Sunday, August 31, 2008

A cunning plan

Not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to start decorating the living room three days before I started a new job, but it was probably the totally correct feeling that if I didn't start at that point then I probably wouldn't start at all until I retire in a few years' time. So now, two weeks later, we have one and a half stripped walls, one newly painted section of ceiling and a bit of plaster patching completed on the windowsill. Everything else still awaiting attention: very many small items dumped in boxes and carriers, very many shelves upturned along corridor, table dumped in hallway, settees covered in loose bubble wrap (nearest thing to hand at the time). I'm not a tidy or a speedy worker. And the chimney breast turns out to be damp - huge surprise there, as you can imagine. As this means that the wallpaper strips off with very little help from me I'm taking it as a positive.

Have been advised to sell the house with outline planning permission for conversion into two dwellings - one ground floor, one first floor - which would allow a builder to totally block off the staircase area, which is the most badly affected by damp. This should cover all the angles - we could sell without feeling we were foisting a dodgy house onto some unsuspecting innocent, and both we and the buyer/developer might possibly get a reasonable deal. It might work!

Whoops, don't go getting optimistic - you know what happens when you get optimistic...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy (Bank Holiday) Mondays

My new job is nuts! Students who turn up apparently stoned, very little in the way of resources and scruffy, isolated accommodation which seems to suggest to already disadvantaged young people that that's all they deserve or can be trusted with (that latter bit might be true - we'll have to work on it). Wonder whether I'll beat the last tutor's few short months in the post?

Anyway, Bank Holiday weekend so I'm going to try and find time to enter the Words Mag union members' comp - closing date is 30th August, so I'll have to get my skates on. Not much writing, reading or well, anything much, getting done lately.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend in the sunshine.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cobwebs, jobs and hot chocolate

Now that I'm a fully fledged, bona fide teacher I've had to get a job, so I start Monday teaching basic skills to young people who've offended. I suspect this might not be a terrifically easy gaffe - it won't be all sweetness and charm (on their part anyway, I'm sweetness personnified...) or even the benign stoicism you often get with adult groups - but it's similar to what I did on part of my teaching practice and I'm looking forward to it in a 'what was I thinking of - I can't do this!' kind of way.

The school holidays rumble on with Sweetie Pie rising at noon most days and then, if she has sufficient energy, arranging to meet a friend for hot chocolate in town towards the end of the afternoon. Meanwhile, I'm doing a little painting in my last remnants of spare time, disturbing cobwebs that would be awarded squatters' rights if they lingered any longer on the picture rail and bravely dealing with spiders who think it's already September. We've put so many outside these last few days I'm hoping they don't have a homing instinct.

See ya when I'm not only fully fledged, but practising too...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The best laid plans

Well, last week didn't go quite as well as we'd hoped. Family dynamics, dismal weather (thick fog, lashings of rain) and illness all played their part. Buster requires more attention than is fair to Sweetie Pie, who's fourteen and therefore unlikely in any case to enjoy a family holiday at all, let alone one on a caravan site in the rain-soaked UK. I did what I could to alleviate the situation for her - I paid inordinate amounts of money for a week's internet access from her laptop and for a couple of spa treatments, but what cheered her up most was getting her bum squeezed by a passing lad in the entertainment centre.

Me: You should've turned round and slapped him.

Sweetie: Are you mad? I liked it!

I think maybe there was a mix-up at the hospital...


What do the following have in common?

Barry White Line

Porter Waggon-er

50 (per) Cent

They're all my (ingenious, I think you'll agree) attempts at concocting names of celebs from things we passed on the holiday car journey. Barney's, Buster's and Sweetie Pie's contributions obviously weren't quite as high-class as mine but oh, how we laughed, as they say. See, it really doesn't take much to make us happy.

The high point of the week tho' came the day we walked on the beach to Embleton and lunched at the pub. Usually when we go to a pub we're the worst family there - the family that everyone else looks at thinking, why did they come along spoiling our peace with their bad vibes and truculence? On this particular day tho' there was a family even more snarly and scratchy than us. They had the two best behaved little boys ever, but kept telling them off for misdemeanors indiscernible to other diners. Finally, grumpy dad stood up and yelled very loudly at mum:
'Stop sitting there like flippin' Winston Churchill, barking out your orders! Go and sit in the corner!'
Sweetie Pie and I exchanged glances and what started as muffled giggling ended up as something a bit rowdier. Not sure what Winston Churchill thought of us but for once we were very, very proud to seem almost normal by comparison...

Friday, August 1, 2008

We're all going on a...

...Summer Holiday.

No pressure, no waiting for flights, no claustrophobia on the car deck, just a few moderate walks and a few good pub lunches.

See you in a week or so...