Sunday, May 25, 2014

Time is (not) on my side...

I'm in one of those phases where I'm running to stand still. There are so many deadlines to meet at the moment I seem to have a permanent knot in my stomach. The butterflies have given up in there and now it's just tied itself into a tight tangle.

Without boring you all with the staggeringly uninteresting details, I teach an eight week online course four times a year that runs on a strict programme. The students have to complete a specified number of  assignments each week, and I have to mark them all the following week - within the week. With eighteen students doing on average 7 to 10 written assignments of varying lengths every week, I have my work cut out to keep up. I must say, it feels like I'm sprinting to the finish line every Sunday night and I only draw breath again when I've made it. I also have daytime face to face teaching, but luckily that's not as demanding and there is less marking to do.

The big bug bear now, though, is my MA dissertation, which I really, really really don't want to do, but I have to so as to keep my job. I qualified as an ESL teacher some years back now, but thanks to a scandal a couple of years ago involving a college that was employing unqualified teachers, the Dutch government decided that all teachers from high school level up had to have a Masters degree. I wouldn't mind if I were 30, but I'll be 60 next birthday.

Why bother? You'll be retiring soon, I hear you say. Well no. I won't and I can't. Because the government has also decided I have to work until I'm 68 before I am entitled to a pension. To be fair, everyone who is my age now has to do the same. The increase in pension age is being phased in, so Koos, who is a little ahead of me, was entitled to his pension at 65, but depending on one's age this year (or was it last?), the age for retirement increases exponentially (is that the right word?).

Thus..or Dus, as we say here, I will need this Masters to keep on working. I am in the last phase of a three year programme now, but this year makes the last two feel like child's play…deadlines every month to submit material. I can't wait for the summer to be free of work so I can focus on my studies. Regrettably, all plans for extended spuddling will have to be shelved until the beast is firmly under my belt.

That said, I am hoping still that if I keep writing and producing things people want to read, I might be able to give up a little sooner, but 'tis a forlorn hope. I'll probably end up doing my time, but I definitely don't want it to be at the same pace! That French sunset still beckons and I'm still counting on sailing off into it! In the meantime, here's a couple of pics from our latest spuddle.

My lovely Jo, whose relationship to me is
only known here and not publicly on Facebook or Twitter
for reasons of privacy (hers) that I respect

Us two - happiness is in a good spuddle

Happiness is also standing in the bows of my barge

Koos doing what Koos does best in life - apart
from taking photos!


  1. Oh dear, I can feel the pressure just reading this Val. Good luck with the Masters, and getting it finished will be such an achievement, you'll feel so good! Hang in there with the assignments, and an occasional spuddle to clear the mind!

  2. Stress is a terrible thing and you should really try to find time to chill out. I now don't get my state pension until I am 67, however I do get my teachers pension at 60 as I was within 10 years of my retirement date when they changed the rules. I was really cross when they changed the rules as I was banking on 6 years left at work and then it was 13 years overnight, a huge jump :) Then you get the idiot politicians saying that everyone wants to work longer, who? No one that I know for sure. The rules are different over here for teaching. Post 16 Education teachers only have to be one level above the level they are teaching, but then this is reflected in the pay which is considerably less than school teachers get. Good luck with your dissertation but please find time for yourself, I know how ill it can make you xxxx

  3. Dearest, Val. So much pressure! I hate giving advice, but you give so much of your time to other people and they will understand if you disappear for a day or two or three because you have other things to do. You have to look after yourself first and that’s an order (I can be very bossy!) XX

  4. I'm in a rush too, Val - but for much happier reasons - I'm off to have fun.

    You take care of yourself, please!!

  5. Thank you so much, kind souls. I will answer your comments later, but yes, you are right, I know I need to take care of the old stress ball :)

  6. You're so busy. You must be extremely organized. Much good luck with your dissertation.

  7. Oh, Val, what a total arse pain. Can't you get a job down the local plumbers' instead???!! I really feel for you; we're at the time of life when we want to choose what we do with our time, are we not.

    Love the pics (as you know), you look MARVELLOUS, and I hope writing it down helped vent your anger at the ludicrous crap of it all! xxx

  8. Oh Val, you do have all my sympathy, it must be sooo hard!
    Whenever my day gets too busy and complicated I shall think of you, as you must be a superwoman to contend with all that.
    Why is it, that just when we need to be slowing down and enjoying what we may have left, it just doesn't happen?
    Best wishes from both of us (and more power to your elbow!)

  9. I can;t tell you how much I appreciate your sympathy and concern, everyone. It's already made me feel heaps better!

    Patricia, I will hang in there. The spuddle is good advice :-)

    Fran, I'm getting more organised now, so I really will make sure of some me time. As Patricia says, the occasional spuddle will go a long way towards clearing my mind. Thank you, dear xx

    Lynn, dearest, I'm already paying attention. I've cut back on my FB and twitter promo. Thank you! xx

    Jo, understood, and I hope you've had a great time there in Chippenham!

    Carol, thanks…luck is something I need as well as time :)

    Terry, it's all of that and some! And yes, it did help to write it down. I don't often vent on my blog, but this time I just needed to say something. I'm so glad you like the pics, and THANK you! You're a star! xx

    Jay, bless you! Yes, I wonder that too. Why? When my parents were my age, they were definitely slowing down. I feel is if the pace is accelerating - or maybe it's just because I AM getting older :-)

  10. And here I thought I was having a proper flip out for all the things I need squared before school ends in late June! I am under that self-imposed "finish your novel before you go to Scotland in August" phase, but yours is a genuine one. You have all my sympathies. <3

  11. Just think how good it will feel when you have finished it. I don't know how you manage to fit in all that teaching,studying and write as well. It was only a few days ago that it dawned on me who Jo on my facebook is and it's funny that you should mention that here.

  12. Bless you, Anne Marie. I've come close to flipping out, I must say.

    Anne, yes, it will be a huge relief when it's finished! Funny about Jo! She likes to keep her private and public faces completely separate. That's why we are just 'friends' on FB and Twitter. Since she writes and plays in a band as well, it gets complicated at times :-) I find it quite difficult to remember not to be mum!

  13. Hi Val .. I'd still like to know what a spuddle is?!

    Good luck with the MA ..looks like heads down and get on with it .. no more procrastination .. you'll do it I'm sure .. just settle to it ..

    Cheers Hilary

  14. Hilary, I'm so sorry if I haven't explained it. It's a word Koos and I use to describe a short trip out on the boat - any boat for that matter, so it can also be in a rowing boat. Thus a spuddle = a short boat trip just for fun.

    Thanks for the good wishes for the MA!

  15. Thanks Val .. ok now I know!

    I've found that article about our Canals if you can send me your address I'll put a copy in the post for you at some stage ..

    Good luck with those continued studies .. keep at it!! Cheers Hilary

  16. Val I found your news very disheartening and can only imagine what it is like for you in having to do all of that studying, instead of being allowed to wind down gradually.
    I was fortunate in being able to retire at 48 and live on a low income and I realise that not everyone is able to do so.

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