Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday and a turkey leg

Ages ago I bought a whole turkey leg (not just the drumstick) and put it in the freezer.  This weekend I got it out and on Sunday morning I slow roasted it for about four hours.

It gave me huge amounts of meat, some of which I used for a turkey and vegetable pie for dinner last night, half of which is still here because it was a very full pie!  Guess what I am having for dinner tonight.
When I can gather my thoughts I will post what I did on the other blog.

It was a lovely day yesterday.  Fine weather (bit blowing on the heights of Hyde Hall, but very refreshing), off to Hyde Hall, a super lunch there, a relaxing wander round, a visit to some of the 'market' stalls they had open, spent just a bit of money . . . lovely.  I was well pleased that because I have RHS membership, I can take a guest along free so I only had to pay for one of my visitors.
There's another 'special' there in a fortnight and I think I might go along to it!  What do you think?  Beth - interested?
Fresh fruit
Borrowed from the Hyde Hall web
And now it's back to school again.  Never mind, not long until the next weekend!

Sunday, 29 September 2013


. . . and here I am, up at stupid o'clock - again!  Two bad nights in a row is not a good idea, especially with guests.  I must try to get a bit more sleep as we're off to Hyde Hall today and then I have a dinner to cook.  No opportunities for a wee nap there, sadly.
The gardens at Hyde Hall, borrowed from Google Images.

Yesterday was grand.  We went out to the Hare for a meal and, as always, ate very well indeed.  I still usually have the small plate option and they have now expanded their range which is good.  I had sorbet for dessert and they had apple sorbet which was very, very good indeed.  I need to find a recipe!

As expected, I did go onto the Jam Jar Shop and indulged in some more jars, a larger box of them this time.  When giving my produce as gifts, the cost has to be included but sometimes I get a jar and lid back again, which is great.  If I use the produce at home I don't really count the cost because I always wash the jars and lids and reuse.  I have blackberries waiting, and some apples too, but I think the apples will go into a fruit crumble for dinner tonight with some plums and a few of the blackberries.

One good thing about waking early is that I can get things in the oven in good time.  I got a full turkey leg out of the freezer yesterday and it has been slowly thawing overnight.  It's just gone into the oven on a bed of onion and carrot with stock, white wine and seasonings, to slow roast for several hours.  Once it's done, I will strip the meat off and boil up the remains.  Some of the meat is to make a turkey and mushroom pie for this evening's dinner.  I still have the packet shorcrust pastry that I got last weekend in case the home made variety didn't work out, so I will use that to save me some time.  With it I will have fried potatoes, carrots and runners (both from the garden) and maybe some courgette too.  With the crumble for dessert, it should make a nice enough meal.

Back off to bed now, to see if I can snatch another hour or sleep.  Here's hoping!

Saturday, 28 September 2013


Borrowed from Orange Marmalade which is not a cooking/recipe site.
The working week is over and Saturday has started stupidly early for me.  Two o'clock is NOT the time to wake bright and ready for the new day.  I know me though, and I knew there was no point fighting to get back to sleep: it never works.  So down I came, dealt with some plums that were starting to turn so needing action fast and now have the makings of some plum jam in the maslin pan.

It's a bog-standard plum jam recipe but while the fruit was simmering I popped in a star anise for just a smidgeon of spiciness.
When I make jam I have a slightly different way.  I simmer the fruit and do whatever needs doing to it, then I take it off the hob and add the sugar immediately, stir it well and leave it to dissolve as the mixture cools.  No need to stir much at all.  Also, as it cools it starts setting a bit (I know, weird) so when I do boil it up it takes next to no time to reach setting point.
If it doesn't start setting as it cools I know I need to add some lemon.
I'm sure there's a scientific explanation and maybe it isn't setting at all really, but it works.  The only thing I find boring about jam making is the continual stirring the dissolve the sugar and this way I don't have to, I can go and do something else.  it all tqkes longer but is less effort.
The only thing I am slightly concerned about is that I haven't checked the state of play with the jam jars.  I might just have to take a virtual trip to the Jam Jar Company!  Oh, the hardship!

Yesterday's day of meetings turned out to be a day of not-meetings.  I just had one, a short one, after school and the rest of the time was spend doing paperwork.  Loads and loads of paperwork but all very useful stuff.

And when I got home, all worn and weary, the house was spotless.  Instead of rushing around trying to get things shipshape for today's visitors, I sat down and went to sleep.  Also I'm not rushing around now either.  Well worth the money I would say: why has it taken me so long?

Friday, 27 September 2013


Yes, yet again it is Friday and I have another SEN day packed with paperwork and meetings.  How jolly!
Borrowed from Google Images (again)
We do seem to be having something of an Indian Summer after a very chilly spell in the middle of the months and, according to my little weather bug app, the weekend is likely to be more of the same.  No complaints here!

To go with the warmer weather, the garden is still flourishing, the tomatoes are accumulating again, there's plenty of runners for the weekend and I'm looking eagerly at the leeks - not ready yet but growing fast!  I shall be picking more carrots this weekend.  I only have two short rows so want to make the most of them.  The broccoli is happier now that there are fewer butterflies around and are also growing fast.  For a very small patch, it is doing OK and small means it is easier to keep the weeds down!

As posted yesterday, it was a lovely day and I'm hoping that the children slept well as they went home very weary - just like their teacher who also was weary and who slept like the proverbial log.  Early to bed and early to rise is the name of the game, isn't it?

This weekend is Chilli Pepper weekend at Hyde Hall, which sounds intriguing.  I might meander along to that at some point.  I find Hyde Hall very restful and relaxing and haven't been for a little while now.  The last time I went we were rained off and didn't see very much at all, sadly.  But with a positive forecast this weekend it might be just the ticket!

I've been buzzing around tidying up the house in preparation for the first visit from my 'cleaning lady'.  After all, I mustn't shock her too soon and also she'll be able to do a better job if there's less clutter.  Finally, with visitors due this weekend, it has to be done anyway!  I feel weirdly excited about coming home to a clean house when I haven't done it myself.  Woo hoo!!!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

European day of languages

. . . and what a lovely day it has been.

Some of the children had obviously been doing a bit of homework because as they walked in and I greeted them with 'Bonjour . . . (and their name)', several responded very confidently with 'Bonjour, Mrs Clark' (and one 'Madame') and one bright spark responded with 'Comment ca va?' (it wasn't quite that but that's what he meant and please excuse the lack of accents).  He gave me a HUGE grin when I responded with 'Tres bien, merci.'  Well done, mum or dad.

Such a smiley start to the day and it continued as we did the register in French (well, the 'bonjour' bit, anyway) and then we bumped into reality with Reading Revelry and Work Workshop.  After that it was back to France for some geography (naming European countries and capital cities), making a French flag,. learning some French songs and doing some maths using French words for the numbers one to ten.

This afternoon was pure indulgence as we tasted baguette, brioche, pain au chocolat, croissant, confiture (er - home made blackberry and apple because I forgot to get some Bonne Maman) and fromage (brie).  By playtime I was stuffed (and the jam is well delicious too)!

They all went home very happily waving their flags and smiling to all and sundry.  I love these 'special' days.  Vive la France.

And now I'm shattered!!!!!  A nice glass of Merlot (must stay in the spirit) will help, I'm sure.  Salut, mes amies!


A very quick in and out to say 'Hi' this morning.  A busy day today as we are having a special day for European day of languages!  In Y 1 we are focusing on French.  Answering the register in French (bonjour madame), learning to count to ten in French with the aid of some youtube cartoons, learning some French songs and tasting French food (croissants, brioche, pain au chocolat, baguette, fromage, confiture).

All great fun, I hope!!!
Add caption

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Wednesday already, planning is done for the week and on Friday we will be halfway through the half term, a twelfth of the way through the school year.  Already I can see progress (which is just as well) and have become very fond of my littlies.

For one, I think for the very first time, I have no children in my class with the same name so they don't have to go their school career with an initial attached to their name to differentiate them from each.  I have some pairs that have names quite like each other but that's OK.

I shall never again do what I did one year.  I had a lad - let's call him Henry - and then half way through the term along came another Henry.  The first Henry was tall, the second small so they ended up as Big Henry and Little Henry.  Fine, no problems, they were happy with that.  However, I'm not so sure that in Y6 they are still so happy but the name has stuck!  With any luck the pattern will break when they get to secondary school!

Yesterday I made slow cooker spiced apple cheese.  I was a bit nervous - I haven't made a fruit 'cheese' (not really cheese, of course) for decades and I've never used the slow cooker for anything like this, but it looked simple and I had the apples (thanks again, J) so I thought 'why not'.  I've posted about it in Teacher's Recipes, with a link to the original post in a very interesting blog called Allotment2Kitchen.  Worth taking a look.

After it had effortlessly simmered away all day in the slow cooker (no stirring and it was fine), all I had to do in the evening was carefully ladle the very hot mixture into Thermione and give it all a quick zizz on the highest speed.  Then into jars where it was left to cool and 'solidify' and now it is a perfect pouring consistency.  The only think I don't know is how long it lasts for so I think I will keep it in the fridge.

We won't mention the sticky washing up!!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


TM31 with some accessories_reduced
Borrowed from Google
Yesterday, one of my lovely readers commented on my Thermione - my Thermomix - saying that she seems to be in almost constant use.

I haven't been paid for this, in fact I doubt any of the 'powers that be' will ever read this commendation, but it's a fact that I don't regret any of the (pretty substantial amount of) money I spent on my Thermomix, named Thermione by me because, like Hermione, she does just about everything superbly well.  And if you don't know what I mean, read the Harry Potter books!!

I first heard about the Thermomix on my blog-friend Diane's blog when a friend of hers mentioned it.  Diane bought one fairly quickly and, as I respect Diane's opinion, I did some research.

I have to say, a Thermomix is horrifyingly expensive.  I could never have justified it had not a very beloved aunty left me an amount of money in her will (bless you, dear auntie) which made it possible.  Even then I spent months weighing the pros and cons of such a significant investment.

In the end I decided to spoil myself in the hopes that I would not be disappointed.  Since then I have handed on my food processor to my daughter, otherwise disposed of sundry other kitchen gadgets (althought I keep firm hold of my Bamix zizzer) and am seriously considering the future of my Panasonic Breadmaker (and I never thought I would say that) as it is just not earning its space any more.

In short, as said above, it (she) is one of the best kitchen investments I have ever made, standing alongside my rangemaster cooker in significance.  I longed for a range cooker for decades before the generosity of my beloved parents made it possible.  Thermione matches that in importance.

I cam make no higher commendation and I know I am very, very lucky!

Just to add a lighter note to all this praise - I have a lovely big bag of plums and some more blackberries promised.  Can life hold greater delight?  (seriously - as I take great pleasure in the small things).  Thank you M-A and K.

Monday, 23 September 2013


It's well past six o'clock as I begin to type this and outside, although it is still very dim, it looks as if it might be another lovely day.  Yesterday started dull, gloomy and chilly and then, in the afternoon, the sun broke through and it was beautiful.

It was a beautiful day in other ways too.

I found that, with Thermione's help, I can make nice shortcrust pastry.  I made a scrummy dinner for me, Beth and Alex, I made a batch of seedless blackberry and apple jam and I've found recipes to use up the rest of the apples.  I have one more to add my jampot list, posted yesterday, and that is slow cooker spiced apple butter.  Doesn't that sound good?
borrowed from Google Images

When Beth and Alex came round they were bearing gifts - black beans, courgettes and two butternut squashes.  Fantastic.  With my tomatoes, carrots and runner beans (which are still producing happily) I am well set for the week as far as veg is concerned.  It's a nice, fuzzy feeling!  Thanks, Beth!
Borrowed from Mark's Veg Plot at
On Saturday, George dug up almost all of my crocosmia.  It had taken over the bed, shadowing other plants and generally just getting far too big for its boots.   Beth took what he dug up for her garden/allotment (not sure which) so there was no waste, always a good thing. I do like our informal barter system!

Ah, well, it is six forty and I need to start getting ready for school.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Recipe posted

Just to say I have posted the seedless blackberry and apple jam recipe in Teacher's Recipes in case you're interested.

Apple and . . .

I am lucky in that I have friends who offload some of their garden glut onto me.  Last week K brought over a large punnet of blackberries which I turned into seedless gloop fairly pronto and stored away safely.  Yesterday my dear friend J brought over a bag of apples from her tree.

So today I made blackberry and apple jam.  Seedless, of course, as I don't like the way the blackberry seeds get stuck in my teeth.  I now have nine pots of gorgeousness cooling in the kitchen plus one little one that I am taking to someone later on because it's their birthday.  This year it was a particular pleasure because we didn't get any blackberries from Streele Farm - they were still hard and green.
Of course, I will share this harvest with J, K and Beth.

I used up the blackberries but there's loads more apples so I'm having fun deciding what to make.
Here's the list - not a bucket list, just a jam pot list!
Apple mint jelly (I have loads of mint in the garden)
Spiced apple and plum jam (I hope to get some plums this week)
Spiced apple cordial (which is just lovely and tastes fantastic as part of a mulled drink).

When I've made the jelly, I will run the pulp through the mouli and freeze what comes through for apple sauce.  No waste if I can help it!

I also want to make some spiced plum vodka like I made strawberry vodka but adding a star anise and a bit of cinnamon stick to the bottle with the fruit, sugar and vodka.  I've been saving bottles.

I'll post on Teacher's Recipes as and when.


I am feeling very, very humbled right now.  I've got another of those 'Leibster' awards, this time from Julie's Mum at Womanunadorned (super blog, I've followed it for a while now, do go and read).
I won't be sending it on for the same reasons as stated before in an earlier post although I approve of the fact that Juliesmum has reduced it right down to three of everything!!  I will answer her questions below.

What humbles me though is what she said about this blog.
"Diary of a Teacher. A lovely lovely blog full of the gentle ups and downs of teaching in a primary school, gardening, cooking adventures and family and friends. Warning: quietly addictive!"

It humbles me and makes me very happy because it's exactly what I want my blog to be.  I love that she finds it quietly addictive.  Thank you so very much, Juliesmum.  I have a bit of a lump in my throat right now.

Here are her questions and my answers.

1. What blog post are you most proud of?
Oooh, that's a very hard one.  I've been going for several years now so there are loads of posts to choose from and I can't remember most of them.  I do remember a time when there was a wee bit of fuss (slight understatement here) in the OUSA (Open University Students Association) conferencing site (FirstClass)  and someone who should have known better, given the senior position they held, had a right rant elsewhere about being [and here I have edited out what I first wrote because it is likely to make the person concerned much more identifiable, which would be unfair] when, in fact, the opposite was the far more accurate account.  I had a bit of a rant at that, speaking out some home truths, but managed to keep my temper which was amazing because I was very, very angry - which doesn't happen very often (being angry, I mean).  I was pleased that I managed to say what I thought in this circumstance without being nasty but I'm not sure 'proud' would be the right word.  And the blog counter went shooting up for the post - funny, that!!

I was well pleased with the 'Living Below The Line project because we raised a lot of money for our chosen charity, The Hunger Project.  That was a brilliant feeling.

I like posts about my class and I like posts about my family.

Beyond that I think it is up to readers to make that judgement.  
Most of my posts are rambly, inconsequentially homey stuff.  Not terribly challenging but maybe 'quietly addictive (I do love that comment!!)
Good question!

2. Have you ever removed a blog post after publishing it, and if so, can you tell us why?

Oh, yes!  And much more before posting!  As time is likely to be at a premium in the mornings I sometimes write a skeleton of the next day's post in the evening and sleeping on things can be a very good strategy!

As a teacher (and a senior teacher at that) I have to be so very careful.  I had a right rant about something LEA-based quite a while ago and posted it, only to delete it several hours later after I had calmed down and realised it was far too OTT.

The thing is, I have a responsibility to my class, my colleagues, the parents and the school and I have to be careful not to do or say anything that would bring any of it into disrepute.  It's a responsibility I accept willingly although it can be rather a tie at times.

3. Who do you secretly hope reads your blog?

I've never thought of this one before.  I would like to think Jack Monroe reads this and my sister blog 'Food Diary of a Teacher' but I bet she doesn't, she's way too busy.  Apart from that I am grateful that around 30 people seem to want to read and seem to enjoy it enough to come back.    I hope they - you - keep coming back for more!

The other news is that I have my PC back again.  It's lovely to have a proper keyboard again rather than something with an annoying touch pad in the middle.  So the school laptop is sitting on the printer having a rest.

Goodness, I don't half ramble on at times!  And now I'm off to think about making some blackberry and apple jam!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Children are wonderful

I'm so enjoying my class.  There are some right characters and already I have laughed until I have cried (after the event - wouldn't hurt their feelings for the world).

Here's one.  As always, names are totally concealed.

Me to Sparky Little Boy (and rest of table):  How's it going?  Everyone OK?
SLB:  (somewhat abuptly and off-handedly)  Fine . . .
Me: (a bit on my professional high horse)  You mean 'fine, thank you, Mrs Clark'!
SLB:  Yup!!
Me:  (rapidly deflating)  er - oh, good!

This was the lad who came to me later and asked 'What are brains for, Mrs Clark?'  and after a simple explanation 'How do they work?'

What a star!!!  He will go far!


Good morning, everyone.  So sorry about yesterday's non-appearance.  I slept so poorly Thursday night that I just didn't have the mental energy to put ideas together.  A bad headache, neck aches and tummy cramps didn't help.  I managed to get half an hours sleep after waking at about two thirty and tablets sorted out the aches and pains, thank goodness, but I was so tired by the end of school!  SEN paperwork is heavy right now so I had plenty to keep me occupied at school.

I wish I didn't wake quite so early each morning, especially weekends.  A lie in would be nice but I'm not one to stay in bed and try to get a bit more sleep.  Once the old brain gets going I have to be up and doing.  Sometimes that's useful, sometimes it's a right nuisance.

Whinge over.  Too much negativity is self-perpetuating and there's enough of it about without me adding to it!!

Wasn't the weather lovely yesterday.  Sunny and milder than earlier in the week.  Hopefully we're entering an Indian Summer before Autumn really starts biting.  I gather that many people view Sept 21st as the first day of Autumn and I'm happy to go along with that.  Welcome to Autumn, my favourite season (along with Winter and Spring!)

Once one starts thinking of Autumn the question arises 'what do I do with the tomatoes'.  I've already stripped the tumbling toms in the hanging basket as they were looking decidedly weak and woolly and I have a container full of green tomatoes.  I'll give them time to ripen: those that don't will make chutney.  I can't lose there.
The other tomato plants still look healthy - or they did last time I looked which was Wednesday (ooops), so I am debating how much longer to leave them before the final harvesting.
The runner beans are also still producing, which is good, and the carrots are coming into their own and are ready for picking.  Excellent.

I'm getting my computer back this afternoon.  All mended and working again, I gather, and Eddie has some ideas about filing, etc.  I know I keep too much saved on it so I will be interested to hear his advice. However, this last fortnight has been good because I have been forced to use an updated version of Word, PP, etc, on the school laptop and I'm now getting used to it.  I've also realised that using the laptop means that resources I make can go straight onto the machine I use rather than faffing around with memory sticks, etc.  Perhaps I ought to move my large bank of school resources onto the laptop so they are available when I'm at school, or maybe Eddie has thoughts of 'cloud' storage.

Until late afternoon I have some bags of apples to pick up from a friend, some eggs to collect, some jam to make, some washing and ironing and a downstairs to tidy and clean.   Plenty to keep me going there.

Now where did I put those bin bags?

Thursday, 19 September 2013


It's Thursday again.  Nearly the end of the week.  Time flies.  It felt like quite a mild night last night.  I took off the extra cover as it felt too hot.  I will need to open the window again tonight if it remains milder.  And what a bright night it was too.  Everywhere shone in reflected moonlight.  It was beautiful and another reason for appreciating the fact that the streetlights are off.  It would never have looked so dramatic before.

It was a good day yesterday.  We explored the five senses and did a tasting thing in the afternoon.  All good fun and the children seemed to have an enjoyable time.  Today is, I hope, equally enjoyable.

And now I need to prepare resources!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I love my slow cooker

My slow cooker is so old it could almost be on Antiques Roadshow.  I'm pretty sure I had it before I moved to Essex which means that it dates from the late 70s/early 80s.

Several times recently I have meditated on retiring it and buying a new one.  A bigger, oval one that has a few more functions.  Then I thought about it some more and realised that it does everything I want it to do with the exception of being the right shape for a turkey drumstick - and how many times do I need to cook a turkey drumstick in the slow cooker?

I rather like the look of it in an old fashioned way.  After all, retro is very in, isn't it?  The inner bowl is a lovely grey ceramic that looks good on the table and can go in the oven if necessary.

The outer casing is pretty (and old fashioned) and I like it.  I guess I'm old fashioned too!

I guess it doesn't hold as much as some you can buy now and what it holds would be in pints, not in metric (not that is matters one bit!), but it is fine for me.  Overnight I made a savoury mince with veg that has made five very good portions and it wasn't full.  I can slow roast a chicken in it.  What's not to like there?

The functions are fairly basic but again, what more do I need?  It has a high, a low and an auto that starts on high and goes to low when it's boiling.  It's all I need.

So, sorry, slow cooker, but I'm not retiring you yet.  You're still a valued part of the kitchen team, you more than earn your cupboard space and long may you continue!


I learnt something new yesterday.  It seems a bucket list is a list of things you would really like to do before you 'kick the bucket'!  How morbid!!!  I'm not sure there is much really - maybe that's not quite true but I'm being realistic.  There's things I would like to see, do, experience and some of them are in the pipeline but for others I know I will never get the chance so what's the point in dwelling on them?  Better to be satisfied with my very pleasant life than to yearn after things unrealistically.  Or have I got it all wrong?

Yesterday was a funny mixture of a day.  Sunny am, rainy pm.  In class until 11:00, then out of class for the rest of the day.  Slept well but was dreadfully tired by the end of the day and came home early (early for me, that is).

Over Monday night I tried something new - 'roasting' a chicken in the slow cooker.  It worked OK although I left it in too long.  Given that I was asleep, it would he hard not to.  The house smelt absolutely wonderful through the night!  I will do that again, definitely!

Then last night I knocked up a savoury mince and cooked that overnight too.  It's delicious this morning so I now have meat for the rest of the week and beyond.  Excellent!!

Today will be a long day and then there is staff meeting afterwards.  I'm glad I have a dinner all prepared and ready as I will be tired again.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


I was a little unsettled yesterday.  A fellow blogger had nominated me for a 'Leibster Award' (for my food diary blog).

No, I hadn't heard of it either and am still not totally clear what it is but one thing stood out and that was that to 'qualify' for this I needed to nominate eleven other bloggers.  To me (and this is a very personal reaction), it smacks of a sort of pyramid thing so I won't be taking it up:  I can just imagine Diane's reactions if I nominated her, for example.   I'd never dare!

 The lovely lady who nominated me asked questions to answer, and I liked them, so here they are with my responses.

1.  What was the very first thing you made in your chosen craft.
Oh, gosh, what is my chosen craft?  I've been crafting since my earliest days, one way or another.  I remember making 'Gonks' with fabric and newspaper stuffing for little friends when I wasn't much older than they were.  I did paper sculpture and origami before secondary school.  I knitted, sewed, crocheted, made lace, wove baskets and macrame hangers, composed music - you name it, I've probably tried it (or would like to).  What came first?  I have no idea.  What's my chosen craft?  I haven't a clue. Jack of many trades, master of none, that's me!  And I'm happy with that.

2.  What is your favourite TV show?
Well, I don't watch a lot of TV (no time) but I like Pointless, Eggheads, Bake Off, Strictly, Doctor Who . . . I did love Robin of Sherwood, decades ago.

3.  Do you drink tea or coffee or something else all day.
Goodness, no!  I'm a teacher.  'Comfort breaks' have to be timetabled!!!!!  You can't drink anything 'all day' if you're a teacher.  Bladders come under OFSTED regulations.  Bowels too, come to that!

4.  Who is your favourite TV chef?
Now that's easier.  It has to be Delia.  Take away the 'TV' bit and I would say 'my mum'.  I'm old fashioned like that.

5.  What is your most favourite place to eat out?
I would say round at mum and dad's.  Can't eat better than there.  And it's free!  Win-win.

6. Have you got a bucket list and, if so, what's at number 1?
What on earth is a 'bucket list'???  Is it a sort of flower or vegetable thing?

7. Do you have a favourite pet?
No!  :-)

8.  If you had a choice from all over the world, where would you prefer to live?
In the Derbyshire Peaks.  In a 'character cottage with period features' as they say in Escape to the Country. It would need tardis like qualities too.
After I won the Lottery.

9. Do you play any sport and are you any good at it?
Nay, nay and thrice nay!

10,  Are you a morning person or a night person.
Any regular blog reader will know I am a morning person through and through.  Nights are for sleeping.  Mornings are for living.  And blogging!  And Facebooking.  And getting ready for school.

If you were stranded with a flat tyre, could you change it yourself?
In theory, yes, but in practise, why do I pay the RAC  if not for things like this?

After reading through all this I can only come to two conclusions.  The first is that I am a very ordinary, thoroughly dull and boring person.  The second is that boring or not, I am usually comfortably grounded and that is not to be sniffed at!

Life is good.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Hasn't it been blustery?  Cold too - my heating was clicking on yesterday evening, much to my dismay.  I was worried about the grow house in the very strong winds but with the door zipped closed and being tied down to the fence, it's been OK, no dangers of it blowing away or falling down.  Now it has all calmed down and there's a beautifully starry sky although, of course, it's quite cold in the clear night air.  However, it's probably too cold for blight, which is a blessing.  There's still a whole load of tomatoes to ripen!

Yesterday evening felt so chilly that when I went to bed I lay an extra cover on my bed, over the quilt.  It was only a cheap bedspread but another layer always does the trick and I was cosy and snug all night.
Small blessings are important.

It's been a wonderful weekend with Mum and Dad.  On Saturday, we went to see the Arcadians' concert performance of Sweeney Todd and my goodness, it was a powerful performance.  Different to their usual work but absolutely excellent.  We had a fantastic evening and I'm already looking forward to their next offerings: something Christmassy in December and a show (not finalised) next June.

Their garden, as always, looks wonderful.  I took this photo of the beef tomatoes from the bedroom window and the biggest tomato is the size of my hand, absolutely enormous.  I'm pondering on growing one next year myself now.  His other tomatoes were a glorious orange variety called Sungold and he's going to let me have a plant or two next spring which is very kind.  There was a pot of these out for snacking on and they are so sweet and delicious!
(From the Thompson Morgan site)
Today is a full day with my class, good-oh!  All is prepared and ready and I'm looking forward to the activities I have planned for them.  I hope the children enjoy them too.

And now I'd better start making my breakfast!

Sunday, 15 September 2013


After two bad nights, or rather, after two ridiculously early wakings, I had a glorious night's sleep last night and woke just before seven which, for me, is a real lie in.  I feel so much better for it.  Yes, I was later to bed because I went out to a concert performance of Sweeny Todd (brilliant, more another time) but I must have had a good eight hours' of sound sleep.  It feels great.

It's supposed to be wet and windy but here it is still calm, still and sunny.  Sometimes our weather can be so weird!  I'm a bit concerned as to how well the grow house will stand up to really strong win!s so am hoping it won't be so bad.  My garden is pretty sheltered but less so than it used to be now that the hedge has gone so I will have to wait and see.

It's wonderfully relaxing to know that even if I do not one stroke of work today I am fully prepared for tomorrow (more or less).  Having PPA on Tuesday and having to have next week's planning ready for a meeting on Friday (not school policy, just a class thing) means that my weekends are much free-er than they used to be.  I like it.

After my meeting on Thursday, I now have the housework thing set up.  Two hours once a fortnight, I decided, and she (the company owner, who happens to be a mum at school too) has managed to timetable it on Fridays which is perfect.  Her 'girl' can't start this coming week which is also perfect because, as it happens, each time I have something on at the weekend, my house will be cleaned on the Friday before, even just before Christmas.  I couldn't ask for better, could I?  And I will HAVE to keep the place tidier too.  It's a win-win for me and, while the guilty feeling is still lurking, it's being pushed out by the sense of relief and by sheer common sense.

Just look at the time - you can tell it's the weekend as I am typing this in bed with the laptop balanced on a pillow.  So decadent!!  Now I'm off for a nice hot bath!  I think one of the big secrets of a happy life is to rejoice in the smaller things (which actually aren't necessarily all that 'small' really) and, for me, I am so appreciative that my life is filled with good, small things.  A nice hot bath is definitely one of them.  I like showers but baths are better every time!

Borrowed from Google search - not my bath but, as it happens, the same shape as my bath and I love it.

Saturday, 14 September 2013


After managing to stay awake until past nine yesterday (just) I found myself wide awake again at just after four.  Better than around two, that's for sure.

So I've strung and sliced the beans I picked yesterday, put on some washing and will be roasting another lot of tomatoes because there's so many and I will never manage to eat them before the next load gets picked.
It's been a glorious year for tomatoes after such a late start but in this current damp weather it wouldn't surprise me if they suddenly got totally blightificated! There's been a number of high risk periods over the last week or so.  It will either be that or an early frost!

It was such a wet day yesterday although the children did manage to get some (damp) fresh air.  It was a bit like the hokey cokey at times - in, out, in, out - but we managed!  And I had to smile (inwardly) when little D came up to me in great distress because he'd looked EVERYWHERE for his new school jumper and couldn't find it ANYWHERE!  He soon cheered up when I pointed out that he was wearing it!  At least he didn't then complain that someone must have 'put it there', as another little lad did years ago.  That one still makes me chuckle.

I've just peered out into the dark (and it is extremely dark as they turn out the street lights between midnight and 5 am) and it is wet, windy and yucky.  We're forecast to have some very bad weather over this weekend, which is a shame.  Where's our Indian Summer?

Friday, 13 September 2013

A blast from the past

This week we have been revising the phoneme /ng/ (plus letter formation, joining, etc).  For some reason the old Spike Milligan poem, 'On the Ning Nang Nong', came to mind and today the children enjoyed identifying the /ng/ phonemes.  I've just been onto Amazon to order a copy of 'Silly Verse for Kids' which takes me right back to my early teaching days.  I shall have fun, I can tell!

Friday (somewhat late)

So sorry for being late with this.  It's been quite a day.

First of all, I woke at 2:30-ish with my brain a-buzzin' and ,my body tossing and turning and very restless to the extent that I simply could NOT get back to sleep again.  So I came downstairs and dealt with what was on my mind to such a degree that I had to rush a bit to get into school early (OK, so I did some Facebook as well).  It didn't help matters that with half an hour to go my tum went on me and I spent more time than I could spare on the loo - thank the Lord for Imodium (or the Morrison's cheaper equivalent!).  I'm fine now, of course.  Put it down to stress.

Once in school, I was greeted by the wonderful news that as the head, deputy and KS2 coordinator were all out of school I was the big boss-girl for the day.  Oh, the joy!!!

At lunchtime I could feel myself fading out rapidly.  On a normal day I wouldn't have worried too much although it's wall to wall paperwork at the moment, but you can bet your bottom dollar if I did fade out the school would erupt, so I popped over to Morrison's for some so-called 'energy drink' which did the trick for an long as needed.  Now I'm at home and fighting to stay awake for a decent time before crashing out or I will do the same thing again.  Of course it was a remarkably quiet and settled day at school which I put totally down to my energy drink, of course.

I did get loads done today thought so am feeling very satisfied.  Two internal meetings which were really extremely helpful, annual review paperwork (for two of them) set up (always a biggie), new statement IEPs started, important paperwork copied and distributed, dates decided . . . so I feel very satisfied now.  A day well spent.

And now it is the weekend.  All planning is done and I just have resources to make.  Excellent!  Two down, six to go.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Oooooh, look

I went out to open up the grow house and look what I saw!  At long, long last, a chilli is ripening.  Yessssssssssssss!
(apologies for the photo quality)


Things are getting very hectic around here. I suppose that's inevitable when you have to deliver a target/objective led curriculum rather than a child-need centred curriculum but I'm taking a long, hard look at what I am demanding from my children and I'm going to make sure they have enough time to just be them pure and simple.  This is the difficult time, when some are more than ready to move on into more academic 'work' while many others still need a play centred day.  You can never please everyone!!

The weather remains dull and dismal although yesterday was mostly dry and I gather today will be similar while rain is forecast for tomorrow.  My tomatoes aren't liking the lack of sun though and neither are the runner beans.  I have one morning and two or three afternoon playtime duties each week but I've only done one so far.  What a change from August!  It makes me wonder what the winter will be like this year.

Well, it's nearly six and I need to take a good look at next week's planning unless I want it to be hanging over me at the weekend.  But first I think another coffee is needed!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Oh, dear.  When I came home from school yesterday I went out into the garden as I always do and, ooops, the wind had blown over one of the tomato plants.  I picked it up, of course, and stood it back in its place but on the floor were 29 tomatoes that had been knocked off - thirty, in fact, but one was squashed.  They're indoors now and some may turn red but I am debating whether to chop them up and freeze them ready for some green tomato chutney later on.  What a shame though.

As well as being windy, yesterday was chilly and people were muttering about turning the heating on.  September is a bit early for that but I can understand why.  Even the children chose to put coats on when they went out to play.  And the tomatoes were shut up for the night again!

Today is a very full day with ICT, library, family assembly and staff meeting after school.  There's some good stuff planned so I hope they enjoy it.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


First of all, please may I say a big 'thank you' to you lovely readers who commented about my ponder on getting some help in with the housework.  You were so kind and so encouraging, it was very much appreciated!

Another cloudy view thing from the other day as I didn't take any photos yesterday.
Well, the god who watches over school playtimes obviously forgot to get out of bed yesterday morning because the weather was filthy vile for most of the day.  No morning play, ten minutes at lunch time and then the rain started again, no afternoon play.  Of course, by home time the sun was out but as we watched over some children in the playground (their parents were at the 'meet the teacher' meeting), it threatened to start yet again but didn't quite make it.  Bonus - I didn't have to get going with the watering can.
The forecast for today is better but there doesn't seem to be an awful lot of sun (or warmth) predicted.  My tomatoes aren't going to like that!

I love our local selling page on Facebook.  Now and again I glance in to see if there's anything interesting on offer.  This weekend I picked up nine bars of soaps including three Yardley lavender soaps and five Woods of Windsor soaps for just £4.00.  I love smelly soaps and now I have a whole basketful of them, making upstairs smell sweet.  If I was REALLY frugal, I would save them for pressies but I'm not going to, so there!
And then, just as I was reading a reply about picking up, I saw that someone very local had some Magnetix for sale so I pounced on that too.  It's now in school and the children made good use of it in wet playtimes yesterday.  That was a tenner and, given the amount of stuff, great value.

Today is the day I am mostly not in class.  I have coordinator time after play and it's Y1 PPA in the afternoon.  After school it's the KS 1 Meet The Teacher meetings.  I've done enough of them now to quite enjoy them.

A busy day ahead so I'd better get organised.  Have a good one, everybody!

Monday, 9 September 2013


It was rather a chilly day yesterday, so chilly that I closed up the grow house to keep the tomatoes cosy (aaaaahhhhhhhh) overnight.  There were some quite dramatic skies too, although I can never get photos to do the sky/clouds proper credit.

After a chilly night snuggled cosily under the quilt, I gave up and put on my dressing gown.  Much better, especially on these very early mornings.  Hopefully it will be fine and sunny today - it's still too much in the grey zone to tell.

I took Diane's advice (many thanks) and, after boiling up a bag of new potatoes, vacu-packed them in single portions.  Here they are at 10p a portion!  I love frugal!

The weekend has passed so quickly but I have taken on two things.

The first is to have a friend round and cook and cook a three course meal (excluding drinks) for £2.50 per head.
After my current and recent frugality, £2.50 is richness and I shall enjoy planning as well as making.

The other is to get some help with the housework which, frankly, gets me down.  I feel that a single person really OUGHT to be able to cope but I get so tired at the end of the day.  Maybe I'm just a whiny wimp.  Anyway, all that I am saving through being frugal with food ought to cover an hour a week or two hours a fortnight, and I will have to deal with the guilt.

And now it is nearly time to get ready for school!

Sunday, 8 September 2013


It hasn't taken me long to get back into my old habit of very early waking.  The fact that it is still totally dark doesn't make any difference whatsoever.  It's also jolly chilly this morning and the time is coming when I will need to hunt out my dressing gown for extra warmth.   I've just been out to the freezer and came back shivering.  I'm glad I shut my tomato plants up in the grow-house yesterday evening.

I still seem to have gadzillions of titchy tomatoes waiting to be eaten, despite a surfeit yesterday.  I suppose, given that I picked a huge potful in the morning and then another huge potful in the evening, it's hardly surprising.  Ah, well, I have six more portions of a very delicious roasted tomato sauce for the freezer and intend to make more and I am already dreaming of green tomato chutney (and how much time I will save using Thermione for all the chopping).

Today I want to rest.  I'm going back to bed again shortly as I can feel the tiredness beginning to wash over me.  I reckon I could get another couple of hours of shut-eye if I try!  I have a Sunday lunch to cook, of course, but that's OK and won't be a problem.

Diane, I have a question for you, if I may ask.  If I boiled a whole load of new potatoes, cooled them and vacu-packed them, how long would they last in the fridge?   It would be a grand time saver, assuming they stay good for a reasonable length of time.

OK, so I'm back off to bed.  Fingers crossed that the sleepy feeling translated into a good snooze!  'Night!

Saturday, 7 September 2013


There was a huge change in the weather yesterday.  Gone was the sun and instead the rolling clouds smurged into a blanket of dullness that covered the world and dimmed the colours.  By midday it was raining hard and it remained that way most of the afternoon, clearing up just before home time.  I didn't have a chance to monitor the effect on my new class but Carly said they were OK.  That's good!

This morning is cold.  I opened the back door and closed it again hurriedly.  Brrrrr.  While sitting at the laptop I couldn't help but notice the there was a very strange colour outside as the sun rose.  When I looked again I saw a most glorious rainbow although there was no rain here.  Quickly I grabbed my camera and snapped off some photos, none of which came out brilliantly but never mind.  As I finished, I felt the first drops fall so took myself inside quickly, but it wasn't heavy and now the sun is shining his heart out!  It's still chilly though, which I suppose we must expect for September.
I couldn't get anything like the whole bow in - it was massive, stretching from horizon . . .
. . . to horizon.
(as they do!)

As I was out there I noticed that there are plenty of runner beans ready for picking.  I only have three plants so they're doing jolly well.  Today's picking will do us for lunch tomorrow with maybe a portion to freeze for later.  They look so pretty, climbing up and along the archway, and I am definitely doing this again next year, starting earlier and making sure the slugs are kept at bay as that's what finished off the other plants this year.  There's little to compare with fresh picked runners for flavour - unless it's fresh picked tomatoes!
No wonder the Elizabethans saw them as decorative flowers rather than veg.  They are so lovely!

As the season moves on, I have started thinking about next year.  Tomatoes, definitely, runner beans, ditto.   I am sure I will be running to Beth for advice.  I'm also getting some raised planters of a good size to go where I would have another walled bed, should I be having my garden redone now.  When I did have it done, I had a little grandson who needed playing space and that space was perfect for putting up the climbing frame.  Now it really is wasted space that could be used for growing.
I just wish I had seen them before the term started as now I have the problem of someone in to receive them.

Good news from Eddie - is seems that the PC problem was caused by the graphics card which can be replaced.  He's also going to do a 'health check' while he is at it, so all's well (apart from paying and thank goodness for savings).  Actually, thank goodness for Eddie too - it was he who provided me with the external hard drive and got it all set up.  I can access old planning, etc, which is a huge relief.  Eddie is a star!

Today is busy.  There's a whole lot of housework and, as you will see from one of the photos, the fence isn't anywhere near finished yet.  Hopefully it will stay dry enough.  I have eggs to pick up, washing, drying and ironing to do and I must make some more tomato sauce as I have four bowls of tomatoes that need to be used up (because there's plenty more to come still).  Thank goodness the planning is more or less complete and just needs tweaking.

Better get started then, hadn't I?