Friday, 31 July 2015


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to the definitive version of this morning's entry.  Those of you lucky enough to read it last night would have seen a most fascinating list starting with 'ouchy toe' and ending with 'laptop.  Yes, you have discovered my system.  Notes as I think of them to help my ageing memory, posted in error!

Anyway!  Apologies for that and off we go.

There was a gorgeous moon overnight.  Did you see it?  It's still there, in fact, but has less impact now that light is dawning.  A blue moon, they call it.  An interesting term, like 'harvest moon', one that is rather mysterious and romantic although, in reality, quite ordinary!

OK, so - ouchy toe.  I've been away this week, staying with my parents.  On Thursday, somehow, I bruised a toe - I know where and when (after all, it hurt) but I'm not sure how.  The fact remains that I had a toe that turned an interesting black and blue and hurt!  It still does, on and off, but, like any bruise, it's fading now.  It is just ouchy when I forget and step out carelessly!

It's been a lovely week, full of goings out, lazy food and chatting.  I have a few photos but haven't been able to upload them yet!  Soon I will be able to repay the compliment in term time when places to visit will be less crowded and the roads easier outside milk run times.

Now I am home and MUST get on with the big sort out.  It is a most discouraging mess in here at the moment.  The new PC is still in a pile of boxes and will stay that way until Eddie can come to make some sense of it.  There's stacks of card for the recycling sack but I missed the card pickup as I was away so I have to hold on to it for a fortnight.  The bottom of the stairs is full of stuff that needs to go up and the top is full or stuff that needs to go down.  There's piles of stuff everywhere I look and it is unwelcoming and discouraging.

So guess what I am doing today!

But first - no, not coffee!  First I have to out some washing out on the line FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.  I've had the new line up for over a week but last weekend was rainy and then I was away.  I feel like there ought to be a fanfare of trumpets but as there isn't I will just get on and do it!  Then I need to get the bread on and start the day's work.

Have a good one!

Woo hoo

Just back from shopping and the foody mags are in for August!  Excellent!


Good morning again!  Amazing how quickly Friday turns up each week, isn't it?  And wht a pleasant day it looks like being too.  Clear blue skies, a freshness in the air, the sun shining . . . excellent!

We did manage to get toWrest Park yesterday and had a very pleasant time although the WW1 convalescent home exhibition was a bit disappointing.  It was fascinating, full of information but very, very small and cramped.  Given that it was in a big room with lots of spare space, it really could have been spread out more.  There was also a video which basically reproduced the visual displays but the sound was too low for me.  It was good but, with a bit more thought, could have been a lot better.

It was an amazing use of the Hall in very difficult times.  So sad, though, that such a successful and well run venture should be finished by a bad fire!

While we were there, there was some filming going on.  We asked and it was for a programme called 'The Royals'.  Have you every watched it?  I hadn't, so I looked it up on Google and - well, I don't think so, is all I can say!!!  Prince Liam?????

When we arrived they were filming close to the house and when we got back from a wander around the grounds they were filming outside one of the other houses in the grounds (I think it is called the bowling green house).  This was obviously going to be a wedding scene with two 'Beefeaters' (I have photographic proof), rows of posh (plastic) chairs, bottles of what was supposed to be champagne in ice tubs and hundreds of glasses, a rather nice looking posh car (that, at least, was real) and some gorgeous flower displays.  And so much clutter!!!

When we got home we were zonked so decided to get a Chinese takeaway which not only made the making of the evening meal a doddle, it also cut down on the clearing up afterwards.

I seem to have done a lot of eating out this week.  We had lunch at the eating place in the park too.  A very easy day, culinarily speaking!

As for today - the weekly shopping calls and I must make a list!

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Good morning.  It's nice and sunny outside right now but it was a pretty chilly night requiring a good snuggle under the quilt.  Will it stay nice?  Goodness knows; fingers crossed!

The weather was responsible for a change of plan yesterday.  Wrest Park didn't come off as the forecast was a bit dodgy although, typically, it ended up nice and we could have gone.  However, it sounded as if it would be a bit cold with sudden showers and we didn't fancy being caught out.

So instead we did little things.  First of all we went to a local health food shop as I needed instant yeast, dried cranberries, etc . . .  I ring the changes with yeast, using instant (breadmaker friendly) yeast, the dried yeast you have to activate (I love watching it foam up) and fresh yeast.  I had run out of the instant and, while you can get it in sachets, I refuse to buy sachets as they are so wickedly expensive.  Dove does little bags of it but you tend not to see them in supermarkets so I was glad to be able to stock up.

Then we went to a local butcher and I stocked up with meat, mostly to keep Grandson full up!

Finally, after that, we stopped off at a garden centre and had a very nice lunch.  I had toasted sandwich with cheese, bacon and caramelised onion chutney and it was gorgeous.  Must make some onion chutney now I have the time.  After we had eaten a full sufficiency we wandered around the plants as I have some garden vouchers, very kindly given to me by my children and their parents at the end of the school year.

I was surprisingly organised about it, for once.  I think I have mentioned before that when the crocosmia flowering is over I am having as many of them out as I can manage.  They're just not quite right there - wrong height and wrong colour and too invasive.  They won't be wasted as some will go into a container for future years and the rest will go to Beth who said she will be able to use them.

Anyway, the point is that I will have gaps in the middle of the flower bed.  I have that delphinium to plant and need a couple of other things, medium height, not too spready or invasive and must be pink, lilac, purple or white.

So after much deliberation and tooing and froing I bought a deliciously named Veronica Purpleicious (yes, really) which looks as if it will fill the bill perfectly, being long flowering (if one dead heads), about 40 to 50 cms high and not too spreading.
Here's a picture, borrowed from Google.

Then my eyes lit upon a very pretty little bell shaped flower called platycodon grandiflora and I just had to.  As we said, at that price it's no great loss if it doesn't last, although it is also a perennial so fingers crossed.  I got a pink one but I think I will go back and pick up a purple and a white plant too.  I am not 100% sure where to put them yet so I will do the usual and leave them in their pots (or maybe pot them on) and see where they look best.
It's a campanula, of course

As we wandered around, I spotted some tayberry plants, much further on than the little bush I have at present and, lo and behold, there was one ripe fruit on it.  I'm afraid I was very naughty.  I've not tasted a tayberry before, just read about how delicious they are.  I reckoned that this fruit, which was calling out to me, truly it was, would only shrivel and die on the plant so I picked it, gave it a surreptitious brush down and ate it.  Oh, my, it was very tasty indeed - sort of sweet and spicy, like a raspberry but different and very juicy.  Now, even more, I want my plant to produce at least a little fruit next year.  Fingers crossed!

Today we are hoping to get to Wrest Park.  The forecast is better and it seems that the sun will shine on us.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Good morning to you all, gentle readers.  Welcome to Wednesday.  I loved Wednesdays in this last school year because it was my 'different' day - violin lessons, library times, PPA in the afternoon.  A day with a different pattern.  I think I will have to plan something 'different' on Wednesdays in my new life!

Yesterday was lovely.  Not quite the lazy day I had anticipated but still lovely.  We (some friends and I) took a trip up the A1 to Boundary Mill mainly because we love looking round there but specifically to look at yarn, patterns and all things knitty.  My friend got her yarn and I very nobly resisted the impulse to buy up the whole department although  I did get some little buttons for the cardigan I am making for the grand total of just under a pound!  Then we went downstairs to Downtown which is a sort of factory outlet place for clothes.  Just for once (seriously just for once, I don't normally) I found some clothes that will fit if I stay on the healthy eating.  So now I have two new fully lined skirts and a new top which I will be able to wear when the weather gets cooler (as long as I remain motivated and eat properly).
Apart from the clothes and buttons I am pleased to announce that I walked through the kitchen area without buying anything!  That's right.  Not even a wooden spoon.  That's not to say I wasn't tempted, I was, greatly, but I was good!

Once home again I then got on with my knitting before we had fish and chips for tea - deeeelicious.  Oven baked so dead easy and not terribly calorific either.

In the garden the tomatoes are doing extremely well and I shall have to pinch out the tops soon.  I forgot to feed them this weekend, so that's on the list of Things To Do.  The runners are doing great on one side but very poorly on the others.  I've put down the slug pellets so fingers crossed!

Today we are hoping to whizz along to Wrest Park to see a new exhibition which tells the story of Wrest Park as the first WW1 convalescent home in the country.  It's a lovely place to visit and I know we will have a good time.  Well worth a visit, if you can.  Several, in fact!

I won't post menus this week as it's all rather gung ho, but they will be back by the weekend!

Have a wonderful day and may the sun shine on you.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Good morning, everyone!  It's lovely and sunny at the moment and my fingers are crossed that it will last the day out today.  Let's face it, my recent forecasts (hopes) have been a dismal failure and this week isn't supposed to be all that great really.

With sadness I popped into school yesterday and handed back my laptop - well, not mine really but you know what I mean.  Before then I spent some time clearing off a whole lot of stuff, some school related, that had built up over the years.  A bit like my cupboards really only easier.  Some photos went onto memory sticks and some I just deleted.

While I was there I signed off the class camera that I had left in a class cupboard, having cleared the card first.  This 'clearing' might be easy but it's a huge tearing away of the past, probably a very Good Thing but quite painful.

I bet you're thinking 'here she goes again' and I'm not complaining, honestly, just pondering, really!

Moving swiftly on, I've started some knitting after buying a couple of pattern books from eBay (thanks, Tracey) and really enjoying it.  Knitting is (usually) so restful and if you go wrong it is an easy matter to pull it all undone and start again!  It can mostly be done while watching telly too, which makes it doubly restful.  I've started with a little cardigan and feel like working my way through the book because the photos are so enchanting and the patterns so straightforward.  And let's face it, I have so much yarn it is not going to mean any extra expense.  My younger teaching friends who have recently had babies will soon have toddlers and I'm hoping a handknit or two will go down well both now and in the next year or so.

Well, I had better go and get going on something.  Coffee, bath and knitting, probably, as I think today is likely to be a lazy day with lots of chat and little substance!  Sounds great, doesn't it?  I love the summer holidays.

Monday, 27 July 2015


Apologies for being a bit late this morning.  There's a lot to do and no time to do it.  I'll be back.

Have a good day!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sunday later on

Fingers crossed it will be good - huh!!!

It is now pouring down as if it will never cease.  So much for hanging my washing out!


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's a calm and gentle morning, not sunny but certainly not dull either.  Fingers crossed it will be good.

Yesterday started off very rough but before long the skies cleared, the wind dropped and the sun came out.  I was out for the day at Fibre East and before I left I spent a considerable time umming and ahing about tights or no tights.  The trouble is, if my feet get cold a couple of my toes start cramping which is not very painful but just not very nice and I knew I would be on my feet for most of the day.  I eventually decided on comfort and wore tights and shoes rather than sandals and I'm glad I did because although it was warmer, it wasn't exactly hot most of the time and it was just about right for me!

So - we (Jen and I) went off to Fibre East.  It's a craft fair based on knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, embroidery, etc, and it is huge! Two halls and several large tents!  It isn't somewhere to get bargains but it is somewhere to get ideas and to just stand and wonder at the range of colours and textures there are.  There were crafters showing off their skills in weaving, spinning, etc, and they had things for sale, of course.  You could buy yarn bowls, felted buttons, patterns, kits, enough yarn to satisfy the more hungry of crafters, fleece, dyes, gadgets galore, spinning wheels, weaving looms (I was sorely tempted) and so many other things.  Sadly, no quilting, as that's not a yarn craft but I got some ideas none the less.Outside there were sheep shearing demos with lots of information about the whole process.  In one tent there were bacon or sausage sarnies for sale plus tea, coffee and other refreshments.  We had brought a picnic but we treated ourselves to a hot drink in the afternoon which was very welcome.

I was good and came back with very little apart from leaflets and info cards.  I indulged in a mini loom for making titchy little mats (good for cards, I thought) and one ball of cheap but good yarn.  I also came back with a few ideas and renewed enthusiasm.

I was spoilt as I didn't even have to get myself there.  Jen's good man drove us there and back and, very sensibly, did his own thing in between.  Both Jen and I nodded off on the way back!!

When I got home, Eddie came round and set up the laptop but I've already managed to do something stupid (not sure what) and it won't let me on to Facebook or Blogger which is a right pain.  It did at first so it has to be something I have done!  Doh!  Never mind, it isn't the end of the world, but if I disappear from bloggerland for a few days you will know why!

Today is a busy day and I already have two lots of dough at various stages so I ought to get going at some point . . .  Have a restful day today and I hope the sun shines for you.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


Good morning and welcome to a wild and woolly Saturday morning.  It rained for a lot of yesterday, it rained again in the evening and overnight when the wind picked up and it is still windy and damp this morning, although not too bad.  Yesterday afternoon and evening was a snuggle under the fleece and keep warm time and that's just what I did!  Maybe it will pick up a bit later - it's rather like a slap in the face to have such nasty weather in what is supposed to be the height of summer but at least there's no need tow ater the garden.!

In the morning I popped out to B&Q and managed to get the paint I needed plus some pegs, some granular salt and other bits and bobs, inclusing a spray bottle in case the dreaded blight hits and I need to do a spray of bordeaux mixture.
After that it was home, James, and there I stayed for the rest of the day!

Today will be a busy day so I need to start good and early.  I hope your day is just as good as I hope mine will be.  More later!

Friday, 24 July 2015

More on Friday

You can tell I am taking things easy!  Three entries in one day . . .

It's chucking it down now, really pouring and none too warm so I am going to snuggle under my lovely owly quilt and watch some Harry Potter DVDs I think.  And go to sleep. probably.

After all, it IS the 'summer' holiday!

Friday's menu

I forgot to add it so here it is as a separate message!

Breakfast:  toast and jam (both home made)
Lunch:  bacon and pea soup with bread (guess what - both home made)
Dinner:  lightly smoked salmon fillet, steamed, with tomatoes and oven chips (er - not home made, sorry!)

Snacks:  oat biscuit, apple. loadsa coffee


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's a cool and dull start to the day out there but the windows are open to get the fresh air in as they are every morning.  I gather that there's some 'significant weather' coming our way in the next twenty four hours which means I won't have to water the garden this evening or tomorrow morning!

In the garden the fencing has been made and the rotten wood of the shed has been replaced.  It's all looking good, if patchy!  Today, weather permitting, it will all be painted and I have to pop out to B&Q early to get some more of the right paint.  It opens at 7 so that's good.

Also (fanfare of trumpets) for the first time in decades, I have outside clothes drying space.  The rotary line fixing thingy is not in the ground and, for today, the line is up so I can - er - look at it!  I can't use it until I get some pegs!  Actually, to be quite honest, I do have some pegs but they are all in use keeping food bags closed.  It's cheaper to use pegs than those special clips you can buy, so I use pegs.  I use them in the cupboards and also in the freezers!  I need a peg bag too, but I will make one so that can wait.  I have baskets that will do in the meanwhile.  Another thing on the B&Q list!

Talking of lists, when I was sorting out the big cupboard, I came across something I was given years ago.  It's a long, thin note pad with 'Chopin Liszt' written across the top.  It is now out and on the desk so will get used more, I am sure.

Changing the subject, I had a good look at the tomato plants this morning which are doing beautifully in the bed.  I have always planted them in pots before but this is a heck of a lot easier.  It was actually down to pressures of work combined with downright laziness that I didn't get out the pots, buy some soil, etc, but it's been fine.  You may remember that I snapped the top off one of the plants as I was tying it up some weeks ago.  All the other plants have sent out side shoots and I was hoping that it too could continue via a side shoot but dear me, no!  Not a chance.  However, the two trusses that it has produced are much longer than any of those on the other plants so no complaints.

Well, given that it is past seven now and B&Q actually opens at seven, I'd better get going.  Have a good day and I hope you are not too troubled by 'weather' where you live.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


It's a lovely, bright morning, the skies are blue and the sun is shining!  I woke much later than previously, mainly because it was a late night last night, past eleven o'clock.  I actually set the alarm because the garden man will be here at 7:30 and will need a key to the shed.

Yesterday was quite dull in parts but I did get a lot done.  The interesting bit was that I had a go at making the rye bread and it went well.  It was very different in feel and the dough didn't need kneading as such, although it got some in Thermione anyway.  I started with a half and half - half rye flour, half wholemeal flour, which was a happy mistake as the recipe said strong white but I misread it.  I've posted about it on the other blog but will just say here that the bread it produced is delicious!

The rest of the time was spent clearing out and reorganising one of the tall cupboards beside my work desk.  Oh, what a lot of rubbish it had in it, to be sure.  The recycled paper sack is now crammed full and I have a fair old stack of old paper for the little boy of a friend, when they can come and puck them up, plus crayons, pencils and felt tips.  I also have several empty shelves.  Now I have to deal with the other one and then, hopefully, all my stuff can go into one cupboard and the sewing stuff can go into the other cupboard.

When that was done, I moved on to the filing cabinet.  Oh, my goodness.  Statements dating back to before the turn of the century!!  The paper shredder earned its keep yesterday, I assure you, and I have several bags of shredded paper to deal with.

Today I think I will be going to the allotment but I'm not 100% sure about that.  It will be nice to get away from the hammering and banging!  Apart from that, it's more clearing out and decluttering.  I must go through all the instruction manuals and so on as most of them could not be chucked, I am sure.

I have decided that I'm handing on my bread maker.  It was one of the few appliances I held on to when I bought Thermione but I haven't used it since and I doubt I will now as I am out of that routine.  I do need to check that it still works and then I will probably advertise it on a local Facebook selling page.

But first - yes, that's it - coffee . . .  I need it!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.

It's another stupidly early waking for me.  I've been up for about an hour or so and the sky is just beginning to lighten.  The mornings are definitely a little darker now and the sun is rising later.  We tend to think of August as the middle of the year with the longest days but, of course, it isn't.  The end of June is that and we are pretty well a month further along the year now.

Because this summer holiday is a bit different from all the others I have had, I was sort of forgetting the tiredness that always hits me.  Yesterday, by about seven o'clock, I was worn out and by just after eight I was in bed and dropping off to sleep, hence the early start today.  Things will get more sensible but for now going with the flow seems the best idea - the only idea, in fact!

Yesterday Beth and I wandered into town to look round the market.  We first headed to the fabric and haberdashery stall but, sadly, the Christmas fabrics aren't in yet.  They should be in by the beginning of August, we were told.  We compensated by getting some calico and some poly cotton, both of which we 'need' for projects.  We then wandered around and I bought a few things at the fruit and veg stall and at the whole food stall before we headed off to Hobbycraft.  Yes, that was an unplanned extra but we were going past.  I'm glad we did because they were selling their fat quarters bundles at £7.00 which is really pretty good.  Yes, we bought some!!!

After locating and investigating how the tip functions (very organised and we will be back there soon, I am sure) Beth came back to mine and we had a chat, lunch and more chat while I sorted out the sofa.  I am pleased to report that it is now clear and usable again.

Today's declutter is one of the big cupboards.  It's filled with paper, card and various other items of stationery (or is that -ary?), most of which I won't ever use now.  I've decided to sort it all out, put the unusable stuff in the paper sack for the paper collection tomorrow and either donate most of the rest to school or maybe see if I can sell it for a small amount on one of the local selling pages.

You may remember that I'd set myself a challenge - to try one new loaf each week.  When we were in the market yesterday I bought a bag of rye flour and have been looking up recipes.  I've found one that involves making a rye starter first but as that takes a week with attention every day I shall leave that until I am in a position where I can guarantee to be home for a week.  There's some awful fancy recipes out there but I found one that looks a likely beginner's recipe.  It is not completely rye as it contains wholemeal flour but I have to start somewhere and rye flour works very differently to wheat flour, being gluten free, so this should be a good half way.  Anyway, I shall give it a go today and will try the sourdough version later on.

Well, light is dawning, I can see colour through the window now rather than grayscale shadows and the skies look rather dull.  I hope it doesn't rain as the workman is due to arrive at 7:30 and I'm hoping he will crack on with the fencing.  What he has done so far looks pretty good!  I am relieved that the hole in the floorboards of the shed has been repaired and it's good to have a locking shed door again, not that I had any problems but I could have done.

Today's food:
Breakfast:  Toast and marmite, fruit
Lunch:  Corned beef salad, yogurt
Dinner:  Corned beef and vegetable pasty (made with bread dough, not pastry). salad

See, I opened a tin of corned beef yesterday so now it has to be used up!  I will fry off some veg including some tomatoes, add the corned beef, pile it into the rolled out dough, sprinkle over some grated cheese and bake until done.  Worth a try anyway.  It'll be a bit like a calzone, I think, but definitely not authentic!

I seem to have rambled on for ever and taken ages.  It is now light outside so time for a second coffee.  Have a good day!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Good morning!
Yesterday's weather was nothing like I had hoped.  Soon after I posted, the skies darkened and down came the rain - after I had watered, of course!  Always the way, isn't it?  Never mind, it did brighten up and we had a bit of sunshine but by then my garden had been invaded!

For a while now I have intended to have some work done in the garden.  Not gardening work but maintenance stuff such as repairing the shed door and a floorboard, replacing the wooden panel parts of the fencing which were rotting, plus some front work too.  Also things like replacing the door bell which doesn't work and getting the rotary washing line set up.

The chap turned up and he has taken over the back garden with his machines and wood!  No complaints, I am glad to be getting the work done.  I have saved up and the money is set aside.  it needs doing.  It just means no resting in the garden.

So now I have a working doorbell and a fitting and lockable shed door again and will have a clothes line soon.  All good stuff.

I had intended to do all sorts of things but, as is almost always the way at the start of a holiday, I did very little.  I'm feeling a little bit guilty about that but never mind!

Today Beth and I are going to the market and then we are doing something we should have done years ago and that is find out where the town tip is and how it works.  We both have stuff we need to get rid of so it will be a very useful thing to do.
Then we are coming here for lunch and an afternoon of 'stuff'.  Should be good.

Today's food:
Breakfast:  scrambled eggs on toast
Lunch:  beans on toast with cheese
Dinner:  Fish fingers, new potatoes, salad

Just to let you know, I will be posting a soda bread recipe today . . . if case you're interested.

Time is moving on, it is nearly half past six and the man will be coming at half past seven.  Fortunately it is looking to be a fine start to the day so he won't have to work in the rain.  I need to get myself ready before he arrives but there's plenty of time for that.  What is urgent is that first coffee so I will go and get it!

Have a wonderful day, gentle readers.

Monday, 20 July 2015


First of all, before any comments on the weather, the early hour or the coffee, I want to say a heartfelt and deeply appreciative thank you to my lovely friend, Alison, who gave up her weekend to come and stay here and support me through what could otherwise have been a very emotional weekend.  Thanks, Al, words cannot express the difference you have made.

It's a bright, cool morning and I am hoping for another pleasant day like yesterday.  I was a bit wakeful overnight but ended up sleeping until 5:30, which is brilliant for me so I am well pleased.

Yesterday was a baking day, even if it didn't seem that way.  I made three loaves of my usual bread, I made some soda bread from a recipe I have modified and I made a fruit loaf which is truly delicious.  I have already posted the loaf recipe and the fruit loaf recope  on Teacher's Recipes and will do the same with the soda bread in the next few days.  Please do take a peek.

All told it was a very pleasant day.  A fair amount of laziness supported by a lack of 'concern' about the planning for the following week.  I need to get used to that feeling now, don't I?  It's not just for the next six weeks, it is for the rest of my life.

I baked, I made a Sunday lunch (poached salmon, peas, carrots and new potatoes), I snoozed in the afternoon and I cracked open a bottle of rose (not a usual Sunday activity) in the evening.

Today is a 'me' day.  I doubt I will go out except into the garden, of course.  It's a tidy up, start to take control of things day.  Oh - and I have some assessments to do too.

Today's food (yes, starting back on this):
Breakfast:  toasted fruit bread, apple
Lunch:  2 boiled eggs and toasty soldiers
Dinner:  left-overs (from yesterday) omelette with cheese, salad, yogurt

Sunday, 19 July 2015


Yesterday was a beautiful day, weather wise, wasn't it?  It was here anyway.  It could have been very humid but there was a breeze that lifted things and made it pleasant.

After Friday evening when I wasn't in bed until around eleven, you would have thought I'd have woken later than usual but no, before four and I was wide awake.  Very frustrating.

I have a friend staying (who has just come down and scared the daylights out of me because I don't have my hearing aids in and so didn't hear her) and we decided to go out.

So after packing a picnic hamper (Yes, I really have one.  Pretentious?  Moi?) we set off for Hylands Park which I have hardly ever been to, despite living close by for decades now.  That, unfortunately, was a mistake.  I didn't realise but this weekend Hylands is hosting the National Flower Show.  All very nice and normally I'd have loved to go but I'm feeling a bit fragile and the thought of zillions of adults thronging around me was too much.  So we drove straight out again and ended up at good old Hyde Hall.  We had a leisurely lunch, looked around the shop and the plants for sale (lovely plants, very expensive) and came home again because by that time I was drooping.

Back home I had a good old snooze and then the rest of the day passed quietly and in the usual way!

And I slept like a log!

Today I need to start to tackle the mess.  I will start with the sofa which is hosting much of the stuff I have brought home from school.  One thing at a time . . .

Have a gread day.

Ten things I can do now!

In totally random order and certainly not complete . . .

1.  I can take advantage of cheaper internet grocery shopping (if such a thing still exists - it's a long time since I used it).

2.  I can shop in Lidl or Aldi without having to get there on opening time or risk not getting a parking slot.

3.  I can pack a picnic and wander around Hyde Hall any time I fancy it.  Or Hylands . . . or wherever.

4.  I can eat breakfast in the garden at a civilised hour if I want to.  Or lunch, come to that.

5.  I can pick strawberries at Lathcoats during the week.  I missed out this year because of work commitments at the weekend.

6.  I can go swimming with Beth.

7.  I can spend the whole day sewing/knitting/quilting/whatever without feeling guilty.

8.  I can make bread on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

9.  I don't have to do all the ironing at the weekend.  I might end up with an empty ironing basket, you never know!

10.  I can meet up with friends for lunch.

After a comment from a friends, I have to add . . .
11.  I can stay up later in the evening to watch something on the telly if I want, rather than falling asleep in my chair because the day has been wearying.  Then I can sleep later the next day (if I can).

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Saturday: the start of a new life

Good morning, gentle readers.  It is a lovely sunny morning and I have the windows open, freshening up the house as a warm baking aroma is starting to pervade the air.  A mix of fresh air and fresh soda bread.  What could be better?

There's an awful lot to say today and I doubt very much I will say it all in one go - in fact, I won't even try!

OK, so the last few days have been very strange.  Very lovely and very difficult all at the same time.  I feel rather numb at the moment and almost 'out of body' so it will take a while to sink in but although there's a great sadness aching inside, there's also excitement and exhilaration!

I wondered about this blog.  Not about keeping it up, I'm not going to stop now, but about its title.  Somehow, 'Diary of a Retired Teacher' doesn't sound right.  Anyway, I may be retired but I am still a teacher.  Yes, I can't cut the knot entirely.  I shall be back at school for one day each week for the first half of next school year doing PPA cover.  At present the plan is to do two hours in Y1 and the rest of the day in FS and I can say that now because the news is out.  It could change; nothing is written in tablets of stone as far as this sort of thing is concerned.

I think it will feel weird.  For so long I have thought in terms of 'my' bay, 'my' class, 'my' laptop, 'my' parking slot and so on.  That's not as possessive as it sounds but there is a certain element of 'belonging' involved.  All those things will go now.  I won't have a base, I will park in the visitors slots (well, actually, once I have no heavy bags/piles of books/etc, I shall walk to school anyway!

There's another way of looking at it though.  No classroom means no space to have to keep organised, tidy and dust free, no display boards to keep updating, no class to plan for and assess and manage, a saving on petrol and a way to get fitter . . .  It will be a whole lot less heavy, won't it?  A lot the fun without as much of the hassle and spare time to boot!

I have already told my team - no, not my team any more, my ex-team, oh dear, that will be hard to remember at first! - to choke me off is they see me overstepping my boundaries.  I wouldn't do it by design but I might do it by accident!

Diane commented that I will be able to 'go with the flow' a lot more.  We all have days when all we want to do is huddle in a chair and read or watch rubbish telly.  Days when the garden calls and we have a chilled bottle of something and a good book once the weeds have been banished.  Days when the food magazine arrives and there are interesting recipes to try.  Days when creativity bites hard and our fingers ache to experiment.  Now I can (mostly) follow my nose and see where it takes me!  Not just for the next six or seven week but for the rest of my life.

Oh, wow!!!

Friday, 17 July 2015


You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.

This has always been a favourite song, ever since I first heard it.  It has the same impact as songs like 'You are the wind beneath my wings': not necessarily great poetry, great melody or great harmony but with a certain something that touches my heart strings.

When I was little, first of all I wanted to be an opera singer after discovering 'Carmen'  at a very young age.  Then I read 'The Small Woman' (a biography about Gladys Aylward - Google it) and decided I wanted to be a missionary.  More realistically, after what was a profound experience for young me, I latched onto teaching and that never changed.

The 'experience' was this.
When I was in the top juniors at primary school, the infant teacher (it was a three class village primary school) needed to leave school half an hour or so before the end of the school day for a while.  The head decided that he would put two of us top juniors in the class to look after the Infants (you couldn't do that nowadays) and to read them a story.

When my turn came the infants were obviously in a lively mood and ended up reducing me to tears as I returned to my own classroom.  The head, in his wisdom, sent me back in the next afternoon and, I strongly suspect, read them the riot act in between.  I had a wonderful time and, when I got home, I am told that I announced very firmly that I wanted to be a teacher and I wanted to teach little ones.  I suspect that my parents were most relieved that the opera and missionary phases had vanished into thin air!

So I became a teacher after completing a Cert. Ed. and, apart from time off to have a family, that's what I have always been.

Today is the end of that journey.

Yesterday we had a special assembly.  There are three of us retiring, reflecting seventy years of contact with Newlands Spring School, one way or another.  The head said various kind and lovely things about us all.  We were presented with cards from each year group (more about that in another post), bouquets of flowers and some rather nice looking (proper) champagne.  We presented gifts to the school.  Then, to finish, the whole school stood and sang to us, in two parts, 'You raise me up'.  

Now we have a good name for music at our school.  The singing was stunning, really beautiful.    It is one of my favourite songs anyway and it utterly reduced me to tears - and I wasn't the only one.

The deputy head produced a box of tissues and handed them round! At the end of the day 'my' parents presented me with gifts and cards.  Then parents of children I used to teach also came to see me and offer their best wishes.  It was highly emotional and very lovely!

Just today to get through now!  And this evening's party!

But now, guess what . . . coffee time!

Thursday, 16 July 2015


Two more to go!

We had a good day yesterday.  We weren't sure if violins was on but it was.  The children are working slowly now but we got some work done and in the afternoon I was able to get a slot in the ICT suite.  That room has changed out of all recognition in recent years and now, finally, there are enough computers for one each rather than having to share.

Having finally, after a good push, managed to get the year 2 coding stuff finished, I wanted them to use what they'd learnt to create a little game involving moving an object round a pathway.
Words like 'algorithm' and 'debug' flew in all directions as they coded, re-coded and generally showed me that, with the program we use, they have mastered simple coding pretty well (at Y2 level, that is).
It was all great fun.
We have our own computer suite time this afternoon so we will go in again and they can have a 'free' choice.  Not totally free, of course, but enough to be fun!

It feels very strange to be sitting here with no outstanding marking, no planning to review, no smart board slides to create, no resources to prepare.  The classroom is as tidy as I can possibly make it, given two more days at school.  Even most of the stuff on the walls has come down and is ready for handing out, filing away for G (who will have my classroom next term) or in the bin.  All those posters.  Our marking code, the 'wash your hands' reminders, the labels for different areas, the reading area signs about what makes a good reader, the golden rules . . . all down.   Today the new backing paper will go up on the display boards!

It feels so odd to know that in two days it won't be 'my' space any more.  I have been in that classroom on and off for . . . well, let's say 'many years', shall we?  A good long time.  It's as familiar to me as my own home, albeit strangely uncluttered!

Today is finishing off, ICT and a 'special' assembly which I am dreading!   But first - coffee!!!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

And . . .

Two o'clock came . . .

Two o'clock went . . .

Did we get The Phone Call?


I am now officially OFSTED free for ever and ever, world without end, amen!!!!  Probably!

(. . . but isn't it wrong that a teacher as ancient and experienced as I am should be so much in dread of a process that ought to be helpful and supportive but is, in fact, totally the opposite?)


Apologies for the lack of an entry yesterday.  I was so dopey in the morning, I sat in front of the laptop and kept going to sleep.   I'm not sure why I was so very tired, I just was.  Still am, in fact!

Yesterday was an odd day.  I had my PPA in the morning.  Usually it is Wednesday afternoon but I swapped with the teacher who will be teaching Y2 in September so that she and V could plan together which makes a whole lot more sense all round.

Because I had finished doing out the cupboards, drawers, etc, I set to and finished marking some English and it was a relief to get that all done.

In the afternoon it was swapover hour when all the children spent an hour with their new teacher in their new classroom.  The FS teachers plus H and I looked after the year sixes which, in reality, meant sitting under the pagoda chatting while they all played happily and contentedly.

The timetables for next year were all emailed out to us and it felt decidedly odd not to be searching through to find out when PE, computing, PPA, etc, had been scheduled.

After school it was a quick tidy up which was not too hard for once, a sort out of all the books which were placed in pupil piles on the tables and at six o'clock the doors reopened and in came the parents for open evening.

Open evening is always nice.  There are no appointments as such; the parents are free to wander round looking at any classroom, any display, any work although, in reality, they look at their child's work, chat to the teacher and visit their next classroom to meet the new teacher.  I had some lovely visits from people whose children I had taught in the past who wanted to say goodbye, with many hugs and good wishes and a few tears.

I will always remember L who bounced into the classroom with her mum last night, gasped at the pile of exercise books, counted them gleefully and announced to the world at the top of her voice 'I've done ELEVEN BOOKS!'  She had too, although they weren't all full.

So that was my last open evening.

Today is, I think, a normal day.  No PPA so I am with my class all through the day.  We are all living for 2 o'clock this afternoon which is the cut off time for big O to announce an inspection starting tomorrow.  You would think that even they would have the sense to realise that there's no way that they are going to see a school running properly and normally in the last few days of the school year but it has happened - not to us but to other schools.  Maybe it is urbal legend (or educational legend), who knows?
Because of this, nothing, but nothing, is coming down from any displays until after 2.  Just in case.  I'm taking no risks!

And my fingers are crossed!

Finally a huge and public thanks to Beth who came round here yesterday and reduced my shockingly messy downstairs to something that looks nice and tidy - if you don't look at the sofa!  Even the sofa isn't as bad as it looks and certainly a lot better than it could be.  It won't take long to sort out the jumble of papers, folders, files and books I didn't leave for the school to use.

Time for another coffee, I think!

Monday, 13 July 2015


Yesterday was quite a day!  I spent a small fortune investing in my technological future.

I have this friend, Eddie.  In days gone by I taught Eddie's oldest in my year 1 class.  Since then Eddie has been a fantastic support to me in all things computer based.  He is very clever.  He has helped me buy stuff, sorted out problems, linked me up to wireless stuff and generally been an all round Good Egg!

Several months ago I decided that I needed to upgrade, renew and generally refresh technology stuff.  I knew I would lose my (school) laptop once retired and my home based PC stuff is old and wrinkled (like me) and liable to crash at a nano-seconds notice.  I can't manage without my blogging and the whole social network I have built up around my life.  Well, I could, but I'd rather not!

Think about it.
Nowadays, when I need to know something, my first reaction is to Google it.  How did we find things out before the Internet?  The answer is, we didn't.  Need to know the opening hours of a shop?  Google it. Need to check some class data?  Look in Target Tracker.  Need to contact a friend?  Email or Facebook.  Need a new toaster, kettle, whatever - online shopping is great!
Life revolves around ICT nowadays and whether it is good or bad or something else, that's the reality.

I can share photos, relate with people I am not likely to ever meet in Real Life, make new and abiding friendships.  Some of my dearest friends started as online acquaintances - we'd never have met without ICT, would we?  That would have been a great shame.

Anyway . . .
Yesterday afternoon, Eddie came round and, in the next three hours, with his expert guidance and some of my savings, I bought a new PC, with all the trimmings and then, after a trip to a shop, a new laptop with various bits and bobs to go with it.

Eddie will come round again once the PC stuff has been delivered and will get it all set up for me, transfer stuff over, make it all work and so on.  I won't be touching the new laptop until Eddie helps me sort it out.

So that was yesterday!  I'm still a bit breathless about it this morning!

Today is as normal as the last Monday of a school year ever is.  That's it, really.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Oh, darn it!!!!

So cross with myself.

After going on about the tomatoes, when I was tying one up to the cane I managed to snap the top right off, losing a good six inches.  Grrrr.  Hoping it will send out a side shoot now!


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to a comparatively chilly, dull and damp Sunday morning here in mid-Essex.  The French window is open but I'm thinking of closing it soon as I'm feeling cold.  No complaints - I'd rather be cold than too hot because I can do something about the former!

Yesterday was always going to be a busy day.  Beth, Alex and I meandered through the library into school where we set to sorting out the remaining mess and wiping shelves down, etc.  Five or six hours later and one lunch at the Flyer and one teenager down we were sorting out the finished books and getting the internal record folder into some sort of order.  It's more or less all done now, thank goodness, so I can tick several things off my list!  Yay! 
Thanks so much Beth and Alex.  It made such a difference to have someone to talk to as we worked. 

I do have a problem though.  While I have been able to chuck quite a lot away, I have brought quite a lot of stuff home.  You don't work in a place for nearly 30 years one way or another without collecting stuff.  The problem is where to put it all!  At the moment it is stacked up (sort of) on the sofa in the living room looking horribly messy.
I think that for now it will have to be stacked up in the small bedroom until I can decide what to do with it all.  Maybe more will get chucked away today!

One good thing though - I found some lengths of fabric (bought on the market) in one cupboard that date back to the days when you were considered a Good School if you used 'drapes' for your displays.  Anyone remember that?  A decade before that it was using black italic handwriting on displays, I seem to remember.  Fads and fashions are endemic in education!
Anyway - the fabric.  It's rather nice stuff and I know exactly where to put it after giving it a good wash.  With the quilting stash, of course! 

There's no need to water the garden this morning after the rain overnight and I remembered to feed the tomatoes yesterday.  They are showing proper gratitude for being well fed by sending out loads of baby tomatoes, enough to keep Beth, Alex and me in fruit once they start ripening.  The freebie-accidental plant is also growing well and I must remember to feed that too as soon as the fruits start coming.
The accidental Hundreds and Thousands tomato plant
Actually - thinking about it - I will throw over a handful of general fertiliser today.  The soil in that container can't be all that nutritious by now.

What isn't doing so well is the tayberry.  Poor thing, it has had a rough time in its short life.  It stayed in its small delivery pot for much longer than it should have done before I planted it into a larger pot.  Then it was moved to its forever place and got thoroughly weeded by an over-enthusiastic young gardener.  I really thought that was the end but no, up it has come again, although it's not sending out long stems - yet.  I talk to it nicely and live in hope that in five years' time there will be fruit!  After all, most of gardening is based on faith, hope and love, isn't it - except for weeds, of course.  They seem to manage far too well without any encouragement whatsoever!

Hmmm - I've just taken the photo above and look, there are some stems coming up after all.  Maybe there will be a little fruit next year: that would be fantastic!  Three cheers.

The runner beans have also decided to make a go of it after being nearly nibbled to death by goodness knows what.  They will be climbing the supports soon and then there will be no stopping them!
These are self pollinating.  Dad grew them last year and found them excellent so he gave me some seeds.  Thanks, Dad.

Well, I had better go and do some work.  It won't get done by itself, that's for sure!  But first - another coffee, I think.  After all, it is the weekend, isn't it?

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Good morning, gentle readers and welcome to a lovely sunny weekend.  The skies are a clear blue and it is delightfully refreshing.  Later on I might even get the chance to sit out!

As expected, yesterday was a sheer delight.  All the children came.  All the adults came, thank goodness: there's always a little niggle at the back of ones mind that someone can't come and all carefully worked out plans will crash as a result.

The children all arrived early.  In fact, they were hammering on the door (not literally) five minutes before as we'd said we would open them early.  They had all applied their sun cream and most of them said no, they didn't need the loo, thanks, because they had just been at home.   Well done, parents!

So we got a prompt, albeit noisy, start!  Excited children can make a LOT of noise!  Once there, it was onto the pier and into the train for a quick chug to the end of the pier (noting geographical features as we went) and another quick chug back again (which seemed much shorter than the way out).

One of the highlights for the children was the pound coin burning a hole in their purses and wallets.  With this they intended to buy an ice cream.  When V visited Southend on Saturday she had found a stall where the vendor was happy to make smaller icecreams for a pound.  Unfortunately, yesterday there was a different person behind the counter, who refused.  Oh, dear!  So V went on ahead and, fortunately, found someone who agreed.  Personally I think they were onto a good thing.  Yes, it was rather frantic for ten minutes or so as they made little ice creams for seventy two people but that was £72 gained (mostly profit, I am sure) in a very short time!  Very polite people too, including the little people who were extremely grateful and excited and said so.  Great manners!  The two big people in charge were also hugely grateful!

By the way, it was the same place that let two 'desperate' children use their loos when we got off the coach and before we got the train along the pier.  I wish I could remember the name of the place because they seem jolly nice people.  It's a cafe on the beach side, half way between the pier and the sealife centre.  It has an ice cream bit on one side and sells meals on the other side and you can walk through the middle to indoor and then outdoor tables and seating overlooking the sea.  I have absolutely no idea what the food is like, probably the usual seaside fare, but they were super kind and accommodating and, for that, I recommend them.  If I ever go to Southend, that is where I will eat.  After all, one good turn deserves another!

Then it was time to find the toilets.  Managing this with so many children, some of whom 'can't wait', can be rather stressful but the Southend loos are fine!

Then we went along to the sealife centre to find out when our talks would be, have lunch, play on the beach and explore the centre.  It was all very good although I had to swallow my unease: I am not a great fan of zoos although I acknowledge the great work some of them do, and this seemed very similar.  However, it was a fantastic sight, the children were so eager and interested in everything theyn saw, they were reading the information boards (that's the end of Y2 for you - most have become fluent and voracious readers) and generally having a wonderful experience.

Then it was home, sweet home and a mad rush to give out the hard copy reports, associated sheets, the sheets the children had written out their year and to tell them who their next teacher will be (to delighted cheers from the children so that's good!).

Oh, my, I was so tired.  I managed to see Andy Murray lose to Federer in the semis before nodding off.  At around seven thirty I dragged myself up to bed and almost slept the clock round, waking a couple of times but nothing too bad or long.

And this morning?  Well, fine.  No sunburn, the knee that has given me so much trouble was fine and the ankle that has always been a problem (yes I have seen a GP in the past) was also fine and only aches a little bit now.

Was it worth it.  Well of course it was.  The children were absolutely wonderful.  Excited, sure, but so very well behaved, interested and appreciative.  It was a day of highlights: the train, the ice cream, the sealife, looking for treasure on the beach (and discovering it - one girl found a 50p!), collecting shells and pebbles ('Mrs Clark, why is my bag so heavy?'), touching a starfish and a crab, learning various yucky facts about both that were guaranteed to fascinate, watching the rays as they glided effortlessly through the water . . .  Of course it was worth it!

Would I do it again.  Well, maybe I will - as a 'mummy helper' next year!

Friday, 10 July 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.

Yesterday turned out to be a memorable day for a number of reasons.

First of all - today we are off to Sarfend.  It is a genuine study trip and it means no planning, no lesson preparation and no marking!  Three cheers.

Also I'm making great strides with my clearing out.  The cupboard over the sink are done but not dusted (yet), the cupboards under the sink are staying as they are as they contain art stuff, the cupboards over the pegs need doing but aren't all that bad really and then it is just my shelves and odd piles of stuff here and there!  I haven't filled too many bin bags (yet) after last year's major declutter but I have been feeding the 'confidential waste' bag that will go to be shredded. An awful lot of stuff is now on the pool so there's no need to keep hard copies.

Then Beth had some amazing news which has made her (and me) very happy.  I will tell you more in due course.

And finally a parent friend sent me a link to information about our KS1 SATs/levels that cheered me up no end.

All good news.  Now I have a slight  headache which is rapidly fading under the influence of the first coffee of the day.

So today - Southend.  Geographical.  Looking at two contrasting areas.  Worksheets about amenities and features of a coastal town with a visit to the sealife centre.  Taking a train along the pier and back again.  A walk along the coast.  NOT visiting the funfair, arcades, etc.

The weather looks to be good and it will be fresher by the sea.  It should be a good day!

Thursday, 9 July 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.

After saying that I use the term 'gentle readers' because I love 'Jane Eyre', Joan pointed out in her comment that she knows another reference to the term.  It is also used by  Noel Langley in 'The Land of Green Ginger', a book I have never come across, where it starts:
'May fortune preserve you, Gentle Reader.  May your days be filled with constant joy, and may my story please you, for it has no other purpose'.
I rather like that.  Thanks, Joan.

Now I need to look out for the book.  Summer reading, perhaps?  Amazon, here I come!

Yesterday started off very pleasant but then clouded over.  The rain stayed off until lunchtime before starting to pour, sending the children dashing for cover.  It didn't last long but by then they had started watching a Magic Grandad video so we finished that before starting afternoon school.  There were several short and sharp showers later on, enought for me not to need to water the garden.

Before then, in the morning, we had a fire drill!  Now, I should have realised that one was due.  We have them regularly and time is now short.  The fact remains I was taken by surprise but it made no difference.  The children were fantastic.  They lined up without a word, marched briskly out, no panic, no silliness.  I was well proud of them, I can tell you!  First out is quite an achievement!

The afternoon was PPA.  Next week's planning was done very quickly and I went back into the classroom to carry on clearing the cupboards.  Yet again I thanked my lucky stars that I spent all those days last summer getting rid of ancient stuff because really my job is now comparatively easy - which is just as well seeing as at staff meeting last night we were given a long list of Things We Still Need To Do or the Sky Will Fall!

Reports are going out on Friday.  For the first time they are going out electronically and I hope it all works well because not only has it saved a lot of time for us teachers, it is also saving a huge sum in photocopying and stationery.  It has meant a lot more work for office staff, of course, and I'm very grateful to them indeed.  They are even doing the 'had copy' children - those who need hard copies of everything because there is no internet access for whatever reason.

Today I have my KS coordinator time.  I should be able to get everything sorted to hand on to the new coordinator next week - not that there's much to literally 'hand on' because most of the paperwork is on the 'Pool'.  All meeting agendas, minutes, etc, etc . . .  There are also the PSHE folders but, really, ditto!

One very nice thing that happened yesterday.  A little chap from the other Y2 class (which I taught last year) came round to present me with a farewell gift.  He won't be here next week so gave it early.  It was lovely - a mug with 'home sweet home' on it, a plaque thingy saying 'do what you love every day' and a card with 'the school won't be the same without you - bye' written inside.  How lovely!  I christened the mug yesterday evening and I am sure the coffee tasted twice as nice as usual!

Finally, for Annabeth, a few photos.
 One of the fuchsias . . .

 . . . and the other.

 Crocosmia lucifer

 It's a beautiful blue.

Rather blurred but promising and there's loads more too!

And finally, finally . . .
Breakfast:  toast and marmalade
Lunch:  picnic lunch at school
Dinner:  ham salad, fruit

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


And another 'good morning, gentle readers' from me to you.  Another really ridiculous early morning here but I'm not fussed.  I know it will all readjust once the term ends and if it doesn't, no problem!  Waking early has all sorts of benefits for me.  I can get all sorts of worky bits and bobs done that I'm too tired to do in the evenings, I get to see sunrises, feel the fresh new day, hear the dawn chorus (if my aids are in), wander quietly and peacefully in the garden and generally enjoy life before sensible people are up!

Yesterday started off beautifully but by the time I set off for school it had all clouded over.  Rain was forecast, quite heavy rain here, but did we get any?  Did we heck!  A very few enormous splodges at some point but no downpour, no refreshing of the garden.  Ho hum!

School plods on.  There's eight more days to go, that's all.  I'm feeling rather numb at the moment.

This coming Saturday I intend to spend all day in school, sorting out everything.  Beth said she will come and help which is very kind, thank you.  I usually come in during the holidays but, for obvious reasons, I would rather not this year.

I won't be cutting links with the school though.  I intend to stay as a governor although my role will probably change and I will do supply for KS1 as needed.  I have also promised to be a 'mummy helper' again.  All the fun, none of the pressures!  That sounds good.

But for now there's work to prepare.  We're half way through a unit of poetry, a unit on data handling and a unit on 'moving pictures' using sliders, levers and pivots and wheels (behind the page, not in front, so rather more difficult that it sounds).  On Friday we are off to Southend for the day (educational, I assure you) and the weather looks good for that.

So better go and sort out the work, then sort out the kitchen which is a mess and then light should have dawned so I can give my plants their morning drink.  My morning routine works well for me - do you have a routine that you tend to stick to?

Have a great day.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  Again it is a really lovely morning, cool and fresh with a more or less clear sky and a shining sun.  Looking at the BBC weather, we are supposed to be getting some rain this morning.  I can hardly believe it, looking at how fine it is right now but then Sunday morning was lovely too and just look at the rain we got later in the morning!

I have just been out to give the plants their morning drink and thought that the middle bed was looking really nice.  There's a time, after the bulbs are finished, that it looks awful, all dying leaves, and then up come the summer flowers and aaaahhhhh . . .

You may remember that I bought some fuchsias cheap in Morrisons.  When I put them out all the  flowers dropped and my heart sank - but they were very cheap so I just shrugged my shoulders and kept watering.  It was worth it because they have picked up now, they are covered with buds that are just starting to open and they are an absolute picture.  The dianthus is also lovely but is still in a pot.  I think I have now found its forever place but need to have some of the crocosmia out and that is just coming into flower so I guess I will keep it there and enjoy the blooms one more time.

Yesterday I was in Morrisons and they had more plants reduced.  This year I have had such great experience of Morrisons plants that I hardly hesitated.  Some cheeky lady got there just before me and nicked the plant I was heading for but there was also a healthy looking delphinium so I grabbed that.  I've wanted a delphinium for a while: I love the colour, the size, the shape.  I read that they are quite hard to grow so fingers crossed.

I have a few plants in pots laid out in various places on the midle bed and I keep shifting them round to see what they look like.  I  did intend to replace the lupin I killed last year (by spraying it with weed killer, not bug spray - ooops) but never got round to it.  I may not have space for one now!

Isn't it amazing how weeds manage to hide?  I saw a huge one snuggling within the aquilegias.   It must have been there for ages but I hadn't noticed it.  Well, its hours are now numbered, its time is up, it is going to meet its maker!

I woke at utterly stupid o'clock this morning and couldn't get back to sleep so I set to and updated the PSHE education policy which needed to be done.  I think it is OK now, fingers crossed.  Now I just need to look at today's planning and I will be ready for the day ahead.

Have a great day!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Monday: what won't I miss

Good morning, all.

A comment by Joan yesterday set me thinking.  I know I will miss an awful lot about teaching when the whistle finally blows on August 31st but there are definitely things I won't miss.

 Here are some thoughts, in (as they say on Strictly Come Dancing) no particular order and with absolutely no criticism intended of anyone (except the government, I guess)!.

1.  Writing reports.  While I appreciate the need for accountability, etc, there has to be a better way than using a good thirty hours of ones time ('as well as' hours, not 'instead of' hours and it doesn't include all the evidence gathering and thinking that goes on before one writes a single word on the form) to fill in two sides of A4 saying it how it really is (which is essential) politely (which can be hard but is also essential). We have to comment on reading, writing, speaking and listening, maths, computing, history, geography, D&T, art, music, PE, RE, PSHE and personal comment
It goes with the job but it is a difficult time of year.
At least we don't have to worry about MFL until KS2!
2.  Marking.
3.  Planning.
4.  The Big O.  I have two more weeks to endure before I know I won't be OFSTEDed ever again..  Fingers, toes and eyes are very firmly crossed at the moment and please join with me in this.  Nobody likes O.  It's a blight on the history and the future of teaching.  It has caused breakdowns, permanently damaged perfectly good schools, forced perfectly good people out of teaching and generally made life an ongoing and absolute misery.  It's divisive and confrontational.
There has to be a better way - and that was developing until the present government took office.  OFSTED was starting to work WITH schools, not against them.  It was promising.  Such a shame it didn't continue.
5.  Stuff it would not be sensible to rant about right now or maybe ever.  It still exists though . . . and maybe, one day, I will rant!  You will have to stick with me to find out!

And from the cor blimey to the sublime (another old saying, Gill)

Breakfast:  Marmite on toast, melon
Lunch:  Egg salad, fruit and yogurt
Dinner:  Lasagne and salad (I will get that blimmin' lasagne eaten one of these days!!!!)

Have a wonderful day, gentle readers.
(and in case anyone wonders why I use the term 'gentle readers', I am a big fan of Jane Eyre)

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Good morning, everyone!  I hope it is as pleasant down your way as it is here.  The sun isn't up yet, of course, and cool, fresh air is flooding into the house though all the open windows.  I guess it will get pretty hot later on but just not I am really enjoying the freshness.

Yesterday morning, with some help from my young gardener, I shifted a pile of pots into the garage and now the corners of the garden look a lot better.  Not perfect, just a lot better.  Following on from yesterday's garden post, I now definitely have some mini tomatoes and look forward to watching them grow over the next few weeks.  I always do my tomato feeding on Sundays so they will be getting nourished this morning when I do the morning watering.  That's about it on the food front in the garden  as the strawberries are about over now.  They're sending out runners which I am doing my best to control although it's all a bit random and erratic, silly plants!!!

As well as that, in the morning I made two loads of bread and I find that I am now more or less out of bread flour so I shall pop down to Aldi for ten.  I also need more deodorant and a few other bits and bobs I get from there so it will be worth the trip.  While I'm planning cheg for lunch, I shall see if they have anything vegetarian and nice for lunch this hot day.

I pottered around and did some patchworking although I couldn't start the actual quilting because we've run out of wadding.  I feel an Amazon order is coming on here when Beth comes round later on.  I'm having a go at making dolls' bedding - a little quilt, a pillow and a pillow case, just like real ones only smaller.  I will post a photo later on.when they are finished.

A shame I didn't do the marking which will now have to be done today.  Boring!

Breakfast:  Toast and jam, fruit
Dinner:  Cheg and salad, ice cream (perhaps, depending on shopping at Aldi)
Tea:  No idea, I will rootle into the freezer later on and see what I can find.

I'm drinking plenty of water in this very hot weather and it helps considerably.  There's a jug of water chilling in the fridge and I have two large glass bottles also filled with water and chilling.  Staying hydrated is essential for health and I am so aware that we are the privileged ones of this world who can turn on that tap and chill that water without thinking about it at all.

Well, all this pondering won't buy the baby a new bonnet, as the saying goes, so I had better shut up and start doing the necessaries.  Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

How does your garden grow?

 The tomatoes have come on amazingly well in this hot weather and I how have to start feeding them, especially as . . .

Lookity, look, I have baby tomatoes.  Not that clear so let's play 'Spot the tomato'.  Can you see it?

Two years ago I planted some hundreds and thousands tomato plants in a bag of soil.  They were amazing at the time but I made the decision not to grow any more because they had quite thick skins for such a titchy fruit.
Last year a few plants came up in the bag.  I had been trying to grow french beans in that bag so I weeded the tomatoes out and only let them grow when it became obvious that the beans weren't going to grow!  I had quite a lot from them, considering that they were so late in starting.
This year another one has come up and this year it will be tended and loved.  After all, it is a freebie!!

Pesky thing but quite cute in his own way.   
I suppose . . .


There are advantages and disadvantages about being deaf as a post and wearing hearing aids.
I slept like a log last night which is great and just what was needed but it seems I missed the greatest show on earth.
To be fair, I did know there was a storm going on when I made the nightly trip down the landing with barely opened eyes and clearly saw my way as lightning flashed but it didn't keep me awake and I never heard the thunder.

I'm awake and blogging very early so have no idea how much rain we have had or whether there's any damage to the plants because  it is still dark but I expect I won't need to give them their morning drink today.

Yesterday was another good day.  It was warm, sunny and fresh with a breeze that stopped things from getting too phew!  I did a playground duty in the morning and it was lovely.
It was just infants as all the juniors were at Melbourne Stadium for their sports day that had been scheduled for May but was stopped by rain!  Yesterday morning was perfect - not too hot and not too humid.  So we infants made the most of our opportunity and had a delightful morning play!

It was a good day's planning.  The maths (fractions of numbers) was practical and enjoyable, English was fun as they started planning a poem and the DT in the afternoon was, as one little girl said, 'Better than Golden Time, Mrs Clark!'  And she LOVES Golden Time!

When I got home the cleaners had been, worked their magic and gone again,  and Beth was there, stitching away on the machine!  We had a good old chat about this, that and the other before she went and I watched a most exciting Wimbledon match.  I am sure you know which one I mean.  Didn't she do well too?

Today I have some marking to do and I have a school policy to amend but apart from that I intend to take things easy and enjoy life!  I haven't done any sewing for ages so that's also on the list. Also I have promised Beth loadsa bread as Alex is now home all day and is eating her out of house and home! Oh, and there may be some tennis to watch!  It all sounds good, doesn't it?

I have decided to include breadline stuff at the bottom of my regular entry rather than as a separate one from now on.
Breakfast:  Bacon and tomato (my favourite so a real treat)
Lunch:  Egg salad (with salad cream, delish), fruit
Dinner:  Confession time.  I indulged in a doner kebab last night and there's loads left over so I shall have that with more salad.  I might have to freeze some too - they are very generous with their portions!  My frugal conscience is appeased somewhat when I realise that it's going to give me three or perhaps four portions.

What's your favourite take away and how long does it last?

Friday, 3 July 2015


Well, here we are at the end of another week, more or less.  It cooled off a bit at some point overnight and cooler air is now flooding into the house via windows and French windows.  Very nice too.  What isn't so nice is my smelly bin which needs emptying much more often in this hot weather.  Excuse me while I do the necessary . . .

 . . . that's better!

The promised heavy rain didn't materialise yesterday although we did get one short, heavy shower in the early evening accompanied by a few claps of thunder.  Nothing dramatic though and it didn't help the humidity at all.

The afternoon was lovely though - coding, which the children love, in the cool computer suite.  They have got to the point now where they have more choices about their instructions and bugs are appearing.  Some of them are very clever at debugging their algorithms! (see, I have started speaking the language!!!)  Anyway, we stayed in there for about 90 minutes and it was lovely!

After school I hopped off to an Infant Music Festival meeting and got put on the committee.  This wasn't a surprise, I had already said I would if needed.  The sole responsibility of the committee is to plan and make happen the Infant Music Festival each year so it won't be terribly heavy.  I have done my bit on the Junior Music Festival committee in the past and now I can help out again in a different area!  Nice.

I've started clearing out my files!  The teacher coming into my class will take as many empty files as I choose to leave.  Some are mine and some were bought by the school: some I would like to keep and some not.  There's really not an awful lot to clear after last summer's mega-sort-out so it won't take too long.  My TAs are helping, bless them, so it should all be spick and span before the end of term or, if necessary, before the end of the first week of what I must learn not to call 'the holiday' because it will be ongoing!

But for now it is on with the planning . . . and another coffee!

Breadline: 3-7-15

Breakfast:  toast, melon (yes, it is still going strong)
Lunch: (probably a school lunch and I will eat it in the hall which has air con.
Dinner:  I didn't have the lasagne yesterday so I will have that tonight, with a salad and melon afterwards

Thursday, 2 July 2015


Phew.  Now that was what I call a hot night!  Even with the fan blowing it was hot and sweaty in the bedroom.  No, I don't mean that . . .
How people manage without a fan - two fans, in fact, because I also have the ceiling fan - I cannot imagine!  I am very grateful for mine, believe me!

So yesterday was hot.  The hottest July day since records started, I gather.  Here in middle-Essex we sweltered and stayed as still as possible.  The children were abnormally quiet and industrious.  Maybe someone told them the quieter they were the cooler the classroom would remain < whistles innocently >

The afternoon was sheer bliss though.  Into the hall we piled to watch the Junior show.  Into the air conditioned hall!  And there we stayed all afternoon.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

After school the staff meeting had been cancelled, thank goodness, so I did the necessary and came home.  I was thankful.  Going back in for a governors' training thingy was a pain but, in fact, it was very interesting.  And it was in the hall.  Yes, the air conditioned one!

Today I am out of class all morning (PPA and coordinator time) and this afternoon it is computer suite time.  Yes, you've got it - air conditioned computer suite time.  Excellent!

Right now I am doing one of my favourite things.  I am sitting by the open French window, watching the garden slowly lighten as day breaks and the sun comes up.  It is cool and cloudless, fresh and still.  In a few weeks I will be able to sit out and enjoy this time without feeling in any way 'pressured' to work, but right now there is stuff to do so I had better get going and do it.

Cooler is better for me but I know some love this hot weather.  Are you a hot weather fan or is is cool the coolest thing for you?

Breadline: 2-6-15

Breakfast:  fresh fruit salad with yogurt, maybe some toast
Lunch:  smoked cheddar cubes, salad, yogurt, melon
Dinner:  lasagne (from freezer), side salad, melon
Loadsa cold water . . .

the word 'salad' appears several times.  Just what is needed in this very hot weather.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


It's going to be another hot day!
I love the way the weather predominates things whenever the temperature rises by a couple of degrees.  It is supposed to be very 'British' to talk so much about the weather but why not?  We are so lucky to enjoy a very moderate climate here that any extremes are bound to make news in a minor way.

Anyway - I am sitting at the dining table, the French window is open at my side and it is a beautiful early morning.  The sun isn't quite up and there is a breeze freshening everything.  I've just watered my patch so the air is aromatic and it all smells 'green'.  Lovely!

After a hot day yesterday I headed off to one of the local secondary schools for the second performance of the KS2 Summer Show, Cinderella and Rockafalla.  It really was a treat, something quite outstandingly brilliant in all sorts of ways.  The leads proved to have a talent for comic timing and those year 6s kept the audience laughing all the way through!  The singing was excellent, solos, duets and whole key stage and the dances were a delight.  Many congratulations to them all!

As I said in my other blog, today is complicated.

We have swapped PPA for one tomorrow so I will be with my class class all day.  However, this afternoon the juniors are performing their show to the Infants (as much as they can with restricted space) so that's the planning up the spout - not that I mind!.  Then, after school, it might be staff meeting (but it might not, I can't remember) and then there's some governor training in the evening (hopefully in the air conditioned hall).  The problem is, will I be able to get home between one and t'other?  Fingers crossed, because I have a guest and would love to spend some time with her.

Well, I'd better get going.  I have a dinner to prepare as there certainly won't be time to do it this evening!  And anyway, I need my coffee.

Have a good day and keep cool.  We have a fan in the classroom and it does help to keep the temperature reasonable on these hot days.  What is your favourite way to stay cool?