Bella antics

Bella snuggle asleep

When we first started house hunting again at the start of 2015 it was really, really important to me that we thought about whether or not the house would suit our cat as much as it did Dan and I.
She may be ‘just a cat’, but Bella is a cat that has become very much a part of our little family with her ginormous personality over the last four years and I would be devastated if anything were to happen to her.Bella with her tongue out(This photo makes me laugh EVERY-SINGLE-TIME!)

Bella sat on the step ladder

When we first moved house she was very unsettled and it took her a long while to work out what her new routine would be.  We tried to keep things as close to how they had been at the previous house, although we did let her sleep up on the bed with us as a little treat for the first few nights(!)  She’s happiest when both Dan and I are together, or near enough together so that she can reach out and touch both of us at once whilst she sleeps.

Sleeping with BellaShe’s properly settled in and happy with her new home now though and there have been quite a few entertaining Bella-antics that have occurred just lately which I want to take note of before I forget…

Glittercat

When we went to a wedding recently we left Bella on her own in the house overnight, having fed her on the Saturday morning before leaving for Manchester, and planning to feed her next on the Sunday afternoon once we got home again.  Bella decided that as we were out, rather than sleep in her usual ‘bedroom’ of the kitchen/utility room, she would investigate the contents of my wardrobe, curling up inside one of my old dresses which happened to be adorned in a lot of glitter.
Dan and I had each traveled separately to the wedding, and he arrived back on the Sunday before me.  By the time I returned home, Bella had already been released into the garden to stretch her legs.  I couldn’t miss her when I headed outside as she was glittering away in the sunlight like Edward from Twilight!

Hobfeind

I really don’t know what to do about this.  Just lately, since we started altering the kitchen (taking the floor up and removing the units) I have come down in the mornings to discover Bella’s dancing feet all over the hob.  Obviously I don’t want our cat to be jumping all over the worksurfaces in the kitchen and I know that she would never dream of doing so when I could see her.  Annoyingly I can’t really tell her off when I come down for breakfast, as it could be several hours since she had been up there and she wouldn’t be able to associate me telling her off with knowing what she had done wrong.  The only advice I’ve had so far (jokingly!) was to leave the hob on overnight, but that’s pretty expensive and very cruel!  Any other suggestions?

Gladiatorcat

I missed this event, but Dan reliving the story for me made me laugh so hard I struggled to breathe afterwards.  It was almost like I had been there as I could imagine her doing everything that he had told me.
I think I had headed out for a run, and Dan had let Bella out in the back garden for the evening when he heard a loud cat scream.  He rushed out the back with a packet of Dreamies (these things are like cat crack I swear!) to see Bella squaring up to another cat on our next-door-neighbour’s roof.  Bella saw the Dreamies that Dan was carrying, turned back to the neighbour’s cat, lifted her paw and batted the cat clean off the roof, before leaping down and purring around Dan’s leg for treats!

Mouse in the house

I think it was Dan and his panicking that potentially made this event much more dramatic than it needed to be!  I had been upstairs in the office the other night catching up with some blog reading when Dan shrieked out “Mary, come quick.  It’s Bella!”  I thought something was wrong so raced downstairs, only to see Bella with a mouse in her mouth being chased around the lounge and then up the stairs by Dan, who was shouting at her.  I took the opposite approach and praised her whilst hunting for something to grab the mouse in.  She dropped the mouse at the bottom of the stairs, which then promptly ran behind a stack of doors and a unit we had taken apart which were leaning against the wall in the dining room.  Bella took guard on one end, with me watching the other.  An old t-shirt in hand to throw over the mouse when it emerged.  Dan just pranced around the room with a box in his hand, making no attempt to help manage the situation!  Eventually the mouse decided I was the safer bet and darted in my direction for me to wrap the t-shirt over the top of it and scoop it up into my hand.  Dreamies came to the rescue again when Dan took Bella off into the kitchen so that I could release the mouse back out into the garden unaided by Bella.
Lucky escape!

Foot monster

Completely #crazycat tonight! #catsofinstagram

A video posted by Mary (@ahealthiermoo) on

On nights like these, Bella is not allowed to stay up in the bedroom with us!

Are you a cat or a dog person?
What antics does your pet get up to?

Easter weekend

It was gorgeous weather last Friday, the first day of the Easter holidays, so Dan and I decided to head over to a local National Trust park and enjoy our first icecream of 2016.  Obviously it’s all about the Feast icecream in Summer.First icecream of the yearThe staff in the cafe were clearly out of practice at serving after a quiet and wet Winter, as despite there only being three people in the queue ahead of us, and three members of staff on, it took nearly 15 minutes to purchase our icecreams(!) so I swapped them just before we bought them as they had begun to melt in the warm cafe queue.

After icecream we decided to head out on a wander around the grounds.  I wore my boots, but should have swapped to my trail shoes which I’d left in the back of the car as it was still pretty muddy in the wooded areas where the sun hadn’t yet reached.First icecream of the year

The following morning was parkrun number 48 for me.  (Just two to go now!)  I decided to head back to Northampton again and run with Laura.  With the road works on the A45 having caused me to sprint to the start a few weeks back and then miss the start completely last time I ran the Northampton course, I decided to leave super early at 7:50am.  Because this is me, this then meant that the road works ended up not even happening last week and so I arrived super early, although only just early enough to nab the last remaining parking space at the Racecourse venue.

Arriving at parkrun super early

Laura’s aim was to beat her time from our last visit to parkrun (33:43), hopefully achieving a sub 33 minute run.

We set out at a fairly easy (for me) pace which Laura maintained pretty consistently for the whole 5k.  And we still managed to get a bit of a gossip in too!

Mile 1: 10:05, Mile 2: 10:11, Mile 3: 10:04, Nubbin (0.16m): 9:41 pace.

Garmin time: 31:51
Official time:
31:52
Position: 254/333
Gender position: 79/138
Age category position: 12/23

Laura easily beat her 33 minute target.  Obviously a trip to Northampton parkrun with Laura isn’t complete without following it up with a trip to Magee’s, where my regular salted caramel tart came with a piece of honeycomb so large it covered the tart itself!  I was still picking at the honeycomb by the time Laura had finished her food and was sipping on the dregs of her hot chocolate!

Salted caramel tart from Magee's in NorthamptonThe Magee’s trip was followed up with a long bubble bath whilst watching the Cardiff half marathon on my iPad.  What a finish for the guys out on that course.  They had it pretty tough towards the end.
Perfect Saturday!

Sunday, of course, was Easter.  Dan presented me with this Galaxy Easter egg whilst still in bed on Sunday morning.  It didn’t come with my favourite salted caramel bar so he wrapped one with ribbon around the top of the egg.  I married a goodun!Galaxy easter egg with added salted caramel

Turns out Bella thought she would like some of my Easter egg and this picture has been making me laugh ever since I took it!

Bella with her tongue out

With just five weeks before Milton Keynes half marathon, Laura was anxious to prove to herself that she could still run further than the 5k distance, and so we stuck to our tradition of running the Stanwick 10k route an hour and a half before the race on Easter Monday before then cheering the rest of our club out on the course.

2013 supporting * 2014 supporting * 2015 supporting

One of our coaches lives on a farm out on the course and every year always puts this sign up outside  It’s about 3-4 miles into the course so just as the runners will be needing a little boost.

Supporting WDAC on the Stanwick 10kAs you can probably see from the photo, it was so wet and windy out on the course on Monday morning.  There were parts where it felt like we were actually running backwards because the wind was pushing against us that hard.  I wore a cap out on the run so that I didn’t get rain in my contacts, but the cap blew off my head completely three times!  The wind and rain had kept me up most of the night.  I’m such a light sleeper normally anyway, but I could hear bins being overturned outside and the wind and rain hitting the window was so loud that when I woke at 5:25am I didn’t bother even trying to go back to sleep!  Laura and I were hi-vised up as part of the 10k route runs along the side of the A6 dual carriageway.  It’s all cordoned off with cones along the side of the road and there weren’t very many cars when we ran along at 8:30 in the morning.  I wouldn’t want to head that way on a busy day though!

Just after we turned off the A6 the wind caught our backs and we had a much quicker mile as we were almost pushed down the rolling hill.  I’ve always thought Stanwick 10k was quite hilly, but having run the course for the third year in a row now I’ve changed my mind and think the course could quite suit me with the rolling hills.  Perhaps I shall actually race it next year instead…although that would be breaking tradition!

As you enter the village of Chelveston you come to a ford crossing.  In previous year, the runners have just run straight through the ford, but after all the rain from the previous evening it was looking rather deep in the middle and Laura and I decided not to chance it so took the wimpy way across the little footbridge instead.  It was rather slippy when we headed across though, and it turns out even the front runners headed over the footbridge so I don’t know how muddy and slippery it must have been by the end!
Flooded in Chelveston on the Stanwick 10kWe got back in time to quickly change, meet up with a few other Wellingborough supporters, and see the runners off.

Startline at Stanwick 10kOur club colours do tend to dominate this race rather, as it is so local to us, but it is Corby who always win the top prizes.

After the runners set off, the rain had started up again, so we escaped to the pub over the road for hot drinks and to warm up for half an hour with some other guys from our club before returning back outside to cheer the runners through the finish.  As well as lots of runners in the event, we also have lots of cheer support and that final corner can get pretty loud when a green vest is spotted running round the corner!

I got a lift home and couldn’t stop shivering as I’d been out so long since my run earlier that morning.  I wrapped up in blankets whilst waiting for my bubble bath to run!

Very wet and soggy after the Stanwick 10k

What’s your favourite icecream?
Did you get any Easter eggs this year?
Any runs in the wind and rain?

Feeling guilty

The past fortnight has been a busy one…I feel like I spend my life saying that. It seems that every time I meet up with friends, the conversation always goes the same.
“Hey, how have you been? I’ve not seen you forever!”
“I’ve been OK.  Super busy though.”
…Is it just me?!
Work - I keep hitting the escape key but I still seem to be here!

(One of my birthday cards from last week!)

It doesn’t help that it is so dark now the clocks have changed either.  I leave for work in the dark and get home from work in the dark.  What does the outside world look like again?…!

Last week was the half term holiday and a week off from school. Unfortunately, with more than 220 GCSE / A-level students this year, including 170 year 11s, this meant that my week remained rather busy. Although I might not have been in school last week, I brought a large number of folders home from school for marking.  As a Computing teacher I only see students once each week, meaning that during each five day working week I see more than 500 students coming through my classroom doors. I’m afraid this means I don’t know all of my students’ names yet, and until last week it definitely meant that I hadn’t marked all of their folders.
I needed to catch up with my marking though and so half term was when I had set aside some time to do just that.  It was convenient that over the holiday the year 11 reports were also due.  Therefore, along with marking folders of coursework, I also wrote out 170 reports for students. I do know the names of all the students in my GCSE classes at least, it’s just the lower year groups I haven’t quite mastered yet!

I wanted to give myself an enjoyable start to the half term break, even if the rest of the week ended up being rather work-heavy, so I headed to parkrun on the Saturday and ran the home cross-country on the Sunday morning before kicking off with my marking the following day.

On Monday I spent the day organising all of the folders; putting student work in order, naming work, and adding candidate numbers where they were missing. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent sorting through and marking each of the folders in the pile that had accumulated in my office back at home.  Then on Thursday I managed to get the majority of reports written.
Where did my week off go?!

I did slot in a break on Thursday evening though, where I joined five friends to make a team for a Friends (the TV show) themed quiz night.  Pub quizzes I regularly come last in, but a Friends-themed quiz?…I owned all Friends videos as a teenager and was looking forward to the quiz for a while!  The six of us headed to Peterborough, where the quiz was held and joined 39 other teams for the charity quiz.  There are a couple of ‘Monica’ characters within our friendship group, so we had been throwing questions out in a group Facebook chat for weeks in the build up to the event, determined to win on the day!
Friends pub quiz
Unfortunately we didn’t win.  Although we were one of the top scoring teams on the night, we were just pipped to the post when it came to prizes.  Each team donated a raffle prize and I came away with a bottle of wine from the raffle though.  Winner!

Although I did complete a little work on Friday morning, my birthday was the following day and so just before lunchtime last Friday, Dan and I headed to a little village in the Peak District, where we met my parents and their dog, Blue, at a little cottage that they had booked out for the week. It was my birthday on the Saturday and my third attempt at running the Dusk ‘til Dawn 50m race. I’ll review this in a separate post when I get a chance as regular readers will know just how long my race recaps can become!  😛

On Sunday afternoon when Dan and I returned home following the race we spent some time removing the final wall of wallpaper in the last upstairs bedroom, throwing loads of washing into the machine and giving the house a tidy, ready for another full working week back at school.

Currently, I feel guilty for not marking each of my student folders every week. I feel guilty for not knowing all of the student names, I feel guilty for not volunteering my name forward for any extra responsibility tasks within my department, and for not spending as much time with the non-naughty children, the kids that actually need or deserve my time each lesson.

Despite struggling to fit everything into each day just lately I am really enjoying my job at the moment.  It is so satisfying teaching students how to complete tasks using the computers, especially so when it is something they are really interested in (creating mobile phone apps or video editing), or when they are working towards qualifications in the higher years.  I have an optional class of year 10, who are mainly lower ability students.  Because they are a class of students who have chosen ICT as an optional subject I have just 17 students in the group, who I see three times each week.  This has helped me to build up a really positive relationship with the class, and and I love overhearing them telling teachers or other students in the corridor about the high grades they have worked hard for in my subject.

I also do a lot of the IT based work behind the scenes for my running club – updating the website, adding race results, creating graphics for upcoming events and setting up and resetting user accounts amongst other things.  I try not to spend more than 5-6 hours a week on club admin stuff, although some weeks it can get a little out of hand.  Having so many members is great, targeting certain races as ‘club races’ is great in theory – until it comes to entering all of their results each Monday evening!  This week I spent three hours on Monday evening alone catching up with club admin stuff.  Coming up later this month I shall be creating the club ‘Runner of the Year’ videos.  A task which usually takes me in the region of 30 hours.  I absolutely love creating the videos, and whilst I’ve considered giving up my committee role before, I wouldn’t want to pass over my video making role!

Because I have been so busy with club stuff, marking and school work just lately, it has also meant that I haven’t had much time for blogging or reading blogs and my absence has made me realise just how much I really miss it.  I feel so behind with things!  Add to my guilty list the following; not responding to blog comments, being slow to blog about my ultra attempt last weekend, not keeping up with posts from other bloggers…

Healthy eating has also dropped down my priority list over the past few weeks.  There were a few days I forgot about breakfast and lunch completely before the holiday, and dinner has quickly gone from being carefully planned out a week in advance and organised in the mornings to being something I raid the cupboards for when I realise we haven’t eaten that night!  I feel guilty when I don’t home-cook our dinners and on days when I haven’t organised myself enough in advance to ensure we are eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.  I feel guilty when the washing is left until the weekend and the floor is left unhoovered, or I miss a night of watering the plants in the greenhouse.

Bella was very sulky last Friday morning – she knew that we were going away and sat very quietly up on the bedroom windowsill, refusing to move and silently watching us drive away from the house from her vantage point looking out onto the road.  I had arranged for a friend to drop in and feed her on the Saturday whilst we were away and worried that she would pine and be off her food.  I needn’t have worried though, as all of her food had been eaten when we returned home and she threw herself at the front room window – her little tail vibrating so fast – something she has always done when we return home after a day away.  Her little way of showing us just how excited she is to see us!
She promptly fell asleep on my lap and stayed flat out until I moved her!
Bella on my lap
I felt guilty for leaving her, and for all of the times I ignored her whilst trying to get my work caught up during the holiday.

One of my year 13 students today was telling me that I just didn’t understand how hard things were as a seventeen year old.  I’m sure I felt the same at seventeen, but the pressures of being a decade older are so much more!  One of my optional year 10 students earlier couldn’t believe I’d marked 500 folders over the holidays, and announced that he never intended on becoming a teacher if that is what you had to spend your holidays doing!

I’m hoping that things will start to calm down again until Christmas now that my batch marking session and largest set of reports are over.  I miss writing, and the blogging world in general…

Have you ever been to a themed quiz?
What do you find yourself feeling guilty for?

How do you manage to fit blogging in when times get busy?

Feet up Saturday

I hate putting my feet up and watching TV.  I hate putting my feet up even more when I can see that the washing up needs doing, there is laundry to be dried and I haven’t even thought what I’m going to do for tea.

I’ve tried to be pretty sensible over the past couple of days since my fall though, and luckily it seems to be paying off.  On Thursday I struggled to stand without feeling dizzy from the pain, on Friday I returned to work and hobbled about the school grounds, which gradually got easier throughout the day.  I had some fantastic classes on Friday and I love my optional GCSE ICT class that little bit more for helping each other out and allowing me time to get from one student to the next around my classroom.  I’m really enjoying my year 10 class this year and I can’t wait to see them achieve the fantastic marks they deserve in the Summer term.  By Friday evening my ankle was feeling much looser and I could turn it a lot more freely than I had been able to earlier on in the day.  This morning I felt like I didn’t really need to be limping/hobbling around at all.  Occasionally throughout the day I’ve turned my foot a little sharply and a slight twinge has made me remember that I need to be careful, but essentially my limp today was more of a protection exercise – trying to make sure that I don’t put too much pressure on my ankle too soon, to risk not making it to the marathon next weekend.

I hate putting my feet up and doing nothing, but I would hate not making it to the marathon start line a whole lot more.

I did head over to help marshal at Northampton parkrun this morning though.  If I can’t run, I can still marshal.  I tried to take the weight off of my poorly side whilst standing and cheering runners through my marshal point, but I think that unless my marshal point was going to involve a lot of twisting and turning my right ankle, I would probably have been fine anyway.  (Wary about talking too soon here though!…)
Marshaling at Northampton parkrun

I always find it hard to shout “Well done!” to each group of runners and not look like a wally.  I vary it now and again to “Good work guys!” but generally I just tend to be pretty smiley and repeat the same shout out over and over again for 40 minutes when I marshal.  The only time I feel ‘natural’ congratulating/encouraging runners is when I’m out there running myself as well or having just completed my run and cheering the tail runners in.

This was only the second time I have marshaled at Northampton parkrun, and I was placed in the same spot as last time – on the finishing straight, just before reaching the play-park.  At this point you see runners at about 3k into the run and then about 200m before the finish as they come round for the second loop.

Marshaling at Northampton parkrunBoth times I’ve marshaled here I’ve found myself chatting to lots of non-parkrunners who are interested in knowing what is going on.  I’m pretty certain that I convinced a non-parkrunner today to go home and print off a barcode for next week!

At midday there was also going to be a Rainbow colour run held at the park, so whilst cheering on the runners I had to ensure the vans driving across the field to set up for the event didn’t disrupt our run.  When one of the Rainbow organisers came to speak to me to see if there was a number she could ring to find out if any of our marshals would go back and volunteer at the Rainbow run in a few hours’ time I told her that it didn’t really work like that and that there wasn’t any number to call.  I hope she managed to get enough marshals though…!

I had travelled up to the parkrun with Jenny and when I arrived, also met up with Lindsay.  I’ve paced Lindsay a few times at parkrun in the past, and she has gradually been chipping away this year at the 36 minutes it took her to run the course back in April.  Her ultimate dream was to run a sub 30minute time, and over the past few months she has mastered the 10k distance and begun training towards a half marathon.Lindsay going sub 30minutes for a 5k PB at parkrun

I was so happy for her when she walked over to my marshal point following the run to exclaim that she had burst into happy tears after crossing the line when she saw that her watch displayed a sub 30minute 5k time, taking nearly a minute and a half off from her previous PB of 31:16.  Hard work does pay off!  :)

Lindsay going sub 30minutes for a 5k PB at parkrunFollowing the parkrun, Jenny and I stopped by Magee Street Bakery for a drink and cake.  It’s a ritual now.

Hot chocolate at Magee Street Bakery in NorthamptonI must say though, hot chocolate and cake always taste better after a run first.  I kind of felt like a bit of a fraud this week!

And then I returned home to spot Bella drinking from the pond.

Bella drinking from the pondThis week she has discovered the line of rocks that make up the top of the waterfall of the pond in our garden.  Every day since she has taken several trips balancing precariously across these rocks to drink from the water before it tumbles down into the main part of our pond.  I’m just waiting to see her fall in!

Any variations on ‘Well done!’ I can add to my list for the next time I marshal?!
What is your ‘dream’ 5k time?