Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Tuesday evening

A few photos taken a very short time ago.

Edited to add: just had the phone call - school closed tomorrow!

Tuesday lunchtime

. . . and yes, the snow came, saw and conquered. School was closed at 11:30 (at least we tried) and now I'm sitting at home wondering what to do with this gift of an afternoon. It's snowing beautifully outside and, apart from a short break, has been since whenever it started in the early morning. Oh, it does look pretty from this side of the window.

Maybe I can have a wee snooze!

Tuesday morning

. . . and, at last, we have snow. Not much, but it's definitely snow, not rain, sleet or hail. Very pretty it looks and walking to school will be pleasant (thank goodness for my boots). It needs to snow a lot harder for a snow day though - the road I can see from my window is quite clear and no problem to drive along. That's the problem with snow - it's not the children who can't get in, it's enough staff to supervise the children legally.

It will make life difficult if it does turn into a snow day - missed rehearsals would be difficult to catch up on! Fingers crossed.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Monday afternoon

I shall be glad when November is over - assuming December is better. The washing machine has now totally given up. Like the freezer, it is very old, has given good service and really isn't worth the cost of a call out, so I've ordered a new one, to be delivered on Sunday. Like the freezer, it was on my mind to think about replacing it, but not this year! Ho hum, luckily I have funds in my savings account to cover the cost but it's now pretty depleted. What next? :0(

Monday morning

. . . and it's still bitterly cold. I gather there will be significant wind today as well so it's going to be arctic-like out there. I think a quick jog (well, drive) to Sainsbury's and back again will need to be as quick as possible!

At least the shed will be out of the wind! I might take the fan heater out there with me as I sort out the upright freezer. There's luxury for you! I'm welcoming the opportunity to actually deal with all the stuff with room and enough to spare. Anyone with a freezer knows how much of a hassle it can be to get the thing defrosted before stuff starts to thaw. Just for once, I won't have to worry about that!

It's a non-pupil day so I have rather a lot of assessment to get through, but in-between times I am going to try to get stuff done.
1. Making the blackberry jelly. It's been dripping overnight and now I have to measure the liquid, add the sugar (pound to pint, I believe, although I must check up on that) and then boil it away to setting point. It might have to be two batches. Then I intend to push the pulp through my mouli to make sauce for ice cream, etc.
2. Get the Christmas red cabbage done again. That's no hassle, it just has to be prepared and bunged in the oven.
3. Redo the Christmas roasties. That might not get done, we will see how the time goes.
4. . . . and, of course, the freezer!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I went into the kitchen yesterday evening to see that the washing machine had stopped at the end of the final rinse with code 4 flashing. I have no idea what code 4 means, the manual didn't say, which is a pain, but I Googled and found that I can get past it by switching off, turning to spin, switching back on again and pressing start. So it's obviously not a big broken bit! It's a Bosch Exclusiv F 1100, not all that new now (so I suspect not worth the call out charge), but please, pretty please, let it continue working at least until after Christmas. I really don't want to have to replace it so soon after the freezer. If anyone know what code 4 means, please would you let me know.

Stay warm!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sunday late afternoon

. . . although it's almost dark and it's tempting to say it's evening. However, at not yet half past four, it's definitely still afternoon.

I have a new baby in the shed. It arrived about an hour ago and, after the half hour rest advised by the booklet, I turned it on to fast freeze and left it to make friends with the upright!

Tomorrow it will be ready to put stuff in and I have bought more sausages and bacon in anticipation of making more pigs in blankets. I've also got some red cabbage and apple to make some more of that too! Tomorrow's going to be busy - I also have the blackberry mush dripping into a bowl so will be making blackberry jelly. Nice.

DD and DG have just arrived so I'd better go!

Sunday morning

. . . and the frost lies thick over everything, making it look as if we've had some snow. It looks absolutely beautiful but I have no doubt the roads will be treacherous and there will be black ice about.

As I promised myself, I will be popping into town this morning, primarily to go to Lakeland, but also to get some stuff from the pound shop and to look in a few shops for fun. I wonder if the street market will be up and selling. if so, I might get some nice bread and other stuff. - for the freezer!

And then it's home to just wipe out the inside of the freezer before it's collected. That may sound daft but there were some fruity drips inside yesterday which I didn't get around to cleaning up and I ought to. Then I have to just shove up the upright freezer to make room for the new one, coming this afternoon.

I was originally intending to defrost the upright beastie today, but that would be daft now. I will get the newbie down to temperature and then just transfer the stuff from Oldie to Newbie while I defrost, and then have a jolly good sort out. I might even leave the stuff in Newbie for now, seeing as it will be virtually empty and see how it all goes, space-wise. I'll have a think about that.

While I'm waiting in this afternoon, I shall make some more Christmas cards. They're no great shakes as cards go, but I enjoy the activity and get satisfaction from the results.

Photos: While viewing the freezer disaster at stupid o'clock yesterday morning, I wasn't too far gone to notice some pretty patterns on the shed window. The other is the cards and the light is bad, as are the cards really! :0)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Saturday evening

It's been a long day, one way and another. After finding the freezer - er, I mean the not-freezer - this morning, I did what I had promised myself and took a trip in to our new Hobbycraft and indulged in some retail therapy which cheered me up temporarily. Close by was Comet and Curry (they do stick together those two, don't they?) so I took a look at what they had in the freezer line. It was all rather disappointing really. Very few chest freezers and the few they had were not at all what I wanted. I then popped into an 'amalgamation' shop - Miss Selfridge, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, etc, all under one roof and, three cheers, they did my size. I'm gradually, slowly shrinking into 'normal' sizes. Well, I had to celebrate, didn't I, so I bought a pretty top that was in the sale at £10 (from £25).

Then it was homeward bound to deal with the freezer mess. Some stuff has been salvaged, but a fair amount has been binned. Working out the cost is likely to be beyond me. How do you, for example, price out portions of blackberry and apple when the apples were windfalls and the blackberries foraged? The biggest loss was of time and work before the food was frozen and, of course, the time I am going to have to spend again, remaking the Christmas stuff I was so pleased about in an earlier blog.

So - the stuffing patties have been cooked and re-frozen, the pigs in blankets have been cooked and await DG's tender mercies tomorrow, I'm going to boil up the cranberry sauce again and refreeze when the new freezer comes and the Streele Farm blackberries are in pots now and will be simmered and jelly-bag strained before preserving in the usual manner. I've never done proper blackberry jelly because I kind of resent the 'waste', but I can push the pulp through my mouli to make blackberry sauce for yogurt and/or ice cream.

And yes - I've found a company that does next day deliveries and will be delivering the freezer I wanted (after research on the Internet and consulting Which), a Bosch, at some point tomorrow (weather permitting, I suppose). They will also take the dead freezer away for a price considerably less that the council wants.

So the day started miserably and has ended up much more hopeful, which is great!

Saturday morning and grrrrrrr

I have just popped out to the chest freezer - the one I defrosted last week.
Picked up a bag of fruit and - uh oh - it's starting to thaw. Rootled down and realised that an awful lot has started to thaw. I could cry - all those Christmas vegetables, prepared and ready. The pigs in blankets. My single portions of stewed fruit. The dips and pates. The runner beans. The Streele Farm blackberries (I can salvage them, at least, by jamming them). I suppose nothing is of huge value, but, oh, the work it represents!

I doubt anyone will be able to deliver quickly. And, of course, I have to be at school. There's no-one who has a freezer that isn't in full use, as far as I know.

Oh, I could weep, I really could!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Friday evening

. . . and sing Ho! for a long weekend!

I heard some Very Important News today. We now have a Hobbycraft in our town. A real live Hobbycraft. On two floors, apparently!
So now I have to go to Lakeland, Hobbycraft and Homebase. Can't get out of it, I absolutely HAVE to go. Amazing that I've been paid today too - what a fortunate coincidence, eh? Life is good!

Friday morning

Thank goodness!! It's been a long week! but there's a sort of long weekend coming up, which is good - an INSET day on Monday is a welcome break!

After the fall, aches and pains of yesterday I managed a good night's sleep - very good, in fact, and do feel a lot better now. The shivers have gone, the back ache has gone and there's just some aching in the elbow and shoulder plus a knee that is going to turn all the colours of the rainbow before it fades. Nothing too bad or needing pain relief, thank goodness!

As always, I planned next week's eating yesterday. The routine works jolly well - on Thursday I plan the eating, on Friday I write the shopping list and on Saturday I do the shopping. To my surprise, I have so little food shopping to do this week I see no point in going all the way to Sainsbury's. I've let the home made yogurt routine slacken so need to get some fresh starter, but that's really about it.

As I will have some spare time tomorrow (because of not needing to do a big shop), I'm going to take advantage of this cold weather again. Last weekend it was the chest freezer which is now clear, pristine and frost free. This Saturday it will be the upright. All the stuff in the upright is packed in small containers as single portions of this, that and the other. Because of that, I am very careful about not allowing them to start defrosting and there's not enough room in the other to hold them while their freezer defrosts. However, this very cold spell is the ideal time to get it done: there's not a tremendous amount of frost build up so it won't take too long and the contents won't stand a chance of defrosting while I attack the frost with my hair dryer. It will also be the ideal time to redo my list of what's in there, which I have allowed to get a bit out of date, and to work out what really needs to be eaten soon. Luckily I label all the containers with what it is and when it was frozen.

It had better not warm up before tomorrow!!!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thursday evening.

I thought it was about time I changed the design of my blog. I'm not sure about this one, but it does reflect the state of weather play in many parts of the country and could be the nearest we will get here to any substantial snow. I do wish one could use one's own photos.

I felt very silly this morning and was thankful no-one was there to see me. I had just put my boots on (so was a little clumpy) when I tripped over the corner of a rug and went flying. I landed on one knee (which now boasts a fine bruise) and caught my hand the other side on the frame of the door, sending a 'shock' all the way up my arm to my shoulder. Through the day my elbow, shoulder and that part of my back have been aching steadily more and more and it was all becoming a bit of a nuisance. I came home early after school (usually I stay until five or later) and have been resting in the hopes that it will ease off. Fingers crossed! I have too much to do to pamper to a few aches! I can't be ill until after the 7th. :0)

Thursday morning

On the way downstairs, I opened the landing window as I usually do, to feel the temperature. It got closed again jolly quickly! It feels like ice out there; there's no frost to be seen but I bet there a lot of ice and I will have to be careful walking to school.

I've been taking stock of things. This coming weekend is a long weekend and so it's a great opportunity to really get ready for Christmas. Also, the following weekend I have the family down on Saturday (a buffet, I think), and the Friday after that is the Infants staff do to be held here. The following weekend is the one before Christmas and I might have a friend and her daughter staying. So this weekend really is quite important in terms of getting things sorted.

Luckily, I feel as if I'm just coming out of a 'lazy phase' which has been threatening to overwhelm me for the past week (with comfort eating to match), and I think I'm going to Make a List (always a good sign). I also have to do some school assessments so can get going with that too.

The planning is starting to look fun - decorations, Christmas based maths problems, etc. There's one I'm particularly proud of, relating to repeating patterns and paper chains and the classic hand and foot reindeer. The following week there's the angel and making a Christmas card and - oh, all sorts of fun things! I do love Christmas.

My friend, who lives on the North Yorkshire Moors, had blizzards yesterday. Here? No such luck! Boo.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Wednesday evening

And my gosh, it's SO cold!! I think it feels colder than it really is, as there's no frost about, but I'm sure there will be by the morning. I accidentally did a playground duty this afternoon (got my weeks muddled) and it was very shivery!
It's so lovely to walk home in the cold, open the front door and go into the warmth of the hall and living room. I hope I never take that blessing for granted, because I know I'm very lucky indeed.

When I got home, there was a Lakeland catalogue on the mat and, looking inside, they have something I've been hunting for for ages - a table top hot plate. I had one ages ago and chucked it out because I never used it. Now I have more space and cater for family (and other) events, a hot plate would be very useful indeed. So guess who is paying Lakeland yet another visit at the weekend! Thank goodness I will have been paid by then, because there's other rather nice festive stuff I wouldn't mind taking a look at. I've done a bit of Googling around and, although it doesn't look cheap, the price is very competitive, especially if you count parking costs with postal costs when buying from other sources.
Then it will be on to the pound shop to get nice little goodies that cost virtually nothing.
I might also look at Bon Marche as last time I was there I was pleasantly surprised by some of the stuff they had in and I am looking for something a bit sparkly to wear on Christmas day. There's no guarantee I'll find anything, of course, but I may as well look and see.

Assuming we're not snowed in - of course. :0)

Wednesday morning

. . . and it's bitterly cold with a very heavy frost and clear skies. I'm very glad I'm walking as scraping the car would be a pain and take ages. The school bag isn't too heavy, the furry boots are warm and the air will be just right - cold, fresh and clean.

It was a busy day yesterday. It started with a bustle around to get everything ready, moved on to a PPA time when L and I really didn't have much time for planning (although things are so whoops-a-daisy at the moment it hardly matters), then staggered into coordinator time when I managed to get all the remaining programmes printed and sorted and to finally work out how to gain access to my escimo mailbox, another rehearsal at lunchtime (they're getting pretty good now) and finally an afternoon where most of them wished they'd worked a little harder in the morning, as they had to finish things off before they could 'choose'.

After school was a triumph. I managed to clear my table - yes, totally clear it! I had to. L has a different teacher's table now and her old one was nicer and newer than mine, so I've now got hers and my old and manky one has gone. It looks an awful lot better! AND I got the books ready for Reading Revelry which will mean less panicking around this morning.

Yesterday morning I received an email that made me very happy. It was from Jacqui, the owner of Streele Farm, in response to a message I sent the farm office, thanking them for the kind offer of the Barn next summer (as described in a recent blog) and just saying how important our holidays there have been to us. F. at the office forwarded the message. I won't go into details but suffice it to say there are some wonderfully kind and generous people around. Thank you so much.

Today I am with my lovely class for all but half an hour, but it's one of those less 'academic' days. Reading Revelry, phonics, literacy . . . and then it tips into Assembly, ICT in the computer suite, a visit to the library and show and tell (PPA). And that's the day virtually over! Hopefully, staff meeting will be short as there's loads and loads to do in the classroom.

And will it snow? Who knows.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tuesday morning

When I said 'providing the recipe', I meant to my colleagues, not in here. I posted it in here a few weeks ago.

Today is PPA and coordinator time. The latter is a very welcome hour to get all sorts of things connected with the show done and dusted. PPA is just a mishmash of going to dance to check they're doing it OK, taking infant assembly and all sorts of stuff that I really shouldn't be doing, but it's not for long and after that it all goes back to its normal, less frantic pace again.

There's great excitement at the thought of snow in the next few days. Talk of boots and gloves, snowmen and snowball fights, snowdays and being snowed in.
And that's just the adults!!

I bet we don't have any!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Monday evening

Well, that staff meeting went OK. Not too much to do, last year's 'scenery' will work well, slight shortage of tickets, easily reprinted tomorrow and the refreshments went down very well. Especially the heated red wine with the spiced apple cordial, to the extent that I will be providing the recipe tomorrow! Thanks, Elli!

And on to tomorrow. Two weeks to the show! Fingers crossed.

Monday morning

. . . and we will draw a veil over the eating yesterday, please - and breakfast this morning. I am mustering all the strongest vibes I can summon for today's battles . . .

Apart from that it's the usual busy day at school capped with the Christmas Staff meeting for us in the Infant department. Tickets, scenery . . . etc, etc, etc. Hopefully we can get loads done and then it will all be more or less ready.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sunday evening

It's been a busy day one way and another but I did get up the motivation to get out into the shed and defrost the chest freezer. It tends to build up a thick layer of solid ice (it is very old) but rarely do I have the room to move the food into the upright freezer in order to defrost. It was cold enough today to just put the food in boxes and leave them outside the shed while I got going with the hair dryer. No I have a nice clear freezer again, which should be OK for a few months, and a bit more room.

Apart from that it was school stuff and snoozing in the afternoon while watching Harry Potter DVDs. Nice!

And I've just seen Felicity go out of Strictly. That's so sad . . .

Sunday morning

For the first time in goodness knows how many weekends, I have no foody plans for the day. Unfortunately, I do have rather as lot of school work lined up, so I'm starting early and getting it done as soon as possible. I hate it when it all drags on and on and on through the day.

See you later!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Saturday evening and a recipe

I found the inspiration for this on Maggie's wonderful blog, Kitchen Diaries Challenge 2010 , hence the name. I'd never have thought of doing anything like this without her inspiration. The Christmas bit is because some of the other ingredients were left overs from making the Christmas stuffing today (now safely sleeping in the freezer).

I have just enjoyed the most delicious dinner, so would like to share it with my lovely readers.

Maggie's Gorgeous Christmas Cabbage with Bacon, Chestnuts and Cranberries


2 rashers of Spoilt Pig back bacon, cut into strips (it's excellent - no nasty water or white stuff when it's fried, well worth the extra cost)
half a small-ish onion, finely sliced
a little olive oil, only if needed
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
about 60g vacuum packed chestnuts, roughly chopped (or fresh, I suppose, but they need to be cooked)
Savoy cabbage, ribs removed and discarded, finely shredded and washed well (it's OK to have water remaining on the leaves)
About 20 to 30g dried, dried sweetened cranberries, set to soak in a little boiling water
a very heaped tsp Philly light (ordinary teaspoon, not a 5ml measure)
Salt and pepper


Prepare everything and set the cranberries to soak.

In a wok, dry fry the bacon, stirring, until the fat runs, then continue frying until it's turning crispy. Add the sliced onion and a little olive oil (only if needed) and continue stir frying until the onion softens.

Then add the chopped garlic and the chestnuts and stir fry for a couple of minutes more.

Add the shredded cabbage and the water from the soaking cranberries and cook, stirring continuously, until the cabbage has softened but still retains a bit of a crunch. Season with salt and pepper (you don't need much of either).

Finally, add the Philly and stir until it has all melted and then stir in the cranberries.

Serve immediately and enjoy! I loved it!

In other news, perhaps more appropriate for the other blog really, I bought some cord jeans in a size below and - and - and found that they fitted!!! I'm wearing them now and they are comfortable. OK, so they must, have to be, be a generous fit but even so - wow! Just the encouragement I needed. I'm happy!

Saturday afternoon

. . . and two different stuffings are now freezing down for Christmas.

The vegetarian one is an onion, sage, lemon and apple stuffing - that's for DD. The other is a chestnut , bacon and cranberry stuffing. I was going to concoct a recipe myself but I took a quick look online and quickly found this recipe on the Good Food site. While shopping, I found some good sausages (97% lean pork shoulder, the packet said): they certainly looked pretty good and the resulting stuffing tastes just right, very, very tasty indeed. That's another job ticked off the list.

Do you think it might snow tomorrow? Well, you never know so, just in case, I bought some books at Sainsbury's too. I was well pleased - I have trouble with boots as I have clunky ankles, a very wide foot and large calves. Most just won't go on. So when I found two pairs that fitted I couldn't decide - so I bought both pairs! They're not fashion boots, they're proper walking-outside-and-change-out-of-them-when-you-get-inside warm, furry lined boots.

Let it snow. I'm ready!

Saturday morning

. . . and to complete the saga of the savoury mince, the overnight slow cook worked a real treat. The frozen peas are now in and cooked and the whole thing has been shared into single portion containers. For the last quarter of it, I added a can of kidney beans as well - the beans, not the can!!
And I'd got the price wrong. The meat cost just over £5 and the whole thing made sixteen generous portions. Even with everything else I added and the overnight heat, that's pretty economical, I think. And delicious! And healthy

It's the weekend. Phew. I have to go into town to pay in a cheque and then it's home again to the much needed housework. George is coming round so the garden will look a lot better afterwards. This afternoon I intend to sleep. Oh, and make the Christmas stuffing too! Also I ought to wrap some pressies and write some cards. Generally, though, I want to take things easy. Fingers crossed!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friday evening

. . . and it's been a most interesting and enjoyable day one way and another, despite the cold, the damp and the fog (which is still persisting into the night).

Firstly, it was performance management for the LSAs who have a specific SEN role as opposed to being class based. They're a wonderful bunch (as are the class based TAs), very talented and able in their various ways. It was lovely to go through their previous targets and to discuss how well things have gone. We're extremely fortunate to have so many gifted members of staff, not just LSAs but right from the most senior staff all the way 'down' (for want of a better term). I feel very privileged, as the team leader for those LSAs, to be a part of their performance management process.

Then I was out of school for lunch, a most unusual event. A and I went round to Liz's and had a super time. I had to go early, of course, which was a shame, but never mind. P was there too - she used to be my TA before ill health intervened. She's a wonderful lady, very courageous and highly creative, and it was lovely to see her again. And Liz made a most delicious soup which I could have without doing too much damage - and seconds too! I want the recipe!!

And - although this isn't so nice - two of my children were unwell while I wasn't taking the class. One up and one down, poor little poppets. It looks as if there's something very nasty doing the rounds in the class and I wonder how many I will have in after the weekend. My current TA, L, was also away, and that's not like her at all, but she's really pretty unwell.

Now I know what I said earlier in the week about not making any more stuff for the freezer before Christmas but . . .

Well, you see, DG finished off the last savoury 'mints' on Monday and today, when I looked in vain for the meatballs in tomato sauce which I had planned for dinner tonight, I realised that I was totally out of mince based meals (and that my freezer list was out of date). We can't have that, can we? No we can't!

So I got some good quality mince from Morrisons and ransacked the vegetable box for anything that could go into a savoury mince. The result is a right mixture - onion, leek, carrot, sweet potato, celery, multi-coloured peppers, baby corn, mushroom . . . plus three cartons of chopped tomatoes, the remains of a bottle of 'posh' tomato ketchup, some soy sauce, some tabasco, some balsamic vinegar, loadsa seasoning, herbs and spices . . . oh, you name it and it's there. Plus (my secret economy weapon) a goodly amount of orange lentils and porridge oats. After long, slow cooking, they sort of mush into the most wonderfully thick sauce that absorbs all the other flavours and is just gorgeous. Near the end I will add some frozen peas and loadsa tomato puree - and I've just realised I forgot to add some garlic, so I'd better go and remedy that and I might also add some chilli puree too!

There's far too much for my slow cooker, my largest pot is full of the mixture, but I reckon slow cooking is what's needed so I'm going the expensive route and leaving the pot in a very low oven overnight. By the morning it should have mellowed into meaty, savoury gorgeousness (yes, I have been reading Nigella!). The kitchen will be nice and warm too.

And what great value! The mince cost £8.00, I have no idea what the cooking will cost, the veg mostly needed using up and the lentils and the oats will make it all go much further. There's at least fourteen single meals there, probably more. Brilliantly economical and healthy too.

I wonder if there's room in the freezer!!!

Friday morning

And, as ever, SEN day.

Today will be a bit different. Today is performance management for the various SEN LSAs and so that's what I will be doing, sometimes with S and sometimes just me and the LSA. I enjoyed last year's cycle.

Then, at lunchtime, A and I are off to Liz's house for lunch. Liz, you may remember, was my co-year 1 teacher last year and she retired at the end of the school year. I haven't seen her for a little while so am very much looking forward to a good natter and catch-up.

I've been thinking about the weekend. I must have a rest but there's so much to do. There's a dreadful mess, usually a sign that I'm feeling rather low (which I am), and that, in turn, is making me feel even lower. I must, I need to, get it sorted out, before it totally swamps me.

Also, I'd like to get just a bit more Christmas stuff prepared. The stuffing still needs to be made - I never cook the stuffing in the bird nowadays, so I can get it totally ready and into the dish it will be baked and served in. I have to make two stuffings, a meaty one and a vegetarian one. There's plenty of fresh, frozen breadcrumbs in the freezer and last weekend I bought some vacuum packed chestnuts. Also, I noticed that the fresh cranberries are now in the shops. I'm thinking of a sage, onion, breadcrumb, ham (or maybe a very good sausage meat), chestnut and cranberry mixture and almost the same for DD but without the meat. There's plenty of sage in the garden (it needs cutting right back, in fact) and the processor makes short work of all the chopping and mincing so it really shouldn't take long and the only decision will be whether I make patties, a loaf or bung it in a dish.
Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Thursday evening

Another nice day, memorable because we finally managed to get our Christmas dance together, finished, complete (barring changes, of course).
I think it might be more memorable for the children because, perhaps for the first time ever, Mrs Clark gave out stickers to everyone for great dancing.

And there's one more day before the weekend. Everyone seems so terribly tired at the moment, staff and children. Tomorrow evening will feel good.

Thursday morning

It felt so cold yesterday. There was an icy chill in the air that made us wonder if snow was on the way. No such luck, it's been raining and looks pretty dismal outside at the moment, but that's not going to stop me walking - after all, what are hoods and brollies for? It would have been nice walking through snow though.

After a lovely family assembly, the rest of the day continued to go well. The children enjoyed trying a music program in the ICT suite, and it was funny to watch them bouncing away to their created rhythm patterns without us adults being able to hear the music.
And then, in the afternoon, we got all stuck up doing a papier mache covering to plastic bottles to make a shaker. Fun, fun, fun!!!

Today? Well, I have two hall times to rehearse our dance, which hasn't quite come together yet, but is nearly there now. We (F and I) have finally found the right music. Something rhythmic with plenty of easily recognisable musical landmarks for the children to know when to change their movements. It's the March from the Nutcracker Suite and it's just right - thanks, F, for the suggestion. And then there's more sticking shenanigans as we carry on with making the shakers! Fun, fun, fun!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wednesday evening

There's very little to say except that I am very, very proud of my lovely class after a fantastic family assembly today. Well done, Lime Bay!!

Wednesday morning

. . . and I'm starting off with some good news.

When I opened my Google mailbox this morning, there was a message from Streele Farm regarding next year's booking of the Dairy for a week. The Dairy is now not not being let to visitors (shame, it's such a lovely place to stay) and as we have already booked, they are offering us the Barn for the week instead - at no extra cost. That's incredible, I mean the Barn is huge and beautiful, it looks over the hills and it has three bathrooms and three big bedrooms - we can have one each, no sharing! We'd never normally be able to afford the Barn but have always wished we could so this is absolutely amazing.
That's the good news. The sad news is that if the Diary is now not available, next year will be our last at Streele Farm. We couldn't afford the Barn at its normal rental, it's way too dear. All good things . . . as the saying goes.
All we need now is fine weather!

Last week, for the first time, I ordered something from Robert Dyas. I've never used their website before, but I say an ad in one of the foody mags for an electric 'keep food warm' thingy, which is something I've been thinking about getting for some time - at a very reduced price. So I fell! It's been dispatched so should arrive today or tomorrow, at school. It's really sad; I'm quite excited about it!

I think (hope) today is a normal day. OK, so the children are in family assembly, five minutes of stress and worry, but apart from that, it's a normal day. I could do with a normal day after the recent ups and downs. Fingers crossed, please!

Hope it's good for my readers too.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Tuesday evening

. . . and an interesting day.

I just couldn't be bothered to scrape the car this morning and decided to walk (which is what I really should do all the time, school's only just down the road for goodness sakes) which wasn't a problem until I got to school, looked in my diary to see if I had any meetings/appointments today and realised that I was supposed to be in Wickford for a course. Fortunately, after a temporary panic, I realised it wasn't until the afternoon. Unfortunately, I had scheduled a rehearsal at lunchtime, so I got that done and then trotted off home again to pick up the car. Wickford is easy to get to, straight down the A130 so why, oh why, did I go shooting past the exit which takes one to Wickford? So it was down to the next roundabout, fortunately not too far along, and back up again, with the inevitable result that I was a little bit late - but I wasn't the only one and I wasn't the last arrival either!

It was a good course, one designed for senior managers and all about early years and foundation stage. Loads of stuff I didn't know and will now try to remember. The first module of four, so I've asked if I can go to the others as well. Fingers crossed!

I was a Good Girl and, after the course, I went back to school for the dance exercise class and I'm so glad I did. It was lots of fun with plenty of laughter and a great workout. Week by week I am enjoying it more and more - even if I can't do the plank yet. It has to be having some positive impact though, it's got to.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten to take my ankle/foot support bandage and now the foot is aching rather a lot, but that will be short lived.

I think I will sleep very, very well tonight!

Tuesday morning

. . . and it's bitterly cold outside with a very heavy frost. Anything that survived the previous frosts a few weeks ago will surely be finished off by this one. Time for the garden's autumn haircut. I've been putting it off and putting it off, but the time has come! Looks like George and i will be working together on Saturday morning!

When I got home last night, there were DD and DG supervising the baking of the cakes. DD's oven is playing up so she's made the cakes round here this year. I gave DG some dinner

Me: What would you like, savoury mince or chicken casserole (I have those single portions in the freezer)
DG: I think I'll have savoury mince, I've never had savoury mince before
Me: (thinking: I'm sure I've given him savoury mince before)

After dinner and a VERY clean plate from DG

Me: Well, did you like the savoury mince?
DG: I did but I'm confused. I didn't find any mints . . .

(think about it)

Today is a usual Tuesday: PPA, coordinator time and teaching this afternoon. However, both L and I will need to take our classes during PPA for a while because it's show practice and I will need to fit in two rehearsals this afternoon for family assembly tomorrow. I'll be glad when that is over too - it's not nerve wracking or anything like that, but it has to be done and done well! We're still producing detailed lesson planning but the rehearsals are driving a coach and horses through it and things are just not getting done - no time!

I had the first 'cast rehearsal' for Whoops a Daisy Angel yesterday. It was evident that WADA had made great efforts to learn her considerable number of words, bless here. Nothing lackadisical about that child! There's rehearsals scheduled for every lunchtime this week after which they should be reasonably au fait with their parts and movements (I hope!) I wish I could say the same thing about my class' dance!! My only comfort is that everyone's saying the same thing at the moment! Just under three weeks to go!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Monday evening

Thank goodness this morning is over. I'm exhausted now and, hopefully, I'll sleep better tonight.

The house is smelling fragrant again - DD has just taken the last of the Christmas cakes out of the oven: they will cool overnight and then I have to wrap them in greaseproof tomorrow morning. She's made four of them, two little ones using pork pie tins and two bigger ones and they look scrummy! One's for us, one (I think) is for DG's school and the two little ones (again, I think) are for neighbourhood elderly folk.

That's about it really - except that I'm well pleased I didn't resort to comfort eating after this morning's pressures. That's a huge improvement - long may it continue!

Sleep well!

Monday morning

. . . and I'm all of a wibble this morning. Roll on lunchtime!

When I went out to the freezer with the newly cooked stuff yesterday evening (yes, it did all fit in - just), it felt extremely chilly and when I peeped out this morning there was a very heavy frost. It's obviously been a cold, cold night and I must remember to allow car scraping time this morning.

There's such a good feeling about a loaded freezer and the comforting knowledge that I can eat well for the next month or so, even if I were stony broke. It's also nice to know that some of the Christmas food chores are done and there, ready. That will give me more time to spend with my family instead of in the kitchen, always a good thing. But I must NOT do any more freezer cooking - there simply isn't the room. I keep umming and ahing about getting a large chest freezer to replace my smaller one which is on the way out anyway, but I never seem to run it down enough to be able to. I ought to make a concerted effort to reduce what I've got frozen to fit in the upright freezer and then I could do the necessary with the chest freezer. The theory is that I keep the upright one for my single portion meals and the chest one for all the other stuff, but, as always, theory doesn't relate to practice all that readily.

Maybe, one day . . .

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunday teatime, more or less

It's been a busy day in my kitchen, one way and another.

Firstly, the baked beans turned out very tasty but the haricot beans themselves were still a little hard. I added some more water and simmered the pot on the hob for about half an hour which dealt with the extra added water and softened the beans nicely. Twelve portions.

I made the braised red cabbage and afterwards, while it was cooling, realised I'd forgotten to dot butter over the top. It still tasted very good, so no problem. A large container full for Christmas and four more single portions.

The pork and apple thingy was pork tenderloin, onion, eating apples, multicoloured peppers, baby corn, mushrooms and cider, done the usual way but without the sauce being thickened. I'll do that the other side of the freezer. Five portions.

Finally, I did the pigs in blankets which will be frozen in the roasting dish for easy cooking on Christmas Day.

Just to cap it all, DD turned up for tea, bringing with her the ingredients for the Christmas cake. The dried fruits are now soaking in alcohol prior to her coming over again tomorrow to mix it and bake it - her oven isn't working properly.

No wonder the house smells good!

Sunday, about midday

Home made baked beans - mmmmmmmmm

Braised red cabbage with apple - mmmmmmmm

pork and apple thingy - getting mmmmmmmm

Will the freezer have enough room?

Sunday morning

. . . and the Tamworth baked beans are in the oven, slowly baking away. I say 'Tamworth' baked beans but they aren't really; the name comes from the 10 mls of Tamworth rib marinade in the recipe and, as I couldn't locate it in Sainsbury's, I have used a smoky barbecue sauce instead. Perhaps it should be called Not-Tamworth baked beans instead.
It's a nice looking recipe with slurpy things in, some of which I have substituted. The bbq sauce, for a start, plus it asks for smoked ham hock which I couldn't find so I got some value smoked gammon slices instead. It's also got onion, sweet potato, maple syrup, tabasco, mustard powder and ketchup, plus some of the liquid from the initial boiling up of the overnight soaked haricot beans. With a vague memory of the little house books and Ma making baked beans, I laid the cut off gammon fat over the top, as it can have a lovely flavour. I'll lift that off and discard when it's all cooked. There was no other seasoning but I would guess the salt from the smoked meat will be plenty. It's now got to bake, very, very slowly, for four hours or so: I might add a little bit more maple syrup at some point as it didn't seem very much and I love the sweet savoury mix - I'll see after tasting later on.

At some point in the next hour I will get the red cabbage ready and use the same oven heat for that - no point wasting it, is there, especially as there's very little difference between the heat needed for the two recipes? It says make in a lidded casserole dish but that won't fit under my big casserole in the oven so I'll use a roasting tray and cover it with foil instead.

Apart from that, there's the usual weekend stuff and I must make sure I am totally ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow is the dreaded lesson observation, long delayed because of awkwardly timed courses. I qualified as a teacher in 1973 and have taught in various ways since then with just a seven year break while having my family. I'm experienced, I think I mostly do an OK job, I teach in an open plan environment where anyone and everyone could walk past and see exactly what's going on at any time - but I HATE being observed! I don't sleep the night before and I comfort eat (not this time though!!). I might sleep better if I know everything is totally absolutely ready - I hope!

Oh, I am so aching this morning, all round my middle, which is great for my core strength. I guess I need to do lots and lots of digging, which DD should be pleased about! Brilliant exercise.

Better get going and start shredding that lovely red cabbage!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Saturday lunchtime

Got the shopping done in good time. While I was in the fruit and veg area I noticed some strawberries that didn't look too bad. Normally I wouldn't bother at this time of year, but there's some frozen rhubarb that needs using and I remember mum singing the praises of rhubarb and strawberry last weekend. It seems they have a natural affinity of taste. I thought I'd try it so, when I got home, I dug the bag of rhubarb out of the freezer, stewed it with some sugar, then added the halved strawberries, turned off the heat and left the lot to cool down. You know what? Mum was absolutely right. It smells and tastes absolutely gorgeous. Just rhubarb, strawberries and sugar. Six yummy portions - it could have stretched to seven but . . . Just thinking of a crumble topping is setting the tastebuds alight!

Anyway, while that was cooling, George arrived and off we went to DD's allotment for two hours of heavy digging. I've just had a hot bath to ease the aches and pains and I will be stiff, but I'm so pleased. Seven months ago there's no way I would have been able to manage that for more than ten minutes before needing to stop. I wouldn't have been able to bend over sufficiently and the blood pressure would have risen alarmingly.
George did a fantastic job. DD was most impressed with his hard work and application. Hopefully, he will be willing to help out again, if needs be.

It looks as if this allotment is going to be jolly useful as a calorie burner. It's a lot bigger than I anticipated and it's just as well that DS is also getting involved because it would be rather too much for DD on her own. So maybe it will become a real family venture for us all. Nice thought.

Saturday morning

. . . and it's going to be busy.

Sainsbury's opens at seven (I think - must check on their site) so I am going to do the little shopping needed quite early. I admit that I could more easily go to Morrisons but I fancy a trawl around Sainsbury's so it's duty mixed with pleasure.

When I get back I MUST put the first load of washing in the machine or it will never all get done in time for me to iron, air and put away by the end of the weekend. Also, things are getting a bit out of hand in the tidying up department, so that's got to be sorted too.

Later on George is round and today we're both going to DD's allotment to help her. She has quite a big patch and, due to both adverse weather and not feeling too well, there's a fair bit needs doing. Hopefully, between the three of us and whatever help DG is able to give, it will make a big difference. Fortunately, the weather is likely to remain dry and, as we're likely to work up a heat, being cold won't really matter.

This afternoon, apart from R&R, it's braised red cabbage afternoon. I have all the ingredients (must just check the red wine vinegar before making my shopping list) and it's about time it was done. I meant to make it last week and other stuff got in the way. Also, maybe, depending on what I see in Sainsbury's, I may do a bit of batch cooking for the freezer. There are now some gaps, the stewed fruit is getting low and there's less variety of choice generally. Seeing as this is a huge weapon in my weight loss battle - having a variety of frozen single meals ready - I'm not going to sabotage things at this stage, so must 'be prepared' (yes, I was a Girl Guide for a short time in my youth). As time is short, I intend to be rather lazy and see what they have in the way of nice jars of sauce. Some ready made sauces are rubbish but some can be jolly nice so I do try not to be snobby about them. I love cooking but, when time is short or energy levels are low, I'm willing to use alternatives.

But first - must go and have my bath!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday evening

. . . and I had forgotten. Poor A, it was non uniform day today and - well - concentration was not the foremost thing on their collective mind for some of the time. Having said that, I was so pleased with what they produced, so it couldn't have been too bad!

And now it's the weekend. I've just finished giggling over Len, Craig and Alex rolling up their trouser legs and doing a little knee dance on Strictly and now I really ought to go and sort out the kitchen - but I probably won't! After all, it *is* the weekend now (did I already say that?).

The main 'cook' thing this weekend is Delia's spiced red cabbage and apple, destined for Christmas dinner by way of the freezer. I am sure freezing improves this dish. I recently ate the final portion frozen after last Christmas and it was absolutely gorgeous. I know some think Delia old hat now but, my goodness, she has given the world some cracking recipes both in the past and also in the present. I think she's fantastic.

Not this evening though - this evening is R & R. After all, it's the weekend! :0)

Friday morning

Wasn't yesterday wild and woolly? In the afternoon, we had some showers so heavy that they reduced the children to complete awe. At one point there were six or seven of them lined up along the window, looking out in stunned silence, absolutely still, just staring in wonder. I love moments like that, not because of the silence (which was very welcome, admittedly) but because they recognised something out of the ordinary and responded to it in their own way. I'd love to know what they were thinking at that moment. I fear my thoughts were much more mundane - I was just hoping they'd be able to get out for afternoon play!
I obviously have an under-developed sense of 'awe and wonder'.

Inevitably, at three o'clock it was bright and sunny and by three fifteen (home time) the clouds had gathered and it was starting to rain heavily, with a driving wind that turned umbrellas inside out and blew the little ones, shrieking in delight, across the playground ahead of their disgruntled looking adults. Great fun!!

It was a noisy day too, with certain little individuals finding it very hard to control the level of their voice! By the afternoon I'd had enough and clamped down (mean me), which made it all a bit calmer, thank goodness. I wish A. all the best with them today - it's my SEN day so, while I will be around, I won't be 'responsible'.

So, today I have a pile of paperwork to look through, even more to write and a few meetings. This week has been packed with meetings, one way or another. It will be a relief to hit the end of the day, the beginning of the weekend and a couple of days without them.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Thursday morning

And what a cold night it was too. I peeped out after a stagger to the loo and the moon was shining over a very frosty landscape. It looked beautiful but cold enough to send me swiftly back to bed to stay warm and cosy. Now the frost seems to have gone and there's a bit of a wind. There's heavy rain and wind forecast for today which does not bode well for outdoor play, but at least it won't affect outdoor games this morning, as it's dance practice in the hall instead!

You can tell we're well into the Christmas run up. The timetable is peppered with items like 'dance practice', 'song practise' and 'all angels to my bay at lunchtime to practise the first three sections . . .' And it's not going to change for several weeks to come either.

On top of that, it's our family assembly next week, so we're up to our eyes in rehearsals for that too. Ho hum!

School is rather all-absorbing at the moment and there's little time for much else.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Wednesday morning

After yesterday's dampness, it does seem to be a little drier (from what I can see right now), although there's quite a wind. I'm very much hoping that the children will be able to get outside today, after two days of wet playtimes. Sometimes, when they can't get out, it's just like shaking an unsealed bottle of champagne . . . after a while there's likely to be an explosion as the pressure builds, and we never want that! Especially if it's windy . . .

Yesterday, in PPA, L and I had a good think about next Monday. Next Monday is our scheduled observation so, while we won't be doing anything 'special', we want our planning and organisation to be as good as possible, obviously. We should have had it before half term but either L or I was always out of class at the possible times. Next Monday is the first possible time for weeks. It's slightly disconcerting that our usual adult supports won't be there as they are the 'other half' attending the introduction to autism course, but you can't always have everything, can you, observations should reflect normality as much as possible and sometimes the support just isn't there! Anyway, preparations are well on the way!

Today is 'just' a normal day:
Reading Revelry
Family assembly
PPA/Show and Tell
Story time
A pretty varied day, interesting and things that the children all enjoy a lot. Should be
good! It's lovely to have a job where I look forward to each day.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tuesday evening

Well, the weather was pretty grim, especially this morning and, unfortunately, the children didn't get out at all until afternoon Infant play. I thought they would be quite volatile this afternoon but, surprisingly, they seemed pretty settled and pursued their activities with their usual amicability. I had to leave them at two as there was a meeting, but I popped them in front of Words and Pictures, always a popular watch and educational too, which appeased my conscience and kept them happy, content and learning appropriately.

Tuesday always means dance exercise after school and I'm getting into it pretty well now. I can't say I'm much good at it because I'm not, but it's a lot of fun and I always feel I'm using muscles not usually troubled too much, which can only be a Good Thing. I'm sure I will see the benefits more clearly as the weight continues to go and the fitness levels rise: just for now it's enjoyable which is not something to be sniffed at after a long day at school.

It's almost bedtime, so sleep well!

Tuesday morning

I've just taken a peep outside and it looks very wet but there's no wind to speak of and it doesn't feel too icy. The weather forecast is not promising so fingers crossed for playtimes!

PPA morning followed by coordinator time today. A shame, because there's some really good lessons today and sometimes I feel rather sad that I plan this stuff and then don't get the fun of delivering it too. As a teacher, when I plan, I put something of myself into the planning. I think most, if not all, teachers do. Not delivering it makes it feel unfinished. Tuesdays and Fridays are a particular problem because last year SEN days were on Tuesday and PPA on Fridays (it's the other way round this year) so I look at previous planning and think 'I don't remember how this went'. A very strange feeling.

I said in my other blog that the weight is bouncing like a bungee jumper at the moment. Half term, family celebrations, trips to London, going away . . . all these have conspired to create a very uneven eating pattern so over the next week or so I MUST work at getting some stability back again before it starts all over again in December. H0 hum!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Monday evening and somewhat niggled.

I drove to the course venue today. It is within walking distance but not when there's heavy rain and strong wind! Because they are in the middle of intensive building work, there were a lot of staff cars parking by the side of the road so I drove into a side road and parked in the place that would cause least possible annoyance, or so I thought.

I was wrong!

When I got back to the car after the course had finished, there was a message under one of the wipers saying, in essence, that I had inconvenienced a resident (still can't really see how) by parking outside number [number given] and that I had no right to park there, it being a private road.

The writer of the message obviously didn't expect that I knew that it was a public road and, as there were no parking restrictions, I was perfectly entitled to park there. What a fib! Hence the niggly feeling!
What did make me smile though, was that in a gap in the message, in a different colour and different hand, there was an additional message which stated - 'This message was NOT written by anyone who lives at number [number given]', presumably written by someone who DOES live at number . . .

And the course was brilliant!

Monday morning

. . . and the start of another week at school with a day out today. Last term, as previously mentioned, our local 'special school' ran a half day on Introduction to Autism for the Local Delivery Group SENCOs. It was extremely good and they were encouraged to repeat it for TAs. As a school, we decided that it was a great opportunity to learn first hand about this baffling condition, so have booked a couple of days' training for all our TAs and LSAs after many of them expressed a wish to learn more. The teachers have already had autism awareness training.

So today is the first of two day of training. Talky stuff in the morning and, a new development just for us, time to sit in the classrooms and observe in the afternoon. This is very special and we all appreciate the opportunity.

Today I'm going (again) with L, one of our new NQTs and half the TAs/LSAs. Next week Sheila is going with our other NQT and the other half of the support staff.

When the carpet in the living room was laid, several years ago now, I had two rectangles of the stuff backed and bound, to act as protective rugs, one in front of the French windows and one at the computer table. Both have had considerable wear and tear and look absolutely terrible now. The computer one is bedraggled and the backing has come off, leaving a very floppy mat that won't stay flat. The window one is absolutely disgusting, muddy and generally filthy dirty. While I was at Mum and Dad's this weekend, I admired the rug at their French window and asked if it was very dear. The resulting conversation sent Dad and me hot foot off to Gamlingay. I usually grace Gamlingay when I want curtain material as there is a fantastic shop there, Chelsford Fabrics, where you can just about be guaranteed to get exactly what you want at a very reasonable prices. Next door to the fabric shop is a furniture shop where my parents got their rug. Yes, they had a couple of rugs, right size, sort of OK colour with a pattern that isn't too unbearable (retro really) and for a price that means that even if they only last a couple of years it will be OK. £29 each! At that price I really can't lose.

The old computer rug is being chucked as it would cost more to have it re-backed and bound than it is worth. Apart from being utterly grubby, there's nothing wrong with the other, so I might keep it and, at some point, see if a good clean will make enough of a difference to be able to use it again. Inevitably, with a French window that is essentially the back door, a freezer in the garden shed and a grandson who runs in and out, whatever is under that window will get grimy, so a replacement would be a good thing to have anyway. I wonder if it's worth investing in one of those carper cleaners - the ones that actually shampoo and so on. If any of my readers have one, I'd appreciate your comments, please.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sunday morning

And here I am at my parents', trying to make sense of the way Dad's new PC works. At some point I'm going to have to upgrade so it worth making the effort. Some of it is pretty intuitive, but some is most confusing!

Last night was super.
Firstly, the restaurant: it is no longer a carvery and the name has changed. That was probably a wise move, if it was getting a bit of a bad name. The whole carvery concept, with its necessity to join long queues and wait for ages while getting more and more stressed about missing the beginning of the show, has gone. So have the three courses plus coffee - most sensible of them. It's all been simplified and now there's a choice from eight main courses and six desserts, all waiter service. If you arrives between five thirty and seven thirty (in other words, if you are going on to the show at the theatre), you pay a set price of nine pounds, plus any drinks. That is pretty good value and I wonder how long they can keep it so low.

Equally pleasing was the presentation. Much more 'cheffy', so the plates weren't piled high, there was room and it was pleasing to the eye. We liked that - one of our big family moans when we eat out is how much food we're given, way, way too much. There was absolutely nothing left on the plates and everyone was satisfied. Dad, having moaned mightily after last time, will be writing to them again to make positive comments. If one does complain and they act to remedy the problems, it's only fair to respond positively and let them know.

So, a great start, followed by a show that was full of colour, life and fantastic singing. A lovely evening altogether.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Saturday morning

My head feels a little fuzzled after the celebrations of yesterday evening but I must ignore that, there's plenty to do today and limited time to do it!

I really was very proud of what the school produced for the music competition. The group had a 'family' feel to it with little year ones on their violins and cellos (so cute), juniors doing all sorts of things - tuned and untuned percussion, rhythm, chanting, singing, recorder, flute, trumpet, piano - and members of staff playing their instruments too. It was a piece written especially for the occasion by Ruth, who teaches violin to all our year one and foundation stage children - yes, all of them! Brave woman, she is!
The applause at the end raised the roof, so the audience obviously liked it a lot.

The adjudicator made some extremely kind comments about the performance and there was not one negative comment, not even one wrapped up in positivity. He gave them 87/100, a very good mark indeed, seven points more than the score he gave the other two groups, so it really was a convincing win.

Well done Ruth, well done Sarah, well done everyone! It's given the children an experience I suspect they will remember with pride for a very long time to come.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Thrilled to bits . . .

I've just written a long and heartfelt blog and guess what - it's all disappeared into the Blue Yonder. So very frustrating. Suffice it to say we won our class at the music festival and I am so very, very happy for all involved . . .

It was a lovely blog too . . . :0(

Friday morning

(carrying on from last night) And the scan, which I left to get on with its work overnight, has found and dealt with an embarrassingly large number of nasty things. I feel a lot less worried now. More cheers for Eddie.

Last day of the school week. Six more weeks of term, only four until the FS/KS1 Christmas show . . eeek.
Panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic, panic . . .
(taking deep breaths)

Tomorrow is the night of the Arcadians' Show. This time it's The Merry Widow - light, fluffy, colourful and very enjoyable. http://www.letchwortharcadians.org.uk/ As always, we go for a meal at the theatre carvery (for want of a better word) before the show. I hope it's improved since the last time, when neither the food nor the service was quite up to expectations. Fingers crossed.

Tonight is the competitive music festival thingy. Ages ago I used to enter my recorder pupils and they usually did very well, sometimes winning their classes. This time I'm not involved but am going to cheer the school group on! If effort is anything to go by, they should do very well.

Today is SEN day. A big meeting with the head, some assessments of individual children, some IEPs to check . . . and a weekend to look forward to. Lovely!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thursday evening

It's been a mild, sunny, blustery, leaf whirling, branch snatching Autumn day.

Now, as every teacher knows, the two weather conditions guaranteed to get children hyper excited are wind and snow. If you are unlucky to get the two together, you may as well hide under the table and whimper helplessly while sucking your thumb and picking your nose for all the joy you will get from them.

So, while today wasn't as bad as it could be, they were certainly excitable and noisy - and we had outdoor PE this morning. They tried hard and produced some good work, but whenever a very strong gust came tearing across the field, accompanied by all those swirly, whirly leaves, oh, the noise!! The did enjoy themselves!

A few days ago my anti virus stopped updating itself - it just kept failing; very worrying. So yesterday I emailed my lovely PC/ICT expert to ask for help. This evening he accessed my PC and set about trying to sort it all out. It felt as if it was taking for ever and there's something weirdly exhausting about watching someone control your PC from a distance. Frustrating too. But all's well that ends well, a full scan is now underway and a huge thanks to Eddie for all the support. What a star he is!

Thursday morning

It's inevitable that once a teacher gets to know her class, she starts compartmentalising them. The 'good' ones', the 'sensible' ones, the 'restless' ones, the 'angry' ones, and so on.
It's simplistic but inevitable. It's usually accurate in a very basic way but not a solid enough foundation to make too many judgements or assumptions and sometimes they surprise you.

Angry Little Boy nearly came to grief the other day. Another child accused him of doing something that it because obvious he actually hadn't done - couldn't have done - and it took the intervention of the adults in the class to stop it spilling over into a meltdown.

Five minutes later he went off to do 'something special' and was allowed to choose two children to go with him. One was chosen pretty quickly - but after a little thought, who should he pick but his discredited accuser. When asked why he said it was because he had forgiven him and wanted to show that he had. That was incredibly mature and showed an unexpected wisdom and understanding, surprising and delighting us.

As I said - these classifications are pretty simplistic and often very crude. I was glad to have my understanding increased. A L B may not have heard of seventy times seven, but he certainly applied it to great effect there and smashed down the sides of the box I had put him in. Good for him!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Wednesday morning

I've just had a rant over on my other blog so I'll keep it short here. Wednesday already! I like Wednesdays. It's a nice, varied timetable, including computer suite (always goes down well), library (once a fortnight), reading partners (once a fortnight), family assembly and PPA for half an hour. The only blip is staff meeting, which can be variable. Hopefully, tonight's will be good.

The children have come back ready to learn after their week's break. They were so tired before half term and were beginning to succumb to bugs - tums, coughs, colds, etc. They needed that week as much as I did, if not more!

Must remember to put out the recycling stuff today - I forgot a fortnight ago so it's accumulated rather more than I like to see. I'll do it now while I'm remembering.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tuesday morning

Want to go in for play writing? Feel an urge to write deathless prose that will thrill audiences?
Tell you what - become a KS1 coordinator and then you can indulge yourself once a year and get paid for it!

I've finally finished my re-write of Whoops-a-Daisy Angel (WADA), created as much of the programme as I can, taken several copies of the backing tracks and generally got myself up to date. I've even chosen WADA. It should have really been done over, or even before) half term, but wasn't!

So now we're into the grind of lunchtime and playtime rehearsals, learning dances and having sleepless nights and bad dreams worrying that it's not long enough and, somehow, the audience will blink once and find it's all over (the reason for the rewrite was because, as it stands, it's very short).

The trouble is, I'm no Shakespeare, and I'm just hoping against hope that what I have penned is reasonably OK and learnable for the children. I know the parents will like it - it has angels, Mary and Joseph and a baby doll in it - what's not to like?

And so, back to today. PPA time and coordinator time. So that's this morning sorted! Back into the routine . . .

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monday evening

So sorry I missed a post this morning. What with one thing and another, I just didn't get it done.

As I thought, it was so nice to get back to school and see the children again. They, in their turn, seemed glad to see the adults of the class and were ready to settle down to work after the break. It's a heavy few months now, what with Christmas shows, parties, decorations, etc, etc, etc. Such a trial! :0)

It's been a good day though.