Friday, 31 December 2010

Just call me Shaun White!

Today I was mostly taking on the Scottish mountains on my board. I look very cool, calm and collected in this photo, but it was super scary! I am shattered tonight but it was a great day. Our trip up north was wonderful as always. The Highlands are just beautiful at every time of year but especially in winter.

Happy New Year one and all.


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A quick festive post

Alright! So, here I sit with the fam, watching darts having eaten the world's largest helping of bread and butter pudding. Ah, I do love the Christmas period! I hope Father Christmas brought you all you wanted. I was thoroughly spoiled: a couple of 66*N jumpers from D (even though he had already given me a pile of pressies - naughty boy!), some lovely new jammies and Doddington Hall vouchers from the rents, and a Kindle from the in-laws. Goodness! I took my Kindle on the bus today and it was very jolly reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

We've spent a happy few days with the family. It was great to get to Carrubbers on Sunday and see all our friends, and we even squeezed in a happy trip to Ocean Terminal yesterday to spend some Christmas money. Tomorrow we are off to Kingussie (weather permitting) for some rest in the snowy Cairngorms. Then, it's back to Edinburgh for New Year, down to Stockport for a couple of days with Mum and Dad and across to Lincoln in time for mad marking week.

And so, back to the darts. James Wade is struggling...


Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas from Lincoln

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11
Here's wishing all our friends and family a brilliant festive season and, most of all, the joy of knowing this Saviour.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

What on earth was that all about?

The title sums up my reaction to last night's film. D suggested that we watch 2001: A Space Odyssey on blu ray. It was on my list of 'classic films I probably should have seen'. As the final credits rolled D (as always) asked, "so what did you think?" Generally I am able to answer this question, but this time I was stumped. About God? Well, for me this film felt completely godless. About evolution? Well, yes, it begins with monkeys fighting with bones but the human race doesn't seem to just gets slightly less hairy! About the nature of humanity? Certainly. The 'death' of Hal was really quite upsetting. About Nietzsche? Absolutely! The whole 'ubermensch' business was clear to see throughout and I think this is the reason I presumed it was a godless universe. About subjectivity and perception? Oh, for goodness sake! Anyways, I'd recommend it if you haven't seen it yet. It certainly got us thinking and talking. I think I probably appreciated it for the incredible visual effects and, even more, for its amazing use of music. I guess it is multi-sensory but how that combines with all the philosophical stuff, I don't know - is it a film for the intellectual mind or for the senses? Or both?

I am currently enjoying slow but happy days of research and Book preparation. Today I hit 10,000 words of that tricky Language chapter I keep mentioning. Finally my argument feels as if it is coming together. The problem is that I am trying to argue two, seemingly contrasting things: first, language is vital to our understanding of a British avant-garde and second, that language isn't quite as vital as previous scholarship has presumed. This sort of argument ties me up in knots! But the mist is clearing...

...which is more than can be said for the weather which has hit the UK in recent weeks. We have had some serious frost here and today the snow was back which meant that we couldn't get to a party in one of the surrounding villages. The main roads were fine but with the promise of more snow (which didn't actually materialise) we decided to take a rain check. Here's hoping that all's fine for our upcoming trip up north.

So this evening we had D & M's special Christmas. We have had this exciting event every year since we were married so we don't have to cart presents for each other around the country. Warden Christmas always comes early, always involves something experimental in the kitchen and always means too many presents for me. To celebrate I made Nigella's Mexican lasagne from her new book, Kitchen (we love Nigella and she has rather generously put the recipe online) It's great, easy and it's veggie too! I used half fat cheese so, given that you are really just eating loads of veggies and pulses, it is also very healthy...particularly by Nigella standards. We both did very well. D surprised me with a gorgeous Ugg leather trench coat.

As usual he bagged himself a bargain and I was the beneficiary.

In other news, I recently joined a website called where you can post your academic details and make web-friends with others working in your area. But the truly surprising thing about this online community is that it tells you when someone has Googled you! Emails come through to your inbox to tell you as much. Totally weird! It is a great site though and well worth joining if you have any connection with the academic world. Cheers Joanne and Will for introducing me to it!

Anyways, it feels very late but isn't so I think I'll go and have a snooze in a second. We are able to get our lounge really warm but the rest of the flat is colder than cold. Brr...It doesn't make me want to get up off the sofa and walk across the Arctic region that is our hall!

I'll post again over the festive season!


Friday, 17 December 2010

The start of the Christmas holidays

Today was the final official day of term. We finished off with a jolly school meeting complete with mince pies. I celebrated by fighting through the crowds yesterday to pick up a lovely cardie from Marks - they were on special offer for just £10, down from £35. A proper bargain! The students have exactly 1 hour to hand their essays in and I'm hoping for a couple of weeks of research. I have a pile of books to read and an Introduction to tweak.

We are looking forward to Christmas jollity and, so far, the snow has kept away from Lincoln. It seems to be attacking the other side of the country this time. But there is a chill in the air so what better way to spend our Friday evening than watching the final episode of Kings. We really enjoyed this series. It was beautifully shot and finely acted. It was also really thought-provoking...and virtually impossible to categorise. I love its generic complexity. We couldn't guess how it would end and, with just an hour to go, there seemed to be far too many loose ends. And, brilliantly, they weren't all tied up by the final credits. It was ambiguous and totally compelling. There would definitely have been scope for another series if NBC had realised what a amazing piece of TV they actually had on their hands. But, unfortunately, someone in their wisdom decided that X-Factor/Pop Stars/Celebrity Dancing show would be a better choice. More fool them, I say!

And so we are looking forward to a weekend of tidying, writing and reading. We are off to a Christmas concert tomorrow which is lovely given that for the past decade my December has been chock full of Christmas gigs. This year has felt a little quiet and sad. We are having friends round afterwards which is an excuse for something mulled and some cheese methinks! If you are wondering about my reading list which has been somewhat static for a couple of months then you'll be glad to know that I am also hoping to do a bit of extra-curricular reading during the holidays.

Anyways, enjoy the weekend one and all. I'm off to drink a cuppa and beat D at our basketball computer game. I got close last night...


p.s. students, you now have 50 minutes...tick...tock...tick...tock...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A Handbag?

Goodness, I have watched a lot of Wilde wit and Restoration bawdiness over the last few days! Third year assessment ended at 6.30 this evening. We were suitably impressed by all. I am currently sitting in a lazy, sleepy state in my new Adidas hat. It is brown and like the one that Amy Williams wore at the Winter Olympics. It is an early Christmas pressie from D. How nice! Tomorrow we have site-specific assessments and the new hat may well make an appearance.

We are getting through the American series, Kings, at an alarming rate. At present it is our dinner time treat. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, it is a Biblical allegory though it does take some pretty serious liberties with the original story. Yet it is no less entertaining for that. It didn't take off in the States and was cancelled halfway through the first series. This means that the later episodes feel a little rushed. However, it is a really interesting piece about power, faith, deception and courage. We decided that the reason it was cancelled was probably the incredibly complex characterisation. As audience members we have changed our mind a dozen times about the characters. Sometimes we feel sorry for the King and at others he seems to be a wholly despicable figure. Sometimes our sympathy is with David and then he goes and tells a whopping lie. What about the princess, the prince (goodness, no idea about him!), the queen, the advisors? These are not straightforward characters and I think they would prove extremely confusing for an audience, especially as it was advertised under the banner of sci-fi. We, however, are enjoying it immensely and Ian 'Lovejoy' McShane (who reminds me of childhood Sunday nights) is a revelation. He seems to be part of a growing group of Brits making good across the Pond. And 'hoorah to them', I say.

Anyways, I think I'll take another cuppa and go for an early snooze. Looking forward to a half research day tomorrow. It'll be a happy couple of hours on the Book. And it looks like the snow is on the way again so batten down the proverbial hatches. A White Christmas is just fine but a White Christmas Eve (given our planned Chris Rea-style 'travelling home for Christmas') could be a little problematic.


p.s. Many apologies if you have not yet received a Warden Christmas card - they are on their way!
p.p.s. If you get the gist of tonight's title then we should eat cucumber sandwiches together at a later date.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

And another post-Asia

Why is there a blog post appearing, you may ask, on an Asia gig night? Well, good question. We should have been in Holmfirth tonight but poor ol' Steve Howe has hurt his back so the concert was cancelled. Gutted! But at least we got to see an amazing gig on Friday night in Edinburgh. Glad we made the effort to get through the fast-thawing snow and up to Auld Reekie. The gig was incredible. Our seats were on the front row and the whole band sounded terrific. John's vocals were better than ever and Steve even played the guitar with his teeth, which is totally out of character! The new Omega stuff was particularly great. End of the World has been in my head ever since. Here's hoping that the Holmfirth gig will be rescheduled.

In fact, the Edinburgh gig was the start of a great weekend. We enjoyed a happy night with the in-laws on the Friday and even got to see our niece who has grown so much in just a couple of months. We then drove down to Stockport to celebrate Grandad's 90th birthday in style. The whole family descended and it was lovely to see everyone. It was only arriving back last night after his birthday meal out that we learnt of Steve's injury. So, while the weekend was tinged with disappointment, it was all so great that it was very difficult to feel sad.

So, in honour of the Asia boys here are two pictures of me at previous gigs with John in a Glasgow car park...

.,.and Geoff at last February's London gig.

Ah, good times!

From showbiz pictures to student assessment. And we start at 9 tomorrow with the third years. Roll on rakes, fops and swooning ladies!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pre-Asia post

And so we're off to Edinburgh tomorrow after I've taught a first year class on Hedda Gabler. D still has to dig the car out of the snow - I believe I only have a trowel in my tool kit. Hmm...good luck with that!

We're looking forward to a lovely weekend of family and music far away from the current madness of student politics. I love a good protest; in fact, I am passionate about allowing free protest in a civilised country and particularly about speaking out for those who cannot speak out for themselves. It's Biblical and it's right. But I am so disappointed about what passes for political rebellion in our rather unpleasant consumer society. The laudable anti-war sentiment of the Spirit of '68? Following the incredible, vibrant fervour of 1926? I think not! Our current breed of activists seem to only care enough to revolt when it hits their own pocket. Advice for the protestors? Go to lectures! Protest needs to be organised and informed. This current movement is neither. Alongside the mob that jumps on the bandwaggon there are a number of great, informed speakers. Some of these are affiliated with the NUS. I'm hoping that these voices are the ones which are heard. My shower thought of the morning? Whatever happened to the art of the real debate?

Rant concluded! I'll perhaps write something a little more comprehensive on this subject at a later date if the mood takes me and I find a parapet to cower beneath. As usual I partly agree and partly disagree with governmental policy but this isn't really the point. I just wish that the revolution could just be a little more witty and intelligent.

Anyways, to bed, I think. I have my 1984 vintage Yes t-shirt ready for tomorrow's gig. Can't wait! Reviews coming up!

Monday, 6 December 2010

"Are you sixteen, duck?"

This was the question directed at this increasingly elderly lecturer while trying to buy PVA glue in Poundland. I much trouble could anyone cause with a small bottle of PVA? I was, however, utterly delighted! This was really the highlight of the weekend! Due to the snow D and I spent most of Saturday and Sunday indoors enjoying our books. We didn't even get to church so, instead, listened to Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill. We did decide to brave the icy pavements on Saturday night though and wandered down to Nando's for a bit of spicy chicken. D then convinced me to accompany him to watch the new Denzel Washington vehicle Unstoppable at the cinema. It was fairly predictable but enjoyable stuff. Actually I felt that it was a more interesting film than it thought it was - generally I feel the exact opposite! The relationships were so nicely crafted and convincing but, for some reason, the director insisted on mediating the action through the cameras of Fox news and I don't think it was a satirical comment. This was a bit of a shame as it turned the audience member into a voyeur. Oh goodness, that just sounds magnificently poncy...sorry about that!

So, other than that there isn't a great deal of news. This is the last week of teaching and we have an exciting weekend ahead. We are off for an adventure, traveling up to Edinburgh on Friday for our first gig of the weekend, over to Stockport on Saturday for Grandad's 90th birthday party and through to Holmfirth for out second gig. We are following Asia across the country! Can't wait to see John, Geoff, CP and Steve again. I'm off for a cuppa and a re-read of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest which I'm teaching tomorrow. What a great play!


Saturday, 4 December 2010

I like to be in America!

To see more photos, check out our new photo section or the slide show on the right.

So, finally here is the full story of our trip to Seattle...

We arrived in Seattle to find a chaffeur-driven car waiting for us. I fulfilled a happy dream to arrive at an airport to be met buy a man with our name on a board. Surely this means you've made it. It was a lovely gesture from our hosts, Anne and Tim. In fact the whole trip was filled with lovely gestures from these two generous folks. Leaving our friends, Will and Joanne to rest after their journey, we spent our first full day exploring Seattle. In his usual organised way D had a plan and had booked a food tour round Pike Place Market. Now, the food in Seattle started well and got better. Man, we ate some wonderful food! From amazing chowder and spiced tea to crab cakes and smoked salmon, this tour had it all.

How huge are those crabs?

Seattle is a very cool, West coast city with a laid back vibe. It is very welcoming and we were greeted everywhere we went. It does help to have a Scotsman along for the ride. Although Americans are largely pretty proud of their nation they often seem to have a particular affinity with another nation, viewing their great-great-great-great grandfather's birthplace as a homeland. For some reason those with a Scottish pedigree seem particularly proud...which means we get wonderful service and freebies wherever we go - even in Macy's!  We did quite a bit of shopping that day. Prices are generally a lot cheaper than in the UK! We also went up the Space Needle that afternoon (jet lag? what jet lag!). It was unbelievably windy! You travel up to the top in a glass elevator (yes, just like Charlie) which was a little surprising/terrifying. We enjoyed a fab pumpkin eclair from Dalia's bakery at the top.

The end of a busy day on top of the Space Needle

Our conference started on the Thursday. In fact it was a day of firsts as we both ate sushi for the first time (NB actually this isn't quite true. As an undergraduate we had a sushi party in celebration of the Japan World Cup. We made so much that we left some on our neighbour's doorstep. I must admit that this overdose has caused me to steer away from raw fish until this restaurant in Seattle) and D went to his first American football match. He had a great time watching the Washington Huskies beat UCLA and returned with many Huskies related gifts as the all have a big 'W' on the front - Warden merchandise! This was college football and the crowd was just huge. Remembering back to cold Aberystwyth hockey matches where the spectators consisted of the sub trying to keep warm, I was again in awe of American university sport.

Go Huskies!

While D cheered on the boys in gold and purple I was participating in my working group. It was an enjoyable affair, if slightly left-field at times. In fact this summed up the whole conference really. There were some strange political tensions that I remained almost oblivious to and some established hierarchies that I haven't really experienced before. That said, I met some very cool folks and had some wonderful quiet time to explore my own research. In fact academic plenaries are extremely good places for thinking. Generally there is one good paper and two not so great - so some inspiration and some time for 'academic chilling'. One of the highlights of the conference was on the final day where we had the privilege of hearing the good folks of Mabou Mines. I had seen their incredible (yes, I do mean that) version of Peter Pan at the Edinburgh Festival last year. Hearing about their vision for a free and fair ensemble company was truly inspirational.

The conference lasted until the Sunday but D left me to enjoy the intellectual rigours alone while he journeyed up to Vancouver on the train. He loved Canada and came back buzzing with stories and with a bag of cool Lululemon sports gear for me.

Vancouver skyline

When he returned on the Sunday we visited Mars Hill Church. This will mean very little to some of you and a great deal to others. Mars Hill is an amazing church (actually churches, plural) in Seattle and the surrounding area. It's headed up by a guy called Mark Driscoll and D and I have admired his straight-talking style for a while now. The church is theologically sound (Bible-believing) while also having a very open, modern attitude. This is a very rare combo in the UK. As we entered the building the band were rehearsing. If the first thing you hear when you enter a church is 'I think we need a bit more bass' you know you are in for a great service ;-). We really enjoyed our evening there. Check out their blog if you're interested. If you don't think church is your thing then definitely check it out - it is a little different from Songs of Praise!

Mars Hill Downtown

I had taken Monday as annual leave so we could go and explore the surrounding countryside. So off we went into the cascades in Washington State. Snow shoeing through the mountains was one of the top ten experiences of my life!

Me and our great guide Dan traversing the snowy mountain.

On we went to Leavenworth, a little Baverian-style town. Sounds naff? Actually it was really quite sweet. So, how to describe our journey home? Well, as we started on the drive back the snow began to get worse until we found ourselves in the middle of a blizzard. When your guide's voice is inflected with panic you know things are bad. Actually he said it was the worst storm he'd ever seen in Washington State! So, we ended up with him driving, me staring at the sat nav in a vain attempt to interpret the roads and D with his head out of the window giving directions to stop us driving right off the mountain road. It was all a little scary really and kinda focuses the mind on prayer and only prayer. Well, we arrived back safely in the end to be greeted by our hosts, massive steaks and the joys of Dancing with the Stars. Hoorah!

So, all in all a great trip. We so enjoyed meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old. The conference provided me with some real space to explore my own research and a chance to find out a little more about American academia. All in all it was well worth the ten hour flight.

Well, that's all folks - the end of my first trans-Atlantic academic experience. Hope you enjoyed the chronicle.


In the red corridor at Seattle Library

p.s. and the highlight? Well, call me a geek but Seattle public library is one of the most inspiring and amazing buildings I have ever been in. It completely sums up the city's attitude to learning - books are for everyone!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The new and improved Molemaison

Having been writing this blog for a year now I felt it was time for some spring cleaning. Wonderful D took it upon himself to make some improvements and here you have it! The idea is to keep the slightly quirky, personal angle while also including a bit of academic gumph. If you have no interest in this side of Warden life (and, quite frankly, why should you?) then feel free to ignore it. I've found over the past year that my blogging intentions have changed slightly. At first I just wanted to keep our friends up to date with all that was going on. Gradually, however, it has become a place to put my occasional rants/thoughts and to document my own academic experience in the hope that it might help others. So, the blog has now grown with me. If The Book is of particular interest to you then it now has its own bespoke page which will document the journey. I'll update this every week. If you just like photos of snow then you are in the right place! Hopefully it is still really easy to find your way around. Let me know if it works for you.

In other news...the university has taken the unprecedented step of closing campus until Monday. The snow is truly unbelievable here. D and I cleared the car with a broom tonight - we are talking feet not inches! So tomorrow is another unscheduled research day. Today was very productive so here's hoping tomorrow will be just as good.

We finished watching From the Earth to the Moon box set the other night. We've been enjoying this wonderful HBO series for a little while now. It is a beautifully directed and written set of programmes. We both learnt a great deal about 1960s/70s space travel. As a child my uncle and I worked out the distance from the earth to the moon and back and how long it would take us to travel it. I've always loved space travel so this was right up my street. D and I ended up having a hypothetical conversation about whether we would become an astronaut if we could. So now we are on to a new series, Kings. Taking the lead is Ian 'Lovejoy' McShane. It is, somewhat surprisingly, a Biblical allegory, basing the story on the life of King David. We are really enjoying it so far. I'll post a proper review at a later date.

Anyways, enough already! Promise I will post our America photos this weekend. They'll be worth the wait.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Just call me John Kettley

Our flat

(Imagine the weather map behind me) Just to fill you in on the latest snow report from Lincoln. Well, given that the police have apparently put road blocks up to stop people getting in to the city, I think it is safe to say that we are well and truly cut off. Fortunately (due to D's penchant for buying in bulk when he sees an offer) we have enough toilet roll and cup-a-soups to last until next summer. The snow here is unbelievable!

Trees on the way to D's work

As predicted university was closed today though the good people of Job Centre Plus (D's work) valiantly turned up to serve the folks of Lincolnshire. After working at home all day I decided to take a walk down to meet D at his work. It was strangely quiet except for the laughter of a bunch of sledging kids and the chatter of two snowboarders (I know...weird huh!?). It is so beautiful though. We seem to be getting the worst/best of it in the East Midlands. It looks like another day at home for me tomorrow and we are not getting the car out for a good couple of days yet. I'm off to make dinner and flick the heating on again. Brr...

This is the view from our balcony window this morning!


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

From the wilds of Lincoln

Just a quick one to say 'hello'. We are currently in the winter wonderland that is the East Midlands (check these photos out). Lincoln even got a mention on the national travel news tonight. While I skipped happily through the unbelievably thick snow on my way home from work, Lincoln roads came to a standstill. We live on a hill (Lindum Road) which was shut to cars so I walked in the middle of the road in a rebellious way. Who knows what the night will bring...more snow will undoubtedly mean a shut campus tomorrow. We all struggled to concentrate in class today as we all gazed out of the window at the blizzard. The poor swans on the Brayford are wandering around unsteadily on the frozen water. Winter seems to have come early to Britain so wherever you are I hope that you are staying warm and cosy. Seattle photos to come. They are now up on D's computer so should be with you before the week is out.

Friday, 26 November 2010

We're back!

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. We arrived back on Wednesday night and I have been running around ever since. The flat needs a good tidy but I thought I'd post first to let you know we hadn't dropped off the planet...though that was a close run thing on Monday as we drove through the blizzards of Washington State. More on the trip at a later date when we've got the photos together. Suffice to say, we had an amazing time. I felt that I learnt a tremendous amount though most of my best work was done as I chatted with friends and spent time writing on my own. It gave me some real space to reassess my academic intentions. I was so sad to leave. We love America and really enjoyed the West Coast vibe. Leaving our new friends behind was really hard.

And so back to Lincoln...Yesterday I reached the grand old age of 30. Crikey! Thanks for all the cards etc! D kindly pointed out that I was nearly 40! I spent my birthday muddling through my third year class (not the finest point of my teaching career!) though D prepared a lovely dinner and then we watched Ironman 2 together. This weekend is my proper birthday celebration as the family descend. Hopefully the snow will hold off long enough for them to make the trip.

I'm off to tidy our bedroom which is currently in a state of disarray! Promise to post more about the trip when D has uploaded and edited the photos. And then I'll be able to tell you about our narrow escape on Monday. It is an epic tale of snow, zero visibility and a narrow mountain path. We'll even have a picture of us outside Mars Hill for those of you who are interested in such things.

Until a later date then

Friday, 19 November 2010

By the power of modern technology!

So, here I sit in a hotel lobby in Seattle. It is 7.50 am and I am just about to get some coffee. How cool is that!? D has just left for Vancouver on the train and I have a couple of days without him. As we speak he will be enjoying a latte in business class while admiring the stunning surrounding scenery. Ah the life! We had a good trip over despite sitting on the runway for an hour and a half at Heathrow waiting for the fog to clear. We got straight into American time which meant going to bed at 10 (the equivalent of 6 in the morning UK time - Phew!) and have felt just fine ever since, though I am more awake in the mornings than in the evenings. On Wednesday we had a happy day in Seattle exploring Pike Place Market, shopping in Macy's and going up the Seattle Space Needle. The conference started yesterday and my working group was in the evening. All went very well and we had some good chat...which I won't bore you with! So, these are the things I have noticed about being in Seattle so far:
1) Everyone really likes coffee...a lot! Although saying that, our wonderful hosts actually bought me a box of PG Tips so every morning I get a cup of proper English tea. What a joy!
2) It is cold! Yes, it is colder here than in Lincoln, and certainly a lot windier. D bought me a Huskies hoodie at the football game last night (more of that at a later date - suffice to say, he had an amazing time!) and it will be getting worn on my trek home later.
3) The food is am-a-zing. Man, we have eaten so much yummy food that today I just want a salad with no dressing and a mug of chicken soup.
4) Clothes are a lot cheaper, especially when you shop in the Macy's sale!
5) American conferences are HUGE (there are nearly 600 people here) and there are a whole load of political intrigues that I haven't worked out yet. It is fun being the slightly eccentric Brit on the scene!
So there you have it, for now. I'll post again on our return and then get some photos up when we've sorted them out. We are having an amazing trip and are so glad to be here. Hope everyone the world over is doing well.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Another post, as promised

Well, after the hurried post of yesterday, today I can fill you in on some of the finer points teh Warden Saturday. I am sitting on our sofa getting ready for the big boxing match of the night (Haye v Harrison)in a pair of...wait for...skinny jeans! Crikey! I can finally wear a pair without feeling like a big blob. I bought them this morning on a brief M&S shopping trip and haven't taken them off yet. Lovely fit with my long black cardie. Hoorah and hooray! They are coming with me to the States, of course.

We have had such a lovely day with a sweet older couple from church. They are just wonderful folks and we had the great privilege of taking them out for lunch at this gorgeous restaurant. 'Belvoir' is pronounced 'beaver', btw. Weird, huh? What a fab meal we had! It was D's choice and, as always, he is the master. He always seems to find the perfect place for each and every occasion.

So, we are nearly ready to go. Clothes are laid out on the floor and I think I've worked my outfits out. I've started eating pineapple (a slightly strange precaution against blood clots) and there is very little left in the fridge. This might be my last post before we go and whether you'll get anything while we swan about in Seattle, I don't know. Either way, have a brilliant week and a bit. Brace yourself for some really boring posts and pictures upon our return.

Match just about to start...Haye to win in round 1 is my guess.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Finished marking!

Hooray, I've just finished my marking and it's only 18.22 on Friday. Not bad! It has been a bit of a hectic week, reading through all the reports. Some good, some not so good, as always. I'm off to lead a drama workshop at church tonight for the youth group so I'm hanging around uni until then. What better way to spend my time than write a blog post?

Despite the marking madness, last night we found time to get into the Christmas spirit and wrapped all our presents. My concern is that we will get back from Seattle and find that Christmas is upon us. So, in a sharp break from usual, I am hoping to get organised early. D even let me listen to Cliff's Saviour's Day. Ah, Christmas tunes!

And so we are getting ready to head off Stateside. For those of you who haven't quite caught up with why the Wardens are trekking over the Atlantic next week, here is the low down. I am speaking at the American Society for Theatre Research Conference in Seattle. It is one of the biggest humanities conferences in the calendar. I am participating in a working group. These don't really exist in British conference but sound much more pleasant than the British idea of just standing up and presenting. I've been in contact with a couple of other guys who are working in a similar field and we've shared a few weeks of fruitful email chat.

We are staying with the family of a friend of mine who is also attending the conference so we get to stay with a wonderful American family rather than camp out in a soulless hotel room. Now, D is coming too (a ten hour flight without D would be very lonely) but he is heading up to Vancouver for a few days so his photos might be slightly more exciting then mine! We'll be back the day before my birthday (yes, that is a hint and yes, it is a big one -boo!) and then it will be straight back into teaching. Phew! I can't wait to spend a week thinking only about my research. I'm leaving teaching behind for a short time and reassessing my research profile while making some contacts and getting a feel for American academia. Sweet!

Sorry if that was dull but it might have been of interest to someone :-)

This weekend we are taking a lovely couple out for lunch and then spending the rest of the time tidying, packing and doing some last minute shopping. The weather has finally calmed down a bit (goodness, the wind! Try living in a draughty flat on the third floor!) and I have started to think about my American capsule wardrobe. What to take, what to take...

Anyways, I'll try and post some more thoughts tomorrow. I haven't even had chance to reflect on last week's conference yet!

Enjoy the evening. I'm off to play silly games with the youth group. Brilliant!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Finally reaching the weekend

Phew! What a week! So, it's been day after day of assessment this week and I've watched a lot of Shakespeare and a lot of very creative first year presentations. It's been great fun but by Friday afternoon I was drinking Diet Coke and eating a packet of Skips in an attempt to get some energy back in my body! Just the marking to go now... As well as assessments D and I have played a couple of games of squash and we've had nightly battles on our baseball game for the PS3. Unfortunately D has won everything this week - meh!

And today we awoke bright and early at 5.20 (on a Saturday!?) to go through to beautiful Oxford for the day. Lovely D drove and we enjoyed our usual mixture of tunes on the way. I was attending a day conference at Corpus Christi college. It was the yearly meeting of the Christian Literary Studies Group which contains some pretty big names. Wore my black jumper/plaid skirt combo as a safe, smart bet. The conference was very interesting. Most attendees were working on religion and literature so I was a bit of a black sheep. But the papers were interesting and I had some good conversations. I even got to speak to an Oxford professor whose work I have admired from afar for a little while now. He was very gracious and we had a good chat as he grappled with an errant egg sandwich at lunchtime. It always makes me feel better when I see someone with such a wonderful reputation battling with a filled roll like us mere mortals. Oxford was lovely as always and D had a good day wandering about. Once I've collated all my notes I'll post a few thoughts about the day.

So, I'm looking forward to a very peaceful Sunday of reading, snoozing and cleaning up a bit. In a terrifying fit of organisation D has been buying Christmas presents and they are at present strewn across our lounge floor. The sheets need changing, the kitchen needs a wipe and upstairs needs a deep clean before the arrival of the parents two days after we get back from the States.

We have just a week and two days to go before heading off to Seattle and we're looking forward to our American journey. I'll fill you in on all our plans for this trip later in the week. As usual D has an illustrated itinery!


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Bad football and Good Shakespeare

After a day of assessment D and I took ourselves off the the university's Tower Bar for a bite to eat before heading along to the Theatre of Dreams (Sincil Bank) to watch Lincoln City lose 2-0. Football is a very funny thing. Fans' loyalty is something to be admired. Fancy turning up on a wet and windy Tuesday evening to watch a division 2 fixture. The good ol' Stacey West stand boys sung their hearts out all night despite a hopeless (I really mean hopeless) centre forward display (D nearly dusted down his boots), a largely anonymous midfield and an unbelievable amount of unused crosses. The guy behind me turned to his mate and said, 'any chance of a fun night out next week?' 'Alright', his friend replied, 'fancy a trip to the dentist? Root canal work is better than this'. And he was right, of course, but the fans will continue to go back and I love them for it. Here's hoping we'll all be singing that terrace classic, 'we are staying up, yes we are staying up' by the end of the season.

In other news, I have busied myself with assessment for the past two days. All fun and games with versions of Hamlet and The Cherry Orchard today. The poor first years have had a lot on their plate and have risen to the challenge admirably. For me it means fairly long days of concentration. So, I am currently lying on the couch a little windswept from the game feeling my eyelids slowly closing. Probably time to make sandwiches, fill a hot water bottle and have a snooze. Continuing to enjoy my pumpkin head. I love him! Will post again over the weekend when I've had a bit of rest.


Sunday, 31 October 2010

Fighting against Halloween darkness

So I've heard all the arguments but for me Halloween is a terrifying celebration of all that is evil in the world. Sorry, I can see very little 'fun' at all and when I was young the 31st October meant cowering in the dining room bobbing apples with my sister trying to avoid any sign of ghosts/skeletons/dripping blood etc etc etc. Now I am older and wiser and my house contains a 6"5 Scotsman so I less prone to Halloween terrors. That said, I decided to formally reject the modern tenets of my least favourite night of the year by making a smiley pumpkin face. I was so impressed by the result that I thought I'd load a photo on to Molemaison. Hoorah to happy pumpkins!

How sweet!


Thoughts for the weekend... here are two things I am currently thinking about:
1) Why don't women like Nigella? In an attempt to answer my own question (a typical lecturer trick) I think it has something to do with my rant post on twenty-first century women of a couple of weeks ago - women just seem to enjoy dragging other women down. I love Nigella. I think she is is her flourless chocolate brownie recipe. Oh, too yum!
2) Where are all the brown trousers in the shops? It is autumn, the season of browns, oranges, warm scarves and lovely boots. Well, my bargain pair of Hush Puppies arrived just this week but a search of our local shopping district for a pair of gorgeous skinny brown cords proved fruitless. And another thing...why are skinny jeans so blinkin' tight around the calves? Do I have unusually large calves in comparison with the rest of me? Am I the only lady to have such issues?

D and I have enjoyed two films in as many days. Tonight it was some classic James Bond action with Goldeneye. Last night we watched Shutter Island. In many ways it reminded me of Inception, a film I loved. Partly this was the Leonardo di Caprio factor and partly the similarities as psychological thrillers. I did enjoy it mostly. There were a couple of 'hide behind the hands' moments. I am a notorious film wuss! There was a certain ambiguity about the end and I was still thinking about it this morning...that's always a good sign.

Anyways, given that the clocks 'Fall back' we can enjoy an extra hour of snoozing. How nice! I think I'll head that way now. I spent the day smiling and attempting to impress prospective parents and students at our open day. It is all very exhausting! Don't expect much news this week; a busy few days of assessment coming up. Really looking forward to seeing the students' work. It is always super exciting.

Enjoy the week folks

Friday, 29 October 2010

And another thing...

...two posts in less than 12 hours. Phew! After my Saturday eulogy I meant to post on some exciting news early this week. Ooops for not celebrating this one live on Molemaison...Last Friday Smelly (my sweet sister) got engaged to Stu as they crossed the threshold of their new house. Goodness, when did I get a little sister who is old enough to buy a property and get married? Congrats to you both! We'll look forward to celebrating with you properly in December. Well, I'm off to do some Book writing now. What a lovely day in store!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Yes, it is late in the day...

...Thursday is drawing to an end and Friday is about to begin so I thought I'd write a quick post before bed. D is watching BBC's This Week so I'll bash out the Warden news for the week. It has been tutorial week so I've had lots of 1-1 meetings with students. I really enjoy these wee chats so it has been lots of fun. Research day tomorrow (yes I have had two this week but I won't get one at all next week) so some Book writing is in order.

Last night D and I went to an evening lecture given by an American gentleman called Michael Albert. He is a 'radical' (whatever that means!) and has designed a post-Capitalist society model, Parecon (participatory economics, don't you know). We both disagreed with him largely for a number of reasons, none of which I will bore you with tonight. However, he did get us talking as we drove home. Questions like 'what is the role of the State?', 'what do we understand by "onerous work"?' and 'what is wrong/right about capitalism?' All extremely interesting. I always like to be provoked and Albert certainly did provoke us! It's John Pilger next week so we're looking forward to that.

So, this weekend it is open day (me) and the sausage festival (D). Ah, Lincoln life...what larks, Pip! And I'm off to bed to prepare for tomorrow. It's squash day as well and I gave D a good run for his money last week so I'm hoping for an equally competitive match tomorrow.

Enjoy the end of the week and the weekend.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Home day

One thing I am thankful for and will never take for granted are my home research days. I count myself very fortunate to enjoy a day at home every week to work on my own private research. Sometimes these days go really well and sometimes I find myself just reading over chapters in a vain attempt to find gaps (of which there are many btw!). Today though was one of the good ones. I had chance to read through the papers for Seattle and get excited about the forthcoming conference. I then had some time to think over my own research plans up to 2012ish. I have a big research meeting tomorrow and I want to sound professional...or at least competent! I spent the afternoon on the Book, interspersing intense writing sessions with house tidying. Living room, bed room and hall are now done. Hoorah!

Then, what should come through the post today but Eric Whitacre's new CD (bought by D but recommended by Pastor Mikey - cheers Mike!). I love Whitacre and I am currently watching the sun go down as a hot air balloon floats languidly across the sky, listening to some of the most beautiful choral music. Any Rudsambeelets reading, Whitacre's hand-picked choir perform Five Hebrew Love Songs nearly as well as we do! Having just had a cup of tea I feel extremely contented and thankful for our quiet wee Lincoln life. Just need D to get home now. He has been in Oakham helping folks back into work today and called to say that Rutland was looking very beautiful in the sunshine. Responding to my friend Emily's blog post today, I am experiencing peace :-) Look at that, both Luehrmanns mentioned in one post!

So a happy day all round...and I even have Waitrose prawns for tea! Yum, oh too yum!
Hope you are enjoying a happy evening too.

p.s. Sleep has just started. Oh, man I love this piece! Rudsambeelets, I can hear all your voices now and I feel a little wistful.

Friday, 22 October 2010

100th Post!

Well, that is an exciting milestone! I really enjoy writing this blog. I find it helps me to organise my thoughts and to reflect on life here in Lincoln. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

Reeling from the announcement that Wayne Rooney will stay at United (what, eh?) I am taking a wee lunch break from the Book to write this post. I'm off to uni to meet with a student in a bit but thought I'd get this in first. Not many posts this week, largely due to extreme busyness. This is quite unusual for us; our days here are generally quiet and peaceful but this week has seen me running about like a mad thing with dinners out, evening meetings and a school drama competition (I was guest judge - it was like the X-Factor!), not to mention the final week of teaching for this block. Phew! The flat needs a good clean and I am looking forward to spending a happy weekend with D.

Winter has arrived in Lincoln and I had to put our heating on this week. It has, however, been cold and crisp so all is well. The sun is currently shining through my living room as I write. Lovely! I really like October. I don't really mind that feeling of heading towards Winter. For me Winter is a good excuse to stay warm, wear tights and boots, watch films (I have Hugh Jackman's version of Oklahoma on my viewing list - ah, swoon!), read great books and eat hot food all the time. Heading towards the weekend, I am quite tired, so I'm looking forward to indulging all the aforementioned joys.

The big news of the week, of course, was the spending review. We listened to George give us his worst on Wednesday lunchtime in our office. It is hitting the university sector quite hard, unfortunately. That said, there are a number of ways that money can be saved in higher education and to pretend that it is a streamlined institution is just a nonsense. I'm also hoping that students understand the full implications of the fees issue before they go and protest vigorously for a cause they don't really understand. Higher fees should also bring help for poorer students.

I sit firmly on the metaphorical fence when it comes to politics. One of my third years said 'Claire, you never tell us what you really think about politics' and she's absolutely right. I would probably classify myself as an optimistic realist. I am all for personal ambition while being a pretty vocal advocate for supporting society's vulnerable folks. I hate wastage, arrogance, ignorance and petty-mindedness, and love honesty, freedom and generosity. I am interested in green issues while recognising (with a certain amount of exasperation) that some folks somewhere are making a serious amount of money with all this environmental scare-mongering. My favourite thing about living in Britain are the free museums and libraries, and I get thoroughly sick of jingoism, celebratory nationalism or bigotry. I don't like unions who have historically always let the working class down in the end, but am all for peaceful protest and marched through the streets of Edinburgh in 2005. So, put me in a political box if you dare! ;-) As an undergraduate I was a bit of a Commie (at least in a jokey way); I think I've become more complex as I've got older. And Adele, if you're reading this, it does not mean that David Cameron is on my Christmas card list! ;-)

I'm off to do a bit more writing before heading down to the LPAC. Later...

Saturday, 16 October 2010

In Edinburgh

I woke up on Thursday morning to find that our electricity was off. This was not because we hadn't paid our bills, you understand, but because something had gone wrong underground. Strangely the night before D had been watching The Road, the film version of Cormac McCarthy's 'Oh, it's so postmodern, ra, ra, ra' novel. It is a post-apocalyptic narrative and when I realised that I couldn't even make a cuppa on Thursday morning I wondered if life had imitated art! Fortunately it came back on again before I left for university and our frozen meat remained frozen.

It's the weekend and D and I are enjoying a happy time in Edinburgh. Yesterday and this morning were spent in the library catching up on some research. The highlight was finding a play that I presumed was lost forever to the annuls of time. It was a very exciting discovery! We've also seen a lot of the fam, including our wee niece Rebecca who is growing all the time. And to top it all off we had a lovely lunchtime meal at the Dakota. It was Rebecca's first time in a restaurant and she behaved magnificently. She's developing a very refined palate and a taste for fine 6 weeks old! We're heading back to Lincoln tomorrow but it has been a very restful but very productive couple of days. I must admit it has been wonderful to sit in the library and get on with some work. I get a lot more done away from the university office!

Anyways, we have a busy week coming up with meals out, meetings and (so much joy!) judging a school drama competition. Looking forward to that. It is also our last week of teaching for this block which means that assessment is just round the corner. Lots of Bertolt Brecht in store, which should be fun. I'll fill you in later in the week.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

From the Earth to the Moon

This evening (while watching the highlights from the Commonwealth Games) D and I looked out of our large lounge window to see a beautiful crescent moon shining brightly. It was a wonderful sight. Of recent days the moon has become a more potent image in the Warden household as we are watching our way through the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon. I am really enjoying it. As usual with HBO series, it is clever, subtle and challenging. Each episode has a completely different feel with different directors approaching the script in a range of ways from the comedic last night to the bathetic tonight. Thoroughly recommended.

We enjoyed a very happy Sunday at church, with our friends and out at an old folks' home. As usual D was a hit with the old ladies. Elderly ladies love D - we aren't sure why but I put it down to his height and his Scottish accent. It always makes me laugh!

Anyways, yesterday I spent the morning on the book and the afternoon getting to grips with the finer points of Artaud. Yuck! Taught the latter today and all went well. I also saw my first years this morning who are doing a great job at present. They have lots of good, imaginative ideas. Assessment week is approaching so stress levels (student and staff) are increasing. I, as per usual, am the epitome of calm and cool.

We are looking forward to a trip to Edinburgh at the weekend. As usual it is half work and half pleasure. I'll spend Friday and Saturday morning in the library but we'll also get to catch up with friends and family. It'll also be a chance to see our new niece again now she is 5/6 weeks old. Can't wait to be back up in Auld Reekie!

I'm off to do a quick workout and then have a lovely bath as a reward. I've just started reading the Politics of Aesthetics by Ranciere for a staff book group next week. I suppose I'd better get on with that as well. I'll let you know what I make of it, though, I must warn you, if you are a Georgette Heyer fan by nature then it might not be your cup of tea. Hmmm....where's my copy of Friday's Child?


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Symposium Saturday

So, today we had a day long symposium at the Uni organised (in perfect style) by my friend and colleague, Lisa. A good day had by all. It included a visit from acclaimed playwright Alistair Beaton, whose keynote achieved that difficult balance between comedy and intellectualism - an important balance given that the symposium was on comedy and satire! I met Mr Beaton by the tea stand (where I inevitably hover during symposia!). Looking at the name badge attached to a blue strap to be hung about one's neck he exclaimed, "goodness, it feels like the Tory party conference!". Ha! We then proceeded to have a fascinating conversation about the joys of traveling first class on the train. I can't agree with everything he says (though we do agree on the train issue) but he is an entertaining fellow.

I am sitting in the bedroom wearing my new Roger Waters t-shirt (which is bright yellow with a cool pattern) which arrived this morning. Looking forward to his concert next year - the reviews have been great so far, though D is not letting me watch any youtube videos of it. He wants it to be a big surprise! I've got a Dutch apple cake in the oven (which I mustn't forget about) to share with a lovely couple from church who have invited us over for lunch tomorrow. The flat is a bit of a mess (it always is by week three of term!) but, given that it's Saturday night, I don't much fancy starting the cleaning. Apart from anything else I've been feeling a little under the weather. A lot of my students have been really sick and D has felt poorly for a couple of weeks now so it is definitely my turn. Hopefully with a bit of rest and plenty of Echinacea tea I'll be able to ward it off.

Right, must get this cake out. Enjoy the weekend one and all.

p.s. (3 minutes later) cake successfully out! Of all the recipes I use this is the one that makes my flat smell the nicest. Oh too yum! Man, I need a Twitter feed for that kind of information!

Friday, 8 October 2010

What ever happened to all the women?

A strange blog title perhaps...but it's something I've been thinking about for a while. Brace yourself because this is going to be a philosophical post. Oo-er.

Now, I wouldn't call myself a bra-burning feminist but I'm all for (entirely Biblical) gender equality. I'm also a bit of closet fan of Simone de Beauvoir and I love teaching the more straight-forward theories of Helene Cixous. Proverbs 31 is one of my favourite chapters of the Bible because it allows women the freedom to be active at home and at work and feel joy at both...and they say that the Bible is anti-women (it isn't, by the way...perhaps I'll write a blog post on that some time). My concern is that current society seems intent on counteracting gender equality in a very peculiar way. Oh yes, women can now (for what it's worth) be business leaders, politicians and (even may I say it) academics. They can also be wonderful wives and mothers. There are choices that wouldn't have been on offer to my great-grandmother (who, by the way, spoke five languages and drove ambulances!). These are all good things.

But I don't see many of these women about as I walk the streets of sunny Lincoln or read magazines or watch television. Instead women seem intent on reducing their own status in society. So, yesterday I was listening to a radio programme as I wrote my book chapters. The piece was about WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) and (blimey even worse!) wannabe-WAGS. A girl was invited on to the show to speak about her experience. She said that every weekend she and her friends managed to get on the list for the most exclusive bars in her city with the sole intention of chatting up a footballer. When asked why she did this, she replied (and I paraphrase), "I just love their lifestyle: the houses, the cars, the holidays. I just want to be spoiled". This is apparently a competitive sport with girls even spiking each other's drinks and telling blatant lies about their 'competitors'. It was all extremely depressing.

Saturday nights (even in a place as relatively tame as Lincoln) sees young women dressed in very little wobbling along the street in unbelievably high heels (I'm jealous - I have neither the legs nor the feet to get away with either of these fashion items!) . Getting very drunk seems to be the way to go. OK, so call me an old-fashioned prig if you like but such sights really upset me. I am not sitting in judgement in any way at all; it's just that when I see these girls I want to go up to them, take them by the hand and say "lady, do you know how precious and full of potential you are? You are a beautiful and intelligent young woman in an age where the world is open to you. Why do you think so little of yourself? You are worth so much more than you think you are". Now perhaps you're thinking "but why not just let people enjoy themselves?" I love a bit of fun, but I must admit I don't see a world full of happy women. There is (apparently) gender equality, material wealth, sexual freedom, the enviable (!?) opportunity to get very drunk and find yourself next morning lying next to a nameless gentleman with very little recollection of the night before. So, in light of all this, why aren't 21st-century women wandering around with inane grins on their faces? I can't see any evidence that women's lifestyles are making us feel happier or more contented. I would be glad to consider evidence to the contrary if you can supply any.

Whatever happened to the finer points of the feminist revolution? We seem to define ourselves more and more in relation the what others think of us (I largely mean this in a physical way), we seem to be obsessed with outward appearance and cannot resist peer pressure. We (whether within the church or outside it) seem to care more about whether we have a man or not than whether we are a good friend or a fulfilled individual. We seem to have less confidence, less self-assurance and less self-worth. Most of us seem to suffer more acutely from sadness and loneliness. Every magazine is full of 1) pictures of women to emulate 2) pictures of women to laugh at because they are fatter than normal/thinner than normal/have a spot on their face 3) advice on how to cope with stress/bitchy best friends/a lack of sexual opportunity 4) men to ogle. We've rejected the perceived restrictions of 'old tradition' and embraced a whole new set of shackles. Though you may think I am being dramatic, these shackles are destroying a whole generation of young women.

So, to finish on a positive note, my hope is that women will grasp their full potential, whether in work or in the home. I would love every woman to recognise their innate worth. I spend quite a bit of my time with impressionable young folks and I just love it. I hope that I'm able to encourage the girls to reject society's expectations and embrace a world full of possibilities.

Here endeth the sermon ;-) Just something I've been thinking about...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Fun and Games

Evening folks,
Well, I left you the other evening with Wigan winning in the Super League Grand Final. You'll be glad to know (or conversely you may not care two hoots) that the Cherry and Whites went on to win. Hoorah and Hooray! First win since 1998 I think, so it's been a long wait. And this week we have the Commonwealth Games. I must admit, I am not blown away by this event but it is great to see some high quality hockey on the telly. The sporting theme continues apace in the Warden household with my current health kick. I'm enjoying the tough workouts. Last night I did a truly brutal abs session. My core muscles couldn't actually hold me up by the end and D had to bring me a glass of water!

So we've started a second week of teaching and all is well. Lovely, enthusiastic students! I am trying to maintain a balance between teaching and research. I'm not sure I've quite got that cracked yet - teaching tends to take over a bit - so I am going to have to be a bit more disciplined with my time. I'm writing very clear, very strict daily plans. I am determined to stick to them and, although it isn't perfect yet, I am starting to develop some good habits that I hope will help me to get everything done in time for my deadlines.

What with the start of the new term, my private reading has been very limited. I am continuing with Tristam Hunt's biography of Engels and the Shakespeare book, 1599. But really it's all I can do to open the pages of the London Review after a day of teaching and research!

Anyways, I think another cup of tea is in order.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Come on the Cherry and Whites!

I am writing this post while watching the Super League Grand Final on D's iphone. Come on Wigan! I've just returned to Lincoln after a very jolly few days in Stockport with the parents. It was so good to see them! I also caught up with my cousin (studying in Manchester), Grandad and Granny. As well as see the fam I was also in the area to visit the Basil Dean archive at John Rylands Library. There is some really fascinating material including personalised signed photos from Stanislavsky! All very exciting! I'm pretty sure I'll be back in there to work on it again soon. This morning Mum and I even found time for a brief shop in their huge M&S. In keeping with my commitment to developing a smart academic wardrobe (once again, see the new additions to my blog roll) I bought a lovely new outfit - grey/black plaid skirt and a cosy black roll neck. Delighted!

Returned home to find D feeling a wee bit better. He is still a little pale and has a cough but onwards and upwards. No plans for the rest of the evening other than drinking tea, having a chat and perhaps watching another episode of our latest box set - From the Earth to the Moon. It's another HBO series (hoorah and hooray for HBO) and is a docu-drama based on the lead up to the moon landing in '69. It's a really intelligent and impressive bit of TV. We've only watched a couple of episodes but I think it's going to confirm the brilliance of the HBO guys.

Anyways, I'm going to return to the rugby. Wigan are currently on fire - long may it continue!
I'll post again in a couple of days.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Halfway through the first week

After the stop/start feelings of Freshers' week we have now started in earnest. Today I taught my first classes of the new term. I have two great groups - one sweet collection of first years and one slightly more cynical but endearingly lovely set of second years. Both classes went rather well given that I haven't taught since June! I always get first day jitters and, after conversation with erstwhile colleagues, I realise I am not alone.

So tomorrow is split into two with the morning in uni meeting students and planning classes and the afternoon at my office at home drinking green tea and grappling with the language chapter of the Book. My day is usefully divided with a yoga class. Now I'm not into all the chanting business and would run a mile from anything 'spiritual', but I do find yoga a really useful way of stretching out, particularly as my workouts get tougher and tougher. I started this class just last week and it is free for staff - hoorah!

Amongst other exciting bits of news...I have had a new school haircut and am very chuffed with it. I now have a fringe for the first time since 1994 when I grew it out (one of the most painful experiences in the life of the young Mole). The new fringe is just little and falls to the left. Quite nice really. D is still under the weather and has got through many pills over the past few days. I even persuaded him to take a cup of Echinacea tea so he must be really ill! I am taking a wee trip to Stockport on Thursday to do a bit of work in the John Rylands Library in Manchester. I am working on an amazing archive I have just discovered. I won't be able to get right through it in a day but at least I can suss out what they have. The best bit, of course, is that I can catch up with the 'rents. Looking forward to seeing you both!

I've also been reading a number of new blogs. Mostly they centre on academic fashion (in the clothes sense of the term). Now academics are notoriously bad dressers. With my two eyes I have witnessed some truly frightful fashion faux pas. You would imagine that a lady on a Professor's wage would invest in a couple of good would be wrong. I once saw a relatively well-known lecturer attend a conference in a pair of cut-off trackies. Now I am no fashionista (I can hear my Mum and Sister laughing at this - I was once told that I had a "very original sense of style". Make of that what you will!) and I certainly don't place any worth on the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the house you own or any of those (ultimately) petty trivialities that we focus on in life. People get obsessed with these things completely forgetting (or choosing to forget) the more important questions of life. But I do think that if you are going to teach a class or give a paper, you should at least steer clear of sports wear. So I was encouraged by these blogs. I'll add a couple on the side bar in case you should be interested.

Anyways, I'm going to have a cup of tea before bed. I did a hardcore workout tonight and my bones are tired!

I'll post again soon - probably Saturday evening after my trip over the Pennines and after Wigan RL have won the Super League Grand Final. Come on the Cherry and Whites.

Friday, 24 September 2010

End of induction week

Apologies for the lack of posting this week. It has been a little hectic with induction week and D has has a cold. Poor old D! He is just starting on the road to recovery.

So it's been back to uni this week. The weather has turned a little chillier and we have all started using our new stationery! It has been great to meet the first years and get reacquainted with the second and third years. Lots of excitement about starting back - let's hope it continues! On Tuesday night I went to a prayer meeting at New Life for the new term. I had a great time. OK, so theologically we will probably beg to differ, but I was really encouraged by the students' passion just to care for their fellows. No-strings-attached-friendship. It's a beautiful thing.

With D being slightly under the weather we have been taking it easy in the evenings. I was out briefly tonight at a local nursing home. I accompanied an LEC friend to do a bit of singing and the old ladies seemed to enjoy it. Home by half seven for a jolly M&S dinner. We even indulged with a bit of classic James Bond - For Your Eyes Only. Good rubbish indeed.

I've been enjoying almost daily exercise from pretty hardcore home workouts to my new boxing game for the Wii. I even got to the staff yoga class on Wednesday. This is a free lunchtime class. I've not been able to go before because of teaching but my Wednesday lunchtimes are now free so I get to enjoy a lovely stretch out. It was great. I am definitely feeling fitter and more toned. There's a little way to go yet but making good progress. D and I are largely enjoying our healthier lifestyle.

Little else to report this end. I'm looking forward to starting teaching next Tuesday and we have a couple of trips to respective parents planned for the next couple of months. Other than that it'll be work and fun, restful evenings for a while. Anyways, I'm off for a snooze. Hoping to finish this Seattle paper tomorrow.

Enjoy the weekend folks

Monday, 20 September 2010

With term about to start...

Apologies for the lack of posting recently. Let me fill you in...

So I travelled through to Reading last Thursday and stayed the night on campus. Staying in soulless hotel rooms on your own is an odd sort of feeling and I tend to watch a lot of television! So it was Relocation Relocation and the Liverpool game for me. The conference went really well and there was some interesting chat. My highlight was the Q&A with Dan Evans from the Sheffield Crucible. As soon as he walked into the room I knew I recognised him but as he is a pretty well known actor I didn't think a great deal of it. That is until the chair referred to him as a Sondheim expert. Now you may remember that a couple of months ago I mentioned a spectacular Proms concert of Sondheim songs (Judy Dench, Bryn Terfel et al). Well Dan Evans sang with Bryn! When the chair opened it up for questions it was all I could do to stop myself from gushing! There were a whole load of other big names there and everyone I wanted to come to my paper came. The paper was well received and there was some enjoyable chat.

On Saturday our friends Anna-Lauren and Tim came to stay. We had a lovely time with them. Some great chat and I think we solved most of the big problems of the contemporary world. Thanks for coming guys. Hope the subsequent camping trip wasn't too chilly!

And so we are back into the swing of things. This week is a bit bonkers. It is Freshers' Week. You can tell because there are a lot of young folks wandering around with maps and because they are giving out free stuff. I even got in on the act and managed to blag free cereal and Rice Krispie Squares. Perhaps I was giving off a student vibe! Tomorrow we get to meet the first years. Man, how exciting (and I really do mean that!)!

As for current reading matter, well it is non-fiction all the way with my Friedrich Engels book and 1599 which looks at one year in the life of Shakespeare. Other than that it is just plays and books about Stanislavsky and documentary theatre. I, for one, am hoping for a quiet few weeks while I get into teaching life again. With the deadline for the book coming on fast (OK so I have nearly a year but that will just speed past!) I need to make special time each week to work on that too. Time management is the name of the game - sometimes I am good at this and sometimes I'm not!

And the flat needs a bit of a tidy so I'll try and get that sorted over the next few days too.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A quick lunchtime post

Have just finished my lunchtime workout. When I have a home research day I've taken to spending my lunch break doing a home workout from this brilliant site (don't be put off by her unbelievable abdominals - the workouts are great!). The workouts are exhausting but I always feel really good afterwards (about an hour afterwards - currently my arms are still shaking slightly!). So I thought, while I recover my composure, I'd write a short post.

We came third in the quiz on Saturday night. We were quite chuffed with this result especially as the final round was on 'People/Places in Lincolnshire'! No sports, music, art, books or film rounds so D and I were struggling from the off. All fun though. Sunday was good, as always. The Pastor preached on Isaiah 40. It is a wonderfully encouraging chapter, especially if you are feeling a little weary in any way.

Yesterday was spent at uni and today is my research day, although I haven't even looked at the book yet. I've been working on this paper for Friday (basically finished) and the paper for Seattle in November. Outside (in typical Lincoln style - we never have just dull grey days) there is a serious storm and I am glad to be sitting in my home office.

Given that all this is pretty dull really, here, as promised is a new list for your enjoyment. Since our holidays I've been contemplating my favourite places in Britain so here is my list:

Top Five Places in Britain (in no particular order)

1) Lyme Park, Cheshire - not only did they use this wonderful estate as Mr Darcy's house in the TV version of Pride and Prejudice but D proposed in the courtyard. It is beautiful in summer but is particularly good in Winter. You can take a fab walk across the hills and hear the stags calling to each other.

2) The Cairngorms - unbelievably beautiful, peaceful and relaxed.

3) Torridon/Applecross/the West of Scotland - D and I had an amazing holiday in this area March 2009. We were both having an...interesting...time in our respective workplaces, and this holiday just provided some quiet space to get away. The roads are great and the scenery spectacular.

4) The north coast of Tresco - as a child I spent nearly every holiday in the Isles of Scilly. It is a strange place to revisit now as every corner is imbibed with memories. That said, we had a great holiday with the fam there earlier this year. D and I explored the north tip of Tresco and I' m not sure I've ever really visited that end of the island. The weather was fab and the path was scary/exhilarating.

5) Stratford-Upon-Avon - when I was 17 I promised myself that I would live in Stratford one day. I was on a school trip and we saw four plays in 2 1/2 days. I fell in love with Shakespeare and theatre history in that place...and look at me now!

Hope that gives you some food for thought. I feel that I can finally contemplate food now so I'll head through to the kitchen for a sandwich. Next post will be upon my return from Reading.
Enjoy the week folks

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Getting my Mastermind head together

Tonight we are off to a quiz in Saxilby. I love a good quiz so am gearing myself up for a good brain challenge. I think the guys we are going with are pretty serious - yikes! Anyways, it is Saturday and so far D and I have had a quiet day together. He is currently writing a presentation for work so I decided to do the ironing (almost neverending) and clean the bedroom (I am amazed at how dusty it can get under the bed!). Now I'm listening to football on the radio and checking out some sites I like.

Since Tuesday it has been mostly meetings and teaching prep. Finally it is starting to feel like the start of term. I have seen a couple of students around and everyone is busy finalising module handbooks and buying cheap playtext copies from Amazon. All very exciting. I've now moved offices so am upstairs in a slightly quieter part of the department. So far, so good...and all the posters are up now too. Apart from that, we had a couple of relaxing evenings playing a new baseball game on D's PS3. I got into baseball after visiting New York a couple of years ago and the graphics for this game are unbelievable. I am no gamer so D has beaten me soundly so far. And last night we watched a wonderful film, The Blind Side. While I'm not usually a big fan of Sandra Bullock, she is really good in this and, rather surprisingly, I was genuinely moved by it. I wasn't sure that such films got made any more - an uplifting movie about honour and loyalty and overcoming adversity. I'd really recommend it.

Anyways, I'll leave it there though I'll fill you in on our quiz result tomorrow and perhaps come up with a new list for your perusal.

Enjoy the evening one and all.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Our holiday in pictures

Please overt your eyes if holiday snaps bore you!

We began our epic trip in Yorkshire, visiting my Uncle Ian and spending a couple of nights in the Forest of Bowland. Here I am (in my new Jack Wills cardie) on the banks of Aysgarth Falls.

The following were taken on our trip to the beautiful Fountains Abbey. Stunning, huh?

While we were away we celebrated our wedding anniversary (3 whole years!) with afternoon tea at the famous Betty's in Harrogate.

We stayed at a lovely B&B called Halsteads Barn.

Here (in typical D fashion) is a sunset from the garden. As you can see, it was in the middle of nowhere. This was the view from our hot tub...there are no pictures of that, before you ask!

On our way to Edinburgh we decided to have an adventure so travelled via Dumfries and Galloway, eventually finding ourselves in New Lanark, Robert Owen's socialist paradise. It was a really fascinating place and, as one might expect from a bona fide socialist paradise, really quite beautiful.

No pictures from Edinburgh really so next up is a collection of stunning Highland views.

Loch Garten.

Loch Morlich, where we did a bit of kayaking.

D had a great game of golf with Uncle Charlie, although he managed to find himself stuck behind the smallest tree on the course. Oh, how we laughed...

Here I am with my horse friends in the shadow of Ruthven Barracks. Check out the blue sky!

On our final day we visited the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore. It is a really lovely outdoor museum. And the sun still shone! Here is one of the reconstructed C17th houses.

And we finished with stovies in Dunkeld on our way back to Edinburgh. How yummy does that look?

So, I could bore you with more but I think I'll leave it at that.

In other news...we are two days back at work and all is well. I'm looking forward to the return of the students in just under two weeks. Tomorrow is a designated research day at home and I'm excited about getting back to the book. I spent a bit of time reading through it this afternoon and I must admit I was relatively pleased. Makes a nice change. I'm off to a conference in Reading next week which will be fun. It's just a one day symposium so it won't be too exhausting! Anyways, I'm off to bed.

Sleep well one and all.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Still Alive!

Evening friends,
Yes, the Wardens are alive and well and back in Lincoln. Last update was from Edinburgh after my final hoorah with Rudsambee. I'll fill you in on our week and then put up some photos later when we've uploaded them all. So, last Monday was spent in the National Library (so much for holiday, huh?). Lots of interesting books and too little time but I'll be back there soon. On Tuesday we headed up to Kingussie, close to Aviemore. I think it is the most beautiful place in all the world. I always return to 'the real world' feeling completely chilled. We spent our time eating amazing food at the Mountain Cafe, walking through the awesome mountains and kayaking on the loch. D had a quality game of golf with Uncle Charlie on Kingussie Golf Course in the sunshine while I wandered along to Loch Gynack. I stood all alone on the banks of the loch and felt completely contented. Driving back to Edinburgh on Friday I felt a little sad to be leaving. I could quite easily live up there, I think.

So back to Edinburgh via Dunkeld for stovies at The Taybank. It is the best place for stovies! Saturday was spent in Leeds (we get about!) to celebrate the inauguration (that isn't the right word but you get what I mean!) of Mikey Luehrmann (now known by his Sunday name, 'Michael', apparently) as Pastor of City Evangelical Church. It was a really exciting event and great to see Mikey, Em and the children so settled in their new home. And, the best bit, they are only 1 hour 23 minutes away from Chez Warden. Huzzah!

But the biggest piece of news of our time away is that we are now Uncle David and Aunty Claire. Last Monday night/Tuesday morning we welcomed Rebecca Jane Warden into the world. Kev, Kat and Becca are all doing well and we spent a happy Friday night with them. We are pretty excited about our new roles and are looking forward to many good days with Becca as she grows up. She is very cute - generally new born babies look like a weird cross between and old man and ET but she is beautiful. Ok, so we might be a little biased.

Anyways, we are back to work tomorrow and are looking forward to the weeks ahead. Not a great deal planned really but term starts very soon so it's teaching prep all the way for me.

I'll post some photos tomorrow or Tuesday. Love to one and all.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Rudsambee review

Just a quickie to fill you in on tonight's performance. So, I was back for one night only with Rudsambee for the St Giles' festival gig. We started rehearsing at 2 so we could add the percussion, violin and piano. I just sang the first song (which I had had sung that very afternoon for the first time - glad the dear Rudsambee ladies knew what they were doing!) - and the final two - Five Hebrew Love Songs and Cloudburst both by Eric Whitacre. Both these pieces are just mega and it all seemed to go down very well. I was so glad for this final opportunity to sing with the group. It occurred to me tonight, as I listened to the beautiful Komitas pieces, that Rudsambee are seriously good. It was (and has been) a real privilege to sing with Rudsambee Company of Singers over the years. They are a wonderful bunch. Cheers for letting me back for one last hoorah, folks!

We've just finished watching highlights from the High Voltage Festival with Asia on top form. Looking forward to seeing John, Geoff, CP and Steve in December. Can't wait - it is going to be brilliant!

So, we're heading up north for a few days later in the week so probably no new blog update until the weekend. Hope all's well with all.


p.s. if you fancy listening to Rudsambee sing both these pieces then check out the group on youtube (just type in Rudsambee). Both are up there (in previous incarnations) for your enjoyment.