Thursday, November 05, 2009

Too noisy

So last night the fireworks started popping off round the house - neighbours down the road have some every year, nothing too flashy but enough for 5 minutes entertainment from over the hedge. Well, Kit HATES fireworks. Sitting eating his macaroni he heard the first one and sort of laughed..but not really, it was a bit too manic for laughing. Two fireworks later and he was getting upset and headed off to his room to find the ear defenders I bought him when we had planned to go to Knockhill (called off due to chicken pox).
The ear defenders made him feel much better. So much better, in fact, that he kept them on all through bath time, story time (Each Peach Pear Plum is so much better shouted) and then to bed. I finally prised them off his ears at around 11 and put them on Bigger Bear's ears who was still awake and also unsure of the bang and crackles.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Winter's Here!

Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
Saw my first gritter tonight. A cold spell and dark nights, fireworks and my first winter puncture.
I'm off to Ireland this weekend, to Cork for some whiskey tasting with French dudes. Promises to be lots of fun. Oh, and my moustache is 4 days old and not worth taking a picture of. Update on Sunday :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
Happy Hallowe'en! My concession this year has been to buy a bucket of sweets to hurl at children who come to the door tonight, but judging by the dearth of previous years I won't have too much to worry about. And then I can eat the sweets. Asda was horrible yesterday, with grubby people clamouring to buy the remaining grubby plastic Hallowe'en tat. Even Sainsbury's only had a handful of foosty pumpkins on Thursday, so I might carve a potato tonight instead.
Last night there was a big staff gathering in Bo'ness to start saying farewell to Sheilah, our nearly retired headteacher. It was fun, though as a designated driver I was not as keen to stay on as I usually might have been. And it was Bo'ness, so you don't want to hang about in general.
Tonight is Samhuinn, a firey / drummy festival procession leaving the Castle at 9pm and promising to be a fantastic photo opportunity. A colleague from QPS, Jennifer, is a drummer taking part and was talking this week of fur costumes and leather masks... I will be wearing a raincoat and stout shoes I think.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Up North for October

I've had a cracking few days recently - the October holiday week is always good: it lacks the pressure of the summer holidays, where good weather and "plans" are paramount, and it prefaces the pressure of the Christmas holiday with its family driven agenda and financial aftermath. The tattie holiday is a real holiday, where autumn's colours and the early bite of a cold wind only serve to make Scotland a nicer place to be when you have nothing to do.
And where nicer in Scotland than Speyside? I was lucky that there was a coincidental coming together of the holiday, my birthday and the Aviemore Half Marathon, my second after premiering in Glasgow last month. We headed north after school on Friday and stayed with Dad in Carrbridge, steadfastly refusing all but the skimpiest of curries in preparation for my run on Sunday. It turned out to be a lovely day, until lunchtime anyway, and the run was a picturesque, friendly and fun affair. 109th out of 996 and no lasting injuries sounds like a good day out to me.
So Monday saw poor Lorna heading south to go back to work on the train. Meanwhile Kit and I continued north to Tain for a couple of nights. This is another opportunity for him to be a spoiled brat but for me not to mind because I get some quiet time - and today, my quiet time took me to Croick Church, an exceptionally special place to me. Special for a number of reasons - it has big history. Follow the link to learn more, but suffice to say the church is linked forever to the Highland Clearances in a way that enters your blood and gives you The Shivers every time you visit. I'm not sure why, but inside the curch manages to be many degrees colder than outside, whether summer or winter. The people of Glen Calvie were mustered there before being thrown / chased / burned out of their houses and homes in 1845, and famously the church has scratches on the windows where they testified to the sadness and loss they were being put through.
All in all I spent a good few hours there with my camera trying to get some nice in and outside shots of the church and its grounds. I didn't feel spooked at all, it's a very peacful place to be, just so cold. Until, that is, a conker got blown from a tree and banged against one of the windows: then I shat myself. More pics to follow once I get them edited and Flickr'd.
Back home tomorrow - rehearsals tomorrow night then possibly an Edinburgh photography day on Thursday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Good Word

The Good Word
Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
So, off up the road tomorrow. This term has been a very fast one for me, and a busy one as I come to terms with being a P3 teacher. It's very different in that the children an cope with less concentration, which means a larger number of smaller tasks each day. Today we did Sentence Writing, or as I wanted to begin calling it "Just write ONE sentence, please, come on!"
Yesterday and today the three candidates hoping to be the next head teacher (when Sheilah retires next month) were being shown round the school. The rules dictate that us staff were not allowed to know who they were, so seeing them and even saying hello to one I recognised was tricky...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A bit of running, a bit of fundraising.

I'm just back in from a rainy but enjoyable 5 mile run, my "usual" run which is an unexpected and uncharacteristic phrase at the best of times. Sunday is the Highland Half Marathon in Aviemore, and after my sensational 1hr 35mins at the Glasgow Half in September I am not feeling quite as tip-top. Reaching the end without my right ankle tearing off will be a good result after last week's long run to school, but at least I have a week off school to recover afterwards.

November is Movember - a fundraising opportunity for guys with hair...the link will explain it better but to summarise I will be growing a groovy moustache to raise money for Prostate Cancer Charity, follow me here and keep an eye out for pictures! I even have a "team"...

Kit is very full of himself - important things in his life just now are trains, jumping, drawing and being Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast. Ah well, could be worse. Lorna has contacted a judo club for him. He's three and a half, and apparenty the cotton wool is coming off. The judo-guy called tonight and despite me hanging up the first time (thinking he was a cold caller; well, he was asking for Mrs Clarkson) he had a chat and confirmed that 4 years old is probably better. I'll maybe just enter him for some baby-cage fights until then.

The picture is of Kit and his edible hedgehog. This was Granny's hard work when she was down to look after him and his chicken-poxy body. Good job!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Excuse me, I've got a bit of a dirty fork.

Father's Day here in the UK, and to celebrate we headed out to Howie's at Bruntsfield to undo all the good work of the last few weeks dieting. This was after a morning of gardening and box-packing. (We are decluttering the house with a view to tentatively thinking about selling.)

Kit's big news is that he has been promoted from Tiggers to Owls at nursery, the final room in the chain. Here he will be in with "the big ones", get no naps and less adult contact, instead finding himself trying to negotiate the complicated world of pecking orders alone. Do him good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bad to the Bone. And sparkly.

On Sunday Mike and I took the opportunity for a bike run to Kilmarnock-ish where the Ayr Classic Motorcycle club were holding a bit of a do. I am not the biggest fan of classic bikes, but I'm trying to train myself to like them the way I successfully did with whisky and risotto.

The stereotype of the biker is still alive and well. Huge bellied, bearded and bullish men, wearing enough leather to drown a horse, clutch tiny polystyrene cups of tea while pointing knowingly at featherbed frames and discussing whether that colour was the original 1964 or later 1965 hue. I didn't really fit in, not having the heritage, and I sort of scampered off every time it looked like someone was about to engage me in conversation. I feared an Invasion of the Body Snatcher type response. Think of a fat, baldy Donald Sutherland with a rollup.

The best fun was possibly looking at how other people had maintained, customised or ruined their bikes in the parking area outside. Scary bikes, small bikes, bike bikes, gay bikes, they were all there and revving up an assortment of (mostly illegal) exhausts. At £5 it was good value entertainment but I'll really need to do some homework before next time. Of course, it's the same dozen classic bikes which attend all the Scottish events so memorising them shouldn't be too hard, and then I too can say things like "Aye, that's a 74 like, tell by the caliper housing."

More here...>

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
So, to compensate for having no willpower I have signed up to and have had one and a half very successful weeks. You can become my supporter to cheer and jeer in equal measure as I try to go from medically overweight to statistically normal in 12 pious weeks.

I was very excited this morning as I sat at the computer from 9am to ensure I got tickets to Muse at the SECC in November... and I did, and now I'm excited. There are precious few bands which could do that, and most of them are dead or hate each other, so it's nice when one comes along that I would actually dance for. Yes, actually dance.

Report cards are now written, and as always my creative writing skills are put to the test as even the most challenging of individuals are described in terms that deluded parents can interpret in any way they choose. Luckily this year I have no such pupils, or parents.

Oh, I also started volunteering at Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital this week. I am a bedtime reader once a fortnight, though that was actually bedtime drawer this week. Having done my best to help with a beach scene I was surprised the little girl didn't ask whether I was in fact in for an operation on my hands, eyes or perhaps brain. After a brief discussion on what a palm tree actually looked like time was up and I and headed off. It was strange entering a whole new place / system / environment with its own rules, routines and hierarchy but I'm hoping that in time I'll get a handle on it.

4 weeks today until the summer holiday but who's counting?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Google reaches the Zenith of its purpose - me.

I am disproportionally excited to have found myself in Google Street VIew, which has just been published for 25 cities across the UK.

If I look slow it's because the Suzuki had probably just broken down again, and I was coasting to a halt for the 3rd time that day.

View Larger Map

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Respect my authoritah!

Respect my authoritah!
Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
"Cycling is an easy and low-impact activity which can significantly improve individual fitness and which has the potential to have a major impact
on public health.
It can help to reduce the risk of a range of health problems, notably heart disease and cancer, the leading preventable causes of
premature death.
In a country like the UK, where obesity is at epidemic levels among adults and young people, one of the main benefits of cycling is that people can do it as part of their normal daily activity – by cycling to work, to see friends or to the shops – rather than having to find additional time for exercise.
One study found that people who cycle to work experienced a 39% lower rate of all-cause mortality compared to those who did not – even after adjustment for other risk factors, including leisure time physical activity. Getting on your bike can yield much the same health benefits as doing a specific training programme. Cycling for an additional 30 minutes on most days of the week, combined with reducing calorie intake, can achieve weight loss comparable to that achieved by doing three aerobic classes a week.
As well as improving physical health, cycling has a positive affect on emotional health – improving levels of well-being, self-confidence and tolerance to stress while reducing tiredness, difficulties with sleep and a range of medical
One of the barriers to taking up cycling is a perception of the physical danger posed by motor traffic. However, the real risks are minimal and, the research suggests, are outweighed by the health benefits by a factor of around twenty to one. It may be more risky to your health to be sedentary.
It’s vital for the health of the nation – and the health of the planet – that health and transport professionals focus on positive actions to encourage cycling, especially where a cycle journey will replace a car journey.
Local transport and health authorities need to recognise the potential of cycling to improve many aspects of public health, and place it at the heart of a healthy transport strategy, devising safe cycling policies and promoting the use of cycling – by children and adults alike – on a daily basis."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
A busy few days at Carson Crescent recently.

I pulled a Valentine coup on Saturday night by springing a surprise overnight stay on Lorna, at the Cringletie House Hotel. One of my readers will remember this as the wedding night hotel. She knew nothing about where we were going, or that I had secured Gill and Gary's early evening babysitting as well as Muriel's overnight services. As we were heading through Penicuik she did fear the worst, a chip supper at the bus stop for old time's sake, but all was reveled and as the guy at the hotel began to explain about rooms and breakfast arrangements her surprise was worth all the backroom plotting. Yay.

Saturday also saw us off to Dundee to celebrate Nana's 90th - a family spectacular, and she even gave a speech thanking us all though included the sentiment, with a laugh, "I never wanted to live this long..."

And today we spent time with Mum and Don at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh feeding squirrels and looking for snowdrops. The squirrel feeding was not helped by squawking children running about wondering why the squirrels were hard to find...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Highland Graffiti

Highland Graffiti
Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
Today I was All Man as before me child after child dissolved into tears at some personal crisis or another, some real and some imagined. See Exhibit A glaring at me in tears because she was unable to fold some paper. (18 others had successfully folded their paper but I was still an evil teacher for not folding hers for her.) And Exhibit B, crying as the rest of her group shouted at her for not pulling her weight. It was difficult to be truly sympathetic when I had deliberately put her in the group to be shouted at, to save me doing it. And it's only February, imagine the carnage by June.

On a brighter note we had proper snow today - thick, fluffy, cold and icy enough to leave two of my class with semi-permanent facial scars after only half an hour of snowball fighting. Cycling was actually very peaceful through the drifts. I think I saw 3 other bikes the whole day, and two of them were the same guy twice.

I went on a spending spree yesterday, within the boundaries of being a tightwad. I bought a few books - one by Sudhri Venkatesh, the Californian sociology student mentioned in Freakonomics. He spent a few years with the Black Kings, a gang who he discovered had a hierarchy and financial structure to rival any other big corporation. His book fleshes out the summary found in Freakonomics and is an easy and compelling read. In my head he sounds like Louis Theroux.

The accompanying picture was taken in Tain, the underpass from St Vincent Road under the bypass. Jon was impressed by its simple message of peace and its accurate punctuation.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Originally uploaded by Lee Carson
So, that's February already and Britain grinds to a halt in the face of half an inch of snow. Well, London does. How does snow manage to disrupt the underground? Edinburgh too is suffering its share of transport woes but it's still the cyclists who are smug, if not snug, as all around roads are dug up and traffic is diverted so TIE can gives us trams.
The population of the household is going up steadily as more and more toys are named and played with, rather than just lung on to. Only yesterday Pudsey bear was put to bed by Kit due his sore eye, snuggled down and read a story. The guitar and piano are still favourite items, with his Brio train and Thomas TV game close behind.
Lorna spent a week in Hong Kong a while bak and we sent Kit for a holiday to Granny's house - a popular decision all round. This gave me the splendid opportunity to relive my bachelor days for five exciting nights, just long enough to remember that I don't miss my bachelor days at all. It turns out that without my family I would be just another fat, even more.
It did give me the opportunity to catch up with Jon in Tain for a night, an unlikely but welcome opportunity. Beer, whisky, cigars and putting the world to rights. Same old same old, thank God.