Sunday, 28 February 2010

Is it really going to be March tomorrow?

I honestly can't believe it...2 full months into 2010 already! February, in particular, has absolutely raced by for me...working full time did for the first half of the month, and then I had a week off which of course was a guarantee that that time would just fly! Then back to work, and here we are! Anyway, enough of my ramblings about the fleeting nature of time(!), and back to the real focus of this post...a look back at February, a look forward to March and an update on where I'm at with my 2010 goals.

Looking back

So, in a nutshell, my February has been all about:

Teaching...I taught full time for the first two weeks of the month, plus a little bit this week and I also had a interview/lesson observation at one school plus an additional lesson observation at a second. My interview at the second school isn't until Wednesday, so I technically can't include it here!

  • Treating myself...Whether it's been shopping for clothes, watching a certain film for the 4th time, grabbing a coffee or just enjoying a cheeky glass of wine on an otherwise quiet night in, February's been a month for indulging myself a little! Bad for my bank balance maybe...but good for my soul, as long as I don't make too much of a habit of it! Maybe I should start looking for treats that don't cost a penny, like the fab time Amy and I had exploring Manchester.

  • Friends and family...As always, the most important people in my life have been a common thread linking the best parts of this month together. From fantastic nights full of WKD, homemade gingerbread and cheesy dancing or cocktails and karaoke at the start of the month, to theatre going, beer drinking, "intelligent" conversation and multiple toasting in the middle and DVD nights and play watching at the friends have been there for it all, and I know that these times wouldn't be the same without them. And as for my week off enabled me to get in a whole lot of sister (and Mum) time, be it shopping with all the girls, or going to town with Amy. Then there's the weekends...spending Saturday lunch with my grandad and uncle, as well as the rest of my family has been a tradition for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn't be without it. And recently, we've started adding a couple of new parts to the tradition...after lunch, we'll sit down and play cards or (our current favourite) dominoes. What started as a little fun has now turned into some serious rivalry with all of us vying to be the winner! Yesterday, I did pretty well...I won 2 of the 4 games, and am hoping to keep hold of my crown for next week!

Looking forward

Next month, I'm looking forward to:

  • Starting rehearsals for my new show...After having a month off, my drama group starts rehearsals for our new show tomorrow and I can't wait! It'll be great to see everyone again and I'm really looking forward to making a start on learning our new songs.

  • The days getting longer and the nights getting shorter...As someone who has had seemingly months of leaving for work before sunrise and arriving home after sunset, I am so looking forward to that little extra bit of daylight which March will bring!

  • The end of winter and the beginning of spring...In a similar vein, I'm now heartily sick of the particularly cold weather that much of this winter has brought with it and I'm really hoping that March will herald the start of spring and bring warmer temperatures and sunny days, instead of the ever present threat of snow that I associate with this winter.

  • More good times with family and friends...Although there are no definite plans as yet, I'm sure that March will mean more opportunities for fun with my favourite people. There are a couple of friends' birthdays coming up, so I'm sure I'll end up going out for those, if nothing else! Plus it's Mother's Day here in the UK in a couple of weeks so I'm looking forward to celebrating with my mum then too.

Goals Update

So, back at the beginning of January, I posted my Goals List for 2010. Having had a look through it, I'm shocked at how many of the goals have just fallen by the wayside or, even worse, have never really got started. I really need to make a bigger effort next month methinks. Nevertheless, for your consideration, here is my Goals Update for January and February:

  • Pass my driving theory and practical tests...this is a work in progress. My driving instructor has given me some really positive feedback of late, and I've now booked my theory test...the date is the 8th of April, so wish me luck! If all goes well, then it'll be all systems go for booking my practical...eek!
  • Get a long term/permanent job...again, a work in progress. I'm still applying for jobs on a regular(ish) basis and have had one unsuccessful interview since the start of the new year, with another interview scheduled for next week.
  • Be a better this started off quite well, and I made specially sure that I was in touch with my best friend J every week during January. But now things have tailed off, and as awful as it sounds, I often forget to stay in touch! To be fair, I don't ignore people and always reply if they get in touch with me, but I need that extra kick up the backside to motivate me to make the first move!
  • Be a better sister/daughter...again this is something I've not seen much progress with...I have my appreciative moments and times when I really take time out to listen to my family like I should, but also my selfish moments and little strops where I act more like 2 than 26!
  • Run the Race for Life and better last year's time...I've not signed up for this yet, but I fully intend to and this year, I definitely won't be walking it!
  • Adopt a healthier lifestyle...Unfortunately, this hasn't really took off so far this year. Whilst I haven't put any weight on, I haven't lost any either and this is down to the fact that I'm still not always making the healthiest snack choices and that I'm struggling with finding an exercise I like enough to fit around work. Hopefully when I sign up for Race for Life, it'll be a good motivator as I'll want to get in shape!
  • Read at least 2 books a month from beginning to end...I met this in January (I read "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Return of Sherlock Holmes") but have failed this month...I'm only just over half way through my first book! I am enjoying it, but just can't seem to find the time lately!
  • Grow my nails...Epic fail! Nothing much else I can say!
  • Overcome my fear of thunder and lightning...A bit of a weird one this, I haven't sought any professional help and I guess I'm just waiting to see how I deal with the next stormy day we get.
  • Put at least £50 in my ISA each month...Another fail! Probably because I'm not used to putting money in it so I just forget about it! I should maybe set up a standing order, then I've got no excuse!
  • Keep a careful track of my finances and set myself a budget...And another one! I'm finding it quite hard to manage my money at the minute, although in my defence, it's very hard to set myself a budget when I never know exactly how much money I've got coming in each month! Definitely something I need to work on!
  • Develop my cookery skills...Does making gingerbread count? That's the only thing I've made this year, and as it's a recipe I'd already tried last year, I can't say I've met my goal! Like some of the other goals, I need to set aside time to work on this!
  • Cleanse, tone and moisturise every morning...On the whole, this has been a success and I'd say I'm managing at least 6 mornings out of 7!
  • Let go of my baggage from the past...This is another slightly strange one, as I think the only way of measuring how successful I'd been would be to be in a situation that I'd found difficult in the past because of my baggage, and obviously this isn't something that I can really manufacture. Also I'm not really sure how to go about it, as I don't want to spend loads of time needlessly raking over the past, as it's never really helped me before!

And that's it from me! Hope everyone has a great March, and I'll hopefully be back soon with normal(ish) service resumed!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Manchester through different eyes...

On Thursday, Amy and I took a trip into Manchester...not to shop (although we did end up in Primark!), not to eat (although we did have lunch at Subway whilst we were there!) but to see the sights look at Manchester through the eyes of tourists rather than locals. As I've mentioned before, I've lived in the Manchester area all my life, and as such, I kind of take the city for granted, and never really find time to take a step back and look more closely at it. But on Thursday, all that changed. I saw old things in a new light, noticed details I'd never seen before and experienced some places for the first time.

So to begin our tour...we started at St Peter's Square, home to Manchester's Central Library. I didn't get any pictures of the front of it as I'd intended (there were Friends of the Earth collectors there, so I was doing my best to avoid them!), but I did take this picture of the dedication stone(?) on the side wall:

Then we made our way round to our next stops, Albert Square and the Town Hall, just pausing opposite the Midland Hotel on the way:

I absolutely love this building...for me it just conjures up images of the luxury and glamour of a bygone era. I'd love to stay here one day!

When we arrived at Albert Square, I immediately rushed to take pictures of all the statues that are such a feature of the place, but which I've never really paid much attention to before. Amy, meanwhile, kept her distance...I don't know if she was embarrassed of me or if she just didn't want to get in shot! Anyway, first up was this guy:

This is William Gladstone who was Prime Minister of Britain four times during the Victorian era. Presumably Gladstone, the bulldog in Sherlock Holmes, was named after him!

Then there was this one:

This is Oliver Heywood, who was a 19th Century Manchester banker and philanthropist. He sponsored many good causes in Manchester including the Grammar School and Owen's College (which would later become Manchester University where I studied!) Quick confession time...I'm not a local history expert at all, and am quite ashamed that I had to Google Oliver so I could write about him!

Here's a close up of the inscription on the statue's base:

Next we have John Bright:

John Bright was a Liberal politician who was MP for Manchester between 1847 and 1857. He held many views that were considered radical for the time and was recognised as being one of the greatest public speakers of his generation. Thank you Wikipedia for the info!

The most impressive monument for me was most definitely the Albert Memorial:

Apologies for the crappy quality of the pictures...these were done on my phone. I really need a decent camera lol! Anyway, the Albert Memorial was designed in memory of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, who died in 1861, and it was unveiled in 1869. It really is incredibly detailed, and it's just a shame that you can't see more of it on my photos.

Here's a slight close up:

As well as containing a memorial to Prince Albert, Albert Square also houses a fountain which commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897:

I have to admit I was pretty disturbed by this can't see very well but the creatures with the water coming out of their mouths were seriously scary! They looked like some form of gargoyle, and not what I'd expect on a monument designed to celebrate somebody's life. On the plus side, I think this is my best picture of the day. The framing seems to be spot on (for a change!) and I love the juxtaposition of old and new within it.

Then it was off to the Town Hall itself, which Amy and I were both keen to see, not least because it was a filming location for Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, although we could go inside, most areas of the Hall were not open to the public, so we didn't get to see that much. I think we're definitely going to try to go on a guided tour some time soon, so we can experience that bit more. These are a couple of pictures I took of the exterior:

The clock tower and main entrance of the Town Hall, taken from a slight angle. The building is in the Gothic Revival style, popular during the Victorian era, and took nearly 10 years to be completed (from 1868-1877).

A front view of the clock tower...I really struggled to get this photo, I never seemed to step back far enough lol!

After Albert Square, we headed back towards the library, where we cut down the side streets and ended up on Deansgate where we dropped in at our next stop, the John Rylands Library. To say this building was beautiful is a massive understatement. Built at the end of the 19th Century by Enriqueta Rylands as a memorial to her husband, John, it's a gorgeous example of Victorian architecture and is breathtaking inside and out. Unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures, but I'll leave a link to a site where you can find a few instead, and a wholehearted recommendation to check it out if ever you're in the Manchester area!

After stopping for lunch, our final port of call was the Northern Quarter, again mainly because some scenes from Sherlock Holmes were filmed there, and we wanted to see if we could find any of the locations. To be honest, we didn't really have that much success (we should have took a map!) but it was nice to see a part of town that I haven't really spent much time in before, and walking round in circles meant that I got plenty of exercise!

And that's my tour of Manchester done! Hope you enjoyed and maybe even learned something new...I know I did!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Promises, Promises...!

Ok, it's official...I'm a bad blogger! I promised more regular posts whilst I was going to be off, and yet nearly a week has passed by since my last one! In my defence, technology hasn't always been entirely on my side over the past few days. I was (and still am) intending to write a couple of picture heavy ones, but the bluetooth connection between my mobile and my netbook was having none of it! However, I finally managed to work out what the problem was this evening, and I've now uploaded all my pictures so expect those posts coming soon! As well as all the other usual randomness of course!!

And so now, it's time for me to sign off...but this isn't a goodbye, rather an au revoir :-) Until next time...(fingers crossed it'll be tomorrow!)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

How fine it is...

to not have to set your alarm for work the next day and to be able to wake up just when it suits you! I think that's one of my favourite things about the weekend, and luckily for me, I'll be able to indulge in this little pleasure all next week too, as I'll be on my half term break! :-)

It's been a lovely weekend so days have been quite lazy and chilled out and last night I went to see "Les Miserables" in town with some friends. The show was fab...I'd been to see it in London years before, but I couldn't remember most of it so was seeing it with fresh eyes, just like my friends who were first timers. The acting and singing was amazing...the strength of the whole company performing together was phenomenonal, and some of the songs so catchy that they're still in my head today! For me, however, the best thing was the set design...I can't sum up how fantastic it was, my advice would just be to see it for yourself! After the show, we grabbed a few drinks and spent a couple of hours laughing, talking and generally putting the world to rights before heading home rather later than expected!

As for next week, I've already got some things pencilled in, and I'm sure I'll be making room for some more too! So far, this is what I'm planning:
  • A driving lesson'll be really nice driving when the roads are quiet as opposed to at rush hour as I often end up doing when I've been working

  • A trip to Primark with my mum and sisters on Tuesday...the four of us haven't had a shopping expedition for quite a while and I'm looking forward to seeing what goodies Primark's got in this time around!

  • Having my hair done on Wednesday...I'm having a trim and my highlights redone. Sometimes I think I'd like a complete restyle but I'm a bit scared of having something else done in case I really hate it!

  • Taking a tourist trip into Manchester with Amy on was Amy's idea to go into Manchester and have a walk round looking at all the fantastic architecture. Despite the fact I've lived within a few miles of Manchester all my life and visit on a regular basis, I've never really taken the time to properly appreciate some of the beautiful sights it has. Expect a picture heavy post later in the week!

As for Friday and next weekend, I've no plans as yet but I'm sure I'll end up doing something with myself! Other things I want to fit in the week include general chilling (reading, watching dvds etc) and baking and there is also the small matter of my lesson observation to prepare for, as it's scheduled for the first day back after the break! And another job application to do...which I'm 50/50 about at the mo. I know it might sound really lazy, but the thought of doing any less than necessary work on my holiday makes me shudder lol!

Anyway, that's all from me for now. Hope you're all having fantastic weekends, and I'll be posting again I'm off work, I have no excuse not to lol!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Well hello!!

Long time no speak!! I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I've last blogged...I don't know where the time's gone, all I do know is that I've been majorly busy!

So very briefly, here's what I've been doing for the past 2 weeks:

  • Working...I've been working in the same school for the last 2 weeks, covering a teacher's paternity leave. They're not the easiest class to deal with, and there have been some moments where I've felt completely overwhelmed, but they've been coupled with some students who are a delight to teach, and times where I'm so proud of what they've achieved.

  • Spending weekends with friends...the last two weekends have been time for fun with friends. The last weekend in January was spent relaxing at the pub and seeing Sherlock Holmes (again!) with my sister Amy on the Sunday and last weekend I went to a drama group party and out to a cocktail and karaoke bar for my friend's 23rd. Good times!

  • Acting: Between January 27th and January 30th, I spent every evening dressed as a villager for my drama group's production of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". It was really tiring, especially when coupled with 6:30 am get ups for work, but really fun at the same time! I can't wait for our next show. We're doing a musical revue which premieres in July...rehearsals begin in March!

  • Driving: I've been keeping up with my driving lessons and the feedback off my instructor has been really positive...apparently it won't be too long before I can be entered for my test! Woo hoo! :-)

  • Baking: I've started to develop a bit of a reputation for my gingerbread and I've baked two batches over the last two weeks...neither of them for my family, much to their disappointment! I'm starting to really love baking and am finding it much more relaxing now I know what I'm doing, but I think I should maybe expand my repertoire a little bit so am on the lookout for new recipes. Anyone got any suggestions??

  • Preparing for job interviews: I had another job interview yesterday and spent some of the weekend preparing for it and planning a mini lesson for my classroom observation. Unfortunately, I didn't get the job but the feedback I received was very positive...the headteacher even said he wished he could have given me the job, but unfortunately I'd come up against a slightly stronger candidate. I'm not too downhearted, especially because I received a call yesterday from another school saying I'd been shortlisted for a job vacancy there interview and lesson observation are in a couple of weeks!

And finally...

  • Realising that my friends were right all along and that Robert Downey Jr is pretty damn fine...This one is pretty much self explanatory, but I'm going to explain myself anyway! I has been a long held belief amongst many of my friends that RDJ is hot, but I stubbornly disagreed. Yeah, he was ok, I thought, but nothing special. Even when I heard about Sherlock Holmes coming out, I was more excited about watching Jude Law for 2 hours than anything else. Then I saw it and it was like seeing him for the first time. It was quite literally a thunderbolt moment, and I was like "So that's what they see in you!". And now I'm hooked...I can't get enough! And if you're reading this and you still don't get it, here's a little something that might just change your mind: