Sunday, March 30, 2008


I've been tagged by Scarletti, so here is a little insight to the Tales From The Plain psyche.

4 jobs I've had
You all know what I do now, so I though I'd tell you about life before teaching:
1. My first ever job was my Saturday job. I was a late starter and didn't begin until 16, after my O-levels. I worked in the local bakery for appalling pay, but the upside was the hours - 7am until 1pm - the early start offset by having all of Saturday afternoon free to spend with my boyfriend of the time. I loved it though, and worked all the way through Sixth form, ending up running the sandwich bar part on Saturdays. It was good for holiday work, too!
2. Also during my time in Sixth Form, I did piece work for the chap my Mum worked for. He did electrical assembly, so I occasionally went into the premises to cut lengths of wire for them, but mainly worked at home, sorting and wiping the memory from computer chips... at 2p per chip I was hardly likely to make a fortune, but it was the best money I've ever earned whilst watching Neighbours, let me tell you!
3. After my A-levels and then during the holidays of the first couple of years at Uni, I worked shifts in a local pizza factory. Money was great, shift hours suited me (6am-2pm or 2pm to 10pm) and we had a real laugh. Not many of my friends worked there, most of the rest of the students fell into the Benetton Beauty category (which I SO was not), but the full-timers were great. A lot of my family worked at different parts around the factory and I felt a real sense of belonging, being a good solid working class girl unlike most of the other students. Maybe it was because I could see that without working my a**e off at school that would be where I would have ended up? I loved the work, but the most I ever had to do was three months at a time, it might have felt different if I couldn't see an end to it. I ended up running a student line there in my last summer - yet another employer who recognised my amazing organisational skills? Or realised I was a bossy boots...
4. My first real job, after Uni, was at Sellafield, first as a Commissioning Officer, then as a Training Officer. Very interesting and I often wonder what might have happened if A had got a job that way instead of in Manchester. I suspect we'd now be facing an uncertain future...

4 favourite movies
God, I am so lightweight...
1. Highlander. There can be only one....
2. 10 Things I Hate About You. Shakespeare and Heath Ledger - what's not to like?
3. The Shawshank Redemption. Still love the sense of surprise when they take the poster off the wall.
4. Monty Python's Life of Brian. Close run thing here, could easily have been Holy Grail, but that film's lack of ending knocks it off the list.

4 places I've been
I've catalogued trips since 2006 when I started blogging, I'll travel back in time...
1. Italy - I love it and I've visited more times than any other country. My love affair started on a school trip in the 1980s and continues.
2. Philadelphia. This was my first trip to the States and we landed about three hours before they shut the airport in the snow storms of February 2003. A and I didn't get to take the train trips to NYC and DC that we had planned. In fact we didn't get to do a lot of what we'd planned, since a number of museums and sites closed for the duration, but we did get to wade around in knee height dry snow a lot (we've never been skiing so we've never done that), watch with fascination as the authorities cleared the snow and spend the whole day in one of the best Science museums I've ever visited. We also laughed a lot at the Brits who were stranded in Philly who had originally been bound for Florida and a Caribbean cruise who had nothing but shorts and sandals and couldn't even play out in the snow...
3. New Forest. We went on holiday every year when I was a child, I loved it! Nine years ago I went back and it's still great.
4. Lefkas. The least anglicised of the Ionians (which include Corfu, Kephalonia and Zakynthos) and a gem, particularly if you stay north, away from the one hideous Brits Abroad resort.

4 places I've lived
1. I grew up in a rural market town on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. Many family are still in the area and it is truly beautiful. However I couldn't afford anything bigger than a maisonette, so I can't see myself ever returning. I have in the last two years found myself increasingly watching Midsomer Murders to catch glimpses of familiar scenes...
2. Liverpool. I lived in Wavertree, L15, which by the time I left was far too close to L8 for the insurance company...
3. Whitehaven in Cumbria. My flat was about 1 minute's walk from the quayside, I often took a walk along the pier to the lighthouse before breakfast. Interesting smell of fish if the wind blew the wrong way, though... From pictures I've seen, it's been really smartened up, so I'm guessing no one fishes from it anymore.
4. Stretford, Manchester. When A and I first managed to get a place together when I was training to be a teacher, we lived in a lovely flat right on a motorway junction. Sleeping with the windows open just wasn't an option.

4 favourite TV shows
1. QI
3. CSI (all varieties)
4. Most BBC adaptations of Austin Gaskell, Thackery, etc. Although ITV did some cracking Austins last year.

4 favourite radio shows
1. Wake Up to Wogan
2. Chris Evan's Drivetime
3. Folk and Acoustic with Mike Harding
4. Simon Mayo's Music Club.
Hmm... as you can tell, I only ever tune in to Radio 2...

4 favourite foods
1. steak, medium rare
2. lasagne
3. dauphinoise potatoes
4. puddings - all of them, but particularly sponge, with custard

4 places I'd rather be
1. The Lake District
2. Bologna
3. Cornwall
4. Milan

I'm going to be a rebel - I'm not blogging from home so no rules apply - if you want to, consider yourself tagged!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Maybe there's something in this...

What Nicola Means

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.

You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.

You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.

You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.

A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.

You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.

At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

1978, 2005...

.. and now 2008!

I've shrieked myself hoarse, and can't believe we've done it again. We wait 27 years and then win the Grand Slam again only 3 years later.* What a brilliant match!


*Mind you, if I was Pope Benedict XIV, I might be feeling a little worried now...

Friday, March 07, 2008


Today, I met one of my childhood heroes, Johnny Ball.

I've never actually met a hero of mine before and it wasn't quite as I expected. Although on reflection, I don't know quite what I had expected.

The presentation had been arranged by the Local Authority for junior and Secondary teachers, but I convinced my Head that I needed to go ("The man's a genius", I breathed headily. She'd been throwing the fliers away as she didn't think that I'd want to go to a talk by the man who used to do the animal programmes on the telly... Between howls of laughter, The secretary and I broke the news that Johnny Morris had been dead for some time...)

Anyway, I think Johnny aimed his talk at an audience of mathsphobes, perhaps, as he talked a lot about looking for the joy in the every day place of maths in the world. It was refreshing, however, to be reminded that the Government has made the maths curriculum very narrow and that we need to widen it out somewhat to find the magic. Besides, anyone who managed to use the word "bollocks" in relation to government education and assessment policy in the first sentence is always going to get my attention.

I also got to stand on stage and be a glamorous assistant, too!

It's an easy mistake to make, I guess...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

February FOs

The good thing about not casting anything on is... I'm finally finishing some things! Do you realise for all the knitting in January, I didn't actually finish anything?

My Red cable hat was the first finished object this year, on February 12th.

Pattern: Simple Hat and Scarf set from Cables Untangled
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK
Needles: 4mm (I think)

Then a few days later, I finished Eleanor's Pinwheel. The sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed there is NO loopy border (even though it was in the photo at the end of January...) About a week before her birthday, I realised I would never finish the border in time so I ripped it and just did a plain cast off. Although I tried hard with the sleeves, I still didn't make it in time for her birthday. In fact, although I finished it 8 days late, I'm ashamed to say I still haven't sent it*, since I wanted to show it to a couple of people first. Slacker.

Pattern: Pinwheel Sweater
Yarn: Alpaca Select DK in various colours
Needles: 5mm
Mods: I added an extra two rows to nearly every colour (couldn't quite squeeze enough out of the penultimate colour though!) then knitted 13 inch sleeves. I think it's going to last her for some time...

Finally, at 8 minutes to midnight on Friday 29th, I finished Dad's Christmas socks, just in time to count for my February socks for the Sock a Month Knitalong.

Pattern: my own, based on 5x2 rib
Yarn: Fabel by Garnstudio, bought in Gothenburg in the summer
Needles: 2.5mm

(*Edited 3-3-08: have now put it in the post, thankfully!)