Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Four days to go . . .

. . . and, seeing as little or no work is done on the last day of term, that's no time at all.

Today is my time out of class for my SEN work and I'm really hoping there are no last minute important meetings because I so need and want to work with some children today. Somehow, the meetings, the paperwork, the phonecalls, all essential in their way, have been getting in the way of what it should be about - working with the children. So fingers crossed . . .

Photo: One of daughter's kittens, taken about one year ago. Cute!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Five more day to go . . .

. . . before the end of the term.

I'm so tired at the moment. 'Get up later then' do I hear someone say? I wish I could, but I just do wake early. Even in the long summer holidays rarely do I sleep later than about 6:30 and then once awake I have to get up.

Actually, early mornings are gorgeous. In the winter it's dark and spooky and cosy inside and in the summer the air is fresh and clear (usually) and invigorating. All the doors and windows get opened and the whole house freshens up - fantastic in those very hot days we get at times.

The other thing is that I don't work terribly well in the evenings, being very tired after a day at school, whereas in the mornings I can think a lot more clearly. Even now, when I seem to be tired all the time and my brain aches.

Only five more days to go!

Photo: My daughter's kittens, taken nearly a year ago. Cute.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Bread and tomatoes

The staff of life, they say. Wonderful stuff, tasty and satisfying. So why does most of the bread we can buy taste positively the opposite. Flabby, insipid, unsatisfying . . . dreadful stuff.

I have a bread maker but recently I've started making a non-knead, rise in the loaf tin bread that I think is absolutely delicious. It's called the Grant Loaf and, I gather, was created during WW2 as a quick and nutritious alternative to the infamous National loaf.

There are loads of recipes on the Internet so I won't post one here, but just to say I use stoneground wholemeal, oatmeal and a good handful of sunflower seeds (they're on the top in the photo, but now I add them to the dough) and it's absolutely delicious!

On my toast this morning I had fried tomatoes. The tomatoes were not terribly flavoursome so when they were soft (fried in a little olive oil) I added a little squidge of tomato puree, some black pepper, some oregano and a little Philly light. Oh, and a very small pinch of sugar. It was absolutely scrummy and went with the Grant toast like a dream.

That's it for today - see you tomorrow!

Good morning!

It's now an hour further on than it would have been yesterday. That didn't stop me from waking up at what seems to be my natural time - before 5:00 a.m. Well, the bedroom clock said 3:45, but we know better, don't we?

I'm very much looking forward to the lighter evenings now. It seems to have been such a gloomy winter one way and another. Our spirits need lifting.

I bought a new printer yesterday. Had to, really, because my faithful HP 1220 was just about dead. It printed ordinary stuff (like the weekly planning) on ordinary paper more or less fine but threw hissy fits if I asked it to do anything out of the ordinary (some people are like that too, I've noticed), like print on speciality paper. I was rather sad because it's been a fantastic printer, often performing well beyond the call of duty, but the recent lack of co-operation was getting somewhat annoying.
RIP HP1220.

The new printer is one of those all singing, all dancing printer/scanner/copier things, with slots in the side for memory cards. Whether it lasts as long as the 1220 remains to be seen, but seeing as it was only a fraction of the cost, I doubt it! It's faster, but noisier, and it seems to do a reasonable job on fast draft, which is what I normally use.

The big plus is that it's a lot smaller (the 1220 printed up to A3 size) so I've been able to move everything around on my desk, decommission my scanner and now there's a lot more space.
I bet that won't last for long though!!

Photo: A tidy downstairs (taken just before the KS1 social on Friday). Bet that won't last for long either!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

A really good site

For those of us who need to lose weight for whatever reason, anything that will help is very welcomed.

http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/ is a brilliant web site with so many tools to make the whole journey easier and more comfortable. It has a food diary, an exercise diary, a vast data base of nutritional information, friendly boards and very helpful articles. And it's a darn sight cheaper than a 'real' slimming club. Great value and well worth a visit.

Photo: something to brighten the evening, seeing as it's so cold!

A very pleasant evening

Photo: some rather nice looking apples growing in the walled gardens at Houghton Hall.

Last night was a lovely evening. Everyone turned up, the food arrived on time, wine and conversation were flowing and a great time was had by all. It was really nice to have the time for a good long natter; it's usually 15 mins max at playtime. And the knock-on effect is that apart from the kitchen which is, admittedly, a dreadful mess at the moment, the rest of the house is clean and tidy and all I have to do this weekend is a light dust and get the ironing sorted. So if the weather is anything like favourable, I might even do a bit of gardening!

Mine were in disgrace again yesterday. It was my PPA time. They were all in Family Assembly and a significant number of them misbehaved. So afterwards they were marched back to the hall to 'practice' sitting properly followed by a lecture from me (as their class teacher). This time they were not saved by the rain - the metaphorical clouds opened over them and poured (grin)! And then the teacher who had been taking assembly turned up and said more or less the same things all over again.
They were wingless angels in the afternoon!

I haven't posted a recipe for a few days so here's one! I didn't weigh the ingredients, it's all down to common sense and taste really.

Chicken and mushroom pasta.

Ingredients to serve 1:

One small boneless and skinless chicken breast (a big one is enough for two so increase the other ingredients to match), cut into medium sized chunks - a little smaller than bite-sized
two shallots, peeled and chopped quite fine
olive oil - I used about 8 mls
small clove of garlic, crushed
quarter of a red pepper, cut into chunks
two baby corns, cut into chunks.
about three or four chestnut mushrooms, sliced
some chicken or vegetable stock - I used Knorr chicken stock granules and water - about 2 tbsp.
some philly light - don't use the extra light as it doesn't melt well; the full fat is best but . . .
some grain mustard to taste
black pepper - I didn't use any extra salt - and herbs to own taste

some cooked pasta - I used the spiral shaped stuff: 50g raw weight made loads.


Put the pasta on to cook. When cooked, keep it warm.
While the pasta is boiling . . .
Heat a bit of the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and gently sizzle until soft. Increase the heat, add the rest of the oil and the chicken and cook, stirring most of the time, until the chicken is nearly cooked through. It doesn't take very long at all.
Then add the red pepper and the baby corn. Continue cooking for about a minute. Add the mushrooms, lower the heat and let them gently sizzle for a couple of minutes, stirring them now and again.
Finally, increase the heat, add the stock, the philly light, the grain mustard, the pepper and any herbs you fancy. Stir it all in until the mixture is bubbling. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Stir in the cooked pasta and serve.

And now to get that kitchen sorted!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Friday feeling

The house is all ready for tonight, apart from the kitchen, it's PPA this morning and my class has swimming this afternoon. Three very good reasons for feeling cheerful. I like Fridays!

Some of my dears were causing chao . . . er . . I mean misbehaving a bit in Games yesterday afternoon. I'd just got them all lined up and was about to say what I thought when the heavens opened and we all had to make a dash for cover. See, sometimes, even the weather is unkind to teachers!
It wasn't a good day yesterday one way and another. I think the wind made the children restless and fidgety. And, of course, it's nearly the end of term. They're tired and I'm tired and it's not a good mix sometimes. Six more teaching days to go - not that I'm counting or anything!!

Photo: Taken in Blickling Hall, Norfolk, taken two years ago. A lovely place, well worth a visit if you're in that area.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


I hate it, I really, really hate it! I wish someone would invent a machine that dusted, swept and tidied up while I did more interesting stuff!

Tomorrow evening all the KS1 staff (teachers, TAs and LSAs) are coming round here for a take-away Chinese and a good natter and giggle. So I have to get things organised or, at the very least, out of sight and out of mind. Thank goodness for a lockable bedroom!

The flip side means it won't need doing for another week or so! Which is good :0)

Photo: The house when it was even less tidy than it is right now!


Yesterday my class had a supply teacher as I was out of school.

I was expecting D., an ex parent who knows the school and knows my class. Instead, I got an agency teacher. I'd prepared relatively brief notes for D as more detail wasn't necessary. Unfortunately, that would not have been enough for anyone new to the school. Ooops!

I was in for the first hour of the day so was able to give more detail verbally. I'm sure she was OK - she seemed very competent - but oh, the guilt!! It wasn't the lesson planning; I always do that in some detail. It was all the other things - Reading Revelry, playtime fruit, register routines, changing groups for phonics, library time and the way it's organised, lunches . . . so much to remember in what was really just a normal infant school day.

I hope she had a lovely day in spite of it all and - whoever you are - thank you!
Photo: A few years ago we had the most glorious sunset. I was still at school and managed to snap some views of it. Here's one of them, looking over the playground.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Cheat's cherry ice

This is a nice one. Quick and easy and very 'diet'-friendly! It'll also help towards your seven a day.

Ingredients: (to serve 1)

Some cherry low fat yogurt. I use half a pot of Mullerlight Cherry yogurt.

Ten to fifteen frozen cherries (Sainsbury's does them), frozen.

You also need some kind of a processor. Because I make a single portion, I have one of those little mini things that's ideal for this.


Put the yogurt and the cherries (still frozen hard) in the processor and zizz until the cherries are all bashed up. As you process them, the cherries will start to freeze the yogurt and you end up with a soft frozen mass.

Eat immediately, or put in the freezer until needed.

Warning: If put in the freezer, it will go really solid - don't leave it there too long.
Today's photo is, again, totally unrelated to the above. It's inside Peak Cavern, Derbyshire.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Oh, dear . . .

My class was taking a short maths test today - how many takaways could they do in five minutes. Timid Little Boy was working hard, fingers flying in all directions as he tried to work out his answers. Suddenly he dissolved into floods of tears.

Me: What's the matter, TLB?
Johnny: I've run out of fingers, Mrs Clark and I can't do-o-o-o it!
Helpful Little Girl: Never mind, just take your shoes and socks off - then you'll have plenty!


Monday, 23 March 2009

What a day - it started off sunny, then the wind got up and by playtime it was chilly - thank goodness for the coffee. Then lashing rain this afternoon and glorious sunshine in time for my walk home. A real mixture.

I made a sort of dhal this morning and had some with curry and rice for dinner. It was OK, so here it is.


splash of olive oil

Two shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tsp of ground coriander

Half tsp each or chilli powder, tumeric and cinnamon

1 tsp Marigold low salt vegetable bouillon powder

Boiling water

Black pepper

200g lentils (I used red)


Wash the lentils.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, ginger and garlic and fry gently.

Then add the coriander, tumeric, chilli and cinnamon and fry for one or two minutes, stirring all the time.

Add the lentils, stir well.

Add the Marigold and some boiling water, until the lentils are covered.

Simmer until the lentils are cooked - you might need to add more water. It should be the consistency of thick porridge. Give it a stir now and again to prevent sticking.

I don't add any salt, but you could, if wanted.

It makes enough for five good sized individual servings and freezes well.

The photo is a view over Chatsworth, taken several years ago now.

Apple for the teacher.

Sometimes, rewards can seem few and far between for a teacher. There's the sheer delight when one of my children says something funny, something to share with other. There's that 'buzz', like no other, when a child understands something for the very first time and a look of 'Oh, I've got it' shines on their face. There's the smile from a pleased or relieved parent. There is, of course, the security of a regular salary and relative job security, something that is very much valued in these less than secure times.

On the other hand, there are many brickbats that come our way at times. All the ills the beset society have, at one time or other, been laid at our feet. Government has been quick to blame teachers for the failure of policy that has (let's be charitable here) proven to be less workable in practice than in theory. Inspection teams used to go into schools with the intention to criticise and blame: thank goodness those days seem to have passed now, but the hurts remain and will take a very long time to heal for those of us who were teaching in early OFSTED days.

So when I got the news yesterday evening that an Internet friend has been nominated for an award, I was thrilled for her. She has a tough day today with associated lesson observations, assessments, interviews, etc, so all the best to her. She's a super teacher and well deserves recognition, both for herself and on behalf of all other outstanding teachers. I hope she has a great day and that 'they' acknowledge just how good a teacher she is.

The photograph today is another from Streele Farm, this time from last year's holiday.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

In memory of Liz Ayers

Liz Ayers died on Thursday, March 12th, 2009. She will be buried on Monday, March 23rd.

Liz was a wonderful person: kind, loving, firm, gentle (usually), funny and passionate about justice.
She had the gift of saying the right thing in the right way at the right time. She had a heart as big as the world. She just understood.
I was lucky enough to moderate some OUSA conferences with Liz. I learnt so much from her and will always be grateful for her wise and sensible advice when things became fraught.

My heart goes out to those who are grieving, especially her immediate family. The world is a poorer place for her leaving.

And yet, because of her influence, because of her impact, because of her personality, because of who and what she was, she lives in our memories. She won't just be a star in the sky, she will be here, everytime we do or think or say something that we might not otherwise have done, thought or said , had we not met her and known her.

RIP, Liz. Thank you for everything.

First ever blog post!

. . . if that's what one calls it.

This is absolutely new to me but I suppose everyone had to start somewhere, so here I am. Starting.

A bit about me. I'm a teacher, a primary teacher, currently teaching a year 1 class. I love it. Retirement looms somewhere in the next decade and I don't want to!

I have a family. A daughter, son and grandson. You might hear a bit about him in here now and again. He's bright, funny, lively, kind, loving and quite autistic. It's a brilliant mix. I'm very privileged to know him.

I have some very good friends, many of whom I met online and would never have come across if it hadn't been for the Open University and its conferencing area, FirstClass. A good place - well worth the course fees you have to pay in order to get access! :-)

I have a weight problem - and I mean problem. You might hear about this too, if you keep reading. Also, I've just been diagnosed with high blood pressure which makes the healthy eating something of a necessity now. It's time to stop playing and start learning, fast!

I like taking photos. They're just ordinary photos, nothing more. It looks like I can put photos up here so I will. The one I've chosen for today is one I took a couple of years ago when on holiday at Streele Farm.

I'll finish with a recipe, modified from one sent to OUSA Virtual Slimming by Sue (thanks, Sue).

I need to explain - my recipes are not 'authentic', not haute cuisine, would never get me on Masterchef and wouldn't necessarily appeal to lots of people, but I think they taste OK and seeing as I usually cook just for me, no problem!

Sort of curry: ingredients are all to own taste really and it makes enough for two

a dash of olive oil - maybe about 2 tsp

some finely chopped onion

some grated ginger

garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped

some curry powder, garam masala, cumin and cinnamon.

a small sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks

A small carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks

can chopped tomatoes, zizzed to a semi smooth consistency

Marigold reduced salt vegetable bouillon powder

a handful or two of red lentils

A small squidge of chilli puree or some very lazy chilli or a real, deseeded and chopped red chilli (the best option, but I didn't have one)

2 baby corn, cut into chunks

1/4 red pepper, cut into chunks

some sultanas (sorry, but I like them)

black pepper and a very little salt

40g basmati rice, well rinsed

Heat the oil, add the onion, ginger and garlic and fry for a while, stirring regularly. If using fresh chilli, add that now as well. Add the sweet potato, the carrot and the spices, stir well, reduce heat and allow to simmer away for a little while.

Add the lentils, the tomato, black pepper and the marigold powder with some extra boiling water - the lentils and the rice will absorb liquid so keep an eye on it and add more, if necessary. If using Lazy Chilli or chilli puree, add now. Cover and simmer until the lentils, carrots and sweet potato are all cooked.

Add the rice, the sultanas, the corn and the red pepper with a very little salt, if wanted. Bring to the boil and simmer for on minute, covered, then just turn off the heat, don't lift the lid and leave the pan on the ring. The rice should cook nicely in the residual heat. It will take about 15 mins or so.