Wednesday, 19 September 2012


The university has reopened for students after the summer break. The autumn/winter semester has begun and next week sees the start of seminars and, thus, work for me. This year, as well as the textual analysis course I've been doing on and off for a few years now, I'll be tutoring another two. The first is called Issues in Contemporary Society which is, pretty much, applied ethics. And the other is an academic writing course for students who need a little extra help when it comes to using formal, academic language and structure.

As with everything there are good and bad aspects to all this working. The main good will be having a bit of money. There are several things I could do with that require more than I currently have: new spectacles, for example. I can feel that my eyesight has deteriorated quite far since I last had my eyes tested: reading hurts, and I don't recognise people in the street until they are upon me which can get me into, not trouble, but difficulty. I seem constantly to be saying, "Do apologise, I'm blind as a bat!"

I could also really do with a couple of jumpers (sweaters for those of you across the Atlantic). I meant to get some last winter, but everything I earnt went into a joint bank account and I never saw it again. The last time I bought any warm clothes was 2009, and, quite frankly, they're looking a little shabby now. It would be nice to have at least one fresh looking woolly.

I'm running out of face cream, too. And I can't remember the last time I had decent shampoo. So all that will be jolly good.

Another biggie for the goods is that I really love teaching. There's something incredibly vivifying about seeing the pennies dropping one by one, often quite slowly, sometimes all of a sudden, in the students' eyes. The change in their understanding, and ability to debate points reasonably by the end of the course is usually huge, and it's always a joy to think: "I helped them get here."

On the less good side: no more Thursday night music sessions for me until the Christmas break. No more lazy mornings in bed with coffee and Dave tales, during the week, at least. And I'm likely to be tired, and sometimes a bit grumpy, because the workload is large and can be stressful. Especially when it comes to marking essays. Dave is going to see a different side to me. Relaxed, playful Eryl will be replaced with fraught, efficient Eryl. I hope it doesn't put him off.

Here follows some random photographs that show what I've been up to in my last couple of weeks of creative freedom:

Globe courgettes, courtesy of my boss, Katherine, at the book shop who has an allotment and found herself overrun with them. 

Chanterelles, courtesy of a local beech wood. I cooked them in just a little water and a drop of red wine vinegar, as advised by a friend of Dave's who lives in France, and they were scrumptious.

Ian, of Moffat Music Live, and the Bull sessions, in the Annandale Hotel on Sunday. I've been trying to get a decent picture of him for ages, but for some reason he's never around when I have my camera. So, knowing he'd be there on Sunday I took it with me especially. Moffat Music Live uses my photographs for publicity, and they didn't have one of him, which was a bit of an omission, really. Now rectified.


india banks said...

It's always such a treat, Eryl, to have news from you. I'm happy you have the courses and I love your description of pennies falling from the eyes of students. The photographs are lovely - the Chanterelles make me hungry for France. My prediction is that life with Dave might make the marking of essays something of a joy xx

Pat said...

Order of priority:
1 Glasses.
2 Face cream.
3 Sweaters.
If desperate you can always look delectable in one of Dave's.
ack at college, what you may lose in tranquility you'll gain in vibrancy and Dave wil fall in love with you all over again. Enjoy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

My advice to you is to go out and splash that first month's cheque on yourself - sweaters, make-up, anything you feel like buying. Glasses next - they are a bit more utilitarian - yes I know eyesight is important, but in my book not as important as one's self image. Good luck,

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Doesn't academic language separate the writer from a non-academic audience? Is that desirable? I had the privilege of hearing Kurt Vonnegut speak once and he said that universities run the risk of stripping a writer of his/her original voice and replacing it with steely "correct" structure.

Hope you don't misinterpret that as an attack on academia. It isn't

Eryl said...

India ~ thank you, what a lovely thing to say. I reckon you're right about Dave making essay marking a joy.

Pat ~ how practical you are, in quite a contrast to Weaver - also a Pat - below! Glasses are top of my list, I want huge reading glasses.

Weaver ~ the first month's cheque will be small, only a week's worth of pay as the term starts so late in the month. But I may squeeze a jumper out of it once I've set aside the cash for petrol to get to work.

UB ~ ironically, perhaps, I was hopeless at academic writing as an undergraduate. And I wailed about it stripping me of my voice. But students who master it make it their own, eventually. As with anything, learn the rules then push them to breaking point. It's just another tool, after all.

elizabeth said...

I'm jealous in a way!
I miss the excitement of teaching......but not all the essays to read and grade!
Wonderful gourds/pumpkins!

Elizabeth said...


angryparsnip said...

I just bought some new glasses, it is always a chore for me. As I put them on beside yelling really loud "I can see!" is that I could really see.
I let them go to long and I didn't really understand how scratched my glasses were.
Go for the shampoo and face cream. Is not wearing your partners sweater or shirt always in style ? Wear a Brooch with it, my jewelry friend said they are come back in fashion. You can pull it off !

cheers, parsnip

Whirlochre said...

Bat eyes blind one to the ferocity of student zits — rejoice ye in your fuzziness of puslitude.

Kim Ayres said...

I'm sure you'll love being back in the university environment.

And yes - glasses first - then you'll be able to see the price labels for everything else :)

somepinkflowers said...

oh my
your Chanterelles

you picked them yourself?
get out!

pop over & see
what mushrooms were growing
my yard this week


you already have

on instagram...

Eryl said...

Elizabeth ~ thank you. The pumpkin/gourds are actually courgettes.

Whirl ~ good point!

Kim ~ you're right, on both counts.

Some ~ I wouldn't have been able to do it by myself, but Dave knows all about this sort of thing. I'll come over and look at your mushrooms right now!

india banks said...

Eryl, I'm so happy you're going to post a photo of your kitchen and write about it! I meant to say that in my post but forgot - so am happy that you read my mind. A request: Might I borrow your pumpkin-coloured castle photo because I want to write about you and your blog today? Thanks so much, xx India

nick said...

Good luck with the new semester and the huge workload. Jenny, being a lecturer, would totally identify with the fraught, efficient Eryl ploughing through the paperwork. I'm sure Dave, like me, will be very sympathetic.

Hope you manage to buy all those much-needed items. Especially the glasses. Trying to get by without up-to-date glasses is a headache (sometimes literally).

Eryl said...

India ~ feel free, I'm flattered and delighted!

Nick ~ he will, I know it.

rochambeau said...

Hello dear Kitchen bitch and friend.
I don't exactly know why, but your words have me tearing up over here in Texas. Any how, I do adore your frankness and I do so relate to even needing shampoo. However, what I want to say, is that at this time I do feel good things coming towards you and happening to you in every way. I know you have such big talent !! Also, you have the eyes to see all of your many blessings, especially with those new stylish spectacles on the horizon)! I'm sure Dave will love his working woman Eryl. Ethics. What a terrific thing to teach and think about. Also, to see students lights go on! What a cool gift!
Hi to Dave. What is he practicing these days?

Please send me your address.

rochambeau said...

Just finished the shells for 2 fruit tarts and the icing for poppyseed cupcakes.
Thought you should know.

Eryl said...

Constance ~ address coming up, I've been meaning to email you, anyway, as I have such a thing to tell you!

I definitely did need to know that. I've never had poppyseed cupcakes, I bet they're fab.

Anonymous said...

Another dimension unfolds in your relationship..

a deepening.

Oh, and op shops are great for jumpers, the eighties is back - think big slouchy ones with a loose neck that drops over a shoulder.
I can see you in one.

Eryl said...

It is a deepening, Denise. I've been working pretty much non-stop for the last two weeks and Dave's been astonishingly supportive.

I love op shops and will look out for some big slouchy jumpers, thanks.

A Cuban In London said...

The course you're teaching sounds fun... both for the tutor and the students. There's so much ground to cover in ethics, I gather! I hope you had a nice start to the term.

Greetings from London.

Eryl said...

Hello, Cuban, lovely to hear from you. The course is great, we have some wonderful debates. I have to say, though, I'm completely knackered.

The World According To Me said...

I like your random pictures. Glad you snapped Ian at last!
Hope all is good with you.