Singalong Saturday, September 26th

1. Oliver James - Fleet Foxes

I used to do these posts all the time, and when I sat down to blog this morning, it seemed like the obvious choice. Many of you will recall the structure - if you haven't read one before it is pretty much me blogging along in a Claire stylee, as ever. Just I let you know what I'm listening to as I go along...

2. Marching Bands of Manhattan - Death Cab For Cutie

I can't believe we're homing in on the end of September, can you? Seems like a moment ago it was a very hot May, or a slightly lacklustre July, and now here we are, sliding gracefully into autumn and all that entails. The mornings are darker now, and it's taking more effort to swing my legs over the side of the bed and bounce into each day at 6 am.

3. Common People (Live at Glastonbury) - Pulp

The mornings are cooler as well - yesterday morning as I left the house I had 'dragon's breath' (you know, that steamy breath you get when it's cold?) for the first time in ages. The leaves on the trees as I go for my little walks through Regent's Park and Swiss Cottage are starting to fade into browns and golds and reds, and soon they will be dropping to the floor. When they do I am so going for a 'kick the leaves' walk! I'm also looking forward to a good days puddlejumping when the autumn rains begin. I love this season, the mellowness, the coolness. I can't wait to cosy up in my favourite coats again, and am already planning new scarves and gloves and boots. Delicious.

I always go a bit hibernatey in the autumn. I feel the urge to bake cakes and make soups and pies (I made my own pastry for the first time ever last weekend - it was gooooood). I'm more inclined to go for a pint in the pub, or curl up with a good book, or write letters. I am so behind on letters - luckily this is a fairly chilled weekend so I should make some headway. On my emails too - life has been so busy this month!

4. Know How - Kings of Convenience

This autumn already looks to be filled with deliciousness. I am loving being in London and close to so many people. Oftentimes in the country I could go for a week or two not talking to anyone except my work colleagues. And while I was lucky enough to have a bunch of work colleagues I loved to pieces, it didn't make up for a social life. My weekends were frequently busy, but weeknights were so, so lonely. Being able to go grab some dinner, or meet friends for a couple of drinks, is a true blessing. I love looking at my little diary now and seeing plans for fun with people I love - movies, dinners, drinks, coffees....bliss.

5. Only Sixteen - Sam Cooke

I'm also loving having an actual weekend again. During the workweek I am throwing everything I've got into school (which is as it should be! It's my career, after all!), but there is something delicious about logging off on a Friday at about 4.30, heading to the pub for a glass of wine with my (lovely) new colleagues, then heading off to catch the tube home. With the whole weekend stretching ahead!

6. Sexy Ladies - Let Me Talk to You - Justin Timberlake


And sure, I take a little bit of work home most weekends (I'd say maybe four or five hours this weekend), but I have two days to fit it in. For example, this afternoon, while Matthew's off at the football I shall watch some 'Priveleged' and some 'One Tree Hill' and other nonsense, while marking some maths books (we have little mental arithmetic books for the boys to work through at their own pace and I want them up to date). And tomorrow evening I'll check my work emails and do a little planning and research. Most of my weekend, though? Relaxed as heck! Might catch a movie, do some cooking, some planning for America (we're going next month!)...just recharge. This may be why I am typing this still wearing my pyjamas...

7. This River Is Wild - The Killers

I am so excited for Texas now - I can't believe that this time in a month we will be there! I am so excited for Jenna's wedding. My girl is going to marry the love of her life! And I get to be there and be her bridesmaid and share her joy. Just so very excited! And a week away in America with Matthew will be divine - we have plans to be touristy, do some shopping, and eat far too many big breakfasts! It's strange, because we are primarily going there for the wedding, it's just now slowly sinking in that we're actually going out there!

8. Forgiveness - Leona Lewis

The rest of October and November are filled with enough work things to keep me on my toes...and enough social stuff to keep me smiling. Parties and dinners, a Dizzee Rascal gig (eeeeeeeeeee! Super excited! Thank you again, Ben and Chez!), a Taylor Swift gig (I'mma let you finish....), bonfires, visits, sleepovers, and lots of other things. Ooooh, and SiVar and Nicole's wedding too, taking my tally this year to 4! I *love* weddings, and already have two booked for next year - I am bridesmaid for lovely Laura and her Garry in June, and will see Mlle Wilson and Al make it official next autumn. Gorgeousness!

9. Bryn - Vampire Weekend

So, to conclude, life is busy and fun. Work is demanding but rewarding. Friends are awesome as ever, but I am determined to book time with some of my favourites, who I haven't seen for a while, soon. Family are all doing well, and I can't wait to head home at Christmas and hear all their news! Life's good, and I am a blessed and lucky young lady. I am also a young lady who needs to grab a shower and get started on a chilled and lovely weekend...

10. Winding Road - Bonnie Somerville

Wishing you a brilliant one, lovelies...

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So, it's been a busy few days in the world of Claire and friends...Matthew and I had a lovely anniversary (Chinese food at a favourite place and a lovely walk along the river, win of epicity). Mum and Dad celebrated 25 years of marriage (well done & congratulations once more you crazy kids!). And Minimus, my awesome brother, headed off to university in Aberdeen (I am loving the daily email updates! Hurrah for living vicariously!).

As well as that, work is busy busy busy, and seeing friends and working out fills up much of my free time. Along with the following diversions...

I'm listening to lots of music. I'm loving Regina Spektor's latest, and Florence + the Machine give great powerfolk (as I've decided to call it!). I've also really liked what I've heard so far from Kate Miller-Heidke, an Aussie singer songwriter. She's a little bit Tori, a little Regina...I like. This song of hers is just so pretty... I should also get Dizzee Rascal's latest album I think - because I'm going to see him next month. Woo!

I'm reading loads and loads. A 60 to 90 minute commute every workday will do that to a girl! I've just finished an awesome book on unusual places to visit in London, and next up it's 'The Senator's Wife'.

I am glued to the latest series of 'America's Next Top Model' in all its shiny glory, and think I'll probably get a little into 'Strictly Come Dancing', if only because a) ooooh, sequins!, b) X-Factor is a bit rubbarsh so far, and c) because I love Claudia Winkleman, who presents the extra show for Strictly. She's super funny - I was watching earlier while I was on the bike at the gym and totally got the giggles and mightily confused the weightlifters.

I'm also giggling at I'mma Let You Finish.Com. Oh, Kanye.

I'm learning how to shave minutes off my commute. How to arrange my marking. Who does what at school. Which heels can last a whole workday and then a few afterwork drinks.

Add in friends and cuddles and trips and plans, and you have a busy Claire.

Add in the fact that it's just about three months till Christmas now, and you have an ecstatic one!

How's your week going?

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People I love, part 4

(Apologies in advance. This one *will* get soppy.)

The person I'm writing about this evening is the person I love in a different way to everyone else on the list. He's the person who I spend the most time with. He's the person who shares in my highest points and my lowest moments. Who sees me all dolled up and working a room, or slouched on the couch at home, eating toast and watching 'Come Dine With Me'. He's the boy who, right now, is cleaning our bathroom (thank you!). One of the sweetest, kindest, cleverest and most beautiful people I've ever met.

My boyfriend, my best friend, my badger, Matthew.

And later tonight, and tomorrow, we'll be celebrating one whole year together. 12 months. 365 days (of which, I have worked out in my research, we have spoken or msned every single day bar two). A brilliant year. A year of new things and changes and new experiences and dealing with a lot of commitmentphobia (mainly mine, I think. I was a bit scared of love!). Hence why one year's kind of exciting!

I still don't quite know how or why I was lucky enough to have someone so lovely, so wonderful, and so very perfect for me, drop into my life exactly when I was ready for him.

Don't believe me? Then check out this blog post, which I wrote two days before we both attended the party where we first got together (thanks again for the party, Siobhán! And the after party Singstar, Kate and Jase!)...

From there:

"Now it's more about the fact that I've yet to find a guy who can keep up with me, keep me interested, and treat me with the kindness and esteem I want. No, deserve. And until he gets here (I may have already met him, but I'm a little thick on these things...I wouldn't know! Unless he jumped up and down in front of me going "It's me! It's me!"), it's like I'm growing and changing and becoming the woman I want to be. So if and when I meet someone who deserves me, I'll be able to meet him as someone fun and full of love and kindness, and also someone who likes herself and takes care of herself. I think I'm getting there."

Matthew never quite jumped up and down in front of me, but he has always treated me with more esteem and kindness than I could ever have imagined (life with a Claire can require an awful lot of kindness sometimes!). He always keeps me interested, and loves to be at least as busy as I am. He is a blessing I never expected, surely don't deserve, and am so so so very glad to have.

Baby, thank you for always being there for me and for making each and every day of my life shiny (yes, even the ones where I have to get up at 5.30 am). Thank you for seeing something in me that no-one ever has before, for jokes and adventures, for long conversations and cups of tea, and for building a silly little house together with me to which I love to come home. I am so happy with our little way of life, and I really hope you are too. You are my favourite boy!

Oh, and I know you hate photos, so I've compromised and only used one instead of the many I usually break out in these posts. Happy anniversary, honey!

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So, what do you think? (I think it mainly proves I don't look much like anyone ;))

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People I love, part 3

When I think of my dearest friends, I'm always amazed by quite how we came to be friends. Hobbies, houses, luck, and chance. Commonalities, differences, and blogging...

This is my third 'People I love' post, in a series which may well run and run. One of the greatest blessings in my life is the amazing people that populate it, and if I get to do a little happy dance from time to time to celebrate them, well I think that's pretty awesome!

Person Number 3? Is my girl Christy.

Christy and I began reading each others blogs two, maybe three years ago. I think we found one another through a now defunct blog of a.n.other, but kept reading each others posts...a mutual love of music and books, a similar sense of humour and a shared vocation kept us reading...

Then in Oct 2008 I went to Canada for a trip, and spent a fair few times with the lovely Miss C - coffees and drinks and Portuguese baked goods (om nom nom). The friendship we had cultivated online transposed beautifully to the real world - isn't it lovely when that happens?

Over the last wee while, we've written and facebooked and sent each other gifts and mix CDs. And we've read and read and read, through the good, the bad, and the strange...because that's what good blog-friends do. And then this summer Christy came to stay and I was lucky enough to have days and days and days with this awesome girl. Oh, how we chatted!

Christy, I'm so glad we're friends. You are so clever and funny and pretty and determined, and you know more about music than I could ever aspire to! Thank you for all the fun and silly times we've had - whether it's sweet nourishing coffees, facebooking each other Flight of The Conchords quotes, or drinking lots of wine and cutting a rug. I am blessed to have a friend as kind, understanding, and cool as you.

Come visit soon?

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An early start... there anything more bizarre than waking up at 4.30 on a weekend?

Totally bewildering.

Lay there till 5ish, willing self to sleep.

No joy.

Got up and had a lovely few hours working, marking, and mooshing around the internet.

So I now have lots of extra time this weekend, as half my workload is already dealt with. Win.

Time for a nap, then...

Have a lovely weekend, all!

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One sleep...

...till my new class arrive.

And the crazy rollercoaster kicks off again.

So help me, I do like my job! :-)

Please send good thoughts - I'm rooting for a pleasant start to the year!

Love and blessings to you all.

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School Pictures

Over at the wonderful Kelly's Korner, each Friday she runs a Blog Carnival called 'Show Us Your Life'. I *love* it and love seeing so much about my fellow bloggers and their lives - thanks so much for thinking of it, Kelly! Over the summer most of them have been wedding based, and as (to quote a couthy auld Forres wifie) "no man has yet had the honour!", I have been unable to play, but have so enjoyed the posts of others. Then it was baby showers....a tradition I am now determined to bring to these shores...

This week, however, it's school photos (how perfect as I go back to school full time tomorrow!). So I have combed the family album to find some pics to share with you. I hope they raise a smile!

My very first day at school! Applegrove was my first of six primary schools (yes, 6 schools in 6 years. Spot the military brat, anyone?), and I was nervous but so very very excited also! I also love my rocking red shoes - they were the bane of my mother's life. Y'see, the note home said we could have black, brown, navy or RED shoes. Guess which junior fashionista dragged her mummy round loads of stores to find the only red shoes in Moray?

For quite a while we Thornley kiddies went to Sunday school - here are Sian and I working our Sunday best!

Not strictly a school photo, but as there was a deficit of school photos (more on that later!), I thought I'd chuck in my Guiding photos. I was an active child (some would say hyperactive!), so my enterprising mummy enrolled me in every activity going. I adored being a brownie and a much so that in the New Year I want to become a brownie leader. Such a great thing for wee girls!

Over in Germany, heading off for what I think is Year 4, at Barnes Wallis First School. I wound up doing Year 4 twice and never did Year 3...The school moved me up a year, which is pretty unusual for a British school. Then they got cold feet (I would have gone up to Middle School a year young) and made me do the year again (my grades were not a factor, just my age!). So brilliantly for someone who spent the last 4 years of my life teaching Year 3...I never did Year 3!

Another Sunday School pic - Year 4 or 5.

Joining the Guides in Year 5. Oh man, I adore how much of a geek I was. And indeed, am! ;)

This is a rare pic of me from my time away at boarding school. I went to a state boarding school (so a government school with a boarding arm to it) for five years, and it was an experience, to say the least. A whole other post sometime, mayhap? Anyways, it was the place where I really learned how much I love to sing - here I am in my full choirgirl garb, in Year 7.

Year 9. Not in school uniform, but I included this pic for one tiny detail (no, not the cat, although he is gorgeous, no?). That little yellow sticker was my WelMet badge. They are a company that take your kiddie to and from school and the airport for you when holiday time arrives. So here I'm either about to leave...or just home!

My last two years of school (S5 and S6), I chose to leave my boarding school (with genius timing, as it would turn out), and attended the local high school. Going from a school of 300 to 1400 was a leap of sorts! I'm so glad I did though. I made some good friends, got some good grades, and chose a university closer to home. But best of all, I got to know my awesome siblings better! I went away to school when Sian was 6 and Peter was 4....if I'd stayed on at boarding school until I was 18 I would never have had the chance to get to know them in all their glory. The two years we all lived at home made us as close (and as silly!) as we are.

So there you go! Hope you liked the visual tour!

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PS Nothing whatsoever to do with school pics, but while I was hunting I found this picture of Sian and I. It always makes me smile...I love being a big sister!

Sian and Peter - I love you oodles!
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This evening, as I walked home, it hit me properly.

I live in London now.

It's where I am, it's where my stuff is, it's where I work, and it's where I socialise.

It was a nice realisation, as I walked through the cool night air to get to my station, and filled me with a good dose of the warm fuzzies....

It's nice to feel at home.

It's nice to know how to do my commute, what stops are worth walking to to make a journey shorter, when to avoid the leisure centre (that place gets *crowded* at points), and I'm starting to find some cool shops and bars to frequent.

Today was the last official day of my summer break, and was the perfect balance of work, fun, and quiet time. I got up at 6am (and so did Matthew, brave boy!), and worked in school for 5 or six hours getting all sorts of stuff sorted. Then I went to meet Richard for a long and lazy lunch (with cham-PAGNE(!), which is a bit of a tradition of ours), and spent a good few hours chatting and catching up. Then I went for a little walk and caught a free screening of 'Julie & Julia'. I really liked it in a chickbloggyflick way, and was pleased with what they'd done with one of my favourite summer reads. Then I walked, got a Friday treat in Marks & Spencer for the boy and I to share tomorrow night.

And now, to bed, to bed....

I hope your days were similarly lovely!

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A lovely long weekend...

....rounded off my summer break.

Driving up and down and across England with my beloved, taking in a wedding and dance (too much fun!), catching up with Matthew's family, two games of football (a draw and a win. I'm such a good luck charm ;)), and lots of time chatting and talking and just enjoying spending time together.

Today, however, back into it...classroom sorting today and tomorrow. Training Friday, Monday, Tuesday. And next Wednesday? I meet my new class....

How are you all doing?

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