All Good Things


The last few weeks have been tough. Four hundred – yes – four hundred – mock examination papers to mark in addition to my usual workload. Incessant rain leading to half of my bedroom ceiling collapsing. The hope of a new job prospect being dashed. No money. Grey skies. Failed New Year’s Resolutions. Little to look forward to.

borough market

But there have been small pleasures.

Wandering around the amazing Borough Market for the first time (yes, I know, ridiculous). Brisk walks along Southbank reminiscing with friends. Enjoying the view from the National Gallery cafe much more than any of the paintings inside. Crying my eyes out at this unexpectedly beautiful book. Going for a walk in Winston Churchill’s garden and spotting a patch of snowdrops tentatively unfurling from beneath their blanket of damp earth. Buying my first bunch of daffodils and watching them slowly come to life.


This year has got off to a shaky start, but my vase of daffodils has given me hope for better things around the corner. Less work and more play. Getting started on that novel I keep talking about writing. Feeling the sun on my face again. Easter eggs. After all, all good things come to those who wait…



  1. Kathleen Paris says:

    Hi Rachel – I’m an History/English teacher in Oz and my dream is to teach in London in the next two years. May I ask why you had 400 trial exam papers to mark? Did the students do several each? Do they also expect comments? I hear a lot about the work load of teachers in the UK and it scares me (not that I think were cruising through our classes and marking here in Australia either) but I do get the feeling things are harder over there.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Hi Kathleen our students sit two GCSEs for English – language and literature – and the literature exam alone is made up of seven essays. I had two of those essay questions to mark for each of our students plus 60 or so of my A level literature class’ mock exams too. All with comments! The workload is immense in my school as we are very academic and the students are expected to produce a huge volume of work. Less academic schools may not be so bad but all of my English teacher friends struggle with the marking and paperwork. I work until 8 or 9 most nights and a few hours on the weekend and I’m still never on top of things. It’s certainly a commitment!

  2. Wow – that sounds like a TREMENDOUS work load. No wonder you are feeling challenged, along with all of the other things you tell about. 😦 Sending loads of sympathy, for what it’s worth. Those “little things” you mention are small moments of relief in a crazy world, I sense. More will be coming, with spring on it’s way. (And if it’s any consolation, our snowdrops are buried under several feet of snow, and it’s minus 32 Celsius outside right now. I look at your picture with deep envy! 🙂 )

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you! That is some consolotion – minus 32?! You poor thing! Hope you are managing to stay warm!

  3. Kathleen Paris says:

    Wow. That is crazy! You must be at a really high end school – I’m assuming pre Oxbridge? I could never get my students to do that workload.I work most nights as well – a lot of my work is writing curriculum (but that is because I’m with fellow staff who don’t pull their weight). Seven essays! So I assume in the UK, in the GSCE, students study seven texts? We only do four in Australia.It makes me feel worried for Australia actually – my school is certainly a long way from the top performeing school (low socio economic) but certainly not amongst the worst.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I’m at a grammar school, so yes, high ability students all of whom are expected to go to university. We study three texts for the literature exam and there is a further ‘unseen’ text in the exam they have to write about. The three texts each have two essay questions for the students to answer hence the huge number of essays! It is exhausting for us and exhausting for them – hard work indeed!

  4. Kathleen Paris says:

    sic – performing.

  5. I’m confident good things are just around the corner for you, Rachel. I’ve had a tough start to this year too but am taking pleasure in the small things and am rather inappropriately cheerful given my current situation. It is so difficult to be too unhappy when snowdrops and daffodils are bursting out everywhere!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Claire! I am sure the same will be true for you – you have made a brave decision! Yes – if only the rain would stop!

  6. Helen says:

    Good things are surely coming, Rachel!

    That is a horrible amount of work, thank goodness it’s behind you and I hope you don’t ever have so much again. How CAN that be justified? And I’m sorry about the job prospect. But with all your talents and experience, something else will appear. And good luck with the novel! How exciting.

    New Year’s Resolutions are rubbish anyway.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Helen! You are very kind! I can’t really be justified in my opinion but there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately! Hopefully now things have calmed down I can get cracking on that book!

  7. Maybe this year wasn’t about your resolution, or a new job.. but learning to stop and smell the daffodils. I love the incorporation of pictures into your narrative& I love your honesty.

    1. bookssnob says:

      That is a lovely way of looking at things…thank you very much!

  8. Enid Lacob says:

    Oh no marking is the pits and enough to put one off teaching forever. I love these lines. May you get what you want from life

    Late Fragment

    And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Enid – that’s a beautiful poem!

  9. Ah, what we do without the small pleasures in life; they keep us buoyant and sane, don’t they? At least this is what I have been telling myself, during this long, long winter.
    All those essays, Rachel, and a collapsed ceiling as well. I’m so, so sorry to hear that, and, from your post and comments, that is a very strident work load for you as a teacher, and your students as well. Leave it to you to look at the sunnier side of life, which is made all-the-better with a smiling vase full of daffodils.
    Good cheer comes your way from the frozen, snow covered Cutoff.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Penny – I appreciate your good cheer! 🙂

  10. Me, again, wanting to let you know I’m reading, via an audio book, “The Night Circus”. Just wish it would warm up a bit outside as I do most of my audio reading in the car.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I hope you’re enjoying it, Penny!!

  11. Hey Rachel: Sorry you are having a rough time! You are so talented and I know you will have a career as a fantastic teacher – I wish I had had a teacher with your passion and intelligence.

    I’m glad you are finding ways to brighten your days – that is so important. This phase will pass and I’m sure that before too long we’ll be hearing about how you landed yourself the perfect position.

    Meanwhile, keep reading and finding spots of brightness in your days. I suggest you take up knitting! Or some other craft where you can play with bright colors during these gray winter and early spring days. We’ve had 216 inches of snow so far this year (we average 200) with more to come and it has been so cold in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, hard to get the dogs out for a run when it is -10 F! But I’m knitting up a storm, listening to books, and having grand time.

    All the best, Kathy (aka Ruby)

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Kathy! That’s a lovely thing to say. I want to get back into knitting etc – I need to push myself to make the time. It sounds like you’re having a lovely, cosy winter – well done you for making the most of the cold weather!

  12. Peggy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your rough patch (and it does sound miserable–the ceiling!). Here on the US East Coast after an ice storm our power went out and is still out, today’s the 3rd day. This morning the house was 45 degrees F. Glad you found yourself a good read and the time and energy to enjoy it. Thanks for the cheery photos!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Peggy – I’m sorry you’re experiencing such awful weather too!

  13. Jo says:

    Chin up old girl! These long winter days make us all feel glum, there is no magic answer I’m afraid so take solice in the non-school stuff you love x x

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Jo – I will! 🙂

  14. David Nolan (David73277) says:

    Well done on being able to look beyond your problems and see good things ahead. The sun is always shining, even when the clouds obscure it from view.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks, David – yes, I am trying to view things with that philosophy!

  15. Oh, Rachael, I remember the long nights of grading, grading, grading. I found out what grownups do in the evening after I retired. Things do seem to pile up at this time of year. I actually lived in a house that had a collapsed ceiling. I know your pain and mess. It is wonderful that you can put a positive spin on it. Spring is coming with holidays and fresh air.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I think this is probably the worst term of the year, and it comes at the worst time, weather-wise, too. Things can only get better!! The marking gets me down…but I have to try and get past it. Holidays and fresh air will be lovely! 🙂

  16. Jo says:

    I was holdingmy breath reading all these papers you had to mark. And whoever Sid a teacher has an easy life and long holidays is much mistaken. I feel exactly the same about daffodils and have two vases on the go! Anything to brighten up the gloom at the moment.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know…it makes me so angry that people think we go home at 3 and have an easy life. The holidays don’t really make up for all those extra hours! Daffodils are such great mood lifters, aren’t they?

  17. Elke says:

    I’m sorry to hear that the year hasn’t been off to a good start for you. I have noticed that the first two months are always the hardest, when the weather is getting you down. Hang in there, I’m sure spring is coming soon.

    NB : And may I say I’m drooling over that picture from Borough Market.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Elke – I’m hanging on! I know, aren’t those cakes gorgeous?!

  18. Nan says:

    This is why people leave teaching. My husband just retired, and as he read your post to him, he kept saying, yes, yes. It’s really hard. I’m glad you can find bright moments, but I wonder if you will stay in a job where there are just stolen moments, instead of longer, sustained times of peace. The profession must change if it wants people of your caliber to be part of it. Sorry about your ceiling. I’ve been watching videos of the weather and I feel so sad for Britain.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I know…it’s a career that is just so demanding, and some days has no real reward. I wonder how long I will be able to cope. Thank you – yes, it’s awful for so many people. I am lucky to be on high ground but nearby villages have been badly affected and the rain is still coming.

  19. joanhunterdunn says:

    Dear Rachel, each week there’ll be more flowers peeping out to lift the spirits.
    This post
    May interest you with your current thoughts.
    Wishing you an abundance of daffodils x

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Rachel – that’s a very interesting and inspiring post. Much to think on! The same to you and your lovely Alice! Hope you are having lots of fun together x

  20. Darlene says:

    When it rains, it pours…literally! and in so many respects. Heartfelt sympathy to you and your Mum for the cursed trouble brought about by the weather lately, Rachel. Every newscast featuring another county flooded out has me wondering about my friends and what things are like at their house.
    A couple of years ago The Daily Telegraph featured a fabulous short story by Michael Morpurgo (something about a hare) in their review supplement. I was wrung out by the end of it! Sounds like he’s worth taking a closer look at. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Darlene! We’ve not had it bad compared to most but it is starting to feel like we might float away soon! Oh Michael Morpurgo writes some lovely books – you should definitely check him out! 🙂

  21. Couldn’t you have mock marked the mock exams?

    1. bookssnob says:

      Ha! I wish! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s