A Day in the City

After a tough month The Bloke surprised me with train tickets to London. It’s one of our favourite places and we try and go there are few times a year. The timing was perfect – it is the Easter holidays, the weather has been glorious and we both needed a break, so by 8.00am we were stood in London Euston, trying to work out where we wanted to go. We decided to get the Tube down to the Thames – it was a bright, sunny day and we thought that a walk along the river would be a good place to start.

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It was a beautiful day!

It was a little colder than I expected, but luckily there was a Starbucks nearby where I could get us a hot chocolate. We saw St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance and so we walked to it, stopping to take in the sights and sounds along the way. It was a good decision to go in the morning as it was already beginning to get quite crowded.

Our train home was at 4.00pm, so we tried to do as much as possible. We went to the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadily Circus and I bought macarons from Covent Garden. We were tourists for the day.

I was so tired by the end of it that I slept for half of the train journey home and then again when we got back to the house…

Here are some of the pictures. They were all taken with my iPhone. as always, I’d love to know what you think!

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The completed Shard and Tower Bridge in the background

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St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Blitz monument

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The dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral

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Me and my favourite M&M

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The top of one of the escaltors in the Tube

 

You can also find me on Twitter and tumblr @suzie81blog. Hope you are enjoying your Easter!

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On Being Vanilla

 

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In the world of ice-cream, my friend is definitely Rocky Road with extra sauce. She’s striking. When she walks into a room, people don’t just notice, they stop what they are doing to stare, and some will even get up and walk over in an effort to speak to her.

The thing is, there isn’t anything specific about my friend that makes her stand out. She’s pretty, but couldn’t anywhere near be classed as model quality, she doesn’t go overboard with her clothes and make-up, she’s intelligent, but not a genius, she’s classy and well-spoken. She possesses that ‘something’ – that special X Factor quality that separates her from the pack. Even more frustratingly, she’s genuinely a very nice person and has no idea about the power that she holds. Her life, to me, seems exciting – she likes to travel and experience new things and isn’t scared of taking risks. She’s a natural leader without being bossy or rude.

I have always been, and always will be, vanilla. This isn’t said in an attempt to hunt for false compliments, it is simply fact – at the age of 32 I have had plenty of time to realise my own strengths and weaknesses. In a group of people I have never been the one to stand out from the crowd – I am that person that merges into the background, the one that blends in. I am not the risk taker – I’ve always been more of a follower than a leader.

imageVanilla is used as a derogatory term to describe someone, or their lifestyle as unexciting and conventional. Boring.  I used to feel that being thought of as vanilla was a negative thing. Indeed, I used to feel a little short-changed when I was offered ice-cream and then handed vanilla. However, vanilla surprised me. I discovered that:

  • Vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron.
  • It is thought to have calming effects and reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Vanilla is used throughout the baking and cosmetics industry and is often placed in certain foods to eliminate acidity.
  • Despite its labour – intensive growth and expense, vanilla remains a popular spice in the western world.
  • From the thousands of ice-cream flavours that exist, vanilla is still consistently voted as the favourite.

As I have aged, I have grown to like being vanilla. It may be a standard flavour, a basic flavour, but to me it is a dependable one that doesn’t change, and yet can be incredibly versatile at the same time in that it compliments the flavours around it. Vanilla doesn’t pretend to be anything else, it is what it is. I like my life and it’s vanilla existence.

And besides, this means that us vanilla girls get to add a cheeky topping occasionally!

What about you? What flavour of ice-cream are you?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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A Year of Blogging: Suzie81 Speaks

 

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Last week marked the official anniversary of Suzie81 Speaks. Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one!!!

I’ll start with some numbers:

Followers: 5,000

Views: 192,000

Comments: 12,000

Posts: 700 (but this is now 300 as I deleted over half of everything I had written)

Unbelievable.

After years of writing in journals, I followed The Bloke’s advice and set up a WordPress account. This little blog started as simply Suzie81 – my name and the year I was born – and served as the opportunity to share the various thoughts and anxieties that had been swamping my brain for a long time. The response and support that I received was immediate and life changing, and within a year I have not only met some fantastic people (you know who you are), but I have now have the direction in life that I had been so desperately seeking before. I purchased a domain name, changing it to ‘Suzie81 Speaks,’ set up an additional Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and the most exciting thing of all is that I have been asked to write for a monthly online magazine (more on that later)…

In celebration of my year anniversary and to channel my inner narcissism, I posted a competition a few weeks ago. I invited people to ask me any question (within reason), with the winner being awarded two weeks worth of free advertising on my blog. I also promised that I would answer every question and include links to the blogs of every person who took part.

I had a brilliant response. I’ll announce the winner at the end… Here goes!

If you weren’t a teacher what might you be? (Perspiring Poet)

I would definitely be working with animals. If I knew then what I know now I would have gained qualifications in animal care.

If you were stuck on a CD for two weeks, which desert island would you be? (Steve Says)

The one owned by Richard Branson – CD or island. This was the best I could come up with – I attempted to think of a response for two weeks and my brain started to hurt.

If you were writing a novel what would your opening and closing sentences be? (Andrew Seal)

She laughed at the sheer arrogance of his words. 

Maybe next time she’ll ask for more.

How long is a short piece of string? (Fearless Leader)

Infinitely long. I think. My brain hurts.

Who in your life has influenced you the most? How did they do it? (Jolene)

My mum. Of course, it has to be my mum. I haven’t always agreed with her at the time but inevitably she’s usually been right. How did she do it? Sheer persistence, support and large bouts of nagging.

In your opinion, what do women want? (mommyx4boys)

To be happy. I think that’s all what anybody wants. Ooh, and a footrub after a long night of wearing high heels.

What do you find most rewarding about teaching? (Heron There & Everywhere)

When a student is able to do something that they didn’t think they would be initially capable of.

If you won the lottery, what three things would you do with it? (Michelle)

I’d set up a no-kill animal sanctuary for all types of animals, with a vetinary surgery attached.

I’d set up a scholarship programme for under-priveleged kids to be able to go to university without ending up in thousands of pounds worth of debt.

On a selfish note, I’d travel the world.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? (Father At 54)

The father of a girl that I knew as a teenager was in the army and had been sent away to another country. She wasn’t particularly nice to me and after months of standing nasty comments from her I told her that her dad had joined the army to get away from her. I apologised, but twenty years later, I still feel guilty for saying that.

A box of books you just packed away takes a tumble and lands directly on your big toe and you respond by saying: a) ouch! b) f*&# c) BIEBER, you bastard! d) other (please state) (Sandra)

B. Definitely B. Every time. Little Miss Potty Mouth always appears during such incidents.

What has been the best piece of advice someone has given you, and how did it impact your life? (Rebecca Meyer)

Don’t tell anyone anything that you wouldn’t want the whole world to know. There’s only a few people that I trust and I don’t tell people secrets as I’ve been hurt by others in the past.

Mark Twain once said that “the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Obviously you have already been born, so my question to you is have you found out why? (adropofno5)

Occasionally I’ll have glimmers of what I know I want to do, but as yet I can’t honestly say why or what my purpose in life is…

Think Dr. Who. If you were able to time travel, (without changing past, present or future) where would you go? (Biker Chick 57)

I’d travel to the Washington Mall and witness Martin Luther King Jr give his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, I’d go to the early 1960′s and watch the Beatles in concert at The Cavern in Liverpool before they became ridiculously famous, I’d go back to 1985 and attend Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, I’d go back to the early 1990′s and spend more time with my Grandfather, I’d go back to the Party in the Park concert where The Spice Girls gave their first concert and this time actually get their autographs (I couldn’t be bothered last time because I didn’t think they’d end up being more than one hit wonders – those autographs would be worth a fortune now) and I would go to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

What has been your favourite moment while working as a teacher? (A Girl With a Piano)

Honestly? There are two moments. The week of the performance of a musical that the kids gave – they were incredible, and the day I left my previous school.

What do value about being a story-teller? (makaedelee)

The opportunity to share what I think and what I believe I know. I love the process of planning what it is that I am going to write, and I love the satisfaction I get when somebody else reads it and enjoys it.

As a teacher, do you think it’s more effective to be lenient or demanding with your students? Or something in between? (Rose F)

New teachers are always told not to smile until Christmas. I think that’s bollocks. Smile, be approachable, friendly and have a good sense of humour, but the most important thing is to have clear, consistent boundaries with sanctions if they are crossed that the students know and respect. There are times when it is possible to be lenient, but I often think that leniency shows a weakness of character with some students. Being fair is more important. Don’t take any nonsense from them.

If you were chosen as leader of Planet Earth what rules or laws would you make or change to help the entire human race? (Phil)

Saying that I would ban religion is against human rights but I do think that religion and religious persecution is an enormous factor in conflicts around the world, and I would prevent religion from being used as a way to discriminate against another. I would legalise gay marriage across the entire planet. I would ban the fur and animal trade, and testing on animals. I would pay women the same as men in every profession. I would enforce fair payment of goods from around the world and make sweatshops illegal. I would have countries near the sea build wind turbines for power. I’d get rid of every countries nuclear weapons.

Oh wow, you’ve opened a can of worms on this – I’m actually going to create a post instead later…

If there was only one book you could take with you to a remote island where you would be for a couple of years and where you would have no access to other reading material of any sort, what would that one book be? (Cathi)

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou. I’ve read it so many times that I had to buy another copy as I wore my first one out. Beautiful book.

Who are your favourite authors? (Tina Bakes Bread)

Maya Angelou, Bill Bryson, Primo Levi, Sue Townsend and, of course, Roald Dahl.

Would you rather travel back in time or into the future (Kim at Awkward Laughter)

I’d definitely rather travel back in time. I like not knowing the future and there are so many events that I wish that I could have experienced.

motivated Thank you so much for all your questions. And the winner?  Steve Says. I couldn’t think of a witty enough response to his question – it was awesome. So, congratulations Steve, you have won two weeks of advertising on my blog starting from the first week in May!

Thank you so much for all your support over the last year – you’ve been a wonderful group of people to meet! Here’s to another year of blogging!

Don’t forget that you can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

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The Glorious Nothing Days

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Hooray for the glorious nothing days,

Those rare and brilliant blank diary days,

Days when the cupboard of forgotten tat has its turn,

No birthdays, fancy do’s or fireworks,

No test matches or penalty shockers,

When there is nothing better than doing nothing at all,

When we find the time to potter and piddle about,

With the people that count,

The glorious nothing days are the best days

The cheese on toast days,

The days that matter.

Today’s inspiration comes from an advert for Anchor Cheese, no less. It isn’t often that I am moved by TV advert but when I heard these words I was in the middle of marking hell and I desperately wanted a break. Today is my glorious nothing day. I am going to potter and piddle about in the beautiful weather and appreciate every minute of it. I hope you all have a beautiful day…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ics1UymGzdA

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Die Printer, Die…

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In the last ten days my routine has been print, file, print, file, print, file, sleep, aside from lunch with the best mate on Sunday and a lovely girly catch-up at MRH’s house, which was very much needed. I have printed and filed no less than 400 pieces of coursework since I went back to work after being off ill for a month, and if I never see another printer, photocopier or tracking sheet ever again it will be a day too soon. The printer at work has a grudge against me for some reason. It hates me. It seems to sense when the work is at it’s most urgent and will deliberately pretend that it is broken, despite being perfectly fine for the people that have used it just before me. I keep having fantasies about re-enacting the scene from ‘Office Space,’ where a printer is unceremoniously smashed into a million pieces. Unfortunately, I don’t own a baseball bat, but if I ever do you can be assured that the bloody printer is going to know about it.

Consequently, I have barely had time to even think about my blog. Despite the fact that it is the Easter holidays, I have been into work every single day this week to do extra coursework catch-up with the cherubs, and so I was really excited about the prospect that my time this evening could be spent catching up on what I’ve missed in the WordPress world. I tried to write something, but instead found myself staring at a blank screen, and after a while I gave up. It isn’t the first time that this has happened to me over the last month or two – I used to have lots of ideas that inspired me but at the minute all my brain thinks about is work and deadlines. I’ve been having dreams about being in a school that I don’t know and I can’t find my way around or figure out where my classes are. I try calling home but keep dialling the wrong number. Fun.

A much simpler life is needed.

However, tomorrow I am giving myself the day off. The Bloke has surprised me with tickets to London on Saturday so we’re going to have a wander around and play at being tourists for the day. I’m looking forward to it – we try and go several times a year and there are still so many places we need to visit yet, so it will be a nice change of scenery. This also means that I am going to treat myself to a new outfit to wear so I have decided that I am going to go into town tomorrow and have a look around. The weather is going to be beautiful, the day is mine, it’s the only one that I am going to have to myself for a while and I am going to take full advantage. That is, after I have watched cheesy morning chat shows and had a long hot bath. Oh, and I might make a start on the enormous dark chocolate Easter egg that The Bloke bought me.

After all, it would be rude not to…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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A Lesson Learned – Keeping Your Own Counsel

suzie81speaks:

Blogging advice that I think you’ll find quite useful…

Originally posted on Suzie81 Speaks:

tumblr_m2ndt5IqSH1qdd47ao4_250 I like to talk.

A number of my friends over the years have pointed this out. I’ve always been a reasonably open person – there are few subjects that are off limits and I enjoy having long conversations with others, whether it be via phone, email or in person. I will talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime and interesting chats and meeting new people has always given me great satisfaction.

However, over recent years I have become conscious of the fact that there is only so much that can be said before a conversation is repeated. This was one of the many reasons for starting this little blog a year ago – I had lots of different thoughts and ideas that I felt that I needed to get off my chest and was concerned that sharing them in my personal life would not only bore those around me, but the content…

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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Lesson Learned – Keeping Your Own Counsel

tumblr_m2ndt5IqSH1qdd47ao4_250I like to talk.

A number of my friends over the years have pointed this out. I’ve always been a reasonably open person – there are few subjects that are off limits and I enjoy having long conversations with others, whether it be via phone, email or in person. I will talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime and interesting chats and meeting new people has always given me great satisfaction.

However, over recent years I have become conscious of the fact that there is only so much that can be said before a conversation is repeated. This was one of the many reasons for starting this little blog a year ago – I had lots of different thoughts and ideas that I felt that I needed to get off my chest and was concerned that sharing them in my personal life would not only bore those around me, but the content of what I wanted to say would have already been heard.

Similarly, I have always enjoyed the process of writing – I have avidly kept diaries since the age of eight or nine years old, and these still remain in various shoeboxes at the bottom of my wardrobe. However, these diaries were private, and once they were full they joined the others and I haven’t returned to them since. I discovered that the act of blogging produced an instant gratification in that not only my thoughts were read, but it allowed others to share similar experiences and offer advice.

For the last year, my blog has been better than any therapist that I have ever spoken to. I have always been careful about the content of my posts, I don’t use it as an opportunity to slander anyone (except, perhaps, my ex-boyfriend, my ex-neighbour and Justin Bieber), I never include names, photographs are shared with the permission of those featured and I try to ensure that the majority of what I write is reasonably positve. However, If there is a time when I am feeling down, I’ll say so. There are always others that feel the same way.

In essence, blogging allows to me connect with others and have a conversation about what I want, when I want. The WordPress blogging community is staunchly supportive, and the response to my writing has been well received.

ShhhFor a long time I didn’t tell anybody in my personal life about it’s existence. I have a separate Twitter, Tumblr and email account and have never shared my real name and personal details in my posts. The internet provides its users with a false sense of security and I have always been acutely aware of the perils of scammers and hackers. However, over time, my blog readership grew far beyond all my expectations and I started to share individual posts with trustworthy family members and friends. Again, the feedback that I received was fantastic, and so I gained the confidence to share an occasional post on my personal Facebook account. Because of this, one of my posts about teaching went crazy – my friends liked it so much that they all shared it and it was seen over 80,000 times in a week. I gained followers on my Twitter account and I received messages from teachers all over the world – Canada, America, Ghana, New Zealand, Australia, India to name a few – who had liked what I had written. I am immensely proud of what I have achieved in a year and for the first time in forever I had found something that I genuinely had a passion for. Consequently, I did what I always do.

I talked.

I told people around me about the blog and how well it was doing. I set up a separate Facebook page where my personal friends could see my posts if they wished.

Recently, my blog was used against me in a way that could have been extremely harmful. I’m not going to go into any details and the matter has hopefully now been resolved, but it devastated me, even to the point where I temporarily shut the blog down. What had been an enormous source of enjoyment had been turned into something that I had to explain and justify, and for a little while I even considered deleting it. What made matters worse is that this was caused by people in my personal life and not in the online community.

All because I talked.

My mum once said to me that you should only share things with others that you wouldn’t mind the rest of the world knowing. I should have known better. While there is little that I can do now to prevent these people from reading my blog, I have decided that I am going to continue with it exactly as before, except for deleting my Facebook page. I have nothing to be ashamed of, I’ve worked really hard to build it up and am going to continue to enjoy the process.

I often get messages and emails from people asking for blogging advice. My advice to you is this: keep your own counsel. You can protect yourself in the online world as much as you like, but if you don’t do the same in the real one then you’re leaving yourself open to negativity.

Lesson learned.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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