Thursday, 31 January 2013


First of all, I'm sending best wishes to my blog friend, Diane, who is feeling really rotten this morning - hope you feel a lot better really quickly, Diane.

(edit)  Included in the best wishes is another friend, Sweffling, whose blog I have just read.  Thinking of you and sending encouraging vibes.

This is a quick one, mainly because I have a lot to do but also because there isn't an awful lot to say really.  Life and stuff plods on with no major problems, thankfully.

Take care, everyone and sorry this is so brief.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


We were lucky yesterday.  The rain held off and the children got their outdoor PE lesson - and they were all the better for it too!  They came back in glowing and happy after some good exercise, bless them.  I managed to get the letters written, photocopied and distributed regarding the next round of violin exams which are coming up in March, so that was good too.  I taught literacy and maths and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  So it really WAS a good day!

Today I am back to not a lot.  PPA first, literacy after play and then it is our mentor/trainee meeting in the afternoon.  There will be plenty to do today, especially looking at evidence that she is meeting the teaching standards and signing them (as her mentor) to say I agree that this has been done/met.  Three weeks in and we are well into the swing of it all.  Next week will be the last week so this particular meeting today is really important in that we need to look for gaps in her portfolio and ensure that we have activities that will plug those gaps.  She has another placement, of course, a longer one, but I want her to go into her next placement knowing that she's well on the way to QTS.

I'm well pleased this morning.  I have sorted out all the planning for next week, subject to Andrea's approval, of course, planned the basics of phonics for the week, make the thing for the window that tells the parents what we are doing, made the phonic and spelling home sheets for Friday and generally made sure life this evening and tomorrow evening will be more restful.

It feels good!

Re my 'other' blog.  I doubt many go in there now because I haven't used it for ages.  However, if anyone does, this is just to let you know that I will be deleting all the messages and generally giving it a right makeover so if there's anything there you want to keep, now's the time to do it!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  For two weeks now the children have not had their outdoor PE lessons because of the bad weather.  Right now it's wet underfoot but doesn't appear to be raining at all.  So, as I said, fingers crossed.
To coin a phrase:  Rain, rain, go away!  It's our PE day.

I feel for my student.  Yesterday was heavy.  Two observed lessons, teaching non stop all morning and at the beginning of the afternoon.  That's tough when you're so new into the whole thing but she was great.  I can't believe she's more than half way through her block experience now.  We're going to miss her, that's for sure.

As for today, I will be teaching more than I have for a few weeks.  Literacy in the morning and all afternoon. I'm foolishly excited at the thought of spending more time with my littlies!  Three cheers!  It goes with the whole game, I suppose, getting attached to my class.  Every year it's the same and it makes the end of the year rather rough, emotionally, but little children need to know that you like them, need to know that there's a friendship and an emotional attachment there in a way that older children have perhaps rather outgrown.  Today is going to be good!

The school field before playtime last Tuesday.

The school field after playtime last Tuesday.  Spot the difference!!!
(apart from the houses in the background, of course)

Monday, 28 January 2013


For the first time ever, I went to Hobbycraft (finally) and was disappointed.  While I was waiting outside for the doors to open I saw that yarn was three balls for the price of two.  Goody, thought I, excellent.  But when I got in and up to the yarn shelves they had a very limited stock and - wait for it - only one ball of the red I needed and none - NONE - of the green.  I was so disappointed.  I got the one ball of red anyway and some more red and green from a different name in hopes (and it was cheap) but when I got it home, inevitably it didn't match.  Close but not close enough.  Darn it, thought I, what to do now?  I wasn't about to give up on the Christmas throw, no way!

After some thought including a mental whinge about the lack of knitting shops in Chelmsford (apart from Hobbycraft, of course), I got onto Google and found a site that had the yarn I wanted and loads more.  A veritable treasure chest it was, I could have gone totally bananas but  you will be glad to know that I was very restrained, and just got what I needed.  The dye lot will be different, of course, but that shouldn't matter as I'm doing squares.

So what did I buy in Hobbycraft?  Well, I got the substitute wool, as already stated, plus the ball of red they did have and some more white (although I don't think I'm going to need that, but just in case) and I continued to restock my crochet hook stock too.  I have (or had) a box of crochet hooks somewhere but when I looked for them recently I couldn't find them anywhere.  I searched all over but no luck.  Of course, as soon as I have bought the last replacement hook the others will turn up again, won't they?

Yesterday I said that all the snow had gone but I was wrong.  Sitting bravely in next door's front area was a very brave and rapidly diminishing snowman.  When I got home again he was all but gone.  Sic transit gloria mundi!  (I wonder what is the Latin for 'glory of the snow')

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Well, that was a painless thaw!  All the snow has completely disappeared, including the deeper stuff on the beds and it's raining hard now.  No chance of ice roads this morning:  Google tells me that the temperature is +10 at the moment.  If that's true, it's a rise of over 10 degrees since this time yesterday morning.  The cold snap is well and truly over and, given that my feeling make absolutely no difference to what really happens, I am OK about admitting that I am sad.  I love the snow and I love the zippy feeling I get from a frosty morning or when the snow falls.  I love the way the ugliest things take on a beauty all their own when covered with frost or snow.  I wish we got more . . . but that's a very selfish wish and what will be, will be!

You're going to laugh - I didn't get to Hobbycraft yesterday.  I was actually simply too lazy to stir my stumps and get going.  So guess what I am doing this morning!

Yesterday I had some fun watching the Celerity Bake Off.  Plenty of giggles and more than a few eeeeks moments as well.  I tried to stay up to watch the Howard Goodall programme about music but kept nodding off.  Eventually I gave up and went to bed, comforted by the knowledge that it will probably be on iPlayer.

And that's it really.  I did not a lot, achieved not a lot and had a jolly good rest.  No complaints from me!!!

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Three cheers for the weekend!  It's odd that I feel so tired when I have actually done precious little teaching. I suppose I've been very aware of the teaching that has been done and sometimes the 'not in control' bit can be more wearing that being the one in charge.  It's all going well though and I'm happy with the way my trainee teacher is shaping up.

Yesterday was a Very Important Meeting that went extremely well so I finished the day feeling satisfied.  A nice way to close the week.  The rest of the day was a whirl of activity - getting paperwork ready, checking assessments, rewriting a report, dealing with child related stuff.  All go!

Today I AM off to Hobbycraft, despite the snow that fell overnight.  We had about 1cm's worth: not a lot and anyway it is now raining and beginning to slush.  As long as I can get out of the cul de sac (which I can) the roads will be fine.  I have to get yarn to finish my throw, yarn to start another throw that I can live with when it's not Christmas (because I like it very much but it's very definitely Christmas directed!) and yarn for my shawl.  Here's hoping I get enough this time!  Given that I still have half my Christmas money, I will have a good time looking round too.  Diane has mentioned on her blog that there is a book of knitted animal hats that sounds good.  Yesterday I saw one of our children in a hand knitted animal hat and it was so cute.  I must at least look at the book, if I can.
You see - I haven't been to Hobbycraft for at least three weeks and the withdrawal symptoms are shocking, made all the worse because I have money I have to spend there.

I'm seriously thinking of getting a Kindle, having downloaded the free version onto my PC and used it.  However, my subject knowledge is zero.  Any hints, tops or advice, please?  They'd be most welcome.

Friday, 25 January 2013


Just a quick one as I'm late.  Yesterday afternoon's meeting was good and helpful, the rest of the day went well and brrrrr, it's cold.  However, we're predicted heavy snow later on this evening, turning to rain before the end of the night so, with any luck, it will be warmer tomorrow, the roads will be clear and the remains of the snow vanishing.  I hope so because I NEED to go to Hobbycraft.  Yes, I do!!!

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Still cold, still some snow on the ground, still very grateful for the central heating!  Yesterday morning I went out to talk to S, the ground manager, who was scraping the bottom playground, and it started to show.  Eeeeek.  Fortunately, it came to nothing.  There was a bit of a thaw and the side roads are increasingly clear now, but one still has to go very carefully.

Yesterday there was an observation, a meeting, PPA, a mentor meeting, a staff meeting . . . I am all meetinged out, that's for sure.  Today it's a full day with my class except that my student has them for almost the whole day.  And guess what - I have another meeting after school, yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The Big Write has landed (most teacher will know what I mean)  We have managed to avoid the Big Write, the latest 'this will change you life' sensation to hit primary schools.  Until now.  Staff meeting was about the Big  Write.  You will probably hear more about it when I've got my head round it all.  It seems to be something (again) that was devised for older pupils and dumped on the littlies without much consideration for the fact that their needs and ways of working are very different!  We will adapt, we always do, and this is no exception.  I will let you know in due course.

We have been 'doing' houses this term.  We started off with teaching them about detached, semi-detached, etc.  This was overheard in the street.

Little boy:    Mummy, that's a detached house.
Mummy:      So it is!
L B             And that's a semi-detached house.
M:               Yes, that's right.
LB.              And down there is some ter - terra - terrorists houses
M:                Oh, yes.  (can't blame her for not listening properly really)!

Ah well, two out of three isn't so bad.

Last Sunday morning.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Yesterday was 'interesting'.  After working around the needs of my student after Monday's snowday, the poor lady was ill yesterday and unable to get in.  I didn't know this until the children actually came in, although I was very concerned about her non appearance but put it down to difficulty in walking on the icy pavements.  I hasten to add that she did inform the school office but it was manic in the office with all the snow queries and they weren't able to get the message to me.  I was taking assembly, I had the children without wellies (oh, dear - the spell checker wanted to change the first 'e' to an 'i') in my bay at playtime, there was a senior management meeting at lunchtime and I also had to prepare paperwork for a meeting after school and write up feedback for a lesson observation I did after play.  As a result, I didn't have a spare moment to gather my thoughts, and get together any resources and equipment for the lessons I hadn't expected to teach (just about all of them).  Such fun!!!  Fortunately, as an elderly teacher, years of experience stood me in good stead but it wasn't the easiest of days or the best of teaching.  At least Unwell Little Boy was thoughtful enough not to puke up until he was off the carpet and on the lino (yes, he was heading towards the loo but didn't quite manage it, unfortunately).

Today (fingers crossed), student is back, it's PPA first thing and Mentor meeting this afternoon and things should calm down quite a lot.  I do hope that's not famous last words.

Actually, the spell checker thing above reminds me of a huge giggle Andrea and I had in PPA time last week when the school laptop did the same thing but automatically. We were working on the letter to the parents after the Meet the Teacher meeting when we talk to the parents en masse about what we're doing this term and other important issues like 'PLEASE make sure everything is named' and 'your child really does need a tracksuit for outdoor games when it is so cold', etc.
The draft letter contained phrases such as 'If it it raining, your child will need to have wellies' and 'If your child could have a named wellie peg to keep their wellies together . . .' and please make sure the wellies are named' and 'if your child doesn't have wellies in school . . .' and so on.  I believe there was also a comment about a wellie bag at some point.  I'm afraid by the time I'd finished undoing the automatic corrections and reducing the phrases to something more succinct, Andrea and I were helpless with laughter and becoming somewhat immature in our comments.

Better go - just looked at the clock!  Have a good day!

Taken on Monday.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Heigh ho, heigh ho
It's back to work I go . . .
At least, that's what I am assuming anyway.  I'm not looking forward to it.  I know I only live at the back of the school but the pavements will be nasty and our road is not gritted.  There's no way I'm taking the car so fingers crossed I won't break an ankle on the way (OK, so slight exaggeration there)

I feel for my student.  Having a day off has played merry wotsits with the timetable and I'm shifting a whole lot of stuff round so she can teach what she has planned to teach.  Normally, if I were teaching, I'd just shrug it off but given that they have to produce four pages of planning plus a TA plan, I really can't just abandon any of her lessons, can I?

Definitely no outdoor games today which means that Faith will be doing maths instead.  But she can't do lesson one because my student has planned that lesson (all five sheets of it) and she can't do lesson two because it is a follow on from lesson one, so Faith will deliver lesson three.  Aaaarrrggghhh . . .

I made a lovely butternut squash, chicken and lentil soup yesterday.  This is what I did.
I cut the squash into chunks (unpeeled) and took out all the seeds.  I roasted them in olive oil with one onion cut into segments, until soft and a bit charred.  I then scraped the flesh from off the skin (discarding the skin) and put the squash and the onion, plus all the charred bits in a saucepan with the stock from the chicken carcass, two handfuls of lentils, some mixed herbs and some pepper.  No salt because the chicken had been brined and that seems to season things just perfectly.  I boiled it all up, zizzed it and then pushed it through a sieve.  After checking the seasoning (just right) I added the bits of chicken I scraped off the boiled up carcass plus some other bits from the carving as, even with super sharp knives, I can't be called a good carver and there were shaggy bits as well as nice slices.  I cut them into little bits before popping them in.
I had one portion for lunch with bread and butter, another portion will do for lunch at school today and another tomorrow.  The last portion can go into the freezer.
No pies - I couldn't be bothered!!  Lazy toad, that's what I am.

I did get on with the throw though, until I found I was getting short of yarn.  I ummed and ahed about braving the elements to go to Hobbycraft because I know the main roads are clear, but decided not to.  So I finished the square I was on, got out those huge size 20 needles and the other ball of shaggy yarn I bought after Christmas and knitted that second scarf.  it took - ooooh - all of two hours, maybe a little less.  Might wear it today as I brave the Arctic elements!

Photo:  some of what I've done so far.  The colours aren't quite right on the photo though!

Monday, 21 January 2013


. . . and the first bit of excitement is that it's a snowday. School is closed: I expect it is because there's been a lot more snow in the surrounding area (there always in) and many staff would have problems getting in safely.  A gift of a day but I must remember to up the heating BEFORE the house starts getting cold.  It's on weekday setting, of course..

It started snowing here before eight a.m. yesterday and carried on all day.  Very fine, grainy snow, it didn't add much to the depth at first but it was very, very thick at times so by the end of the day we had about 8 cms lying.  I shudder to think how deep it would have been had the flakes been those thick clusters of crystals, or what the conditions would have been like, because even with the fine snow the visibility was bad at times.  I wonder if there's any more coming - the forecast didn't seem all that clear on that point.  Maybe, maybe not.
And it looks as if I was visited by a yeti: I have photographic evidence!  It has to be, it couldn't possibly be me going out bare footed - could it?!
Dedicated to my friend, Cider Lass!

B and A decided not to come over: a sensible decision, I felt, as they live on a hill, which is unlikely to be gritted and would have been very treacherous to drive along in those conditions.  So into the freezer went the windy gardener's pie and into Handy Andy (my halogen oven) went the chicken.  Under an hour later I had the most scrumptious roast chicken you could imagine - quite a lot of it too, as there was only me.  I had intended for B to take some home for her cats but never mind, their loss is my gain and there will be other times, other chickens!  Brining and Handy Andy-ing does leave the cooked results very moist and juicy and I ate more than I ought to have eaten, simply because it was so delicious.
After dinner I stripped the chicken of most of the meat and put the carcass, skin, etc. in a pot with some water and the bits of lemon that I had popped into the cavity before roasting and boiled the whole lot up very gently for rather longer than I had expected because I forgot about it!  Never mind, the resulting stock is gorgeously jellylike and flavoursome so no complaints.

So today - well, I have chicken.  Lots of chicken.  If I can pluck up the courage to have a go at pastry (my pastry  can be shockingly bad) I might make some little pies.  I have mushrooms that are going to need using up soon and I have sweet potato.  That would be rather a good mix with the chicken.  I wouldn't need a lot of pastry because I would make them in small foil dishes and just do a pastry topping.
And I have stock and a butternut squash that needs using up.  If I roast the squash with some onions and maybe a carrot, add some chicken stock and some lentils and then zizz or sieve when all is cooked, I should have a lovely soup to keep out the cold.  It makes me feel hungry just thinking of it.

I wonder how bad the daytime TV will be!  I still have that ironing to do.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday (a bit later)

(Just in case Beth reads the previous entry this morning)

I changed my mind - I had a peep in the fridge and found that I had some veggy bits that need using up so I opened a tin of mixed beans in sauce and have made a 'Windy Gardener's Pie'  (because of the beans!!) with a cheesy mash topping.  It smells wonderful, should taste great and, if necessary, it will freeze!

And it might be necessary because the snow has now started.  Very small flakes, powdery, but it's quite thick and heavy and settling, of course, after such a cold night. Fortunately, there's no wind, so it's not blizzardy-ish.

So maybe B & A won't be around; I'm not so sure I would want to turn out in what's falling at the moment!


I was quite surprised to wake up and find no snow had fallen overnight.  All through yesterday it came, very, very fine flakes almost like grains of sand, adding nothing to the depth of the lying snow and making the day very dull and gloomy.  We are still forecast for a 'significant fall' during the day at some point but I will believe it when it happens and not before.  For now I will plan lunch as usual: roast chicken for Alex and me and something vegetarian for Beth, probably jacket potato as I know she loves that.  If they can't come, nothing will be wasted.

I did not-a-lot yesterday, it was a very lazy day, but I did get another row of the Christmas throw finished and I have to report that the pancakes were rather tasty.  A cup of SR flour, a cup of semi skimmed milk and one egg, all beaten together with a pinch of salt and I added some dried cranberries, that being what came to hand.  It makes very thick pancakes, not crepes.  Mr Oliver suggests grating an pear or an apple into the mix and I will try this at some point but yesterday I had some with maple syrup and single cream and they went down a real treat.

Today, as already mentioned, it is roast chicken.  I've brined the chicken and now just need to stuff a few flavoursome things inside it before popping it in the oven.  Easy peasy!  And carving should be a doddle.  I've been working on my knives now and again, just running them through the electric sharpener and they are so much better, all of them, with a good sharp edge that makes them a lot safer to use as well as more efficient.  It wasn't cheap, but that sharpener was money well spent.

Snowday or no snowday, I will have to make sure everything is ready for tomorrow so that's another thing on the list of things to do.  It's mostly ready, it just needs a bit of tightening up really.

And I have a whole lot of ironing!

Saturday, 19 January 2013


At last we have had snow.  Not an awful lot, I have to admit, but better than none at all.  It started yesterday morning, very fine and very slight, but continued on and off all day and, it seems, all through the night too.  Nothing heavy so we have about 1-2 cms but it is jolly cold right now and they say there's more to come, possibly a more substantial amount.  Time will tell.

I made the decision yesterday morning and cancelled the Chinese and Chat.  Judging by the relief on everyone's faces and in their tone of voice and well as their words, it was a welcomed decision.  People had obviously been extremely worried about turning out after dark in the freezing cold and possibly in heavy snow.  It wasn't heavy as it turned out, but even so . . .  I am very relieved that I didn't do the usual and order the food on Thursday.  Chinese for twenty one would have been hard to deal with, frugal or not!  As everyone comes here, I am the least affected, of course, I just tidy the house and sit warm so if I was concerned, the others must have been much more so!  Disappointing, but we will reschedule.

Normally I quite enjoy playground duty.  It gets me out into the fresh air and it's fun to watch the children play.  However, it was a bit too fresh for comfort yesterday afternoon with the snow and the wind whistling through my coat and around my ears.  It didn't seem to bother the children though: they danced around joyously, catching snowflakes on their tongue and trying (and failing miserably) to scrape up enough snow for a snowman.  I can imagine the thrills this morning - poor parents all!  And if we get the promised dump from the south east tomorrow I reckon they will explode with excitement!  What is it about snow that gets them (and many adults too) so worked up, I wonder.  It's cold, it's uncomfortable, it causes problems all round and yet it is welcomed with shrieks of delight.  Humans are funny sometimes.

Today is an in day, I think.  It's bloomin' cold, I don't need to go out for anything, I have enough supplies in to live and eat well for several weeks, probably.  I *might* defrost the chest freezer though.  The circumstances are ideal - no worries about the food thawing today!  It all depends on whether I am willing to get cold!  It does need a sort out after Christmas.  So many bits and pieces got thrown in when Christmas was cancelled that it's a bit of a hodge podge and I am forgetting what I have in there.  We'll see!  George isn't coming to do the garden this morning for obvious reasons so I have a clear run all day.

And I'm going to make pancakes today.  Nice thick, comfort food pancakes.  With fruit in.  With maple syrup and cream on the top.  Or maybe bacon.  I know it sounds weird but bacon and maple syrup are a lovely combination.  I want to try the Jamie Oliver recipe I saw on TV just before Christmas.  Watch this space for feedback.

Just remembered - when I was in Morrisons yesterday I treated myself to some Green and Black drinking chocolate, so if I get frozen in the shed doing the freezer, I can warm up with a good mugful!

Photo: poor little frozen flower . . .  It might not show too clearly but it was covered with ice; you can see it shining in places.  I don't think drinking chocolate will help here, not even Green and Black organic.

Friday, 18 January 2013


. . . and it remains exceedingly cold with snow warnings scattered about like crumbs for the birds.  There's still a lot of doubt regarding how much any area will get around here so we must just wait and see.  What is sure is that unless it starts blizzarding madly right NOW, it's not going to be a snow day.  And the chances of that happening are rather less than minimal!
Over Wednesday night I was a bit chilly in bed so last night I added a throw to the mix and was toasty warm.  Amazing what one extra cover can do, isn't it?  I'm trying very hard not to turn up the heating so covers are the way to go.

It was nice to be with my class yesterday, all day.  I miss them - if that sounds soppy, sorry, but I do - when I have time out of class.  Today is SEN day with rather a lot of paperwork to deal with so I shall be kept busy.

Tonight is supposed to be Chinese and Chat but with people dropping out because of uncertainties about the weather I am not sure it will go ahead.  Usually I order the food on Thursday but this time I am waiting.  I guess if it starts snowing I will reschedule it.  Again!

Time alone will tell!  And to all my readers - stay warm and stay safe as much as ever you can.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Oh, my goodness, it's cold!  Bitterly, toe curlingly cold.  According to the forecasts it's currently around minus seven and unlikely to rise above freezing all day, although, thankfully, there's no freezing fog with which to contend.  When I got into the car at about five thirty yesterday evening, having scraped the outside of the windows, I found I then had to scrape the insides too, it was that cold!  It reminded me of my childhood, before we had upstairs heating, when I used to wake in the morning to find the most wonderfully curly patterns on the inside of my bedroom windows.  I used to blow warm air to make little peep holes to see out.  I'm so thankful (again) for central heating that prevents the house from ever becoming that cold.

After a day that was quite different (as described yesterday) there was an added bonus after school because there was no staff meeting (three cheers).  I was therefore able to get everything ready for today and feel a lot less stressed right now.  A good feeling.

Today is just a normal day, whatever normal means in a typical primary school.  It will be nice to see the children and to work with them.  It will be fun to listen to them talking about their doings and to laugh with them as tell jokes.  I like normal days!

Last week I took this in the garden when it was so mild.  I must look and see how it's coping now!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Well, the science observation is done, dusted and behind me now, a great relief all round.  I had a few panicky moments as one of my littlies decided that he knew it all (which he did - some anyway) and proceeded to try to drive a coach and horses through my planning by telling everyone all about magnetism.  I managed to shut him up, thank goodness, but made good use of his understanding and misconceptions through the lesson.  A pleasing outcome, a grade I cannot be disappointed with and the knowledge that the children learned stuff.
I had to laugh afterwards though.  At the start of the lesson I turned my hearing aids up so I could hear the responses properly.  When I sent them back to do the practical testing part I forgot to turn them down and wondered why the class was being so unexpectedly loud.  It wasn't until the lesson was over that I remembered . . .

I also observed a lesson given by one of my team and that was good too, very enjoyable.

It was extremely cold all day, wasn't it?  Today looks like being even worse with temperatures staying below zero all day.  At the moment it's also foggy so driving conditions will be bad and pavements will be icy.  Take care, everyone!

It's a different day today - PPA until play, then my student leads ICT.  This afternoon I am in class for 45 minutes and then I'm off for a mentor meeting with aforementioned student until the end of the day.  It feels  very odd indeed and I will probably be worn out this evening as a result.  Changes of routine have that effect, don't they?

Better go and have my bath and get dressed.  Don't want to be late to school; there's several things that need doing there and the sooner I arrive, the sooner I can start.

Photo:  another taken in the snow on Monday.  So pretty.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Yesterday we had snow.  Quite a lot of it for a couple of hours but it didn't really settle very much and, despite another scattering overnight, the roads seem clear and there's absolutely no excuse for closing the school!  I'm quite pleased really; there's so much to do.

It did look pretty yesterday though.  It started at lunchtime and drifted about lightly until just before afternoon play.  Then it started properly - huge big flake-bundles, some as big as pin pong balls, and lots of them.  If it had been a degree colder it would have settled thickly but it wasn't so it didn't!  By five o'clock-ish it had more or less stopped.  The children were a bit manic and several of us pulled the blinds down after a while (meanies!).

I felt very silly yesterday.  After rushing around getting all my resources ready for the investigatory science lesson for my observation, I was told it wasn't yesterday, it was today!  Doh!!!  Never mind, at least all is in readiness and I won't have to scrabble around today when I get to school!
I did have to rather hurriedly prepare for a lesson I hadn't planned to deliver until later, but, thanks to Google and the various resources one can find through it, I managed to get pictures and information enough to meet the learning objective and it went OK really.  There wasn't time to finish but that's not a problem, we can make time today.

As for today - it's doubtful whether the children will get their outdoor PE this morning, given that the playgrounds will either be icy or puddly and I refuse to have thirty pairs of plimsolls (most probably unnamed) drying around my classroom for the rest of the day.  Recipe for disaster!!  So I can more the afternoon phonic session to the morning and that gives me more time for the science lesson - I was concerned that there was too much planned for the time available.

And when I get home there will be a lovely beef and vegetables in beer casserole waiting for me.  It went into the slow cooker last night and will gently simmer away all day today.  I might add some pulses too, to bulk it out, or some lentils to thicken and flavour the sauce.  Good, heart-warming  flavoursome comfort food, lots of it and healthy too.  Can't be bad, can it?

Remember the photo of the flowering bush I posted yesterday?  It wasn't looking quite so chirpy yesterday!

Monday, 14 January 2013


No snow but it's flippin' cold outside right now.  Snow is forecast but I will believe it when I see it.  There's certainly no time now to create a snowday so it's just as well all the planning is in good order and all the resources are ready and waiting.

Yesterday I knitted a scarf.  Before you all utter a sarcastic 'wow', it was the one on size 20 needles with the very fluffy wool, neither of which I have worked with before.  Vary awkward to was too, although after a while I got the hang of it and things went a bit better.  I found the main problem was that it was so fluffy and large it was hard to see what I was doing and any mistakes were jolly hard to rectify.  On the other hand, you can't see any mistakes either!  And today is just the right day to wear it.

The chestnut and lentil soup was really delicious.  Quite filling too - we didn't want seconds which means there's a nice little pot of it waiting for my lunch at school today, always supposing I have time to warm it up! Definitely one to do again.

Science observation this afternoon.  Oh, dear!

Photo - this was last week when it was very mild.  I think it's now getting quite a shock.  Apologies for the slight lack of focus.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Good morning, readers.  Is it cold where you are?  I read on a friend's Facebook page that it is -5 where they are, which sounds horrendously cold.  There's no frost here so I am assuming it's not been all that bad overnight, although maybe it's been cloudy.  The forecast for tomorrow keeps changing.  One minute it says snow, the next, rain.  A good, heavy snowfall resulting in a snowday would be idea on a day when I have a lesson observation but I really can't see it happening, can you?  Not a reason for neglecting the planning anyway!

As I hoped, yesterday was extremely lazy to the point of indolence when I did precious little except crochet squares for the throw.  It's coming on, I know the pattern now so don't have to keep referring to the instructions and as I am sewing ends in each time I complete a square, I feel I'm getting on well.  There's nothing worse than a huge pile of squares, each with six or seven ends to sew in, is there?  Quite demoralising!

Apart from that I took part in an interesting exchange of views with someone on Facebook (I didn't say all that much) where there was the suggestion that everyone should be paid the same, regardless of responsibility, circumstance and hours worked or, indeed, whether they worked at all.  Can't see that working, can you?  Where's the incentive to go the extra mile, work the extra hours, take on extra responsibility and stress?   If I could be paid the same as everyone else in the country for doing nothing . . . well, it's very tempting, isn't it, even for someone who actually likes her work very much.  Unfortunately, there were also some very unpleasant observations made of everyone who is in work and is paid a salary/wage, regarding their lack of moral character, and that was a shame.  It made for an intriguing thread though.

Moving on to today, B&A should be round for lunch and I will be getting out that chestnut and lentil soup that didn't get used on Christmas Eve.  I hope it is nice!  And I have some planning to do too, as always.

Photo:  more lichen on a tree at school.  Fascinating colours and shapes, aren't they?

Saturday, 12 January 2013


When I went to bed last night it was very evidently above freezing with not a hint of a frost anywhere.  The temperature must have dropped overnight because at the moment everything is white and sparkling (as far as one can see in the still-nearly-dark) and bitterly cold.  I'm sure yesterday was cold too although it didn't feel so bad on afternoon playground duty, probably because there was no wind, but I'm extremely glad there's no playground duty today!

Yesterday passed in a whirl of meetings and activities.  Good meetings, I think, certainly very friendly ones with positive outcomes.  Lots of stuff achieved, paperwork read and inwardly digested, points for follow up noted, lots of good work done by class with Carly's teaching, pleasing spelling scores for the first ever spelling 'test' (not exactly a test, mind you, more an assessment!) - all in all a very satisfying day.

Today is a day of rest.  Just normal stuff, weekend stuff, gentle, homey stuff.  My student starts her teaching block on Monday so less school work for me over the weekend.  I really cannot complain!  Just one problem - my science lesson is being observed on Monday afternoon and, of course, you know how much I LOVE being observed!  Ho hum!  Never mind, there's two days to prepare thoroughly and I will pop into school and grab the magnets from the cupboard at some point today, just in case anyone decided they need them too!  Can't do an investigation about magnetism without magnets, can we?

As I wandered outside yesterday afternoon for playground duty, just a few minutes ahead of the children, I noticed some interesting growth on the trees so popped back in to get my camera.  Here's one of the results.

Friday, 11 January 2013


It's amazing how quickly the weeks roll around, isn't it?  It seems only a couple of days ago I was complaining that it was the end of the holiday and I needed another week of it.  The 'other week' has gone and I am feeling so much brighter and with it, thank goodness.  Very tired in the evenings, but then so is everyone.

Isn't it cold?  The forecasts seem to sway between 'chance of' rain and snow for tomorrow  and right at this moment it's drizzling outside and the ground is very cold.  I  have just been out to the freezer and really ought to have put something on my feet!  As always, I am extremely grateful for a warm home.

SEN day.  I have two meeting lined up for today, plus some paperwork that really HAS to be done.  Oh, and an observation too.  That should keep me out of trouble all day and ensure that I sleep well tonight.

In the end I didn't make gravy with that chicken stock about which I keep boring you.   I decided it would be more sensible to keep it as it is (more flexible) so there are now six little pots of thick, jellied stock (enough to make gravy for two in each pot) nestling in the freezer.  That was a jolly frugal purchase but I am sure in the olden days they would have also found a use for the bones and other yucky bits too.  They just went into the food waste bin here!  Now I need to start using some of this meat up!  Roast turkey tonight, I think, with parsnips and carrots.  Yum!

Stay warm!
Yesterday morning really was very misty and moisty (and cold)

Thursday, 10 January 2013


As I left school yesterday at around six, I found I needed to scrape the car windows.  I knew it was getting chillier but I hadn't realised it was that cold.  And this morning there is a hard frost so I guess the mild weather is ended and winter has finally begun!  Bring it on!

Yesterday morning I didn't have time to deal with the stock from the chicken carcass so I bunged it in the fridge where it set to a soft jelly (lovely)  This morning I have a bit more time so it's now reducing down to make a tasty gravy to go with the chicken slices and pieces I vacupacked and froze.  Food for the future.  There's a nesting and hoarding instinct in many of us, isn't there, that gives us a sense of security when it is satisfied.  The fact that if civilisation did crash, there's likely be no electricity and therefore no freezer and all that food would be ruined makes no difference whatsoever!  It is still a jolly satisfying feeling to have a full freezer!

We had fun in the ICT suite yesterday.  We used a simple program called 2Go where you give instructions and watch the cursor move.  They had a whale of a time creating shapes as requested by a list on the big board - a small, blue, square, a wide green rectangle, a red, blue and green triangle and a staircase!  Good fun and learning as well.

Today is the day nothing happens.  By that, I mean nothing to interrupt the normal timetable.  No PPA, no release time for other reasons, no special visitors, nothing but the normal timetable.  Excellent!

And now I'd better go check that stock.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Another nice day yesterday.

Firstly, we had a lesson on making changes and having new beginnings.  After exploring the whole thing in simple ways, I got them to think about one change they could make at school and one at home.  I'm not a great fan of  'New Year's Resolutions' as such, but a bit of personal reflection rarely did any harm.  They proved yet again that, given appropriate scaffolding and time to think, reflect and discuss, little children can show considerable self awareness and good pragmatic common sense.  Their ideas for changes they could make in their attitude or lifestyle were good but their reasons why caused us many a private giggle afterwards.  I'm not going to quote for obvious reasons, sorry!  You'll have to take my word for it.

After I had seen the children off at the end of the day, I sat down at my school laptop, took a deep breath and made a most courageous decision - I installed Google Chrome.  Well, it was courageous for a techno-idiot like me.  I was fed up with the problems caused by using an old and increasingly unsupported version of Google (I suspected that my recent problems with uploading photos was connected) and, thinking practically, if I cocked it up, the amazing K, our own ICT technician who can sort anything, would be able to unravel my mess.  As it happened, I didn't make any mistakes, Chrome is now installed, my mailbox is working properly and the upload photos button is showing again (take note, Beth).  Now I have to work out how it all functions - it is different - and decide whether I have the courage to attempt something similar on my own PC.
So I felt good about that!

And when I got home I saw that I had hit 30,000 page views in here.  Yay!!!  Thank you very much to my readers, regular and occasional, for keeping me going with this in various encouraging ways.

I need to confess.  Monday evening I did something I really rather disapprove of.  I bought a ready cooked chicken from Morrisons.  I was desperate to try out my newly sharpened carving knives and just didn't have the energy to buy one and cook it (pathetic?  moi?).  When I got it home I attacked it with the knives (just one at a time, you understand) and what a difference.  Isn't it strange how properly slices chicken seems to go so much  further than hacked about chicken (or turkey).  So now I have several portions vacu-packed and freezing and a carcass that has spent the night in a slow cooker making the house smell wonderfully savoury.  Actually not bad value really - seven meals-worth of meat for me, not including whatever I do with the carcass stock and bits of meat that fall off in the pot. 
So the electric sharpener seems to be earning its keep.  I intend to do a regular sharpen because, once they are sharp, all it takes is a couple of turns through each slot and Bob's your uncle!

Here's to today.  PPA, ICT suite and then, for the next five weeks, mentor time with my PGCE student.  Shame about the staff meeting after school, but one cannot have everything, can one!

Photo - a rather gorgeous sunrise several days ago.


We all seem to have survived yesterday relatively unscathed, so I hope the children did too.  As I thought, it was jolly nice to see them all again and I got several hugs as I greeted them when they came in so it seems that at least some of them were pleased to see me again too.  Then it was straight back into work with a challenging violin lesson where they started learning how to make the note B.  Oh, it was so hard to coordinate left and right hands, even with a little chant to help.  I've borrowed a violin from the shelves so that if we have any spare moments this week individuals can have another go.

Then it was diary and I was pleased to note that they now all leave finger spaces between their words and the handwriting generally is much improved!  And so we travelled on through the day.  Playtimes were a little damp but happened and not having swimming in the afternoon was a great relief.  It's hard when the first afternoon of each week is out of bounds for anything else, just when you want to get the week's work going with a bang. 

I love the gappy smiles you get in year 1.  Several proudly showed off new gaps and baby  grown-up teeth and there were some serious comparisons regarding what the tooth fairy left.  Funnily enough, they never seem to query why she leaves different amounts in different places.  Very odd, isn't it?

Today is Tuesday but NOT playground duty in the morning, yippee.  It's my half term off.  I still have afternoon duty, but no complaints from me.  With a full day planned, it will be good to get some fresh air come the afternoon.

Well, better go and dry my hair - it'll soon be time to leave!

Aother frosty photo!!!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Monday - and a new term starteth!

I'm writing this Sunday evening although it won't get sent until Monday morning.  See, I have little confidence that I will wake particularly early and might not have time to construct anything sensible in the morning.
(and the person who just muttered 'does she ever' can just leave the room - NOW!)
However, I am writing it as if it's Monday.  Hope that makes sense!

Sunday was a hard working, productive day.  For a start, I tackled the planning and got it all sorted.  It's rather jumping in at the deep end but I am sure the children will be ready to get going and start learning again.  I have zillions of printouts (must remember to get some more A4 paper) and, because I had the common sense to take my laptop home over the holiday, I also have the Notebook resources ready for the interactive whiteboard.  I have power point presentations galore.  I have links to web pages.  I've never been so prepared!

B&A came round for lunch.  I served up the savoury crumble I made for last Sunday when I wasn't all that well again so it went in the freezer.  With it I served some fried tomatoes, squishy but perfectly sliced by my newly sharpened kinves.  And you know what - it was all delicious.  Yum yum!

And then B and I searched the Internet for hotel type accomodation.  In February a good friend of hers is getting married and B is a bridesmaid.  I have been invited because I will be looking after A.  We (A and I) will be travelling there on Saturday morning and staying overnight in a hotel before we all make our way home on the Sunday.  It's good - because B will be going up on Friday and it's a family room, I will be able to access the room any time on Saturday, get changed for the wedding there and leave everything ready.  It will be good and I am looking forward to it very much!.

That's about it really.  High ho, high ho, it's off to school I go.  I can't remember what state I left my classroom in.  I did stay for ages after school on the last day of last term but, as I was feeling rotten, I just don't remember how much tidying up and preparation I actually did.  Fingers crossed it won't be too bad.

Photo:  yet another freezing fog one (sorry).  The spiders had all very sensibly disappeared!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday - last day of the holidays

Sad, isn't it?  Please feel free to grieve with me, friends.  A minute's silence would be appropriate, I reckon!


Next term is so short!  I know last term was the longest I can remember, ever, in all my teaching time, being fifteen weeks long, but this coming term is just eleven weeks long.  Six before half term and five after half term.  In a way it's a shame - it's a lovely topic after half term, history based, always very popular with the children, but there you go!  I might just steal a week from before half term to start it off.

I got on with the crochet yesterday, changing the pattern somewhat as I did so.  I worked out how to get rid of a bit that really I didn't like at all so I found myself with nine redundant squares which I sewed 3x3 without any idea of what I'm going to do with the resulting square.  I'll think of something!

It's not  terribly nice outside right now - rather foggy, cold and damp.  I wish proper winter would start!  And talking of starting - I'd better start doing something useful!  Loading the dishwasher, for a start!

Photo:  another from the freezing fog day:

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Good morning.  My body clock is readjusting itself and today I woke up as if it was a school day - good and early .  This last week I've been waking nearer to seven or eight, which has been quite nice and has felt like a lie in, but I really do need to get back to normal now so today was good!

I think I have sussed out those crochet squares for the throw now.  Those of you who knit or crochet know that for a time you have to watch every stitch carefully but after a while the various patterns emerge and you just know what comes next.  I'm getting to that point now and it's making it a whole lot easier.
The other thing I'm doing is sewing all the ends in whan I finish a square.  That's going to make it so much easier.

Yesterday was lovely - Mum and Dad, Beth and Alex and me.  It wasn't Christmas but we did  exchange our presents at long last and we had turkey soup (hotpot, as we call it) with croutons, grated cheese and warm batons, followed by Christmas cake.  We hadn't cut the cake, of course, so yesterday it was cut, sampled (delicious, thanks very much Beth, possibly the nicest one you have done) and shared out so everyone went home with some.  Now I just have a few parcels and cards under the tree for Anna and Dave, who couldn;t come yesterday.  The tree itself comes down tomorrow - twelfth night.

Today?  Well, George comes, I'm out for lunch with a friend and then I must work, work, work.  There's planning to do, resources to make, evaluations and assessments to create.  The end  is nigh! 

And now I'm going to crochet a few more squares!

Later edit:
I've not been able to upload photos from my PC or from my laptop over the past few days.  No idea what has happened - the button for uploading from a folder is just not there any more.  So I am having to use Picasa which just adds another layer to the whole process which is a right drag.
Anyway - another from the freezing furry fog day!

Friday, 4 January 2013


Good morning, everyone.  Isn't it mild at the moment?  One expects chilly nights and mornings but yesterday evening I went our for a meal with a friend (and very pleasant it was too) without my coat and didn't miss it one little bit.  It has to get cold again at some point, surely!

Yesterday was quiet and restful for most of the day.  Things plodded on peacefully and I managed to get through the day without needing a snooze - a big improvement.  Just as well really because I can't see myself being able to have a wee kip come Monday - or Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, come to that!

I started making up the squares for this Christmas (oops, sorry, I mean 'holiday') throw I mentioned yesterday and immediately hit a problem - the pattern doesn't quite make sense in places.  I'm sure it is just language in the main (it's an American pattern and some of the statements are probably idiomatic) and I can work round it, but it's a bit complicated in part and so far I have one square that is 'right' and three that look 'not quite right'.  We'll get there!

And now I must get going.  I have visitors due for lunch and the house is not fit to be seen at the moment. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013


Look at that - Thursday.  Where did the week go?  Only four days and it's back to school.  I'm afraid the days are accelerating away now and there's precious little time left to do much, not if I make rest and recovery my main aim (which I am).

I did manage to get to Hobbycraft yesterday and spent some of my Christmas money.  I came home with plenty of yarn and all sorts of nick-nacks - needles, crochet hooks, etc.  I think I've found the yarn to go with the beautiful stuff Beth gave me for Christmas.  It's a sort of mid grey with which I will do the main body of the shawl while I use the other yarn for the lacy edging.  Something I really like about the pattern is that it's not triangular shaped with all the associated 'fitting on the shoulders without falling off' issues, it's nearly circular with a 'pie shape' cut out of it, so it will drape beautifully over the shoulders and down.  That's what I'm hoping anyway.  I've started the main part and, before I get too far, I will try the lace edging, just to make sure they do actually go well together before buying any more grey yarn (I bought just one ball yesterday)
While I was searching for patterns, I found a nice one for a 'Holiday Hearts Throw' (American, as you might have guessed - why can't they say 'Christmas'?) which is red, green and white and just caught my fancy.  So I got some molto cheapo yarn to have a go at that too.  By the time I've made up a couple of the squares, I can weigh them and will know how much more yarn I need to get.
They also had some reggia yarn at £1.00 a ball (sock and glove yarn) so I got some - too good to miss really, plus some other bits and bobs in the bargain baskets.  Not on sale but rather nice was some 'shaggy' yarn to knit up into a scarf using the biggest needles I have ever used - size 20.  That should be interesting!

I was pleased with how much I got for my money, plenty of projects there, for sure, and still have almost half of it left, yay!

When I got home, I was pretty tired so I rested and snoozed and crocheted and read and the afternoon turned into evening . . . a nice way to live, eh?

Today I need to sort out downstairs and make it all neat and tidy for tomorrow.  Later on I am going out to the Hare for an early dinner with a friend.  That will be nice.  And I am sure there will be time to crochet one of the squares of the 'holiday' throw, starting by checking what the American terms actually mean!  How would we manage without Google!

Yesterday morning there was a beautiful sunrise.  Sure enough, true to the saying, by 12:30 it was raining and I drew the curtains at 3:30 to shut out the gathering gloom.  I'm glad I got some shots of the sunrise though.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Today I feel human again.  OK, sore throat, bunged up nose, but normal, all the same.  Fantastic!  Now the holiday can start!

Yesterday was good too.  I used the cheap chicken wings I bought a few days before to make a chicken gravy for the freezer, using Jamie Oliver's recipe as a guide.  Apart from the star anise (I will only use one next time) I was jolly pleased with the results which are now safely in little pots ready to go into the freezer.  It's very irritating to take out nice slices of turkey and not have a decent gravy to go with them so now I do.  I really ought to do what Diane does and freeze good stock when I have it, but somehow it always gets used up!

I also started practising a pattern for a shawl.  I found the pattern on the internet and it looks just right for the lovely yarn Beth gave me for Christmas.  The beginning was tricky and I had to try it three times before I sussed it out properly and it's American so the terms are different but I'm sure I'll get there.  The biggest disadvantage (that's not the right word because it will look lovely, but I can't think of a better word) is that I will have to get another yarn that tones in for the lacy edging but I do have Hobbycraft and I do have vouchers to spend there.  It's also better knitted on a looser tension (sorry - gauge) and, as is always the way, can I find the pot I keep my crochet hooks in?  No, I can't, it seems to have vanished into the blue yonder.  Highly irritating!

So today starts with a trip to Hobbycraft.  I've been intending to go there all holiday and never feeling up to it, so this is long overdue.  I just have to make sure I have my vouchers with me, in case . . .  After that it's round to B's to pick A up and take him to his old school.  He's off to see a pantomime with a group of old friends.  Then it's off back home where I will hopefully have something Hobbycrafty to play with.

And I have to start thinking about planning!  Not New Year Resolution planning, school planning.  Reality draws ever closer.

Edited later to add that I've finally got round to uploading the photos n my camera (or off my camera) so here's one I took earlier - when we had the freezing fog.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Day

Wishing us all a very good 2013 with all that we hope for our friends and loved ones.

I'm too old for 'resolutions'.  Seen it all, watched the DVD, got the T shirt, as the saying goes.  I know what needs to change, to improve, to go.  It doesn't take or require one so-called 'special' day to define them.  So no resolutions!

Yesterday was dull and somewhat boring.  I woke still feeling rough and stayed that way all through.  I'd been intending to trawl around Hobbycraft, working out how I could spend my vouchers but didn't feel up to that.  I slept in the morning, three times in the afternoon, twice in the evening and then had a good sleep all through the night too.  Must have needed it!  And now, with all that sleeping, I have a sore back, but a few paracetamols will sort that one out good and proper.
They say sleep is a good healer so I ought to wake up tomorrow feeling a lot better.

Today, if I can subdue this backache, I want to give the kitchen a good sort out before starting on the living room.  Everywhere's an awful mess as I haven't done all that much since before Christmas.  I think I'll feel a lot better once everywhere is tidy!  I can rest in-between if needed.
A few decorations are staying up though.  I'm rather traditional and like to take them down on Twelfth Night, which is Sunday.  I'll take some down today, the ones that are looking a bit messy, but the tree, the candles and a few other bits and bobs can stay up until then.

Right, better get started.  Pop the pills and unload/reload the dishwasher.  Have a pleasant day!