Category Archives: Life

Sport, Health, Encouragement.

On the whole, it would be fair to state I am not generally that interested in sport either as spectator or participant. Other than occasionally. Long time readers of this blog may be aware I have a kind of masochistic tendency to support Scotland during the Six Nations tournament, I have been known to enjoy Wimbledon some years, I have taken far more interest in the Olympics than I intended to, and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think, on the whole, I had a reasonable experience of sport in school. I tried, I was always commended for making an effort, but by  secondary school we all knew the truth… team sport and me did not work. I was the one people fought over not having on their team, … the one rounder I scored in my life (it was an inter-form competition, we were all on the team) was a cause of much applause, and even more amazement. When we did athletics tests from an AAA badge programme, where the scoring was 100 – 1 (100 being the best, and 1 the worst) I couldn’t run fast enough to score a single point in the 100 metres. I think, if I recall correctly, I did score something in the 800 metres. I never did get a badge, though.

I considered myself lucky, though, as  I was deemed Sensible and Responsible, and throughout the summer, I could be seen, all by myself, at the far end of the field throwing javelins and discuses to my hearts content. In the winter, I was often allowed to play table tennis, at which I’d proved occasionally quite good. I also, by my O level year, had worked a cunning system of ensuring my clarinet lesson fell in my main PE lesson, which was with a teacher who didn’t get that there were those of us who did try, but were never going to improve much!

I have, over many years, confounded my GPs and other health workers by being fit and healthy, yet definitely obese. The second rudest moment I recall in a GPs surgery was the time I had my blood pressure checked, re-checked, and then informed I had no right to have such good blood pressure at the weight I was for my height. The rudest moment? Oh, it  involved me suggesting to the GP concerned that he could disbelieve me all he liked, but if he engaged brain before opening mouth and considered my occupation and address, he would see my statement about my sex life was likely to be accurate. He looked, blushed, apologised profusely, and never questioned me again….

I do lead a fairly active life. I commute by walking and train, and have been aware that my fitness levels have gone up considerably as a result of the hour and a bit of walking I do every working day, as well as the lugging of the work bag, and the climbing of the stairs. Why do I work on the Second Floor so much?! [NB – Don’t whinge, it could be worse. there is a Fourth Floor]. I have been known to go off for long hikes on days off, if feeling the need for some activity. I used to cycle, but gave that up to preserve my knee for more important activities, like walking…

Thing is, if I’d been forced into more competitive team sport at school  – I’d’ve come away with a perfect hatred of it  or an enhanced set of techniques for avoiding doing it. What’s made me a team player is not sport, but music. What’s made me willing to keep being active is an awareness of my health and my strong desire to keep doing the things I love doing.

I shall continue admiring from afar those who do love sport, and who are competing. I shall continue encouraging, with all my might, those of my students who want to do well, at what ever that happens to be!  For that is my greatest occasional contribution to the world of sport, someone needs to sit on the sidelines, look after the coats, and encourage!! How many times have I heard over the last two weeks how amazing the crowd support is? I shall continue to do the many things I love, and am pretty good at. But, sport just isn’t one of them!

I spoke too soon…

I got to the end of the academic year with no student related dramas. Much rejoicing and jubilation took place. Then it all got dramatic. However, we are on the way to sorting the Out of Term Time Work-Related Mess. Oh dear, oh dear… Let’s just be grateful I am competent with a spreadsheet, and had kept my own records meticulously. My main comment on the matter will be, “Quarts into pint pots do not go.”

So, I am finally into the long weekend season. It really started last weekend, but I could not be sure I’d only managed to get that one because I stated that I’d made arrangements based on the fact my OTTW days had been agreed as Monday-Thursday. (Great fun was had at both events, I can still play the organ, though some quality time learning more about that particular instrument is required, and I can enjoy an evening in a city centre pub on a Friday night!)

In the meantime, my quarterly series of  conversation with the Utilities Company has taken place. They go something like this…

  • Billing Date arrives. I take readings, I either phone them in or a meter reader leaves me a card, and I leave the card for collection.
  • Bill does not arrive. I phone and ask where bill is. We agree they have the correct readings. They ask for today’s readings. I refuse to give them, as I play quarterly, the readings they have were for a quarters worth of energy, they have a word with supervisor, they generate bill on my readings of three weeks previously. I wait.
  • Bill does not arrive. I consider phoning again… sometimes I do phone again.
  • Reminder letter arrives. I phone, to pay bill, and ask why I’ve not received bill before reminder letter. The nice person checks, and yes, meter readings were given, (on date I phoned them in) bill generated (on date I phoned to ask why I’d not had a bill.) suggestion made bill must have been lost in the post. I read list of the five times in two years I’ve had reminder and no bill. Silence….
Twice, when I’ve phoned for the second time asking for the bill, the reminder letter hasn’t arrived and we’ve gone straight to “We are putting this bill in the hands of a collection agency if you do not pay immediately.” and the call goes,
“I would pay the bill if I receive it.”
“The bill must have got lost in the post.”
“Really, every time you send me a bill? And, on this occasion, no reminder arrived”

Silence….”You know, I really do want to pay my bills, it would be so helpful if you could send them.”

I would change companies, but my landlady would rather I didn’t, (even after hearing these tales of woe) and I don’t want to do direct debit with such an incompetent company. To say nothing of the irregularity of my income, which is better in winter than summer. Which is convenient, as bills are higher in winter!!

I don’t seem to have trouble receiving any other post, other than the occasional parcel  which has been returned to sender as “Undeliverable”. Well, yes, it will be if I’m not in, and you don’t leave a card to tell me to get it from somewhere.

In the meantime, I shall take myself off to purchase a new travel mug, (that was a dramatic demise all over the office floor) and some new work shoes. See, now the bill’s been paid, I know what money I’ve got to play around with!

Seems to have come to the end of term

I do dislike this messy end of year business. I don’t know why I’m complaining, it’s this way every year! There is a technical end of term, but students finish when they’re all signed off, and they’ve been going in dribs and drabs for weeks now. My students were all done and out of the place last week. I’ve been working with students I don’t know (who all still have masses to finish) this week, but it’s all been a bit erratic, and today’s student didn’t turn up. (Frustrating when that happens.) But, I think I can safely say as of today, my direct contact with students is over for this academic year.

But, I’m not going to work next week. Thanks to the wonders of TOIL, (Time Of In Lieu) I have all of next week off. In what is still technically term time. I can’t quite get my head around that, but it is so.

So, for the next nine weeks, three of which are holiday, I turn up at the start of the day, am assigned work to do, (or carry on if I’ve got a biggish project on hand, which I know I have for two of the weeks) and work only my set hours for the week. How I do them is up to me. Sadly, I can’t quite squeeze them into three days, but still will get long weekends, as I’ll probably work Monday to Thursday.

There is still decorating to finish.. I have bathroom, stairwell and kitchen woodwork to gloss, and wallpaper to stick back on a few bits of ceiling. I have one door (one side only) to varnish. There appears to be a jungle to deal with… I have gazed in awe at the nettles that are taller than me, but I have managed to cut most of the grass this afternoon.

However, none of it’s going to get done this week! It may be a TOIL week, but I am remarkably tired, and am going to be quite, quite lazy. The house is clean, I’ve sorted all the paperwork out, cleaned my bag and pencil cases out, the laundry is done, the ironing is done…  yep, a lazy week beckons!!

Plan? What plan?!

It’s serious “go with the flow” time at work now!

The Plan for today was – have a lie-in, have a quick housework whirlwind half hour or so, go sick visiting, do three hours of paid employment, and relax for the evening.

What I actually did was – have the lie-in,  get an apologetic message to say the visit would have to be postponed, dealt with the front hedge and area grandly known as the front garden, cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, went to paid employment via the recycling,  found out it was a wasted journey from doing any work point of view as there was none to be done, but an excellent journey as I’ve discovered I’ve accumulated enough over-time hours for another week off! (Normally I claim the extra, but for once, I’d rather have the time to get caught up with a few people, and chores.) Then I did some serious piano practice.

It’s also come to my attention it is very difficult to buy a purse. Not helped by the fact the excellent bag stall in the nearest little market area has closed down.

Random… really random

Describes current state of play so well. But, before I forget all these bits of randomness..

  • Blood tests all normal
  • End of year has arrived upon me with extreme speed – and without the dramas of last year. (Well, not with any of my students. Apart from one, and it’s a minor drama rather than a major one.) Only four more proper days to go with most of them.
  • Rain will persist in thwarting my excellent intentions to deal with the garden
  • There will be some decorating drama this summer, but minimal. Just some glossing, re-sticking of wall-paper on ceilings, and some door varnishing
  • I have re- discovered the Holy Spirit moves in very mysterious ways indeed. I am not complaining! I am very excited.
  • I am pondering being a church nomad for the summer… whilst I can.
  • Scotland won a game of rugby yesterday
  • No very vocal football supporters seem to live in my vicinity, which is a blessing.
  • I am much better occupied on outings when I can sit still in one place and mind all the coats and bags. Safer, too. For everyone.
  • I am enjoying driving to work rather than train. It seems less tiring this year than the previous years I have had use of a car for a few weeks.
  • Why is the longest reasonable route home the quickest?
  • The re-introduction of the equipment to make cake seems to have improved my quality of life, to say nothing of my social life, enormously.

So, how’s it all going?

You know, getting pregnant and giving birth would’ve been quicker than the process of getting this sitting room decorated!!

What started out nine months ago as a “Keep Japes Occupied” exercise over the summer when work dropped to half time hours until the new academic year began,  looks like being completed tomorrow. If I’d not decided yesterday to re-do the ceiling, it could’ve been finished today, but all I’ve got to do tomorrow are the skirting board, the door frames and the meter cupboards.Yes, for some bizarre reason, both gas and electricity meters have their own little cupboards in a room that is, ooooh, 11 feet by 12 feet at most. They do add to the awkwardness of this room!

Still, I remind myself that there has been major structural work done in this room and it’s a much nicer place to be, as a result. I also remind myself I am away from home for long hours, and work in what can be a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding job, and I’ve done a much better job of the decorating as a result of insisting I only do it when I’m home on weekdays, rather than wearing myself out by working on it every Saturday.

It’s also been good to have the discipline of knowing I’ve been going out to the  Holy Week Eucharists at church every evening, so I’ve had to stop and get cleared up, when I might’ve been tempted to keep going… and again, do a poor job because I was rushing.

So, tomorrow should see this job completed, and the ground floor of my home restored to order, just in time for the Triduum. Which was the plan.

Beams happily from the comfort of the sofa

For I am now on holiday for the next 16 days. I nobly did all the laundry on my return home, cleaned and sorted out the backpack before flinging its contents into the Large Box With Lid To Hide All Work Related Items, and did a couple of admin jobs before I forgot about them (including checking my on-line pay slip to see what the discrepancy was + resolving that mystery to my satisfaction. It will  added on next month’s pay – I was more concerned I’d not been paid for the extra I did pre-inspection.)

So, until some get up and go returns to me, (and I’m perfectly happy if it doesn’t) I shall remain on the sofa, moving only for essential needs and wants.

Now, for the next 16 days I refuse to contemplate

  • the joys of commuting
  • the 16 -19 year old of the species (I’m very fond of them, and I enjoy my job, but we need a break from each other!)
  • any aspect of my work environment
I will, at some point, be considering
  • the joys of finishing the decorating. (You thought you’d heard the last of that, didn’t you? Sorry about that, but there really isn’t much more to go!)
  • the interesting aspects of what may be found around the Number 11 bus route, and which information, shockingly, does not already exist on the Internet. I was failed by the Internet search I did, which did not tell me how many places of worship existed on it. “Someone will have counted, there’s a whole Wiki page devoted to it and I know it says schools and hospitals and pubs…” .I said blithely and confidently to the person with whom I was discussing how many churches I’ve gone to using the Number 11. Three and a half hours later, after a fruitless Internet search, and with a bus day ticket looking at me reproachfully, I staggered through my front door to write up all I had discovered on my journey round the route. (There may be a whole other blog post on this one.)
  • what I’m going to be doing for Holy Week
  • what I’m going to be doing to relax!
The first and most vital consideration is, however, “Where’s the coffee”?


Just as well I planned a quiet time at home

for I am full of cold, sneezles, and wheezles. (No measles, though I did that aged 5. First migraine aged 13 and ‘flu, proper ‘flu, aged 45.) 15 consecutive sneezes!! I’m staying home, wrapped up warm, and keeping my germs to myself. I am very happy to be doing so!

Still, I am not full of anxiety as I was last year over employment and frozen pipes and guttering. Employment, whilst not ideal, is currently settled, and pays just enough to live on. Hopefully, the work done during the course of the year means the pipes and guttering will be better in more wintery weather!

Nor am I dealing with a boiler crisis, in a new home, which was the year before last.

Nor am I over-working as an organist or in any voluntary capacity in church.  I am in no rush to return to either of those roles.

Nor am I dealing with unreasonable expectations from other people… that’s lovely after many years creating Christmas for other people. I can see me wanting solitary Christmasses for a while to come because of that!

I finished all my preparations on Thursday, food, new books and DVDs, and apart from a trip to 8.00 a.m. Eucharist tomorrow morning at the nearest church (no buses, so can’t get to the church I’ve begun going to.) am not planning on going out for a few days now.

Happy Christmas.

Waiting patiently

Since Advent is all about waiting patiently, it’s an art I seem to have been practising a lot this week!

Trains… well, best not to discuss some of the weeks adventures. On the third day of such adventures, I did resist temptation, and remained waiting for the correct 15.03 train, (it was late, the previous train had been changed into one that didn’t stop at my station, the one before that was still due to arrive.) rather than get on the 15.03 train on the adjoining platform. I regularly have to resist getting the trains to Scotland, but this was the hardest I’d had to fight for a while.

I waited for my beautifully up to date paper work to be inspected. Did anyone want to see it? They did not. My consolation is if I’d not been totally up to date, I’d’ve been inspected.

Waiting for sense to prevail in several areas of my life – well, we’re working on it. With the aid of a shopping trolley

In which our intrepid heroine has adventures.

This going to weddings caper is quite exhausting…. Until recently, thinking about what to wear at all formal events was easy. However, the former way of life, and the attire that went with it being a thing of the past, this is no longer the case.

I spared you the detailed angst that went with the clothes shopping saga – at the time. I’ve recovered enough to give you the basic details!

The plan was for a dress, but finding one I liked within my budget, and that I was comfortable wearing,  just didn’t happen. So, skirt and smart top was the next plan. Finding one of each that I liked, was within my budget, that I was comfortable wearing and which went well with the other.  In fact, skirt was purchased! Then ideal top was found, but it did not go with the skirt, but it did go with several of the pairs of smart trousers I already possess. Skirt was then returned! (What d’you mean, I should’ve kept it?)

Shoes were actually easily chosen. But, they’ve been hell to break in! We’re not quite there yet, and I am glad I didn’t pay full price, as I seem to have paid almost as much again in plasters.

Then, with horror, I realised that the agony thus far described wasn’t over. I contemplated the accessories…..basically, I just don’t have any.  Nope, no handbags/clutch bags, no jewellery. So, I decided as I was only going to the church, these weren’t necessary. However, my work colleagues were horrified at this state of affairs, and brought in a load of necklaces andsmart bags for me to choose from.

Which I did.

No, I did not consider make-up. I have gone the last 40 mumble years without it, I am NOT starting now.

So, the day arrived, I got all organised, clean, dressed up, (feeling slightly not myself at all!) and contemplated setting off.  Walk, bus, train, train, bus. Essential items – house keys, purse, bus ticket,  train pass, A-Z of local city, certain items of a feminine nature we won’t talk about, hankies, card and present for bride and groom….. it slowly dawned on me that, like it or not, small backpack was just going to have be used (and shoved under a chair in church if need be!). This looking elegant lark does not work on a cool day in November, with two hours on public transport! It also meant I could shove the fleece I needed to keep me warmer whilst travelling out of sight. (What was wrong with a coat? Um. Two things. I only possess one, and it was at work.)

I had to remind myself I was not going to work, but remaining on the train for a further two stops,  to change to another train… then got lost went the scenic route to the bus station. It’s been a good while since I wandered around that town…

“It’s the bus stop before the Motorway Junction,” the church website had cheerfully proclaimed, which is OK, but not if you can’t actually tell it’s the church, until you’re whizzing past. Oh well, the buses are every 6-10 minutes, and I had allowed for such happenings.

The wedding was fabulous, and I met up with some great former colleagues… the coffee and cakes for those of us not going onto the reception later were a brilliant idea, and certainly much appreciated!

The reverse journey was somewhat easier, but I still got lost between bus and train station. Unusual, that. I normally have an excellent sense of direction.

I have definitely needed a quiet day at home to recover!