belayer safely tied onto them. It wouldn't do to get pulled off the cliff.

The guide said the climbs started at 'V diff' and went up to some sort of 'Extreme'. Having worked out what that translated to in the French system, I knew I was way out of my league. Let's face it, I had not a hope in hell of getting up the cliff.

They set up in front of the 'v diff' called Right Crack. Some other friends arrived and swarmed up in succession, confidently wedging limbs into tiny cracks and balancing on air. When it came to my turn, it was another story. Not a chance! After the second time I fell off in less than a minute, Jan suggested I try an easier route 'just to get the hang of it'!

Emma and Jan were very patient with me, and allowed me to struggle embarrassingly up a bit of the rock too easy to even appear in the guide. I did it, but I imagine a three-legged, blind wombat could have done it better.

Ho hum, I made myself useful by belaying for everybody else for a while, and enjoying the views. It was very peaceful sat on top of the rock, looking out over the tree-tops.

We got home in time for tea. I did enjoy it but I think I need a bit more practice before I go again!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Soggy Doggy

I have somehow managed to get an awful lot done today. I've managed two lots of washing, applied for a job, taken Fergus the cat for his boosters, posted some cute baby clothes to a friend in the Czech Republic, fed the kids, organised a meal out with 5 friends and last but not least walked the dog.

We went down to the forest, as we usually do. It has been raining hard since we got back to the UK and there are huge puddles everywhere. It is a marked contrast to the sunny spring weather we had in the Netherlands.

The kids put their wellies and raincoats on and raced off along the forest track, jumping in any standing water more than a millimetre deep. Naturally, they ended up with muddy trousers, but compared to some wet walks I've had, they remained remarkably dry. I remember one when they were little: all of them managed to walk in a deceptively deep ditch and fill their wellies with muddy water. We literally poured the water out of them.

Anyway, it rained some more and the dog came off looking wettest out of the whole tribe. His fur stuck up in cute spiky tufts, making him look like a kind of space-dog from Mars. I tried to take a photo but I don't know if I captured the essence.

Back to the Chaos

We arrived back sometime in the middle of the night and spent yesterday chilling, unpacking and trying to catch up on our sleep. I have a huge list of things to do - people to phone, bills to pay, letters to write, lessons to plan, washing to do. I have here all the school clothes from before the holiday, waiting for a visit to the washing machine. I've also spotted a couple of jobs to apply for, which needs doing today or they will miss the closing date. And the cat needs to go to the vets today for his boosters.

Meanwhile the house is knee-deep in the debris from the holiday and the kids are sitting around in their pyjamas watching Scooby-doo. And let's not mention the garden. The grass has gone on the rampage since we left. Several tribes of pygmys could be living in it. Hanging out the washing will involve using a machete to get to the washing line.

So I guess I'd better get off the computer and go and deal with the real world, instead of the virtual one.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Off We Go!

The manic packing session is nearly over. I just have to transfer the large bags to the car and Nick has to take Pal to the kennels. The kids are at school, and due to put on an end of term show early this afternoon. We're planning to pick them up, shove them in the car, and drive like mad for the coast.

The boat leaves just before midnight and it's a five hour drive, plus stopping for something to eat, so we should make it - just about. There's not a lot of room for error.

Holland here we come!

I don't know if I will have much internet access while I'm there, but our travels should appear on My Travel Blog. Eventually.