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!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... it's one of those 'it can't be Monday already, what happened to the weekend?' sort of day.
Apart from band on Saturday morning I seem to have done nothing much at all.  A bit of cooking, finished the laundry and tidied around in the garden. And that's it ... that was my weekend!
I have no idea what I did with the rest of the time ... nothing very memorable, that's for sure.  I did watch some TV, but couldn't remember what until I looked back in the Radio Times - it was a repeat of 'Lewis', and I tried to read some more of my book but couldn't settle to it.  I think I must have daydreamed the rest of my time away.
At least I have a full week ahead of me to make up for it; teaching, doing a band presentation in a primary school, a book group meeting, a photography walk, and a couple of meals planned with friends.
Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Saturday 26th Sept 2015

Outside my window ...  the light is fading.  It'll soon be dark  
I am thinking ... about what my life will be like after my imminent retirement. I admit to being excited about the possibilities.

I am thankful ... for just about everything really.  Life is good at the moment.

In the kitchen ... I just have the washing up to finish and then everything has been tidied away for today.  The fridge is full with chicken, lamb, and fresh vegetables for a major cooking spree tomorrow.

I am wearing ... my fleecy dressing gown, all cosy for a quiet night in front of the television.

I am creating ... records on the children I teach, to hand over to their new teacher. 

I am going ... to visit one of the primary schools in town on Wednesday, taking lots of brass instruments with me and hoping to get some new players for the band. 

I am wondering ... how long it will take Head Office to recruit a replacement for me.  I've agreed to keep working until that happens, but may have to review that decision if it is going to take too long.

I am reading ... The Norfolk Mystery by Ian Sansom. It's not a book I'll be recommending to anyone - the main character is irritating - but I hope to finish it.  I don't like giving up on a book once I've started it.
I am hoping ...  that the horrible tickle I have at the back of my throat isn't the start of a cold.  I usually get one at this time of the year - it's pretty much unavoidable when I am regularly exposed to the germs in eight different schools.
I am looking forward to ... a trip to the Harry Potter Experience next month.  I've wanted to visit this for ages, but each attempt has fallen through.  I have my ticket booked, so it's definitely going to happen this time.
I am learning ... that keeping to a routine suits me.  I feel better and am more productive if I keep some structure in my life.
Around the house ...  there is a pile of band instruments ready for the presentation next Wednesday - they are taking up a lot of space in the hall.  Apart from that, it's all reasonably tidy - I just have the laundry to finish off tomorrow.
I am pondering ... whether to keep all of my instrument when I finally retire.  The saxophone will definitely go (as I don't enjoy playing it), as will the oboe.  I still have to make my mind up about the flute and the clarinet, but I'll probably keep them for the time being and see if opportunities present themselves for me to keep playing them.  The brass instruments are obviously staying.

One of my favourite things ... losing myself in a good book.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...
  • Sunday: housework and cooking
  • Monday: teaching
  • Tuesday: teaching in the afternoon and the book group meeting in the evening
  • Wednesday: teaching in the morning and a band presentation in the afternoon
  • Thursday: nothing planned
  • Friday: teaching
  • Saturday: band practice in the morning followed by an afternoon in the garden, weather permitting

A peek into my day ... this morning was the usual band practice, followed by an afternoon and evening at home doing nothing very much at all. 
A favourite quote for today ...
"Don't lose hope.  You never know what tomorrow may bring." Unknown

Friday, 25 September 2015

Five on Friday

It's Five on Friday time again and this week I'm waffling on about a few things that are on my mind!

One | Seeing my final selection of photos for the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt has made me think about the way I store and view my photos.  The selection of photos is a lovely reminder of a fun packed summer; exploring my neighbourhood, two trips to Bath, a visit to Nunney, a visit to a wildlife park, four trips to London, a visit to Lymington and time spent with friends. Seeing them collated together like this has made me reconsider the benefits of scrapbooking and whether it's the way forward for me.  If I did choose to go down that route I think I'd be more likely to choose a digital option and then purchase a photo book of the layouts at the end of each year. Still thinking about it though, so if anyone can point me to some good digital scrapbooking sites I'd be very, very grateful!
Two | I want to buy a dresser for the dining room but have been looking for one ages without success, so I've been re-thinking what to do in that room.  I went out for lunch with friends today to a local farm shop cafĂ© and, whilst we were there we had a look around their new furniture shop and I saw exactly the dresser I was looking for.  The one on display was way too big but there was a sign saying that the dresser could be made to your own design.  So ... now I have to decide whether to go back to plan A with the dresser in the dining room or do I stay with plan B which involved adding some more kitchen units.  I don't know is the answer, but I will get a quote for a dresser to see how much it'll cost ... that may help with the decision!
Three | I've been looking ahead to things I can do once I have more free time and one of the options is to take up yoga.  This is the therapeutic yoga I'm thinking of doing but I still need to do some research on it.  It will hopefully help reduce my blood pressure but it also has to be something that is easy on my joints; the pain I have in my shoulder joints is one of the reasons prompting an early retirement.  However, I don't know whether yoga is easy on the joints or not and I'm getting conflicting advice from friends.  I'll speak to the person who runs these classes but any help you can give me on this will be very much appreciated.
Four | I'm going to have more free time, so am wondering whether to restart the photography degree I'm enrolled on; it was suspended indefinitely when my partner reached the end stages of life, and since then I haven't really been interested in continuing with it ... until recently.   I've thought (and said) a few times that I'm going to start again but I never do, and I'm not sure why or what makes me feel that now is the right time.  I really I can't make my mind up so maybe I'm overthinking it, and should just get on with it!  However, I do feel it is time to decide one way or the other and then stick to my decision.
Five | I'm planning how to celebrate my 60th birthday later this year.  I'll be doing things with family and friends but I'd also like to organise something special for myself as a way of marking my birthday and retirement.  So far I've decided on a stay in London with tickets to see Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera but I don't know what else ... except that I know there will be something else and that I'd like it to be something I wouldn't normally do on a trip to London.  Any suggestions please?

If you've got this far, many thanks for listening to me waffle on!  And big thanks to Amy for organising this weekly link up.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt | The Final Selection

1. A bouquet of flowers

2. An ornate door knocker

3. A person walking a dog (or other animal)

4. People playing a board game or card game

5. Architectural columns

6. A metal bridge

7. A turtle

8. Someone 'plugged in' to social media

9. A tent

10. A college or university

11. A cellular tower or television satellite dish

12. A public restroom, bathroom, or toilet

13. A merry-go-round or carousel

14. A traffic signal

15. A flag pole with at least three flags on it

16. A panoramic view, taken while standing someplace high in the air

17. At least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms
18. An overloaded truck, car, bicycle or other vehicle ... please note that this photo was taken just after the car was unloaded!  Okay, I admit I failed on this one, so am substituting one of the alternatives shown at the end of the post.

19. A ticket booth

20. A natural body of water

21. A photograph of you with a sign reading "2015 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt" ... well, part of me anyway!

 Alternative A.  People eating outside
 Alternative B. Someone holding an umbrella

I didn't manage alternative C - a rocking chair!
Many thanks to Rinda for organising the hunt again this year. It's been good fun, as usual, and I've enjoyed every minute of it; it's encouraged me to visit some of the places on my to-do list, just to get a particular photo, and opened my eyes to some of the things in my neighbourhood that I've failed to notice before - I know where all the mobile phone towers are now!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Photo Pairs

I completely forgot about it this week, so I've taken a couple of photos of the flowers I bought a few days ago.  My (last minute) photo pair for this week is ...


Thanks to Helena for organising this.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Taking Stock

I'm procrastinating! I should be dealing with today's post which brought complicated forms to be completed and returned, but writing a blog post is much more fun.  Even though I don't have anything to say! Still, that's never stopped me before, so here goes ...
It's been a bit of a dodging the rain showers sort of day but I've managed to get in and out of my schools without getting soaked, so I'm counting that as a plus. Usually behaviour in schools is challenging when the children can't go outside to play in their breaks, but even though they'd been inside all day the behaviour was exemplary in the school this afternoon, so I'm counting that as a plus.
The forms to initiate my pension arrived today so it looks like the first payment will be made on the due date even though I was late in applying, so I'm counting that as a plus.
I've nearly run out of books but I've had a text from my sister asking if I'm ready for any more as she's having a clear out, so I'm counting that as a plus.
I've been shopping to fill up the store cupboard and lots of my choices were on offer, either reduced or BOGOF, so I'm counting that as a plus. I've also been giving a load of potatoes, some green tomatoes, and some apple and pears from my friend's allotment, all of which will help reduce the food bill, so I'm counting that as a plus.
All things considered, it's been a good day and I'm grateful that it has gone so well.  I have a quiet evening at home to look forward to; there are a couple of programmes I want to watch on TV, a phone call to a friend to catch up with her news, and of course, plenty of time to read my latest book.
Life is good!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... happy after a lovely weekend spent in the company of friends, old and new.  It's been one of those weekends which, although it was busy,  has left me feeling rested and able to tackle the coming week.
Saturday started, as usual, with band practice; quite a lively session this week with a couple of new players there for their first session, as well as trying to teach the other children how to play a tango rhythm!
After band I was invited to join Julie and three of her daughters to a pub lunch to celebrate Julie's birthday.  The food was tasty and the girls are always good fun so it was a lovely treat, all paid for by one of the daughters.

Back at home later than expected on Saturday, I abandoned my plans to do some housework (any excuse, it doesn't take much!) and settled down to watch 'Lewis' on the TV and then have an early night.

On Sunday I'd organised a photo walk in Corsham with a couple of new friends I met through the meet up events.  The theme for the walk was 'patterns'; this time we all wandered around together and were so engrossed in our search for suitable subjects that the time just flew by - when we checked, we been out for nearly two hours but it only seem like a few minutes. 

It was a brilliant afternoon.  We met in a coffee shop, wandered round photographing patterns for a couple of hours and then it was back to the coffee shop to share our photos with each other.  It's always fun to see the difference in our photos; although we'd walked round together, we'd all spotted different things and taken completely different photos.  The photos in this post are some of the ones I took on this walk.

Sunday night was spent at home, getting ready for a week of teaching.  I seem to spend my life charging batteries for the iPod speaker I carry around with me!  I finally remembered to give my cornet and tenor horn their long overdue baths, so am feeling quite chuffed with myself for getting it done.

I opted for an early night again on Sunday, choosing to finish my book instead of watching the television.  I've been reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova, chosen by one of the books groups I go to, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. I didn't dislike it but it didn't live up to my expectations, considering the reviews it's had.  Has anyone else read it yet?

It seemed strange to get ready for work this morning, because in my mind I have already retired ... but the reality is that I have to keep going for a little while longer yet.  I've had a lot of positive support from people and now that it has had a bit more time to sink in, I am even more convinced that I have made the right decision.

I have a two hour gap between schools today so I'm hoping to meet a friend for lunch.  This is dependant on her boss being in a good mood and allowing her to take an early lunch break, so fingers crossed please!

Hope you all have a good Monday. 

Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

All About ... this Autumn

Back in July I prepared a list of activities to do during the summer.  It worked well and I thoroughly enjoyed myself; apart from keeping myself busy it was good to have things in my diary to look forward to, so I'm taking the same approach for autumn.  Because I don't know my actual retirement date yet, I haven't planned quite so many things.

My list so far, taking me up to the first week of December is:
  • Trowbridge Apple Festival
  • Wells Food Festival
  • National Theatre Live - Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Harry Potter Experience
  • Mary Poppins at Bristol Hippodrome
  • National Theatre Live - Of Mice and Men
  • Bath Christmas Market
  • Henning When's Authentic German Christmas Do
In addition I'll have my regular social events, i.e, photo walks, games evenings, book groups, curry nights and quiz nights.  I'll also be busy with the band as carol playing commitments start at the end of the November, when we play at the shopper's carol service in St James' Church, and continue for most of December. 
When I list it down like this I seem to be really busy, but it's nowhere near as manic as my summer plans were and there's plenty to look forward to!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

On Saturday

starting some new players on their musical journey at this morning's lively band practice
lunching with Julie and three of her daughters ... to celebrate Julie's birthday
enjoying the autumnal weather ... a misty start to the day, followed by beautiful sunshine
appreciating the opportunities that are opening up for me as people get to hear that I am retiring from work ... and feeling excited about the future!
getting my camera equipment ready for a photo walk with friends tomorrow afternoon

Friday, 18 September 2015

Five on Friday

Following on from my post yesterday, I actually managed to speak to Head of Services and advise that I am retiring.  The good news is that, although officially I need to give a month's notice, they accept that I want to finish as soon as possible and will not penalise me in any way.  However, if I do that it means the majority of my schools will no longer receive any instrumental lessons as there is nobody to replace me; they need to recruit and train someone, which will take months.  At the moment it's been left that they will try to get a couple of the other tutors to take on some of my work and if necessary I will keep the two schools where I am continuing with the recorder lessons, until a replacement can be found for me.  It's not ideal, but I'd prefer to do that than leave my schools and pupils with no lessons at all.

Moving on to Five on Friday ... as it is the start of the school year for me and also my last year of working full time, I've chosen five things I want to remember about this time of year. 

One | I want to remember that feeling of walking in to the schools at the start of the academic year, when everything is still fresh and tidy.  When there are new displays on the wall, when the teachers are relaxed, and when the children still have that 'start of the year, scrubbed to within an inch of their lives' look about them in their clean and tidy uniforms.  When the schools buzz with the anticipation of what's to come.  It's an exciting place to be.
Two| I want to remember that despite the early mornings and feeling tired, I've enjoyed being back in the routine. It's good to have a purpose in mind for most days and I need to remember this in the future - days don't drag when there is a purpose, which I suppose is obvious! 
Three | I want to remember the enjoyment of seeing things from a child's perspective. It's been wonderful to share a child's excitement as he or she has strived to master a tricky combination of notes and to see how they view, and celebrate, their own successes.  How they can live in the moment and find wonder in the simplest of things.
Four | I want to remember how important it is for me to take the time to stop and admire the view.  Not to photograph it, but to just take five minute or so to breathe deeply, recharge the batteries, and calm myself before moving on to the next thing on my list. I've always scheduled time for this between each school so that I can leave the problems of one school behind and go into the next one with a fresh attitude.
Five  | I want to remember the joy of playing a variety of instruments throughout the week.  This week I've played flute, clarinet, saxophone, recorder, cornet and tenor horn.  I've never ceased to be amazed that I'm paid to play my instruments! 

Well, these are the main things I want to remember.  I could easily do a much longer list of the things I won't miss ... but I'm not going to. It's been a good exercise to sit and think about the various things that have given me the most pleasure this week, and I hope you've enjoyed reading them.

My thanks go to Amy for organising Five on Friday.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt | A Bouquet and a Decision

Here's my photo for No 1 | a bouquet of flowers.  I bought them yesterday, on a rainy day in September (hence the raindrops!), to celebrate the fact that I've finally reached an important milestone in my life.
I've made the decision to retire as soon as possible.  Actually I suppose I should say I plan to semi-retire, as I will be keeping one local school (about 10 minutes drive away) where I'm employed by the school to cover the music lessons for four classes, and I still hope to run the recorder club in another school (although I haven't discussed it with the head teacher yet). I also have the option of doing private lessons locally if I need, or want to, and of course I will still teach at the band on a Saturday morning.
I wasn't going to make this decision until after my 60th birthday at the end of November but various factors have prompted me to decide now.  I found out that my new intake of pupils will not happen until next February, so until that happens I will have massive gaps in my timetable where I'm hanging about waiting, often in places where there is nothing to go and nowhere warm to wait.  With the distances I am driving and the smaller pupil numbers, it makes financial sense to leave sooner rather than later.  It was a visit to my doctor this week that finally pushed me to make the decision.  There's nothing seriously wrong with me, but age related problems are starting to rear their ugly head and I just want a slower, calmer lifestyle.
I still have to negotiate my retirement date as the person I need to speak to is not in until next week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it I only need to give them one month's notice ... now I've made my decision I want to leave as soon as possible!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Photo Pairs

Back to the garden for this week's photo pairs and two photos of the euonymus, the first one from March (last year) and the second one taken today ...


Thanks, as always, to Helena for organising this.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt | From Trips to London

Here are some more of my extra photos for the scavenger hunt.  All of these were taken on trips to London during the summer holidays.
First up are two photos for No 5 | architectural columns.  The first one is St Paul's Cathedral by the entrance to the churchyard and the second one is my poshest one - the back of Buckingham Palace!

The next one is taken from a cable car over the Thames and is for No 16 | a panoramic view, taken while standing someplace high in the air

followed by another one of the River Thames at Greenwich, this time for No 20 | a natural body of water

Then it was on to the Cutty Sark at Greenwich where I saw these for No 15 | a flagpole with at least three flags on it ... well it's not really a flagpole, but I'm counting it anyway!
I can't remember where this one was taken but it was somewhere in London and is for No 14 | a traffic signal
And to finish, here's a selection, taken in Greenwich, for No 2 | an ornate door knocker