April 2008

The weekend was spent in the mountains, again. For some time now I have been living a hermit’s life; staying in at night marking coursework. Exercise has been sacrificed, and so I was not as prepared as I could have been for the leg stretching weekend. Getting up at 6, walking all day, ending the evening at midnight fixing a broken tent pole in high winds, mcguiver style. At least I did not have to endure a night under canvas. All the leaders enjoyed the evenings in a hostel with cooking by the lovely Sharon and myself.

Hungry meg saw a bunny and could not resist her primal urge. She bolted and crunched through the spine mercilessly. Her owner was worried about the psychological impact this might have on the students. It interested us that they all showed no sign of shock. They simply accepted it. They don’t watch disney films anymore.

On the way home I was one of the teachers given the pleasure of the bus supervision. Imagine the smell of nearly 40 students who have been hiking for 3 days. Now imaging that you are a responsible teacher who made them all take their boots off so they would not make muddy foot prints all over the nice shiny bus. ***sigh***

On the way home I was chatting to some students (the ones still awake, I am not sure if exhaustion or fumes put the rest to sleep). They happened to mention something. I thought it was remarkable. They did not seem to think it was as they had not mentioned this before. It turned out that they were sitting relaxing in the evening and they spied some head torches moving around on the mountain. They watched for some time and observed the strange patterns. The movements of the lights made them come to the conclusion that they were watching a group who were very lost. They all grabbed their torches and headed to the rescue. Some time later they had guided down what turned out to be a gold group from another school. Then they proceeded to help them pitch their tent. Not stopping there, they fired up the trangia and made the weary group hot chocolates and cappuccinos. These are the things that bring a warm glow to your heart and make a tear of pride form in your eye. But, in my typical style I simply said, “very good.”

Tonight one of the little moggies went missing. For a long time tallie missed her dinner. When she did return many hours later she was very on edge. She was jumpy, quiet and kept watching the doors. After observing her for some time we could come to only one conclusion…. she has never seen a cow. It’s that time of year for the cows to arrive in the fields.

Coursework nearly gone.

Organic, free range and locally sourced.

I like reading some fiction. Occasionally I find little gems. However, my brain has to slow down to read them and I lose some of myself in them. Occasionally the fiction will effect me in strange ways… it haunts me in my dreams. The lovely Sharon says that films effect her in the same way. This is one of the reasons why she hates any sort of scary or disturbing films. I don’t mind these.

The night before last I kept waking up in a half dazed state. Not knowing who I was, I just wanted to be friends with these other cats. And I knew I had to find a dog and learn how to speak to it. I was Varjak.

Last night I reached for the novel, paused, then reached further for the book on nuclear power stations and the political/environmental impact on Ireland. I read for an hour. then slept solidly. Bliss.

I thought about it. I nearly did it. But, in the end I simply did not have the bravery……. to wear my periodic table t shirt to circuit training class tonight.


I feel like I have let all the geeks down.

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.

Relaxing today spending time contemplating life. Marking coursework today – all day.

The lovely Sharon and I have been marking coursework all day.  It’s that time of year.  We are marking rewrite after rewrite after rewrite.  Revisions upon revisions.  We will be like this for another week or so.

As we have been working so hard something has suffered… the house.  So when my family and the lovely sharon’s family rang to say they were visiting we were hit with a wave of panic.  QUICK!  Make the house semi presentable!

Just prior to their arrival I was a bit anxious as I have so much marking to do.  Then I felt annoyed with myself.  Everybody just wanted to wish me a happy birthday.  They knew we had work to to and so made their visit short.  But all I wanted, was for them to stay.*  Sometimes it is far too easy to let work cloud your vision.  Sometimes it is hard to see the important things.

*later on, the lovely sharon said she was thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time; we didn’t want them to leave.

A bit of a drive on Friday evening. It was the weekend of the Irish Science Teacher’s Association, and the Association of Science Teachers, conference. We had booked ourselves in to a hotel in Letterkenny with dinner scheduled for 8pm. Arriving in the town at 7.40 left us plenty of time to check in and throw our bags into the room. By 8.15 we had driven around the one way system and passed the hotel 3 times. I insisted that it had moved.

Saturday was the big conference day, lots of science teachers everywhere. Lots of stalls selling science things (or toys). I was scheduled to hold a seminar in the afternoon. This left me lots of time to not relax and instead build up a substantial knot of nervous energy.

The lovely Sharon is also a science teacher and so has an interest in attending the conference. However, she forgot her dress for the evening dinner and had to spend all day wandering the streets of Letterkenny looking for a new dress. And matching bag. She must have been so disappointed that she missed the conference, she seemed ok about it though. Maybe she is a strong person who hides her emotions well.

After a brilliant evening dinner, good food, good company, I began to let the knot unwind. A head cold had been hanging on for a few days waiting for its chance. It pounced with no mercy. By the end of the evening I was sniffing away and my eyes had dried up. My contact lenses were so dry that they began to blur over. I spent the last 2 hours of the night talking to people through what seemed like frosted glass. Quite strange.

On Sunday we had a late breakfast. I spoke to a colleague this morning, who also attended the conference. They told me about the drive back from Letterkenny. She and her husband took a slight detour and stopped of for a long walk along a vast sandy beach. They saw horses galloping through the sand on a cool crystal clear spring day. The lovely Sharon and I stopped to call into Tescos. 🙂

It has been a while since I have written. Sometimes it is a bit of a habit. Bad or good, it waxes and wanes.

Coming back to school into the summer term has been a busy time. At the moment I seem to have every spare moment of time filled with something.

Although the whirlwind did have moments of calm. One of these was in the mountains. As the students roughed it in a mountain camp, the teachers sat in a cosy hostel. After our hearty meal, of chilli con carne (made by the lovely Sharon) and baked cheesecake (one of mine), we journey out into the cold dark spring air to check that all was well in the wild camps. Its a little stroll to let our eyes become accustomed to the dark. The teachers at the back leave their head torches off and follow the glow of the leaders. We chat and keep one eye on the ground and the other on the vastness of the clear starry sky. These are the moments in-between.

We split up, three teachers to one camp, three to another. The tireless Meg scuttles off with the other group. All is well. The young mountaineers are all in tents and tired after the long day trekking. Unfortunately, not all their equipment and food is in the tents. I sigh. It is a learning exercise; it is their first overnight camp. I give the whole camp a quick word on camp craft and the dangers of small mammals. In the corner of my eye I see meg eating, but something deep inside, something primitive and hard wired says; “that’s moving wrong”. Primitive hard wired instincts don’t need grammar. It’s a fox! And a bold one as it hung around and needed a lot of encouragement to leave.

As we left for the walk back I slowed down. I lingered. On rocks and walls I paused to drink in the stars. I could walk under this sky all night. I sensed that the others were waiting for me. In situations like this there is only one thing that robs me of fully enjoying it. One thing that saddens me; the desire to have the moment shared with the lovely Sharon. But there she was. I glanced over as she meandered over the bog. Years ago she used to walk in the mountains with her hands ready to catch a stumble. Now she hikes over rivers and rocks with her hands in her pockets……in the dark.

it’s busy