Love actually

As those of you who check this blog regularly know, I do much of my best thinking in the bath, and tonight is no exception (I love baths. Seriously, I’m all relaxed and smell of baby powder and sweetpeas, and I’m in my uber-comfy PJs après having a good think…..good times).

And this evening I have mostly been thinking about love (“Is that the love between the man and a woman; or the love of a man for a fine Cuban cigar?” ~ Dr Hibbert). Not romantic love as such, but rather all the love that is in my life everyday. I spend so much time (especially in February, bete noire month of mine) hung up on what I don’t have, the one-on-one, romantic, coupley love that sometimes I think I am in danger of losing sight of all the love I have in my life, and how lucky I am to have it.

It’s visible in so many ways.

It’s the look on my kids faces when they arrive on a Monday morning – even though it’s cold and the weekend is through and they know I’m going to make them do Maths or geography or drama or something heinous they can’t even fathom, they come bounding up the slope to our yard and they are chatty and smiley and huggy and so happy to see me.

It’s my parents spending hours online this weekend and phoning me a gadzillion times as they try and work out what we are going to do about the moped conundrum – even though I’m twenty-five and they are 500 miles away they still worry and care and want to know I’m safe.

It’s my landlords, offering me lifts, asking how my day went, inviting me to quizzes and calling me to see if I want to join them for supper (I live in their house, people. And they phone to invite me – how cute is that?).

It’s the friends who call and text and email and write and visit and come and see me. It’s a hundred and one little things. It’s Mlle Wilson (and her luh-var) taking me for tea in Paris and not once mocking my ineptitude at French (a very tall order!). It’s HOTI having me to stay in London and not only being a marvellous host, but also dealing brilliantly with the double whammy of an FTOTZ BowlCon and Countrymouse after several red wines and no dinner (thanks again sweetie). It’s Sian (Siblingus Midimus) letting me crash at her digs and taking me to rock karaoke (again, soon?).

It’s Hannah driving through Friday rush hour to come see me, even though she knows we’ll talk shop for far too long. It’s Hannah (again!), spending a lazy new year’s with me and laying down plans for a New York based Hogmanay this year (bring it! Yay!). It’s Peachy having me to stay for over a week, sharing her life with me, and taking me to DC (where we proceeded to re-enact Rocky, by replacing the Philly steps with the Lincoln Memorial). It’s 15 page letters from Cat (15? Seriously!), silly cards from Jeaaaaaaan, pictures of new babies from Jess, phone calls with Val reliving the crazy days of Trew.

It’s Matthew texting me to let me know Nickel Creek are on the radio tonight. It’s Peter (Siblingus Minimus) sending me a long and chatty email, even though I am old and uncool. It’s Maz and Toaly, always pleased to see me, no matter how long I’ve been gone and what’s happened in between.

It’s Emma and Beverley, so keen to help me become the best teacher possible. It’s Tom, loaning me a CD I want to listen to, and always keen to talk music (even when Fi and I rock up late and after a few wines…). It’s silly injokes and X-factor preparation with Fiona, Sally, Sophie, Rachel and Miranda. It’s staffroom banter with Richard and Warren and Hayley.

It’s Shona buying me a book she knows I’ll love. It’s Nellums taking me to a Young Farmer’s Ball, just cause we don’t see enough of each other. It’s Jeaaaaan (again), texting me about a dress and sharing an anecdote. It’s Vicky and Al meeting me for lunch, and a million and one texts and emails for whatever reason, from Aimee, Rachel, Val, Kat, Erin, Tim….. It’s the lovely people who email about my healthkick and wish me well.

This list goes on.

And I want you all to know (even if you already do!) that I appreciate it. I try and give out as much love as I can, and I think I’m generally pretty good at it. But I also get a lot of love and support and care and largesse and beauty from you all, and I want you all to know I appreciate it.

Without you all in my life, it would be a much lesser, much harder place.

I love you all. To quote an artsist many of you love, and many of you would actually kill… “You’re beautiful”. “The Wind Beneath My Wings”, actually. In fact “You To Me Are Everything”.

I know, enough.


PS If I’ve forgotten anyone, humbles – this is very stream of consciousness today!
PPS Next time I whine because my adorable co-worker doesn’t like me, remind me of this post, would you?
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More tea, vicar?

After shopping and sightseeing, Mlle Wilson and I went to Mariage Freres for tea...sweet, sweet tea.

And promptly began goofing around!

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Art, baby!

What is it about statues and public art which brings out my inner high school drama geek?


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More sexy photo action!

If by sexy, I mean geeked out beyond recognition....

Here's Mlle Wilson and I freeeeezing our cookies off outside Sacre-Coeur, in Monmatre, looking out over the city. I love how our faces are all "smile, smile, take the freaking picture already, I can't feel my legs, I can't feel my legs, oh Lord, how cold I am...."

After that, we retired for chocolate - chocolat chaud, baby! I'm loving it!

More to follow, no doubt!


PS Thanks for the photos, gorgeous!

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Photogeekery, this time around

Countrymouse detained by the Assemblee Nationale! Or just me being a giant geek in front of some railings?

British people and tea.... a dangerous combo. Could I be more of a stereotypical upper middle class Brit in this photo?

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My prediction worked out....I am really, really tired. And today is just stretching for hours on end, but am doing OK other than that. Really want a nap, but what's new?

At least it's the fun afternoon today. Am about to go on a quest for caffiene, then two periods of reading (Yay, can read some more of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn) followed by the break we know around here as 'sandwhich break' because awesomely we get all these cool sandwhiches and cakes to have with our coffee....around here, it's quite the thing! Then reading, hometime, and paperworkarama before horse riding (which I feel will be hard work today!).

Time is

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Not, in hindsight, our best idea

Oh my. I drank a lot of wine last night. As did Fiona. A quick drink after work soon developed into a hearty chat over 1...2...3.... glasses of white. Oh my. Then Richy P turned up to watch the footie with his father-in-law to watch the footie and bought us another glass. Oh dear...

Then we decided to tramp up to Tom's, who promptly offered us some Anyone else seeing a pattern forming? Fairly good chat (I think...?), but Fi needed to be home after that! Dropped her off chez elle, then decided in my infinite tipsy wisdom, that a romp home (2 and a half miles, at 10pm) was just what I needed.

So I should feel wretched, but am OKish....everything's just gonna be a little slow today....


PS In vaguely sozzled state, told Fiona about my crush(ish) on cute-coworker-who-must-not-be-named (CCWMNBN, not the easiest abbreviation to work with....). Didn't tell Tom.
PPS Even though I hit the bevvies last night, I still went swimming this morning - are you proud?
PPPS As it would be hugely inappropriate to mention to my classes - the pants I am wearing today are tres cute! They are pink with bows and Snoopy on, and make me happy in an extremely sad manner....

Man, today is going to be loooong.
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Argh, rage!

My baby moped is brokened! It's been in the shop for over a week and they cannot fix it!

Y'all have no idea how my bottom lip is wibbling right now.

What on earth am I going to do? Am so busted, to coin a me-ism...

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It's totally wrong....

How much I enjoy watching the ice skating that is currently flooding our TV schedules at the moment.

I cannot so much as stand on ice skates....and the last few times I have tried I have ended up spending more time on my tush than on my feet. And yet I can watch hours of this stuff, transfixed. I love it, in all its sequinned, triple axled, serpentine stepped glory.

School went back today, and it was nice to catch up with kids and colleagues, but we all seem a little saggy at the moment - it's a bit of a lacklustre halfterm, by the look of things. Yesterday I was just....dreading...going back to work though, so I'm glad it turned out to be a good day nonetheless.

I have snacked far too much today, always a sure sign of ennui.

Better go plan some science - stay glamourous, y'all.

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"I feel like I'm taking crazy pills...."

Guess which film I'm currently watching with Naomi and Rob? Five syllables people - DeRek ZooLanDer.

Another fine day in Paris. We went shopping in the cheaper shopping centre here (Les Halles), but were thoroughly unimpressed by what it had to offer. So instead we went to the Centre George Pompidou, and had tea at a darling Salon de The overlooking the place. Then we went to the Tuileries before hitting the Musee D'Orsay for some crazy impressionist and sculpture action.

Then this evening we went for dinner at an adorable place called 'Le Petit Marche' - great food, lovely staff, but due to a menu problem (all three of us getting confused!) I wound up ordering veal kidneys....cue Rob being a hero and swapping entrees with me. Cute restaurant though, and we got free melon digestifs afterwards also - score!

After a fine dinner we drove back through the city (it's so beautiful at night, all lit up), and we're now chilling out at home - I think I'll be asleep in a wee while. It has been a lovely visit, but I'm exhausted - the nightmare I had last night not helping much (darkness and being attacked, erk!), as it has screwed my sleep pattern more than a bit.

Hopefully I'll rest well tonight. And tomorrow, home.

Fait des beaux reves, all,
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Well here I am in Paris, waiting to prendre une douche before Naomi and I hot the city again. It is lovely to be here, and I am having a wonderful stay, enjoying beautiful sights, culture, good company and lovely food. This really is an amazing city, and I'm so glad I made it back...

Arrived on Wednesday, and had a lovely chilled evening avec Naomi and Rob, had some fabulous Chinese from his family's restaurant. Gorgeous food, and I even tried frogs legs! Conclusion: they taste like chicken.

Yesterday Mlle Wilson and I went off around the city - we browsed les chaussures fabeleux in Galleries Lafayette, had lunch at a very hip Parisian bio-cafe (mmmm, detox soup with coconut and honey), browsed around some chinese and japanese shops, went to the coolest tea shop ever, went to Notre-Dame (it's looking so much better than last time I was here), went to the Assemblie Nationale and the sculptures by the Musee D'Orsay, and Invalides. Then we met up with Rob and went up to Monmatre and Sacre-Coeur - one of my favourite parts of the city! Then in the evening we went for dinner at a very cute Parisian hole-in-the-wall, full of French people being awesomely....French, with nary a tourist in sight.

Today we are hitting the Orsay and the Tuileries, going for amazing chocolat chaud at Angelinas and shopping. Tonight is social central before I leave tomorrow :-(. Can't I just stay here and drink wine and ponder?


PS Exciting news - my friend J is now a mummy! Big congrats, J and O, she is gorgeous and I can't wait to send my gift over!
PPS Photos are being taken of Paris follow!
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Je vais a Paris!

Well the bags are packed, the wardrobe's been critiqued, the bank balance has been checked (ooof, I really can't afford this...) and I am literally just about to head out the door to the train station to whizz down to London, tube through to Waterloo, then L'Eurostar to Paris, there in time for a late afternoon tea avec Mlle Wilson.

I cannot remember any of my high school French.

Yesterday was fun, just a lovely chilled day - my flat is cleaner than it's ever been! And then I had a gorgeous meal, a lovely bath, some fine wine, and fell asleep before 10... midway through Love Actually. Good fun.

Apparently, the 'average' British spend on Valentine's this year was £92. WTF? That's more than my return on Eurostar is costing. Just insane, and all a bit too Wayne and Colleen-y for my taste.

Next blog entry will no doubt be a) loooooong, b) peppered with lots of French phrases, and c) slightly panicked (as another half-term rolls round - and I don't think all of the reports I sent out will have been welcome. They were, however, exceedingly fair, so it's going to be a case of "Brace yourself").

Have fun, y'all!


PS That's what I've forgotten - haven't had breakfast....leftover Lindor, anyone?
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Because John and Taupin say it far better than I can...

(edited for gender)

I want love, but it's impossible
A girl like me, so irresponsible
A girl like me is dead in places
Other girls feel liberated

I can't love, shot full of holes
Don't feel nothing, I just feel cold
Don't feel nothing, just old scars
Toughening up around my heart

But I want love, just a different kind
I want love, won't break me down
Won't brick me up, won't fence me in
I want a love, that don't mean a thing
That's the love I want, I want love

I want love on my own terms
After everything I've ever learned
Me, I carry too much baggage
Oh man I've seen so much traffic

So bring it on, I've been bruised
Don't give me love that's clean and smooth
I'm ready for the rougher stuff
No sweet romance, I've had enough coin a Hornby-ism: "Do I listen to pop music because I'm miserable? Or am I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

Nah, this song is inherently hopeful for a mess like me.

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Fine, that’s it!

So I was walking back from school this evening, en route to Tescos, and I just thought “screw it!”. Why should Valentine’s have to be such a negative thing for me? So I’m going to plan a really nice Valentine’s night for myself tomorrow. In an ideal world, the guy I like would be joining me, but if not I’ll just have to have fun on my own. No snogging though, boo.

So tomorrow I am going to tidy my flat up so it’s clean and shiny and its very prettiest (and am also going to pack for Paris, otherwise there may be some problems!). Then I’m going to go for a nice long walk, get plenty of fresh air and rosy cheeks before coming home and having a good old preen – long bath, groom central. Then I’m going to cook up a storm before getting changed into a nice outfit (whole hog – skirt, heels, makeup etc.). Then I’m going to have a yummy, yummy meal – crudités and tortilla chips with red pesto salsa to start, grilled steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce accompanied with new potatoes, caramelised red onion, and stir fried mange tout, baby corn and mushrooms. To finish it’s creamy stilton on minature oatcakes and Lindor truffles, and the wine is a very nice Cotes Du Rhone. Then I’m going to put the dishes in to soak while I watch ‘Love, Actually’. Yes, it would all be a lot more fun with someone else, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless!

If the universe is reading this, you know who I’d like to join me… but if that’s impossible I’ll be chilling out to Jamie Cullum by candlelight on my own tomorrow. I think I’d rather be on my own than rush what might be happening with a certain someone, but if he’s into me, that would be great. Dare I ask for a sign? Wow, this entry is managing to be cryptic, quirky and bizarre!

I hope you all have a day full of love, wherever you are.


PS In the interest of being fair – I’ve even bought enough supplies to do a meal for two, should the need arise. Y’all are always telling me not to be pessimistic!
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I'm bored, I'm bored, this feeling will not be ignored, it's dramatic potential must be whored, over (across?) a boredom river I must ford...

People, this is what happened when I spend five or six hours on campus doing 'stuff' and 'things' in and around my classroom during vacation time. It an't pretty. Especially not in my least favourite month (February, bleurgh!) and with a 2 or 3 mile walk home to look forward to. So after this I'm gonna send a few emails then head home, via the hub of my life that is Tescos before heading out across the hills to home, books, and some much needed packing (no matter how I try my bored-ranting and V-day wallowing can only peak at a certain level because in two days I am going to Paris! Like I hadn't mentioned that already...).

Went for a quick lunch with Fiona earlier, always good to catch up out of school. She's so together and sorted - she's practically the same age as me, but I want to be as cool as her when I'm a proper grown-up! She's moving into Tom's house close to campus soon, so her life is packing central - she has my sympathy, packing can be such a chore.

Nothing much planned for this evening or, books, wine, chilling. And tomorrow I may treat myself a little (don't think anyone else will be :-)) - bubble bath and heat magazine, here I come!

Although, sad as it is, I know there will be a teeny tiny 1% of me who will still be hoping that a Valentines arrives. That's either sad or hopelessly romantic...not sure which!

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

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Half-term. Yay laziness!

Things here are very chilled today. I’m rather impressed I even bothered to get changed really. So far today I’ve read a couple of chapters of my book, had a bath, had brunch (scrambled eggs and spiced beans, yum), watched ‘American Idol’, sang for almost an hour (TV talent shows always leave me wanting to sing), and am now watching ‘The OC’. Next is the Scotland v. Wales match (come on Scotland!) and some chores before an evening of phone calls and letter writing.

Next couple of days should be equally chilled, with a little work in school also. And I might be having lunch with a friend I have a little bit of a crush on (unreciprocated, I am almost certain, but still fun to hang out).

Hope you are all feeling just as chilled.

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Books: Have finished ‘The Learning Game’ and am starting the book Shona got me for Christmas (‘Mao’s Last Dancer’) – it’s good so far and I’m getting into it. And after my trip to the second-hand bookstore yesterday (I am so rock and roll it hurts, right?) I picked up a passel of books, the first of which I am going to attack is ‘High Fidelity’ – it occurred to me the other day that although I have seen the movie a tonne of times I have yet to read the book!
TV: Am watching ‘The O.C.’ as I type – the antics of Seth, Summer et al. can only hold so much of my attention! Other televisual treats have been ‘Celebrity Ice Dancing’ (I am a cliché!) and the double bills of ‘American Idol’ ITV are showing on Sunday mornings. There won’t be much TV this week though, as I’m off to Paris midweek! Yay!
Movies: Have finally watched ‘The Godfather Part II’, and really enjoyed it. And last night I watched ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, which is always fun. I really like that film, mainly because it reminds me of my first visit to the US, when Amber, Amanda and I saw this my first night there. Such a great trip – I am pining for Carolina once more!
Projects: Try to remember all the French I have ever learnt for Paris! Trying to figure out outfits cute enough for Paris (I always feel pressurised to look good there – it’s one of the few places on earth where I feel duty-bound to wear makeup on a daily basis)! Tidying my wee flat up! Lots of walking and swimming! Doing some pottering bits and bobs around my classroom – I am, as always, a massive geek!
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Wounds of love

Sometimes I feel like I’m daring the universe to prove me wrong. It’s a scary kind of dare because in my heart of hearts I know I’m probably right, but I really, really, really hope I’m wrong.

See I don’t have the best of luck with guys. I can talk the talk, I’ve dated, I’ve had enough kisses to make sure I’m not entirely “spinster of the parish” but the bottom line remains that I kind-of-well-actually suck at relationships. I can fall in ‘love’ (in hindsight, it’s always more ‘like’ than ‘love’) with a person, I can go out and have people take my number, guys will buy me drinks or ask me to dance. But I am far, far too talented at converting these good starts into terrible endings. Every so often I can parlay the debacle into a good friendship or a nice couple of dates, but all to often it winds up in a huge, hurtful mess.

My “love life” up to this point could best be described as painful. I have physical, mental and emotional scars which I try to deal with as best I can, and sometimes I do pretty well, but at the end of the day I’m on my own for… self-preservation more than anything else. The men in my life, for the most part, have displayed to me, how awful men can be – I’ve been used, insulted, let down, abandoned, hurt, and driven to lows I didn’t know were there. I know I’m not perfect, and I’ve done some shitty things too, but the balance is firmly swayed – I have been done over by “romance”.

Which may explain why I hate V-day a little. Now I would classify myself as a romantic, and I really, really want to like this celebration but up to this point (discounting my primary school years because then Valentines rocked so hard) my Valentines have more or less blown. A couple have been OK – I’ve done the catch a movie with a girlfriend / go for a haircut / have a few drinks with other single friends thing, but some of the others make me shudder. Worst was probably 2003 – I don’t want to get too into it but it required medical attention. Egads, that was a low.

But this year I am going to try and be upbeat about it. I want to make peace with love, as it were. I want to believe that I can have the whole thing, because I’d really like to have a normal relationship. And right now there is a guy in my life who might be someone I want to get involved with, and I’m using every molecule of strength I have not to pull a Claire and get rid of him as soon as possible. I am trying to believe that someone could like me, even with all the bullshit and randomness.

Hmmm, this random ramble needs to finish here I think.

Happy Valentines all!

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Mmmmm, lurgy...

What's even more fun than trying to co-ordinate almost 90 children in a singing, acting, dancing and prancing extravaganza when you are super tired? Aha, I know the answer to this - it's trying to co-ordinate almost 90 children in a singing, acting, dancing and prancing extravaganza when you are super tired and you have a lurgy. Granted, there are sooooo many other staff involved it's just crazy, but knackering nonetheless.

But am chilling just now, and getting my orange on (vitamin C, baby!) whilst the children are at hockey. Today's insane, I've got a reading sesh next, then study skills, then a coffee break (praise be!), then PE, then I'm doing the after school care (we are so watching a film!) and then it's the showcase. And then we are going for Thai food - and in my case a large glass of wine!

Tomorrow half term kicks my case with a four or five hour maths course. I wish I were kidding.

I now have three munchkins sat at my feet (literally - they are all about the hivey huddling at 7!) so I'll wrap up for now. Almost the weekend!

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Quick and easy

So bizarrely, my Year 6 lesson yesterday went well. Who knew?

And now it's Sunday evening and I'm sat in front of the TV, with one eye on 'Gangs of New York' as I do my marking. It's been a halfhearted sort of day here, just pottering and catching up with stuff. Slept into about 11, which I rarely do, they lay in bed watching American Idol. Tres lazy.

One week till halfterm, which is a relief.


PS The quiz last night? My team won! Yes! Meaningless success!
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