Wednesday, 25 February 2009

My Challange

I have set myself the challenge to finish my book in the next 42 days (the count started on Sunday morning, February 22nd). I have done a lot of thinking about where the story is going but as yet, I haven't written anything. I don't know whether to worry about that or not. Am I avoiding writing? In fact, is the very fact that I am worrying about this and writing about it, a form of avoidance. Now I have that to worry about to. I'm beginning to sound a bit neurotic! I have been very tired after work the last two days so I could use that as an excuse but considering the fact that I used to write a 1000 words after having chemo, I think that it is just an excuse. I am probably worried about not completing my challenge which of course now becomes a self-fulling prophecy! Shut up and write, Susan!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

42 Days revisited

I had forgotten about 42 days until I saw it listed in my Blog titles. So just to remind us of what Philip Pullman said in part:

"In six weeks, Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic and discovered the New World. Six weeks was enough time for Mozart to write three of his greatest symphonies. William Faulkner took six whole weeks to write his novel As I Lay Dying; John le Carré wrote The Spy Who Came In From the Cold in five. In six weeks, on average, each of the 2,710 Liberty ships were built in the United States during the second world war to supplement the Allied merchant fleets. Robert Louis Stevenson took three days to write Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but six weeks to revise and polish it. In six weeks the Wright brothers' mechanic, Charlie Taylor, built from scratch the light and powerful engine that powered their first flight. In one month in 1819 the poet Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode on Melancholy, and Ode on Indolence."

And what have I done about this? Nothing! So now I will! On the weekend I am going to make a decision of when to start and exactly which project I am going to work on and I will finish it in 42 days!

Monday, 16 February 2009


Ever since I got the job of school librarian starting next school year, I've started to think about reading, about what I read, and how much time I spend on it, about how to encourage young people to read, to help them develop a passion for books. In this day and age of computers, internet and video games that could be a tall order. Tonight on BBC 4 Michael Rosen (UK poet) was talking about how children are reading less than ever before. I'm sure that is true to a certain extent but equally, I'm sure that people have been saying that same thing since visual media first came on the scene. Then again, how many years has it been since we had universal education in the west and books were readily available to everyone. Just a thought!

I have been examining my reading habits as a precursor to looking at reading at school. I read the Guardian each day but not cover to cover and sometimes not even entire articles. This last week I read 2 books but that is the exception. I want to start reading literature aimed at adolescent readers in order to catch up on all the reading I haven't done in that genre in the last 10 years. I have a lot of ground to catch up.

Where to start! I am taking advise from our lower school librarian who was a middle and high school librarian before coming to our school. We'll see after that.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Going to Windsor via the Long Walk

(Statue of William III at the top of the Long Walk!)

During this holiday I had certain plans. I was going to see at least 3 films and go up to London at least once. Well, I haven't see any films and the closest I got to London was Kew Gardens. I couldn't bring myself to spend time in doors when the sun was shining so on Tuesday I went to Kew and today I walked from Englefield Green to Windsor through Windsor Great Park. Above are some of the pictures from the day.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

More of 25 Things (Hope you aren't getting bored)

7. I always look up when visiting cities. We miss so much when we don't!

8. I love the water towers on the top of New York buildings and photograph them when I can.

9. I love train and ship journeys. Train journeys must be long and ship journey must take me from one place to another (no cruising!).

10. One day I want to do the train journeys from Aleppo to London via Istambul and Venice (the old Orient Express route) and the trans-Siberian with a side trip to Samarkand.

11. I love stationery, especially letter writing paper, note books and fountain pens.

12. My favorite places are the library at Othona, the beach below the Othona house in Burton Bradstock, Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, the Rialto Bridge early in the morning, the fields of Wisley when the daffodils are in bloom, any bluebell wood, the middle of the Atlantic, the impressionist section of the National Gallery, anywhere I can lie and watch the Perseus meteor shower in August, the Penbrokeshire coast, and Keith and Margot's garden.

13. I wear my father's watch, an Omega Seamaster, to continue the link! And so does James Bond! (Well, not to continue the link!)

14. When I sit in ancient churches, I hear the whisperings of the generations stretching back.

15. I have just discovered Sir John Betjemann, a first cousin three times removed, and his wonderful poetry, especially Summoned by Bells.

16. I hate stage musicals but I love them on film. Strange!

17. I loved opera as a child and then forgot it (blame it on the 60s) and now am rediscovering it!

18. The only thing I miss now that I'm diabetic is orange juice! Sigh!

19. One day I would like to walk the Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury.

20. I wish I had written the Dark is Rising. What a book!

21. My favorite sparkling wine is Prosecco, which I will drink on any occasion, especially sitting in the garden in a deckchair on a summer's afternoon.

And that's it for today!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

More 25 Things

Well, I have been considering this and have come up with a few more 'things' that I can share with others about myself.

3. I love detective fiction, especially that originally written in another language, such as books by Andrea Camilleri and Fred Vargas.

4. I love gardens and gardening, and am a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and Kew Gardens.

5. My two favorite books of the last five years are Shadow of the Wind and The Athenian Murders.

6. I wear a silver chain with a very small silver camel on it, made in Palestine, as a reminder of the conflict.

Monday, 9 February 2009

25 things about me

Naomi sent me something on Facebook that required me to write a list of 25 things about me that I wanted people to know. I was then to tag 25 people. Well, of course I don't know 25 people since (as I said in my last post) I am ignoring people's requests to make me one of their friends. I thought that instead, I would see if I could do it here. I still doubt that there are 25 things that I want people to know about me.

1. I love New York City almost as much as I love Paris...but not quite.

2. I wrote over 100,000 words last year but I still haven't got a book out of it!

3. ...

Well, I didn't get very far, did I! Perhaps I need to think a bit about this!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Television, Facebook and Rugby!

It's Six Nations Cup time again. For those who don't follow rugby, that's the competition between teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy. England and Italy are playing in the first match as I type. I've just looked up and noticed that England is winning. In the background I can here the gentle (though not always) snoring of my husband who had settled down on the sofa to watch. I could easily turn the sound off or change the channel but he might just wake up and would expect it still to be on. Instead, I find myself drifting into an altered state of reality, the sort you find yourself in while waiting for a bus (in England) or a bank teller at lunch time, or even a Greek ferry.

My mind seems to alight on the strangest of thoughts. Friends on Facebook is one of them. I joined Facebook to have a better understanding of why my students liked it. I just about get it. However, I don't get why I would want to accept an endless number of 'friend requests'. When I first got them, I thought why not and so I find myself with a small number. Just recently, I started questioning my acceptance of these requests. Did I really want to have former colleagues, who I didn't really know when they were my colleagues. Now that they have moved on, I am unlikely ever going to see them again...and I don't really care. And students! What student would want a teacher as a friend. I certainly never would have! And I certainly don't want to be friends with my students. Never. Not even 10 years from now.

I find that this whole question of Facebook friends is closely related to my Christmas card list. I send Christmas cards to a group of people, some are relatives, and I want to continue these links; some are friends, who I haven't seen recently but would like to meet again; and then there is the group I feel guilty about, the group I would like to drop but don't feel I can in case they think I have a terminal illness, or worse still don't care about them anymore. I wouldn't want to hurt any one's feelings.

If I gather all these Facebook friends, I will be in exactly the same position as I am with the Christmas card list, falsely pretending that I care in someway about these people. I just can't bring myself to do it. However, I am left with this niggling feeling that when I reject some one's attempt to make me their friend, that I have hurt their feelings anyway. Then again, perhaps they don't want to have me as a friend either. Having sent the request, they may suddenly think, oh no, why did I do that! I have to stop worrying about this. Instead I shall think of something else until the bus arrives.

I found myself thinking about television programmes the other night. For some inexplicable reason, I decided to change my profile on my blog, update it or something like that! It must have been late at night because as long as their is daylight, I don't stray off into such meaningless activities. Anyway, back to the point. I had a look at "My Favorite Television Programmes" and realized that none of them were on TV anymore and so I should change them. The problem was that I couldn't think of any. What did I watch that I enjoyed and would look out for another week. Alas, very little. However, I do watch television so what am I watching and why!

Television isn't structured quite the same way here as it is in North America. We don't have programmes that start in September and go onto the spring. At most our series are 12 weeks long. More likely they are on for 3 to 6 weeks. It adds variety but I always seem to discover a series in its second week and then forget about it in the 3rd, only to catch up with it for the end. I am left with the feeling that I haven't got the entire picture.

I have developed a serendipitous relationship with television. Having discovered channels that sometimes have the type of programme I like, I will try those first. Why don't you use a guide, I hear someone asked. Well, I never seem to be able to find all the channels laid out in a logical manner in one place. I usually end out spending so much time looking for something to watch that I miss the beginnings of programmes. Just as confusing as missing episodes!

While I'm on the question of television programming, I have noticed that the types of programmes on mainstream TV have changed over the last few years. When we first arrived in the UK, there were tons of house and garden makeover programmes, and cooking programmes were gathering a pace. Then we moved into the house redevelopment stage where people were trying to become property developers. Gardening returned to its more serious side and food programmes followed celebrity chefs through various food trends. From there we went to programmes helping people to move somewhere else and start a new life, usually in the country or even 'down-under'. Somewhere along the way, people became worried about what they ate, and we were treated to programmes about how our chickens and pigs lived before they came to our table. Funny, no vegetarian cooking programmes yet, though you'd think they would be popular after the chicken and pig shows. Several chefs have shown us how to cook frugally, and Jamie Oliver showed us how badly our children were fed at school and then he showed people who didn't know how to cook, how to cook.

I watch some of these programmes and once upon a time, when I went to work, we would carry on the conversation about what we had seen the night before. However, even that culture has changed. There are just too many channels for there to be some sort of conformity in what we watch. No conversation starters there!

So where does that leave me with updating my profile. I'm not sure. However, I have started to rethink the actual activity of watching. I think I have TV on just for the noise. If that is the case, why don't I just turn on the radio. Good question and food for thought tonight.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Monday, 2 February 2009

I'm a librarian again!

This is just a quick announcement (which I will comment on later!) but I have been offered the position of upper school librarian and have accepted. I'm not sure what I'm getting myself into but I think it will be an interesting ride!

Snow Day - Three Cheers

Snow days in Southern England! It's hard to imagine but here are two photographs to prove it!