End Of Year Celebrations

I have been working in education for many years.  I have ups and downs with it, working in some fabulous establishments and not so great places.  Every end of year forces me to review how I feel about a place and also where I see myself the next academic year.

I started my current job in November 2016.  It was a change of direction for me from the previous roles I have had but it was a direction I wanted to go in.  It has not always been plain sailing, there were some incredibly hard days and some amazing days.  Days where I question what I am doing and then what others (parents, government, colleagues) may be doing.

I realised that where I worked was pretty special with the end of term celebrations at Christmas, I was well out of my comfort zone but I was having fun whilst helping others. Easter was much the same, with a massive end of term celebration to send us off for the two week break. I knew the end of term/year celebrations would be amazing.

The celebration assembly was two weeks before the end of the school year, prizes were given out and we celebrated diversity and pride.

The last day of the year is known as Wow Day.  There is a theme and this year it was the Wild West.  I had heard a lot about Wow day but I needed to see it for myself.

We collaborated with another college, them as cowboys and us as native Americans and we decorated our college areas accordingly.  My outfit was purchased and I dressed as a native American along with the rest of our college.  Days were spent preparing the sets, with tutor groups doing their thing with tasks I set for them, such as making dream catchers, mini totem poles, masks and animal pictures. The days leading up to the last day was filled with painting, cutting, costume making, planning and replanning. I made a huge totem pole, wooden signs a pretend fire from tissue paper and fairy lights.  I had students make things to hang from their teepees, tumble weed and native drawings.  Colleagues made cactus from cardboard and other things to compliment the whole set up.

Finally it was Wow Day, I pulled into the car park and saw fairground rides being set up in one place, bouncy castles in another, a bucking bronco and a bungee run in another.

I could not believe my eyes.

All hands on deck for the morning whilst the kids competed in events outside.  We set up our set, the corridors were buzzing with a great atmosphere, the end of the year was close and we were putting on a show.

Students were called in and we had a short amount of time to get them ready and the rest of the rooms set up.

The idea was that the head and executive head (wearing headdresses) would be pulled along by a trolley made up to look like a canoe, the students would be banging drums to a beat, the canoe/trolley would then stop outside the college office where silence descends and a native American prayer would be read and a drink served in a wooden bowl.  Then one of our tribe would be kidnapped by the cowboys from the other colleges and a mini bow and arrow/gun fight would take place before the head and executive head move onto the next college. Once done it was all hands on deck to clear away and get the after party started.

And oh what a party, looking back I still cannot believe I was part of it.

I was given a large water blaster and as I walked out into the open I could see students and staff alike with similar contraptions.

Never have I had the opportunity to chase down staff members and my students and soak them.  I was soaked in return and I recall chasing members of the PE department at one point to get them back for an earlier attack.  My mate and I tagged teamed and got the English department and various other kids.  The foam cannons went off so the foam party took off, I danced to the DJ music under the foam with students and staff around me.  There was fun and laughter everywhere, for me it was like a release after a strange week and a full on year.

After a while of chaotic activity the music changed a countdown started and the gallons and gallons of paint came out.  There was electric in the air as the kids realised what was about to happen. I grabbed a paint gun and loaded up bright fluorescent orange into it.  The music changed again and just at the right moment we unleashed the paint onto the waiting students and then staff around us.  I was covered in pink, orange, green, blue, yellow, I looked like a rainbow. My hair was like dreadlocks, my war paint added earlier was now different hues and I had not laughed as much in such a while.

It was time to see the students off, us staff stood by the gates and clapped them out wishing them a safe summer break, they looked as colourful as us.

The drive home was interesting, still covered in foam, water and paint I was certainly getting some odd looks from other drivers.  A quick shower and I was back to normal but with some added happy memories.

 

Schools out 2017

School is now out for the summer, at my place we break a week later than everyone else as we have 2 weeks at the October half term but it has been a huge slog to get here.  I love my job, there are days when it is mentally tough but I am there for the students and will continue to help students for as long as I have energy to do so.

I work in a strange place, we are focussed on progress and ensuring we are giving the students the best start in life but we have massive fun in doing so.  Our celebration assemblies are huge, we dress up, we make noise we celebrate and give away prizes that include playstations and TVs.  But, the school is in an area that has great deprivation that is mirrored in many places across the country.  We try to address the balance and show that even in that area each and every person has a choice on their future and we guide and show that there is ways out of their situation if they wish it.  I try to use my This Girl Can role to show my female students that they can do whatever they put their mind to not only in sport but in every aspect of their life, all too much young females in areas like where I work don’t often get the message that they have choices, that they can go to university, they can have a great well paid job that they are worthy of having the life they want.

The prom was exciting and was my first prom attendance and all the students looked amazing and the year 6 transition worked really well for the final 2 weeks of the term. September is still a way off but I will look forward to returning and taking on the next chapter.

Working in a school is challenging, tiring but so so rewarding and I am proud to be part of what we are all trying to do there.

So now the school break is here what are my plans?  Plenty of swimming, cycling, running and gym work if I can.  Spending time with friends if I can and recovering from this very long term.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

If 2015 was the year I got off my butt and started to run then 2016 is the year I face my fears.

I have already set up some targets for 2016 that will help me face things I have dreaded and things that still need working on, some fall in line with hubby and what he is also aiming for but some are personal aims and goals.

Goal 1

Complete my local parkrun at least once a month and achieve a PB time I have set aside for myself.

Goal 2

Complete a PB on a 10k, I have booked 2 so far for 2016 and will run them with hubby.

Goal 3

Complete a half marathon, my friends from he club will be joining me and hubby with this.

Goal 4

Complete the Beachy Head marathon with other club members.

Goal 5

Continue to be fitter and healthier in body and mind.

Goal 6

Continue with the work life balance.

Goal 7

Cycle to work.

Goal 8

Continue to be grateful for the small things each and every day.

Goal 9

Give whatever I am doing 100%

Goal 10

Read more.

 

I am looking forward to 2016 and the changes it will bring.  I hope you all managed to to have a restful Christmas and have your own personal goals for 2016 in mind.

Running over Christmas

I would have never had thought that I would have ended 2015 loving running, nor would I have expected to run on Christmas day – a day normally set aside for being a vegetable.

But this year the Christmas period did not stop the love of getting out there.

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Santa and her helper ready for the charity collection run.

The weekend before Christmas myself and hubby set off with other members of the club and completed a charity run collecting funds for a charity close to our heart First Step.  We were all dressed up in festive gear and ran 5 miles through 2 local shopping areas collecting with buckets.  It was such a laugh and great fun.  A prefect start to the festivities.

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The next club run we decided that a tour of the local streets were in order to take in the decorated houses, they were spectacular and one of the best recent club runs.

Christmas Day dawned and myself and hubby were joined by a few others from the club to take part in the special Barking Park Christmas Day parkrun.  I wasn’t looking forward to it as I had spent a few days feeling really under the weather but boy oh boy I was so glad we did it.IMG_3692

Apparently it was one of the biggest parkrun events for Christmas with 155 like minded people coming out to run the 5k and making room for their turkey later.

The weather was damp but as we set off it was nice to be surrounded by people either in Christmas fancy dress or in new running clothes gifted by loved ones.

I was pleased as I completed a parkrun PB, a great christmas gift to myself.

I hope you were able to enjoy some fresh air over the Christmas break.

 

Evaluation and restarting after my holiday.

Whilst I was sitting by the pool one hot and humid Floridian I had time to think about the direction I was heading in and how I wanted to document it (if I wanted to document it).  I wanted to put my running journey out there in the public domain whilst keeping some of the other things that I enjoyed writing about such as books, beauty and anything else that popped up at that time.  However, I did not want writing about life to take over my life and be seated next to a computer more than getting out there.

I was tying myself into blogging twice weekly with book reviews and lifestyle, and then when I started to document running it because a 3 times a week post. With working full time, running a home and trying to get fitter and stronger both physically and mentally I had to consider dropping the amount of times I blog, I hope this is ok.

I am keeping the sections so if you are interested in particular things such as my running journey then posts will appear under “the fit files’; if you are interested in beauty reviews then ‘beauty’ is where to head and my book reviews will appear (yes you guessed it) under ‘book reviews’.

I don’t make money from blogging nor do I want to but I just feel that I would like to document without over sharing.

So here we go, I wanted to share some pictures from the holiday.

We arrived in Florida to torrential rain and storms, as we touched down in Orlando lightening flashed around us.  Oh great I thought what have I come out to?

After collecting the hire car we drove across town to Hard Rock Hotel at Universal, our base for 4 days.  I am a careful driver but I was also worried, the car was a huge 7 seater and heavy and its a huge shock to get into a massive car after bombing around town in a mini.  We made it to the hotel in 1 piece and quickly set our cases down to join the family in the park.

By this time the rain had cleared somewhat but the sky was grey.  Never mind, we know that when we are in Florida we have a great time no matter what.

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Brightening up on our arrival.

We had a meal in the Irish restaurant before heading towards the new Harry Potter rides.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had heard mixed views but I was really taken by the new sections.  It was like being back in London except by now the pavements were steaming from the rain and the humidity and it was cleaner.

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London?
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A cleaner version
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The West End?
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We don’t really see red phone boxes anymore!

The ride from ‘Kings Cross’ to ‘Hogwarts’ was a steam train and I have to say it was one of the best things I have seen for some time.  Very clever with excellent graphics and surprises along the way.  Perfect for all ages.

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We found our way onto the platform.

We rode the steam train back to ‘Kings Cross’ and walked around Diagon Alley.  The Alley and Gringotts was guarded by a fierce fire breathing dragon (is there any other kind) that let out a huge plume of fire to warn wizards and muggles alike that the bank was guarded.

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Keeping watch
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You have been warned!

There was an excellent ride within Gringotts and we proceeded to go on this ride many times throughout our stay, again very cleverly put together and really enjoyable.  My new favourite ride.

After a few days at Hard Rock we moved into our villa, once settled we made plans to visit Disney Magic Kingdom.  The weather had sorted itself out and it was hot and sunny every day.

Now a secret, years ago I was never a fan of Disney, I could not see the point.  That is until I visited Magic Kingdom for the millennium. Walking down Main Street USA that first time really showed me why Disney is as popular now as it always has been and I was hooked.

As you walk down Main Street (or march if you are with Mr JAEG and his brother) you face the wonder that is Cinderella’s castle, we always stop to take a photo although it has never changed in all the times we have visited but its tradition now

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As we had got there for park opening we did all the usual rides including Splash Mountain, (another family tradition).  Walked absolutely miles and had some lovely food.  My favourite place to eat is now Beasts Castle and the Be Our Guest restaurant.  Their sandwiches and cakes were amazing, another secret, Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney film.

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We knew it would be a long hard day getting in so early but we all wanted to see the afternoon parade and light show and fireworks later that night.

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A tale as old as time

The daytime parade changes and I have not seen the same one twice, each year is a different celebration.  It was good to see Beauty and the Beast as well as the usual characters in the mix.

The fireworks has changed slightly, last year Disney started to incorporate a light show, Cinderella’s castle is lit up in a very clever way depicting scenes from the films or pictures to go with the music or words.  As always the fireworks were amazing, they never cease to please.

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The firework and light show

After being in the park at 8am we left after 11pm, my feet were aching but the day had been worth it.  The drive back to the villa fortunately swift and we settled down to relax and discuss the day.

The rest of the holiday consisted in relaxing by our pool, shopping and eating at Downtown Disney and I am please to say I also kept up my running.  I ran twice whilst I stayed at Hard Rock and 4 times whilst at the villa.  I also walked and cycled whilst at the villa and I felt good despite the heat.  I needed to exercise after all I had eaten and drunk!

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A baileys milkshake, need to run this off!!
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A beautiful view when running

Running whilst on holiday is a new thing for me and I think I surprised everyone including myself that I actually got out there, after all on previous occasions I had good intentions but never followed them through.  Maybe this is a sign of the times and shows I am willing to sort myself out.

I loved Florida and I know I have a great time when I go.  It was good to catch up with the family and good to relax and take stock of things before going back to work.

I hope you all managed to have some time for yourselves and enjoyed the summer.

Cross Country

I never thought I would be able to so something as muddy as a cross country. My last one was when I was at school (many years ago).
The weekend before Easter I was convinced by my hubby and some jogging friends to take part in an Easter Egg hunt.
The night before the clocks had gone forward, I never sleep well when this happens as I worry about the clocks not changing automatically and the alarm not going off.
The morning broke to heavy rain which matched my heavy heart as I looked out, oh dear what have I got myself into? I wondered.
Mr JAEG and I drove to the start, another beautiful country park (we are so lucky where we live, lots of country parks). I say beautiful but as I stepped out of the car it looked wet, grey and hard going.

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Box fresh

I put on my new trail running shoes and met with the rest of the group.  As the rain came down the rules were explained to us and we were told to head off.  The race was on to collect all the tokens and head back to base.

I can honestly say it was the most fun I have had in ages when running.  Yes it was muddy and yes I nearly went over several times but I also laughed, made new friends and reached a new milestone in my short running life.

The whole course was 3-5 miles in total, for those checking the dead ends it was 5 miles, for those standing at the cross roads (like me) it was slightly over 3 miles. I managed to finish with my team in 1 hour.  A quick down of a can of diet coke and we changed out of our very muddy shoes and headed to the pub for a more refreshing drink.

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Not so box fresh now!

What have I learnt about this experience? I thought once I have my hot bath and had a set of clean clothes on.

Well I think I have learnt that no matter how bleak or grey things may look there is always a chance for better things.  In this case it was cold, wet, muddy and I was slow but I made some terrific friends and a renewed hope that I can do it and I should not doubt myself.

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Greenwich

As the year was nearing its end we had an offer to visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  This was a place I had admired from afar but never had the opportunity to visit which is rather silly as I don’t live far.  A friend of ours is a curator there and took time out of his busy schedule to show us around.

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The museum is huge and we did not even make a dent in all the exhibitions but we made sure we checked out the Nelson room and the  room dedicated to WW1.  There was a huge number of ships, objects from ships and other memorabilia dating back many centuries, amazing that we can still gaze upon them today.

After a quick cup of tea we made our way up the hill to the observatory, a great way to walk off the turkey and chocolate consumed over the past week.

The day was crisp and clear so the views over London were amazing.  The Royal Park and Palace looked stunning against a backdrop of modern.  An amazing blend of modern and history, which is probably a good description of London as a whole.

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Greenwich is the location of the Prime Meridian Line, the line that separates East from West and all time is set from, rather fitting as we were nearing the end of another year.

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The bright red Time Ball on top of Flamsteed House is one of the world’s earliest public time signals, distributing time to ships on the Thames and many Londoners. It was first used in 1833 and still operates today.

Each day, at 12.55, the time ball rises half way up its mast. At 12.58 it rises all the way to the top. At 13.00 exactly, the ball falls, and so provides a signal to anyone who happens to be looking.  This was the only way everyone rich or poor could tell the time before then only the rich could afford to purchase clocks and watches and many used sundials.  This was haphazard and led to many different time ‘zones’ in the UK and as a result led to the creation of Standard Time based on the Prime Meridian based at Greenwich.  The Prime Meridian became the centre of world time, and was the official starting point for the new Millennium.

The day was fantastic, great company and brilliant things to look at.  I would recommend a day out at the Royal Museums Greenwich, brilliant for all ages with plenty for kids to do and for the adults to see a lovely place to come to in the summer and have a picnic in the park.   For more details click here.