Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sorry folks but this is our final blog entry - at least for a while!

All our good resolutions about being in the blogging business for the long haul have counted for nothing in the face of "real life"!

Ella started a new job just before Christmas 2013 and I will be starting a new career as a teacher immediately after Easter in 2014. If you add to the mixture Ella' s toddler Nicola (aged 1) and my toddler Alice (also aged 1) plus our long-suffering husbands and pets you can see that something just had to go.

Luckily our close friends Didi and 38DD are keen to take over the leadership roles occupied by Ella and I since October 2009. We have known the two of them for years and they have both been active participants in many of the social events described in such loving detail within the newsletter and, more recently, this blog! They have very clear views on the "way forward" and as the new bosses they will have our absolute support in making some changes.

The open access blog (this blog) will shut down and a new "by invitation only" blog will replace it. Didi, 38DD and all (yes all!) the guest bloggers want to go down this new route and so that is what is going to happen. All the people who already qualify as subscribers to the new blog will be sent full joining details within the next few days. Sadly, at least as far as I'm concerned, this means we will be saying goodbye to a few current readers. The largest group we will be losing will be those who are not known to a qualifying member in good standing but who have also been receiving the newsletter for a minimum of 12 months without ever communicating with the editors. I think just six of you fall into this category. I suspect some of you signed up on a whim and either just skim-read the newsletter or delete it unread.

The "scatter gun" approach to marketing the blog will also cease. This was always going to be a risky strategy and it hasn't worked as well as we had hoped. Promotion of the blog will now be by word of mouth only. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of currently active members we have recruited via on-line groups and it is fair to say that we were not made to feel welcome in some of the places we visited in our hunt for members.

Making the joint decision to step down wasn't easy. But we would rather leave before things started to go wrong - which certainly would have happened if we had spread ourselves any thinner. We will continue to participate in every other aspect of the group just as we have always done in the past so don't panic!

With love to you all.

Eve and Ella (January 2014)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The January 2014 newsletter

It is so hard to know where to start when so many things have gone well!

I’ve got a new job for starters. After Easter I’m going to be teaching A level Chemistry and GCSE Triple Science at a private school about 20 minutes away from home. So I’m not at the FE college after all. My visit to the college didn’t always go smoothly. The strangest part was that at no point in the 2 hours I was there was I asked to prove that I had any aptitude for teaching or even any interest in being a lecturer. They wanted to see my degree certificate and they wanted me to agree to doing teacher training once I had started work but they didn't seem to care at all how I would cope on day 1 having not taught before. It all felt that I was just going to be a cog in some enormous machine and that was rather unpleasant. The interview panel managed to sound desperate that I should take the job but of course all that did was make me wonder what they hadn't managed to appoint somebody via two previous adverts. The interview itself went well - right up to the point when they asked if I had any questions. The numbers of hours I was to be teaching didn't make sense. The total weekly hours and the hours to be spent teaching chemistry didn't match, not even close and they would not tell me what I would be doing the rest of the time. It was bonkers, all that did was make the Head of Department look incompetent and/or sinister, so I withdrew my application straight away. I might be stupid but I'm not that stupid!!

I was walking back towards reception when one of the panel - the member of the College Corporation so basically like a school governor - ran (literally) after me and invited me to attend an interview to teach chemistry at the school where he was Chair of Governors. On Monday, 9th December I attended - they liked me and I liked them and I was offered the job. It will be for an Easter 2014 start date with the summer term shadowing the existing post-holder who retires in July 2014.  Slightly more money but far more holidays and so less childcare to pay for so in real terms a pay rise.

Ella’s new job is going fine. Three days a week at the law practice pays 80% of what she got full time working for BBL so allowing for less childcare and the reduced commuting cost she is on about the same money. She enjoys looking after Nicola and Alice on her own: at least at the moment!

Saving the best for last. Magda and Didi are back together as of December 26th! It was all quite dramatic and romantic with Magda arriving unannounced at the South Wales bash to talk to Didi. There were lots of tears and laughter and a happy ending. I like happy endings!

Our Christmas “open house” went well mainly due to the hard work done by a whole host of people plus the generosity of others. In joint top place must be Chris and Mark who spent ages acting as an unpaid taxi service for those of you without transport. As happened last year hiring a minibus was the right decision and thank you to Colin, our neighbour, who negotiated a special price for us. Chris and Mark added Ludlow to the pick-up points and dropped Kidderminster - which seemed to match what people had said before the event. Then the two from Ludlow got a lift with the Church Stretton group and Ludlow was dropped as well.

All the usual suspects were there. It was especially nice to see Zulu, HelenaP and SimpleNotSimon who had a longish drive to be with us. Just as nice were the phone calls and text messages from our friends scattered all over the place. Two provisional attenders dropped out on the 23rd. Alice N had to work an extra shift at the Childrens’ Home where many of us have lived at different times and GraceT had “projectile vomiting” so stayed away.

I had hoped to have the reports on the Blackpool and Barry events here so I could send them out with this newsletter. But no luck – hint, hint! I will send them out when they arrive.

Love to you all.
Eve and Ella XXX