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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Weekend Antics: 'Me' Time

The dreaded end of the summer holidays: those last two weeks trickle away like quicksand, time slipping through your fingers as the Big Return looms like a dark cloud over you. It's not even that the return to school is something to dread, but it is the start of structured days and marking loads, seating plans and tricky customers, where the previous weeks have stretched by in holidays, lie-ins, dog walks and lunches out. I love my job, but I love the summer holidays, too!

Those last two weeks passed me in the blink of an eye for a variety of reasons: it was *gulp* my 26th birthday, and I managed to both catch a stomach bug which left me throwing up and fainting, and damage a disc in my lower back and injure a ligament. Mobility limited, stomach churning, and patience waning, it was one of the least fun bank holiday birthdays I've had for some time. After several visits to the osteopath to get me back upright, I decided it was therefore time to treat myself for the last weekend before the return to school as my birthday weekend had been such a dud. Teachers are notoriously rubbish at making 'me' time, so dammit, I was going to be that guy, just this once at least.

We had a weekend filled with birthday celebrations for other nearests and dearests, and although I still wasn't firing on all cylinders health-wise it was lovely to see everyone and socialise before I disappeared into a hole of work. My promise to myself this school year is to create balance in my life: I am aiming to be in work for 7:15 every morning, meaning I must not stay later than 5pm at night, preferrably 4pm latest. Burning the candle at both ends left me frantic, stressed and overwhelmed last year and it really did not leave me more productive or even able to produce better lessons or feedback. Consolidating my work time into set hours is both for my mental health and to hopefully increase my productivity, as well as allowing me time to be a better partner, friend, and daughter. A snappy stress ball is, after all, not the most appealing companion.

Step 1 of operation 'Me' was to book in to have eyelash extensions. It's something I wanted to do in time for holiday, but as a last-minute sort of person I unfortunately left it a little late. However, for my birthday present to myself I made sure it did happen.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Berlin: European Adventure


(Psst, if you haven't read my last post, have a read through it here!)

For our summer holiday this year, Tom and I decided to embark on a mini European adventure. After a few wonderful days in Amsterdam, we caught an evening flight to Berlin, Germany. This was both mine and Tom's first time not only to Berlin, but to Germany itself. When I had interrailed through Europe two years before, everyone that I met raved about Berlin's beauty and nightlife. I knew then that I had to go to experience it for myself.


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Amsterdam: European Adventure

For our summer holiday this year, Tom and I decided to plan a mini European adventure. I have been interrailing by myself before, and Tom flew out to meet me then in Amsterdam, my final destination. We had the best time, and I'd have loved for us to Interrail further afield together this time, but funds and work committments prevented this from being a possibility. Instead, we decided to return to Amsterdam as the flights were so affordable, and to investigate what Berlin has to offer, as this was the one destination that everyone I met whilst travelling recommended most highly. Thanks to Skyscanner, Agoda, Hostel World and a fair few evenings of bargain searching, a week later we were off!

This post in particular will focus on the Amsterdam leg of our journey...Berlin soon to follow!


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Pawbo *sponsored post*

As a working pet owner, one of the main issues you face is guilt. In a perfect world I would be at home with Ayra all the time, but sadly for the majority of pet owners that is just not a feasible reality. I have bills to pay, with rent being the biggest expenditure, and making sure Ayra is safe and warm and sheltered is part of that. That doesn't mean leaving your pet whilst you go to work ever stops sucking, and it really does make me feel guilty every day.

We are lucky to be surrounded by a really great support network; my mum has Ayra two days a week and Tom's step mum also helps us out loads and often at short notice. But for three (sometimes four) days a week we rely on a petsitter. We have had several petsitters and have finally found the best fit for us; she is excellent, she loves the dogs she walks and Ayra adores her. Ayra is taken for a two hour walk in the middle of the day with a group of other canine companions she gets to play and socialise with. It means she gets out and about, has the chance to go to the toilet and stretch her legs, and it stops me worrying about her being left at home quite so much. It breaks up her day and means she's not on her own.

However, when Pawbo approached me about their wireless interactive pet camera, I leapt at the chance. No matter how much I trust my dog or my petsitter, there is something about leaving your pet that keeps you worrying. They are a member of your family, and there are so many horror stories about burglaries, house fires, irresponsible dog walkers and the like, that you can't help but feel that niggle of concern. Was she really ok all day? Was she being walked for the time we thought she was? Was she distressed being left? Was she barking? Now was the time to find out...


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Liverpool - Blink 182 and Staying in University Accommodation

For Christmas, Tom got me a most excellent present - tickets to see Blink 182! I was lucky enough to see them once in their original line up when I was around 12/13, and it was one of the best experiences of my teenage years. As a drummer myself, Travis Barker was my absolute icon, and I know very few '90s kids who weren't raised on Enema of the State and Take off your Pants and Jacket.

I was thrilled; I couldn't wait to see what Matt Skiba (from another of my favourite teen bands, Alkaline Trio) brought to the line up, and the general nostalgia of the experience had me itching to get going.

The only slight snag in the plan was that the tickets were for their Liverpool gig - a fair old slog from quaint old Oxfordshire. Term time was so frantically busy in those final weeks that this detail mostly escaped us, and before we knew it, the weekend of the gig was looming. My excitement was mildly tempered by the fact that it was a 3-4 hour journey and on every feasible hotel site I searched, the prices for rooms near to the Echo Arena seemed fairly extortionate. Factoring in our petrol and ticket costs, we really didn't want to spend £150 for a single night away on top of that...time to get thrifty.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bluebell Woods

Work is stressful in the rundown to summer...there are always more books to mark and assignments to prep for and feedback on and data to enter. I know that I'm not the only one who has suffered in the UK's recent heatwave (I'm definitely a polar bear, NOT made for the heat...); I suddenly became a VERY big supporter of fans and any/all air conditioning systems.

The best way I have found to relax when I am stressed is to go for a long walk with the pooch. I love bumping into other families and dog owners, having those incidental cheerful conversations along the way, and enjoying being outside instead of in a stuffy classroom. There's nothing like getting out a map and finding a new route, exploring the countryside with your best bud by your side.

A family favourite plod within our local area is Badbury Clump, a National Trust woodland with a beautiful carpet of bluebells for that short Spring period of magic. It has a great little car park, a variety of trails, bike routes, and views over rolling unspoilt countryside.

I took Ayra there a few weeks ago to test out my new Canon G7X Mark II. I am a Canon girl through and through (although I admit to 99% of the time still not knowing what I'm doing...) but it is cumbersome and impractical to always take a full DSLR on afternoon strolls. I invested in the G7x Mark II after trawling online reviews - it seems to be perfect for vlogging and good quality images if you're looking for something less bulky, more practical. I am still getting my head around its various features, but so far it is a solid little bit of kit that works great for what I need it for.



Thursday, 15 June 2017

Canines, Felines and Other Lovable Beasts as Your Work Companions

Today's post is a guest post from the fantastic Olivia Jones from High Style Life. All about a cause I feel so passionate about - bringing your pets to work! A massive thank you to Olivia for this article.

Imagine a world where you walk into your office with your pooch by your side, and you are welcomed by an almost jungle-like room full of friendly creatures of all shapes and sizes, happily grooming, wagging and napping next to their hooman parents.  

While this may be slightly far-fetched for the time being (don’t mind the pun), all animal lovers around the US and the UK can look forward to the Take Your Pet To Work Week, starting on June 19th, or at least a single day designated for the same occasion, on June 23rd, if their business participates in this wonderful event.

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