Sunday, 30 October 2011

Full House

We have had a full house this week. Half term started off with a beautiful weekend, where I climbed to Malverns with Donny and Pal. We managed it in T-shirts, only putting our jumpers on when we got over the ridge at the top, and the wind hit us. It was glorious.
Then the weather closed in and it's been damp pretty much all holiday. On Monday our first set of Couchsurfers arrived - a mother and son from Lyon, France. She's German, he's half Japanese. They are staying for a week. The son, Nao, is all of 9, half the size of a grasshopper, speaks four languages fluently and can give me a run for my money on scientific facts. Whew! I'll look forward to seeing his name on the Nobel Prize list or similar in the next 20 years or so.
The mother, Anne, is incredibly easy to get on with. She loves to sew, and has been scouring my house for things with holes in. She's even converted two rabbit skins I tanned and then forgot about, into a kind of cushion.The second set of CSers arrived on Tuesday. Dominique and her two daughters come from Calais. They only stayed one night, but they managed to fit in, do the cooking and come swimming with us in that time. Maybe we will go and visit them in France sometime.
Meanwhile, I saw a job I wanted to apply for. It is the first scientific job I've seen, that I fancied doing, for about ten years. It is about modelling climate change and species population reactions to it, amongst other things. It is the sort of job I would have walked into, if I'd seen it straight after my PhD. Now, I can only keep my fingers crossed that I will get an interview.
The thing is, of course, I love doing the Bikeability stuff, but you just can't live on it. If there was a chance of being able to make ends meet and still do Bikeability, then I wouldn't have spent the whole of Saturday afternoon filling in an application form for the Science post. On the other hand, I haven't felt 'alive' since I left science, in terms of doing a job. Just imagining dealing with data and being allowed to be precise and meticulous again fills me with a thrill, when most people would shudder! Being stretched intellectually, instead of being pushed to the limit by stress, is such an exciting possibility, that I couldn't sleep on Thursday night. I ended up reading until 2.30am before I could calm myself enough to doze off.On Friday we went to Queenswood. It is just gorgeous at this time of year - the colours of the leaves are like flames on the trees. We wondered up and down for an hour, while the kids tried to fill in a quiz on the shapes of leaves. After that, and lunch at a cafe, we went and put flowers on the family grave in Eardisland. My grandmother would have been 100 a few weeks ago. Anyway, Hallowe'en or Samhain is a good time to honour the ancestors, and it felt good to do that.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cider Time Again


It seems the apples are ripe again, so Mike and Angela spent today crushing about a million of them into pulp and juice. Then the juice is squeezed into a big bottle, and poured into a barrel. It gets fermented for half a year or so to make cider. The kids love helping because they get all sticky and mucky and covered in appley pulp. They played 'scoop the gloop' and 'dodge the splodge'. One of the fun parts was throwing a rope over the tree and getting it to rain apples.




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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Doing the Job of Two

I turned up on Monday to cycle train a bunch of kids from Year 5 at a local school. I do love doing this job. It is spending time outdoors playing on bikes. You get the best out of the kids and they think they are just escaping from the classroom, when in fact, they are learning a skill that, who knows, may save their life.

So, I turn up, but my colleague - the other instructor - doesn't. This particular instructor (let's call him Mr Pro-4x) is a little difficult to pin down. He only likes to do jobs on his own terms, which doesn't really make it easy to synch with school timetables. He doesn't answer his e-mail much either, so you have to wait a long time for confirmation, about whether he can do a training session or not. All that being said, he had confirmed that he would be doing four days with me at this particular school this week.

But he wasn't there. I don't have a phone number for him.

I started the session on my own and hoped he was just a bit late. After half an hour, the class teacher came out and asked if she could phone someone for me. For the next hour, I tried to run a session alone, whilst fielding enquiries, phone calls and a stressed looking TA. To say we were made to look incompetent is an understatement. I was annoyed and embarrassed, not to mention run off my feet.

My break was spent trying to find another instructor that could come at short notice - I failed. Just before lunch, the co-ordinator from the council called, which meant I had to leave the entire group of kids, and their cycles, to finish up without me. It was a major snafu.

We had to cancel the second part of the course (which is on the road) and re-arrange it. That's 15 sets of parents that have paid for something, which is now post-poned for a month. 15 sets of inconvenienced parents, who have to transport their kids' bikes back and forth from school again.

I got home to a message from Mr Pro-4x, which was sent after I left in the morning. He said he couldn't access his e-mails, couldn't make the dates for training anymore and was sorry to have left it so late.

I checked his other accounts - it seems he could access Twitter and Facebook during the period his e-mails had been inaccessible. It also seems that while I was doing the job of two people and fending off an unhappy school, Mr Pro-4x was getting wet and muddy on a BMX track somewhere. Maybe I am just a cynic and there is a very good reason why getting muddy was important enough to let down so many people. Right now, I can't for the life of me think of it.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Where was I?

So I says to the doctor.. Look me shoulder is so much better... and he says... No thanks to us! I'm quitting the NHS!

It all started a year ago, when the chiropractor ripped the ligaments in my shoulder. I may have mentioned it before. Eventually, I got to see a specialist. I didn't know it at the time, but this 'shoulder specialist' was actually a locum on loan from the eye department.

She recommended physio, and I waited several months for the appointment to come through. When it finally did, it arrived while we were on holiday. It said: Please call within two weeks or we will assume you no longer need the service. By the time I got the letter, the two weeks were up.

So I went to the follow up appointment, which had been booked in March for September. It was supposed to be about how much the physio had improved my shoulder. Laughably, of course, I hadn't had any physio. But, by this time I had hip pain, so I thought I would ask about that, on the off chance that Mr Shoulder Consultant knew anything about hips.

It turns out he knew more about hips than the eye specialist knew about shoulders. I got an X-ray and a diagnosis. No treatment, though, but you can't have everything.