strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
OK, last meme entry. And again, although Boxing Day was awful, thankfully Christmas Day itself was all right, so I can describe it fairly normally.

I actually began Christmas Day at my sister's house in Warwick, because she had invited me and her old sixth-form friend Duncan over for the evening to keep up our old tradition of toasting in Christmas together at midnight. We had a lovely evening of canapés, drinks and chat, and did our little toast together at midnight (me with raspbery and cranberry juice), even though we were all yawning by that stage. Then Duncan and I bid them goodnight and headed off in my car, under a bright starry sky and taking care to avoid the (very few) other cars and people whom we saw pursuing their own rather drunken-looking paths home. I crept quietly into my parents' house with the benefit of much practice acquired during my teenage clubbing years, and sank into bed.

The next morning, we all got up, had breakfast, got ready and headed back over again to my sister's house in Warwick for Christmas Day itself. We arrived around 11am, and sat down with a round of coffee while we showered Eloise with presents. She is one and a half now, and has very definitely become a little girl rather than a baby:

Eloise


She also genuinely manages to get even cuter every time I see her. The picture doesn't begin to capture that, because so much of it is about her lovely smiling animated face and her increasingly eloquent chatter, and nor does it even really show off the growing mass of blonde curls hiding at the back of her head. But I hope it gives some idea at least.

Eloise's presents )

Christmas dinner )

Adult presents and Christmas TV )

A decent day all told - and a jolly good thing too, given what followed. :-/

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strange_complex: (Nennig musicians)
I spent the weekend in Birmingham on a parental visit, vaguely structured around going to a concert in Warwick on the Sunday afternoon. Mum is looking slimmer and stronger every time I see her now that she has come off the steroids, though she is still slow and wobbly compared to how she was before she became ill. She likes going for walks around the neighbourhood to build up her strength, so on Saturday afternoon we walked along the local part of the Rea valley trail past playing-fields, dog-walkers and children on bicycles, while on Sunday morning we went up into Bournbrook to have a look at the massive demolition, river-culverting and road-construction works which are under way with the aim of completely changing the course of the main traffic flow through that area. It will definitely alter the landscape of my child-hood – but less so than I'd thought from what I'd heard about the project. In fact, as we walked around we passed my old piano-teacher's house, my old Brownie hall and even the row of purportedly-temporary huts on the University campus where my mother used to take me for the Mothers and Toddlers club when I was all of one year old. So I don't think I need to get too concerned about having my past erased.

The concert in Warwick is described under here )

Meanwhile, being in Warwick gave us a chance to drop in on Charlotte and Nicolas after the concert, which was great because I haven't seen their new house since the day they moved in. It's now looking a lot more cosy, with a lovely big soft sofa in the front room, a nice antique-looking coffee table and an iron-framed bed upstairs. We were also able to have a quick look through their wedding photo album, which our cousins (who did the photos) finally got round to putting together last month – only six months after the wedding. ;-) It's lovely, though – there are some absolutely gorgeous photos of Charlotte looking like someone out of a bridal magazine, all the standard shots you would expect of people processing out of the church and standing in groups, but also lots of lovely 'behind-the-scenes' shots of people who didn't know they were being photographed, laughing and smiling and playing silly jokes. It really captures the day very nicely, and I think was worth waiting for.

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strange_complex: (Lady Penelope)
Woot! I have prepared two classes' worth of stuff for the summer school today. That plus the fact that there isn't a class on Wednesday morning means I now don't need to do any more work on it (other than teach the actual classes, natch) until Wednesday itself, when I shall begin preparing Thursday's class. And there are only three classes this week anyway (four is more normal), so by 9:30am on Thursday morning, I'll be done for the week. Should stand a real chance of getting some of my own stuff done this week, then.

Backtracking a little, Smell tests in Warwick )

Purcell's Fairy Queen )

Framing, furnishings, chocolate and Dr. Who )

So, quite busy, and I'm pretty tired (as ever!), but feeling much better about things now. The summer school nearly got on top of me the week before it started, but I've turned things round now, and I'm definitely back on top of it. Now time for an early night, so I'm ready to teach again tomorrow at 8:30(!)...
strange_complex: (Trouble at mill)
Wow - the whole of Warwick University seems to have disappeared from the internet. Every time I try to go to any of their pages, I'm told the server can't be found. That's got to be a pretty serious balls-up, right? I'm now having visions of turning up there at the end of the Easter vacation to find nothing but a charred field of smoking ruins, a few papers fluttering pathetically in the post-nuclear breeze. And, of course, nobody could have told me, because they're all dead! Waaah!

Commuting

Tuesday, 17 January 2006 12:48
strange_complex: (Penny Farthing)
I can, on occasion, be heard complaining about the three-hour round trip I have to do when I go in to work at Warwick for the day. But, y'know, it's not all bad.

For one thing, the journey time is actually only about quarter of an hour longer than it would take to drive to Warwick from where I live, assuming good driving conditions. This is partly a factor of me living so close to the station, but hey! I do live very close to the station. That's the way it is, so I may as well take advantage of it. Taking into account the smugness I can feel about my environmental friendliness and the utter absence of driving stress, the slightly longer journey time is easily compensated for. Also, in the morning, the trains are extremely reliable, so that I'm not at the mercy of traffic, and don't need to blow my top about whether I'll arrive in time for my lectures or not. This is not the case on the way home, which can be extremely irritating when you've had a long day and just want to crash. But I've learnt to be philosophical about it, and I'd certainly rather they were unreliable on the return leg than the outwards one.

There is also the matter of my morning cup of coffee, which I purchase with great enjoyment from the AMT kiosk in the station, and then sip dreamily as I sit in my favourite seat (all regular commuters have one), gazing out of the window across an early-morning countryside. That coffee really cheers me up, in that disproportionate way that only the small things can. It's the main reason, in fact, that I leave the house with a spring in my step when I go to catch my train. It's sweet, and flavoursome, and always served just right and quickly enough for me to make the 8:00. It sets me up, and sends me off on my journey with a positive note. It is also frequently served to me by a very good-looking young fellow called Ruben, who likes to give me a charming smile and ask how I am each day. I do not actually fancy Ruben, but it does a girl no harm in the morning to be gently flirted at by an attractive gentleman who is also giving her coffee.

But best of all, once on the train, my time is my own. I can sit back and relax, I can get work done, and I can enjoy the charmingly English landscape which slides by on either side. I see some genuinely beautiful sights out of that train window, which I would be sad to miss. For example, in the last fortnight:
  • Pale pink sunrises through the haze
  • Stark, silhouetted tree-tops emerging from successive layers of mist, retreating back layer by layer into the distance
  • Sparkling, frosty fields which look for all the world as though they're made of sugar-icing
  • A sole swan lazing around on a perfect oxbow lake
  • Three deer tip-toeing delicately through a field
  • A fox nosing around in undergrowth
  • A group of cows with two little calves (quite a surprise in January, but there they were - a nice precursor to the lambs who will appear in another few months)
  • Hearty people walking their dogs who allow me to think, "Gosh, I'm glad I'm curled up on a warm train with my coffee, and not out there yomping through the fields like you!"
  • And of course all the usual sheep, horses, cows, canal boats, rural churches and ruined abbeys that I normally see on that route
Yup, it could definitely be worse.
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Ooh, how nice! Warwick have the heating on. And I hadn't even thought about it until my subsconscious registered how particularly pleasant and toasty my office was feeling.

Have the powers that be at Queen's cracked yet?

EDIT: And, in other news, I have just turned my work calendar over to the month of October, and I am treated to a picture of a guinea-pig nibbling apprehensively at a pumpkin. Meanwhile, outside, trees are displaying a mix of green and shocking red. Oh yes, it's Autumn. :(

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