Things I like (parts 16 -20) by Claire

16. Adele's voice. I think I was the last person in Britain to catch this performance:

17. Second day stew. I *love* our slow cooker.

18. Throwing things away. Spring is making me want to declutter...

19. Ordering a book on amazon just because you think "That sounds awesome!"

20. Making a nine-year-old's day when you rock up to his birthday party.

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5 Minutes: 5 Years Ago

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo for her Five Minute Friday series. Every Friday she chooses a theme and challenges everyone to write about that for 5 minutes. No editing, no long screeds, just five minutes, whatever comes out in the moment. This is my first time, and today's theme is 5 years ago...

Five years ago I was twenty five and working as a teacher in rural Northamptonshire. I had a pretty nice life going but one that is so different to my life now. For starters, I lived in the middle of nowhere, so getting together with friends was really tricky.

I lived alone, and was hundreds of miles from friends and family. I didn't drive (instead bombing around on my little yellow moped) and while I got on well with my colleagues, life was often quite lonely. While at times I miss that season of writing loads of letters, I also remember feeling very isolated and alone, where the post or online sites sometimes felt like my only link to the people I loved.

I was in quite a negative headspace too. A lot of the bad things from my childhood and teenage years reared up like spectres and caused me sleepless nights aplenty. Add in a stressful NQT year and a timetable that didn't let up, and it was a recipe for quite a tumultuous time.

Many good things happened during this time as well, however. I learned, perhaps for the first time, how strong I can be. I learned I could look after myself. I learned to cherish the time you do have with friends (previously, I'd always had a bit of a tendency to hide I know how to distinguish if and when this is a negative or positive thing. Sometimes it's healthy and good....sometimes it's me burrowing). I wrote many letters. I learned to be alone without being lonely (a big step, and one that I learned over the four years I spent in Evenley). My faith deepened. I discovered just how much I love to teach. I started this blog.

Such an important time. Such a strange time. Such a happy time. Such a sad time.

Looking back I am grateful for that time, and even more grateful for the life I am blessed enough to enjoy now. I'm a very lucky girl.

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Puerto de Mogán, part 4

Photobomb! Yes, teaching eight year olds makes you act like one sometimes....
The church in Teror.

Such a pretty house.

A sleepy Teror during siesta time. I *love* siesta time.

On our last full day we took a guided tour all over the island (really good, and at times, terrifying what with all the winding mountain roads!). From a church high up in the mountains we could see as far as Tenerife, one of the other Canary Islands.

Om nom nom.

Om nom noes!

Matthew and I.

Palms and mountains.

I hope you've enjoyed looking at all these pictures - just a few memories of a lovely time away.

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Puerto de Mogán, part 3

Fingal and Florence totally crashed one of our trips to Puerto Rico!

They developed a taste for chilled San Miguel....

...and mini golf too!

Relaxing on the balcony in the balmy night (it was 18 degrees at about 10.30 pm. Again, in February!).

This picture is awful, but makes me laugh, because of a silly in-joke we had about sea badgers. Don't you just love the silly stuff you come up with when you're away? The gorgeous view is the one we saw on our big walk.

Matthew on a mountain.

Sigh. I loved this place.

So. Much. Sun.

The sweet taste of victory, top of the hill.

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Puerto de Mogán, part 2

More snaps from our time away (I actually remembered to take pictures!).

You may remember Fingal Finger-Badger from other visits we have taken. Well now he has a wife, Florence! Here they are at the top of the hill/mountain opposite our hotel which Matthew and I climbed one afternoon. Not a huge walk by any means, but a steeeeep one, and at the top the views, and the sesne of achievement were both wonderful!
Matthew soaking up the sun.
Me, thrilled that my calves had allowed me to get up the hill at all!

One of Matthew's favourite ways to relax - beer and reading on the balcony!
I've just realised I've got my boat pics the wrong way round - here is Matthew on the way back from Puerto Rico, the larger resort we headed to a couple of times.

This picture is for Mlle Wilson/Mme Muir - CRAZY EYE!

We played all sorts of sillies on this break - darts, pool, table tennis....and mini golf!
Matthew is pretty good at mini golf.
Hence my crushing defeat. :(
Boy, sea, blue skies. Wonderful.

Part 3 on the horizon....

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Puerto de Mogán, part 1

In no particular order (because that's how I roll...) here are some pics from our lovely break away to the Canaries. *Such* a wonderful holiday!

On the boat in the sunshine.
Puerto de Mogán as we sailed off to Puerto Rico. Please note the beautiful weather and the clear blue sea....
View from the harbour.
Me standing on the harbour as we watched the boats go by.
When I first saw this statue I cried 'Old Man!' At first Matthew thought I was being rude, then he realised I was pointing at this, not some random older gentleman!
Taurito, the next resort along from us. That road high up the cliff face is *fun* on a coach!
Sun and sea. In February. Beautiful.

There were so many lovely flora on the island. I loved these bright trees!

There were also palm trees everywhere....really cool!

Puerto de Mogán is where most of the island's seafood comes in. So the paving stones in town are teeny fishes.

More tomorrow! :)

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Things I like (parts 11 -15) by Claire

11. Sleeping eight hours a night

12. Ray LaMontagne

13. Comfy grey slippers

14. Slow cookers - right now I am cooking a lovely beef and tomato goulash and the whole house smells amazing!

15. Kind friends who not only look after our fish, but also leave cake for us! Thank you, Eileen!

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Adios, Mogán.

So today is our last day here in sunny Puerto Mogán.

As I type the sun is beating down (again - I've had to come in as it is *toasty* out there) and I'm waiting for Matthew to come join me for food and vino tinto. Our flight home is not until late, but we're enjoying having a nice chilled day here in the resort. The break away has been brilliant, but I think we're both looking forward to getting back to London and home now.

The next half-term is six weeks long. Six busy weeks with lots of fun in there to - visits and challenges and reports and parent-teacher conferences and parties and training and gymming and generally being a busy Country Mouse. See you there!

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This post is the equivalent of one of those 'gone fishing' signs characters leave behind in old cartoons. The radio silence is because Matthew and I have left behind the cold and grey of a London February for a week, and instead are enjoying the sun of beautiful Puerto Mogán in Gran Canaria. Bliss. Plenty of stories and photos to follow when we return. :-)

Adios, amigos!

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Show us Your Life....Beauty Tips

This week Kelly's SUYL topic is all about hair and beauty tips. Now those of you that know me in real life will be aware that I am not the girliest of girls, but I DO like to keep looking fresh and healthy, and as pretty as is possible (which often isn't very pretty at all, what with eight-year-old boys, a crammed schedule, and general inepititude!).

My best tips:

1. What goes in is more important than what goes on. I fill my diet with loads of fresh vegetables and fruits, a little oil now and then, and gallons and gallons of water. I know that doing this keeps my skin as good as it can be. I have eczema, which would be so much worse if I didn't eat right.

2. Recently I have finally found a skincare range that I love, Avéne. It's very French and understated and non-fussy and it works brilliantly. Whether you have normal skin or something more temperamental like me, I recommend heartily.

3. Sanctuary and Philosophy bath and body products make me happy, and smell divine.

4. My hair was my pet hate for many years, until I finally gave in and just went with it. Now I love my curly mop - it may be deadly unfashionable, but it feels very me, frames my face, and is easy to keep neat and fairly cute.

5) Makeup - I need to go get some tips on!

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Things I like (parts 6 -10) by Claire

6. Satsumas and clementines. Delicious!

7. 30 Rock, every time. "There ain't no party like a Liz Lemon party, cos a Liz Lemon party is mandatory."

8. Counting the hours till half-term break.

9. Making lists.

10. My spangly hot pink water bottle.

How about you?

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