Bugger, I have let this slip, haven't I? Well, to paraphrase Lewis Carroll, I ought begin at the beginning, go on till I come to the end, then stop: and indeed, I should probably start with the move to Carmarthen, not that I'm ever likely to forget it.
But first, to bring anyone not in the know up to speed: I'm studying for a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education in Secondary English, through the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. As there aren't many secondary schools around Aber, observation and training periods are farmed off to other parts of Wales. Hence I'm in Carmarthen at present, and for my next trick I shall be sawing my lovely assistant mongoose into… erm, I'll be in Llandovery. Slap me if my mind wanders too far. ;)
Anyway, this involved relocating via TrawsCambria coach… my plan being that I would be travelling light enough to pull this off. And, indeed, it worked. Just. As an interesting aside, the university (being the marvel of organisation it is) instructed the accommodation office to get students to leave on Friday 4th… a day on which portions of the course were still running. The grudgingly offered alternative was to vacate halls by 10am the following day… an arrangement of similar helpfulness to anyone catching trains, buses, coaches or even getting a lift to their placement. The reason for this was the incoming wave of Primary PGCE students the university had sandwich-booked into the same accommodation. All of which leads me to wonder; in the interests of sanity (and indeed fairness), why could not halls management stipulate to those arriving for both courses that contract weeks would run from Sunday to Saturday?
(As an additional point: having a car in Aber is something of a hindrance. There is little parking, it is generally quicker to walk, and parking fees are not cheap. Moreover, the university had accepted many students onto PGCE courses on the understanding that they would require placements which could be commuted to or otherwise reached by public transport. I'll possibly write more on accommodation and placement organisation in a bit, but just generally be aware that I got a relatively easy time of things compared to some others on the same course as myself. This is really quite worrying.) :|
So… moving. Not a particularly smooth operation, for two reasons: my suitcase weighed more than I did, and I managed to leave my duvet in my room in Cwrt Mawr. Cue much swearing… before, during and after. Getting dropped off by a cab outside WH Smiths to pick up magazines and wave goodbye to people was ambitious; that I pulled it off I consider impressive, as it then took me over twenty minutes to navigate the hundred metres of pavement to the coach stop. The suitcase wheels didn't take this particularly well… I need a better scheme for next time: possibly two suitcases, spread evenly. I haven't yet investigated the feasibility of travelling from Aber to Llandovery at all…
Got into Carmarthen easily enough and early, straight into a taxi which seemed to know where I was going (later, I discovered that our house is only a few minutes unencumbered walk away.) Turned up on the doorstep just in time to be rung and kindly be offered a lift by our landlady's husband... Everyone else turned up shortly after. The house is pleasant... downstairs bathroom, but we do have a shower and washing machine. We had a bit of hassle the weekend after we moved in when we discovered that the gas and electricity meter card outlets don't open Sundays and work limited Saturday hours... but we found them eventually and ate out in the meantime. At the time it wasn't quite so fun... as I wrote to Laura:
If Carmarthen has redeeming features, they are very well hidden. It is cold. It is wet. It does not have 24hr retail outlets. Specifically, it does not have retail outlets which purvey gas and electricity cards which even fucking open on a Sunday… so, today has not gone especially well. Further to this, we've been soaked every time we've stepped outside, and I've also jettisoned the toaster I picked up at Charlie's after it caught on fire.
However, I'm forgetting to relate the escapade of the first evening in Carmarthen... which saw me returning to Aberystwyth. Having realised that I ought to have been carrying another large bag containing my duvet, I hitched a lift back with Rowenna's friend Liz (Ro had enough stuff to move that they were transporting over two days.) Thus, I ended up kipping on Dan's couch and giving a few people a slight surprise with my return. Fortunately, my duvet was quickly located in the cleaning cupboard of the Cwrt Mawr flat I'd vacated that morning (a big thank-you to that woman!), although by this point my head was so fried that had I arrived back to discover the beach overtaken by a hostile landing party of Viking badgers, it wouldn't have seemed strange...
Pleasingly, we got a phone line connected quickly, with free national and local calls after 6pm provided they don't exceed an hour in length... so, we have net access! The 28.8kbps PCMCIA modem is therefore struggling a little with my demands... if I happen to find a cheap 56.6, I'll grab it. It's a great card which doesn't run hot, though... 8)
I volunteered for the smallest room in the house... firstly, I have the least stuff (well, I had... things have been acquired since), and secondly it heats up quicker. Washing is a bit of a pain, as we have to use radiators to dry stuff... and I desperately need to figure out a system for ironing. In other random but fortuitous news, Mark turned out to have a printer with him (in spite of not bringing a computer), and got given a TV and video by his school. The video was duff and is now a pile of parts in the living room, but the TV is decently sized... so I bought a PS2.
There is more logic to it than that... it's something I've been contemplating for a while, and the further price reduction deal from Argos clinched it. For less than the price of an average cheap DVD player, you get a DVD player, PS2 (with PS1 compatibility), remote control, PS2 game and second controller pad. Obviously, I went for Tekken Tag (the tagging adds an extra level of tactics to the classic Tekken formular, there's a good range of characters and options, plus a bowling sub-game to unlock.) Another great thing is the cheap cost of PS1 games these days... so Worms World Party and Bust A Move 2 have joined, and if I can find a budget or second-hand copy of Micro Machines 2, I shall. Of course, the main reason was that we can now rent DVDs, and I can watch the ones I already have when I get home on something other than a 15" monitor... and you can even get an add-in to make the PS2 region-free. Ah! Megami-Sama! Yay!
Really, I have to wonder how much better consoles can get... and in a related thought: whilst joypads are a control compromise, more advanced virtual reality would require a decent level of physical fitness for players to partipate. Unless, of course, we jump to the stage of jacking our brains directly into computers... hmmm, would you? :?
Now, I realise that this is a huge cop-out for an account of the last four weeks, but we've only been observing and acting sometimes as classroom assistants thus far, so I'll write in more detail about school (Queen Elizabeth Cambria) when I've given the couple of lessons I'm scheduled to do next week (on short stories and biography.) Our department has been very forthcoming with information and resources so, essentially, any fuck-ups are my own fault. With that in mind, I'll get back to you shortly as I'm quite tired now.
Love & hugs, xxxx