Another Great Escape

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Going undercover

I'm going off the blogosphere for a bit - got lots of things to do - be back soon.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tradition Vs. New Stuff

It's getting to that time of year when we start gearing up to the end of term. It is always action packed; there are records to prepare to give to the high school, full scale productions to direct and produce, Pupil night out to organise, assessments, marking, coordinator tasks to complete, work to sample and finally - the leavers assembly to organise.

Last year was the first year that we had year 6 leavers at my school, so it was the first time that I had had to sort anything else. I tried to establish something a bit different, something that wasn't the same as had been done year in year out with the year 4 leavers. This usually consisted of the same readings and the same hymns, as had been done for years previously. Mine was completely different, we had a Beatles song, one by the Beach boys and a few poems. Needless to say it didn't go down well. Like I said, it's that time of year again. There has been rumblings already about what we're doing. Shall we sing this, shall we do that, blah, blah, blah - that's what it sounds like to me. All I want to do is do something different, something that reflects what makes up my class and who I am as a teacher.

I find conflict and disagreement hard to deal with - it's one of my development targets to solve conflict rather than avoid it. Tomorrow will see it come to level - having thought about what I want my class to do rather what other people want me to do. I had a open remit to do what I want. Sometimes tradition can be stifling, strangling any type of new innovation or change - Sometimes change can be scary, and unnerving - but at this moment, I've lost all patience with the traditionalists and they need to get a grip.

Sound familiar??

Check out Rob's Blog

Check out Rob's blog - Rob emailed me about the new set of wheels that we'd bought for our ever-growing bump. He also happens to be involved with some interesting stuff, which I'm sure he'll blog about, down in Plymouth.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

It dawned on me today being Father's day...this time next year I'll have been a dad for 8 months!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mission Impossible?

The look on Crouch's face said it all - relief that he had scored, so relieved he didn't even do his robot dance. After his goal you could see the tension drain off England, and they actually played pretty good even if it was only for the part of the game. I can relate to Crouchy. Today has been a marathon, from waking up at 6.30, to trying to get home to watch the football before kickoff.

I woke up tired, having spent some of the night thinking my lesson through for today, and the day before attaching 10, 1.5metre tall African tribal masks to the hall wall up a rickety set of scaffold. I'm not usually worried about being observed but today was a bit different. I've had a student teaching my class, so for the last few weeks I haven't taught my class Numeracy. Anyway, aside from that, things started going wrong from about 7.10 am. I needed to play part of a track for a section in the lesson, do you think my iPod would play? I needed to leave at 7.30, so I had 2o minutes to iron my shirt, shave, eat breakfast and fix my iPod. I gave up with the iPod and resorted to downloading the track onto a flashdrive, I got to school at 8.15, 30 minutes after I needed to be. Not good. I then got collered sorting some problem out. 8.40, photocopying done, no kids yet. 8.50 kids in - no faffing time left.

I really wanted the kids to pull their socks up and do me proud, I did the usual speech, read them the riot act and then bribed them. Things were going well, until I thought I'd get prepped for the next lesson. I went to use my laptop and the touchpad wouldn't work. Okay, I thought, I'll use the pen on the board - that didn't work either. Not quite panic yet, I rebooted. Still nothing. Turned off the power, let it stand for a bit. Nothing. Removed the battery, rebooted...the pen worked but no keypad. The morning had flown by and I still wasn't ready.

After the faff of the morning, I was almost relieved when the Inspector and my boss came in. I had to forget about the hassles and get on with the show. I thought things were going badly, the kids were farting about, I'd spotted a typo on some of the material I'd done, I was worried that the work was too hard. To top it off I had a kid decide to leap up and commando roll around the floor when I played the mission impossible theme (there was a point to this). I didn't get any indication as they left of how it went, just a thank-you and that was that. I had to wait until after the kids had gone home for my feedback.

Well, it had gone really, really well, I'm not sure what they can tell in a 25 min observation though, but he had liked what me, my posse of helpers (I've got a few special needs kids in my class) and the kids had done. Relief.

The only task left was to get back home for the match - the traffic was really bad. It took me 25 mins to do a 10 min journey.

I'm whacked - I might do my robot dance tomorrow!

iPod's fixed - had to do a reset it by using this update thing off the apple site - that took a while too - Apple's aren't above problems then....

Monday, June 12, 2006

Britax Voyaga Ultra Travel System

My previous post about our push chair has attracted a lot of hits from all over the UK. I had an email from somebody down in Plymouth asking about the the push chair. I thought I'd do a bit of review of it.

The pushchair is designed quite well, it looks pretty good, it has lots of features and is a good alternative for the typical 3 wheeler pushchairs.

The Pros: It has lots of stuff; carry cot, car seat, bag, canopies, lots of space underneath and a good set of wheels. The front two wheels you can lock into place if you want to. It's very sturdy, without being too chunky - the silver bits on the side are good to look at. It's easy to put up and put down. Price wise, for what you get, it's very good. You also feel as if your baby is going to be secure and safe in it.

The cons: weight. It's a bit heavy, although not overly. It does take up a lot of space - but is small in comparison to a 3 wheeler. You have to buy the quick release car seat system separately, although you can use what is there already. The cup holder looks a bit plasticy but you can take that off.

I'm sure as we get to use it, my views might change. But having bought one and raced it around a bit this is what I've come up with. Let me know if you find this useful.

(Ours is in Prague - a bit like this, but with the cup holder)

Dramatic Conversion

Before you get excited I haven't converted to Mac - It has only taken 12 months of moaning, disruption, and hassling but in the end right has overcome wrong. Claire has decided that she likes Lost. For the whole of the first series, she complained about how she didn't like it but now she does. She was glued to it last night. Maybe it's the pregnancy, or maybe common sense has prevailed!

The USA, REAL football and the World Cup

As you know I'm a big fan of America - not necessarily the politics - but America and Americans are just cool. Anyway - the Budweiser adverts for the world cup are great, very apt.

FIFA have ranked the USA at 5th in the world - this looks very dodgy, for a nation where they call it soccer and half of them haven't heard of it, 5th is pretty high - very, very high. The first half of their first match is over and they're already two goals down against the Czech Republic - that doesn't bode well for a team that is ranked 5th in the world. I'll give them their dues, they've qualified for every world cup since 94 and they've come out of nowhere to being pretty good. But there's no way that they're 5th in the world, supposedly better than Italy, Germany, France, Argentina and even England.

Although, I'm a big Anglo-American, I've got to support the Czech's - we'll see what the second half brings...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Football, Sun and Sunday

The England match was a bit of a disappointmen, wasn't it? All that hype and Crouch didn't even get chance to do his funky dance. There's a lot of excuses in the papers today - the main one putting England's lacklustre performance due to it being too hot. Fair enough - I'm trying to work this afternoon, although writing reports aren't on the same level as running around in 30 + degree heat for 90 minutes, and I can't get anywhere - hence the blogging.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Summoned by the Department of Education!

I had a call this morning at work from a bigwig at the Local Education Authority. I thought I was in trouble - not that I have anything to be worried about! My name had been suggested to this guy, he'd been looking for some teachers to take part in a research panel for The Department of Education - the one in London - the really important one. All I know at the moment is that it'll involve a bit of work online and possible trips to London to the DFES building. Scary!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Special offer: Relevant Magazine

I know I've plugged it before but if you haven't listened or paid attention here it is again. Relevant Magazine is probably one of the best publications around, if you want a balanced, normal Christian view on things. I know what you're thinking, Christian magazine - low quality, dodgy adverts asking for money, etc, etc. I'm really dubious about anything professing to be christian and modern, especially anything from this country - needless to say Relevant is American!! Don't let this put you off though. It is produced very well, it gives an honest, non-judgmental, balanced, creative, non-denominational, account of most things without (in my opinion) watering things down. It's just very good. Every issue is different, not every article is about a christian author, musician or person - this is the bit I interviews normal people too! For someone who is not particularily interested in traditional church or christian culture but has a belief then this is for you. There's more. There's a podcast too and Relevant TV - a whole load of music videos directly to your desktop.

Here's the offer, open to any reader of my blog, even a lurker (the ones that look but don't leave comments), I will buy an annual subscription for a someone that leaves a comment on this post. I don't have to know you, you don't have to live in the UK. I will be selective - I might even buy a couple if subscriptions.

Don't knock it unless you've tried it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

If you've got a spare few minutes and your not Scottish, Welsh or Irish


It's been a good week. I spent to quality time with my Dad boarding our loft, we went shopping for a pushchair, we stayed up late watching cheesy films, England won two games convincingly (3,1 & 6:0), I had a hair cut in the day time, we went shopping in B'ham, I finally got to tidy up our front bit of garden, I got caught up with some reading, I barbecued for the first time this year, and I got to see our unborn child stretching out, arm behind it's head, relaxing in our 20 week scan. I could go on, like I said it's been a good week.

I'm on half term break from work, today's the last day of relaxing before we start the final push towards the end of term in 7 weeks. It's been a tough year, the class is interesting to say the least, and I've been busy with lots of projects. But anyway, today is Sunday, we were intending to to got to church this morning - honest. Claire's whacked, she's not budging from the bed. I tried to wake her, she wasn't having any of it. So, out came my laptop (not a mac), on went the kettle for some tea and I settled on the couch with the french doors open for a bit of uninterupted blog time.

I caught up with a few blogs I read, left a few comments and discovered a good blog- Journeyguy and a good feed from the BBC 10 thing.

Sometimes it's nice just to chill out, read, type, listen to the birds in the garden, smell the air and drink tea (and eat a couple of ginger nuts).

I'm not in work tomorrow, I've got the day at home to start writing the end of year reports on the kids. So my break isn't completely over :-)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

England: 6 Jamacia: 0

Germany here we come!!!

This is a great site. Lots of interesting pictures. Some of the art work is ace.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Treasure Hunting

I find things like cellars, lofts, secret passageways, and anything like that fascinating. I suppose it comes from reading Enid Blyton books as a kid and having an over active imagination. Our last house was a Victorian nailers cottage which had a cellar and a loft, it even had an authentic outhouse. The previous owners were hoarders, they left stuff everywhere, we should have complained but we didn't know who to complain to. We spent a good month clearing away their rubbish. The bloke before had started to board over the damp in the cellar, which wasn't a good idea, so we had to pull out the manky boards. Behind one set of boards, underneath the chimney breast was an alcove full of stuff. There was 15 wine making bottles (the big glass ones, with the little handles at the top), there was a Betamax video (broken) complete with about 30 videos (The Lovejoy collection, alongside more dubious titles - Redhot lovers), and just bags of rubbish. Maybe he was making a time capsule or maybe he couldn't be bothered to go to the tip. Anyway, up in the loft was a selection of junk too, we cleared it all out, underneath it all we found the original victorian doors. Cool.

So, I like finding stuff, and rooting around in loft by torch light getting dusty. Yesterday saw me and my dad going up into the loft and putting some boards down. I was expecting all kinds of things, maybe the collection of Lovejoy tapes on VHS, but I didn't. I'm quite disapointed with my haul. Apart from fibreglass splinters and breathing difficulties due to the dust the resulting haul consisted of: a few scraps of 1971 Daily Express Newspaper, 4 old planks of wood, a very large, old, dormant (I hope) wasp/bees nest, and a quite kitsch looking silver Christmas tree.

I've pretty much explored the whole house now, not having found a secret passage or trap door or hidden gems has left me feeling quite disapointed. It's cool to find things - sad, I know - that's why whenever I'm doing an renovation I try to leave something for someone else to find.

So if anyones got an unexplored loft, cellar, bomb shelter or anything that you have to crawl into with a torch, mask and possibly with risk to your life then I'm your man. Drop me an email.

New set of wheels

We made our first purchase from Babies R Us yesterday - I've got a feeling it won't be our last either! Claire's parents wanted to buy us something, so our mission was to buy a pushchair. Pushchairs aren't things I've usually paid much attention to in the past, I didn't realise there was so much choice and so many things to take into consideration. After a lot of research, discussion, testing & racing around the shop we opted for a Britax Voyaga Ultra Travel System.
(Not our kid)