Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Busy Times..

It's been a pretty 'full-on' week so far.  There was a concert on Monday night then a Parent's Evening on Tuesday to help the Year 8 pupils (and their parents) through the options process.

I was especially chuffed with Monday's concert.  I decided to try a slightly different approach and we had a 'New Music Evening'.  All the songs and pieces were written by pupils and 'premiered' to their family and friends.  There were 80 pupils involved (in various vocal groups, bands and soloists) and around 200 people came along to listen.  The atmosphere was great.  The songs were in a huge range of styles - anything from Music Theatre though Folk and Acoustic pieces to Rock. 

Last night was really busy too.  The current Year 8 are a very musical bunch and they are very keen to take my subject as an examination course for the next three years.  I was talking for three solid hours - repeating my little talk over and over as new families arrived in front of my display!  When it came to the end of the evening my colleagues in Drama and Dance had packed up and left and I was STILL talking.....!

I gave myself a little treat today and actually drove out of school 10 minutes after the bell.  I actually needed to get to the Post Office to get some passport photos.  My old passport runs out this year and I need to get the application in for the new one urgently.  I have plans to go and see my best friend, who lives in Geneva, at Easter so things have got to be sorted.  It's the first time I've used one of the new digital 'Photo-Me' booths.  The photo is NOT flattering!!!!!!

Crochet, cooking and a bit of red wine this evening, I think...

Saturday, 26 January 2013


We took Tom to the Vets this morning for his annual check up and booster jab.  The lovely lady vet gave him a thorough rummage and check over, listened to his heart then said

"Do you know he's got a heart murmur..."

We had absolutely no idea.  Apparently cats are supposed to lose weight with this condition.  Tom is 3.7 kilos - as normal.  He has an excellent (if slightly gourmet) appetite.  He hustles for treats whenever he can get away with it and is ferociously irritable if his regular food fails to appear at an acceptable time.  He's drinking normally.

He's quite an old cat (11 years) and he prefers to stay indoors.  I thought that he'd slowed up a little over the winter, but I attributed it to the fact that he wasn't going out at all.  I thought that he'd just got a little bit 'cranky'.

Now we know what's going on.  The vet has told me just to keep an eye on how he's sleeping.  If he sleeps in a normal curled up ball then he's feeling OK.  If he sleeps in the 'tea cosy' position then he's probably struggling to breathe and we should have him checked out again.  We also need to keep an eye on his appetite and drinking habits.

At the moment he's sprawled out across the duvet in our bedroom.  He's had some cooked ham treats AND a little bit of cheesy baked bean sauce at lunchtime.  He demanded his tinned food about 30 minutes ago and I told him to wait until I'd finished blogging. 

He's got a very good life for a cat - I just hope that he's going to be with us for a fair bit longer..

Monday, 21 January 2013

In praise of 'snow days'!

I've been really ill with flu since early last week.  On Thursday morning my breathing problems were so bad that we ended up at the emergency out of hours surgery at the hospital.  I haven't been able to keep food down and I have lost 7 lbs in weight since Tuesday evening.  I seem to have lost a few days of my life somewhere. 

I'm on the mend now.  The antibiotics have kicked in and the blinding headache has eased.  I still feel weak because my body doesn't really want to eat but I have stopped any more weight loss. 

My school isn't especially nice to people who have time off for ill health.  You probably know how it is... Nothing is said exactly - but there's a definite atmosphere that you've 'let the side down'; 'could have come really'; 'I had your bad cold and came in..' etc  As a result I was planning on dragging myself in today.

Divine intervention has come in the form of a 'snow day'.   My school is closed to all pupils and staff - it says so on the website!  Never has a snow day been so welcome.....

Normal posts will resume once I've started doing something other than sleep!   Stay warm and safe (or cool and safe - if you are reading this from the Southern Hemisphere).  Jx

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cardiff Bay

On Sunday morning the weather was gorgeous.  We checked out of the hotel and drove down to Cardiff Bay.  We were lucky enough to find the last parking bay right next to the waterfront, wrapped up in our thickest coats and went for a little explore.
This is the 'Terra Nova' Memorial.  It tells the story of the departure of Captain Scott from Cardiff in 1910.  The first few pannels describe the preparations and civic celebrations that took place, while the rest of the display briefly describes the expedition and it's unhappy end.  I loved the way that the canopy had been designed to look like a sailing ship by the water.
We then ambled back to the Norwegian Church.  This little building has a coffee shop and gallery.  It also seems to have a thriving concert series and other events in the main room.

We stopped for a coffee in the church so Mum could have a rest.  This is the view from our table out onto the waterfront.  The windows must look lovely at night when all the candles in the lanterns are flickering in the glass.

We then walked a little further in the other direction and stopped to admire the details in the terracotta tiles on the Pierhead Building.  There was a free display about the history of the docks so we went inside for a little 'nose around'.

The low winter sunlight was reflecting of the water and it created some perfect photo opportunities..

The building is full of beautiful green and turquoise tiles.  This corner of the entrance hall hints at the interior...

We then went on to explore the National Assesmbly building, which is right next door.  We went into the public viewing gallery and I managed to capture this view of the ceiling.  The bright low light gave me just the right lighting conditions.

After all of this pottering, Mum was ready for another sit down.  This is the view from the cafe at the back of the foyer. 

We left the car just as the sun started to lower in the sky.  A clear run out to the M4 and empty roads as we drove back up the A40 and M5 meant that we were home before dark. 
It's hard work to re-organise my life round a weekend away (shopping and house-keeping have to be planned into the evenings before and after the event) but we had a lovely time.  It was worth the effort!

Monday, 14 January 2013

80 Years!

 On the 13th January 1961 my parents started 'courting'.  On the 12th January 1985 Mark and I started 'going out'.  When I was little Mum always cooked a special meal for their 'Going-Out-iversary'.  Nowadays the four of us have got into the habit of going away for a city break on the nearest weekend.  We've been to little pubs in the West Country (when Mum found walking easier) and in recent years we've had good deals in city centre hotels in Bath and Bristol.  This year we got a really good deal to stay in Cardiff for a couple of nights.  Here's Mark at one end of our room...
The weather was pretty cold and grim on Saturday so we decided to explore Cardiff Castle.  Mum takes her time - and it gives us all the chance to read displays properly and absorb a little more of the atmosphere.  The visit starts with a short video then you enter the WW2 Air raid Shelters.  These run under one side of the castle as far as the north gate.
This is the view from the north gate back towards the Norman keep, Victorian buildings (with the modern stadium in the background.)

Mark climbed to the top of the keep, leaving me with my parents at a more sensible level.  He took this photo from the top of the tower - Mum and Dad huddled up against the cold, listening to their audio guides.

Eventually we headed for the warmth of the Victorian castle buildings.  We went to Castle Coch a few years ago so we knew that we were going to be in for a serious 'Gothic' design experience..

I absolutely loved it!  Here's the ceiling in the Great Hall..

and another incredible ceiling in a small ante-room.

This musical monkey caught my eye near one of the windows..

..and here's a detail from the library..

The entry fee was pretty steep - but we spent five hours in the castle once we'd read our way through all the information in the Military Museum too.  I also discovered that we could convert our day entry tickets to season tickets for no extra charge.  Now we can pop in again for free for the rest of 2013!

On Saturday night we worked out that we'd been dating for 80 years between us..!

Hope that you are all having a good week.  Jx

Sunday, 6 January 2013

My Resolutions for 2013...

Some years I dont bother with resolutions at all.  The end of 2012 was so grim that I've felt the need to 'put my house in order' for 2013.  Here are my challenges..

- Work may take up lots of my time but it must no longer take up all of my physical and emotional energy.

- Walk as much as possible - I know it always makes me feel better.

- Get out in the evenings.... and stop being a slave to our early (5.45) get up.

- Stop the endless negative imaginary conversations with toxic colleagues.

Oh yes...., I also intend to teach myself German!

Progress so far? Well I've walked 12 miles this weekend; told myself off thoroughly when the dreaded inner voice started; made some social arrangements for this week and borrowed a textbook from the Modern Languages department at school.

I'll explain a bit more about the German challenge in the next post.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The convert. ..

Ok... I'm a convert to these tablet things!
Imagine me, reclined on the sofa after a hard day at the chalk face.....
Glass of wine by my side, lamps and cnadles lit,  Jazz FM on the radio. ?
Posting on my blog...
How cool is this?
My main resolution for 2013 was to be a little more chilled about things -
especially at work.
This is VERY chilled! !