Saturday, 31 October 2009

Pie update

Well, it's very nice. tasty and moreish but the meat is a bit dry and I didn't add enough jellied stock - I grossly underestimated how much it could take. Definitely one to do again but next time I will perhaps get a slightly more fatty sausage meat, use fattier streaky bacon or pour in some stock while it's baking. I'll also put in loads more jelly at the end and perhaps arrange the meat in layers rather than mixing it all up together.

The recipe said it made 8 to 10 portions. Well, maybe it does if you've starved for a week, but I have got 20 decent slices out of it, each one enough for one portion (or maybe a little more as the slices aren't completely even.

Another next step is to make smaller pies, perhaps raising the pastry around a good sized jam jar, like the Good Old Days!

Saturday morning . . .

. . . and officially the end of the half term break. What a pleasant one it has been too. The weather has been good and it's such a colourful autumn this year.

So, what's scheduled for today? Well, the pie has to be finished and then tasted, I must get into school to sort out the display properly and there's the ongoing problem about the state of my bedroom! That's enough for anyone!

Photo: One of several I took in my parents' garden yesterday morning

Friday, 30 October 2009

The pie

Not totally complete as it needs to chill before the jellied stock is added - but it looks delicious. Not perfect, but very wholecome! I hope it tastes as nice as it looks.

Friday evening

. . . and I'm back home again now.

First of all, a big thanks to Mum who treated me to my new winter padded jacket. So kind and very much appreciated. Thanks, love you too.

Secondly, I did find a parking place in Baldock, so graced Mr Chapman's shop with my presence and dosh. And the result is that the first baking of the pie is now in the oven and should come out in about half an hour.. Then it's resting it for a while, removing it from the tin, re-glazing with an egg wash and baking in a hotter oven to get a golden and crisp crust. Then it comes out, chills overnight and in the morning the jellied stock gets funnelled in. After another chilling it's done! A long process but not a difficult one, so I'm hoping it's really successful.

But I do need a higher sided baking tin. The one I used has the necessary loose bottom, but the sides are not high enough. I should have got the one I saw at Boundary Mill really, but never mind. I'll get a more appropriate one before I make the Christmas Pie (assuming this one turns out OK).

I've decided (yet again) that enough is enough. Therefore, on Monday, economy rules. That doesn't necessarily mean second best, it means common sense. I have to do something about my weight, it's just plain ridiculous the way it goes up and down and never gets anywhere constructive. I'm not sure what needs doing but I'm getting pretty close to despair over it. I wish food wasn't so darn nice!

Wish me luck!

Friday morning

. . . and I'm sleeping no better here than I do at home. I really think just before three in the morning is way too early, even for me! I shall be ready for bed before the six o'clock news at this rate.

Nice day yesterday though. Mum and I went up to Boundary Mill, near Grantham. I managed to find a padded jacket thingy that is large enough for super-size me and warm enough for winter playground duty and I also found something I've been looking for for quite some time - a very small saucepan. I also got a very small frying pan - just big enough for one fried egg, a few chopped onions, etc. Excellent! Oddly enough, one of the main things I went for was to buy a cheap handbag and they didn't have any. They had plenty of handbags, but they were all reduced expensive ones (meaning that they were still expensive). I may be odd (very) but I'm not paying thirty or forty pounds for a handbag that's going to have to survive life being kicked around in my key stage 1 classroom. The last one - the one I have just chucked out - lasted me three years and I got it from Matalan in the sale for £3.00. That's the sort of thing I was looking for.

So on the way back Mum and I stopped off at Matalan in Biggleswade and, yes, there were a couple of bags that were what I wanted and within £10. That's saved me a trip to Chelmsford Market tomorrow morning.

While trawling the Internet for some recipes, I found a likely looking one for a raised pork and chicken pie. We like a pork pie at Christmas, but the nice ones are very expensive and when one is providing for seven omnivores it all becomes rather financially-wince-creating. This one doesn't look too dear and it freezes, so I feel a trial run coming on before the end of the half term break. I want to add a bit of fruit to it - apricots or maybe cranberries, seeing as it's for Christmas, so a trial run would be wise: I can slice it into small single portions and freeze them to use for school lunches.
I think stopping off in Baldock on the way home to visit dear Mr Chapman in his superb butcher's shop is a distinct possibility (if I can find anywhere to park) as his sausages are the best I know and the recipe calls for good quality sausage meat.
Fingers crossed that it works - I will report back at a later date.
I also want to stop off at Bickerdykes to look at their Christmas stuff. They always have some super things in, pretty expensive, but I have a little personal tradition of trying to buy one nice, special bauble for the tree each year and maybe I will find one there.

Maybe it's just as well I woke early - there's a lot to fit in to the morning!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wednesday morning

. . . and I'm up early again, but at least I do feel I've had enough sleep this time. I'll likely have a snooze this afternoon but that's normal for the school holidays and has been for some time, unless I'm out and about.

So, today's schedule:
Have bath
Take DG to his club
Drive over to Letchworth
Out to dinner somewhere local this evening.

Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? I daresay I'll manage though, if I push myself. :0)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tuesday evening

. . . and I think I'm catching up on some sleep. I slept like a log last night, woke up at five and did a bit of internet pottering, then got back to sleep and woke again at about 8:30, nodded off again midday and had another hour's sleep then. It all helps.

While at DD's for her birthday evening, I managed to take some kitty photos, but idiotically left the camera there, so no photos to down load and edit at the moment. All three of the kitties have open eyes now and their ears are also becoming 'properly' shaped. They're so sweet! Robin is particularly bold and brave.

Apart from that, the car went in for a service and to sort out a few wonky things and came back purring. The bill was wince-creating, but that's life! It should see me through the winter now.

I'm off to Mum and Dad's tomorrow. Dad is having some Internet problems at the moment so there might not be another blog until I get home on Friday!
See you then, if not before.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Monday morning

. . . and half term really has started now. I feel like Lady Muck sitting here in front of the PC while someone from an oven cleaning service is getting my range into pristine condition in the kitchen. I'm appeasing my conscience by making maths games for my class.
Later on it's a visit to Morrisons to get the stuff for DD's birthday thing - not sure what to call it. It's not a party, just them, me and my son and partner and it's all packets. Pizza, salads, crisps, garlic bread, etc.
I'll whizz over at 5:30 with everything ready to just open or pop in the oven. Easy peasy. Then I can adore the kittens!

And I might, just possibly might get my bedroom cleared a little bit too. Filling a bin bag with rubbish and getting it into the bin would help considerably, as would sorting out the piles of sheets and other bedding, some of which really needs to go into the 'Bag for School'.
That's a fund raising scheme - you fill a poly bag with old stuff (specific stuff) and take it to school, it gets picked up, weighed and the school gets paid according to the weight. It's a really good money raiser in its way and so useful for getting rid of old stuff - I know I can certainly fill my bag!

Oh - and there's some ironing (isn't there always) which will need doing before I go up to stay with Mum and Dad for a few days. It's nice to have the time for it all.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sunday morning

DG is staying here. Usually he sleeps really well but, for some reason, he was restless last night. he came in four times to tell me something overnight, the last time being to wake me to remind me that I should be up and working because I always was at five o'clock. Of course, it wasn't five, it was four, because of putting the clocks back! Then he pottered back to bed and went to sleep. I came downstairs because he had woken me good and proper and did . . . some school work!!

I'm going to be tired later on!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Saturday morning.

And here we are, up well before five, ready to face the day. I'm cheesed off because I actually managed to force myself to stay awake last night until I got a new lease of life, in the hopes that I might wake some time half decent this morning. I should've known better really.

So I've been amusing myself by starting to write the next maths assessment for the end of term, with references to all things festive and merry. Questions like there were ten fat snowmen in a field. The sun came out and melted four of them. How many were left?
One has to hope Clever Little Mathematician won't start arguing at this point.

CLM: Mrs Clark, Mrs Clark, actually that's impossible because if the sun melts the snowmen, it will melt all of them and . . .

Me: Just shut up and do the maths!

DG is coming to stay over tonight. DD has a close friend (they were school mates together) coming round and I think they're going out for a birthday meal. DG and I will chill round here. Should be fun!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Friday evening

. . . and half term has started. Well, actually, it hasn't, not until Monday morning, but it feels like it. Freedom. As all the marking is up to date, all the assessments have been done and the planning is all in place for the week back, all I have to do is make a few resources and I usually enjoy that very much.

Life feels good. Weary, but good!

Photo: This is a scan of a water colour my talented DD did from a photo of Ava. To my utter delight, she has given it to me as a thank you for looking after Ava for the last few weeks. Wonderful! There's a bit missing from one side - my scanner wasn't quite big enough!
Later on:
We had a bit of an accident in school today. Some of my lovely lads were indulging in a bit of rough and tumble, involving some friendly pushing. Unfortunately, one lad pushed another off balance, who cracked his head on the floor and cut it open. There was gore everywhere (I doubt his shirt will ever be the same again), paramedics arrived post haste, as did W's mum (a lovely, sensible, calm lady who did all the 'right' things) and eventually a trip to the surgery just over the road from school to have it checked out. Hopefully there won't be any side effects although poor little W (a nicer laddie you could never wish to meet) was very shaken up, white and miserable. I felt so sorry for him, but as sorry for the boy who did the pushing, who was shaky, tearful and white all afternoon, most unlike his usual self. He cried in front of all the others, poor lad. I think they've all learnt a lesson, but, as W's mum said, that's boys for you! They need to rough and tumble . . .

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Wednesday evening

Despite the rain and despite no getting out at all at lunchtime, it's been a pretty good day in school. Once again I am very thankful for a pleasant, friendly, amenable class of children who really do want to co-operate and work well, achieve and be proud of the work they have done. It makes such a difference, especially in the afternoon after an 'in-lunchtime'.

The other nice thing is that I started work on the Christmas Show. Sorry, but I can't avoid the dreaded 'C' word any longer. I've been very involved in KS1 shows in the past, playing the piano before the days of wonderful backing tracks and generally (at times) assisting in creating shows and even writing songs to go with them. However, this will be the first year that I am responsible for organising the whole thing and, once again, I am thankful for a Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1 team that is incredibly supportive and hard working and prepared to have a go. They're stars, every one of them.

This year we are doing a slightly amplified version of 'Snowman at Sunset' from the wonderfully creative 'Out of the Ark' company (if you're a teacher, I can't recommend their music highly enough - take a look at their web site). It has to be amplified because it isn't quite long enough for our needs and doesn't have dances, but it's just right for the age group, aimed as it is at Nursery and KS 1. A limited vocal range, words that are not too complicated or hard to learn and a simple story that the children will be able to relate to. What more could a co-ordinator ask for? Actually, just thinking about it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I've always loved Christmas and it's really special in school - memorable.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Tuesday evening

. . . and Will and Lyra have gone to their new homes. So sad . . .

Tuesday morning

Yesterday was a bit busy, what with one thing and another. The children are virtually wiped out and more than ready for their half term break. On top of that, they had two assessment lessons, one unaided writing and the other for maths. I am pleased to say that they have all made some obvious progress and their writing clearly indicated their next targets as well, which is always helpful.

The afternoon was a bit frustrating because I tried to print out some sheets necessary for the recording part of the activity and couldn't - the printer was on the blink. So, to their barely disguised glee, they had choosing - er, I mean structured practical activities - instead.

Poor little J came in to the class looking very unhappy. I had him up and asked him if he was OK and he promptly burst into tears. As I was surrounded by lots of children, I asked K, my TA, to take him to somewhere quieter and have a chat. She came back grinning to say that he had some new Lego and was building a tower with it. He wanted to make it bigger before he came to school but there wasn't time. That was 'all'. And having got that off his chest, he cheered up no end.

Today is my SEN day. A meeting at the beginning of the day, a meeting after school and phonic assessments in-between. Oh, joy, oh, bliss!! What more can life hold (yawn). I also have some unaided writing to level and some assessments to be done on the maths test they did yesterday, but that will have to be done at lunchtime.

And that's today!

Photo: Will and Lyra showing the year 1 children how nicely they can eat and drink.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Three in one day

Maybe a bit OTT but Will and Lyra will be going to their new home on Tuesday so I took a few more photos over the week.

Here's Lyra looking very sweet.

Here it is!

The photo of the event that caused enormous delight and satisfaction among our year 1 children. Will couldn't have timed it any better - and it was a whopper too!


I seemed to get quite a lot done yesterday, which was satisfying, if boring! Went into school and stayed for longer, sorting out the half term's resources so that they are all ready for putting away at the end of next week, before getting out those for next half term. I'm determind not to have too much to do over half term, hence the drive to get everything sorted.

The kittens were very sweet. Two girls and a boy caller Raven, Robin and Finch. DG told me, with great glee, that they are all bird names and thought that very funny! No photos as they were in a dark corner, mama puss protested if they were moved and the kittens themselves didn't like being taken away from mama, not surprisingly. So I took more of Will and Lyra instead, who are now very lively and energetic.

At home, Ava is sulking. She's back on the old bought cat food as the chicken has all gone and she made her disapproval clear. Who wants tinned moggy tuna when one is accustomed to the equivalent of smoked salmon and caviare, she seemed to be yowling at me. Tough, I said, eat it or leave it. So she sulked!

And today? Well, lots of photo scanning for some science tomorrow, tweaking the planning and making sure all the resources are to hand and then I really MUST do something with my kitchen!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Saturday morning

. . . and it's going to be assessments, assessments, assessments today. Next Wednesday, staff meeting is devoted to filling in the progress tracking grids so I need to have a rough idea of where they're at really. We're using the APP (Assessing Pupil Progress) materials now, so it's a new experience for all of us.

So I've spent my early morning creating whole class grids for maths - there's such a lot of it - for levels 1 and 2. If any little dear DARES go over level 2 and into level 3, I will be most put out!!! I don't think there's much chance of that - they're the nicest class I've ever had, but not by any means the brainiest, collectively speaking. However, they work their socks off, most of them, and love it when I praise their efforts. They had their first spelling test yesterday - not really a test, of course, just a 'have they got /sh/ in onset and final position' check, but we decided to treat it like a test. They were as proud as punch to have to cover their words so that no-one else could see what they'd done and they really kept the rules. Also, most satisfying for me, only the SEN children struggled.

I did intend to go over to DD's to see the latest kitties, but didn't make it, so I shall pop round today, camera in hand! Should be fun.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Friday morning

Sorry about yesterday - I was just so exhausted. Didn't sleep well on Wednesday night, woke before four on Thursday and had two meeting at school on top of everything else.

DD brought the kittens into school yesterday which was a huge success all round. They played to the gallery beautifully, even to the point of Will doing a great big poo in the cat litter tray (thank goodness Beth had put it out), much to the delight of the children. So now it's all set for literacy next week - making a Will and Lyra information book!

My memory is getting somewhat fragile at the moment. At the start of the term I got my class to do some unaided writing. They did, and I levelled it. Do you think I can remember where I put it? Guess what I will have to do this weekend!!

In fact, generally, assessment is looming large. We're starting to use the APP materials and, quite rightly, they require ongoing assessment of progress. They are being used instead of relying completely on one test at the end of the year to determine the year's progress. Much more sensible and infinitely fairer all round. Also, it brings Year 1 into the assessment scene in the same way as everyone else. Year 1 doesn't have the optional SATs tests so has always been teacher assessment. Now there's a greater emphasis on informed teacher assessment in the other years as well. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Wednesday evening

. . . and consultation evenings are over for this term - phew. As always, the anticipation was far worse than the actual event and there were some very pleasant and ego-boosting comments floating around my bay during the evening. I gather it was equally so for all my colleagues too, so it's all very satisfactory.

Now roll on half term!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Tuesday evening

. . . and I'm desperately trying to stay awake for another half hour or so. Yesterday was consultation evening, today was my SEN day (paperwork, paperwork and a meeting) and tomorrow will be the other consultation evening. Having a yucky cold doesn't help either . . .

On the other hand, if I go to sleep soon, if I wake early (most probable) I will have had a longer sleep.


Monday, 12 October 2009

Monday morning

Unless Sofia has had any more kittens overnight, the sum total is one boy and two girls. The first was a bit dramatic. It started coming out tail first and then stuck. I'm afraid it was hurting Sofia quite a lot and DD was about to make a dash to the vet when she and Sofia between them managed to get the poor little thing out. Amazingly, he (it would be the boy who caused trouble) was OK and was soon cleaned up and suckling hard. Then two more came, both fine. I won't be able to get over to see them for a few days, what with Senior Management meeting after school, then consultation evenings, but I'm sure I'll get over soon!

In the meanwhile, here's a photo of Will who obviously enjoys his dinner! You can see what a fluff-ball he is.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Just had a text from DD to say that Sofia seems to be going into labour. So tomorrow morning there may be some more kittens! And before you think anything, these were not 'planned' and Sof is due for the snip once she's recovered!! That's life!

Update: Two arrived safely and DD thinks there's another to come.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

I love my DD

When Liz and I were planning yesterday, we realised two things. Firstly, that next week last year was our OFSTED week - we heard on the Monday and they were in on Wednesday and Thursday. The other was that our literacy that week was partly based on a visit from a colleague (who was on maternity leave) with her baby, Lila. The following week's literacy was planning and making a book about baby Lila. However, of course, no baby this year.

So DD has stepped into the breach with Will and Lyra. She will come with them next Thursday to talk about them, show them, answer questions on them . . . it should all be absolutely fantastic and Liz and I are really pleased that she can come. I went round to see them (and DD and DG, of course) yeaterday evening and they are absolute show-stoppers. Just utter fluff balls from nose to tail and so friendly. I took some photos, but have left the camera in the car so will have to sort them out later.

Thanks, honey, we really appreciate it!

Friday, 9 October 2009

A most important person (sort of).

I got into school today expecting an easy time - PPA up to play, then maths, then finishing off and Golden Time.

So I turn up at school, to be greeted by a message that my PPA class cover lady (lovely person) is unwell and won't be in. This was closely followed by the info that the head is not well and won't be in, the deputy head is at a conference and the KS2 co-ordinator doesn't work on Fridays. So guess who is in charge of the school? Yup, that's right, muggins here!!! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh . . .

Fortunately, they found some supply cover for me and the other teachers who had PPA through the day. I had to take family assembly, but I've done that before, so no problems. And also fortunately there were no huge crises or dramas. Just four Bad Boys at lunchtime which is more or less par for the course really.

As I said to a couple of KS1 colleagues, if I had wanted to be a head, I'd have done something about it more than two decades ago!!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Wednesday eveing

. . . and I'm very, very tired (again). We had a Senior Management meeting at lunchtime where we discussed all sorts of things. All very useful and interesting, but I didn't get a break or a chance to have lunch. Afternoon was lovely - painting and structured 'choosing', but unrelenting. So I'm sitting here, valiantly trying to stay awake until nine o'clock because if I go to sleep earlier, I will wake all the earlier too.

I know I've said it before, but I do so love my class this year. I have all-too-many years of teaching experience now, but I think it's the nicest class I have ever had in terms of getting-along, co-operation, general social skill stuff. I'm so lucky this year and I must never take it (and them) for granted. It's absolutely wonderful to be able to look forward to going in and meeting them each day.

Good times!!!

Photo (because I haven't posted one for ages) - a bit of history.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Tuesday evening

. . . and some good news. Will and Lyra have found a new home - well it will be their home in two weeks' time. They're going together which is fantastic, and the new 'parents' paid the asking price with no quibbles. So very good news and it means that Ava will be able to go home in a fortnight, when the kittens go to their new home.

We will miss them though! Bitter sweet feelings.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Monday morning

. . . and it's all down to St Andrew's for our harvest festival this morning, not to mention the children all turning up with (in Y1's case) tea bags or coffee. Plus the world premiere, no less, of a New Song for Year 1! It's amazing what one can come up with when needs must!

Ava is still here and is gradually getting less and less aloof with me. At the moment she's sitting under my desk, at my feet. I presume she's waiting for me to get her breakfast ready! The kittens have been advertised now and as soon as they have gone she will go back home again. Her mouth seems to be improving, but I'm no expert. She is seeing the vet on Friday so there will be definitive news then and I hope it's good!

Better get going - I need to be out by 7:30!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sunday morning

. . . and it's early, but not as early as some mornings have been this week.

One of my 'virtual friends', Diane, who makes comments here now and again, is also an early riser and she, like me, very much values the time she has before most of the rest of her world is awake and doing. It's a pocket of peace and tranquility in an otherwise increasingly crowded life, an ideal time to plan, organise and generally get things sorted and allocated and seems to make the rest of the day go so much more smoothly.

I'd hate it if I wasn't an early riser, even though I grumble about it occasionally. I've never been an out and about socialiser, so I don't miss the later nights in any way whatsoever. Bed by nine is just right for me!

Teachers are almost always surrounded by people. Big people, little people, people that they must engage with all the time, however they are feeling. It can be hard to find personal space in all that crowd. My early mornings give me that much needed space. Thank goodness for them.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Saturday evening

. . . and thirty six backing tracks, plus the original, are now sitting on the head's desk. I've had a snooze, watched Merlin (great) and am now intermittently watching Strictly come dancing'. Not long till bedtime - I'm tired.

Saturday morning

. . . and I do land myself with some jobs at times.
On Thursday, in wanders charming head teacher with a problem. She conducts Essex choirs in two Barnado's concerts at no lesser place than the Royal Albert Hall (she is a very fine musician) and in past years she's been able to get backing tracks of the all songs made for our own school choir to take home and learn, made by a friend of hers who, I gather, uses special equipment at school. It turns out that this friend has retired and can no longer do the job. Faith, who now leads our choir, has been asking for the backing tracks so she can give them out.

So Muggins here pipes up - oh I'll do it - it's not difficult if you have the software. Wrong thing to say. The first thing should have been 'how many do you want?' Oooops!

So here I am, copying backing tracks one by one on my home PC - all 36 of them!! (CDs, not PCs). Never mind, it does mean I have to relax and can't get involved with anything else too heavy and/or time consuming. Also, I have had some fun creating, printing, cutting and constructing a sleeve for each CD - just the sort of thing I don't mind doing.

Half way through!

Must get some more photos taken at some point!

Friday, 2 October 2009

One of the nice things

. . . about waking very early is that the planning all gets done well in advance. So the maths and the theme planning is complete for book week next week and we sorted out the medium term plans for next half term too, during today's PPA. Last year it didn't work all that well - we had far too much crammed in and ended up thoroughly disheartened, I think. It should be a lot better this year!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Thursday evening

. . . and there's not a lot to say really. It's been a very pleasant day, one way and another, but the very early start means that I'm ready for bed. It's a vicious circle really! Never mind, it's nearly the end of the week and I have a gentle, calm weekend planned (I hope).