sweet dreams and fever dreams

thermometer on blanket
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You tumble softly into clouds

Before the fever grips your brain

And all the monsters crawl to light

Scaring you, confusing too.

So I haven’t written a post in a week which is unheard of, but I had the flu so bad I started to think I wasn’t going to recover.

Last Tuesday we had to call out the ambulance because I was coughing up blood and was running a really high fever. I ended up in A&E on Friday because I was still running a fever and after five days I was starting to lose the will to live.

It was the first time I’ve had those weird fever dreams in such a long time, and the things that run through your brain are really interesting.

While I was waiting for the doctor to see me I seemed to have it in my head that I was Health Secretary. I’m guessing that watching Matt Hancock in the jungle had infiltrated my thoughts and when I found myself in a hospital setting I seemed to put the two together and began feeling like it was my job to sort waiting times when I got back to the office.

Of course, I didn’t say any of this to the doctors because I didn’t want to get locked in the psychiatric part of the hospital – but it was an interesting set of thoughts to experience.

I am no longer delusional and I am back at work. Life is good and I hope yours is too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the bookbinder

assorted books
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She tears and glues and cuts

Through cardboard covers

And the silky fabric sleeves,

Waiting for the press the set

The pages into perfect books

To sit on shelves in libraries for

The people of the bookish world.

I love watching videos of people rebinding books. And because I love beautiful books I like to see what they cover their creations with; the finished products are always stunning and they make me want to have a go myself.

There is something quite magical about a book that has been bound in a beautiful fabric and I would die to have a collection of notebooks all bound by myself in the prettiest designs.

Bookbinders fall into the same category as hatmakers for me. They seem a little bit mystical and a little bit mad – but totally genius. It’s an artform that seems to be dying and I can’t understand why. There are so many people that adore stationery, so why aren’t their more bookbinders?

Much Love

Rachel xx

The ghouls

what are you reading right now?

A little bit of book reviewing this evening. I’ve been lucky enough to read some cracking books of late so I thought it was time to share a few.

My first was Jeanette McCurdey’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. This was such a sad and shocking read. I’m always super interested in the lives of child stars, and I feel really sad for the ones that go off the rails. I even find the psychology behind child stardom fascinating. And so this was a real eye opener as we saw what can really happen when children are pushed into the spotlight.

Keeping with the memoir, I then read Richard E Grant’s book A Pocketful of Happiness, all about the grief he has experienced since the death of his wife last year. He doesn’t hold back in this book and because it is narrated by him, you can actually hear his voice cracking as he talks about the moment he lost the love of his life.

Next up was Carrie Soto is Back which I devoured. I have a real love of stories about athletes and this one about a tennis star didn’t fail to impress.

I’m now on to a book called The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict. It is about an actress who somehow becomes tangled up with the Nazis before fleeing and then becoming a Hollywood star – and it’s a true story.

I’d love to hear if anyone is reading anything good that I should give a try. Have a fabulous weekend.

Much Love

Rachel xx

writing a truly unusual book

opened book on tree root
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I was having a discussion with a colleague today and we got onto the topic of truly unusual books. Rather than books that just have a really different and original premise, we were talking about books that take on a whole new format that has never been done before.

My colleague is much younger than I am and she has only just finished her masters degree, so she has actually been studying this and has loads of interesting ideas that she has researched. I can barely get on board with a Kindle so some of these wacky ideas are a bit much for me, but some were really interesting.

We began by talking about The Appeal by Janice Hallett which I am actually really keen to read. This is a mystery novel that is made up entirely of emails, articles, reports and evidence and the reader pieces together the events to solve the mystery.

Then we really broke out the crazy and she told me about thise woman who wrote a whole book in the snow and took photos and posted them on Instagram. Obviously, once the snow melted, the only record of the story is the photographs.

My colleague then told me about the story she created for her final project at university and I have asked her to bring it in so I can read it because it sounds so cool.

Basically, she created a box full of random items that were actually all connected by her story. To access the story you had to scan the QR code on each of the items and then you could read the individual parts of the story online.

She’s lost the box but she still has the QR codes so she is going to let me have them and then I can read the mystery. And she’s kind of inspired me to have a go at writing something that is not traditional too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Matt Hancock in the Jungle

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The politicians want the world to see

They’re human just like you and me.

And if it takes them making being fools,

Looking like a bunch of tools

Then that’s OK, ’cause they’re getting paid

More than the rest of us have ever made.

It really looks like he’s lost the plot

Trying to be something he’s really not.

If anyone reading this is outside of the UK and you have never heard of Matt Hancock, then he is a politician who is taking part in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here this year. That is a reality show where ‘celebrities’ go to the jungle in Australia and do lots of tasks to win meals.

Matt Hancock was our Health Secretary when we were going into all our lockdowns. However, he was disgraced when he was caught on camera, having an affair. This was bad enough, but it also meant that he broke the social distancing rules that he was responsible for.

He is still a serving MP so it does seem really disrespectful to his constituents, buggering off to Australia when he should be doing the job he’s paid to do – with money that comes from our taxes.

However, I can see why he would want to do it. If he can show that he is human and has redeeming qualities, then perhaps he might grow his waning popularity. If I were in his shoes, I would probably be tempted to do this as one last roll of the dice. What would I have to lose? And some politicians have actually come out of that show quite well.

He also wants to promote his work in support of dyslexia and I think that is important and could do some real good. As a teacher, I can see how important this work could be for so many people.

Whatever happens, I think he was a great signing by the makers of the programme and it has certainly made me want to tune in later this month.

Much Love

Rachel xx

there’s no difference between life and death

man in black jacket standing in front of grave
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The rattle of the final gasp

Mirrors screams from baby’s lungs,

From birth to death we cry

And love and sleep

But when the deathbed calls

And ghostly shrouds of hospital gowns

Cloak our bodies like the blankets

Wrapped around us on our birthday.

Tears are spilled on both days,

The day we come and then

The day we drift back into nothingness.

I have just finished listening to the audiobook by Richard E Grant. He has written it about the death of his wife and it has really touched me in so many ways. I think that I have been affected by it so much because I have not experienced the death of a close family member, so it all feels so scary- and possible.

Richard and his wife were about the same age as my parents, and I’m a similar age to their daughter, so that also made it hit home just a little more. I haven’t spoken to my mu in several years, and yet I haven’t really thought about how I would feel if the worst should happen to her. Reading this book has given me a bit of perspective in that respect.

The book is so touching because you can hear how much Richard adored his wife, and it’s heartbreaking to listen to that pain. And yet, the end feels so much like birth. There are all the practical things to deal with, like paperwork, there are deep emotions and there is pain.

And I like to think that we go back to the same place we came from before birth.

A bit of a ramble, I know, but hearing someone talk about death always sparks so many thoughts and questions in my own mind. It becomes like a little conversation with myself, babbling on about things that nobody else would understand.

Much Love

Rachel xx

walking in the footsteps of Jane

So, I’m a bit of a Jane Austen nerd and, therefore, I go all funny whenever I find myself in a place that she once roamed. I was lucky enough to go to Bath this week and I got to see some of the places that were mentioned in Northanger Abbey.

My heart skipped a beat when I first spotted the beautiful Pump House where the Bath socialites did their schmoozing back in the day. It still looks incredibly grand, with silver service waiting staff gliding around and a giant chandelier dominating the room.

We also went into the Roman Baths which was the most amazing experience. You can’t actually swim in there anymore, but you can drink the water. The people of Austen’s time would travel to Bath specifically to ‘take the water’ to cure them of all kinds of ailments.

I feel like I’ll have to go to Bath again to search out all the independent bookstores. And then I need to return to Bristol so that I can sample to arty nightlife. The city is famous for its open mic poetry nights and I’d love to go and meet some of the talented people that hang around there.

Much Love

Rachel xx

so they do actually trust me

anonymous female friends embracing on spacious meadow
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It’s a funny little thing,

To know that you’re loved,

That they trust your word

And the advice that you give,

It hums in your bones

And puts warmth in your belly,

Knowing they like you,

That they care what you say.

I have a real issue with thinking that people don’t like me, so when I get proof that they do, it can sometimes come as a bit of a shock.

As a teacher, you are putting yourself up for being mocked, and being picked on by teenagers can be miserable. Teenagers are mean.

I have a slightly tricky Year 9 group and there are a couple of girls that are always sniggering in my class. I have spent the whole half term worrying that they hate me.

But yesterday, just before the end of lunch two of them rushed into my room and stood wuietly in front of me, quite obviously deliberating whether or not to confide in me.

“Tell her!” one hissed at the other.

“I don’t think I should,” whispered the girl.

I shifted my weight as I waited for her to word vomit whatever it was just before the bell.

I managed to get out of her that shee was having a friendship issue and she was wanting my advice on what to do. Her plan was to ‘get revenge’, which I told her may not be the best idea. I told her to enjoy her half term and have a break from social media and all the bitching that can go on between fourteen year old girls.

She nodded and off they ran, as the bell began to sound.

I was left standing in my doorway, wandering how I had gotten it so wrong again. I’m obviously doing something right and that was a nice feeling.

Much Love

Rachel xx

highlighting and tabbing your books

a close up shot of a person holding books
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Coloured post-it notes are scattered through

The thick and creamy much-loved pages,

Littered with a spray of day glo

Felt tip pen to highlight quotes

That touched the heart and caught the breath

Of readers round this tender world.

I do not tab, highlight or write in my books. I used to when I was studying. I had to remember large chunks of my texts and so it made sense to underline bits and bend the corners of important pages.

But since I finished my degree over a decade ago, I have got it into my head that writing on books is sacrilege. I don’t even like cracking the spine of a book, for fear of ruining something that is essentially perfect.

However, since I jumped on TikTok, I see so many people writing in margins and using colourful post-it tabs to mark the pages that have tugged at the heart strings.

I’m finiding, since starting teaching, that I also enjoy collecting quotes and there is no way that I’ll remember the book and page number for much more than a few minutes. So, I need to either start going back to writing on books, or finding a notebook to collect my special quotations.

I will leave you with this one from Page 133 of Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid:

I inhabit the silence of this moment with my father, when we are still asking questions and do not yet have the answers.

Carrie Soto, 1995

I’ll probably remember where that quote is until tomorrow morning and then it will be lost forever.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Christmas activities coming thick and fast

monochrome photograph of a nutcracker
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The smell of pine

And flash of fairy lights

Crack the air that’s crisp and cold

But swaddled in our winter coats

And woolly hats with bobbles on

We only feel the warmth of fires

Where hot dogs cook

And wine is mulled

It’s weeks away but we can hear

The bells already in the air.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the ads for Christmas activities are already seeping through.

For me, I think that this year there are a choice of two things to pick from this year, and I’ve done neither before. One is a light trail at the local country park, and the other is to see the Nutcracker.

The Nutcracker is nearly twice the price but you can’t go through life without seeing it once.

The next step will be making mince pies, but I think I may wait a few weeks until I do that.

Much Love

Rachel xx