Things I like (parts 131-140) by Claire

131. Time to meet up with friends and talk long over coffee, lunch, and wine...

132. Scotland. I am so looking forward to going up there at the weekend! For a whole week in Forres and then to Edinburgh...truly I am blessed.

133. Train rides on sunny days through the beautiful English countryside.

134. Weddings. I love seeing two people so in love make that commitment to each other! Happy sigh.

135. Baking - I especially enjoyed this batch of cupcakes with white stars.

136. Speaking of noms, cookies from Ben's in Bath. To quote Homer Simpson, "Angaharaghahagagagggggh."

137. Summer skies.

138. Reading in my favourite spot, on our bed, window open, sun streaming in, radio on, cup of tea to hand. Simple pleasures are the best.

139. City sunsets.

140. Silly notes.

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90s, baby (part 3)

We continue...

1. Down So Long - Jewel

I went through a major Jewel phase freshman year.

2. Tubthumping - Chumbawumba

Bizarre, infectious, and oh so very 90s....

3. Mmmbop - Hanson

Probably my favourite 1990s boyband. I wore this whole album out!

I was such a cool kid. ;)

4. Don't Speak - No Doubt

Another album I adored.

And this is still one of the best break-up songs ever, IMHO.

5. Lump - Presidents of the USA

Just a massive, massive tune.

6. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

That intro.



The other guy.

The video.

I remember watching this on MTV (waaaaaaay back at the start of the nineties when we lived in Germany and still had cable) and thinking WOAH. I still feel that way.

7. Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Squeezing just in to the end of the decade.

8. Losing My Religion - REM

"Oh, Life,
It's bigger,
It's bigger than you, and you are not me...."


9. Driftwood - Travis

My second favourite Travis song.

My absolute favourite is 'Flowers In The Window', but that's not a 1990s track!

10. Let's Talk About Sex - Salt N Pepa

I knew all the lyrics to this when I was eleven.

I understood maybe a third of them, hee! It's a bit like the movie 'Grease' - I watched it when I was wee and thought it was cute and quirky and fun...then watched it again and realised it was full of innuendo. Ah, the innocence of youth!

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Five Minute Friday: Still

As ever, linking up with Lisa-Jo!


What a day to think of this. On a day that so far has involved running around like a headless chicken, and just after pressing 'publish post' will involve running around some more, things into bags, shoes onto feet, binbags thrown into the bin, then racing down to the tube, to the train, to the north. Another wedding (congratulations, Emma and Stuart!) claims our attention.

London is not really a place with much stillness.

Our life is often not a place where being still is a priority.

Flash forward ten days and I'll be back in a place where there is so much still, it often feels to my system like running from a steam room to jump into an icy plunge pool.

The shock is immense.

And then, soon, you acclimatise.

As I will to a week at home.

Well, not my home, not anymore, but my family home. The one where I don't help to run the house, pay the bills, choose the furniture. The one where I'm a daughter and a sister first and foremost. Still.

I think the break will do me good, and the stillness will be as sweet as the fellowship I'll share with friends and family, I'm sure.

Scotland, I'mma coming.


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Waterloo, 9.05



The breathless rush of harried commuters.

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

The crackle of announcements.

Tourists, eyes wide, decipher the boards,

Try to make sense of places they can't quite pronounce,

The remnants of a hundred invading forces, a piecemeal language left behind.

They struggle to navigate the tide of sheer humanity,

Of bodies sweeping along the concourse.

Billboards scream for attention:

Sale! Show! Buy! Buy! Buy!

Possesions make us, right?

Businesswoman in a powersuit,

Blackberry glued to hand,

Always connected.

Little old lady, scarf genteely knotted,

Waits under the clock, lost in the throng.

Suspended. Still.

Until the childish cry of "Grandma!" re-animates her,

Rouses her,

And like a music box ballerina whose key has been turned, she stirs.

She rushes towards the little boys,

And is lost in a tangle of giggles and kisses.

Tannoy switches, bing bong bong,

Platforms alter and the crowd surges once more.

Through the barrier,

Onto the train.

Sit down.

Open book.

Leave the city again.

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90s, baby (part 2)

More 1990s nostalgia.

The decade of grunge, of My So-Called Life, of Kevin Smith....and a whole heap of music.

1. Never Ever - All Saints

Ah, teenage angst!

Maria and I were pretty much obsessed with this song and listened to it over and over again. Good times.

2. Song 2 - Blur

This *still* makes me want to get up and mosh. TUNE.

3. One of Us - Joan Osborne

Why yes, I *was* a hippy when I was younger (still am, truth be told :))...whyever do you ask?


4. Slam Dunk (Da Funk) - 5ive

Oh my badgers.

We LOVED this song at Forres Academy.

I cannot even tell you.

5. Iris - Goo Goo Dolls

The soundtrack to an awful lot of my teen and twentysomething daydreams.

6. Truly, Madly, Deeply - Savage Garden

More schmaltz, you say?

My pleasure.

Honestly, it's like a late night radio show here, with all the soppiness....

7. Creep - Radiohead

(What a way to break the mood!)

Such an anthem.

8. Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters

Great song, great video, gorgeous Grohl!

Well, in some of the get ups, less so, but he is still divine!

9. You Oughta Know - Alanis Morrisette

Spurned woman ROCK! YEAH!

10. Friday, I'm In Love - The Cure


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Pictures that make me smile...12

This picture makes me smile due to the beautiful colour co-ordination put versus our totally mismatched facial expressions. I'd love to remember what was cracking me up so!

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Quote of the day

"Laugh at yourself, but don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory."

~Alan Alda

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Five Minute Friday: Full

Linking up as ever with the divine Lisa-Jo.

5 minutes, just 5 minutes, to write.

This week's prompt is: FULL.

I'm often described as one who sees the glass half-full.

And my life often feels full. Full of friends, cuddles, noise, laughter, challenges, the echo of boys stomping down the corridor rushing out to break, the wedding invites from friends, the pitter-patter of another set of tiny feet, the badgers on the bed, the noise of the buses and sirens outside our window, the piles of papers I'm sorting through ever so slooooowly in my classroom. Life feels full.

And bizarrely, it's in this season of (chilling out, maxing) relaxing and taking my foot off the gas that I learn to appreciate how full my life is. On occasion, I'll hold my hands up, I let the judgement of others colour how I see my life. I worry about the things I don't do, don't have, the 'life goals' (ugh, spurious and misleading invention of women's magazines) I haven't reached yet, the job I don't do, the weight I can't lose. And I lose sight of the fullness all around me.

The full up feeling that comes from living a life that I love.

I float around all day in a Claire bubble, protected by the love of the people I'm lucky enough to call my love, my family and my friends. Whether they are a room away, a block away or a continent away, I have people who know me, who I trust, who've walked the path beside me and lived to tell the tale. These people are my biggest cheerleaders and my greatest assets and just thinking of them makes me feel full.

Full of happiness and sadness and wonder and joy. Full of gratefulness for the dozens of people who fill each day I have full to the brim with goodness. My cup isn't just's full to overflowing!


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Summer Funk

It always happens.

After about two weeks of summer, I hit my summer funk.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love love love being on holiday, but after two weeks of socialising, napping, creating madcap ideas and eating snacks, I tend to hit a bit of a wall. Late evenings, busy weekends, daytimes on your gets a bit weird.

Hence, the summer funk.

Today, however, I got back on the horse.

I woke up early and actually ate breakfast.

I changed into clothes.

Not just sweatpants or PJs.


I tidied, and then instead of reading or watching another episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (seriously, it's like my crack!) or, heaven knows, flitting about online (worst timesuck EVER), I did some actually work, and sorted a few things for our travels next month and then, I headed out the door.

I posted some letters. I dropped off stuff to the charity shop. I grabbed a latte.

I headed into school and started to do the tidying and sorting I'd been putting off (the end of year is so tiring I need a couple of weeks off to just regroup!). Just a few hours a day, for a few weeks, and I know it will make the start of year SO much easier. Three hours of this left me mucky, but mn it felt good to get rid of so much stuff - more tomorrow, I think!

Then I did have plans to go for a nice, decent walk (I started a thing last week where I have to try to walk 5 miles a day...yesterday and Tuesday it didn't happen), down to town to go to the giant Paperchase store and buy thank you cards (I have so many thank you cards to write!). However, this *beautiful* summer we're having in London dissolved into showers, so I headed home to curl up with a book instead!

And home is where I am now. Writing this. Feeling much more funky than in a funk. Thank heavens.

Do you ever hibernate a little too much?

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Favourite words

Words to relish, to chew on, to deploy....






















What are your favourites?

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My current reading list....July

Another glimpse at the reading pile! I'm almost done with June's picks. Next up will be:

I was very naughty. I started this book after it was recommended to be by my friend Rachel. I then got 75% of the way through it...but didn't finish. I shall do so forthwith!

As a teacher, I think this will be an interesting read!

This was one of my favourite books growing up. I'm going to regress and read it again...if I enjoy it, What Katy Did Next will swiftly follow!

I love a good biography, and I'm looking forward to learning more about Tesla!

I really enjoy Alice Munro's work....I wonder if this will impress me as much as Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage did? I hope so!

What are you reading this summer, friends?

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Home (part 1)

It's been over a year since we moved into this flat and I wrote the 'Welcome to the Badger Sett' posts.

Now, it truly feels like home. I don't know how long we'll be here (Matthew is itching to find a place to buy and make his own!), but for the next year or so, this is a nice little place to call our own. I went round with my camera and snapped shots of a few of the little things around here which make it feel extra homey...enjoy the tour (and marvel at quite how many badgers there are....).

As ever, clicking on the images should enlarge them.

1. I love teacups! I rarely have cause to use them, but I like knowing they're there.

2. The badger which looks like he's been lobotomised was an Easter gift from a pupil...the egg which was in there is long gone, however!

3. I won this trophy for musical statues. Aw yeah!

4. These penguins adorn a wall in our sitting room. We tend to love all black-and-white animals, really...

1. Leonardo badger, who keeps watch over Matthew's desk.

2. Pictures of some of my lovely friends.

1. Matthew's mum got us these super cute pots in Paris. There are four in the set and they come complete with adorable little spoons - I must think of something to make in them!

2. This was just a plain old JL butter dish until the lovely Vixie got her paws on it! Love this.

3. I found this teabag rest in Angel while shopping with Vixie. I'd been looking for one for ages, and this totally suits our flat!

1. Diaries and notebooks = love.

2. Norwegian inspired cake tins.

1. Vixie (who is creeping up a lot in this post, haha!) found this on Etsy and thought the girl looked a little like me. It's such a sweet gift, although I tend not to wear a dove in my hair, as it goes....

2. Eileen got me this brilliant badger plate for my birthday. He sits in our kitchen, eating cake in his pants.

1. I love this pillow, even though it goes with nothing else in our place!

2. Seymour monkey, a leaving gift from my last school.

3. Shona got me this beautiful Wizard of Oz tray, but it feels far too pretty to use.

4. There's even a badger on the fridge.

1. This 'sound machine' was a birthday gift from one of my pupils. It is ace.

2. Still love this board! I'm a sucker for a Union Flag. I'm also a sucker for using the correct form of address for the UK flag, but that's a longer and altogether geekier story.

3. Badger plate in the kitchen.

4. My rainbow jug and our teapot, with a cosy knitted by the tres talented Mlle Wilson!

Part 2 to follow....

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Things I like (parts 121-130) by Claire

121. My new fascinator. It is BLUE and SILLY and FABULOUS (imagine the one above, in turquoise), and makes me look slightly deranged. I'm dying to work it into all my outfits now....

122. Planning for travels next month.

123. Letters dropping through the door.

124. Trying to remember how to walk in heels. I have a new found sympathy for the clumpy contestasts on shows like ANTM...I feel your pain, sisters.

125. Morning cuddles. And evening cuddles.

Image found here.

126. Fresh, ripe strawberries.

127. Making peace with my body. Yes, it's lumpy and bumpy and far too big, but it's also strong and cuddly...I'm learning, at last, to notice the good and the bad!

128. Sultry summer evenings.

129. Blogging, and blogs.

130. Guilty summer TV pleasures....oh hello, The Glee Project, Raising Ten Kids: The Hayes Family Way, Four Weddings....
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90s, baby

The very lovely Kelly was reminiscing on her blog the other day about the songs she remembered from high school, and it got me thinking. I was such a music fan when I was little - all my pocket money went on tapes and vinyl, then CDs, and copies of Smash Hits magazine. We didn't have cable, and for much of the decade I had no access to the internet, and I lived way out of the loop (hello, Forres!) so live music was out for the most part.

I loved music. I listened to the radio and tapes and CDs, I obsessed over bands and lyrics, I developed wild crushes of pop stars, and I made OH SO MANY mixtapes. If you've seen High Fidelity, think of the main character, and *that's* how much I loved to make mixes. and back in the day, that stuff took time. Do you remember the double tape deck players? Trying to make the pause sound as quiet as possible? Never knowing if it was all going to fit, or if you'd run out of space on the tape....

Good times.

As much as I still love mix-making, I miss the old school, painstaking, what-shall-I-doodle-for-my-cover-art days too.

Anyhoo, inspired by Kelly's post, I decided to compile a list of my favourite 90s songs. It got to 71 (eek!), and still I'm sure I missed some. So over the course of seven posts this summer, I'll be sharing them all with you. I'm sure I'll forget some, but it should still be a fun ride.

So throw a Hawaiian pizza in the oven, unwrap your Ring Pop, put your Power Rangers slippers up on the table and let's get started, shall we?

1. Baby...One More Time - Britney Spears

Britney, Britney, Britney.

The word iconic is used a little too much, I think....but this video is iconic. It was an utter splash, and this song reminds me of dancing like a loon in the Mosset with the girls, and latterly a summer spent waiting tables, and a fun student show where I finally learnt how to do the one-and-two-and dance move. Which comes in handy to this day.

2. Under The Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Such a great song.

Made even greater by memories of every Wednesday morning, freshman year, when my crush (who lived in the room below me), would play the riff. Sigh.

3. Common People - Pulp

This would fill a floor *so* quickly at university. I think especially for my friends and I, all on students loans, working and studying, sticking it to the man (!!!!111!!). This song was an anthem. Little did I know that a few years later I would be counting my blessings as fees and loans just kept on rising, and rising, and rising.

I'll pay my loan off one day, right?

Last time I did the sums, in 2034.


4. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) - Bryan Adams

Love it, like it, or loathe it, this song was everywhere in the 1990s.

For what it's worth, I'm in the middle camp.

And heaven knows, after its 16 weeks at the top of the charts, I could still probably write the lyrics out verbatim. So I can't recite the periodic table, but I'll get at least a 'C' in popballadology!

5. I'll Be Missing You - Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans

This song can still make me cry. I am a 1990s child (born in the 1980s, made in the 1990s...).

6. Angels - Robbie Williams

Nowadays, probably more well known as the song that guy (you know, That Guy) always insists on singing at karaoke (and always not....quite....hitting the high notes). Back in the day, this was Robbie's fierce comeback, the song that silenced the naysayers. And it remains a tune.

7. Buddy Holly - Weezer

Just in case you were worried it was wall to wall pop!

Love the song, love the band, love the video. Awesomesauce.

8. 5,6,7,8 - Steps

Sublime to ridiculous, anyone?

How 90s!

Brace yourself, people. Steps sold 15 million records during their career. 15 million.

Despite this song making me cringe, along with flares, grungey cardigans and things woven in my hair, it's pure 90s and very much part of my musical journey. Heh.

9. The Kids Aren't Alright - The Offspring

Ah, that's better.

Seriously weird video though...which of course I hadn't seen before today. Lord bless the 90s!

10. Loser - Beck

Still the ideal song to do the hipster nod to.

So that's part the first. What songs would make your list?

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Farewell, fb

From this evening, my answer to that question will be no.

After five years on facebook, I'm deleting my account.


Well, the seeds were sown over Lent, when I left facebook for 40 days.

After the initial slight befuddlement of being disconnected (which lasted all of 48 hours), I actually enjoyed not being on facebook.

Since Lent I've been back on, and have been reminded that for me (of course, as with all things, your mileage may vary!) it's not a good place to be. I find it frustrating and annoying a lot of the time, and icked out by some of the privacy lapses, and can spend altogether too much time there doing nothing.

Unlike blogging or twitter, where I feel they enrich my life in some way, I feel that for me fb has become a timesuck which takes me away from other things, and so, it goes.

Do I think facebook is evil? Nope.

Do I regret joining? No.

Do I admit that I've reconnected with some cool people because of it? Absolutely.

But for me, the time has come to stop commenting on statuses of people I rarely see and 'like'ing videos posted by a guy from my high school. It's been fun, but with every new friend request from some girl (who I doubt could pick me out in a line up) I once shared a boarding house with, it feels less like a place to connect with friends, and more like....I don't know, really.

I won't miss the applications or the games at all (again, I may be alone here and you are entirely within your rights to disagree!), and I am SO over facebook events. Also known as 'let's plan something and then maybe/sorta/probably/not turn up'. When I spoke to some friends about this, we'd all confessed to being guilty of yes-ing an fb event we then missed, and having people do the same to us. Far more so than we would for 'real' events.

I will miss the fun moments - the comedic comment convos, the cute baby pictures, the engagement announcements....but I also know these things happen IRL, on blogs and via email too, and that's where I'll be.

To my fb friends, thanks for a great five years. If you want to get in touch (and don't already have my details), I'm pretty easy to find (this blog, for one). I'm also not eschewing social media entirely - I'm still on twitter and have G+ account.

It's time to pull the plug.

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Five Minute Friday: Loss

Once again, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo for 'Five Minute Friday'.

One prompt, five minutes.

Today, the word is....loss.


Despite my sunny demeanour and my overwhelming urge to always always always look on the bright side, find the silver lining, embrace the positive outcome, count the blessings, see the glass half-full, I am all too aware that in this broken world, we all face loss of some kind.

And it hurts.

Lost loves, lost friends, lost opportunities, the finality of death, the ultimate loss.

So what have I lost?

I've lost a friend, a dear friend, taken away by demons that she and the rest of the world couldn't fix. I've lost other friends to time and gossip and distance, but she's the one that sticks in the mind, who's laugh I'll never hear again, whose number I can never call.

I've lost (or rather, never known) a swathe of family. Instead of embracing me, they rejected me, when I was too young to talk or speak or be for myself. I love the family I do have with all my heart, but sometimes the disconnect jars, and all I can do is mourn what might have been. For who I might have been. I'm the black sheep and I'm cool with that for the most part, but sometimes it feels like a loss.

I often feel like I lost (a decent wodge of) my childhood too. When I talk to friends about being 6 or 7 or 8 or 9, they are full of memories, shows they watched, friends they played with. Me, I just have a massive blank space. I know *why* my mind has done this, but sometimes when I see pictures of myself at that age I just want to cry for what I never got to have. What I will never have. That little, fragile, messy girl. My heart aches for her. I know it gets better, but I know she'll never escape her past either. I want to give her a cuddle and let her know that it's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad, and that she'll get through this and have a happier time in her teens, her twenties, and beyond.

I think that these losses make us stronger, these losses make us who we are, but I think to mourn them is human nature. We should never be ashamed of grieving for the things, the people, and the chances we have lost, but we must be wary of letting these losses define us.


Wow. That got deep.

I promise to post about cheese or shoes or silliness soon....

I'm very much aware that I'm an exceptionally lucky and blessed young woman, but sometimes I think it's good to reflect on the sadder, darker things.

To end on a happier note, Tim Minchin opportunity:

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A rush of words

For the first time in a long time, the words are coming.

For too long, I've been stuck, not knowing what to write.

But now, the floodgates are open and the torrent is sweeping past me. My jotter is full of ideas for stories, for poems, for blogposts. I'm writing letters again - to friends, to family, to pupils. Emails and postcards are whozzing off in a myriad of different directions. I'm hungry for new words, for words that fit my meaning, for words that describe, that take you somewhere.

Good heavens it's awesome.

I spent a couple of months not knowing what to blog about, and now I have so many ideas 0 friendship, music, holidays, home, blogging, cookery, health, callings....

It feels good to be back into it.

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Random online things (thanks, friends, twitter and stumbleupon!)

Here's a few of the things that have been making me giggle / think recently....

Europe, ten centuries in five minutes. Awesome.

I don't tend to dream much (unlike Matthew who has deliciously random dreams!), but this infographic is still pretty groovy!

In honour of all the Camden hipsters, I have once again been listening to this song a lot! (Caution, sweariness abounds - please avoid if this is likely to offend) New age fun with a vintage feel!

Jon Hamm is amazing. And fond of a good cameo....or rather, a Hammeo.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver take on the NOTW scandal.

My Drunk Kitchen gets patriotic. (Caution, sweariness abounds - please avoid if this is likely to offend)

The Fug Girls watch Country Strong, so you don't have to. I first read this last month, but it merits a re-read or three - the perfect tonic on a tiring day. Bull true!

This page of stats is updated constantly. And kind of hypnotic.

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My Summer List

Inspired by the lovely Lisa, and many others, who have made lists of things to do over the summer, I have made one of my own.

Not one of the things on the list is work based. Or housework based.

Nope, it's wall to wall fun - a list of places to go, people to see, things to do, stuff to make me think, time to spend with great people and fun fun fun.

It's taped up on the door into the Claire Lair.

Walks and picnics and reading and visits. I'll let you know how I get on.

What would make your summer list, lovelies?

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Time for a picnik?

For the longest time I've been wanting to include more photos on my blog, and have been looking for a nifty way to do so. Huge thanks, therefore, to the gorgeous and multitalented Vixie, who introduced me to picnik, which has all kinds of fun stuff for me to learn how to use!

Here's my first collage - by no means a comprehensive compendium of all my girls, you understand (heavens, Rory isn't a girl and he fits in there ;)), but the first nine pictures that sprung up and said "Hey, collage me!"

I'm looking forward to playing with picnik across the next few months!

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School's out

So here we are, the end of the summer term, and the end of another academic year - my sixth.

Thursday was the day, all laughter and in-jokes and awards won and presents given, and then suddenly, twelve noon, time to go.

That moment when you look around the room at those little guys you've spent so much time with - whose tears you've wiped, whose laughter you've earned, who you've spent more time with than any other people on the planet over the nine to ten months of the school year, and you realise, it's done.

They've grown.

You've grown.

And now it's time to move on to other things.

I always feel a little like a mother duck setting her ducklings off on their first big solo journey!

It's a moment that always tingles. A catch in your throat, watery eye sort of moment, knowing that other things await you all. So you swallow hard, keep it together, and shake those little hands and send them off for adventures and fun and relaxation.

And when the goodbye-ing is done, and the parents have patted your back and wish you happy holidays, you head back up the stairs to your classroom.

It feels quieter. Colder. Smaller.

And then you catch a glimpse of the pinboard. Festooned with thank yous and hand drawn notes and long, grateful letters noting hard work and dedication and kindness and love.

And you cry.

Great big round salty tears roll down your cheeks as you realise that it's done. And it was good. The boys have all grown up this year, and in some small way you've helped. This moment is bittersweet, but worth savouring.

And then you wipe your tears, blow your nose, take a deep breath and realize...'re on holiday.


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PS To any and all of my badgers, if you read this: WELL DONE for a super year! I am so proud of you all and can't wait to hear all about your holidays and to see what brilliant things you achieve in the years to come. Have a great break!

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Quote of the day

"You can't break a bad habit by throwing it out the window. You've got to walk it slowly down the stairs."

~Mark Twain

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Happy Birthday, Matthew!

You are always my favourite.

Have a brilliant day. :)

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Pictures that make me smile...11

Amanda (who I haven't seen in far too long :( ) and I, giving out sweets and free hugs in central London.

I love our yearly Joinee Karmageddon get-together and am very excited to see what's planned for this year!

I also super excited for the third annual Joinee Olympics next weekend - I've been unable to make this meet before so am excited to join in! Fun sports FTW!

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Closer to fine

Forgive me in advance, friends.

This is going to get a little rambly and stream-of-consciousness and all over the shop. I hope you'll stick with it ;).

A few weeks back, I wrote that I was feeling "better".

Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I feel good.

I am sitting here in my comfy pjs, a little sunburnt from a day out with the boys, tired, and happy.

I feel like a cloud has lifted.

A big cloud.

When I hit thirty, everyone (well, not everyone. It's never actually everyone, is it? It may seem like everyone, it may even be a significant majority of everyone...but it's never really, properly everyone) insisted that the thirties were great. You knew yourself, you were settled, you knew your own mind. Your 30s are GREAT.

And I believed them.

I sipped the champagne and got used to the three at the start of my age and assured myself that I felt amazing.

I didn't.

I started out this year feeling sad, and weary, and a little lost. I was sad about things I couldn't control, and for much of the past few months I've had to work hard to summon up my usual Tiggerish amounts of enthusiasm for....anything. I felt grey, stale, sad....stuck. There were up days and down days, but overall I was feeling glass half empty, if I'm honest. And that is so not me.

And then we get to June.

I think I can officially state for the record now that the month of May had me officially arrive at a DARK PLACE (aside, I love a good all caps moment. I don't use them often, but sometimes my brain cries out for them). I was tired - too tired, frustrated, crying in the kitchen whilst making supper, feeling lost and abandoned and just a volcano of pent up anger and self-hatred and sadness. Real, proper, down to the marrow sadness. I'm so glad that I escaped the month with all my relationships intact and with no-one bearing the brunt or the burden of my rage and sorrow. Of course, that meant all that emotion had only only place to go. Inwards.

So, ladles and jellyspoons, I was most unlike myself for most of May. And then I went to a health farm for five days and subsisted on cabbage (so. much. cabbage...), fitful long nights of sleep and a shedload of exercise. And while that was a trial in itself, the time away from everything was a total blessing. A time to reflect and recharge and get a grip, I guess.

And the iciness that had pervaded my heart began to thaw.

June was good. Maddening and sickeningly busy as ever, but good. I felt closer to my friends and Matthew than I had in a while, happier, more settled. My natural propensity to worrying and planning too much I left mainly to work (where both attributes are far more healthy and useful than in the rest of life!), and in everything else, I, to coin a phrase, chilled the heck out.

I went easier on myself.

I chose to be gentler with myself.

I'm learning, but now, at long last, I feel like I'm fighting back against the habits of a lifetime. All those capabilities - the talent for self-hatred, the fear of abandonment, the horror of being too noticeable - I've gained over the past three decades, I feel like I'm learning to deal with. Little by little. Day by day. All those skills found and forged in the lonely years, a scared years, the abandoned years, the forgotten years...I feel like I'm finally learning which are useful (caring, friendliness, openness, the ability to rarely be bored) and those which are not (calling yourself fat/ugly/stupid is rarely a good use of time. And yet...).

I feel calm, and connected, and like for the first time in a long time I'm actually seeing me for me. Like instead of looking in a mirror and seeing some horrific disfigurement of who I really am, I finally feel for the first time possibly ever I am actually seeing me.

The good and bad.

The strong and weak.

The silly and the sensible.

The changeable and never-changing.

And (mad hair, odd love of 80s pop, George Clooney obsession and propensity to like karaoke a little too much notwithstanding) do you know what?

I think I like what I see.

Am I perfect?

Is life perfect?


But it really feels like it's a lot closer to perfect than I ever realised. And I'm definitely closer to fine.

Thanks for reading, lovelies.

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