Leap Day

I know I have already posted today, but this is a significant time, as I’ve only got 54 minutes left of leap year (probably 30, by the time this is published).

I feel this is a day wasted – though I’ve been terribly productive – as I haven’t indulged in receiving any candy from Leap Day William, and most importantly I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary on the day that ‘doesn’t count’.

Forgive the terrible awesome references to 30 Rock’s latest episode, but I’m not a great believer in this day, especially the “tradition” where women propose to their potential fiances. This is a tradition that has been emphasised by the mass media, television and film that never works, and I’ve certainly never heard of a successful female proposal. (Surprise me!)

I think the lesson to be learned here, is one of that Leap Day is just a day that happens made up of all the little bits of the last 4 years, that some authority decided to place in the 29th of February. Nothing more, nothing less.

Image courtesy of Universal Television/NBC/30 Rock.

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After my worry about snow, it didn’t snow and I still managed to crash my car on the way to Reading, luckily it was not too far from my house and the car has been taken by my dad to my parents house and it’s going to be potentially bodged up and I still managed to get to Reading where I drank myself silly in attempt to forget about 1. my car, 2. all the work I didn’t do and 3. all the money I spent that weekend, which worked… until I had to come back home.

Poor Doris…

Don’t know why WordPress have switched this image upside down…?

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Snow, the weather the English love to hate!

I’m not sure of the knowledge other cultures have of Britain’s, especially the South of England’s, relationship with snow. But those who do know, laugh at the exaggeration of the mayhem. Heck, I laugh at the exaggeration of the mayhem.

Up until recent years, it’s been pretty unusual for us to be blessed with the white stuff, but within the last four years mother nature has decided we shall experience at least a little bit every year, basically 3 or 4 days if we’re lucky. Then it turns to slush. We all frantically take pictures and you’ll be experiencing a lovely photoset from February 2009. Snow looks far prettier in the countryside of South Somerset than the suburbs of Bristol.


As a lot of small kids do, I, being a big-ish kid of nearly 21, still get quite excited about snow, the prospect of a snow day, and a few snowballs, even a snowman if I’m lucky. This always enthuses me so I run around the house for about 30 minutes trying to find my leather gloves to outside and have about an hour of old-school outdoors fun, until I get bored, or too cold, and go inside. I loved snow always, until today.

I’m meant to be driving some friends over to Reading (about an hour and a half drive) for a weekend away on Friday… when it’s meant to be snowing. Now non-southerner Englishmen (and women) will be questioning my concern. It’s only meant to be 2-5cms of snow and I’ll be driving on the motorway/major roads. No problem eh?

It could be the fact that I’m a new-ish driver (only passing my test Jan 2011), could be the fact that I’ve never driven in potential snow. But really it’s the hype. We had about 3cm of snow last week for one day. News Reports were all over this, and fair enough there were a few crashes as inevitably would be, but to say, in one of the most dramatic voices I’ve ever heard, “Cars on the M52 had to slow right down because of the snow!”. Aaaand that’s a direct quote from BBC News. Well yes Mr. Newsman, vehicles do have to slow their speeds in non-perfect conditions. Congratulations you know your highway code!

Now most other countries deal with this ‘form of precipitation’, why do we all run around like headless chickens?!

Models: Lilypup; Barry the Snowman

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SLP Volunteering Continues

Since my first encounter with my elderly lady – lets call her Mary, of whom I’m conversationally partnering with, I’ve met with her 3 times on my own, it’s been a little up and down and I think that I went into the whole experience with a little too high expectations, this was particularly evident from the first time I visited her.

My first lesson learnt was: Visiting in the afternoon is not as effective as visiting in the morning. Mary finds it much harder in the afternoon than in the morning, and I’ve found there are more sounds produced and she is more likely to produce consistant audible whispers. In the afternoon she is more inclined to write, and she really doesn’t like writing so in order to keep things positive, best to stick to the morning.

I think I was very naive in thinking that it would be easy to keep conversation going, not only is it hard to communicate, there are many interruptions, such as the cat jumping up on the bed or one of Mary’s coughing fits, this was shocking at first as I didn’t know where to look or how to react, but now I feel like because it’s a very regular occurrence she is used to it, to a certain degree, and she’s perhaps grateful that I’m there to give her tissue to get rid of the saliva.

It’s better in the mornings, also, as her daughter is there also and quite often we’ll have a conversation between the three of us and she will stimulate conversation. Another thing that has been working quite well has been reading with my Kindle. She really like Agatha Christie books so we’ve been reading a short Poirot story, where I read to her and have the text big so she can read along a little bit too, I also ask her about the ridiculous words Christie uses sometimes that I have never come across and have no idea how to pronounce. On a side note: Christie’s character names are ridiculous ‘Evan Llewellyn’?! When I met with my SLT she agreed this was quite nice as then Mary was helping me out too, and making the relationship equal.

Last week was fantastic too, Mary herself expressed that she thought I was good and that was our best session. She’s quite a fickle, stubborn old lady though, she called one of her carers fat this week because she was standing infront of the TV!

I realise that with no formal training or experience with elderly care this is a very steep learning curve for me and anyone who is a little more experienced than me may be laughing or shaking their heads at some of the things I’ve said but this continues to be an autoethnographic record of my early SLP experiences and at least I know a little bit about autoethnography!

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The Power of Twitter Networking

Due to my interest in Speech and Language I have been following, on twitter, a number of people who are either students or SLPs mainly in America and Australia. This lead me, earlier, for an idea for some sampling techniques for my struggling dissertation questionnaire…

I have had three replies from the 96 schools I originally contacted, and I was panicking, especially as the one person who said she wouldn’t mind a follow-up interview had only ever taught one phonics programme and trained last year.

I had one of the only eureka moments that I’ve ever had in my life. Twitter networking. I then proceeded to ask for retweets of my questionnaire link, not expecting too much as the majority of the teachers on twitter teach ICT. I asked Resource for KS1 accounts, any literacy teachers I could find, and even the Department for Education, not expecting much from the latter! Within a matter of minutes I had 5 retweets from people will over 1,000 followers and I’m now up to 8, with the promise of a 9th, replies, within 45 minutes of sending out the initial messages.

This may not seem much but I’m hoping this will increase, statistically this has increased my replies by over 100%, which now sounds like an achievement! I consider this quite an accomplishment.

It might not have become a viral link just yet, but I’m still holding out! 😉

If you’ve ever taught KS1 Phonics, or know someone who has, and would be so kind to fill my questionnaire out the link is:


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MasterChef UK 2012

Beware, may contain bad jokes:

I’m a huge Masterchef fan, even before it went all dramatic. Last year the whole format of the show changed, but I love it. The drama is just fantastic however this year they have simmered it down a bit (geddit?!) with the mild tones of Snow Patrol replacing some of the climatic music (huge emphasis on the some).

We were also a little scared with the voice of Masterchef, India Fischer, was replaced by Sean Pertwee in ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’. But she has returned for the regular series. The show wouldn’t be the same without her husky tones commenting about Tom’s red wine jus, or perhaps the contestants will favour reductions this year.

We should all be speculating about what this year’s preferred vegetable will be. Last year it was fennel or celeriac or perhaps samphire, one year it was asparagus. Maybe artichokes will be held up (I hope so, I love Jerusalem Artichokes, which has caught me out in some dishes recently, as Jerusalem artichokes are not actually artichokes!)

I can’t wait for this week, 3 episode of the 24 contestants, yet another different format from last year, where they showed us more of the auditions. This year Greg and John tasted 70 dishes blind and picked 24 contestants. By the end of this week the 24 will be whittled down to 12.

I have high hopes for this series and can’t wait to see John’s burst of random adjectives and to see Greg lusting over any puddings produced by the contestants. I wonder if he’ll have anything more to say on the buttery biscuit base (wink, wink!).

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Wales, a surprising visit.

This weekend me and the boyfriend headed up the Ty Newydd Country Hotel, near Aberdare in Mid Glamorgan, a few miles from the Brecon Beacon National Park. This was because of a lovely KGB deal.

The hotel itself was nice. It was clean, lovely service but the rooms were a little old, paint cracked etc. We had a 3 course meal with amazing starters, my main was a little disappointing and unfortunately we both agreed our desserts were not great. Who ever had a Creme Brulee with a liquid caramel top, with slightly burnt bits on the top? But we couldn’t complain, we had a great deal, a free bottle of wine which we polished off infront of the fire. Breakfast was huge, great service again, and we had to check out by 10.

As for activities, there was obviously plenty to do during tourism months, however we decide to hit it up during mid-january, but on the Saturday we managed to get on the last tour of the Penderyn Whiskey Distillery, the only maker of Welsh Whiskey. The tour was great, small and very patriotic, but our tour guide was lovely, and maybe we’d been given more tasters than we were meant to be allocated, but I won’t talk about that. What was also great was they ally with Brecon Gin, Brecon 5 Vodka (5 times distilled, take that Smirnoff’s triple distilled) and Welsh Cream, and as I’m not the biggest Whiskey drinker, I fell in love with their gin, which is absolutely gorgeous and I walked away with a miniature and a whole bottle!

The next day, after our huge breakfast, we headed to the hills, initially just driving a bit, getting out and taking photos… it was very cold! Eventually we braved the cold and headed to the tourist centre, not too far away from Brecon. We looked around the small centre and then went for a brisk walk on the hills in our wellies. It was lovely, and we didn’t get lost, though we did intend to see a Celtic raised stone and the remains of a Roman fort, but we walked in the wrong direction, we had a lovely stroll regardless.

Next we headed into the town of Brecon, in the tourist months canal boat rides, a museum and art gallery are usually open and I imagine more of the shops, we counted 8 open on a sleepy Sunday afternoon. However we strolled through the town and headed to the Cathedral, I thought you’d only find Cathedrals in cities, but I was wrong, it was a lovely place, and had numerous flags and colours from the wars with the Zulus and Matt Smith and Karen Gillian had signed their guest book while filming there.

After this we were going to explore Abergavenny but my check engine light popped on and we thought we better head straight back.

On the way back I told Andrew that I’d never understood why people holidayed in Wales, if you were going to holiday in the United Kingdom, you’d go to Cornwall. Now I realised why, the Brecon Beacons is some of the nicest countryside you could possibly find in the UK, and I’m sure the rest of Wales is just as lovely.

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