It’s Crap Feeling Like Crap At Christmas

A friend of mine shared some very wise words this evening and I’d like to replicate and add to them here.

Whatever it is that made you arrive on this page, whether you have a long term mental or physical condition, the holidays can be a little less jolly. The twinkly lights, the parties that you can’t or try to attend but feel on the outskirts, the social or financial worries, any or all of these can feel or appear worse this time of year because we’re meant to be happy and jolly.

For me, it’s Christmas eve at 12.30am, so technically Christmas, and I’m laying in bed with a tens machine strapped to my buttock in the wild hope that it will have the same effect as it did with my shoulder last night where the muscle twitching over the course of a few hours gently manipulated my subluxed joint back in (Whoop! ). Pain sucks. It makes you tired and grumpy and do you know what? It’s OK for you to feel sad about the loss of normality, or the lack of involvement, or just that it hurts. What is not ok is to feel guilty because you can’t put your chronic condition in a neat box and hide it take life easier for others. Invisible Illness can be tough for families and friends to understand and you may find you get a few extra “can’t you just…”, or “have you tried…” comments. People have good intentions at heart.

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Your mental health is just as important at Christmas as it is the rest of the year. If you need to talk to someone & you’re in the UK, call:

Samaritans – 116 123
Mind – 0300 1233 393
Rethink – 0300 5000 927
If you’re at risk of harm please call 999.

Other useful numbers include:

Refuge – 0808 2000 247
Shelter – 0808 800 4444
Police non-emergency – 101
NHS non-emergency – 111

I hope you enjoy the holidays, but if you need help, please reach out either to the professionals above, to family & friends,  or just the many online communities who provide a huge bolster.

However, if all you needed from this post was a refill of smiles, have this Christmas squirrel.

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Survival of the Knittest

Today we are in full preparation mode for the camping trip which is looking increasingly like it may be rather damp (bloody British summer weather!).

My mission this week has to be to finish knitting a pair of warm socks for each child and me (husband has too much dignity to wear knitted socks… ). I’ve managed to finish a pair each for the kids. Mine, well, mine I’ll be knitting in situ.

TinyPants has a pair of odd socks which she’s already worn as post swimming in the sea socks, so they’re currently in the washing machine.

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And this morning saw the completion of BeanPole’s rainbow socks.

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I guess I ought to pack some other essentials like food and shelter, but the DPNs are calling me…

TinyPants has it under control anyway as she’s making lists!

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EDIT: So, yes, I sort of finished packing. But I definitely started my socks! (Who needs camping food anyway)

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Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s Off to wash The Tent I Go!

Sorry, you’re doing what?
Washing the tent.
Washing the tent?
Yep.
Why?
Well, cast you mind back a while to ‘Boy Camp’ where you took your mountain bikes off and camped out in Wales with beer and bikes, and carb loaded dinners? That was fun wasn’t it?
Yep. (for general interest, it was Afan in wales, and this place is stunningly awesome: http://www.afanforestpark.co.uk/default.aspx?page=6506 )
Now, cast your mind back to a more recent camping trip where we rocked up to the New Forest and I promptly spent two full hours scrubbing mould from the inside of our beautiful tent because some moron had left protein bars in it when they packed it up.
Ah.
I killed most of the mould with my bleachfest back then, however, there are still stains on our tent and it smells weird.
Indeed.
So I’m washing the tent.

So, if you’ve been a moron or lent your tent to a moron, here’s how to clean it:

Disclaimer: this will only work on modern synthetic tents. For god’s sake, don’t put your cotton based tent through this ordeal.

We have an Outwell dome tent with three bedroom ‘pods’. Each of the pods has a inner lining bit. One of these was essentially black at the bottom (forgot to take photos), and the others had random patches that I had previously attacked with Flash bathroom cleaner in our last camping trip to avoid being killed by mould spores. (you may have noticed, I wasn’t totally impressed by that). This is one of the minor patches I remembered to do a ‘before’ on:

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Today’s mission is to get just these inside pods clean and fresh smelling and remove as much mould trace as possible. There will be staining – you can very rarely remove the weird brown stains left by mould, but you can kill the spores so it doesn’t spread, smell weird, or suffocate your children.

Step One: Wage the Almighty Bleach War

Bleach is your friend. In a well ventilated room, such as the garden. And it is the mortal enemy of mould which it annihilates on contact. Cue one spray bottle and a mixture of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water. Warning: This is nasty stuff. wear old clothes and gloves.
– Turn tent pods inside out and zip up fully.
– Spread tent pods out on patio (not lawn – remember bleach & grass = baaad) and spray all visible patches of mould with bleach spray. As you spray, you’ll see the liquid around it turning brown. This is good. This is mould stuff that is no longer festering on your tent.

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– Bundle up pod and shove into washing machine with a cup of detergent (no fabric conditioner) and a big cup of white vinegar (this will get rid of any interesting smells, and will also give your washing machine a good clean too!). Set this on a handwash cycle with no heat.

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– Put a towel under the machine when you take it out as the tent will be drippy!

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– Hang it outside to dry until it is bone dry (any dampness will just encourage more mould to take hold and we’ve just been through bleach wars to get rid of it!)

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It also helps to adjust the drying position of the pods whilst they dry to air them better.

– Repeat same step for each of the pods (they need to go in one at a time to prevent ripping when they’re agitated in the machine).
– mentally prepare yourself for Step Two: Cleaning the Actual Tent.

… but not today. That’s a two (wo)man job and it’s threatening to rain again. Tent cleaning requires dry sunny weather, so guess what Mr B will be doing this weekend?

Those Who Can… Spend their summer preparing to do it all over again!

So, what have I don’t with my lovely long teacher’s summer holiday today?

Ok, I’ll admit, with the kids away at camp, I took the opportunity to have a lie in. Oooh that was nice! But soon after, the laptop went on and I got down to the exciting job (actually it is quite fun) of planning the first two terms of work for my A2 students who take their final A Level Computing exams next June. There’s a lot to get through in the final year and I’m now in my fifth year of teaching the subject (I’ve flitted between the two exam boards which has kept me on my toes and am now returning to AQA).

Much of my feedback to previous students has been though the online system that they had access to, which will no longer be an option at my new school. And I know I said I’d never build another portal, but I have. Well, sort of. I’ve created my own system where I can upload files, homework (they can upload their homework… hopefully) and I can feedback their progress in my subject to them.

When I say ‘built’, I mean I’ve cobbled together the basic V1.0 design and set up the standard SQL & session injection prevention. (read: Charlie Brown Teacher blah blah blah ).

Here’s the pretty bit. (comments & suggestions welcome!)

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On learning the most important Spanish phrase ever.

My adventures with Paul Noble’s Spanish audiobook continue. It takes me at least 45 minutes to drive to work, so on goes the audiobook and I continue to look like a complete lunatic as I announce random Spanish phrases to the world at large from inside my otherwise empty car…

But this evening as I drove home, I learnt the single most important phrase for a holiday with my mother in law:

Qui ciero una botella de vino blanco y un café por favor

This is not a slant on my MIL, but a cold statement of fact that she and I are rather partial to a little wine and coffee. And now we are fully equipped to request supplies!

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So back to the actual language learning. I’m actually quite impressed with this course. I’ve really struggled before trying to get other languages to stick, but I’ve found myself answering questions on the CD (or rather audiobook that calls itself a CD) that I didn’t realise I knew. I’m now at a stage where I’m looking forward to my commute to and from work because I can try out the stuff I’ve learnt.

The next book in the series builds on the basics and focuses on directions and reservations so will be extra useful for our trip & I’m looking forward to moving on (but not until I’ve mastered this first bit!)

The book I got is on Audible and can be found here.

Learning Spanish and looking like a lunatic

In 7.5 weeks my parents finally get a break from us while we jet off to Spain. And in a contrast to the traditional English approach to foreign travel, I will not be adopting the ‘speak-loudly-and-clearly-in-English’ approach to a new language, but am making an attempt to actually learn enough to get by before we go. (Last year we went armed with a phrase book, this year, I’m being more prepared).

Cue me at traffic lights this morning announcing loudly to myself “es preparado el cafe para ousted!”. I looked like a complete loony.

But a loony that has remembered how to tell you I’ve made you a cup of coffee!

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