Saturday 30 April 2011

Saturday morning

. . . and I'm a right misery at present. After tossing and turning with tummy cramps all night, my back's gone doolally again. It will wear off in time, of course, with help from the pills, but I've cancelled today's excursion to visit family.

So I have a day with nothing planned which is just as well because I reckon I will need to sleep on and off quite a lot.

See you later . . .

Friday 29 April 2011

Friday afternoon

Well, wasn't that just beautiful. A radiant bride in a dress that one can only dream about, a church wonderfully decorated, music of beauty to bring tears to the eyes and a quote in the sermon that was just amazing.

'Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.'

Isn't that amazing? I know an awful lot of people don't recognise a 'god' now, but even given that, so many people try to be what they are not. They try to be something different, whether it is outside pressure or inside pressure that causes it. But if everyone could acknowledge, accept and work with their own, personal strengths and try to be the best they can be with them, the world would truly be set on fire.

The difficulty is saying 'no' when people try to persuade you to be what you are not. The skill is having the personal perception to know when to say no and when to say yes.

I know I haven't got it right yet. Have you?

Friday morning

It's a bit cold at the moment. I have the back doors open to air the house as I always do in spring, summer and autumn (weather permitting) and I think I'm going to have to close them again soon as the house feels very cold indeed.

So, today! Wall to wall telly, I suspect. It will give me the ideal opportunity to get up to speed with my ironing - I usually iron and watch telly at the same time. There's this wedding happening somewhere, isn't there? That should provide a nice background and I am rather looking forward to the music during the ceremony. Oh, and seeing what The Dress and The Flowers are like, of course.

Apart from that, I have some plants to get into the garden. Last weekend dad dropped off some sunflowers (for the right hand side bed), some delphiniums (blue) for the front, because a bit of height is needed there and some cosmos which can go anywhere there's a space. And then my summer planting is more or less complete. The rosemary cuttings I took last week haven't died yet - in fact, they're not even drooping, so I'm still hoping. Also I have a bit of a nice little bush that is a sort of domed shape with attractive yellow bracts in spring so I need to get that in as well. And everything needs a bit of tidying up. I'm very bad at digging up surplus plants when they've self seeded, etc, and the middle bed just looks a bit messy really. Must get my act together! And I have just remembered, I have an oregano that I must get into the herb area and a couple of lupins too (not in the herb bed though)! I must definitely do some gardening!

Photo: The bush with the yellow thingies. Someone will know what it's called!

Thursday 28 April 2011

Thursday eveing

I'm writing this with a great sense of relaxed satisfaction, having treated myself to the DVD of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader this afternoon and watched it through this evening. I do love those Narnia books and I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation, much more so than Prince Caspian. It felt more like the original Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I'm doing nothing now. Well, nothing that involves work anyway. Four days of sheer idleness looms before me. Behind me trails a simply lovely day - week, in fact. I wouldn't want school to be like that all the time. One needs routines and timetables. But now and again it's a delight to children and staff alike. The sight and sound of the whole school sitting in the field, waving their union flags and singing Land of Hope and Glory and God Save the Queen (twice as it wasn't loud enough the first time) brought tears to many an adult eye and, I hope, will have given the children an experience they will remember for a long time to come.

As for tomorrow, well, I will boringly be doing what at least 90% of the country will be doing and watching 'The Wedding', with all the fuss and bother that surrounds it. We were going to have a cul-de-sac party but no-one had the time and/or energy to get it organised. A shame, but we're all busy witches down here. And that wedding needs to be watched!

Happy Royal Wedding to you all!

Thursday lunchtime

Just writing this very quickly at lunch time. Today is turning out to be a lovely, lovely day with lots of fun, colour and laughter. Champagne and cake this afternoon (really lemonade and cake!)
We ought to have royal weddings more often!

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Wednesday morning

I woke up with a start this morning, remembering that yesterday evening I had been boiling up a lamb bone to make a hotpot. What I couldn't remember was turning the heat off. Oh, no! So I rushed downstairs to find that I must have turned it off because there it was, fat hardened on the top ready for lifting off (which I did), with a jelly-looking stock. I'll deal with that before school and get it all into the freezer!

Today is a madly busy day. We race from one area of the curriculum to another with no time to hang around. Reading revelry, family assembly, ICT suite, library and half an hour's PPA, crowned with playground duty in the afternoon! Phew.

And then, after school, K and I go to the very last Makaton session. At least we think it is the very last session, although we're not totally sure. Whether it is or not, if it's as good as the last one, we will be happy.

Better go. I have lamb to sort out, a map to prepare, spelling homework to do and a myriad of other bits and bobs. Roll on Friday!

Photo: more flowers at Milton Keynes

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Tuesday evening

And here we are at the end of the first of the three working days this week. The children have learnt about the succession (very simply), they can now colour the union flag, they can sing (sort of) the first verse of our National Anthem and they have all been crowned princes and princesses after making their own symmetrical crowns!

Tomorrow - well, tomorrow has an awful lot of pre-arranged stuff. ICT suite, library, etc, but even so it should be great!

Something to remember about today - I went into school with around 42 cupcakes and came home with none! Great!!!

Photo: rosemary for remembrance

Tuesday morning

. . . and it's back to school for tens of thousands of teachers and millions of children today. Three days worth of work on the royal family, weddings, etc . . . My imagination is boggling mightily at the thought!

Yesterday was very pleasant. Sunny and warm but with a very fresh breeze that stopped it from getting in the least bit uncomfortable. I had a most pleasant time sitting out in the garden with an old friend, chatting about this and that and generally catching up with each other's news. Apart from that the highlight of the day (sad me) was a programme on George Martin which started at none so by ten I was falling asleep and couldn't finish watching it. Hopefully I can see the rest on iPlayer later on this week.

Well - better go and sort out the last bits of planning! Back to the old grindstone!


taken in the garden yesterday - such pretty faces!

Monday 25 April 2011

Monday midday

. . . just to say that the fridge is now filled to overflowing with cupcakes! All forty or so of them, a couple of which will be consumed when a friend comes round for a cuppa this afternoon. After umming and ahing about the sort of decorations to use, I finished off the sugar paste flowers I made over the weekend and then just piped butter icing on the rest and topped with mini eggs. After all, my birthday was on Easter Sunday. They look nice but were quick to do.

Here's a bit of useless information for you. The last time Easter Sunday was on April 24th was in 1859 and the next time, assuming the way Easter is dated stays the same, will be 2095. So yesterday, for me, was pretty unique.

Photo: Perennial wallflower, now flourishing nicely in the garden!

Monday morning


The last day of the Easter Holidays. Back to work tomorrow (for three days) so I really ought to do some formal planning today, I guess. Of course, I won't be in class until the afternoon because of PPA, etc, but my cover does need some idea of what to do!

Apart from that, I have a mound of washing as tall as the shed to get under control, with the resulting ironing afterwards. If it's hot again (and I hope it will be) I will put it all out to dry in the sun.

And finally there's the matter of a few cupcakes to make and ice. At school we have a tradition that the birthday girl (or boy) provides cakes or other goodies for playtime. Of course, me being me, it has to be cupcakes!

I was very pleased to find that for the first time in over a week I was able to sleep on my side. Sleeping on my side is my favourite and, usually, most comfortable position, but over this last week I've not been able to as it was just painful. Last night it was OK again, thank goodness.

Well, I'd better get going or I won't get it all done.

Photo: More birthday flowers.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Sunday afternoon

All my lovely family guests have arrived safely home, which is good news. The barbecue was nice too - nothing amazingly lavish or special, but I always love it when DS, DD and DG come round. And now I am on my own, revelling in the warmth and the quietness. The traffic noise is minimal, the barbecues in the gardens either side have calmed down and there is an atmosphere of peace and contentment which does my soul the world of good. It's been warm but not humid like yesterday, and there's a cool freshness in the air that revives the spirit. A perfectly lovely Easter Sunday/birthday. I am utterly content and very grateful.

Photo: a shot of some tulips that L gave me for a birthday pressie. And Dad gave me a tip to stop them from drooping over. You push a pin right through the stem, just under the flower (and then pull it back out again, of course). I was dubious but did so and they're all perfectly upright, even the stems that were drooping before. Amazing!

Sunday morning

Much to my annoyance, I was awake at extremely stupid o'clock so have come down to see if a bit of up-ness makes a difference.

Yesterday was quite successful, food wise. The lamb was absolutely delicious and I will reproduce the recipe below, which I concocted after reading a number of suggestions online. For dessert I made a hot cross bun bread and butter pudding and that was rather tasty too.

This is how I did the lamb.
I put a very good sloosh of white wine into a roasting dish big enough to hold the leg of lamb (about 1 to 1.5 cm depth). Then I added a lamb stock cube, one carrot cut into chunks and one red onion peeled and cut into wedges and placed the lot in the oven which I'd just turned up to 180 C.
While that was all heating up, I prepared the lamb. Using my hands I smeared butter over the lamb, then did the same with some garlic puree, massaging it all in well (quite messt but therapeutic). Over the top I placed some sprigs of fresh rosemary and a good grinding of black pepper. I took the dish out of the oven, placed the leg of lamb over the wine and vegetables, covered the whole dish with some foil, making sure it was completely sealed and popped it back in the oven which I immediately turned down to about 160 C-ish.
That was it, really, until about four hours later. I checked and basted once, but it wasn't really necessary.
After about four hours or so I moved the lamb, now very tender, into another dish, removed the rosemary, turned the oven up to 200 C and crisped up the outside of the lamb for about 20 mins or so. There was plenty of delicious stock in the first dish and I made gravy with that by reducing it down a little and thickening it - that's all it needed.

It went down a treat, compliments all round, and plenty left over to make other stuff - hotpot, shepherds pie, lamb in orange sauce and the like!

The dessert was lifted wholesale from a Tesco recipe. The only difference was that I had some runny honey that was losing its runny so I warmed that up and used it instead of the castor sugar. You can find the recipe here.

Today is a celebration so it's all go for the hostess (me!). Lunch will be a barbecue (or mixed grill) which shouldn't be too much hassle. Tea will be leftovers! I've made a dozen cupcakes and iced them prettily. It's all go.

And now I am feeling tired again so maybe I can get back to sleep!

Photo: promise of Christmas!

Saturday 23 April 2011

Saturday morning

Another bright day promises for today although the nights are April-cool and the baby yellow courgettes need to be tucked in every night still. I'm looking forward to sitting out again today, feet up, unchallenging reading and cold drink within easy reach. Is this what retirement is like, I wonder?

I'm also looking forward to a nice food day. Home boiled gammon ham and salad for lunch and then roast lamb with the trimmings this evening. I know it's all wrong, the lamb should be for tomorrow traditionally, but some of my guests will be leaving tomorrow morning so I gave the choice and lamb today was the result. Tomorrow will be barbecue and, if the weather is bad, indoor barbecue without the barbecue!

I rarely roast a leg of lamb. It's not worth it just for me. So when I can, it's a bit of an unknown quality, not to mention expensive, and I will be googling to get precise instructions. Yes, I know I could just bung it in and take it out again, but I need timings as well. Good old Google, where *would* we be without it, eh?

A friend mentioned a recipe involving bread and butter pudding made with hot cross buns. Sounds good to me so I will google for that too and see what comes up. Wish me luck!

Photo: More from the OUSA Conference.

Friday 22 April 2011

Friday afternoon

I went shopping. You know how you get that sense of panic when the shops are going to be closed? You know, like that one day over Christmas - or Easter Sunday? Well, Morrisons was fairly buzzing, what with Easter food, barbecue food and getting double because the shop will be shut on Sunday!!

I wanted to get a leg of lamb. I looked on the fresh meat counter. No lamb. Oh, dear. I went to the wrapped meat. Nothing big enough. Double oh dear. So I went back to the meat counter and asked and, from the chill room, the assistant produced a lovely big leg of lamb, just right for us with some left over for hotpot/shepherds pies, etc.
I was going to do fish and oven chips for the other main meal but it's such lovely weather that I got some stuff to barbecue. If the weather turns bad it can be mixed grill instead.
I really think I have enough to see us through now, without worrying about starvation!

Hope you're all having a lovely Easter so far.

Photo: Wallflower at Walton Hall

Friday morning

Wishing you all a very good Good Friday. The weather looks promising yet again: it's right and cheerful outside although the garden really could do with some rain. It's warm and looks to get warmer as the day goes on.

I'm bustling about getting the house ready for a family get together later on. We're having take away Chinese, which everyone likes, and I must remember to get down to the Chinese takeaway place at lunchtime to put in my order for delivery later on.

I feel I'm still recovering from last weekend. I keep feeling waves of tiredness and the back is preventing me from sleeping at times overnight. It's an awful lot better than it was most of the time but I think the lying still in one position is making it stiffen and then be a bit sore. Never mind, there will be plenty of opportunity to keep moving next week when I'm back at school.

I had lunch out with a friend yesterday and it was great catching up on all the news and views. The food was quite good too - bacon and brie melt with a salad full of variety and flavour - extremely good value, given that it wasn't that expensive - under a tenner for both of us, including drinks (diet pepsis).

Well, better get on, I suppose. The work won't do itself, unfortunately!

Photo: doorway at the side of Walton Hall.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Wednesday morning

It's quite chilly right now but I guess it will brighten up and be like yesterday. Wasn't it a glorious day? Sunny, bright, warm, perfect for sitting out in the garden - so I did for a while although I felt a bit guilty as there was so much to do! What really amused me was that all through the day Google weather showed as pouring with rain here. They got that slightly wrong!

Today is a busy day. Housework this morning, then out to lunch with DD followed by coffee with a friend. George is coming to tidy up the garden for me this morning, which it does need!

Hopefully it will be a gentle and productive day.

Photo: Daisies at Milton Keynes. I know they're weeds but they're so pretty!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Tuesday morning and ouch . . .

. . . ouch and triple ouch.

I have no idea what I've done but my back has been killing me! :0) It started on Friday, although I've had minor twinges for ages (age related, I am sure), got worse through Friday, lasted over the weekend (so I was zonked out with pain killers all the time) and now it just hurts on and off so movements have to be gentle and un-sudden!

It could be a lot worse though, so end of moan!

It was interesting to see a little bit of my university campus. It's huge, much bigger than I expected. Being mainly a distance learning institution, I was kind of expecting quite a small place but, while it is undoubtedly a lot smaller than a 'real-life' uni, it's still pretty big, especially when you take into account the lack of student accomodation on site. There are some interesting buildings too - Walton Hall itself is rather nice (from the outside, I have no idea about inside) and the Cedar statue is amazing close up. I've Googled but can't find any information but, from what I remember, a lovely cedar tree on the lawn to the side of Walton Hall was damaged and dying, and it has been carved into a rather impressive statue.

I really only saw a very small part of the campus although, just before we left, Dan and Sue took me on a drive around the outside of the campus and showed me various bits and pieces of interest. I particularly loved the venting pipes that have been arranged over a roof so that they look like a giant's fingers. Very funny! Thanks very much to the two of you for everything.

Photos: The tree carving

Monday 18 April 2011

Monday evening

OK, so OUSA - the Open University Students' Association - represents all OU students, both here and overseas. This last weekend was the annual Conference, at the OU campus in Milton Keynes, staying at Kents Hill Park. I'm not an activist, but I do help to moderate some of the OUSA conferences on FirstClass and this weekend I was awardedHonorary Life Membership for this, which was nice. It was a very interesting time, lots of significant decisions were made and it felt good to be a part of it all, even though I wasn't a delegate so couldn't vote.

Photo: Flowers at Walton Hall.

Monday morning

Apologies for the three days of silence. I've been at the Open University Students' Association annual Conference and have had a great time. I'll post again later on and tell you more!

Thursday 14 April 2011


It's another dull and chilly morning at the moment. The back window is open to air the house but it won't stay open for long or the heating will click on!

Today is also another busy day. Looking after DG before buzzing off to Letchworth, so I have a rapidly increasing little list of things to take! I also have a kitchen that needs some serious attention so I'd better get that done now!

Photo: Some new planting

Wednesday 13 April 2011


Another chilly morning but the air is lovely so the door and window are open anyway. It's not so bright today, there's no sun and the forecast is for some rain which the garden does need desperately so can't complain too much.

Today is busy. I need to get ready for my visit to the OUSA Conference at the weekend, I must get the washing and ironing finished, I have some cards to make, I need to order some tickets for a show and I have a hair appointment at 12:30. All go, innit?

So better have my bath and get dressed.

Photo: where hostas are, can slugs be far behind? (aka where's the pellets?)

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Tuesday early afternoon

Ooops, it's late, isn't it. So sorry, I think the holiday is getting to me. I've been very lazy again today after a slightly more energetic day yesterday. Still in bed clothes at nearly one o'clock is pretty slapdash!

I do intend to get dressed at some point - I have to if I'm to get to Hobbycraft, which I need to do to get some stuff. But maybe not just yet!

Potter, potter, potter . . .

Photo: Nice and cheerful, taken last year.

Monday 11 April 2011

Monday morning

Am I rushing around getting stuff ready? Am I arriving at school? Am I going to the school library to collect the Reading Revelry books? Am I getting the smart board ready? Am I chasing up the assembly hymn? Am I rapidly marking the few diaries I didn't get done last week?

No, I am not. It's HOLIDAY (and will be for another fifteen days!) YAYAY!

Today: taking DG to his club, going to B&Q and Wyvale (no, didn't get it done yesterday), rootling in the chest freezer for something to try in Handy Andy (I may be gone some time), deciding what to take to Conference next weekend and making sure it is clean and respectable . . . and maybe sorting out the shed. You never know.

What a lovely sunny day it was yesterday but, actually, despite the sun, none too warm at times. Also, the evenings still get chilly and overnight too. This morning I threw open the French window and within five minutes it was closed again - just a bit too chilly for comfort, although I am sure it will all warm up soon.

It should be a good day.

Photo: taken last June

Sunday 10 April 2011

Handy Andy update

Lamb leg steak. High rack, started off at 200C, then reduced to a little less after about ten minutes when it was turned over. Absolutely scrummy.

Sunday morning

Sadly, after a great sleep over Friday night/Saturday morning, last night's sleep was not so good. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because I stayed up comparatively late watching the Andrew Lloyd-Webber programme on ITV. It's rare for this to happen so maybe the old brain was over active. However, with no school, no planning, no pressures, I can make up for that during the day, if necessary.

I was mortified yesterday. George came to do his hour of gardening and I asked him to mow the front 'lawn' (cough, cough) which really did need doing. Unfortunately, over the winter months the mower has been covered by a load of stuff and had to be dug out! So today I need to take everything out of the shed, give the floor a good sweep over and reorganise the contents so that things are accessible again. I didn't make my trip to the garden centre, so I have that to do as well. Those should keep me occupied for some time and then therer's always R&R.

Photo: taken in a garden

Saturday 9 April 2011

Saturday morning

For once, just for once, I had a lie in this morning. For me, to sleep until after six is very much a lie in and I feel so much better for it too. Usually, for the first few days of a holiday, I wake tired and continue tired. While I'm sure tiredness will come, at the moment I feel invigorated, partly fuelled by the sun which is already shining encouragingly. I have promised myself a time in the garden today, not working but sitting in my recliner, reading and relaxing. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Something very sad has happened. My lovely bay bush has not survived the winter. All the leaves are drying up and dropping. Such a great shame as I use it quite a lot. So one job today is to harvest the remaining leaves and pop them in the freezer. Then, at some point this week, I must get myself down to the garden centre and stock up on herbs. I want some mint, although I seem to be immediate death to mint but keep on trying anyway, as well as a bay replacement. Also my purple sage is so terribly overgrown and woody now it needs replacing also . And I have to get some rooting powder and some little pots for the cuttings I intend to take from the rosemary.

I'm dithering about whether to go to the Writtle Ag shop or to somewhere like Wyvale or B&Q. Writtle is a lot closer (and I do like supporting local enterprises) and I should find parking, and their stuff is good but more expensive. The other two are more of a journey but will have a much greater variety (especially Wyvale) and won't cost so much, but will be crowded and parking might be a pain, despite a huge car park. Decisions, decisions!

I braved a steak in Handy Andy last night. I'm one of those Philistines who likes their meat properly cooked through and this can be difficult with steak. When cooked long enough, it can be dry and tough and chewy in the wrong way. So I approached the whole thing with trepidation. A piece of rump steak went onto the high rack and 200 was set. I can't exactly recall the timing because it was a question of do it and see, but again Handy Andy passed the test with flying colours. The steak was firm, but it wasn't tough and it wasn't dry, it was delicious! So it's ho for a lamb steak on Sunday. Lamb steak with roasties and some peas.

Photos: Taken in the garden this morning, including my poor bay.

Friday 8 April 2011

Friday evening

. . . and it's the end of term. Really the end . . . phew. OK so I reckon it doesn't REALLY start until Monday but I don't care, I'm celebrating anyway, with a Handy Andy steak and a glass or several of alcoholic grape juice.

It's been an interesting day. First of all K and I were going through some job applications after the head had done the first bit. Then I was invited to the Grand Opening of the Clever Cupcakes Cafe in year 2 (a Mantle of the Expert project) and treated to a cupcake (and very nice it was too!). Then it was more job application stuff. After lunch I had some IEPs to read through and comment on. It was a pretty leisurely process, I have to admit. Everyone seemed to be on go slow, so I reckoned I couldn't do better than to join them!

One really nice thing - my wonderful team had cottoned on that it's my birthday during the holiday so they pre-empted things by giving me a few prezzies and a card signed by all the children. It was lovely!!! Thanks so much L, K and A.

And my alarm clock is officially turned off now. Not that it ever wakes me, but for the next seventeen days there's no way it's going to be on!

Paragraph photo: taken in Somerset last year!

Thursday 7 April 2011


At some point this week I stubbed my toe. Not an unusual occurence really do I hear you say, gentle reader. However this stub, although I do not recall it, must have been quite a stub, well beyond the usual, because yesterday, when I put on my school shoes (after a day of not wearing any shoes because of being off work, ill), my initial reaction was a huge 'ouch' as the black and blue bruise reacted with the end of my shoe, usually so comfortable (are Hotter shoes ever any less than comfortable?). I had to go to school wearing some old and very battered but much more easy shoes. Today was the same. However, this evening, when I inspected the aforementioned toe, I saw that the black and blue had faded to pinky-red and I could touch it without too much of an an 'ouch' reaction. Maybe tomorrow I can wear the usual, rerasonably smart, not too battered school shoes. Fingers crossed - or do I mean toes? :0)

Thursday evening

Today has been good. For a start I've been feeling stronger and stronger as the day has progressed. Secondly, the sun has shone brilliantly all day, it's been warm and comfortable and I still have my patio window open to catch the remains of the sunny fragrance. And finally I have indulged in some rump steak and a lamb leg steak to test Handy Andy's capabilities. Sadly, after lunch at the pub over the road to commemorate K's birthday last week, I'm still full up, so the test will have to wait. No - it was not a liquid lunch, what a thought. But the tuna and cheese melt baguette was more than filling and the diet pepsi was very nice too.

So - one more day to go before the end of term. One more day before I can turn my alarm clock off for seventeen days (not that it ever wakes me, but it's a safety net). One more day before I can forget about planning, marking and evaluations for a short time (apart from starting the end of year reports, of course). One more day before my thoughts turn to cupboards that need tidying, spare rooms that need making up and kitchens that need a thorough cleaning. Do you notice the missing chore?

Paragraph photo: some flower photo from last April . . . a bit out of focus but quite pretty.

Thursday morning

Where did yesterday's entry go? I know I posted one. How very strange - so sorry if you popped in looking for it.

First of all a Handy Andy update: he cooks sausages really well. Lower rack, temperature at 200, under half an hour, beautifully browned all over with just one turning. Must treat myself to a steak at some point and give that a go!

I was back at school yesterday, tired and wobbly but OK really. It turned out to be a very pleasant day, although I got very frustrated with the littlies in maths, where they were just so slow. I suppose that's unfair of me, they're tired, just like me, and would much rather have been playing out in the glorious sunshine.

It was lovely, wasn't it? Warm, sunny and fresh. I was on afternoon play duty and it was so pleasant, several colleagues came out to enjoy the sunshine too. I have read somewhere that they expect it to continue for a few weeks - fingers crossed for that all the way through the Easter break!

In yesterday's blog entry, the one that seems to have taken a wrong turning and got lost in hyperspace, I went on rather about something I've taken on. Recorder Club! Yes, I'm nuts!! However, it was rather satisfying to dig out all my old teaching resources and update them when I started feeling a bit better on Tuesday afternoon.

Actually, I've just had a thought - maybe this missing entry is resting in the 'edit' section, awaiting a final send. When I've sent this, I'll check and see . . . so if it appears you will know what happened!

Unconnected paragraph photo: rather pretty flowers from DDs garden last year.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Wednesday morning (sent on Thursday)

. . . and it's back to school today. Unfortunately I had something of a wakeful night after sleeping rather a lot yesterday, but it wasn't a poorly awakeness it was just that my brain was too alert really. Being off was a bit of a pain in more than one way. I missed PPA, I missed an assessment meeting, I missed saying goodbye to one of my littlies who won't be back until after Easter. On the other hand, by the afternoon I was feeling a fair bit stronger and was able to get on with some updating of my recorder stuff.

You see, I have done something very silly. I have offered to take over a recorder club! I used to have a number of recorder clubs in the days when I was floating SEN teacher. Though I say it myself, they did pretty well and a number of them also had small group or individual lessons from me. A small number even achieved up to grade 5. It was pretty time consuming as you mnay well imagine and when I went back into class teaching I simply didn't have the time to sustain that level of involvement, so gradually it all died down. However, over the years I had developed quite a lot of teaching materials, using my own common sense and my lovely music software from Braeburn Publishing, Music Publisher 5 (now an old version but it suits me fine). So I spent the afternoon digging out my old stuff which had been archived on CD and updating it. So now I have the first two tuition books renewed, printed and ready for photocopying. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Unconnected photo for paragraphing: a view in Norfolk

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Tuesday morning

. . . and I'm off school with this tummy bug that's doing the rounds. I wasn't terribly well over Sunday night with cramps, but went into school because I could (as teachers do). It was OK, more or less, until the afternoon when I started feeling rotten again, to the extent that I went to see the head about coming into school today or not. As supply is easier to get the day before, we made a decision there and then, which I was grateful for really. So here I am, feeling a bit rotten and very guilty (it goes with the job, you see, does guilt).

Further experimentation of Handy Andy's potential is therefore off the cards until my system settles. There's chicken left over from Sunday which will be fine either on its own or with something gentle on the tum, so no need to cook anything else for now. But I'd like to try sausages at some point, and also fish, either in foil/paper, or left open. The chicken didn't dry out at all, so it would be good to see if fish also cooks as well.

Paragraph photo: pretty leaves.

Monday 4 April 2011

Monday morning

Five more days before the end of term. We are all hanging on in there now, weary and worn out. Just five days . . .

The Handy Andy roast chicken was most successful. I did 20 mins at 200, then turned it over and did another 20 minutes at 200, then right way up again for about ten minutes, all on the low rack and with the extension ring. It was absolutely delicious and I'm looking forward to chicken salad for my dinner tonight I also had some frozen roasties but found that the high rack wasn't tall enough and wouldn't balance on the chicken safely. So i did them afterwards, turning the heat up and popping the chicken in the oven with the plate, just to stay warm. Definitely one to do again.

Now I need to think what next. I've done ham, I've done chicken. Maybe a lamb leg steak.

Paragraph photo: Roses in the garden.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Sunday morning

It looks as if it is going to be a truly lovely day today. the sun is shining, the air is fresh but not cold and there's just a little movement in the air. Time to dust off a summer skirt, I reckon.

I don't think I'll be doing cupcakes in Handy Andy. They seem to rise in a funny way, like a sort of 'shelf' rather than doming and I'm not sure about the texture either. But I'm quite excited about the roast chicken. I did the usual cover with bacon (and the ham skin from yesterday ham joint) and wrapped it all up in foil, then read some recipes. It seems that the bacon fat, etc, is not needed, it just roasts directly on the low rack and one can turn it over half way, if one wants. Interesting! We will see.

Apart from that little excitement, it's planning, ironing and generally chilling today. I wonder what's on the telly to accompany the ironing.

Unconnected photo: more from the parents' garden!

Saturday 2 April 2011

Saturday evening

What a lovely day it has been. Warm, sunny, packed with friendship and such a lovely, gentle, pink sunset to finish it all off. Perfect.

It looks as if something has gone really wrong with the formatting in here and I cannot use/create paragraphs unless I post a photo. So be it - the photos may not be relevant, they may be old, but at least they mean my gentle readers are not presented with a solid wodge of text (I sincerely hope)! And a splash of colour never goes amiss, does it?

Handy Andy triumphed again this evening, heating a pizza beautifully without drying it up and making no mess whatsoever. More and more am I convinced that this was a Good Buy. He heated the pizza in the time it would have taken to just pre-heat the oven at considerably more cost.

Lunch was lovely. The OU is based on distance learning and, mostly, that is what it remains, but it's always great to meet up with people I count as friends, even though I have never met them face to face. Sue, Jen and Kevin were lovely, we had a great chat and giggle together and I've had a really super day. Thanks very much, all of you. Let's do it again sometime.

This weekend feels odd. Every weekend at this time in the last goodness knows how many years has either been the beginning of the Easter Holidays or even half way through. This year there's one more week. Strangely, I feel no urgency to get any planning done. That's not good - the children are always happier when the lessons have been well planned, so I need to get my act together tomorrow. However, today has been a day off and it feels wonderful.

Unconnected photo taken in my parents' garden a couple of years ago!

Saturday morning

Good for Handy Andy - the ham is delicious. Quite firm, easily carved and very juicy. Now I'm wondering about cupcakes!! I might give it a go and if they're a disaster there's time to make more. Also I have been wet curing some belly pork all week as described in the wonderful Cottage Smallholder blog and want to try cooking a few slices of bacon for brekky. Diane gave me a great hint yesterday and that was to line the bottom with damp kitchen towel (has to be damp otherwise it flies around). So it's all go this morning, but worth it. Friends are coming for lunch and I'm very much looking forward to it!

Friday 1 April 2011

Update: Handy Andy and the gammon ham


Friday evening

. . . and it's not a Chinese and Chat after all. I arrived at school to find so many people saying they couldn't make it for this reason or that, all very valid and understandable and, in a few cases, sad, plus a few others who are quite obviously not well and in no state to enjoy having to turn out this evening - well, I took the decision to postpone the evening until people are feeling better and on top of things again. It is disappointing but these things happen from time to time. The plus side is that I get an early night with the alarm clock turned off. Another plus is that I was going to take the food order to the Take-Away yesterday evening but I was so tired I decided to do it at lunch time today. Phew . . . And the third plus is that the downstairs is reasonably tidy! Good when I am expecting friends for lunch tomorrow.

Right now, Handy Andy is doing his best with a gammon joint. The house is starting to smell decidedly 'hammy', I have christened the extender ring and fingers crossed! I reckon it's going to take a lot longer than boiling, but the texture might be good. We will see.

Walking home today I was very much struck by how green everything is suddenly looking. The trees, the grass, the bushes - all have the gentle verdant tint that raises the spirits and signposts the way to warmer things.

Photo: More spring springing in the garden.