Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Of course we had to do some work!

Most of Monday was spent at the Pedagogical Institute in Innsbruck, learning about the Austrian school system. Got me thinking I should move over there - teachers are paid for 40 hours per week but only teach 20! Before Tuesday's mountain hike and carnival activities, we spent the morning at a secondary school. I observed a Religious Education lesson which was taught by a guy from the States; he went to Austria in the '70's and never left!
School ended at 12 o'clock with the staff meeting for beer and sausages - "Oh, you don't do this everyday. No no, it's OK, I don't need the job application form anymore"

We visited a primary school on Wednesday morning and after a brisk uphill walk, arrived just in time for break...

Back in class the children were learning English -I wonder if that was for us?. I decided that as I'd been in Austria for four days it was about time I spoke some German. It has been uh-hum years since I had a German lesson, but the children were only little.
I asked this sweet girl how old she was; she seemed impressed by my ability to speak her language and answered with a smile "Emily"!

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


This carnival is an Austrian celebration that marks the start of Lent; a bit like Shrove Tuesday but with plenty of alcohol and lots of dressing up! After returning from our mountain hike and indulging in a shiatsu massage (OK, no massage - but it would have been nice!) we headed out to the mayhem.
I bumped into this lovely couple, who wanted to know all about me!

It is a hectic affair, that starts with a huge parade of costumes and ends when everyone has had enough.
It sees the streets of Innsbruck transformed from this ----------------->

to this!

The Hills are Alive...

Our host kindly offered to take us on a scenic walk and not wanting to be left behind, I opted to go. We caught a tram from Innsbruck and we were going up a mountain 10 minutes later - very clever vehicle; it also ran on train tracks. We had great views over the city of Innsbruck as we made our way up.

It wasn't long before we got of the tram/train to begin our leisurely stroll.

Oh the sunshine, the views; this was great - why did I pack all of those jumpers?

The walk became steeper and steeper and steeper and if I wasn't mistaken someone had turned the sun down...

SNOW! We had been told several times since arriving that Innsbruck is usually knee deep in snow at this time of year. Not this time though, the city was a snow free zone. So of course we all got very excited and had a snowball fight.

We ploughed on through the snow to a lovely little place where we stopped for a rest and a bite to eat. None of us were prepared for the dramatic change in climate when we came out, so we were pleased when told we'd be taking the quick way down (note to self - quick way is not always the safest).

I hadn't really expected to hiking up mountains on this trip and must admit that my footwear was not entirely appropriate. I guess my concern started to grow when the third person in a row fell over, the trouble is there isn't really anything to hold onto in the mountains.

By the time we got to this point I decided there was only one thing to do. I sat down on the ice and made like a human toboggan - OOOHHH I had so much fun! Our host was stunned, I can still picture him at the bottom of the slope with his mouth wide open. Everyone else burst into fits of laughter, hence the reason I have no photo! Not sure that I'd do it again (my jeans are ruined!), but I figured that it was better than falling down the hill.

Monday, 26 February 2007

More Austria

By the time we arrived at our hotel everybody was shattered. On our travels we managed to 'lose' one of our party; he missed the connecting flight in Vienna (but that is a story all of it's own!). The hotel was situated on a fairly quiet street with a great view of the mountains from all angles. I really needed a power nap before exploring Innsbruck, as did the others, so we agreed to meet after a couple of hours rest.

You can imagine my disappointment when we opened the door to our room and found this...

"I'm sorry, have we checked in to a Youth Hostel?"

I understand that star ratings vary around the world, but HELLO, this didn't look 4 STAR to me.
OP got busy unpacking her case, whilst I found it increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open. Two hours later went down to reception to find several members of our group already queueing to complain. It's amazing how your fighting spirit comes back when you've had a rest, but there was no way I was staying in that room.
To be honest, I found it difficult to understand why the British Council would have booked these rooms for us in the first place. Had we been staying for a night or two I might just have held my breath; but to expect people to share a room of this size and decor for a week...
So, we shared our concerns with the receptionist and 15 minutes later we were on the move.

Unpacked, showered and feeling revived we were able to enjoy our new, bigger and brighter accommodation before heading out to soak up some Austrian culture.

Sunday, 25 February 2007


I arrived in Vienna early last Sunday morning with very little time until my connecting flight took off. Running through an airport to catch a flight is no fun at all, especially when all of the shops are open! The view from the plane was breathtaking, with clear blue skies and the mountainous landscape.

As we approached Innsbruck and began our descent things became a little less pretty. I am not a real fan of turbulence, although I know there are people out there that find it exciting.
I can only describe this part of the flight as 'rough'. I wasn't quite clutching the armrest (other people were!), but I was relieved when we landed. And what beautiful scenery the airport had, with the tarmac surrounded by mountains.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

I'm home...

but my suitcase is still in Austria!

Monday, 19 February 2007

Two Months!

Time flies when you're having fun...

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Now I'm going

I'm off to Austria tomorrow, It's a work related trip funded by the British Council. Along with colleagues from a various schools in my area, I will be observing teaching and education practices in the Austrian school system. My flight leaves at silly o'clock tomorrow morning and I am two minds as to whether or not to go to sleep tonight. I figure that by the time I actually go to bed, I will need to get up again!
I thought I'd give my hair a wash before leaving, this also gave me the chance to test drive my new toy - The Turbie Twist. I came upon it in Sally's, which is a shop that I never go in to. I had some time to kill a few days ago and thought I'd see what they had to offer in there. And there it was, a bargain at 4.99. I love it! It's far easier to use than a regular towel and removed alot of the water from my hair with ease. I still had the plaits in at this point and took them out and seperated my hair afterwards.
It's a shame that this was the last one in there; I'll be going back in search of another one when I get back from Austria...

Friday, 16 February 2007

School's out...

for a week.

I think I have pretty much been operating on auto-pilot this week; it's been full of work related late nights and I've been trying to get things tied up before the break. There's nothing worse than returning, knowing you have a ton of work waiting for you.

We ended the half term by going for a meal and it was great to hear a few other people voice what I have known for a long time, "our department is fantastic!".

Have a great break all of you...

He's back!

My son has returned safely from his trip to Spain; he is very tired, but had a wonderful time whilst out there.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

I've decided...

that I am going to have to get

  • something new to cover my hair at night - my do-rag just isn't working with my hair anymore.
  • a Nappylocs tool - don't know when I'll use it, but I am growing more determined to maintain my own hair.

I am still undecided about

  • Softspikes - I love the look, but don't know if I can sleep with them in (however, I have seen these and they look interesting...).

I have realised that

  • I love my hair when it looks big.
  • I don't like my roots looking too messy.
  • I need to wash my hair once a week; I would love to wash it more often, but don't think it's a good idea at this early stage.

I look forward to

  • my locks filling out.
  • being able to swim without worrying about my hair.

It is over six months since I last relaxed my hair - wow. I can't say that I miss it! Although I liked the way my hair looked, there were times when my scalp felt like it was on fire, even after I'd left the salon. I am enjoying my new found freedom, and I know that there is still more to come...

Saturday, 10 February 2007

I'm holding up!

My eldest son went away to Valencia today; he has gone over there to train with Valencia Football Club. He also went this time last year and I have to admit, that last time I did not cope very well with his departure. I didn't quite hold on to the back of the coach to prevent it leaving for the airport, but I was very upset. Now, I'm a year wiser and used to him travelling abroad without me; so this time I wasn't upset at all, was I...
I had a similar experience last June when my youngest son went away for a week; this was his first time away without us. He wasn't going abroad but that didn't matter; I took him to meet the coach and then made my way to work, I just about made it to our office before bursting into tears. My friend thought I'd had an accident and I'm not sure that she got it when I explained why I was upset (but she will soon ;-]).
I don't think it matters how old your children are, you will always worry about them, want the best for them and do all you can to keep them happy and safe.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Back in love with my hair, eyebrows sorted and my students can dance!

I made the most of my time at home yesterday by just relaxing, I ended the day by washing my hair. I really indulged myself in this particular session, sitting in the bath with a mirror in front of me so that I could pay attention to what I was doing. When my hair was clean, I undid each plait and separated and lengthened the locks before moving on to the next plait. This process took me about an hour and although my arms won't agree, it was worth it. It gave me the opportunity to check on all of my locks and make mental notes of any issues I need to bring to the attention of my hairdresser. I finished off by twisting my hair, by this point it was still slightly damp.

I took the twists out this morning and all was good.
I have realised that I love my hair the most when it looks full, with some sort of wave to it. The fullness also serves to distract my eyes away from the roots, which are not looking so neat at the moment!

This afternoon I went to get my eyebrows threaded; as you can see they really were in desperate need of doing. Threading always brings tears to my eyes, particularly the left side which is the thicker of the two. But I love the neat finish you get when it's complete. Before I discovered threading I would pluck my own eyebrows, but found I always struggled to get them to look the same. I had them waxed once and that was enough! So threading it is and I highly recommend it.

Later on I met up with Parks and we grabbed a bite to eat before heading to the Town Hall; some of our students were performing in a dance festival being held there. This festival saw performances by pupils from a mixture of Primary and Secondary schools in the borough. There was a fantastic mixture of dance from Contemporary to Bollywood and magnificent performances from children as young as six. But oh, our students, they were tremendous! We were very proud of them.
A great way to the end the day :-)

Thursday, 8 February 2007

More Snow!

The warnings for bad weather started early on this week and last night was sooooooo cold I knew that we would wake up to snow this morning. The snow was much deeper than that which we had a couple of weeks ago and it was still falling. I tried to find out if my school was going to be open; checked the website, rang the office - nothing. I had made the decision as soon as I woke up that I wouldn't be driving, not after the last time! So I got myself all wrapped up and began my walk to the tube station.

As I battled through the snow, passing children having snowball fights and cars sliding across the road, I came across a lady.
Now first I think it's important to explain what I had dressed myself in to cope with the weather:
My magic tights - they keep you warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot - they're great
The thickest pair of sports socks I own
I layered four tops of varying thicknesses
Knee high, leather boots with a thick rubber sole
Wool coat
Hat, scarf, gloves

Wonderwoman was wearing:
Knee high, high heeled (stiletto) boots
Skirt - just above the knee
No tights
A jumper

My attention was drawn to her when she slid downhill past me and had to grab onto the railings to stop herself falling over. Had this been any other day I would have described her as being a well dressed woman on her way to work. But today, she was a disillusioned woman on her way to Accident and Emergency!

It took me about forty minutes to walk to the station and I was just about to get on the tube when my phone rang - school had been closed! So, I turned around and made the journey back home, which was far worse as it was all uphill.
The snow has caused chaos up and down the country and not long after arriving home I received another phone call telling me that school would be closed tomorrow as well. Wow - two days off school, what's a girl to do? Of course I could have found myself lots of work related things to do or I could chill out, eat homemade soup and wash my hair...

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Am I leaving it too long?

I had my first retightening just before reaching the one month mark. My next appointment is in three weeks time and this means I will have gone 7 weeks between sessions. The trouble is I wonder if I will be leaving it too long. At the moment I feel as though my roots are starting to look a little, well, messy. If I press my hands down on my hair it feels spongy and it sort of gives a little bounce back! I have also found that my hair drops a lot faster, although I don't think this is helped by my job.

Looking at the pictures now, my hair doesn't seem to look that bad. Maybe I'm just tired or am I having a not so good hair day?
What do you think, is it messy? or is it about right for four weeks after tightening?

Monday, 5 February 2007

Great Locks!

After going to the hospital yesterday, I went to my Mum's house for dinner. The atmosphere there was great, my Mum had cooked up a storm and there were there people enjoying the food and each others company. Amongst then was Jen...

Jen has a fantastic set of locks which she started herself four years ago, from roughly one inch of hair. She started with twists and continues to maintain them herself.

Throughout the evening I couldn't help but notice that Jen seemed to have a 'whole load' of locks on her head! I asked her if she had ever counted them (must have been the SLer in me!) and unsurprisingly she said no. At this point I knew I would not be able to leave my Mum's without finding out how many she had. Eventually she agreed, although she really couldn't see why I needed to know and to be honest neither could I, I just did!
Two of us set about the count and the final number ... 344 (now this is approximate, because two heads are not always better than one!). Jen has combined many locks along the way as she said they were becoming weaker as her hair grew, so if I'd gotten to her a few years back the count would have been higher.

We took some comparison shots to see how far
I have to go to catch up with Jen, as you can see I'm nearly there!

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Here she is...

As promised, here is my niece, who was born yesterday; I went to visit her and my sister today. She is so cute and feels so light (it's such a long time since I've held a newborn!). She seemed so alert for one so young, but there were so many of us there. I think she was just keeping an eye on who was invading her space! My sister is doing well, still very sore and not very mobile. Because of the caesarean she will be in hospital for a few days.
Our visit didn't last very long as the midwife was concerned that a) there were too many of us there and b) Mother and baby needed rest.
So we left them alone under the watchful eye of the proud Father.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

I'm an aunt!

My niece was born today at 4:40PM, weighing in at 6lbs 4 ozs. My sister had to have a Caesarean in the end, but Mother and baby are doing well.
Pictures to follow...

Keep it yourself!

I went to the gym today, a long overdue visit. With being Ill, away and just plain busy I haven't really maintained my regular 3/4 times a week schedule this year. So, I arrive at the gym and head for the changing room to put my bag away. I walk in and WHOA, first thing I see is a naked woman blow drying her hair! What in the name of covering up is that all about? Now this isn't the first time this has happened, in fact I have had many encounters with females drying their hair and putting on their make up whilst stark flaming naked. The layout of the changing rooms means you have to pass the hair dryers and mirrors to get to the lockers.
I am no prude, but believe me , I have no desire to see how well or not so well these ladies exercise regimes are going - not in this highly graphic state! The gym provides fresh towels so why won't they use them?
I don't put my bits and pieces in their faces, so why should they put theirs in mine?
Rant over!

Friday, 2 February 2007



As you know I'm pretty new to blogging, I've also recently joined a few chat groups, I indulge in the odd messenger conversation and regularly use text messaging. What I have noticed being used frquently on all of these are acronyms; 3 lettered, 4 lettered, sometimes more. Now, some of them seem fairly obvious to me (I think), but there are a fair few that have me stumped. I have compiled a list and wonder if there are any here that you can help me with:

Thanks to my Sister and Brenda these are pretty much sorted, just BMFL to decode...

HTH - Hope This Helped

IMHO - In My Humble Opinion

FYI - For Your Information

LOL - Laugh Out Loud / Lots Of Love

BTW - By The Way

OMG - Oh My Gosh/Goodness/God

ROFLOL - Roll On Floor Laughing Out Loud

LMAO - Laughing My A*** Off

AFAIK - As Far As I'm Concerned

FOMCL - Fall Off My Chair Laughing

FWIW - For What It's Worth

GMAB - Give Me A Break

IOW - In Other Words

TAFN - That's All For Now

GTG - Got To Go


TTYL - Talk To You Later

AFAIC - As Far As I'm Concerned

Extra prize for guessing what the title and subtitle of this post are...
What Do All Of These Acronyms Stand For?
This Has Nothing To Do with My Hair!

The Prize goes to Brenda!


Ta-Ta For Now!