Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Changes

I have such high hopes that I will blog and I will find the time and space to blog, and life proves again and again I can only plan a small time ahead of me.

May threw a curve ball, my mother who had been increasing ill deteriorated and passed away in the middle of May, leaving my mental state very varied is the best way to put it, I should have bought shares in a tissue company for the amount I used (still use) but the old adage of time and work is more true than I would like to think. The quickest local service in the west country as 3 weeks from passing to funeral and that was considered fast by most there. The day of the funeral I heard a retired colleague of mine up in Scotland also passed away and when I got home only 4 days later found out that was the funeral day! if nothing else I know which system I like more.

Emptying things out of the house that I wanted to keep, was traumatic but very necessary if we are selling, which my brother and I are. He has a house and I have a house and there isn't work in the village for either of us. In a perfect world I would keep it to holiday in, but at 16 hours of drive away it is too far, and the costs to buy from my brother just too much for its worth to us, but the house had been built for my Mum and Dad and had been 'ours' for 45 years, again hard. My small croft style house now has a wonderful chest of drawers from Paris, and once I have sorted the space a very nice reproduction desk with captains chair in place of an old door mounted in an alcove, and an old directors chair from my student days. Best of all my whole house echoes to a chiming clock of my fathers, he loved his clocks.

Work is also challenging, the computer software roll out went fine (some glitches but that is life) and my arm is now back to normal (just need to get the strength fully back) setting life up to run when I am away is proving fun! Making crib sheets of click here then do that has shown to be a really useful thing, allows folk to have a go. The build up to the new library marches on and the designer is up next week for consultations or more meet the designer sessions. morning in the school and afternoon in the public library, all in all exciting but exhausting.

Tomorrow we have an event in the school here that is a talk by Peter Lomas one of the founders of the Raspberry Pi which I am hoping to get to. Just the idea that they had and made to work is amazing, I am in awe. The new school buildings are coming along at a reasonable pace and timetables seem to be holding, with a small exception that may leave me with no desk for a few weeks, which I will cope with! More info hopefully once the designer has been and visited, and as we get closer to changing.

The conference gets closer and I doubt, with all the other pulls on my time, that I will blog before I go, so my next blog will be a summery of all the fun adventures I will have had by then, Amsterdam, Vienna and Venice as well as Brighton and the conference! I am then planning to go sailing and will be at the mercy of free wi-fi in the various marinas and stops, but I will also not be at my desk or my work place. Just the Caledonia canal, the Crinan canal and the west coast of Scotland.

I will finish with a picture I took from my nearest bridge Halkirk, taken of the river Thurso with fishermen, in the warm early May sunshine before the trees budded and the weeds started to take over. Have a good summer.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Roller Coaster Times

What a ride the last few weeks have been, changes at work and changes to my future. Add in daughter finishing and coming home form Milan, to wash repack and leave for Greece. Start of study leave for the seniors and all that brings to the school. And to make it more fun I have had to cover another library which is 35 miles the opposite way to my normal work place, train my area for the new software that is being rolled out, oh and go down with a nasty deep tissue infection that ended up being a trip to A&E and nearly a week off with nasty medicines. Woo non-stop something for weeks.

Daughter has started new job that will run for the summer for Neilson the sailing people working in the kids club looking after primary age kids and probably having the time of her life. She is already asking for extras to make her life easier and she only got there 2 days ago. Youngest is coming up to his first uni exams and came home for a recharge for the weekend and we discussed how he is in charge of his own education and not the lecturers and it was as much as he put in and not as much as he gets given. He has started looking less stressed (well for him).

Study leave is yearned for and dreaded every year, for some it is the start of freedom while others realise how little time they have left to the exams and how much is still to be done. The staff also view with a mix of love and hate, to have all the senior spaces lifted off them and a reduced work load, vs how little some classes have done and much extra time will be needed to get them up to speed. Also for most of the year you will hear staff planning for what they will get done in the study leave but when we get here there is so much to do and other things that need doing most do not get finished in the study leave and end up running to summer muttering about too much work and too little time.

Work is in flux as per normal, but I have heard that my mentee passed her Chartership and I am so thrilled for her, she deserved it for the time and hard work she put in to it. This also means she is now moved up a level and can take some of the work load off me and makes my life a bit easier. Win win all round. After doing three out five days off on the north coast I am now back at my desk and happy. I do like going out that way and love the community, the journey is long and winding and while the views are stunning (they really are very stunning) I am happy at my desk with no view and my own paperwork.

Sadly my poor arm was very bad, I have no idea how I got the infection, I am not aware of any cuts or bites but I do have 4 lovely cats who I think the world of but who think of me a chew toy or a scratching post, and occasionally a warm lap. I didn't realise how bad it was getting until I knew I had to be seen asap and then they discussed admitting me from A&E but decided to wait with heavy dose antibiotics, I slept for the next couple of days, I did try to come in start of last week but ended up going home again after an hour. I would say I have learnt to get things checked much faster in future, but can't promise that being ill I wouldn't miss the cues next time.

And now to May, so much to learn and so much to plan, I have my tickets for the cilip conference in Brighton, I also know I am flying to Amsterdam and flying back from Venice before it starts, but the rest of the itinerary is up in the air. Watch this space.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Piece of String

That is how long I have been, as long as a piece of string. One of my Grans favourite saying, usually to a cry of how long to tea? or how long till we get there? you get the idea.

Another phrase that has been running through my brain is 'they're all mad but for Thee and me and I'm no so sure about Thee.'

My world have been mad, I have been suffering a cold up and down since October and live in hope or shaking it off, but it saps my strength for anything out side the basic day. The New library has been wonderful in Thurso but again time needed and now I have all the Wick Library side to start going. Staffing changes and work pattern changes are afoot, and I am very aware that I need to either dump or move everything I have here by October! With a big focus on being the dump side of things! every so often I find something that needs sorting, just this morning my assistant needed a book stand and I referred her to a cupboard of boxes which ended up with her pulling out ten boxes of stuff that most of which was rubbish. After two trips  to a skip and two more to the recycling bins as well as filling every bins in the library I have a box of to be withdrawn, a box or to be checked and put out, and three boxes of donations that will not be put in at this time and can be passed on or back. Oh and one empty Cupboard.

The new library here will mean a change in my job, from a solo worker with limited back fill, where the majority of my job is paperwork and desk manning I will get the chance to spend 100% of my time to increase community engagement and try out ideas and events, and finally be a total librarian, not a manager, not a supervisor and do all the things I have only dreamed off with lack of time and support! My mind is running round in circles waving its hands and going weeeeeee. Suddenly I will have to up my game and be a librarian, not in my comfort zone, not even in the same building as my comfort zone.

My biggest plans had been my trip to the wonderful Brighton Conference for the CILIP, we had some fun with husband finding a nice room for the Tuesday night (12th July) and booking it thrilled with the saving and the cheap costs for that hotel. Only to have the next day husband turn up to tell me he had cancelled it, turned out he had misread the dates and had booked it for the 12th of April (and that was the day he realized it was booked wrong) and he had managed to cancel with 30 minutes to spare begin charged for it. We have a nice room, further from the seafront but closer to the venue, booked and flights home on the Wednesday evening.

I have the basic program but I know it will change and I am already torn and trying to work out how to get to two at once or even three! some have yet to be announced so I may have more choice yet! So glad I know that the change is coming because I can plan to get the most out of visit and gather as much helpful information as I can.

With all the changes and busy world I have not been blogging and this must change. I even got to Milan for a few days and still didn't blog! I will finish with a picture from Milan of the Galleria, which I took selfie style to mock the many street vendors trying to sell selfie sticks to every one! Sadly photo bombed, but much fun was had in Italy.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful Part one.

This week is already looking very busy and just a touch frantic, I am not sure how much sleep I will get or peace but I would rather have busy weeks than quiet ones. To celebrate that fact I am looking at the silver linings of life I am sharing things that make me smile or cheer my world up.
There will be future cheerful posts hence the part one :-) the reason this came to be was due to a blast from my past that I must have heard recently to make my memory bring the title up now.
This is part 3 which again presupposes that there are two former parts that exist, but I have not found them (haven't looked hard) but it makes me smile.

Went to a Careers fair at the weekend and was struck by just how many great companies we have up here and how lucky we are to have so many skills and potential available. It was organised by Skills Development Scotland to help local job seekers find work and local firms find new apprentices etc. The list of companies was over 40 with some being very very local and other having local offices here. I spent a while chatting with various folk and I must confess I gave out more cards than I took but I am increasing the opportunities for partnership working. I will re-visit this event with follow up information as it occurs.

Another reason to be cheerful is for us the weather is quite mild, I know the south is being battered and there have been photos of big waves along the south coast but for us the winds are much less and (shhh) the sun is shining. We are also more than half way through the Prelims and no one has run screaming from the building (pupils of staff) which is also a win. The Rugby was good and well worth a watch, with some great score lines that leave the results open. In a wave of Patriotism for my adopted country I have been listening to this all morning.

Beautiful music and fab scenery, well played and well done. win all round.

Despite Valentines day being just over the way I am more looking forward to Easter when I get to Milan, and more of this is getting sorted, we now have flights, hotels and train links :-) and plans... Meanwhile I have been drooling over jewelry, which as I tend to not wear any is a bit counter productive, but you look and see if this doesn't make you drool and plan. Alyssa Smith and Lark and Lily, both talented lasses and both doing well, lark and lily is even a local lass, oh but look how good their work is! Must get back to wearing things again, gave up when small hands would grab them but youngest is now 18! so no excuse!

On one of the blogs I follow I came across this about not Streaming and Driving and how he wants to make it a don't stream and drive day to raise awareness. I started to follow this blog years ago as an example of a personal but work type blog, of how to tread the fine line between professional and sounding off. I have come to have great respect for him and his blog and would highly recommend giving it a read or even a follow.

Not much Library things but lots to be cheerful for and with National libraries day at the weekend to raise  profile, long may it continue.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Spring just

The weather is cold and drech! (fab Scots word to cover any dull, wind blown, wet or miserable day, when the colour is mainly grey, with some grey to make a change) The nights are getting shorter but not fats enough and Easter is a long way form us. The winter storms rattle round the house and work, and the clouds have as much chance of carrying snow as rain.

In this darkness  I have just decided to go away for the a few days in Easter, flights are booked and train tickets to the airport, how to get and get back all planned, and months yet to go. The internet allows you so many easy short cuts, flights booked after we checked 3 different airports for a variety of dates and then chose the ones that suited and were cheap. Everything else will rotate round these dates. Then train journeys to the airport, allowing for a not too rushed trip down, and a hotel in central Glasgow which we can take our time in. Our destination is our next plan, Segway trips and climbs up Italian churches in our future! all in all the planning is as much fun as the going.

But that is many weeks away, first I spent my morning voting for the Scottish Children book awards, I had made a mistake but with the Scottish Book Trust staff help all was well. (Thanks to Laura and Sarah for that) I am finally going to talk about the books :-) I read both the middle and the older range of books.

The older range included a thick book called Black Dove, White Raven. which was based in the past in Africa, in Ethiopia during the war and in a time of upheaval. Some of the back ground was things I already knew while others I either had never thought of or had not known. The detail and depth was fascinating. The history and background something I will reread and follow up, but the story didn't grab me half as much as the detail. The next one is The Trouble on Cable Street, another historically heavy book full of things I heard in history as a child, and came from my own families past, troubles in Ireland, Spanish revolution, and the world wars. The voice was very real, I could hear parts of my own family talking, bits of Ireland, bits of past. But found it hard to get through in the allowed time, one I will be going back to when I am not time constrained. The third book of the awards was the Piper, which I totally misunderstood from the glance at the cover, another world war book, or a trenches book, turned out to be a tense, family horror, that pulled you in and twisted and turned until even at the end you were not totally sure you had the truth of it. Left a lasting impression on me.

The middle range of books was The Fastest boy in the world, which had a good draw, and pace, felt a bit like a biography at points and while it took you far, I didn't feel I knew the people at the end. Good read though and worth a revisit and a recommendation.  The Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island, I had this book out for the longest time but never got past the first page, for me I didn't find this book drew me at all, but it is aimed at 8-12 year old, but wasn't my choice. The third book in this group was the first I read, The Nowhere Emporium, the very premise drew me in. Of all the titles I had this one already and so read it while the other came from the supplier. Really good read which drew me in and kept me there, I would tell a different story but as a friend said when I said this before 'go on then and write.' Some bits I wanted more of and the ending was an opening to a series, but you forgive that as that is what a good writer wants. I will be looking out for the future series.

The youngest age range for the first time ever was also read by me, mainly to small folk in classes. I had so much fun, bright happy focused faces all sat listening with awe in their eyes, I can live along time off that sort of adoration :-) again I am glad not to have a voice here, as the range was exceptional this year, I am still not sure which one would get my vote. The class from yesterday are taking the end of the never tickle a tiger, where Izzy goes off to Poke the Polar bear as a start point and will be writing their own stories, which I hope to go back and listen too at the end of next month. It tied in with their Arctic Theme they are just started, and the igloo, and penguin they are currently looking at. I was asked to judge their drawings, gosh now that was hard, how can you choose between 15 drawings all done with love, and energy and hope. They had covered each of the titles and all were of such vigorous and colourful style it took ages to find just three! I could choose from all titles but ended up picking the best of each title.

Wanted Ralfy Rabbit Book Burglar,
The rest are on the same section if you want to have a listen too!


The next library plan is the world book day tokens and the readathon as well as the big quiz which I need to find a teacher to support. I also have had fun doing The Write Path by Bev Humphrey, which has been a fun event run each autumn with first years. For this we get a pass the parcel story, and an hour! the latter often is harder than the former, and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get the stories typed and checked to send off. Last year we got the first parts straight from the authors who bravely set up their work to be mangled and zombied by the pupils as it gets passed round in the hour. (Every year someone brings in Zombies, not always in the story that looks like you could use it but then kids imagination is amazing).

We are in the first Prelims of the BGE (Broad General Education) generation of the new Scottish curriculum, the 4th years are the first pupils that have been doing this system since P1 and this is their first year to do Nat 4 and Nat 5 exams. The change in attitudes is noticeable, the first stop point or go to for them is google, this isn't a bad thing, but they expect the work to be there and they can copy and paste it into their templates, to then be sent off! One staff member took the class to the reference books and showed them what they needed to do and left them to look, within minutes they had left the books logged in and were asking how to find the right level in google, when the book had that already at their level. This year will be interesting across the board.

The School blog has a great visit by some of our kids to the new school site, which looks good. The seating is the first floor of the pool which is backed onto my office and the top floor of the library. There is also a fab shot from the local Sinclair Aerial Survey folk who have been taking shots as it has been going up. Again some nice shots of my windows and the space, I plan to go visit soon and bring back my own shots.

Now I have a confession to make, I am not very sporty and tend to wards the 'why does any one bother' in most conversations. But I have two small exceptions to this, two forbidden pleasures I rarely ever admit but both are coming up in the next few months. The first is the six nations rugby, my school was a rugby focused school with much support put into players and skills, with a small handful over the years becoming professional and even playing for their countries, despite not bothering for a number of years I do like a bit of Rugby. I tend to not bother with the clubs and counties level but I do enjoy a good game so tend to follow the countries, of course the Scottish team, and due to old links I have cheered for the English but up here I do this very very quietly. My other small sporting weakness is the Grand National (9th of April this year) I have been known to put a bet on, sit and cheer my horse on, and even watch all the build up, drink in hand. My mothers family are from Liverpool, and my mum tells of jump Sunday being the same date as mothering Sunday year after year and her family taking a picnic out to the course to have a family day out. Was her birthday on mothering Sunday so often her birthday treat.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Fastforward

I started this with comments on how the blue Monday wasn't very blue for me but then Monday got harder, I planned to pick it up on Tuesday, and that too, didn't happen, Wednesday was out of office day and much manual work got done. Thursday I had half a day with a local primary class, a composite class of P1-3 with 5 P1's and 12 or 13 pupils in total! So only a half day at my desk and I have a meeting later today, but for a few minutes I will have a break and rest!

Finding time to be properly reflective gets hard when work keeps coming at you. I find writing this blog helps me get a perspective back on my world and work.

Again I have got to a Friday and a blog post and again I am a week behind my last note, this is my last working day in January! where did the month go! I have plans for the next three weeks at least so I am nearly at the end of February already mentally. My plans of the new year and getting things completed have gone up in smoke, and I am needing to do lists to get the basics of my world completed on time.

The power is flickering, I may end up finishing this on yet another day :-)

I have heard this recently which had me giggling and sharing to everywhere (and now here) which is a parody of the song Hello by Adele, but re written as Snow by Mary Morris.
I love my job, and find much to enjoy every day and week. I do get out of bed and head to work with only basic moans about being up and nothing to do with going to work. I miss my desk even when I am busy at meetings and out for a afternoon or two but even saying this I am totally onside with this song :-)  watch and enjoy.

We had our latest meeting for the north branch of Cilip Scotland this week just gone. Despite using a mix of platforms including one that was new to us and the UHI we all got connected and had a productive and pleasant meeting, from the Western Isles to Caithness to Inverness and beyond we all got connected fine. Technology is the only reason we can run this group as the area we cover is just too diverse to allow us to meet face to face. With this in mind we have set up a facebook group to help get more connected and we have plans to run a blog, one of the things we suffer form in the highland is our geographical distance. My nearest colleague is 20 plus miles, then 60 plus and then 70 plus! we all work days and esp when the school is in, so getting together is hard! just chatting is impossible unless we have the channels to chat already open. But we must start somewhere.

Spent part of my week out meeting primary ones again, refreshing their memories and reading the 3 award books for the Scottish book awards, I get to read Wanted, Ralphy rabbit, never tickle a tiger and mouse first night at midnight school. I have found each one has its own voice and fun, I know as an adult I love the never tickle a tiger as the language used is very emotive and the story very real, but then Ralphy is about libraries which are fun and the back grounds are fun too, but the first night touches on the little ones first day at school! so I have no idea who would win! My own pupils have been putting in reviews and choosing which of the older titles they like and I am finding that hard too!

I am off to write myself some info for the North Group Blog and hopefully the facebook there :-) have a nice blowy weekend in the teeth of the gale!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Book challenge

At the local Book group on Saturday I was asked if I had taken the challenge? Bemused I asked for more information and they mentioned the Good Reads Challenge where you keep track of what you have read and what you want to read. The folk asking had both set 25 or more for their books to be read in a year, their argument being they read one per book group and that is 12 a year and then one extra per month and a holiday book or two so 25 should be doable.

My local book group has been so much fun, I was very cautious and nervous, what if every one was great and frequent readers and I do not get time? what if they are not great readers, and they feel I am talking too high or having to dumb down for it? what if there were too many or too few! Well yes there are 'great' readers who are much more articulate and literate than me, and yes some are much less of a reader than me and ask 'basic' questions and make me rethink what I assumed about things. The first meeting had more than 40 folk at it and we had to share books and keep in contact to get the titles passed round, one meeting was me and the guy who runs it! Sometimes I sit and listen and am amazed, other times I feel I don't stop chatting, but never have I not been welcome and we are getting to know each others interests and reading levels. 

I have set my challenge to 20 in 2016, I read some of the books and am reading the book award books at the moment too, I should get this done by mid summer but I have set it low to allow me to succeed, I am all about succeeding at the moment. I did see this fab Video from a lass I follow called Maeva about her new years challenges.
She has put some very big challenges out there but does finish by saying she knows she wont get all of them done but needs the aims in life :-).

I am currently reading Isabel Allende The sum of our days, which I hope by noting here will inspire me to do more than open the cover occasionally, and is my first challenge book for the new year. One of my other titles to challenge me is Visible Learning into Action by John Hattie, which is the current drive in education through my school, much harder to read cover to cover but should help me support teaching and learning better.

Currently we are suffering the rains that have been so heavy up and down the country, so far our county has been very lucky with the odd house in the area being flooded and the roads have been very very wet with rivers out of their banks.

The river out at Watten makes for scary watching, this clip is form a local Reporter based in the county who writes for the John O Groat Journal. Will Clark @NOSN_WClark worth following to get local stories up here.

Two posts in short succession, and no worry about frequency from me :-) May have some Pictures for next time as we are due Snow this week.