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 outfits...you 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.