Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Broken Links Link

Apologies - My BlogRoll has developed a glitch in the past few days, which means that the ** (updated) marks are not appearing.
I've changed it, so that the updated blogs move to the top of the list, but it's not working at the moment. I don't have done all I can, but it seems to be an issue with BlogRoll itself.
(Blogs that do not have Weblogs enabled - Xanga, MySpace & LiveJournal - are now listed separately further down).

God bless!

The mystery seems to have been solved here. The culprit? Splogging!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Coast to Carols

This last week has been fairly busy as these things go...

Wednesday, my alarm went off at 5:45am, as I was being picked up to go visit my new school (46 miles away) at 6:30! Not nice. We'd left about 2 hours to do a journey that AA Route Planner said would take 1hr15. Should've been fine, right? Wrong. A combination of unfamiliar roads, the dark and me thinking that 'Take the 3rd exit at the roundabout' means 'Turn left', meant that we were about 20 mins late. Didn't seem to be too much of a problem in the end though. :o)
I met my new class. I'm in the Nursery class ["Foundation 1"], meaning 3 & 4 year olds, which should be quite fun. The kids are lively and I can see it being a definite enlightening experience. Generally, I'm quite looking forward to it, though. :o)

Since then, I've been catching up on sleep (a little bit), cleaning some of the house for the end of term, packing my life into containers for the 13th consecutive end-of-term, and lugging it on and off of trains.
I came home yesterday with a medium-size trolley case, holdall, laptop and backpack - I somehow managed to arrange things so that I had a spare hand for my ticket! Took the train to York, had an extended lunch-break there with Michael, and then caught a train to Stevenage where M&D picked me up (which was nice of them!).

Today has been the Christingle service this morning and Carol service tonight. For those of you who don't know what a Christingle is, it looks like this:

and all the bits represent different things...
The Orange is the World, the Red ribbon is Jesus' blood and the candle is the 'Light of the World'. The rest depends on who you ask... the four points are the 4 seasons or the 4 compass points and the sweets/raisins represent the Fruits of the Spirit or God's gifts to us (harvest). This site gives a bit more about the history. So in my church, all the children go out and make one and then they process back in with them lit later in the service... yes, we do indeed have 20-30 children stand close together holding lit candles! Nerve-wracking, but a really beautiful sight nevertheless.

Really need to go present shopping this week, as I've bought half a present so far, out of the 8 or so I have to buy. Hmm.

Oh well, nothing much else to say, so I think I'll go back to the jigsaw that I've been working on for about 2 years and see if I can get any more done. :o)


Friday, December 08, 2006

Update on my world...

Just to say I passed my essay with 61%

And I have somewhere confirmed to live when I'm on placement next term in Hull.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Feeling Out of Placement

Is it really almost a month since I last posted?! Wow, it seems less than that.

Since then, I have taught 35-ish lessons (planned & evaluated), written 3 weekly evaluations... oh, this is boring. Basically, I now have a file that is nearly 2 inches thick, full of paper.
And I am tired!

I finished placement last Thursday, and had a tutorial with my supervisor, before catching a train to York to see Michael. Friday night, we cooked Corned Beef Hash, which was delicious and I'm not sure I've had since I was about 8. *yum!*
Saturday, we went to see 'Pipe Dreams' by the Riding Lights Theatre Company. They are a Christian group and the play/performance was all about the privatisation of water and some of the underhand things that different companies around the world are doing with regard to water supplies. It was very good and enjoyable.
Then we went to Evensong at York Minster and dinner at Gert & Henry's. So all in all, a lovely day.

The weekend before, Chris came up to North Yorkshire to visit us, which was very nice indeed. Friday night he stayed with Michael and then on Saturday, I joined them in the morning and we spent the day attempting to Christmas shop in York. Now, I didn't know until I was on the train there, but it was St.Nick's market that weekend, which basically meant, you could not move in the main street faster than a casual crawl. It was sooo busy! Managed to get most of what we were looking for, and I also found a wonderful shop that sells teaching resources ("I am not a teaching geek, I am not a teaching geek,...") but I think it was magic because when I tried to find it again, I couldn't. :o(
Saturday night, C & M came back to mine where I cooked steak & chips for them and a good eating & singing time was had by all.
Sunday was church (where C & M are now famous for being loud, good singers!) followed by a walk down to the beach, homecooked Thai Green curry and then they headed into town and then back to York/Reading, while I did more planning.
All in all, a good weekend!

Oh, I've found out where my next placement is...
Newington Primary, in Hull! I'm going to have to move there, as it's ~45 miles and it's impossible to get there by public transport for 8:30am from here. The OfStEd report (Oct 2006)describes it as "This average-sized primary school serves an area of social deprivation in Hull. A high proportion of pupils leave or enter the school part way through their education. The percentage of pupils claiming free school meals is much higher than average. When children enter the Nursery, their skills level is well below that usually seen. There is a higher proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities than in most schools.
Most pupils come from White British backgrounds and the school caters for a small number of traveller children. A few pupils of Eastern European heritage are at an early stage of learning English as an additional language. The school has experienced some staffing turbulence in recent years. At the time of the inspection, an acting headteacher and acting deputy headteacher were in post."
I'm in the Foundation Stage (Nursery & Reception). Should be fun. :o)

Anyway, less than 2 weeks until I go home for Christmas. Can't wait! However, for now I have plenty to do, so I'd better go.

God bless! xxx

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An afternoon in the life of a Reception class teacher

The following all happened this afternoon, during a cut 'n' stick activity:

  1. A child had lost their worksheet
  2. Several children decided to see what Pritt sticks smell like
  3. A number of children spontaneously started singing 'Baa Baa, Black Sheep'
  4. A child had 2 worksheets (see no.1)
  5. A child sneezed (big time!) and then just dropped the tissue open on the table
  6. A child was talking animatedly while holding scissors
  7. and finally, a child was eating the leftover paper.

Now, just to clarify, these are not things that are unique to this school/class, nor are they common occurrences here. However, today there must have been something in the water...!

Right, off to write more plans/evaluations/observations...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Submissive Play

Ok, well, since I last posted I have slept (a bit), eaten (a reasonable amount), gone to lectures (quite a lot) and written an essay (every other available minute!).

The essay was on the status and value of play in education. A topic which, until about 2 weeks ago, I knew precious little about. However, I had to write 4,000 words on it, so I needed to find out something. So I read. A lot! (& please can someone thank Denise for lending me all those books - they were a God-send... probably literally!). And stuck in many post-its in a teetering pile of books. And wrote, and quoted, and paraphrased, and summarised. And FINISHED!!
Thus, on Friday, I submitted my first ever essay, which stood at 4,353 words by the end (we could be 10% either way).

And yes, I did say my first ever essay - even my final project was only ~4,800! I did a BSc, which seems to put me very much in the minority on this course. I know of a couple of others who did Business, Environmental Sciences or Food Sciences. However, in general, most people seem to have English or Early Childhood Studies (or similar) degrees. Hence why we are being set 4,000 word essays (marked at Masters level), but being taught how to multiply fractions. Oh well.

Anyway, Michael's been down this weekend, but we've spent most of the time writing lesson plans & sorting out folders of observation proformas, as we're both on placement this week. I'm in school for the next 4 weeks, and he's in this week & then one day a week until Christmas.
I'm a little nervous about going on placement, as it means I have to actually teach. Yes, I know, I know, that is what I'm here for... but I'm still rather nervous about being in front of 26 kids and teaching them something they've never done before. Well, there's something quite exciting about that too, but definitely scary! This week, we're teaching them about nocturnal animals, reinforcing the concepts of '1 more' and '1 less' and on Wednesday, I'm introducing '/r/' (i.e. the sound made by 'r', as in 'rabbit').

So, I'd better go and hunt for some pictures of nocturnal animals and have a think about how to explain 'nocturnal' to 3 & 4 year olds! Hope all is well in the rest of the world.

God bless!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Update of the Month

Well, I've been here a month and things seem to be going well. Life has been absurdly busy and the course is frantic, but I'm getting the hang of it.

The timetable for most days is 9:00am-4:15pm, with two 15mins breaks and 45mins for lunch. Mondays & Fridays are mostly Core Curriculum - Mondays are English (am) & Science (pm), and Fridays is Maths (am) & Early Years Education (pm). The other 3 days are mostly random, but are usually sessions on teaching techniques (planning, assessment, observation, etc), on assignments or on other subject areas (ICT, PE, RE, History, Geography, Art, Drama, etc).

I have been on a few placement visit days so far. The school is nice. Really small though (a class for every 2 year groups), which is taking a bit of getting used to. The whole school only has 4 classes! As I said before, the school is Roman Catholic, which is really nice. The children say prayers first thing in the morning, just before hometime and also say grace all together in the dinner hall at lunchtime. Have you ever been in a class, and a 4yr old child comes up to you and announces "We're playing 'Going to church'."? The whole ethos in the school is lovely and the older children (Yr5/6) look after the younger children really well. The placement is paired and my partner is called Sarah (one of 6 Sarahs out of 60 students on the PGCE course) and she's also a Christian - Pentecostal (at home)/Baptist (here) - which has been really nice too.

So far, on placement we've observed several lessons, as well as working with some of the kids. We also had to carry out a task for science, trying to find out the children's understanding of what constitutes a "living thing". We made a set of cards with a selection of pictures on them - cat, dog, bird, tree, flower, baby, rock, table, coat, bed, ... - and asked them to place them in two hoops, depending on whether it was alive or not alive. This led to a few interesting comments...

  • Tables are living because they have legs.
  • Kettles are living because they need water (& make noises)
  • Babies eat, drink... and have dummies.
We have to plan a story session and also a music & a PE session each, plus a detailed observation/study of one child. Those don't sound too daunting at the moment.

Apart from lectures & placement, I haven't been up to much, tbh. I've seen Michael most weekends, which has been nice. 2 weeks ago & this weekend just gone, I went to see him in York, and the weekend in between he came here to Scarborough. It's been lovely to see him so often and it's helped provide a good break in what is a pretty frantic course. This weekend he's singing in Derby Cathedral instead, though, with Northern Cathedral Singers, and I'm staying in Scarborough and writing an essay. I have a 4,000 word essay on the importance of play in education for next Friday (3rd Nov) - oh joy! A bit nervous about that, but it should be fine... I think. :oS

So... I'm exhausted, but enjoying myself. Earlier today I wasn't feeling too well and I think I'm going down with something, but I'm feeling much better now. I'll be going to bed shortly, though, and I'm pretty glad I've got most of tomorrow off - I only have to be in between 9 & 11am. :o)
I'll try to update a little more often... God bless!

PS. I tried to update this last night, but it wouldn't publish.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It ain't grim up north!

Well, I'm here!
After ~5.5hrs on the road, including a stop for coffee & a lovely lunch at The Poacher's Barn pub in Osgodby, we got to my new house.

My new housemates (Kirsty, Kaye & Amy) are lovely and friendly. There's a lot of pink/sparkly stuff around, but I can cope with that!
The house is nice too, with lots of space. The kitchen's got loads of cupboards, but the freezer's pretty small, which could cause a few problems, but so far it's been ok.
At the moment, I'm sitting in the armchair by the window...

I've had a few issues with the "accent-barrier" so far, but I've met lots of nice people on my course and everyone's very friendly. In some ways, this place seems like another country/planet

I spent Saturday evening getting unpacked, etc. and on the Sunday, Michael came over and we went for a very nice (& cheap!) carvery lunch in the Leeds Hotel to celebrate 6 months together and then went for an exploratory wander around Scarborough.

Since then, I've been on campus everyday. Monday was intro lectures, etc. in the morning and registration in the afternoon (1.5 hours in the queue!). Tuesday was introduction to placement procedures & admin stuff, plus an ICT (computers) induction, followed by an introduction to the play workshop that we're now doing until Fri morning. It's a group presentation based on/following on from the book "Bear's Adventure". I'm working on an activity book as a follow on activity, with textured pages, lift-the-flap bits and velcro stick-on bits! I've spent the afternoon cutting out shapes and painting simple pictures of beach stuff (red bucket, green spade, purple ball, yellow sun, blue towel...). So, yeah, so far it's been loads of fun.

I start on placement on Nov 8th, although I have a few visits before. I found out today that my first placement is in St George's RC Primary. On a direct bus route from the stop that I can virtually reach whilst still touching our front gate! Not bad. :o)

Anyway, I ought to go to get some dinner. Kirsty & Amy are going to Scarborough Fair tonight (yes, really!), and I might go with them. I do have to be on campus at 9am again though... Not sure. Mince & beans on jacket potato for tea. :o)

Hope all is going well in the rest of the world!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Off to the seaside...

I've been on school placement for the past 2.5 weeks, shadowing teachers at Wheatfields Infant School. I've spent time in Reception, Year 1 & Year 2 (ages 4-7), plus an afternoon in the nursery. It's been a bit stressful and hard work, but I've really enjoyed it and I do think I've made the right choice doing this course/job. There have been cute moments ("It's ok 'A', I'll look after you" - said by 4yr-old when child was crying when his mum left), difficult/frustrating moments (6yr-old having a tantrum and refusing to do anything), amusing moments (tail is now spelt 'tayow' and one child had visited Scarborough when she went on holiday to Devon!?), rewarding moments (child 'getting' adding for the first time) and times when I've felt really good about something that's happened (I've given out 2 stickers over my time there to kids who'd been working reeeally hard - and they looked so proud). :o)

But now I'm done. Tomorrow morning, I (once again!) have to pack my life into boxes, load it all into the car and move it all into a new place. I've posted pictures of my room already. I have 3 housemates; all girls and all education undergrads (I think). I'm feeling quite nervous, but it should be ok. And I should get to see Michael on Sunday, for the first time in a month (woot!). :o)
The house has wireless broadband, so I should be online some of the time, but I'm in lectures 9am-4:15pm every day, and when I'm on placement I'll be busy even more. I'll try and keep this updated quite regularly, and i'll try to put some things on Hat Mitre when I can.

My stuff needs to be in the car between 8:30 & 9:00 tomorrow morning, so we can be in Scarborough for lunch. M&D have arranged to hire a car so that they can both come up and see where I'm going to be, etc, as I couldn't get all my stuff in either of their cars and still have 3 seats available. And on that note, I better go and start packing!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Filing & Teaching Practice

Last week, I spent an absurd amount of time attempting to sort out my bedroom as it was starting to overflow with stuff that I'd just never got around to throwing away. I've filled a crate & a binbag with paper & other rubbish respectively. Included in that is my 2002 UCAS directory and June 2003 bus timetables!
I've rejigged my room a bit, and I even found my desk! :o) The main prompt for this was that I had never really unpacked after moving back from Reading and given how small my room is going to be this year, I need to work out exactly what I need and not take any extra! So far, it seems to be going well. :o)

Since Thursday, I've been on teacher shadowing placement at my old primary school, as I have to have 10 days experience in Foundation Stage & Key Stage 1. I've been in Reception in the mornings (nearly 5 years old), but they go home around lunchtimes, so I've been in Year 1's in the afternoons. I've supervised painting, ICT (computers), playdough, numeracy and several other things too. And it's been a lot of fun and I'm really rather looking forward to starting my course now. Plus, Michael's & Chris' pre-course placements seem to be going well too, so all is good there as well. Woot! :o)

Friday, September 01, 2006

What a Belter!!

Greenbelt was fantastic! There were so many events and talks and seminars - most of them good, many of them thought provoking, almost all made you glad to be a Christian!
This year's Festival had the theme of 'Redemption Songs' and a lot of the talks, etc had slavery/freedom at their core.

Among the events I went to:
Sounds of Salvation - Ska Mass (Communion in the Sung Eucharist 'tradition', but ska music, rather than classical!)
Martyn Joseph - Rock, including the superb "Liberal Backslider" song.
Jibe Productions - Dark comedy/satire. Didn't really enjoy this. If you like 'League of Gentlemen', you'd enjoy this.

Jim Wallis & Stephen Timms MP - "You say tomato..." Panel discussion on UK/US politics with refreshingly little heckling and one questioner who asked a stupid/unfair question actually got boo'ed!
Nick Baines (Bishop of Croydon) - "God on our side?" - Talk about who is being prophetic/in touch with the Spirit... those who are keeping things 'traditional' or those who are being 'progressive'. Also a lot about the use of language. [hoping to blog on this at HatMitre]
Greenbelt Folk Club. Open mic, lots of fun, even if it was rather noisy because the sign-up for the speed-dating was in the same venue! :o)
Courtney Pine - Jazz. Didn't stay. Not my thang.
Taize Service - very beautiful and reflective.

Communion Service - 10,000 people sharing bread and wine together. The service had a theme of 'Redemption Songs' including prayers for the 20 million men, women & children who are slaves or, euphamistically, bonded-labourers in the world today (5 times as many as when slavery was abolished in Britain 200 years ago).
Cathy Burton - soft rock, very good. Might even buy her album (making it the first Christian album I own...)
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - fantastic fun, great songs, silly 'tricks'... just superb!
John Bell - "Whatever happened to heaven?" Reclaiming the image of heaven from 'God sitting on a cloud' and 'children skipping through pastures with Jesus' or even 'a reward for those whose lives are rubbish now' to something that's more relevant, useful... and true!
"Amazing Grace" - Trailer for the film of the story of William Wilberforce and the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. Looks excellent. Released next March (2007) to coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the passing of The Abolition Act.
Muyiwa & Riversongz - Gospel worship music. Soooo much fun, and awesome to see that many middle-aged white people jumping up and down, singing gospel with their arms in the air!! :o)
mayBe - reflective session looking at the Magnificat. Not entirely my thing, but others seemed to enjoy it.

Jim Wallis - "A moral response to terrorism". How to approach terrorism without bombing the heck out of people or ignoring it. Looking at tackling it from the root causes.
Clive Stafford-Smith & Nick Yarris- "Innocence and the death penalty in the USA". Clive is a lawyer who represents people on death row in America, and also in Guantanamo Bay. Nick spent 8,057days (1981-2004) on death row in Pennsylvania before finally being proved innocent... please read his story!
Rudo Kwaramba - Living in the Margins, looking at enabling disabled people both here and in developing countries.
Dave Tomlinson - "Gut Level Religion" on Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd...)
John Bell - "God bless Adam & Steve?" on the issue of whether pastors should bless gay couples who have got a civil partnership (the UK does NOT have gay marriage). Also looking at what Biblical backing there is for 'traditional' Christian attitudes to homosexuality/heterosexuality, especially compared with other 'issues' (women in leadership, telling lies, slavery, greed...) [HatMitre might get something on this too].
Naima Bouteldja - Representations of Muslims & Islam in the media - looking at stereotypes and how Muslims are seen as Muslims first, and individuals second. (eg. "John is agressive because he's poor... Ahmed is agressive because he's a Muslim).
Muyiwa & Riversongz (again!)

And in addition to that, spent a lot of time in the Tiny Tea Tent (£1/mug!), including lunch with the Laynesmiths.

So, all-in-all, an excellent weekend, despite it being incredibly cold (and uncomfortable) overnight. Next year, I'm taking an airbed! And yes, if I can, I will be there next year. Anyone care to join me? :o)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Carrying Camping...

Well, I've managed to pack my life (or at least what I need until Tuesday) into the biggest rucksack I've ever seen, because this weekend I'm off to the Greenbelt Festival! :o)

The boots are there as a size comparison (size 6), plus they are also new and I'm rather pleased with them. They also claim to be "Rabbit" coloured, or so the box would have you believe!

Anyway, I need to get some sleep as I got 4 hours last night (3:10-7:10am) and I have to be up at 7:30am tomorrow to get to , and for the next 4 nights I'm sleeping in a tent.

Sweet dreams!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Magical Mystery Tour

Well, after Bish's post about where he's been this summer and my comment about all the places I'd been, I thought I'd work out my mileage (ignoring within town travels)...

And it looks like it's 1935miles! (plus another 200miles for Greenbelt next weekend).

Also, Chris & Rebecca have asked me to be maid-of-honor/chief bridesmaid in their wedding next July (07/07/07!), in North Baddesley. I've never been a bridesmaid before, so I'm rather excited.

A little concerned though, cos the week before is Dave & Marie's wedding (in Reading) and I'm going to that too (Michael's an usher). And in the week in between, I'm being observed for my final placement. That's going to involve a LOT of travelling and rather a lot of stress! And a lot of fun, of course!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Long time, no see

This weekend, I headed up to Solihull for Rachel & Olly's wedding. Sadly, I have no photos to show, as I ended up without my camera for the majority of the day. One of the best men took our overnight bags to put somewhere safe & out of the way, and it wasn't until about 10 minutes later that I realised my camera was in there. So, thus, I have no pictures of that.
Overnight, Michael & I stayed over where he did his gap year in Quinton and went to St.Boniface Church on Sunday. They were very friendly and the service was really good.
Michael's parents (& Richard) then picked us up from there and dropped me in Banbury, on their way to dropping Michael & Richard in Salisbury for a choral singing course. I then caught the train back to St.Albans, which was an incredibly easy journey, with trains arriving as I got the platform at just about every point. I might be heading to Salisbury towards to end of the week if I can find anywhere to stay.

For the past 2 days, we've had some friends staying from Cheshire. They (Rosemary, Kathryn & Nicola) have stayed at ours for a few days over the summer most years for about the last fifteen! We spent most of the time talking, playing games and not much else. :o) They had my room, so I had a folding bed on the lounge, which set me thinking of all the places I've stayed over this past term (I took the start of the summer term as an arbitrary start point). I came up with 12 different beds, and that doesn't include the multitude of trains I've fallen asleep on!

And on the subject of bedrooms, I have a place to stay in Scarborough. :o) The room is very small, but since I can't take much with me, and will have to come back on the train usually, it should be fine.

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I think that'll do for now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sorry, could you repeat that?!

Ok, I have gathered up all the little bits of paper that have been kicking around my room with quotes written on them and have presented them here for your entertainment:

Michael: I've got some working batteries - they just don't work.

Dave M: Who? Who? Who? Do I have to turn into an owl? Who!?
Michael: Twit.

Steve C: There's only 4 of my aunt.

Fish: I've found a lot of girls that are less feminist than me.

Fish: I'd better leave - I have an urge to tape bananas in unusual places.

Marie: Aw, we're not having sex on Monday?

Helen: Duck-squid monsters don't have fur - they have squid!

Marie: I don't like being massacred.

Tim C: Do I look like I'm wearing twins?

Dave Burton: Being a vicar is like being socially neutered.

Tim C: I think my cheekbones are starting to bleed.

Tim C: My banana is multifunctional.
Steve L-W: I wish mine was.

Michael: Oh, I was thinking wasn't I... I forgot!

Schoolchild in motorway services: Joe, stop biting each other.

And my personal favourites of this batch...

Chris F.: I've not been there here, although I have been there somewhere else.

Steve C: She was my best friend in Year 1, but I've never met her.

Dad: You could have ground the coffee, milked a cow and got goat's milk! (!?)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ok, what have I been up to lately...?

Well, life hasn't been dull certainly!

First was Alex & Ryoko's wedding on July 15th:

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A lovely day and the most amazing international buffet ever!

That Sunday, Michael & I went to the Christchurch Parish Barbecue. Really nice people and everyone had brought strawberries... That was a lot of strawberries!!

On the Monday, we headed up to Michael's house in Macclesfield. Slightly confusing train journey - I kept falling asleep and the train was delayed, and every time I woke up there seemed to be an hour left. We did get there in the end though. :o)
Chris & Rebecca joined us on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we walked into Macclesfield and went book & food shopping. On the Thursday, we went to Tatton Park and once we'd negotiated the RHS Flower Show stuff, which we hadn't twigged was happening, we went round the mansion, had a picnic and an icecream. :o)

On the Friday, we went for a walk/ramble/hike.
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We climbed Shutlingsloe and then walked through Macclesfield Forest and around Macclefield Reservoir. (About halfway through the penultimate paragraph we deviated and walked round the resevoir as well). I tried to make a map of our walk, but could get it to work.

Saturday, we took Chris & Rebecca back to Knutsford (where Tatton Park was) to meet friends who were taking them yet further north for more holiday. Other than that, not a lot happened.
Sunday, went to a Godly Play 'Story-telling Service' on the Good Samaritan, plus the normal morning service, where I ended up sitting behind someone who grew up in Harpenden and went to St.Albans Girls School. Small world...

The mornings of the second week I was there, we (Michael, me & Michael's brother Richard) helped out a local church Holiday Club for primary school age kids, helping out specifically with the under-6's. The holiday club ("Time Lords Academy"- TLA) had a Dr.Who theme and I was dreaming about daleks for a few days. But it was a lot of fun, despite the slight accent barrier, especially when bubbles/bah-bbles/bouh-bbles came to be involved...! :o) Lots of silliness and fun activities, plus Bible stories too (Jonah, Daniel, Joseph & Nehemiah). We missed the last morning though, as I had to go home because Michael was flying to Switzerland to climb a glacier for his dad's 50th birthday!? He gets back tonight.
So, I caught the train home to the Abbey station and flaked out for the weekend, before heading back to Reading to collect the rest of my stuff and give back my keys, etc. So I have now 'officially' left Reading. Kinda mixed feelings. I'm gonna miss it, and the people, but I'm looking forward to Scarborough too. :o)

So, yeah, that's it. I've also finished the nativity cross-stitch scene I was doing and also read 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and most of 'The Handmaid's Tale', but those posts can wait for another time. :o)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Caption Competition


I am now back in St.Albans after a 3 month absence - having been via Reading, York, Scarborough, Birmingham, Macclesfield, Buxton & Knutsford. (details will follow soon).

However, to keep you happy in the meantime, I thought I'd post this picture for you that I took at Alex & Ryoko's wedding.

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Captions on a postcards/comment box, etc. :o)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Munchkin Marathon

On Monday 'morning', Steve & I headed for Birmingham to join Reg to celebrate his joining us in being 22. We got there about teatime, and after tea decided to play 'Super Munchkin'.

This is an excellent card game, which I discovered a couple of weeks ago when Tim C brought it over to play. To cut a long story slightly shorter, I went to bed about midnight and Reg & Steve apparently stopped playing at about 4am (having lost count of how many games they'd played).

The following morning, we got up, had brunch & decided to play again, to pass the time until Michael arrived 'about lunchtime', before going into town. He got there about 3pm, and didn't want to go straight out again, so we played another round (yes, really!). By this time, we'd all got the hang of it, and had figured out all sorts of ways of stopping people winning, so that particular round lasted until nearly 6pm, (with a short intermission for Reg to open his cards & presents), by which time it was dinner. Over dinner, we had conversation which seemed to be an antidote to Munchkin, about the situations in Israel/Palestine and Darfur/Sudan.

After dinner, we then played 'Scattergories' (Town, River, Country, Whatsit) briefly before heading off to the cinema "Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest...

Well, I think that was the one of the very silliest films I have ever seen. Superb fun, but it involved a selection of highly improbable rolling objects and some really quite ridiculous combinating of various nautical stories (Davy Jones, the Kraken, the Flying Dutchman...).

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. The 'dual/trial' is hilarious, as is much of the film. However, the thing that (very nearly) spoiled it was that the CGI doesn't match up to the standard of the first. The underwater scenes in the original genuinely took my breath away the first time I saw them. Now, the CGI in the new one is still good - Davy Jones' crew are excellent and actually quite believable (within the scope of the film!).

But... the Kraken just looks like it's been stuck on. Plus, I just don't buy what Elizabeth does at the end (will not 'spoil' it).
All in all, those 2 things are a real shame, because as I said the film is otherwise very, very good and a good giggle. :o) And the final moments (before & after the credits) are just surreal!

After the film, we went home & played *another* game of Super Munchkin, before going to bed. Finally, we got up, had breakfast, played Scattergories (Michael somehow managed to play the whole round with the wrong letter...) & drove home by almost the right route. :o)

I'm sure that's more information than you probably ever wanted, but I'm bored and watching TV, so there! :oP
Coming Soon...
What happened in Birmingham...
And a review of "Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest".

Coming a bit later than that...
A summary/review of my year and my thoughts on leaving the Chaplaincy (& Reading!)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Long time, no blog

Apologies for the long delay in transmission... Not much has been happening, and yet I still seem to have no time. Odd.

So, in the past month I have:

Been on the Chaplaincy Centre End of Year Retreat - A very interesting and useful day on 'Taking Stock & Looking Forward'. The morning involved looking over the past 4 years and looking at what we were thankful for and what we want to put over into God's hands and leave behind. In the afternoon, we were 'looking forward' and had to write a letter to ourselves that will be posted to us 1 year from now. Quite difficult to work out what to write and I'm sure that it'll make interesting reading when I get it back!

Consumed far too much barbecue food - Including Heather's birthday BBQ, the Chaplaincy end of year BBQ & the Small World Cafe BBQ & Barn Dance (all within 24 hours); Alex's birthday BBQ (which included arriving at the usually deserted Thames Valley Park, to find the Reading Regatta going on with about 2,000 boats and canoes, so we all had to transfer to King's Meadow instead - Thank God for mobile phones!); Henrick's farewell BBQ... to date, I think that's it. But I will start to look like a hotdog before long, if I keep this up!

Been to Helen's "Pirates, Vegetables & Cows' Party - just a few of us, as most people were away that weekend, but a good time was had by all. Plus, we watched a lot of Dangermouse! :o)

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Helped organise the SWC Weekend Away - Between a few of us (Rich, Annie, Michael & me) we organised a weekend to the Isle of Wight. Sadly, though, it didn't happen, as we only had 1 international student sign up. So, despite being on the team for 3.5 years, I've still never been on an int'l weekend away.

Had Chris & Rebecca come and stay - they were here for about a week. Originally for music making, Chris' PGCE interview & generally seeing people before everyone goes their separate ways. Well, the last one happened, and some of the first, and the second one happened but not in that week. :o) All in all, a good week though.

Attended Reg's surprise birthday party - He was totally shocked, which was great. And Fish provided a legendary (fairtrade, vegan, still warm!) chocolate & strawberry cake.

Attended Michael's graduation - After a lot of stress over Easter, it was far from certain that he'd make it to the end. But he did, and he got a well-deserved 2.i, so he'll be at York St.John next year for a PGCE (Upper Primary). :o) (Rumour has it, he got 68% on his dissertation!)
I also met his parents at the graduation, and they seem very nice. And are very good at making picnics. :o)

So, I think that's my life in a nutshell for the past few weeks. My foot's still sore too. It's been nearly 6 weeks, so it should be better. I may well go see the GP next week, when I get back from Reg's birthday bash in Birmingham, if it's still sore then. I should have gone sooner, but as I said, I don't really know where the past 4 weeks have gone!

In terms of the summer, when I think about everything I have to do and all the different places I have to be, I just want to curl up in a little ball and hide until July 2007. However, I can't do that, so I'll just have to get through the intermittent franticness that this summer is going to be! Oh well.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Best foot first, right?

Update on the foot situation:

On Friday I got a letter and phonecall from the A&E department at the Royal Berks (where I went on Monday) telling me that they'd reviewed my x-rays and that they would like to re-examine me... uh-oh... Well, it turns out, I have indeed broken the bone. I have cracked (but not split) the end of my 5th metatarsal in my left foot.

They said I don't have to have it cast, but I can if I want. They wouldn't let me have crutches without getting it cast though. So, in actual fact, it hasn't made any difference, except that I have to be even more careful, and can't wear high heels, dance or anything much at all that requires moving from place to place.

On a happier note, Saturday was Julie's wedding, which was a lot of fun and the whole event was lovely. I hope to post some photos at some point, when I've uploaded them off my camera. :o)

Other than that, business as usual.

God bless!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Trouble's a foot

Well, I ended up in A&E last night getting my foot x-rayed to find out how badly I'd damaged it. Thankfully, it's just bruised/sprained.

"What did you do?", I hear you ask (well, perhaps!).
Quite simple. I tried to walk. Trouble is, I'd been sitting sort-of cross-legged in the big squishy chair in our lounge, and hadn't noticed that my left leg had gone to sleep. Thus, when I got up to get some dinner and tried to stand on it, it kind-of dragged behind me, and I ended up standing on the top of my foot instead. There was a loud 'crack', and I was on the floor attempting not to blackout. I soon felt fine, but it was still quite painful, so Steve sorted me out an icepack (frozen sweetcorn in a teatowel). After a few hours of this, I was persuaded by Michael & Marie to go and get it x-rayed though, as it was swollen and didn't look quite right, but as I said, it's not broken. Thankfully, for a Bank Holiday, A&E wasn't too busy so we (Marie & I) were only there about an hour and a half.

I have to keep it elevated and not use it too much. (Hmm, not so good for the world's worst patient!). It just hurts to walk on it generally, and it's bruised, but it should be fine soon.

God bless!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Yes, I am!

Just a quick update to say that I got my place at Scarborough and start there on 25th September. Went up there for an induction/pre-course day last Tuesday where they gave me an astonishing amount of paper (6" thick?), all of which I'm meant to read at least once.


Met lots of nice people though, so it should be all fine.

Other than that, not much to report. Currently attempting to update the 'Local Churches' booklet for the next batch of Freshers, including a map and a short description of each church. Sounded like a good idea before - but it's taking longer than expected!

Book stall in the Chaplaincy Library on Tuesday (12-2), Communion at London Road campus on Wednesday (1:05) and Chaplaincy Social 'Beer & Cake II' at Mark's on Friday (from 5:30pm).

Other than that, just need to sort out Greenbelt things, and read all that stuff for the autumn.

Anyway, hope you're all well. God bless!

Friday, April 21, 2006


Ok, in a blatant bit of plagiarism, I have copied this from Tim's blog. A bit of fun for those of you wrestling with revision, etc. And indeed for those of you who aren't too!

Put the answers to the following questions in my comments box:
1. Who are you?
2. Have we ever met?
3. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
4. Describe me in one word.
5. What reminds you of me?
6. If you could give me anything, what would it be?
7. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?
8. Are you going to put this on your weblog and see what I say about you?
9. What do you love like a fat kid loves cake?
10. What makes you come back here?

Woo! 2 blog updates in 1 day. Aren't you lucky! :o)

Am I going to Scarborough fair?

Well, the answer to that has got a little clearer. I have the date for my interview - Tuesday 9th May. A bit scary, but at the same time, I'm glad that I've got this far.

They've sent me a leaflet thing, all about 'Creativity' which I have to read and I'll have to do some "written tasks" with it when I get there. There will also be group and individual interviews.
All a bit daunting, but I'll give it my best.

The more I think about it, the more I really want to go there! :o)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Yorkshire (and proud!)

Just a quick one to say that I have been offered an interview for Scarborough's Primary PGCE course. (details)
I don't know when yet - I'll update again in a couple of days when I know more... :o)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Major Decisions

Given that I've graduated, this is probably a bit silly, but still kinda encouraging that it thinks I made the right decision.

Let me know what you get...

What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)

You scored as Mathematics. You should be a Math major! Like Pythagoras, you are analytical, rational, and when are always ready to tackle the problem head-on!





























created with

Monday, April 03, 2006

Submission II

To update on the situation for next year, this afternoon I re-submitted my form to the GTTR for teacher training next year

This time it's winging its way to Scarborough, for a course in Lower Primary teaching. (Well, the Scarborough campus of the University of Hull).

Sweeping to Victory...

Well, there you are - the results of the Baby Laynesmith Sweepstakes...

Matthew Simon Reuben Laynesmith was born on 28th March, weighing 8lb 3oz.

So, David & Tim get a Divine bar each for being closest on weight and date respectively. Plus, well done to Helen, Steve, David, Liz & Tim who all guessed correctly the baby would be a boy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quick getaway...

My brother, Tim, & a friend are doing a 'Jailbreak' event this Friday/Saturday in aid of Oxfam...
"This Friday, a housemate and I are taking part in a charity 'Jailbreak' event at the university. We are one of many teams that starts at our Union on Friday at midday, and has to get as far away as possible in 24 hours - without spending any money on transport - so by blagging journeys from taxi firms, bus companies, train stations and... airports.
Now here's the new exciting part - I need sponsorship. The charity is Oxfam. Sponsorship can be done simply as a straight pledge, or as a "per mile" incentive. Although I will warn you people have reached Tokyo, Hawaii & San Francisco before, and while we don't hold out much hope of that, nothing's impossible - so you may want to put a cap on that sort of pledge!
If you're interested in sponsoring however much or however little, I need a response ASAP, with your address & postcode and pledge/incentive. If you pay taxes you can choose to include Gift Aid so that Oxfam can claim back the tax you've paid on your donations (28p for every £1)."

So, if you would like to sponsor him, drop me an email and I'll pass on your details to him.

(PS. Prayers/thoughts for their safety would be appreciated too).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Quick Update...

Just a quick one to let people know a little of what's going on in my not-very-interesting world just now...

I got back a letter on Friday saying that Leicester don't want me. (Roehampton already said that the course was full). So, I'm not sure what's going to happen next year, but I know that God has a plan. I just wish he'd tell me!

I've got a new phone contract and will soon have a new handset too. I will be back with O2 online, but my number's coming with me, so that won't change.

Finally, I have decided to not go to Word Alive this year, for various reasons. I hope everyone who is going has an amazing time though!

I think that's all that I wanted to say for now...

God bless!

PS. I think I will be in St.Albans from the 18th/19th March for about a week, and then again from about the 4th-18th April.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Just a quick one to say that I just submitted my GTTR form.

First choice is Roehampton University to teach Lower Primary, specialising in Mathematics.
Second choice is University of Leicester to do Lower Primary.

Other than that, there isn't much happening around here at the moment, although next week is Hope 2006 week (Mission week to us old-timers) so that will probably be pretty hectic.

Christian Action & Thought's going well too. Kentish is coming this week to talk about HIV/AIDS and what can be done, which should be good.

Hope all is well with everyone,

God bless!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nearly there...

Not much going on around here, but just thought I'd put in a random entry...

Today I got up for church, which was great. (I even managed to get there on time!). The service was Covenant and Communion. The covenant service is a specifically Methodist thing. It is the first main service of the year (usually) and is a chance to come back to God and rededicate ourselves to Him for the coming year. The most well known part of this service, and the most beautiful, is the Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Last year, I had this pinned to the wall above my desk. I may well do the same this year, actually. It was a good and constant reminder of what is important in life and where our priorities should lie.

Also, in the process of hunting out that text, I came across this which I thought a few of you might find interesting. Now, even though I am a Methodist, I don't necessarily agree with everything this says - but in general, it's quite close. :o)

Well, after church, I went for lunch at the George with friends from church. Lunch was lovely, as was the company. :o)

This afternoon was spent not doing much, finishing my unpacking and trying to persuade MSN that I really was online, despite it's determined efforts to declare me otherwise.

Then this evening, Mum, Dad & Tim came down to go out for dinner, as it's my birthday tomorrow. We went to the Waterfall Indian Restaurant. It was delicious and a good time was had by all, I think. Also, they brought my presents from home, so I opened them while they were here - but I'm saving my cards for tomorrow.
The first present from my parents was a Wok, which is great as my old one was, well, no longer non-stick (and probably no longer fit to be called a wok!).
From my brother, I got the 'new' Kanye West album (Late Registration), which I'm listening to now and definitely enjoying... :o)
Well, the last present was a mystery. It was big, heavy, square and had handles. Unwrapped it looked like this:

But opened, it looked like this! :

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It was a food parcel of really nice stuff! All sorts of jars of pasta sauce, cans of soup, Nando's sauces, biscuits, tupperware pots, pasta, basmati rice, soy sauce, milkshake syrup... There's so much stuff in there and it's all my favourites. :o) I love it! Plus the box is great too. Maybe I'll get around to decorating it or something at some point. That'd be fun! :o)

Well, I think that's it for tonight.
God bless!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I beg your pardon!?

Since Steve L-W has stopped recording quotes that he didn't witness personally, I have chosed to take up the baton...

Andrew Waugh: We're trying to calculate the muzzle-velocity of a potato.

Dad: (holding up a coat) Is this anyone's or is it someone else's?

Tim C: Argh! I'm a 12-year-old girl!

Chris: Ros has been eating tablecloths again.
Ryoko: Is she still very ill?

Tim C: I was just trying to de-cheese my knee.

Patrick: True love is good, I suppose.

Tim C: There are elements of megalomania within the CU exec.

Tim C
: Ooh, an organic nightdress. Woot!

Sal: Where's the bin? Oh, it's on the toilet. Of course.

Sal: Where's Ceryn actually gone?
Tim C: The library to print out, oh, naked people!

Tim C: I'm not a good Fran.

Oh, and one of my personal favourites, from Freshers Week 2004...

Nick: I'm a vegan.
Sal: Oh, you might get on well with Fish then.
Nick: You what!?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


The other day, whilst Christmas shopping, I saw this book in WHSmiths and it really tickled me.

"Yay! Now I can read my own mind..." (!?)

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Just a quick one...
I was just watching the BBC News and was struck how much the newsreader (Peter Sissons) looks like the Ukranian president (Viktor Yushenko).

Happy Hogmanay!


Wishing you and yours
many blessings and much happiness
in 2006!