Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The long dry and mostly sunny autumn seems to have eventually come to an end: today is distinctly cold, dreary and wet. Daughter #3 has very bravely gone off to rowing-training, though I don't imagine it'll be as much fun as it was in the lovely mellow days just gone. She's doing tremendously well and has taken part in a couple of races, thoroughly enjoyed them and won a couple of medals. She is so good at organising herself for this, her guitar lessons and school that it's difficult to remember that she's still only twelve. Twelve, and on her road to independence. I am, by turns, very proud of her and sadly nostalgic that she's growing up so fast. I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed by my doctoral studies. Not that I'm not enjoying them - I really am - it's just that having got funding, the pressure is on to crank up the pace to submit in two and a half year's time - not the five years that I'd originally scheduled. There is so much to do and so much I don't know that even chipping away at it bit-by-bit is quite daunting. Luckily my supervisor is excellent and keeps my feet firmly on the ground, so I don't have the hassle that a lot of my friends have had with unsatisfactory working relationships. The only thing I'm finding a bit of a trial is the obligatory hoop-jumping that seems part and parcel of PhD work nowadays. 'Investors in People' meets academia: paper trails and finding and completing exercises just to have them box-ticked on my training-needs record. Honestly - I'm coasting downhill towards retirement. I'm not realistically going to find gainful employment at the end of the day, am I? (fair enough, my younger colleagues have none of them, to a man, found a job in their chosen field), so why pretend that all this time-consuming workshop attendance is anything more than a form filling exercise that takes me away from the real business of writing?
Half-term looms again (can't believe we're nearly half way to Christmas this term already) and fortunately we've lined up a real treat: Barcelona, courtesy of Airmiles earned through shopping at Tesco. Brilliant - I can't wait, never having been there before. I'm going to try and savour every single moment, not get too stressed over the travel arrangements (like I usually do), and take time to stand and gaze in awe at all the unfamiliar stuff around me. It should be lovely, and a much needed break for the Husband, whose job is pushing him into meltdown, if not complete burn-out.....

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