Friday, 9 October 2015

Five on Friday

For my Five on Friday this week, I'm sharing some of the changes I've made as I move slowly towards retirement.  I'm still waiting for most of my teaching commitments to be passed on to a new teacher but a couple of schools have already been passed to one of the local teachers and other schools have been rescheduled to free up some more time.

One | I've rearranged my teaching days so that I now have Wednesday and Thursdays completely free.  At the moment, I still have half days on Monday and Tuesday, and all day Friday but that will eventually decrease to Tuesday plus one other day, for two hours each day.  I won't decide which other day to teach until I've investigated what's on during the daytime that I may like to do.  This has been the first week of this arrangement so it's too early to feel the benefits but I have enjoyed my days off and I really, really love the fact that I now only have one early start!
Two | In my Tuesday afternoon school the children have free choice to play board games after they've finished their class music lesson with me.  They've always wanted me to stay and play a game with them but up until this week I've always had to rush off to get to another school.  However, now I don't have to rush off so was able to stay and play a couple of games with them and I had a great time, even though they completely slaughtered me at Connect Four! Apparently next time we're going to play chess!  
Three | On Wednesday I went with a friend to an Odeon Silver Screen event.  This is restricted to the over 55s and for the bargain price of £3, you get to see a recent film which in our case was  one that was first released back in June 2015.  The price also included coffee and biscuits, and the parking was free, so all in all it was a cheap morning's entertainment!  We saw Mr Holmes starring Ian McKellen, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend a viewing if you haven't already seen it. The Silver Screen cinema trips have definitely made the list and I'll be looking out for more films in the future ... at that price it'd be rude not to!
Four | On Thursday I went for a morning walk and ending up buying some cheap vegetables from an honesty stall outside one of the house bordering the marina, then it was back home to cook it all up.  Not quite what I'd planned but I now have six portions of warming vegetable soup for the freezer, so I'm happy with that.  On my walk I checked the village notice board and also the boards outside the village hall and the club, and I  was pleasantly surprised to see there is plenty happening locally during the daytime; line dancing, WI, pilates, yoga, and also a walking group.  I've thought about joining the WI before but it never worked out because of teaching commitments, so I will try that again.  I've always fancied having a go at line dancing so that's also a possibility, but I'll stick to the therapeutic yoga classes I've seen in Bradford on Avon as I think they'll be more manageable for me.
Five | I've planned a series of photography mini projects.  This is really to get me out and about but also to test the waters and make the decision whether to continue with the photography degree or not.  I'm searching for a location fairly close to home for the first one project, which is going to be all about dramatic skies, but the location is everything, and so far I'm not having much luck finding what I have in mind. There is nothing within walking distance, so the next option is a short drive with easy roadside parking ... and that's as far as I've got. Fingers crossed on this one!

Thanks go out to Amy for organising this link up.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Thankful Thursday

Throughout the month of October I'm joining in with Mary-Lou's 31 Days of Thankful.  Here are the things for the past week.

Friday Oct 2nd | I am thankful for the enthusiasm of some of the children I taught today and for having the opportunity to share in their achievements. The recorder group has been struggling to learn a new piece since we started it back in September but they've stuck at it, and today they managed it.  They were ecstatic, rightly so, as they haven't found it easy but today their hard work paid off.
Saturday Oct 3rd | I am thankful that I live in a country where we have the different seasons of the year and that I can experience what the seasonal changes bring to my life.  This morning it was a misty start to the day ... autumn is announcing its presence. 
Sunday Oct 4th | I am thankful that I have, and can afford to run, the central heating system.  With virtually no effort on my part I have the ability to keep the house warm and cosy. Yes, the heating went on today!

Monday Oct 5th | I am thankful for the support of my friends.  They knew I wasn't feeling well, so turned up with their evening meal which they shared with me, washed up and put everything away, and then left so that I could have an early night.  Words can't really express how much this meant to me.

Tuesday Oct 6th | I am thankful for the internet as I know that my life would be immeasurably different without it.  Having access to the internet keeps me connected, even though I live alone, and enhances my life in so many ways, the biggest being the friends I have made through writing this blog.

Wednesday Oct 7th | I am thankful for a relatively pain free day ... the first one for ages.


Thursday Oct 8th | I am thankful that I am able to read and through reading, can lose myself in the lives and worlds of the characters I meet in the books I choose.
I've been surprised by how quickly the daily task of thinking and identifying something to be thankful for has impacted positively on my mood. Many thanks to Mary-Lou for organising this.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Photo Pairs

I went out to take photos of the tree I've been following all year and took these two photos for this week's Photo Pairs ...


The tree I'm following is the one on the right in the top photo - I still have to go back to take the photos for my tree following post as I only managed these two before the battery went! 
The path in the top picture leads further into the estate and the one in the second photo leads towards the primary school (if you go to the left) or to the far end of the marina and then on to the canal (if you go to the right).
Thanks to Helena for organising the weekly Photo Pairs.

Monday, 5 October 2015

5 in 5 | Raindrops!

It's been raining most of the morning so during a break in the downpour I rushed around the garden photographing the raindrops.

 Thanks to Sandie for organising 5 in 5.

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... is having an up and down sort of day.  Getting the downs out of the way first - I got soaked getting from the car to my first school and again when leaving, so I've had to come home to change my clothes.  I'm also struggling with technology today; the iPod jammed during my first lesson so I've had to manage without backing tracks, and now I've tried to reset it at home but the computer doesn't seem to be able to recognise that an iPod is attached.  It's a problem for tonight I think!
There have been some ups to compensate though.  I went out in the garden, between rain showers, to take the photos for 5 in 5 and found that one of the clematis has a couple of flowers. This one didn't perform very well at all this year back in the spring when it was supposed to flower so this is a bonus, though I hope it doesn't affect next year's show. I've arrived home to some lovely mail from friends who live abroad; I've had a quick look but I'm saving them to read when I get home later this afternoon.
I had a quiet weekend.  Apart from band practice, when we had another two new starters, I didn't do anything much. We'd stayed behind after the children left to sort out some of the music but I kept feeling faint so had to go on home and decided that I needed to take it easy.  I was supposed to do a photo walk yesterday but that was cancelled at the last minute which I was quite relieved about as I wanted some time to myself.  I've been reading mostly, but also writing a couple of letters to penfriends and planning a series of photo projects for myself.  I also had a think about possible prompts for the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt (before I liaise with Joy), but haven't got very far with that yet. 
Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Year in Books | October 2015

It's been another good month for reading, finishing five books during September.
The first two were book group selections; one group chose Still Alice by Lisa Genova and the other went for I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  From the reviews I was expecting to really enjoy Still Alice but I was a little disappointed by it.  I enjoyed it up to a point but, for me, it was lacking in any depth of feeling by most of the character and I was frustrated by the lack of believable emotion in the book.  I Let You Go, however, lived up to expectations and was a thoroughly good read, and I didn't see the first twist in the tale coming at all.  I read this one in a day and was completely wrapped up in the story.
I finished off the Hunger Games trilogy with Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I didn't enjoy these two as much as I did the first one but am glad to have read the entire story, although I don't think I'll bother with the films!
My final read for the month was selected at random from the bookcase and was The Norfolk Mystery by Ian Sansom.  Set in the 1930s, I think the main character was supposed to be eccentric and amusing but I just thought he was completely irritating.  Add that to the fact that there wasn't really a murder or a crime to detect, and the resulting story was a disappointment.  I'd had high hopes for this one as it's the start of a series, but I won't bother with the rest.

I've chosen Personal by Lee Child to read in October and I'll also be reading The Well by Catherine Chanter, which is a book group choice.

Linking with Circle of Pine Trees

Friday, 2 October 2015

Five on Friday

I'm joining in with Amy's 'Five on Friday' and because it's the first week of the month, I'm sharing five intentions about what I hope to accomplish during October.  But before I do that, here's the update on my September list: 
  • Finish tidying the garden and take the rubbish over to the skip.  Draw up a plan for the stone patio I'd like to replace the slippery decking and arrange for some quotes. Done, but I'm still waiting for a couple of quotes to come in, before I can make any decisions.
  • Complete the (boring) financial things that need to be done.  Done and I'm negotiating my retirement date!
  • Make a list of days out and activities from Sept to the run up to Christmas. Done - here's the list  
  • Send some unwanted items to a charity shop.  Done; I didn't take anything to the charity shop but I donated some more books to the friends of the hospital where Ced was treated, for their fund raising.
  • Set aside some time to create and update a Flickr page for my photos.  I've started this but it's going to take ages!  The Flickr page now exists but I haven't loaded any photos yet.  I'm still editing the ones I want to add to the page but it may have to wait until I finish working.
So, onto my October intentions:
One Start playing the piano again - I haven't played regularly for ages and I miss doing it. I still have to work hard at learning a new piece so my standard of playing drops off really quickly when I don't practice. I know I can avoid that frustration by playing every day, I enjoy it when I do and it's a great way for me to relax ... so why aren't I doing it?  I'm hoping that if I focus on this, by the end of the month I'll be back in the routine of regular playing.
Two | Get in the kitchen and try some new recipes.  I keep saving bookmarks to recipes I think I'll like and then never do anything with them!  I'm trying to get my recipes organised (inspired by Ella's progress) but have let my own efforts slip recently.  I hope to try out two savoury meals and two desserts/cakes this month, which have to be selected from my saved recipes - the last thing I want to do is search for any new ones as that'll just add to the problem!
Three | Get in touch with an old friend I've lost contact with.
Four | Get some quotes for the bigger (i.e. expensive) work I like to do in the house.  The boiler will need be to be replaced soon, I think, and if that's the case I'd like to see how much it will cost to have it moved up to the airing cupboard as this will give me some much needed extra storage in the kitchen. I want to get the rest of the rooms decorated and look at the cost of replacement sofas.  And maybe a new front door.
Five | List a minimum of five things for sale on eBay, Gumtree or Amazon.  But hopefully more! I'm not sure whether the lack of progress is due to not wanting to let go of his things, or just lack of effort on my part.  I know it has to go - I don't really want it and don't have room for all of it - and I know I'll feel better once I have the space that will be left, but letting it go just makes it all seem so final.
I'll review my progress in the first week of November.
Thanks to Amy for organising this.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Thankful Thursday

I'm joining in with Mary-Lou's 31 Days of Thankful.  This will run throughout October and we'll post the things we are thankful for every Thursday ... starting with today:
Oct 1st | I am thankful for the freedom and stability I have in my life.  I have been reading the recent posts on the Humans of New York Facebook page, where the author is currently photographing and telling the stories of refugees.  Their stories are horrific and I am eternally grateful that I live in a country where I will never have to experience the things they have gone through.
Thanks to Mary-Lou for organising this.

My Reading Habits

Yesterday Sian,  who blogs at From High in the Sky, shared her responses to the questions in the 'reading habits' meme and tagged any of her readers who wanted to join in.

Reading is a big part of my life and I can't remember a time when I didn't enjoy losing myself in a story; I don't understand people who don't love reading!  Here's my answers ...

Do you have a certain place at home to read? | I live on my own so I don't ever need to look for a quiet place where I won't be disturbed.  Currently, my favourite reading place is the sofa in the living room; snuggled up under a blanket, and shutting out the world.  A close second is reading in bed and my third place is reading, and dropping books, in the bath which is why I have lots of wrinkled books about the house. Sometimes in the summer, when it's not too hot, I sit out on the decking to read during the golden hour.

A bookmark or a random piece of paper? | Definitely a bookmark.  I have lots of them - it's one of the things I buy as mementoes of my day's out. I've never understood how people can use scrappy bits of paper to mark their place, or - the biggest sin of all - how people can fold the corner of the page. 
Can you stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or number of pages? | Yes, I can stop reading if I have to, for example to start work or for an appointment,  and I always find it really easy to pick up where I left off.  However, I do have a tendency to read into the early hours of the morning to finish a good book even though I know I will be sleep deprived the next day; I never start out intending to read so late but I keep allowing myself one more chapter, and then I get so close to the end that it seem silly to stop!

Do you eat or drink while reading? | Yes, and unfortunately some of my books bear the evidence of this.  I am always really careful with library books and borrowed books though.

Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading? | Not now.  I only turn the TV on if there is something I want to watch and I mostly listen to music when I'm driving.  In my previous home, when Ced was still with me, he always had the TV on and I just learnt to block it out and carry on with my book.

One book at a time or several at once? | Usually several.  I always keep a book in the car to read when I have time between teaching commitments and there are usually a couple of books on the go in the house. I'm usually working my way through a couple of non-fiction books as well, and I choose to read the non-fiction or fiction depending on my mood at the time.

Reading at home or everywhere? | I can read anywhere ... it's something I do regularly.  I always carry a book with me on day trips and read on the coach, or during breaks if I'm driving myself and I take a book if I know I'll have to wait somewhere such as the doctor's surgery or for hospital appointments.

Reading aloud or silently in your head? | I read silently for myself.  Reading aloud as a adult has only been a feature of babysitting or in schools when I worked as a TA.  I did enjoy reading aloud way back when I was in senior school but it's never occurred to me to continue as an adult.

Do you ever read ahead or skip pages? | No, never. One of my friends always reads the ending of the book first to see if she's going to like it, but I've never understood why she does it. Reading ahead would definitely spoil a book for me.

Do you ever write in books? | Never!  I didn't even mark the actual books when I was doing my A levels, and don't get me started on people who write in library books!

So that's all about my reading habits, except to say it has to be a proper book, not a Kindle.  I'd love to hear about you so if you'd like to join in, then you are tagged.  Many thanks to Sian for sharing this. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Photo Pairs

Back to the garden again this week, and before I cut the clematis back for the winter, here is ...

Linking with Helena's weekly Photo Pair meme.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Books, Books and More Books!

I answered the door last night to find my sister standing there with a carrier bag full of books for me.  A few I'd already read so they've gone straight to the pile for the Friends of the Hospital.  I also have a text asking me to collect another pile from a friend and I've arranged to borrow a couple from Julie's daughters.
I think I can safely say that my autumn and winter reading is sorted out!