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charlie, computer cat

January 2017

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Jan. 6th, 2017

droplets

Fathala

I promised that I would post some photos of our time in Senegal, and so here we go! It's just possible that I'll manage to actually get the right link from Google photos first time, but I never have before so if I mess it up again, do let me know :)


The rhino and some of the waterbuck antelope having an early evening drink at the watering hole.

many many picsCollapse )

Dec. 27th, 2016

girl and boy at night

On our way home

I see, as is fairly typical, I stopped updating once I'd done my complaining :) In my defense, the wifi at the reserve was pretty slow so our photos didn't back up to the internet until we made it to Paris for the most part. We were talking in Dakar airport about how unusual it was that actually, if we'd had our phones stolen at that point, we would have lost really quite a lot of data - usually, it's very little.

I will do a proper entry when I get home with all the photos and details of our time at Fathala, but suffice it to say for the time being that it was a really wonderful holiday and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere peaceful and beautiful. Our luggage never turned up at the reserve, despite repeated contact by the reception desk with the airport but once we had a change of clothes, kindly run up in a very short time by an obliging Senegalese tailor, we actually managed fine. On our way back, we got to Dakar airport ahead of time and so decided to go via the left luggage area on the off chance and lo and behold! Our case, sat there waiting and probably had been for a week. It had lost it's tag, meaning that it hadn't been connected with our lost luggage report, description notwithstanding. Still, we found it, which was a relief as it had my favourite bras in and were able to sort out the details and take it with us on the next leg. It was also perfect timing because it meant that we could collect the other half of the malaria prescription from it just before we would have run out of tablets. It was a bit unnerving to collect it and then immediately check it in again, but it made it to Paris with us, where our two cases were one of the first ones out!

Paris was really lovely - we stayed in a beautiful apartment with some very friendly cats and also some lovely Canadians (<3, ailetoile and stevieg) and it was also very restful. Rather than do the museum thing, we alternated chilling in the apartment, with poke-walks and enjoying the ambience and architecture of Paris and actually, todays wander up to Notre Dame, followed by open top bus along the Champs Elysee made me think actually I'd quite like to go back again. Now, we just have to manage to get onto our plane home and off with luggage and then home to kittons!

Dec. 18th, 2016

charlie, computer cat

At the reserve

So, when I left things last, your intrepid heros were stranded in Lisbon airport, but with optimisim that we would be able to reach our final destination without any further mishaps. More(!) travel woes, and finally arriving at the reserveCollapse ) The reserve really is everything I could have hoped and more - the staff are lovely, the food is delicious, the accommodation is incredibly comfortable and there are monkeys everywhere! I keep taking photos but they haven't all uploaded yet (the internet isn't very fast) so I'll save that until I get back :) We haven't even been on the game drive yet!

There was hope that by today, our suitcase might have turned up but thus far, there's no sign. We were taken into the nearest town, on the Gambian border, today, where we stopped off, bought some fabric and then left it with a tailor who's going to make a change of clothes for us! There'll definitely be photos of those tonight, when they are supposed to be arriving. We managed to pick up some deoderant and tooth brushes and fortunately, the reserve already provided things like shampoo and body wash, as well as having some insect repellant on hand, so we're pretty much set for the moment and tomorrow we'll be ready to get out and start taking part in some of the activities on offer here.

Dec. 16th, 2016

sea-mist

Day 1 - travel woes

So far, holiday going not quite according to plan. A tale of delays and me being sadCollapse )

Dec. 11th, 2016

candle trail

(no subject)

I am fed up with being bunged up. I need sunshine...

Dec. 10th, 2016

tiny kitn

It's nearly time...

Have just spent far too long fiddling with a new journal style on Dreamwidth. I'd forgotten how oddly absorbing tinkering with CSS could be. It turned out to be just the level of engagement I was up for this afternoon, given that I am full of cold and feeling lazy.

Tomorrow, I will have to snap out of my lethargy to get things done because we're actually only 6 days away from our exciting adventure holiday! We're going to be spending seven days in Senegal, staying on a wildlife reserve where you can walk with the lions(!) and then flying to Paris where we're sharing an apartment with elyssa and stevieg over Christmas! I felt so inspired by the experience of winter sun on our Caribbean trip that we just sort of decided to go for this. It'll be the first time I've ever visited Africa and I think you could reasonably describe me as hella excited :) I have no idea what the net connection is likely to be like, but I'll try to post the odd update while we're away.

So now I just have to get through the last few days of term. Fortunately, I won't have to do too much in terms of teaching as we wind down, but given how coldy I feel at the moment, I probably couldn't cope if I did have to so that's just as well! Roll on next Friday!

Dec. 3rd, 2016

handbag

I made a thing!

So, after the referendum, I needed something which was about people being nice to each other to watch, and after a lucky encounter when I left the TV on after Today at Wimbledon that thing turned out to be The Great British Sewing Bee. I finished the latest season and then went back and binge watched the other ones and, perhaps inevitably, bought myself a sewing machine :)

So far, I haven't done loads on it - unsurprisingly, once term kicked back in, I haven't had tonnes of time or energy to do so - but I have made myself a couple of bags. One very simple tote bag just to try the machine out which I use for all my bits of material and stuff and yesterday I finally finished the laptop bag I'd been working on!



The main body of the bag is actually made from a denim skirt that I got from a charity shop and the lining is part of a duvet cover (it turns out that's a great way to get cheap fabric!) so it wasn't too pricey to make but I think economy is not really going to be an overall benefit of making stuff. I enjoyed it as a creative thing to do and I really like the ability to make stuff to my own specifications so those are the main attractions really.

Immediately I finished it, I came up with several things that I want to do differently next time so I thought I'd note them down here in case I ever do get around to repeating this pattern.

  • Pockets! Firstly, put the outside pockets on earlier in the process so I can machine stitch them, don't forget about them until the end because they're not in the pattern I was following.
  • Secondly, inside pockets of some kind would be good. Maybe with fastenings?
  • Put in a side/bottom panel so that it's got more of a base to it
  • Different main fastening - I'm not that in love with the velcro
  • Maybe catch the corners of the lining to the bottom of the bag?
  • Wider strap. I love how the finish of the strap turned out but I think a wider one would make for easier carrying


moar pics (same as on twitter if you saw them there)Collapse )
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Mar. 20th, 2016

laden coal creature

(no subject)

Somehow, coming back from a holiday always seems to mean that I've fallen so far behind with things that I have to scramble to catch up again. Thus, I see that I haven't written here since getting back from the Caribbean, even though that was about a month ago now. I think this was compounded by the fact that (a) I was sick for a lot of the Christmas holiday and so didn't manage to get much done then, so I felt like I was trying to catch up for most of term 3, (b) we were away for most of half term, which is when I would normally get caught up with things and (c) the amount of pressure we're under as a result of the ridiculous farce that is KS2 assessment this year means that there's much more work than normal to keep up with. Still, I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere, which is nice and probably not unconnected with the fact that there's more daylight and the occasional glimpse of sun. I even went out and did some garden cleaning up last weekend.

I'm finding the whole thing with assessment this year is really weighing on my mind - I seem to be spending much more time than usual feeling really stressed out or, alternatively, furious with the DfE for putting us in this ridiculous position. We're teaching practically nothing but Maths and English at the moment, even in the afternoons, which is depressing and tiring for all concerned but given that there's no way we're going to reach the targets set this year, we have to show that we've done everything possible to achieve them. Parents evening consisted of a lot of me saying to parents "the expectations have been massively raised this year and while your child would have met the old writing targets, they won't meet the new ones". A few parents asked why the expectations have been raised so much, which is a fair question, and it took all my self restraint not to just say "Because the DfE are fuckwits who don't know what they're doing and have no idea about how teaching and learning actually happens".

Between all that, and the current behaviour of the democratically elected government, I am currently giving serious consideration to leaving the country. Unfortunately, it looks as if my teaching qualification would not be accepted in Canada, which is annoying, so I'll have to look into doing some further study before we could do anything about it, but that's not the end of the world and will hopefully be useful even if things change and we end up not flitting. Bah. I miss just being able to enjoy my job. At least SATs are in May - after that, we can have some fun again, but right now, it feels like a long time coming.

I need to think about what I want to do next educationally anyway, as I'm about to finish my OU degree. Currently, I've reached the bit of this course which I find least interesting, but at least it doesn't matter too much as my mark in this module is irrelevant to my end result and there is another interesting bit before the end. I just can't find it in me to like Dickens! I rather surprised myself in the last assignment by actually writing a poem though, which was a completely unexpected but rather interesting experience. I don't see it starting a trend or anything but it was still very rewarding as a one of experiment.
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Feb. 15th, 2016

jasmine

Living the Caribbean dream...

So, since my last update, I have:

- Been to the Grenadan Independence celebration at the National Stadium. Lots of marching up and down, fun with the police marching band and a stirring address by the Prime Minister (to a lot more cheering than I can imagine any PM at home getting!). There were lots of songs about how lovely Grenada is and how the national characteristic is being friendly and welcoming (story checks out) and all in all, it was a rather fun, relaxing morning.

- Been snorkelling for the first time to look at the underwater sculpture garden. I didn't love the actual experience of snorklling - I could never quite get the mouthpiece to feel comfortable and I had to pause for breath quite a bit - but it was totally worth it to see the underwater sculptures, which are gradually turning into an artificial reef, as well as all the little fishes floating around in the clear water.

- Actually done some teaching in school! I taught them some maths, which was interesting. They're good on concepts but they are much more used to being led than my students so they really struggled when I was asking them to spot patterns or reason for themselves. They're very keen though, and were very excited to try out some of my times table games :)

- Been to Brownies, which was lovely! I am going back next week and I'm going to teach them a song and a game from our Brownies and hopefully video some of their Brownie things

- Spent more time floating in the Caribbean - rather necessary after a long hot day at school! The road down to our favourite beach has a drainage ditch next to it, which is lined with hundreds of crab holes - if you walk along in the evening between about 5 and 6 you can see them all out grazing and sunning themselves, which is rather lovely. I have discovered that I can't stop pointing them out even though there are probably literally hundreds there :)

- Been to a Golden Oldies, Caribbean style clubbing night! Not exactly my kind of thing, particularly as my body clock seems to have adjusted to early mornings, early nights while we're here (partly because it gets dark around 6/6:30, which makes it then feel really late!) but we did have quite a bit of fun.

- Visited Fish Friday in Gouyave, where local fishermen basically cook up their catch for the day on street food stalls and sell it to tourists. We saw some great drumming and ate some delicious fishy dishes.

- Hiked around the shore of Grand Etang (it's a big lake near the centre of the island)! All the locals we've told this to have said variants on "gosh, how adventurous!" I think most people just go to the bit of the lake shore by the bus stop but we went all the way around. The trail was pretty muddy in places and there were a few slots where there didn't seem to be much trail at all, but it was actually an amazing experience - we felt like jungle explorers! And we saw a monkey! A real live wild monkey, just eating fruit from a tree near the visitor centre!

- Visited the Palmtree Botanical Garden and the Laura Herb and Spice garden, both of which I highly recommend, especially the Palmtree garden. We got lovely guided walks of both places, saw some massive caterpillars, some more lizards and some really beautiful blooms.

moar photos!Collapse )
charlie, computer cat

Photos

OK, I *think* I've fixed the problems with the photos in the last post - can anyone who couldn't see them before have a look and see if they can see them now? Ta!
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