Making progress

For a start I no longer feel out of control in the classroom. Early on, with the maelstrom that is some of the students I teach, I spent far too long bringing them to order rather than teaching the rest of the class. Now the balance has been redressed; I’m actually teaching. The three or four kids in each class who are complicated are either on board, or know when I’ve had enough. And then, if they persist, they’re out of the class and into the behavioural room. Perfect. I know it’s not going to be plain sailing, but at least I’m no longer tempted to run to the gents and have a good cry. It’s only taken 4 weeks. Is that good or bad?

And, to be topical, at times it’s a good job I’m not armed…

I’ve also continued with my mentoring – with a senior deputy head at a public school in Berkshire. We traveled there on Friday, on the way to Mary’s and then onto my M&D’s (where we are now). I have to say the 2 hour session wasn’t long enough, and I’m looking forward to going back in a few weeks time to continue the motion. Again – here is somewhere I do feel I can make a difference. The business, ‘Compassionate Leadership‘, isn’t something I pressed hard over the past two years, but if I don’t continue teaching in September – and that is looking likely – then it’s another avenue I can pursue. This time I’ll work harder at spreading the word and see what happens.


And then there’s Jen’s business – Cubbly’s. Wow. Easily in profit (even having spent £1000 on sewing equipment) after just a month, and still growing. I’ve taken on doing her books, with Google Form and spreadsheet. We’ll have to look at a proper booking keeping package soon if orders continue apace. I have to say I’m v excited for her – and we’re already talking about going into business together in the summer. She’s the perfect face for the business. But she can’t do it all. We’ll see.

So that’s an update from us. I’m still not feeling my best, so I’m looking to get a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I think it’s this virus thing that’s doggedly holding on. I don’t think I’m alone. Let’s hope Doctor-McDoc-face has an appropriate cream for me.

Have a good week.

I’m a teacher…

School, school, school. Well, that’s what it’s pretty much been since Sunday. There’s no getting away from the fact that teaching in a state school is not without hard work. By the time I get back (on my electric bike – yippee) I’m just about good enough for a hot bath and a jug of red wine. Actually, it’s not as bad as that and everyday I eke out a small success – either in the classroom, or with an individual student. I’m getting adept at phoning parents/carer (which was never a responsibility in my private school, where tutors did most of the communicating) and sending emails – both for good students and those who have misbehaved. Classroom management remains a key priority, but at least now I feel as though I’m actually teaching something.


There is no getting away from the fact that we could be doing this now. Mmmmm…

And I’m doing some intervention for the younger kids who need one-to-one work. On the face of it, it’s not something I thought I’d enjoy. I’m much better with students who have some ability in maths. But, do you know what? It’s actually a lot of fun and hugely rewarding. Hurrah!

Aside from teaching, I’m helping Jen out with her books as her business begins to take off. I’ve had one sniff about Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay, more of which when something actually happens. But nothing back on book 4. I’m not worried. I still have plenty of time before my self imposed publication date of mid-July. I’m still mulling over what I might do in the next academic year. If teaching continues to go well, I’ll struggle with the ‘decision of conscience’. If I remain shattered and close to tears (it’s not that bad), then I’m not sure.

We’ll see.

Off in our travels this weekend. I’ve got a mentoring role tomorrow late afternoon, then Mary’s, then to Jen’s future in-laws for a birthday party, then my M&D’s, before back here on Monday. It’s all go…

Almost a holiday

Well, that was almost like being on holiday. After we left Hilary and Stephen’s boat we moved onto a CL by the Avon at a place called Wyre Piddle. It was, at £14 a night including EHU, a fabulous spot made all the more fabulouser by some decent weather. It was a short walk (about a mile) along the Avon to Pershore which has pubs, cafes and an Asda. It kept us entertained for two days/three nights.


And it was great to be back in Doris again. She is marvellous – really. And, now feeling a bit like my old self, I was able to run three days on the trot around the nature reserve. (And I’ve run again today – hurrah!). C also ran. She’s still on a ‘every second day’ routine. Well done her!


Yesterday we stopped for lunch with old school friends of ours in Glouchester, and then we were back for sorting out the house. We took 9 boxes out of the garage, and have 12 more to go. I spent most of the afternoon in the roof sorting it out so that it can accept more and more stuff. And we looked at how we were going to sort out the kitchen floor. If i wasn’t working we’d have got this sorted out much quciker, but it will get done.


I’m up seeing Jen tomorrow (back to school on Tuesday). Her business is motoring and I’m going to see if I can do her books for her remotely, which will take one responsibility from her. Even at this early stage it may be that I spend more and more time helping her on the business side – whilst writing. That may be the answer for September. We’ll see.


Anyhow, that’s about it. A good week away, helped by the weather. And lots to think about for later on. Have a great week.

Decisions, decisions…

That was fun. Dogged by rubbish weather and unsure whether we should be at home decorating (and me still under the weather), we met up with Hilary and Steven on their brand-spanking new narrow boat and did nothing but talk, reminisce, thank our lucky stars and ponder our future. They are both ‘retired’ and have been travelling in a caravan, with the odd break for some work, since we met them in Italy/Greece in the winter of 14/15. In Spain last winter they decided that they wanted to live in a narrowboat, having used one as a base for Hilary’s work some years back.

And the outcome? After almost a year of project managing whilst living on-site in a caravan – something akin to Grand Designs in the boating world – the result is a spectacular bespoke boat with every luxury. Kevin McCloud would have been all over it. By chance we caught them just after they had moved in and were the first people to experience the extravagance. We talked – and talked, whilst Steven cooked up a roast. And then popped round to say cheerio yesterday and talked some more. They hope to sail off into the sunset on Friday. For good. Although they have a house, a car and a caravan – which they intend to use as and when. We are v excited for them. What an adventure!


thank you H&S. What a lovely time…

So, just as we’ve started to settle into something some people might consider a normal life, it was inspirational to meet up with people who continue to throw the rule book out of the window. Who give up things for experience (although, like Doris, the boat is a bit of a thing). Anyhow, it was fab to see them.

In parallel with this, our Jen’s business ‘Cubbly’s‘ has taken off. She makes authentic and bespoke dog and cat collars, leads and bandannas. She’s only been up and running for a month and is already awash with great recommendations and orders. Her stuff is exquisite, so it’s no surprise that they’re selling well. She has a very self-effacing way, great customer interface and an eye for design and detail which makes what she does special. I would say that, wouldn’t I? Maybe – but a picture paints a 1000 words. If you’re interested in collars and leads made to your own design, visit her Facebook page here: Cubbly’s FB Page and get in touch; her prices are keen.


All that, plus the fact that I have For Good Men To Do Nothing to release and get my head down on book 5, has given us a bit more of a focus for post-summer when my contract runs out at the school. Should I stay on (if I’m asked)? Should we help Jen? What should we do? Mmmm….

Anyhow, we’re parked by a canal and Mrs Sun has just popped her head above the trees. Next stop is friends for lunch on Saturday and school on Tuesday. We have much to think about…

Ah, Sunday night…

Phew. It’s closing in on Sunday night, the first Sunday of half term, and we’re both knackered. I’m still carrying a chest infection, which is slowing me down. I’ve not run for almost two weeks, which is unheard of, but someone told me that running with a virus can really give your heart a hard time. And I’ve only got one of those.

Work finished on a relative high. I can’t say I’m enjoying the teaching, but I am getting a great deal of satisfaction from it. I’ve had a couple of nice comments from children (and staff) and I do think I’m making progress with a couple of the more recalcitrant kids. It’s not without considerable effort. I don’t remember teaching ever being this difficult when I taught at a private school. I guess it’s not been helped by being continuously below par. As such, it’s v difficult to see what might happen in September. If I feel like this (should I be offered a job) then I’m going to have to think it through v carefully. We’ll see. It’s, however, nice to know that there’s a bit of money coming in at the end of the month. What with Jen’s wedding coming up, redecorating the house and a couple of hefty bills on property letting, anything helps.

And, do you know what? On the last blog I mentioned that I was consistently selling books. Day-in, day-out. And then…nothing. Not a single book. I’m not a superstitious person, but it really does serve me right for mentioning it. If I get another couple of days of no movement, I might try some advertising. We’ll see. And nothing from any of the agents/publishers for For Good Men To Do Nothing.

The back bedroom is now decorated. I’m normally a rubbish decorator, with near enough definitely being good enough. But this time round, both C and I have worked hard to get it right. We have bought decent paint, for a start. Which helps. Next is the kitchen, which we shall start next weekend…

…because tomorrow we’re off in Doris for 5 days. The plan is to head to the Midlands to see out pals who have moved into a narrow boat. Don’t worry, I can’t see us following suit, although at one point in our lives it was a possibility. But it will be great to see them again. And it gets us away from decorating – and also gives us a chance to watch some of the Olympics. As skiers we have some empathy with any sport on snow/ice. And, unlike the summer Olympics, every event has an element of danger which spices up the watching. Good luck to the British team.

Hopefully for my next post on Wednesday I’ll have a couple of decent photos to show you. In the meantime I thought I post one of our last major break, which was to Croatia. Do I miss it? Yes, absolutely. Could we go back to full timing? Provided we can afford to keep the house as a bolt hole, then probably not. I really do want to winter in Spain/Portugal/Morocco. And that will happen. It’s just the ‘when’ that’s the unanswerable. We’ll see.


Still alive

I’ve been driving into work due to the perishing temperatures and the fact that my chest infection has come back to haunt me. It’s not so bad that I can’t get out of bed, but it’s draining and irritating. The downside of driving is that on the journey home I have to crawl along the A38 for a mile. Which, honestly, took 45 minutes today. That’s time I’m never going to get back. How do people do it day-in, day-out? Beats me.


Ahh, the Bahamas!

Teaching has had its ups and downs. Today was tough. Two local exclusions from my classes for poor behaviour, and other small misdemeanours. But, on the other hand, some successes, so I can’t complain. So, I’ll say it again. I take my hat off to anyone who heads into teaching. I really do. Bring some energy drinks with you and plenty of coffee…

My books continue to sell. I’ve sold a book every day this month so far, and I have no idea why. It’s strange, well certainly strange to me, that there is a consistency here, but no peaks. And no particular troughs. You might have thought that I’d sell no books for a week, and then maybe 5 on a single day. But, no. It’s a trickle of 1 or 2 books a day, day-in, day-out. Strange.

C is sorting out half term. It looks like we’re taking Doris to Leicester for a couple of days. We’re off to see Hilary and Steven. We met these lovely folk in 2014 when we were wintering in Sicily and Greece (they were in a caravan). They have had a live-in narrowboat made from scratch and have just launched it. We will be one of the first to see it – and are very much looking forward to it. Hurrah!

That’s it from me. I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. Hopefully over half term this will all be a bit more lively. Fingers crossed.

I’ve not been sacked yet…

So, that cold I got at Christmas. You know, the one where I spent all of Christmas Day watching every episode of Stranger Things. The one that, after a course of antibiotics, I was able to ski in Chatel. Well I sort of knew that it wasn’t completely gone. I started running last weekend and felt rubbish. I continued to cycle to work. And then, hey presto, I’m down with the lurgy again. It’s rubbish isn’t it? Three and a half years in a van without an illness in sight. The moment we move into a warm, brick building all hell lets loose. Just typical.

Work is fine. I’m getting it. Just about. I’m employing different strategies and working hard with the kids – speaking to parents and emailing home. The teaching is not the issue. I think I’m quite good at that. It’s getting everyone in the room tuned into my frequency that’s taking some time. Two weeks down, and I’ve not been sacked. So that’s a good thing.


The house is getting done. The bathroom is nearly finished. Painting and a new floor. The back bedroom next and then the kitchen. It’ll be done by the time we have to make a decision on what to do in the second half of the year. Teach or travel? We’ll see.

I’m watching Winter Countryfile at the moment. Lots of winter scenes. Mmmm. How I miss the Alps. There is something about cold and crisp, don’t you think? I often feel that we ought to sell everything and buy something in the mountains. Keep Doris for summer use? Between us we have about 20 years of usable life left. It would be a shame to end up at the dribbling stage and not have done the things we really want to do. Again, we’ll see. This year really is about decision making.

And, hey! Eddie The Eagle has just been on, skiing in the Cairngorms. Fabulous.

Have a great week.