Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had a massive book clear-out a while ago, but this was one of a few 'classic' books I kept; I don't know if classic is the right word, but those books that you feel you 'should' read, y'know? (I've also kept 1984 and Animal Farm, for example). I kept this one mostly because of the Scottish link.

But it just wasn't for me, I'm afraid. There were moments that I found mildly amusing, but on the whole, I just found it a bit boring. It sat on the bedside drawers for weeks, until I finally decided to finish it today. A couple of pages into it and I was nodding off, and then I found myself skipping to the end, skimming the paragraphs to see if anything interesting jumped out at me, but it didn't.

So although this book ticked the 'set in Scotland' box of my list of reading requirements, I'm afraid I needed a bit more than that to keep me hooked.

View all my reviews

Monday, 19 October 2015

Strictly 2015: Second and Third Out

Wasn't planning on writing about Strictly this year, but I seem to have started so I might carry on...

Second celeb to leave was Anthony Ogogo. He wasn't a favourite of mine, but I didn't mind him really. I follow the celebs and pro dancers on Twitter (until they leave the show, and then I unfollow them. It's a little game I like to play), and Anthony came in for a bit of stick from so-called boxing 'fans' who thought he should've been training instead of doing Strictly. I was impressed with his positive attitude and the way he regarded learning to dance as training in itself, for example helping him to become light on his feet. Even though he wasn't on the show for long, I hope it does have a lasting benefit to his boxing career. However, I don't think he should've ever been chosen to take part in the first place. Maybe it was felt that his shoulder would recover quicker than it was doing, but dancing isn't just about the feet, and you'd think someone would've realised that he'd struggle with lifts etc. Oti seems like a really good dancer, so hopefully she'll still be around next year, and will get a promising partner (I think Anthony could've done quite well without the injury).

The third celeb to leave the show was Daniel O'Donnell, and I don't think it was really a surprise to anyone. I do think he'd made some improvements, and certainly seemed to have conquered his nerves compared to his first dance, at least, but it was obvious he wasn't going to get much further in the competition. Having said that, I think I would've preferred Kirsty to leave, I'm sorry to say I find her a bit annoying, and her partnership with Brendan is one that I'm just a bit indifferent to.

I was gutted that Jay made mistakes in his Quickstep as it looked like a really good routine, but you could've almost put money on him messing up after his amazing Jive. I hope it doesn't knock his confidence, and that he comes back next week with another brilliant dance. (Yes, I'm a bit of a fan. Trying to make up for calling him 'creepy' after the Launch Show).

Sunday, 18 October 2015

I followed...

... this vehicle the other day, and you know exactly what I was thinking, don't you?

Ooh, nice granny square blankets! I hope they don't fall off...

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Goes to show...

... you never can tell!

Oh my goodness! Jay and Aliona's Jive in Week 3, the Pulp Fiction one? How amazing was that? I can't stop watching it.

I didn't think he was going to be any good to begin with, and I'm here to hold my hands up and admit that I was wrong. Very wrong.

I still think Anita might win, but I'm now thinking she's got some serious competition from Jay. All three of his dances have been good, and tonight I think he was finally starting to look more confident in terms of finding the character of the dance.

Len said last week that he was excited about Jay, and I'm starting to feel that way too. I really want him to do well, I watched their jive with a big grin on my face because I knew what an amazing reaction it was going to get, and I was so happy for him! I also think that Aliona is a brilliant dancer and choreographer when she's given a good partner to work with (like Harry from McFly), so I hope she continues to bring out the best in Jay.

My other favourite dance was Kellie and Kevin, because I've always loved the music that they were dancing to, the Cantina Band from Star Wars.

Not sure who is going to leave on Sunday. Carol is probably the weakest dancer (even more so than Daniel O'Donnell), but I don't think Jamelia is very popular with the general public, and I also think Kirsty might not be around for long.

I'm off to watch that Jive again...

Monday, 5 October 2015

Strictly 2015: First Out

Well, I wasn't expecting him to be the first one to leave, but I can't say I'll miss Iwan Thomas at all.

I didn't really like his attitude - I think he came into Strictly either thinking that he was going to be better than he was, or that other contestants weren't going to be as good as they are, or that it was going to be easier than it is, or maybe a bit of all three. Basically he came across as a bit arrogant. Clearly he was affected by the negative comments from the judges in the first week, and I do think he'd eaten a big portion of humble pie by week two, but it wasn't enough to save him. Maybe he was genuinely sad to be leaving so soon, but I think there was an element of his male pride taking a huge beating too.

I don't read the tabloids, but I'd caught wind of the rumours that Ola wasn't happy to be partnered with him, and that they didn't get on, even though that didn't appear to be the case on tv. However, true or not, it affected the way I viewed their partnership, to the point where I was always looking for those little telltale signs that things might not be as happy as they were trying to imply.

Similarly, I used to like Ola, but I think she is suffering a bit by the behaviour of James Jordan, particularly some of the comments he makes about Strictly on Twitter (I know I don't have to follow him, but I was curious). Now that he's no longer a part of the show, he's really let rip with his opinion, and yet Ola is still there having to keep the smile painted on and almost pretend that he isn't saying the things that he is on Twitter. It must be hard for her, so perhaps it's best that she's first out. I'll be surprised if she's still on Strictly next year.

The dance that made me smile the most this week was actually Ainsley and Natalie's Salsa. I think everyone was expecting it to suit him and it did, but I'm not sure that they'll be able to top it now.

I also found myself smiling (and maybe cringing a little bit too) through Jeremy and Karen's dance. Having been forced to listen to him on Radio 2 when I was at work previously, I used to find him a bit annoying, but his excitement and enjoyment of Strictly is quite infectious.

I've been really surprised by both of Jay and Aliona's dances. He's so nervous, I was expecting him to dance like a plank of wood, but he's actually pretty darn good. He looked very striking in his white suit this week, and I loved how straight and controlled he was in those spins. I agree that he's going to need to start working on the performance side though, as his face has so far been a bit emotionless. And I know I've just mentioned his nerves, but I really wish people (especially Tess) would stop going on about them - IT'S NOT GOING TO MAKE HIM ANY LESS NERVOUS!! It's like pointing out to someone that they're blushing - it just makes it worse!

Also enjoyed Anita and Gleb, and I still think she might win it...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho...

Last Friday was a bit of a momentous day for me - I went back to work!!

When we adopted Junior, I took 12 months leave, but my annual leave accrued while I wasn't there. This was added on to the end of my leave, which meant I had just over 13 months off work altogether. So as you can imagine, going back after all that time was a massive shock to the system!

Chris and I have both chosen to work part time - he's doing three days, and I'm doing the other two. We're very fortunate to be able to do this, and it means that one of us will always be at home with Junior during the week, so we don't need to arrange childcare. However, we will look into letting him go to nursery in the new year, as it's obviously important for him to socialise with other children in preparation for school. (He does currently attend a few playgroups so he's already mixing with other children now).

Since Junior came to live with us, I've spent pretty much every day with him. The only days I've been away from him for a considerable length of time are the two Saturdays that I went to Yarndale, last year and this year. Chris sometimes takes him out on a weekend, but it's usually for no more than 4 or 5 hours, so it doesn't really feel like he's away for long, and somehow it doesn't feel as bad when it's Junior who is going out, while I stay at home.

So to say I was anxious about going back to work is an understatement. As the day crept closer, I had that kind of feeling of impending doom, like a huge black cloud was hanging over me. It was almost as if I was never going to see him again, rather than be away from him for just a day. Plus I had all the other nerves about going back to work, and the worry that I'd almost forgotten how to do my job, so that was bad enough, but on top of that I was worried that I might actually get upset because I was missing him so much!

Since I'm now only working two days a week, I've actually moved into a different office, in fact, a different site altogether to where I previously worked. So there was some added anxiety about driving there, and the fact that I don't know anyone. As it happens, the drive was pretty horrendous due to extremely thick fog, and then I had some issues getting into the building, never mind my office, because I needed a swipe card to get in and mine had expired months ago.

I got in to my office eventually, but I couldn't really do much until my supervisor arrived, who then got my swipe card updated, and got me logged back on to all the various IT systems that we use at work. I had a lot of training to catch up on, but fortunately most of it can be done by e-learning now, so I just had to sit and watch a few short videos and then tick a box to say my training was up to date. All of this took most of the day, but thankfully my supervisor was understanding about that, and didn't really expect me to get any 'actual' work done that day; he even said that he'd send someone to cover the workload next week, until I go back on Thursday.

So all in all, it was quite an easy day, and not as bad as I'd been expecting. I thought about Junior a lot, and wondered what he was up to, although Chris did Whatsapp me a couple of photos. Most of the time though, I was kept quite distracted by what I was doing, so although I was missing him, it wasn't too bad. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm glad to be back at work, but I was definitely relieved to get the first day over with. Like I said, I'm back on Thursday, and I'm a teeny-tiny bit looking forwards to getting stuck into the work.

Also, I have my own office, which is a bit drab (I don't even have a window, which is a shame, although if I did I'd probably spend all day gazing out of it), so I'm trying to think of how I can brighten it up - some crochet bunting, perhaps? Crochet coasters? Crochet wall-hanging (although they might not want me hammering nails into the wall)? I definitely want to make it a more pleasant, inviting place than it currently is - maybe I could get a poster of a window with a nice view, to stick on the wall?

It was a long drive home, not helped by two lots of pretty serious roadworks, but luckily Junior was pleased to see me - he was in the back garden and I could hear him shouting "mum! mum!" even while I was getting out of the car. Chris was making tea, so me and Junior had a big cuddle and then a kickabout with the football. I'd left in the morning before he was even awake, which was really difficult because I'm the one who always gets him up every morning (I haven't had a lie in since he arrived!), and it was soooo good to see him when I came home.

I'm still not looking forwards to leaving Junior and going back to work next week, but now that I've got the first day over with, I do think it's going to be easier. It's probably good for both of us to spend some time apart, even though it doesn't really feel like that for me!

Sorry for the long wordy post with no pictures, I just really wanted to write down how I felt about what was such an important moment for me.

Thanks for reading, if you've got this far :-)
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