London-Houston-Dallas-London (Part 1)

(I feel I should start this post with the proviso that I am battling some major tiredness today...please forgive me slips in grammar and spelling!)

So Matthew and I are cosied up in our little study, each hitting the 'net in our different ways (blogs and email and shopping for me, news and football forums for him), grateful to not be in transit anymore (14 hours plus was a bit of a stretch!), and happy after a lovely break over the other side of the pond. Photos to follow if and when I remember to post them!

The end of last half-term whizzed by....going to see Dizzee Rascal with Tara and Chez was amazing, a truly epic gig. The boys were all ready for the half-term break, but rallied on the last Friday by producing some awesome 'Open Homework'. Perhaps your school does this too? We basically set aside a week and set no formal homework, and instead the children come up with their own focus, based on a word set by our head of academics (this year, 'red'). My life, it was brilliant! Poems, soup, pillows, games, study projects...I was thrilled with all the things my guys came up with. I'm building them all into a big, bright display (the projects, not my students!). Great.

Then on Friday I zoomed off to Paddington to meet Matthew, and we both headed to Heathrow. We stayed at the little 'Yotel' in T4 as our flight was early, and it was immensely comfortable. And getting up there at 6 was a tonne easier than a 4 am start in Leyton plus buses which may not have worked... We checked in for the flight and managed to get seats together - the airline we chose has this strange system where it doesn't assume that people in the same party are together? Everything else about the airline I loved, but seat allocation was *stressful*. I'm actually going to write to them (tomorrow, post jet lag!) to say how wonderful the aircrew was, how smooth the flights, how great the entertainment (*awesome* package, kept Matthew and I thoroughly enthralled)...and also to ask what on earth is up with the seating. On the night flight back yesterday so many families and couples were having to do swapsies to be together, creating a lot of stress for them and the aircrew...I really am confused as to how the system works!

So last Saturday, we made the flight and took off happily. Fairly uneventful and pleasant flight, which we spent watching movies and being silly. I watched 4 movies, 3 of which featured weddings, and 3 of which made me cry! One, My Sister's Keeper, had me so weepy I had to put damp tissues on my eyes to prevent my being a bridesmaid with giant red eyes!

We touched down at 1 (two hours before the wedding...) and got through immigration as quickly as possible. By one-thirty we were in the car with Chris (groom), and his brother Nathan, and heading north to the Woodlands ready for the wedding. I swept in and up to confer with Jenna (the beautiful bride) and Heidi, the other bridesmaid. Dress on, chats had, photos taken (it was a real family affair - Jenna's brother and his girlfriend Emma were taking all the photos). Matthew, bless him, I all but abandoned, but the lovely mix of Texans and Scots downstairs made him feel at home right away!

And then, the wedding. Jenna and Chris married under a canopy of trees in Chris's parents' back garden, attended by a handful of friends and family, with a few dozen people who loved them there to celebrate. The service was lovely - intimate, sweet, charming, and clearly exactly what both bride and groom desired. The love between them and around them was tangible. Then with a swap of rings, a tender kiss and a ripple of applause Jenna became Mrs M, and we all tripped back down the aisle (a lantern and flower covered decking) to party the night away.

A keg of Shiner Bock and huge plates of Texan barbeque (I may now be addicted to red barbeque sauce!), laughter echoing and squirrels leaping through the trees, a doughnut tower for the wedding cake (with Han Solo and Princess Leia as the topper!). Catching up with people we'd met before, making new friends, and generally being very happy for the lovebirds. :-)

By eight, however, I was fading fast (I had been up since the equivalent of 11pm Texas time the night before, and my whole body was just crashing), so Matthew and I decided to head to the hotel and check in. We never made it back out I crashed on the bed, bridesmaids dress and all, and was totally out for the count! Matthew headed down and explained to the newlyweds (who totally understood, bless 'em) - getting to the wedding had been an epic journey, and we were both fast asleep by 10....

...This sleepiness may turn out to be a theme of the holiday....

Well, I was going to do the whole holiday in one, but the jet lag is biting now, so I will close here, and detail the holiday post-wedding as soon as possible...

How are you all doing?

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Ask Me Anything...Answers

Angel, jr.: What is your favorite game (board game, video game, card game, whatever game you play).

Oh, good question! I’m not the biggest video or card game fan, but I do really enjoy board games (yes, I’m a bit of a nerd…;)). Favourites include Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Scrabble (even though I never win! I am way too fond of long words ;)) and Rummikub (my sister and I went through a phase of obsession with this game. And Matthew is terrified of it!). I think board games are such fun – I love playing them with my students if and when we have a wet playtime. And if and when I have a family I’m determined to make a ‘game night’ complete with hot chocolate, cookies and board games a regular occurence…

Christy: Anyway, I'm going to ask you what motivating you to start your blog back in the day?

That’s another great question – thanks, Christy! I think I started it as a way to keep writing, to stay in touch with people…but it’s grown a bit since then. I’m so grateful for the free therapy I get through my blog, and the wonderful people I’ve met through blogging. It’s a great big blogosphere out there, and I love my little corner of it!

Dave: Can you make me food?

Yes Dave, I can. And indeed I did, mere hours after this question – apple pie and custard. Now…can you make me a cup of tea, please?

Emily: Where did you go to to start your blog?

I’d read a couple of funny blogs…they had been set up on blogger…I joined the party! I think a blog tracking your running and triathling (oooh, new word!) would be amazing! Let me know if and when you kick it off.

Oh, and a quick plug – I had a basic blog for a while, then treated myself to a blog makeover earlier this year. The gorgeous Jennisa made the fabulous layout I have now, which I just adore, and I love how ‘me’ it is!

Kelsey: I have found your blog off of so I'm curious about your testimony:) I look forward to reading more!

Kelsey, lovely to meet you!

I am what some would call a liberal / evangelist / hippy / Protestant / Baptist / easygoing believer. I like to think I’m a Christian. :-) I was brought up non-practicing (to quote Carrie in Sex and the City, we were members of the church of “be nice to people and don’t chew with your mouth open.”) A childhood of singing and a natural nosiness about spiritual matters landed me in various choirs and I learned a lot about Christianity at a C of E boarding school.

The real crunch moment for me, and the true moment I feel I actually committed to my faith, was when I lost my dear friend Alex (please see here for details). In the darkest of times, during a sad sad season, God’s Grace was so vivid and so real to me…. I’ve been a committed Christian ever since, and I love what my faith brings to my life. It constantly supports and challenges me, it comforts me, and I feel it gives me a centre, a home. I’m aware that many don’t have a faith like this (and that many don’t desire it in the least), but I do, and I’m glad to have it. I have many friends of different faiths and others who are atheists, and I love this about my life, and I also love how we all (generally) tend to respect each others beliefs.

Miss Ash: I would like to know your favorite movie of all time and your favorite book of all time.

This is so tough! I would have to say there are several, but some titles that spring to mind are It’s A Wonderful Life and Gone With The Wind on the movie front, and Little Women and The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood as the books. Yes, I could name far more artistic and fabulous ones, but I love comforting books and movies that are beautiful and you can return to again and again. Oh, and Bring It On, too!

Pamela: So, where are you from?

Originally, here, there and everywhere, but born in Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland. My family live up near there in Forres, Moray. As for me, I am lucky enough to currently reside in London, England. How about you?

Phil H: What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (either African or European)

More than you might think.

Scarlet: What first attracted you to your boyfriend?

Brilliantly, the very first time I met him, we met entirely as friends (we were also speaking in fake French accents. Long story!). So the very first things that attracted me to him were probably his cleverness and his awesome sense of humour. The fact that he’s quite the handsome fellow did not escape my notice though! Now I think I still find all of these things attractive, but it’s his personality that consistently fills me with joy – he’s so kind, so hardworking, so driven.

Yeah, I love my boy. :-)

Sparkling Red: What's the most unexpected thing a student has ever said to you in your classroom?

Kids are funny, yo. Whether it’s observing a zone out as I listen to a story for the umpteenth time, or a silly story, or just banter, my pupils make me smile pretty much every day. One of my faves ever was a grey and dreary day though, when we were all cosily enjoying a story, when one of my very very naughty ones turned to me and said “Miss Thornley, your children when you have them will be very lucky.” I was genuinely discombobulated (that happens a lot in my classroom!) – it was just so left field. And it made me smile. Kid’s compliments are the best, they just have no filter! Plus they will happily tell you when you look like refried ass, so when they say something nice they mean it!

Wigsf: Have you ever tried to do something outrageous to your hair (wacky style or weird colour) and had the whole thing backfire? If so, please explain.

I had a very short undercut in Year 9. So for two years I walked around looking like a mushroom head. It was a BAD LOOK.

Happily, I think I’ve destroyed most of the photos of that era now :-).

Wiwille: What's your favorite piece of music to dance to?

Recently, any rocky bit of Muse or ‘Bella Luna’, by Jason Mraz. Always? MC Hammer!

Thanks for all the cool questions, lovelies, really made me think!

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Ask me anything!

I am deep in the midst of one of the laziest weekends ever (seriously, yesterday I did not even leave the house, just worked, watched half a season of Flight of the Conchords, wrote letters, planned meals, sent emails, wrote letters and chilled with the boy. And today I *can't* do as much cleaning as I had planned, because our hot water is busted. Ho-hum, work and shopping and reading it is, I guess....), which is lovely, and quite replenishing!

I enjoyed doing my last 'ask me anything' post, so I felt it might be time to do another. If you have a question for me, please add it in the comments.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

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An important question....

Friends, bloggers, countrymen!

As regular readers will know, next weekend Matthew badger and I are jetting off to be part of the wedding of the gorgeous Jenna and Chris (SO excited, you guys!!!!). We will also be spending three days in Houston and three days in Dallas, generally being tourists and eating more breakfast foods than anyone ever should...

So my question is....

Would you like a postcard?

Yes, you!

Postcards are one of my favourite things, and I adore receiving them whenever my friends jet off. And I would love to make you smile by sending you one. So please, whether you know me better than I know myself, or you read regularly, or if this is your first time here, do let me know if you'd like a postcard from my trip!


Drop me an email at and I'll add your address to the list.

Hooray for mail!

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Post number 500!

Happy kind-of-birthday-but-more-like-a-landmark-anniversary, blog!

Man, it's been a journey...surviving the first job, getting the next, falling in love, learning to drive, becoming a Joinee, being a singleton, cutting hair, growing hair, meeting people... This also means I am halfway through my '1,000 posts' part of my infamous list. And right on time.
So here we are, 14th October 2009.

And when, I ask, did that happen?

Life here is busy but in a really good way - I just wish I could grow an extra hour or two each day to write letters and make phone calls and nap (and do laundry, hee).

My class are, for the main part, delightful. Although spending the vast majority of my day with eighteen 8 to 9 year old boys is having some rather strange effects. Not least the fact that I now find fart jokes one of the funniest things in the world! School is fun but demanding (just as it should be), and I'm doing my best to deliver good lessons and make learning fun. Primary school age is so key for getting people fired up about learning, and you're working with the most enthusiastic people ever...

Being in London is great too. I love love love getting to come home every night and see Matthew. Just a cup of tea and a cuddle and the chance to chat and be silly, really makes my heart sing. I'm also loving being down amongst friends. My life in the country was oftentimes very very lonely, and now I'm glad that when I do get some time to myself it's a blessing, rather than dealing with enforced solitude. Oh man, how I hated those grey and lonely evenings.

In ten days Matthew and I are off to Texas - YEAH! I feel woefully underorganised (ever the teacher, I hate not having my ducks in a row!), but mainly am thrilled to be seeing my girl Jenna, being part of the wedding of two adorable people, then having a holiday with Matthew! We've got three days in Houston and three in Dallas - so looking forward to it!

I may buy a Stetson.

I'm also getting geared up for Christmas a little - Matthew's present is done! Cards are bought! Spreadsheet has begun! I'm paring down Christmas a fair bit this year though...bundles of cards but gifts will mainly be Matthew, family, and then the closest of my friends. Everyone else shall get cookies! I'm looking forward to getting some gifts in America though - I may have to google 'Houston dollar stores'...

I'm also looking forward to doing the Nester's blog tour / carnival on December 14th - a Christmas tour of homes! I swear, that evening it will be me, a computer and a large hot chocolate, listening to Christmas music and appreciating the shiny.

Right, I have craft paper to cut and flowers to trim and poems to marks and dinners to plan here in my glamorous little I go!

Wishing you all joy, as ever!

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Just frazzled.

Work is busy.

Life is busy.

Marking and letters and prep and emails and packages and haircuts and lunches and stuff.

Everything feels like a rush.

I fall into bed exhausted...

...and wake up, never quite rested enough.

My boyfriend is a saint.

So much of what's going on is lovely...



...and exciting.

But this Country Mouse sorely needs a nap, a cup of tea, or a rest.

Here's hoping they are just around the corner...

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PS Because I don't want to worry anyone - I'm fine. In fact, I'm just en route to bed. But this is the kind of blog post you get when Claire realises it's 10.30 pm Sunday and she's done 6 hours straight of extra planning and prep, isn't quite sure if she has knickers (let along trousers or a skirt!) to wear to school tomorrow, and her brain is tired. I also had every good intention of writing a nice newsy blog post but as the pile of work refused to budge, that time window clicked shut, and I was disappointed. More as soon as I possibly can.

Busy is good.

But man, is it tiring!

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Tuesday Top Tens. On a Wednesday.

(I stole this idea from the gorgeous Riot Kitty. Her blog always cracks me up, frequently makes me think, and sometimes changes my mind on things... I can't wait to meet her in person next month)

Some top tens for a rainy autumnal Wednesday.

Ten things I'm loving right now

* My current book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

* Long hot baths. Especially with Jo Malone oil.

* Candles - I love low lighting!

* America's Next Top Model. Oh so tacky and delicious!

* Lazy Saturday mornings in my PJs.

* Weddings - I am so excited for Jenna's (just over a fortnight to go!), and then there's Simon and Nicole's, Laura and Garry's, Naomi and Al's, all on the horizon! I'm sure a few others will crop up too!

* Hidden chocolate (my boyfriend is nothing if not a sweet and funny man!)

* My evil but AWESOME new aerobics instructor. 700 calories in an hour? Oh yes please...

* Baking and cooking

* Cooler days

Ten things that drive me oh-so-slightly round the bend

* People who smoke in the massive crowds in central London, and then glare at you if you so much as dare to be burned by their cigarette.

* Gum left on tube seats

* pre-6 am alarm clocks...they don't happen often but they are horrid!

* The article I read online, saying "all" private school teachers are bad at what they do. Sweeping generalisation, anyone? (and one that peeved me right off, I have to say!)

And that's about it. I did try, but rage isn't really me...

Ten things I would like for Christmas (thanks for the inspiration, wigsf!)

* Sleep

* Pyjamas. I freaking love pyjamas.

* The Buffy The Vampire Slayer DVDs. Oh how I want to do a season 1-7 marathon.

* Shiny things

* Cards, envelopes and writing things

* A nice pen

* A mug with my name on, to use at school

* A cosy blanket

* Cooking things - pans, books, trays, tupperware

* Good times with friends and family and my wonderful boy

Ten people I want to write a letter to, or make a phone call to...

* Shona. I want to gossip about upcoming Taylor Swift concert plans and hear all her news!

* Naomi. It's been too long since I chatted to my girl Wilson.

* Cat. I realised to my shame that I have little to no idea what's up with her at the mo...I want to catch up.

* Amber. Similar reasons to Cat.

* Cheryl.

* Henry.

* Sian.

* Jane. Again.

* Erin.

* Matthew.

So there we go. Three and a bit. What would make your top tens, lovelies?

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(Sort of) Singalong Saturday, October 3rd

I like to walk around London as much as I can. I often walk the three miles from school to Bond Street after work, past the leisure centre and the library, heading south watching as the multimillion pound houses give way to the Outer Circle of Regent's Park (a.k.a. jogger central!), then striding down Baker Street, with all the shiny windows and bijou eateries, before hitting Oxford Street (always having a good peer in the windows of Selfridges as I go past).

As I do this, I listen to my iPod. And lately, two or three songs keep sticking in my head and making me listen over and over again. So, here are the lyrics and videos (just the vid for the last one)...I hope you like them!

"Laughing With", by Regina Spektor.

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God when the doctor calls
After some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
when it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from that party yet

No one laughs at God when their airplane
Starts to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love hand in hand
with someone else and they hope that they’re mistaken
No one laughs at God when the cops knock on their door
And they say “We’ve got some bad new, sir,”
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine, fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
When the crazies say he hates us
and they get so red in the head
You think that they’re about to choke
God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

God can be so hilarious
Ha ha, ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
when they’ve lost all they got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
that the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re saying their goodbyes

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or
When the crazies say he hates us and they get so red in the head
you think that they’re about to choke
God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God in a hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war

No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
We’re all “laughing with God”

"Busby Berkeley Dreams" by The Magnetic Fields.

"I should have forgotten you long ago
But you're in every song I know
Whining and pining is wrong and so
On and so forth, of course of course,
But no, you can't have a divorce

I haven't seen you in ages
But it's not as bleak as it seems
We still dance on whirling stages
In my Busby Berkeley dreams
The tears have stained all the pages
Of my True Romance magazines
We still dance in my outrageously beautiful
Busby Berkeley dreams

And now you want to leave me for good
I refuse to believe you could
You forget we're not made of wood
Well darling you may do your worst
Because you'll have to kill me first

I haven't seen you in ages
But it's not as bleak as it seems
We still dance on whirling stages
In my Busby Berkeley dreams
The tears have stained all the pages
Of my True Romance magazines
We still dance in my outrageously beautiful
Busby Berkeley dreams

Do you think it's dangerous
To have Busby Berkeley dreams?"

And a silly one to finish.... "Robots" by Flight of the Conchords.

Well, now it's time to go get on with the weekend - a haircut in a wee bit (if I can get a slot). Then off to see 'Fame' with Katie Boo (we have legwarmers!). This evening Matthew returns from the north, and then tomorrow is chilling before another busy week....hope you have a lovely one!

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Life lately... busy. From the moment the alarm goes (at 6ish..) till I fall into bed (at 11ish), my days are packed. Fun and busy and full. And as I settle into the new routines, I'm starting to get the balance right. So it's a bit work hard / play hard, but it's fun too. I quite enjoy looking at my diary and seeing meetings and dinners and plans and work things and holidays. I especially enjoy looking at the days when I know I can chill out in my jammies for a morning or an evening (roll on Saturday!). healthy. I am trying my best to healthkick (while starting a new job, haha!). So that's fewer snacks, less to drink, and exercise three times or more a week. Oh and lots of water and sleep. Hilariously the sleep is the part I'm struggling with! exciting. New school. Living, at last, with my lovely boy. Being down in London with lots of people I adore. And, as my mother texted to me just this morning....Christmas is getting closer!

So, busy, healthy, and exciting. How's your life lately, friends?

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