Half Term Happiness

As I’ve written many times before, London is my happy place. So it is fantastic to be back again. We can’t travel abroad (well not without too much hassle) so I will just come back here over and over (and over). I will never become bored with it. I wander the same streets but it makes me happy.

This time saw me able to make a visit to the theatre (!!!) for the first time since…well, I don’t remember to be honest. Yes, it was socially distanced, we had to wear masks and there was no interval but I was in an actual theatre. It seemed quite apt that the first show I’ve seen since lockdown began was Adam Kay (former doctor). The theatre was obviously running at limited capacity (and it was a Sunday) but that didn’t mean the audience was any the less involved. We sang (into our masks) and laughed (or sometimes nearly cried – just as he did). I realised how much I missed the theatre whilst sitting high up in the Apollo – I am currently looking for more shows to try and support the theatre. He also made me appreciate the job the NHS workers do (as, I think, anyone with a chronic illness does anyway).

Wandering the Tate Modern felt like a luxury that we’ve been deprived of during this time (much as last night’s theatre trip). Yes, we can visit virtually which is great but it simply isn’t the same. Unfortunately the exhibition I wanted to see had sold out but it didn’t dampen my spirits. There is simply so much to see – spotted some Picasso works I think I’d previously missed.

Bruce Naumann at Tate Modern

Apart from the theatre and the Tate visit I didn’t have much planned. Apart from some shopping…and more wandering. It’s amazing how many new things you can spot when you frequently walk the same streets. Things you may have missed before. And that is why I shall never tire of this city.

The Old Routine……

Planning!

It’s been a long time since I’ve managed to write anything down. We seem to spend the entire time paddling manically just to keep our heads above water. The combination of in-school and remote learning has taken its toll as we drag ourselves towards half term. I haven’t spent as much time creating and uploading new resources as I’d like but some things have to fall by the wayside in these mad times.

But, the main thing is, we’ve made it! The kids have coped, we’ve coped….all as well as we can! The routine has become…well, routine. Sanitise, sit, start, repeat – every lesson, every day. They’ve worked hard, they’ve shared their experiences (all too freely on some occasions), they’ve embraced the ‘new normal’.

Whenever we watch a video in class they point out that they aren’t ‘social distancing’ and I point out it was probably made, not just before Covid but, before they were born! They do enjoy making me feel old, especially during our ‘Throwback Thursday’s’ where we watch music videos from the 1990s…which might as well be Victorian times in their minds.

The older students are hoping the old normal comes back before the end of the year so they can go to the rooms they always had lessons in before. It would be nice to have some enrichment too! But we will get through this…whatever it takes. And they will never fail to amuse and amaze me.

Loving London (finally)….

I’m back!

I realise it’s been a long time since I last blogged but time really does seem to have flown (not something I thought I’d ever say about a global pandemic and lockdown). I’m currently enjoying my summer holiday interspersing work with (a little) travel. Granted the travel is only UK based but we are lucky to live in such a diverse country – we could choose beaches, rural isolation or urban highlights – all within a short travelling distance (well, if you don’t travel by train – which is how I travel everywhere)!

As ever, I chose London! Truly my favourite place in the world (with the exception of Huntington Beach, California – but that’s not going to be an option this year). London was where I dreamt of living as a child growing up in the very rural Cotswolds but I know living there would not afford me the lifestyle I’d want to lead – so I simply spend a lot of my holidays there instead. I couldn’t believe it was six months since I’d last been there. Yes, it was going to be different – masks, social distancing and sanitising – but it was wonderful to be back.

I visited all the usual haunts, the only difference being having to book timed slots in advance. I walked further than I’ve walked for months and my sore feet loved every step. Staying in the West End was lovely but also tinged with an eerie sadness as the theatres that sustain the area remain in complete darkness, closed for the foreseeable future.

I’ve never seen Covent Garden so devoid of visitors – street performers playing to the emptiness. Liberty felt like it had opened just for me and a stroll along the Thames provided a solace not usually found at rush hour.

My next couple of days saw more walking (much more) and took in the Tate Modern, Barbican conservatory, Sky Garden, Design Museum and The Shard….. I can never resist a view from high up. It was good to get back to some sense of normality (even if it is a ‘new normal’).

Thanks London, I’ll be back soon.

Back in the ‘bubble’…

So, last week saw our return to school (well some semblance of school) but it was far from the norm. Working in ‘bubbles’ saw us with classes of 10 pupils, teaching all subjects whilst repeatedly washing our hands (oh, and freezing as all the doors and windows have to be open). Sounds like a recipe for disaster but in all truth it was brilliant. It was nice to have time to chat to the pupils. It was nice to teach different subjects. It was fun to teach PE in our outdoor ‘bubble’ area.

Jar of Joy

We still tried to do PE with Joe but had to adapt….I became Joe and we picked our exercises from the ‘Jar of Joy’. Fancy dress Friday was even embraced – if only by me!

We even spent a wonderful Friday afternoon learning to draw anime, guided by YouTube. I think we were all surprised by the outcome – we never expected them to be so good!

Feedback from all has been positive but I’m still missing my usual classes, who I continue to teach online.

The weekend has then been spent planning for the online teaching of this week (well, we can’t go anywhere)! Along with what has become a weekly event – the family Zoom quiz night!

All of this work and lockdown in general has made me crave travel more. Not even long distance travel. I just want to be in London. I think this is the longest period of time in which I haven’t visited London for years and I miss it. I miss the crowds, the theatre, the coffee shops, the aimless wandering, the dark nights and bright lights. Fingers crossed we can start moving again soon. Samuel Johnson said ‘when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life’ and I shall never be tired of London!

Back to school…

Wonderful walks….

As we approach the end of the half term break…a wonderfully warm one which could’ve been better spent travelling…we look forward to the start of the final half term of the academic year. And what a half term it’ll be! Small classes, something we always dream of as a teacher, but not like this! I’m not sure that I’ve fully got my head around it really – it’s very much a case of let’s just wait and see. This is the longest time I’ve ever had off from teaching, it feels weird to be returning.

Infusion time!

Yesterday was infusion time again (cannot believe how quickly that eight weeks has flown by – all things considered). This time we were made to wear masks at the hospital – which I have spent some of my time in lockdown making – so I was fully equipped with my Liberty fabric mask (got to be stylish even in hospital).

Nothing exciting to report – my Vedolizumab still seems to be keeping my UC under control. Long may this continue. I cannot wait until we can travel again. I’m craving a trip to London! I’m missing the city, I’m missing the shows, I’m missing the culture, I’m missing the wandering at night just observing the city life. I can’t wait to be there again.

I’ve had a few days in the past few weeks where I thought I could be about to experience a flare again. But they came to nothing (apart from missing my daily PE with Joe) so I can breathe a sigh of relief.

The next few weeks will be a bizarre experience as we enter the time of a ‘new normality’. But we will get through, we will see family again (haven’t seen mine since February but we have a regular Zoom quiz) and we will enjoy all the things we did before.

We will stay positive!

Half Term (I Think….)

Things are looking rosy…..

Normally we’d be excited about the start of a half term break but the usual holiday spirit is dulled by the sense of all days blending into one. Weekends, Bank Holidays and the Easter break have all been overshadowed by this pandemic and the usual trudging routine that I’ve been sticking to in order to make the days pass. But pass they have – quicker than I’d have expected too.

Making masks and cards

New skills have been tried (sometimes successfully)! Zoom quizzes have taken the place of family get-togethers. And working has continued to mean staring at a screen for too many hours.

I’m still trying to follow the usual daily routine but have started getting up at my usual time for work (so I can get in a sneaky 6am walk). This is followed by PE with Joe, the positivity is all I need to inspire me for more online learning with my classes. At the end of the (online) school day it’s time for another walk. I think I mentioned before how much I love walking. It’s a time to listen to music or podcasts and (try) to clear my mind of all the stresses of staring at a screen. We may not be in school but we are still working!

This week’s learning has included some work on key philosophers throughout history and my Year 6 have done me proud with some inspired answers to my questions! Year 7 have been looking at Martin Luther King and constructing their own ‘I have a dream…’ speeches and Year 8 have been finding out more about Judaism.

I also spent a day in school this week. It’s always nice to have a day out of the house and some company! We spent some time looking at the idea of garden design and they were set the challenge of designing their own ‘Secret Garden’ for the RHS competition. Sadly I should’ve been at Chelsea Flower Show this weekend and spending some time in London (my happy place) – but there’s always next year!

Keep ploughing through……

Workouts, Working and Walking

Light at the end of the tunnel!

I haven’t written for a while and I don’t even know why, just couldn’t really find the words I suppose (certainly can’t use the excuse of lack of time). The days have blurred into one repetitive, groundhog day-esque routine. Weekends can no longer be distinguished from weekdays. Daily routine starts with a positive kick from PE with Joe which always leaves me feeling better, both mentally and physically.

I’ve been struggling with a random collection of IBD symptoms recently and as soon as one feels better another seems to appear – I wish I knew why. Currently my joints appear to have given up – but only on one side – possibly linked to a nasty reaction to Voltarol. This is affecting my sleep (along with the lack of mental stimulation of 25 students continually needing my attention). However, I will stay positive and continue doing what I do!

Most of my day is taken up with WFH – sending messages to students, feedback on student work, planning – all the usual teacher tasks but from a distance. I’m learning as I go along and discovering that some tasks work better than others. I’m currently teaching philosophy to my Year 6 pupils and they are loving it! They have been exploring ‘big questions’ and have fed-back about the fantastic discussions they’ve had with their families. I miss the discussions we would usually have in class but I’m glad I’m sparking that discussion at home (which might usually not have the time to come about). It’s what I always want as a teacher! You can find all my resources here: TES

The 3 o’clock bell rings at the end of school (or it would normally) so now is the time for the treat of my daily walk. I’m lucky to live in a small town surrounded by lots of wonderful countryside which I like to make the most of. I’ve always walked, long country hikes in the Cotswolds as a child made me what I am today! I love walking – probably my favourite hobby. It’s the thing that’s kept me sane over the past 7 weeks. I can listen to podcasts, music or simply my own thoughts – interrupted only by nature. I often stop (albeit briefly) to observe the nature that surrounds me. I’m always astounded by what I see. Despite having grown up surrounded by these wonders they will never fail to awe me.

Riverside walk in the sunshine

A Grand Day Out….

I know it feels a bit like groundhog day at the moment but yesterday was a big day…I got to go to school….to teach children!! It’s like I had been told I’d won the lottery (that’s how excited I was)! We had a wonderful day of PE with Joe Wicks, completing some of the online tasks all students have been set, an Easter egg decorating competition (that was like we’d told the kids they’d won the lottery)! and some afternoon artwork (following a skipping workout – we like to keep active).

It’s certainly different, trying to help students from 2 metres away isn’t always that easy, but we managed and we all had a wonderful day. The online work we are setting for pupils has yielded a daily bombardment of questions, answers, pictures and more questions but they have been great. As we try to find our way through the minefield of online learning (too much screen time, not enough devices, poor internet, parents working from home, no printer access) everyone is simply trying their hardest to do what is right. I have to say, it really was a grand day out, and I slept better having been mentally occupied in a way I’m far more used to (rather than simply staring at a screen).

I’m finding a daily routine helps to keep my head straight (mostly) and getting out in the sunshine is crucial (so grateful we have a daily walk allowance)! I’m also continuing my own learning using the OU and FutureLearn, some work related and some that simply pique my interest (who doesn’t love a bit of forensic psychology). I’m also finding a variety of webinars to get my imagination going (today was Digimap for schools – despite not even teaching geography this year – but it was where my career began).

I try to connect with other teachers and organisations trough Twitter (possibly my highest recommendation for anyone entering the teaching profession). I’m still continuing to create and upload resources to TES in the hope that they can help out a few others.

Tonight sees another 8pm #clapforcarers as we stay strong, safe and positive.

Lighting up a Monday morning!

Lighting up my Monday!

I realised I haven’t written much about the distance learning work I’ve been doing over the time we’ve been in lockdown. I’ve mainly just been uploading it on TES but I thought it might be helpful (if only to one other person) to put some on here too. So far I’ve prepared lessons for next week which encompass some revision of previous learning along with some new topic work. I think a little bit of trial and error will be the main measure of how things will proceed from there.

I’ve taken on advice about keeping things as simple as possible and not trying to cover too much, I can always add more in later. I’m also keeping my form updated with a weekly newsletter – just a bit of fun really – with riddles and challenges. Mainly to try and keep in contact with them. They’ve been great – letting me know what they’ve been up to, sending me pictures and videos and making me smile every day!

Although I know many people have struggled with working from home and feeling isolated I have actually relished it (I’m a bit of a loner anyway)! I’ve been able to get around to jobs that have been on the ‘to do’ list for weeks, months or sometimes years! I’ve also got around to reading some books (which I never find the time for when in school) as well as ‘enjoying’ Joe Wicks PE lesson every morning at 9am! I’ve even tidied cupboards I didn’t know I had (does anyone know what happens to all that missing Tuppaware?)

As I polish off the remaining Easter eggs I am determined to get more work done this week – as well as making the most of some time for myself.

Happy Monday, stay safe, stay positive.

Typical Tourists….

So it was eight years ago today (Easter Sunday) that we chose to ignore the advice of the guidebook – which said, in no uncertain terms don’t (absolutely, definitely) don’t go to DisneyLand on a Bank Holiday, especially Easter Sunday, as it would be all kinds of chaos!

Well, imagine the horror on our faces as we approached said ‘chaos’ at DisneyLand on that early Sunday morning….had we missed some kind of memo about DisneyLand being closed? Was there something wrong? No, turns out no-one really does anything before lunchtime so we pretty much had the place to ourselves for the first hour or so! Well, more fool them, as the temperature quickly became pretty unbearable for standing in queues for any rides we explored all the easy locations (read- bits without queues)!

We walked around the animals (having been raised in the country I still marvel at seeing animals) to be presented with what was billed at the ‘happiest goats in the world’! To be honest they looked ambivalent at best and I was reminded of my travelling companions descriptions in his guidebook from previous trips to the USA – ‘underwhelming’ being scrawled in the margins of many a travel guide!

The happiest goats in the world!

As the weather got too much for our pasty English complexions we took shelter in a nearby cinema for the luxury of air-conditioning (too cold it turns out)! But if you were to ask me now whether I’d want to do the whole thing all over again I’d happily be on the next flight out of here! The memories will always be there!

Until we can travel again the memories are what we will thrive on!

Happy Easter! Stay safe, stay positive.

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