Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mini rant, and uncharacteristc piece of intelligent thought

Ok so I know I should be flattered...but really, why on earth would I ever consider going out with a 34-year-old smoker who has a 7-year-old child and lives 110 miles away? Come on people, I do have standards.

Anyway - mini rant over. I read an article today in the Times Higher daily email, which concerned a lecturer from the University of Wales Newport who got his final year students to set their own papers and then take books into the exam in case they couldn't answer their own questions. His reasoning was that it was more honest than the usual practice of strongly hinting at the content of the questions, and that assessment should be about real knowledge and ability, not memory tests. I find this interesting - my initial response was that it was a terrible idea, but actually I've always thought exams are a mad way of testing how much someone really understands a subject that they've been studying for a year. How can you possibly measure real understanding in a 3-hour paper? Which jobs in the real world require candidates to memorise huge chunks of information, regurgitate it in highly pressurised conditions and then instantly forget it (which is what I always ended up doing) to concentrate on the next topic? Wouldn't it make more sense to assess people on a set of essays that they've spent time preparing and researching? But then this leaves room for plagiarism and other forms of cheating, so surely an open book or previously seen exam (which I know some subjects allow at Warwick) means that students can construct a decent argument without the pressure of remembering all the facts? Isn't allowing students to set the questions as well just one step beyond this?

Ultimately I think that students should not be allowed to set the questions. A lecturer needs to set topics that are sufficiently challenging and that examine a wide enough quantity of the syllabus. I think perhaps open book/previously seen exams are the best idea, and that in this case students should have to answer a broad range of questions rather than being able to get away with only revising a small section of work like I always did. Either way this article has brought back concepts that I used to think about when I was a student - I always knew that I wasn't really learning anything that I'd remember, and 2 years on I've definitely been proved right. I may have developed my research and writing skills, but basically I was able to gain a high 2:1 on relatively little work, very little knowledge and only a basic level of understanding. Something surely isn't right with our assessment system.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Job satisfaction

I may have done 12 hours' work on 7 hours' sleep yesterday, but it was all worth it for the girl I spoke to at the Stratford parents' evening who thought she'd made a real mistake in not applying this year. I told her that we're still accepting applications, that she can get there on the bus from Leam and that student loans aren't scary, and off she went with her prospectus to make an application. Brilliant. Then today I went to the Birmingham HE Fair at Aston, and had a great day speaking to loads of potential applicants. There were 5000 students there, and while Leicester gave away 210 prospectuses and De Montfort got rid of 490, we gave away...2762. Coventry rocks.

My brother rowed at the Henley Royal Regatta today which is a great achievement. His boat was beaten, but it was by a crew that broke the course record for the category so that's not too bad at all. I'll have to go next year as it sounds like mum had a great time. She was there with my grandad and they randomly dropped in on me on the way home, so I had a quite unexpected dinner at the Kenilworth Beefeater tonight which was lovely. I've also found out that the Bewdley Regatta is the day after mum's birthday, so I'll be able to go and watch Simon race on his home turf and eat fish & chips from the Merchant's chippy - it's always a fantastic day and I'm really pleased I can go. My parents are going to sponsor a race so we'll be able to go in the sponsors' tent as well and get free food. It probably won't be as posh as Henley though where you could apparently get a fish platter for £70!

As for last weekend - see Juicy's blog for a thorough update. Suffice to say it was fab and I had a great time despite once again causing myself utter mortification. Before the incident, that was such a brilliant night and I can safely say I've never had such a good time camping. It really reminded me of how fantastic my friends are too. :o) Don't fancy a repeat of that thunderstorm experience any time soon though!

This weekend is going to be very quiet - tennis and football all day Saturday and then I might wander out to the cinema on Sunday. I have dinner with Juicy on Friday to look forward to though. I used to look forward to quiet weekends but now I just get a bit bored by the end of them - good job I haven't got too many more coming up! I do really feel I should do something on Tuesday but I absolutely have to be sober on Wednesday for open day/teacher conference madness, so any suggestions for sober ways of celebrating one's singleton anniversary would be appreciated. Maybe I'll have to do something on Friday 7th instead - or this Saturday? I shall give it some thought.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Ok, so I may be stuck on scale 4 and have a severely limited progression potential (pending appeal) but as of 1st August I'm earning £1500 more and have 32 (count them!) days of annual leave! That'll do very nicely for now - and by the time I get stuck at the top of the scale I'll probably want to move on anyway. If we do win the appeal I'll go up another £1000 or so, and if not I'm still happy. What a satisfying end to a very short working week.

I'm on holiday! Let the baking commence.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Drinking with my mother

Ok, this post shall be me rambling about stuff that randomly occurs. Tonight I went out for dinner with my mum and drank most of a bottle of wine. We went to the Leamington Bar and Grill which was fantastic - gorgeous food and great atmosphere. I had a mushroom, spinach and pesto bruschetta to start and beef wellington for main, and a calypso coffee to finish, and mum and I set the world to rights. We ended up crying after talking about funerals and music that we associated with them, dissecting the oddities of dad's family and laughing hysterically as the inevitable happened and I spilled all my secrets - wine does that to a person I find. I never intended my mum to know about some of the stuff I told her tonight but hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time and was the cause of many a good giggle. We came home via Tesco and watched the last 10 minutes of the England game which qualified us to dissect our performance in great detail and solve all the team's problems at a stroke. They should put us in charge. I have also taken possession of the comedy tent, which comes in a comedy pair of plastic bags.

I was very proud of myself at work today. We had an AimHigher event for 40 year 10 kids, and Charlotte was supposed to be the Lead Officer with me as her Lead Assistant but sadly her dad died over the weekend - she's only 29 and has now lost both her parents to the same type of cancer. Life sucks sometimes. Anyway, she won't be in for a bit so I found out yesterday I had to lead on the event unless I wanted help, so I decided that if I want a promotion eventually I should go for it and show what I can do. I was very pleased that it all went perfectly today and I even stood up and talked to the kids at the end without tripping over myself or looking silly. It may not sound like much but it was the first event I'd done by myself so I was really pleased.

Why is it that attractive men who email me can't spell or use capital letters or punctuation, while those who can are just not attractive? I find this very unfair. I just can't cope with going out with someone who can't write - I know many people have trouble spelling certain words and that's fine, but if you just can't write at all I think you probably can't hold an intelligent conversation and keep me engaged for the rest of my life. It may be arrogant, but it's very important to me. Similarly, if someone has a bit of a brain but isn't attractive then I'm just not going to go out with them however perfect they are in other ways. I do wish someone could combine the two! At least I still have men emailing me which is always a nice ego boost.

Tomorrow is my last day at work until next Tuesday! Five days off...can't wait. WOAH - I just heard that they're axeing Top of the Pops at the end of July. The end of an era! Anyway. Work tomorrow could be interesting - we've had our pay deals on our new single spine agreement and to the shock of all concerned our personnel department have decided that us assistants should be on grade 4 which is less than most of us are paid now. The entire senior management team in our office is outraged by this and our Pro-Vice Chancellor has said in writing that they've graded us wrongly so a major appeal is going on until it's fixed - rather concerning for us though as we're pretty sure they'll sort it out but it makes us feel a little unvalued by the university. We know our managers value us though.

Can't be bothered to go to bed. What else can I find to ramble about? Probably better to stop actually before I start looking silly...oh wait, that happened about 5 years ago in week 3 of term 1 of my first year. Ah well.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Just call me comedy tent girl...

My dozy brother has performed a Barbour classic and totally forgotten to bring his tent with him when he met up with mum and dad at the weekend. I am therefore going on tour with the "thing" that my parents used to go on holiday in when they were first married. Their wedding was in 1979. I shall be living in a triangular-shaped article with big metal poles, hundreds of pegs and a separate outer sheet that you peg over the top to prevent the inevitable rain from getting in. So much for the 4-man luxury portable house. Prepare to laugh quite hard...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I have dangly earrings!

Yes, I have lovely new earrings and I've been looking in mirrors all day and marvelling at how pretty they are. This is just one of the good things to happen in what has generally been a rather fab weekend. Friday's BBQ was a great night and I didn't even get too damaged by my shoes. I did however discover that drinking a litre of g&t can give you a headache the next day! Much better than drinking wine though, I was able to function all day and didn't get depressed so that was definitely an improvement.

Saturday saw one of those little life milestones - I had my hair dyed for the first time, only it wasn't to change the colour but to put the original colour back into all the greys. The Great Janine (my name for her as borrowed from Spike in Notting Hill - she is actually called Janine...) did a great job of matching the colour and although I still have a few left it's a lot better. Worryingly she found a great long grey at the back of my head where I haven't had them before - she assures me it wasn't there last time she cut my hair, so the next stage of ageing has clearly set in sometime in the past 6 weeks. I'm going to be having my whole head dyed by the time I'm 25 at this rate!

Anyway, after the hairdressers I went to get my ears checked hence the new ability to wear dangly earrings, and then bought lots of lovely new pairs to celebrate. I also bought a camping chair and a pink stripy sleeping bag! I just can't resist pink things. The shopping was rounded off with 2 new vest tops (green and pink) and that was about the end of fun things for that day. Today was the Chorus concert which I really enjoyed despite the evil woman next to me. I think we sang really well and the audience seemed to appreciate it - the orchestra was excellent too and did a lovely Romeo and Juliet. There were fewer wind players this time so the wind were really tight and together for once, and everyone who had solos did them really well. Sam's timp and tambourine solos were especially good! What will I do without Sam to make me smile in concerts?!

I can't wait for next weekend, which starts on Wednesday night as I'm having 2 days off. Thursday's plan is shopping, baking and packing and then the Gala Concert which as long as it's sunny will be a brilliant evening of picnic and Pimm's, and on Friday it's Thora time! So excited... I even have something fun to do in the working week to keep me going, as I'm going out for dinner with my mum on Tuesday. It'll be lovely to see her and have a nice meal paid for. Life is generally good at the moment; it's always better when I'm seeing my friends a lot and I don't have too much time to sit and think. I'll clearly have to be busy more often!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pure genius

I feel I should draw your attention to two text messages I received last night from a certain Miss Lucy Young. The first one was in response to one I sent saying that everyone on the top deck of the bus was singing Yellow Submarine in a foreign language. She said:

Ya de gelbe submarine! Dte am so wartmre.

The second one was just totally random:

Dude. What happened where the jell am i? Shiv im frogly.

Juicy, you're a legend.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I apologise in advance...

for wearing my absurd shoes to tonight's BBQ! If I start whinging that they hurt, feel free to ignore me. I have applied plasters so I should be ok, but you never know. I also apologise for being 7 feet tall - sometimes I wish I was short so I could wear heels without turning into the Empire State Building! Ah well. Clearly the perfect man for me will be at least 6ft 1 so he can be taller than me even when I'm wearing my 4-inch wedges. I shall leave the house now armed with a handbag full of gin (a genius plan) and some Tesco Finest sausages. Bring it on!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's wrong, it's just plain wrong

Ok, now I'm not a fan of PDAs anyway so I may be being overly harsh here, but when I'm sitting on the back right hand seat on the bus home after a long day at work, I really don't want to see the 50-something couple on the back left hand seat kissing each other. For most of the journey it was just enthusiastic cuddling, which was bad enough, but when we got into Leamington, just as I was thinking "stop behaving like teenagers...but then teenagers usually eat each other's faces on the bus so I should be grateful", there they went. Tongue down your throat, noisy, full-on snogging. Yuk. By the Lillington Road traffic lights we were onto the whispering sweet nothings and I nearly hurled all over the bus. Is it just me, or is this something that really shouldn't be happening?!

Anyway. I've settled down to read this week's Heat, and have been horrified to see that the first article is all about Helen and Paul from BB2 breaking up! Helen and Paul were one of those real couples who made you smile, and I'm so sad they are no more. What is happening in this crazy world of ours?! It's all just plain wrong.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Much as I love the sun and heat, I really detest it when it gets humid. Suncream combined with humidity in the air makes me sticky and grumpy and saps all my energy. Hopefully the thunderstorms we've been promised for tomorrow will clear things up and the air will dry out again. In the meantime I shall continue lying about, feeling horrible and watching my hair turn into something out of the dark ages before ceramic straighteners were invented (nothing has any power over its insane tendencies in this weather). In summary: grr.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why I love my country

I was reminded just now of quite how much I love England. I know the world cup creates a lot of bad behaviour, with people getting really drunk and jingoistic, but it also creates a fab atmosphere and a bit of community spirit. After getting back from work (more of which later) today I caught the last 20 minutes of England's first game, and then went out straight after to get my food shopping for the week. Walking down Warwick Street I could hear Amarillo coming out of Macky's bar (the original version, not the rubbish world cup cover) and there were people all over the street dressed in England shirts and wrapped in flags. There were flags flying from lots of buildings and the flower shop had a full stand outside, and the whole street was so colourful with a great atmosphere. Walking through Leamington in the sunshine always reminds me of how lovely the place where I live is, but today was really special. Who needs to travel abroad when you can have England in the sunshine?

Anyway, yesterday evening and this morning I had to work as we were hosting a conference for teachers from one of our partner schools. Most of it was quite boring as they got on with it and Tina and I sat in the office messing about and waiting for them to ask us for stuff (blu tac etc) but it was worth it in several ways - I got paid overtime, I got a free cookie yesterday, there were bottles of wine left over from yesterday so I got free wine to take home today, there was loads of buffet left so I got enough for free lunch and dinner, and the headteacher tipped us both £20! Free food, free wine and free money - the only downside was missing most of the football. I do like my job.

PS - Will someone please blog about Whit Friday? I need drunken photos and stories of what the beer made you do, and I need them now!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I read somewhere that everyone has a disfunctional relationship with food to a greater or lesser extent, and while I wouldn't necessarily agree with this, I do think that it's true in my case. I never used to have a problem with it at all, I just ate what I wanted when I wanted it and didn't really think about it much, which led to me being overweight but completely at ease with my diet. I was brought up to eat big portions, have second helpings and eat pudding with most meals which I think contributed to being happy but large! When I started making the effort to eat less, I was really happy with the weight loss but I started thinking about food all the time. I would spend the whole day exercising my willpower and looking forward obsessively to my next meal, then thoroughly enjoying the meal but wanting to eat more as soon as I'd finished. I was never actually hungry, but I felt like I should be all the time, and constantly craved savoury snacks like potato skins or pizza.

Back in February I stopped dieting after the ball, and since then I've put on 10 pounds. I've had days when I've just eaten cookie after cookie at work, or had three meals, had a bit too much to drink and then decided to indulge my craving for another whole pizza, and every time I ate too much I felt over full and horrible, but I couldn't seem to stop. Worryingly, I also started craving sweet things all the time which I've never done in my life - I've never been that fussed about chocolate and once when I had one of those huge Dairy Milk bars for Easter I made it last until September (!) but recently I've been buying chocolate bars and eating the whole lot all at once (I've never ever just randomly bought chocolate before) or using chocolate as a way to combat feeling down which I've never had the slightest need to do before.

Now I've decided I'd like to feel better about myself again and lose the 10 pounds, so I'm exercising my willpower once again. I feel great, but the obsessive thinking about food and the cravings have started again. I should point out that I diet really sensibly - I eat three meals a day, I eat lots of fruit and veg and I eat good sized portions (although they're smaller than I used to get from mum which may explain something) including two lots of fish a week - yet I still feel constantly hungry even though my body isn't actually telling me that I am. At the moment I'm absolutely desperate for a chocolate bar despite the fact that I'm not physically hungry, I've had a lovely dinner of chicken casserole with raspberries for pudding and I'd feel horrible if I ate anything else.

So what is the solution? I know that I can lose weight if I try, but when I start eating "normally" I put it back on. Will I be stuck in this cycle of cravings forever? Maybe I need to learn what eating normally actually is - I need to find the happy medium between eating a small number of calories to lose weight, and eating whatever I want including far too much fat and putting weight on. It's so hard! Perhaps I should treat myself once a week so I don't crave icecream etc for weeks on end. Any tips are much appreciated!

This entry is rather longer than I intended. I've made myself look like I have a real problem which I don't think I have - I'm just a bit concerned that getting myself to a healthy weight has created a bad relationship with food that I didn't have before. Ah well - I shall carry on being good for the rest of June, and then bring on tour and the Cornish icecream!

Monday, June 05, 2006


Are in order, to my brother who has just been elected President of the Reading Uni Boat Club. Well done!

Makes me feel very old though...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good things about today

The sun is shining! My Anti-SAD has kicked in and I'm happy as a sandboy. (Does anyone actually know how happy sandboys are? Probably not as happy as me.)

Today our Director called me into her office at 2.30, gave me £20 and asked me to go to M&S and buy Bucks Fizz and cake. Her reasoning was that she didn't want to be there, we probably didn't either but since we had to be we might as well enjoy ourselves. I had a lovely walk in the sun and some free drink!

Our Director also gave me a lift home in her lovely convertible. I got home at 5.30 instead of 6.15 and had the joy of going down the A46 in an open top car with the wind in my hair. Travelling in style!

I'm about to go out for curry with my friends. Life is good!