Tuesday, 31 May 2016


My bloggy friend, Rachel, did a mega Q and A thing on her blog so, for a bit of self indulgence, I've copied and pasted, deleted her answers and put in my own.

Here we go.

Weight Watchers or Slimming World?
Neither, thank you. They don't work consistently - they can't possibly or they'd be out of business by now.   I'd sooner use my money on something with a bit more return/result.

Chocolate: Milk or Dark?
Neither.  Chocolate isn't my besetting sin.  Now, if you'd asked plain, salt and vinegar or smoky bacon . . . or stilton, brie or a good strong cheddar . . .

Prosecco: Overrated, overpriced fizz or new favourite tipple?
Yes, please.
I love bubbly things whether it be soap, people or drink.

Gerard Butler or Tom Hardy?

New James Bond: Idris Elba or Tom Hiddleston?
Not my thing so I have no opinion.  They should have stopped when they ran out of books!  Ir even better, when Sean Connery stopped playing the part.

Holidaying abroad or in the UK?
In the UK, every time.  There are so many lovely places and everyone drives on the correct side of the road.
Actually, I would like to holiday a bit further afield at some point, but not on my own.

Farm shop or Supermarket?
Supermarket because it's close by and farm shops can be very pricey.  Actually, I don't know of a farm shop close by.  There must be one, surely?  I must google and see.
(Later:  I Googled and, of course, Lathcoats Farm is a farm shop as well as a PYO - and I love their apples!)

Europe: Are you an Inny or an Outty?!
Not saying, so there.  The issue causes enough rows between people as it is.  I ain't adding my two penn'orth to the anger.

Favourite month? 
Well -  it used to be December because I loved all the school celebrations but now - April/May perhaps, because the world around me springs into life again, I'm not really sure.  I seem to be happy most of the year round and every month has its own characteristic beauty.

What is your favourite meal?

Do I have to choose just one?  I honestly don't have just one favourite.  I like such a lot.  I guess it takes a lot to beat a really well cooked fish and chips.

Do you have a party piece? If so, what can you do?
Not really and if I did I wouldn't be likely to do it at a party!

Do you sing in or out of tune? 
I sing a little bit flat nowadays.  I do have good pitch and musical dictation used to be one of my fave things at school, sad person that I am!
I used to sing OK and loved choral singing.

What was your 'best bit' today?
Waking up?
It's too early to say really.

What was your last 'good turn'?
Another one I'm not saying . . .  :-)  I prefer my good deeds to be done in private really.

Are you social or anti-social?
Not sure what that actually means.  I am shy and don't like crowds too much.  I prefer to be with one or two people.  I'm happy with my own company and need time to my self very regularly.  Does that make me anti-social or just socially-neutral?  Or just someone for whom hearing issues has social impact?
On the other hand I hate rocking the boat so maybe that makes me social?

What is your most annoying habit?
You need to ask someone else that, not me.  I'm sure I have loads but they obviously don't annoy me or I wouldn't do them.

What is your least favourite food?
I'm not keen on shellfish of any kind and the thought of eating snails makes me feel sick.  I hate pickled onions.  Apart from that, tI like most things - unfortunately.

Dieting or not dieting? 
The problem with 'dieting' is that it is something you 'go on' and, by implication you then 'go off' again.  I prefer healthy, balanced eating to dieting.
I ought to live up to my beliefs then, oughtn't I?

Name one form of relaxation that you enjoy.
Reading, sewing, knitting, crochet, other crafting, watching telly . . . oh, it said 'one'!  Well, any of those, take your pick!

How many different homes have you lived in?
Er . . . counts on fingers . . . eleven - no, twelve!  That sounds an awful lot but some were very short stay, especially around the college, first job era.
I've lived in this home for over 30 years now though, nearly half as long as I have lived.

The first record/CD you can remember buying?
An LP of Carmen.  It was beautiful and I more or less wore it out.  My second was highlights from Swan Lake.  That was beautiful too.  I still have them somewhere.

3. A memorable holiday in this country? 
Streele Farm, any of the times we went: such very happy memories.  Our first holiday at Center Parcs runs it a close second though and I remember a fab holiday in Blackpool when I was a teenager.

Favourite job if you could choose?
What a question to ask a retired lady!!
I loved teaching, I really did.  I wouldn't have wanted to do anything else, ever.  However, being a lady of leisure is rather good so I think I will stick with it!

Worst ever road journey?
Any journey when I get lost.  I have a phobia - well, severe worry anyway - about getting lost.  It stops me from doing things and going to places, sadly.

Last meal out? 
The Hare with my friend Al.  I had a toasted bacon and brie ciabatta and they forgot the bacon which is not like them.

The station your radio is usually tuned into?
That's the one in the car and it's tuned to Classic

The colour most featured in your wardrobe?

The oldest thing in your house?
Me - and my teddy bear!

Best boot sale/jumble sale/charity shop bargain recently.
I got ten balls of yarn for a tenner (thank you, Jen) recently and I bought two nice dining chairs for £20 off a Facebook selling page.  I want to rub them down and paint them and make nice cushions for them at some point.

Most hated domestic task.
I'm not keen on any of them really but I don't think I actually hate any.  I guess cleaning the oven comes pretty close though.

Knitting or Crochet.
Do I have to choose?  Both!  And sewing . . .

Favourite Film genre.
I like musicals but I'm not a great film goer anyway.  My absolutely fave film is West Side Story.  The music is amazing.

Jewellery wearer or not.
Not.  Mind you, if someone were to offer me ropes and pearls, diamonds and other precious stuff, I might be persuaded to say yes!

Book or E Reader.
I know they take up space and get battered but, for me, books every time.

Adventurous cook or plain and simple.
Adventurous in a limited way, I would say.  Lack of knowledge is a drawback and one day, maybe, I will go on a cookery course or two.  I'd like to.

Walking or Gym.
Swimming, actually!  With my wonky ankles and knee the others are quite problematic but I do love being in the water..

Pets or not.
No way.  They make messes, need looking after and die on you!

Fresh Oysters or no way Jose.
No thanks.  Smoked salmon instead, if you please.  With chilled champagne.  That would do nicely.

And today's food, just because . . .
B:  blueberry pancake and yogurt
L:  soup, natural yogurt
D:  chicken with mange tout and broccoli, small brownie

Monday, 30 May 2016


Bank Holiday Monday.  Rain, queues, tailbacks, barbies smoking us out of house and home . . . oh, what fun!  As often happens, it is too early to tell how the day will be but it is cloudy, there's quite a stiff breeze and I have not opened the windows to air the house as the heating would likely click on!

It's stupid o'clock again and I have already stripped the bed, put the sheets in to wash and made a batch of bread which is now rising.  When I was working I used to get mighty frustrated at waking quite so early at times but now, when I can't blame work pressures, unfinished stuff, the need to go over the day's lessons, polish resources, etc, I am slowly accepting that it's just me and I try to make hay while I can, so to speak.  Going to bed later doesn't seem to make a huge difference but it isn't a problem.

Yesterday became the perfect drying day when the clouds lifted and the sun came out.  There was a fresh breeze and I managed to get four loads washed, dried outside and - wait for it - ironed!  Amazing!  I love pegging the washing out and bringing it again smelling of sunshine and breeze.  It's still a novelty after so many decades of squashing it all into a weekend that probably wasn't helpful weather anyway.  I now use my indoor rack mostly for airing, rarely for drying.  Looking at the way the wind is tossing the leaves on next door's tree, I shouldn't have any problems with drying today either (unless it rains, of course).

Beth didn't come round for lunch yesterday but Alex did.  It's lovely when your young adult grandson chooses to come round and share a meal with his old nan, isn't it?  He didn't leave much either: just a little bit of salad which I will have today or tomorrow.  I drove him home and stayed to have a chat with Beth and say hi to her cats.

As for today - goodness knows.  I won't be going out anyway, that's for sure.  Everywhere will be packed.  I will likely sew and knit, I think, and do a fair amount of social media stuff.  I don't even have to plan ahead for the tutoring sessions on Thursday as we're not having it this coming week, not that that's any kind of problem.

I'm very proud of Beth - she's finished and submitted her last level 3 assignment.  All she needs now is a few level 1 points so she can really pick and choose what she wants to do.  This last one has been the biggie and her final degree classification rests on the outcome so she's worked so, so hard over it.  My fingers are now crossed and hers are probably tied in knots!

Today's grub plans.
B:  bran flakes with raisins, natural yogurt, grapes
L:  chicken, salad and balsamic dressing
D:  cottage pie with a sweet potato topping, broccoli, a sort of yogurt blueberry Eton mess.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


I'm up at stupid o'clock today, not surprisingly, as yesterday was a 'tired' day and I went to bed much earlier than I usually do nowadays.  It's not a problem any more, I don't worry about getting super-tired during the day or not being able to do the job properly - I can just sit down and snooze.  Very nice!

It's too early to tell the weather but it looks dull and gloomy out there just as yesterday was most of the time.  No rain, just not much sunshine.

The last tomato plant arrived and is now in the bed.  I have to say, the poor thing looked a bit sad in its little box but seems to be perking up a bit more after a good night's sleep.  It is a Giulietta, an Italian plum.  The photo is copied from the Suttons web site.  If it looks half as nice as the one in the photo, I shall be very pleased and it will more than earn its cost, I am sure.

Grafted Tomato Plants - F1 Giulietta

That's pretty much my garden sorted for the summer really.  There's just a few more things to do, move or put in and the front to sort out, but the front is a tiny strip in front of the house so won't take long at all.  
Now it is just the caring bit - watering, pruning, dead heading, etc - to keep it all good and healthy!  Next week the allotment must take precedence.  The corn, beans and courgette are all ready to go in and the grass must need a haircut by now, not to mention a good hoeing over for the soil.

Today I am hoping that Beth and Alex will come over for lunch.  That would be nice but if not there will plenty more times so no problem.  For the rest of the day I intend to sew and knit, finish off the viral shawl with an edging and generally enjoy my retirement life.  I am getting to be a lazy old so and so and very nice it is too!

B:  yogurt with blueberries and granola (yum)
L:  smoked salmon pate, rice cakes, carrot sticks and salad, fruit
D:  chicken in tomatoes, cabbage, new potatoes, strawberries and yogurt

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are and whatever the weather!

Saturday, 28 May 2016


Firstly, apologies to all grammar nerd readers for the random apostrophe that escaped and hid in yesterday's entry.  It has now been banished!  Cheeky so and so!

Welcome to the Bank Holiday weekend.  I'm staying very much at home, are you.  Already there are reports of dreadful queues on motorways as people try to escape.  I think I prefer to stay at home and that's just what I am doing!

Yesterday Beth came round and we had a lovely chat.  She's been very busy with her end of module assignment so it's well over a week since we last caught up with stuff.  She's nearly finished now, this is the last assignment and then she just has a level one course to do to get her degree.  I am incredibly proud of her.  It's been a long, hard slog with an awful lot else going on to complicate things, so many ups and downs along the way and she's just stuck at it through thick and thin.

In the morning I popped round to Aldi, not for food shopping but because I am running out of things like washing up liquid, washing capsules, shampoo, conditioner, etc.  I get all that from Aldi now.  Not only is it a lot cheaper, it is also great stuff and works well for me.  I'm now stocked up for several weeks.  However, there was no bread flour.  I don't know if they've stopped doing it or if they are just out but aaaarrrggghhh.  I shall have to check Lidl now!

After dithering about when to put the little tomato plants out I remembered that I always get them out just before half term (report writing avoidance, to be honest) so I set to and now five little tomato plants are looking remarkably happy out there and I swear they have grown since last night!  I am waiting for one to arrive.  The five now out are sungold and the one I'm waiting for is an Italian plum.  I love them for cooking - lots more flesh on them, you see.  I just had sungolds last year and missed having a choice!

That's about it as far as my own garden is concerned.  I just have the tomato and the delphinium to plant when they arrive and then it is a case of feeding, watering and generally cossetting in hopes that they will reward me well in a few months' time.

Today I have to pop into town quickly for a few buts and bobs.  Then I have a friend coming over for a girly chat.  She's staying overnight and the guest room is all ready.  It should be a lovely day.

Food today:
B:  fruit and yogurt, rice cake and cottage cheese
L:  hummus with oatcakes and crudites, lettuce, tomato
D:  salmon with mange tout and new potatoes, fruit jelly and yogurt.

Friday, 27 May 2016


I'm definitely still a little bit in school mode from time to time.  Half term has started for our children.  Today is report writing day.  I'm feeling buzzy!   Of course, my school mode won't stretch far enough to cause any guilt about not writing reports; I seem to be retaining all the nice feelings and fairly easily discarding the less pleasant aspects of the job except in a 'thank goodness I don't have to do that any more' kind of fashion.

In a way it is a holiday for me too - I won't be going in to hear readers and I won't be tutoring my two tutees (is that a word?) next week so we're all having a break.

After a dull start yesterday, out came the sun and, when you were in it, it was nice and warm.  When you were in the shade there was still a bit of a chilly feel and the evening was cool.  It was very pleasant though and I got quite a lot of gardening done.  Weeds out, runner beans in the right place, a trimmed rosemary and some general tidying up.

Last week I bought a little saw for the rosemary.  It's very old now and pretty woody at base (the rosemary, not the saw!) and the secateurs just weren't winging it.  I've taken cuttings and it really ought to be replaced but I am rather dreading the job.  I might do what I did with another bush and saw it right back to ground level, leaving the roots to rot.  Maybe . . .

To make room for some the runners I had to dig up a few strawberry plants and they sat in the strawberry planter looking sorry for themselves.  Goodness knows if they will survive, I thought, but never mind, give them a chance!  I've just looked out of the window and they've perked up nicely so you never know.  The big question for me now is what do I do with all this year's runners?  Strawberries produce so many offspring it's a surprise the world hasn't been completely taken over by them!

Also the bush that doesn't think it's a tree (yet) is in its forever pot now looking small and sweet and as if it was meant to be there from the word go.  Butter wouldn't melt in its mouth but I know better!  The problem is that it flowers on the previous year's growth so one has to prune carefully and knowingly rather than just hacking it about.
It was a lot easier to put in than the redlove apple was to take out, believe me!

And then I went online to Thompson and Morgan to replace the delphinium that just didn't survive and noticed that I could order six mini alstroemerias for 6p so I did.  They might have to go in a pot because of space but, hey, you can't turn down an offer like that, can you?  You just can't.

It was nice to spend some time out of doors.

Maybe, today, I will sort out my little patch at the front.  I have a couple of pots of hyacinth bulbs to deal with and I think I want to plant a couple of hardy fuchsias in a space created after something else had to come out (too old and woody).
And then there's the weeds!  Not too many, thank goodness, but they need dealing with before there ARE too many.

Today's food.
B:  yogurt with blueberries
L:  greek salad with a bit of smoked salmon, yogurt
D:  turkey patties, new potatoes, side salad, fruit

Thursday, 26 May 2016


I really MUST spend some time out there today!

It's the annual 'are they ready to plant out yet' thing.  Maybe another week or so.

The Christmas cactus is budding up after a year and a half of idleness.  Maybe it needs some therapy!

The irises have been absolutely wonderful this year.

LOADS of berries but not a red one among them - yet!

Slow, so slow, but steady.  It WILL live.

I'm really good with weeds.

I think the runners have to be planted out - they're tangling around each other.

Ditto for the bush that thinks it is a tree.  It needs its forever home now.

The herb and foliage bed is looking lovely.

Garden creativity, here I come.


Yesterday was a lazy day, just like the weather really!

Today looks like being much the same.

I like lazy days.   I'm feeling quite tired on and off at the moment so time to rest is a real blessing.  Maybe it is empathy - after all, it is half term next week!  :-)

Today's food:
B:  pancake with blueberries and yogurt
L:Tuna and cucumber mix, beetroot, crudites (posh word for pepper, celery and carrot sticks!, soft cheese and oatcakes
D:  Baked chicken breast with soy sauce, roasted veg, fruit

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


Good morning!  Welcome to a somewhat dull day here in Mid-Essex.  It's not only dull, it's also chilly as I found when I opened the landing window as I walked down stairs, something I usually do unless it is really cold, lashing with rain, etc.  Fifteen minutes later I found myself closing it again.

It was chilly last night too - I sat in my comfy chair and decided to use my owly fleece rather than go upstairs to get something warmer to wear.  It worked: within fifteen minutes I was cosy warm and fast asleep!  I love how relaxed that fleece makes me feel!

Yesterday morning was hearing readers in school time.  I have solved the problem of those little chairs doing my back in by using the TA's table and a proper sized chair.  So much better!  The children now know the reading order and when I missed a couple out by mistake they were most indignant!  Made me laugh, they did.  It was quiet in school as all the juniors were off to Melbourne Stadium for their sports day.  They couldn't have picked a better day for it either.

I missed my fortnightly house clean last Friday (not feeling well) and Jarmila rescheduled it for today which was jolly nice of her as she didn't have to.  I was not long home from school yesterday when there was a knock at the door and there she was, asking if it was OK for her 'girls' to come yesterday afternoon instead of today.  Well, I wasn't going to say no, was I, so I did a quick tidy round before starting my sewing and now I have a nice, clean home.

Today is a day in so I want to make the most of it.  I think bedroom is top of the list and then I shall sew and, if any rain holds off, garden a bit..  It all feels very nice and relaxed.

Today's food:
B:  Egg with a bit of smoked salmon, natural yogurt
L:  Tuna dip, salad, oatcakes
D:  Cottage pie with a sweet potato topping, broccoli, fruit

Have a great day!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


Well, yesterday was indeed a creative day but not quite in the way I expected.  When I opened the fridge door and stuff nearly fell out, I decided I MUST sort it out so I did and used up loads of veg that really needed using up!!  Kitchen creativity . . .

I made a pork and mushroom risotto which was OK but not great and then set to and made a big pork and vegetable curry which tasted wonderful and is now in the freezer in single portions.  It has onion, carrot, celery, sweet potato, ordinary potato, mushrooms and butternut squash as well as the pork so it's a real mixed bag.

I finished off some leek in a leek and potato soup which I had for lunch (the leftovers of that went into the curry) and the risotto was my evening meal.

It is very nice to open the fridge and see a bit of space!

In the afternoon I got on with making some scrunchies for our stall at the school fair.  All these years when I had very long hair and used scrunchies all the time, I never thought to make my own!  Anyway, they went reasonably quickly and I now have 14 to sell, some in the school gingham, and will make a few more today.  They just use scraps really - a rectangle 15" x 3 and a half" and some elastic.  Until I found a method, the first few are a bit rough, but it didn't take too long to work it all out!

The sun is shining brightly and it's school this morning.  I must remember to use one of the bigger chairs as the littlest chairs really do my back in!

The felted 'thing' from Sunday is almost dried out now.  As the water has evaporated, it has got lighter and lighter and now weighs hardly anything.  I am ridiculously proud of it but have no idea what to do with it, no idea at all.  It'll just have to sit there looking lovely until inspiration strikes!

Today is a bit eggy, food wise.
B:  scrambled egg and then natural yogurt
L  egg salad, fruit
D:  turkey stir fry with broccoli, apple

Monday, 23 May 2016


Well, what a fab day I had yesterday.

Since I was a littly, I have always been interested in crafting.  As a child I got into origami and then into paper sculpture.  My first school prizes were books about those two crafts and I cared not one jot that the Powers That Be thought them a frivolous choice because, to me, they were certainly not.  I used them for years and they must still be in the attic as I have certainly not thrown them away.
I made a nativity set out of card using paper sculpture and Mum and Dad got it out each Christmas for many a long year before it finally crumpled.  I wish I had photos of it because it was really pretty good, though I say it myself.

As I got older I added knitting, crochet, sewing, dressmaking, etc, to my list of 'things'.  All extremely useful crafts in their own way.

Suffice it to say, I enjoy being a Jack of all trades, albeit mistress of none really.  I was so pleased when my daughter showed signs of some considerable creativity in different ways.

Then teaching took all my time and slowly most of my crafting life died the death, due to lack of time and lack of energy.

However, I am now retired and have time again.  What a gift.  Windows are opening as doors close.  So yesterday I went on a felting course at Cressing Temple and had a wonderful time.

Half way through

Still very wet but getting the idea

It's based on trees in their seasons.  Spring, summer, autumn, winter.
The finished product is still drying.  Once it has dried, that's more or less how it will stay.  It's looking good!

Cressing Temple is lovely.  After the course I had time to stroll around a bit and focused on the Elizabethan garden, created in the style of gardens at that time.  Very fragrant.

Wallflowers in their proper place - in walls!

Such a lovely day!

Today - all of this week, in fact - I have blocked off in my diary.  Apart from the weekly commitments, I am having a crafting week.  There's a backlog of things to make/work on/finish and it's good to have a sustained length of time to do it!  Three cheers for the gift of time.

Sunday, 22 May 2016


I'm feeling really buzzy this morning!  All excited and fizzy inside.

I've never (well, not since teenage years anyway) before, at this time of year, had the time or the energy to do interesting and different things at the weekend.  It's always been reports, marking, reports, assessments, reports, planning, reports, resources, repeat ad infinitum before crashing out on the sofa and going to sleep.
No, that's not a whinge, it's just how it was.  Went with the job, so to speak.

Today I'm off to learn the basics of felting at Cressing Temple.  Ten until four, six hours minus lunch break of crafting, all materials and tools provided.  It sounds so interesting!

Not only that, yesterday I saw that in July there's a course on willow weaving basketry, something I've always wanted to try out.  I asked for more info on that and got a quick message back saying it was for beginners but requires 'moderate effort'.  It's on a Friday which is even more out of this world for me.  I shall think about it but I guess I will give it a whirl.

I'm feeling very grateful right now.  Grateful for having an interest in crafting, grateful for having the time now and grateful for having been in a career that carries a pension that enables me to treat myself to things like this now and again.  To my mind, much better than a holiday away, far more satisfying, useful and productive.

(Mind you, doing both is even better!)

So - my bag is packed, I have worked out a cross country route that won't make me negotiate the big roundabouts, I have my camera, in case there's time to visit the walled garden, I have decided to treat myself and buy my lunch there, the hearing support stuff is all charged up and ready in case of need . . . all systems go.

A view of Cressing Temple a month ago.  What a change there will be!

Saturday, 21 May 2016


It's pretty early - too early to see what the weather will be like but if it is anything like yesterday it will be very pleasant.  I've started leaving the baby plants out overnight to harden off and will pop them in the soil at some point this week, I think.

Yesterday I made a quick decision.  After reading my online friend Diane's blog I googled for a B&B farm she has just stayed at and thoroughly recommends and, liking the look of it and also liking the very friendly and helpful emails sent by the owner, I have booked five days away in September.

You could look upon it as the holiday I didn't have immediately after retirement or, like me, you could see it as me spoiling myself a little bit.  Either way, I now have a little holiday to look forward to just after the children go back to school and very nice too!

As I said, it is a B&B place with a good choice of pubs nearby for an evening meal and it looks very pleasant for gentle strolls and just chilling as well as convenient for interesting places to visit.  Here's a link to Diane's blog where she describes it.
Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

I will now have a good time researching Things To Do!

Apart from that it was a funny old day.  I woke very early, went back to be and had another sleep which is very unusual for me and felt somewhat 'odd' all day.  Not poorly in the usual sense, just achey and worn out.  Feeling much better this morning.

Today is, I think, going to be a good day.  I don't need to go out for any reason so I can stay around and get on with pleasant stuff as well as doing a bit of the old housework!  Sunshine would be nice, for sure, but not essential!

Yesterday evening I remembered that tomorrow I am off to that felting course I booked into several weeks ago.  That should be fun.  I've dug out the info leaflet and have to decide whether I want a packed lunch or to use the cafe there.  Decisions, decisions!

I expect it will be a super day and I hope yours is too.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, 20 May 2016


Friday yet again.  Amazing how it comes round so often, isn't it?

Yesterday turned out to be not quite as busy as I thought it would be.  The morning was great with loads of different Greek foods donated by our always-generous parents.  I was warmly welcomes, especially by the children who I had in Y 1, with lots of hugs and smiles.  I chatted, helped serve, helped clear up and generally had a really good time.

I was going to stay for Y2 reading but they had just finished their SATs and were planning an afternoon of relaxing activities such as art, so I was asked if I could leave it this week.  No problem - I went home and wrote up my governor's report and sent it off so that is a weight off my mind.

The two private tuition sessions went well and the evening was peaceful.  I had an early night and an early start this morning.  Today is a stay at home day for various reasons.

I'm so tired now I think I will go up and see if I can get more sleep.  Yawn!

Thursday, 19 May 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.

I swear it was nice and sunny half an hour ago when I put the seedlings out to harden off.  I've just glanced out and it is dull, cloudy, the wind has got up and it looks like rain.   At least the beds are getting a good soaking - they were getting quite dry.

The weather was grotty yesterday.  By eleven it was drizzling and by lunch time it was chucking it down.  That being so, Al and I decided to defer our planned visit to Coggeshall Grange barn for another time.  After much umming and ahing we went into town to Moulsham Mill.  I haven't been there for ages.  It used to be a working mill although it is no longer so, but it houses some crafty little shops.
More info here:  http://moulshammill.co.uk/history/

Unfortunately, in this current economic climate, little crafty shops do tend to take a hammering and, although there are still some crafts there, it's nothing like it was.  The dolls house shop and the fancy dress shops have completely disappeared and the pottery shop is almost not there.    Such a shame.  The coffee shop is still going strong - at one point it was almost full while we were enjoying our coffee and cake and a good natter.

There were lots of little leaflets and I picked up one about Ingatestone Hall which is not far from here.  Another to go on the list of Places to Visit!  It's basically Tudor and visiting is fairly limited because the family still lives there but it looks interesting and well worth a visit.
Looks rather good, doesn't it?
When we'd finished our little lunch, we then dodged the raindrops to B&M to look at the tut-stuff.  I bought some hair conditioner because I am right out and haven't got to Aldi recently and we looked for something Al can use for fancy dress for a conference she's going to, but there wasn't anything really.

After that, we got wet going back to the car and it was home, James, so that I could get on with my planning and resource making for tuition after school today.  All done now so I can tackle today with a clear conscience.

Something nice.  As Al and I left the house to go to the mill, we came across the men who are landscaping my neighbour's garden and, lo and behold, one of them is the father of someone I taught in year 1!  I had to laugh - he introduced me to his colleague as a 'living legend'!  Better than a dead one, I guess!  We met them again as we got back and he offered me a ride on the mini-digger they were hiring.  I was tempted, for sure!

For dinner I made a couple of small roasted vegetable pies which were really very tasty.  Al has food issues which mean that I have to be pretty careful what I cook for her but this really fitted the bill and was so nice that I shall blog about it in Teacher's Recipes.  I'm sure it isn't original but it was for me - no recipe used apart from the one in my head so I will claim it!

Today is quite busy in a nice sort of way.  First of all I am wearing my school governor hat and attending a 'Greek tasting morning' with Y5.  They will be dressing up, I gather.  I will not!
Then in the afternoon I change my headgear and become a 'nanny helper' while hearing children in Y2 read.
Finally I will be myself again and do a couple of hours of private tuition before crashing out for the evening with some telly and the ironing board!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Garden update

Yes, it's that time of year.  Everything is looking very green with promise of colour to come.


Japanese anemone with random dianthus in one corner

Saved lavender, nearly dead in its pot but obviously liking the bed.

Fuchsia - a bit of a surprise as I didn't realise it was a hardy version.  A very pleasant surprise though!

Phlox candystripe.  This did nothing last year and I thought I'd lost it but, no, up it's come again.  Obviously a tough little thing.


Very little and rather hidden aquilegia - very pretty colour.

The rosemary is still looking lovely - nicer in real life than in the photo.  I have taken cuttings as it is way too big for the bed now, sadly.

Lily of the valley - one of my favourite flowers and given to me by my mum.  Two reasons to love it.

The foliage and herb bed is looking particularly attractive at the moment - so many different shades of green.

The strawberries are still going strong.  

The tayberry - slow growth but it's looking very fit with fresh new leaves appearing.  The weed in the corner is doomed, I tell ye, doomed!

The irises are just flowering this week.  They should be a picture soon

The veronica is growing fast now . . .

. . . as is the penstemon.  These are both newbies as I only got them last year.

And inside . . .
The veg seedlings, doing ever so well - last time I killed most of them!  Apologies for the mess!

And finally - the sungold tomato seedlings.
 There's an awful lot going on at the moment in what is actually a very small growing space.  It's very satisfying.


Good morning.  After a lovely sunny day yesterday, today is dull, cool and breezy - quite a change!  BBC weather predicts rain later on which is a pain because we were going to visit Coggeshall Grange Barn which is a 13th century monastic barn, one of Europe's timber framed buildings with a cathedral like interior, displays and exhibitions.
But not if it is raining!

Yesterday we took a 20 minute drive down to Chipping Ongar to Greensted Church, the world's oldest surviving wooden church, parts of which go back to Saxon times.
Here's some more information.
It's totally unspoilt, a bit out in the sticks but with enough parking for the number of visitors it attracts but, sadly, not completely wheelchair accessible.
I took some photos.  The ones I took inside haven't come out well as it's very gloomy, but I will work on them!  These are all outside views.

It is a very gentle, quiet, peaceful place, well worth a visit (if you like old buildings) and, unusually, the little guide book (with photos, price £1.50 which you pop in a safe with a slit in the top, it's all very trusting) is packed with interesting information and sends you round the church looking for things.  There's also a child's 'hunt' sheet to complete to keep younger visitors happy and busy.

Around the church there are old gravestones (it's not used as a burial ground any more), some larger ones, some just a stone laid in the ground and the uneven surface indicates where long gone bodies were buried.  Just by the church is a railed grave stone in the shape of a shield where a crusader is buried (probably!).  It was a bit weedy but I gather that a local couple work very faithfully to keep the place in good nick (and you can tell) and parts of the grounds did, indeed, show their care.  You can't do it all at once, can you?

We nearly missed one fascinating thing.  If Al hadn't spotted one just around the corner on the side, we'd never have seen it.  In the brick wall at the end, where the bricks are more modern, people have, over the decades, scratched their name and the date into the bricks.  My first reaction was 'vandals' but, on closer inspection, they are fascinating in their own way.  No messages, but a lovely thing, all the same.  They range from bang up to date to well over a century ago and, possibly, older than that - some were too worn to tell.

I wonder who started that particular tradition and what the reaction was at that time.  It's not in the guide book.

And no, we didn't!

After we'd finished there, we came back to Chelmsford and  stopped off at the Hare for a late lunch.  It was not very busy so service was quick and it was a pleasant time.  Thanks, Al.

It was a super day!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


The sun is shining again, the sky is a beautiful blue (but it hasn't a hood*), it is cool but not cold: what more could I ask?

Yesterday strolled gently through the day.  I baked, I stitched, I paid a bill and took some ID stuff into school, it was all very civilised.

Then, in the evening, it was the new series of Sewing Bee.  The reviews aren't wonderful but I loved it.  I thought it was fascinating.  Lots of interesting info and things to appreciate.  But then I sew, don't I?
The Great British Sewing Bee
Looking forward to next week's episode.

Today I shall be in school until playtime and then we're possibly going to visit some local 'interesting places'.  Retirement is definitely growing on me, no doubt about that at all.

* Extra points if you know the reference

Monday, 16 May 2016


I'm a bit late today.  It's a glorious morning, I have nothing scheduled apart from homey bits and bobs (including a messy living room and kitchen) in preparation for the arrival of a guest.

Yesterday was similar.  I did get some sewing done and this rather poor photo is what I made.  It is not finished as I want to embellish it with something (any suggestions?) but I'm pleased with it all the same.  

I also did some crochet and slept some of the afternoon away which was all very pleasant.

Today can be another lazy day.  Some sewing, some housework, some baking and so on.  It can be a good life, this getting old thing!

Here's a few not terribly good photos of the craft stall.  The light was bad - that's my excuse anyway.
Kitty Stitches kits for kids!

I ended up buying this myself!  :-)

Have a great day, everyone..