Thursday 30 June 2011

Thursday evening

A very strange thing happened this morning. I tried to send a message and it wouldn't go. After that I couldn't access my dashboard at all, although I could at school. I couldn't again this evening, going the usual route through 'my account'. But I opened another blog (not one of mine), clicked on 'log in' and it brought me straight to my dashboard (without logging in) Very weird indeed. I have no idea what's up. No idea at all!

Anyway, I got loads done today. The school was closed because of staff industrial action but a few teachers and other staff were in. I was well pleased with the amount of work we got done. Assessments, a very important piece of paperwork, a lot of sorting out and three practice sessions on the piano. I think it's getting better slowly now - I can get to the end of most of the music without breaking down. Fingers crossed (but not while I'm playing)!

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Wednesday evening

It's turned out a bit warm at times today but it's now chilled nicely and I'm starting to feel sleepy.

Today has been just One Of Those Days. L and I suddenly realised that we hadn't done the run offs for the speed races on Sports Day, nor had we done the long jump to find the 'best' boy and girl in the year. As a result, all morning was spent getting that sorted, thankfully in cool, fresh conditions. The afternoon was library and PPA and then K very kindly read them a story so I could continue with sports day preparations. Goodness, I am going to miss her so much next year!!!

As for the Wizard of Oz, we had a run through all the songs this morning and it wasn't so bad really. Monday is the first full run through - that will be the real test! I have the songs going round and round in my head. There's some very naff words.
Ha ha ha
Ho ho ho
And a couple of tra la las
. . . it's driving me crazy right now!
Absolutely crazy!!!

Wednesday morning

Thank goodness for a good night's sleep. After the muggy heat of the last few days the temperature dropped considerably and it was jolly nice to be sleeping snuggled under the quilt again. This morning is fresh and sunny and, at the moment, it's just perfect.

We took it very gently yesterday. Only three of my littlies owned up to sleeping well on Monday night and one of them said that they had slept downstairs all night because the bedroom was just too hot. There were a lot of weary eyed children in the school and gentle and slow was the best way to go. On top of the muggy weather they are, of course, slowing down at the end of the school year anyway.

As the afternoon progressed it got blacker and blacker outside (one Foundation Stage child said 'is it bedtime'?) and when they went out for afternoon play I stayed out as well, in the expectation that we might need to get them all in quickly, and so it proved to be. Firstly some HUGE drops of rain ('the playground has got measles, Mrs Clark') and then, suddenly, down it came. It's about fifty or sixty metres from the top playground to the school and in that short distance we got soaked! I've never heard the like of the squeals and shrieks that they uttered as they ran for shelter! And it kept up for quite a while afterwards, lowering the temperature and the humidity very quickly indeed so everyone started to feel better. Damp - but better!

Rehearsals go on apace. It's looking increasingly as if I might have to play for the actual show. Yesterday I had a very quick run through with the young lady playing 'Dorothy' on her big number, Over the Rainbow. My goodness, that girl can sing! It was stunning. I also managed to write an adapted version of 'If I only had a . . .' in D major, which I can actually play! Cheats 'r' us, that's me!!

And now I'd better get dressed and off to school for more piano practice!

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Tuesday morning

The heart of the sun.
Mediterranean diet, here I come. Loada fresh tomatoes . . . (I hope)

A single, solitary, late honeysuckle flower.

No storm. No rain overnight. Even with two fans blowing it was pretty hot in the bedroom and I slept on top of the covers for the first time this year. I hate to think what the children will be like - I slept very fitfully because of the heat and I suspect some of them will have found it uncomfortable too. Slow and steady worked yesterday and I think it will be necessary again today.

As there was no rain overnight I popped out early to give the pots a good soaking and I couldn't believe what happened. It started raining. Just a few spots but big, big ones. Of course, it started just as I was finishing and as soon as I went inside it stopped! Classic. However, maybe it is a sign of things to come and there will be more, to soak the raised beds thoroughly. Certainly the sun has gone in and the clouds are gathering. It actually feel very pleasant right at the moment but it's early and promises to be hot again later on, without any cooling rain.

Today, being Tuesday, is PPA and KS coordinator time. I've managed to keep my coordinator time intact but PPA is somewhat fragmented, what with Infant singing and then a Junior song practice for their show. Never mind, it's all good fun (!) and, with only two weeks to go, time is becoming pretty precious! I must get into school early and practice myself.
Come out, come out, wherever you are . . .

Photos: As always, from the garden. I must get out and about a bit more!

Monday 27 June 2011

Monday evening . . .

. . . and it's been the most sweltering day I can remember for a very long time. We started off with an unplanned lesson on 'sun safety' which revealed that every child had brought in some water (good) but that there was a sad shortage of hats and sun block (not so good), resulting in a notice on all the Infant bay windows.

After violins (baking hot in the hall) and assembly (even more baking hot in the same hall) I had a bit of respite until after playtime when it was a junior singing practise where I found myself in great demand as the only available pianist, Eric Morcambe to the contrary notwithstanding (and Mrs K Wales would know where that came from)!!! And the hall was - er - double baking hot despite the fans!

In the afternoon they amazed me. They produced some lovely writing, virtually unaided, which made me realise that the levelling I did last month and as reported in the annual reports is, in some cases, just a tad out of date.

I had to laugh in a sympathetic way. At the end of playtimes, my children all line up by sitting on a low wall just outside the bay. They're now very good at sitting and waiting. Today was no exception. The whole kit and caboodle sat on the wall to await the invite to come in and it was only when we were all sitting down and talking that I realised that the wall was so hot they had hurt their little sit-upons a bit. Bless them, I have now given them permission to stand by the wall if it's too hot as well as if it's too wet.

And also, radical me, I let them take off their ties and let their shirts hang lose. ALL DAY! For a golden oldie teacher that's mega-huge, believe me!

And will we get the thunderstorms forecast overnight? We will see! Fingers crossed.

Monday morning

Good start - I've just posted a blank entry! At least I noticed that I had. It's a beautiful morning, fresh and very sunny. That means it's going to be very hot later on and I'm not taking any chances with hay fever so the pills get popped with breakfast.

It's an ordinary Monday and I don't think I will be out of class, which is nice. There's violins, literacy, maths, theme (geography based) and music. All properly planned and, hopefully, enjoyable too. It should be our family assembly this week but as we had to swap with Y6, that's also off my mind now until the middle of November.

Photos: the crocosmia(s)

Sunday 26 June 2011

Sunday evening

This is the first flowering of a trailing geranium which has loads of buds and promises to look absolutely gorgeous in a week or so. The crocosmias (is that a correct plural?) have shot up and have loads and loads of buds, the first of which are just starting to open. Those tall, slender leaves also add a good height and shape to the bed. The lupins are growing apace but it only takes one night for the slugs to rally. Yesterday George went over the beds with a spot of weeding, resulting in the slug pellets being buried. Today I noticed the lupins had been got at overnight so I've fought back! I fear I will never be an organic gardener though! And I must remember to harvest the lavender this week. Oh, and there are just a few mini, titchy, weeny tomatoes! Yay!!! Sometimes (often) I love my garden and having George once a week to support has made such a difference. Thank you, George, very much indeed - you really do make a difference.

DD came over with a gift. She had dug up the fruits of a potato plant and presented the results to me. They look and smell wonderful and I am so looking forward to eating a few tomorrow, boiled with mint (yes, I haven't killed the mint yet) with melting butter and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt (only the best here, you know). And more the next day, and the next . . . Thank you so much, DD - love you!

Apart from all that, hasn't it been a glorious day? Hot enough to want to remain in the shade, but no humidity worth speaking of and, surprisingly, no hay fever hassles either. The fan has earned its space and I am hoping the measures I have taken in my bedroom will ensure that it's not too sweltering by the time I go to bed. May we all sleep well tonight.

Sunday afternoon

. . . and it ain't 'alf 'hot, mum! I went out to give the tomato plants a little drink and had to pour water on the paving slabs to cool them down because they were too hot to stand on. OK, so I could have gone inside and put my sandals on . . .

After all my waffle about housework I've been extremely lazy and done - well, not a lot really! And very nice too. The trouble with feeling holiday-ish is that there's actually four weeks to go before the end of term, which is most unfortunate.

Photo: garden thingy. Taken early this morning. Can't be too long before they open.

Sunday morning

Definitely a proper courgette now. But why doesn't the plant coordinate the male and female flowers so that they're open at the same time?

I love my sunflowers. Two out and one to open!

Some of the pots will look very pretty in a few weeks when the fuchsias have opened, weather and watering permitted.

I'm worn out this morning. After the three hours of duty at the school fair, alternatively being blown over by the wind and baked by the sun, I did some shopping over the road and then collapsed on my recliner at home and went to sleep. When I woke I was 'glowing' so looked in the mirror to see rather a red face, thanks to the combined effects of the wind and the sun. Out came the Nivea in short order and it's OK this morning, just one patch that looks a bit 'burnt'. I'm usually so careful about the sun, but this was mostly done by the wind as it was pretty dull for much of the time with the sun coming out for short times until near the end. Of course, the rest of the day was glorious!

I hope the fair raised a decent amount of cash. At first it was very slow but it crowded out later on when it was time for the Infant dance (Well done, J and L, it was brilliant) and remained pretty crowded for the next hour or so. Fingers crossed!!

So, on to today. I didn't get an awful lot of housework done yesterday, what with the shopping, the fair and then sleeping the rest of the afternoon away, so I have to catch up on that today. And planning! Always planning!

Saturday 25 June 2011

Saturday morning, later on

Home again after a short but enjoyable trawl around town. I did the financial stuff and treated myself to some artisan bread from the stall on the High Street. The cheese and onion focaccia has been eaten and very much enjoyed!

There wasn't a lot in the way of plain white bedding anywhere, but I did get a very pretty white quilt cover and pillow cases set that had nice broderie anglaise trimming, so I'm happy with that. It's now in the washing machine to get the starch out. I also bought a small handbag, which was in a sale and is just what I use. And I was well pleased to see that Debenhams now sells the cutlery I use so I bought four serving spoons - you can always do with more serving spoons, can't you?

It seems to be brightening up somewhat now, so in a short while I will be off to the school fair. I'm on the bottle stall which is usually very popular and sells out quickly . . .

Saturday morning

I woke up to pouring rain this morning. Such a shame as it is our June fair today so what will happen if the rain continues, I really don't know. Before then I have to go into town to visit the bank and do some other shopping. I've decided to get some new bedding for myself. Just plain white is what I like, with maybe some white lace ot satin touches on the duvet cover, although at the moment I rather fancy just plain white. We have a Bhs, a Debehnams and a M&S so I hope I will find something that I like. I've ordered the fitted sheets online as I have to have the deep fitted sheets and John Lewis do them very reasonably. I'm also going to treat myself to a wander around Lakeland. Luckily we have just been paid.

Friday 24 June 2011

Friday evening

Another 'interesting' day as I again accompanied the Juniors for their singing practice. It seemed a bit better this time and soon I might even be able to take my eyes off the score for a few seconds to watch the conductor! You never know. I did have fun slushing around with 'Over the Rainbow' before the juniors came into the hall though. It is a beautiful song and the harmonies sometimes send a little shiver down my spine! And it's slow enough for me to manage, even with my poor score reading skills.

I have my baby back!!! Eddie brought it round about an hour ago and it's working again. I was glad of the the school laptop, but I prefer my own keyboard to the laptop keyboard. He also got it all wirelessed up so now I don't have to fuss around with connecting it or the laptop up to the modem. It gives me more flexibility and now DG can bring his own laptop when he comes round. Cool!

And now the weekend has begun. I'm relaxing with some strawberry cider (is that a contradiction in terms) that looks like sparkling rose and tastes satisfyingly fruity. And Al, it comes from Somerset!

I read something today that made me jealous. William and Kate are, on their trip to Canada, visiting Prince Edward Island, because some of Kate's favourite books as a girl were the Anne books. Mine too, and I've always wanted to go to P E I. I guess I never will, but I hope Kate has a wonderfal wallow in childhood nostalgia. She's a lucky lady!

Friday morning

Another week nearly over. Twenty one days to go! Woohoo. The long 'holiday' seems so close now and we're all going 'where has the year gone?'. It does seem to have sped past abnormally quickly this year. It can't just be getting old because the younger teachers are saying the same thing. Maybe it's because we're always so incredibly busy. Maybe that's what it is.

We had our stock ordering meeting last night, after school. Judging by the weary faces and the number of choccy based mini-bites that were consumed, everyone else is as worn out as I feel. I won't hand in the orders until Monday - that gives everyone a chance to add anything that they missed.

And today the littlies have some nice practical stuff. Using a metre ruler to measure how far they can throw a beanbag, thinking about jobs in the local area, a PSHE task based on a nice book about special things and a few other bits and bobs. Nice!

Thursday 23 June 2011

Thursday evening

The computer is feeling a lot better and should be home again tomorrow or Saturday feeling a lot better after its stay at the Eddie-hospital. Great relief.

It was an interesting day today. I didn't take games with year 1. I was elsewhere. This year the juniors are doing the Wizard of Oz as their show. The member of staff who plays for the junior show, a very gifted pianist and general all round super-musician, is off so I was roped in to accompany for the singing rehearsal.
Well, you know me. I can manage to crash out things like 'Autumn Days' or 'Have you seen the Pussy Cat' in the Eric Morcambe style of playing (all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order) but when it comes to the finer points of 'Ha ha ha, ho ho ho' or Ding dong, the witch is dead' I do rather struggle.
Fortunately I didn't make too much of a fool of myself and got through without totally losing my place more than half a dozen times but I never was all that much of a sight reader and much prefer to have the melody lines and a few chords to fuzz around.
I'm not sure who got the rawest deal - me accompanying the juniors or the year 5 teacher who had to take my little dears around the throwing activities for Infant Sports Day!

For the very first time in goodness knows how long, we are entering Friday without a mound of unfinished work! Amazing . . .

Thursday morning

I cannot believe it is really Thursday morning. This is scary - the week is going so quickly. There are now 22 teaching days until the end of the school year, that's all. Twenty one if you count the strike day next week. That's all!!! No time at all.
The reports are done, the coloured tracking grids are done, the Target Tracker data has been entered, the SEN paperwork is up to date . . . just the curriculum wheels to do now.

I've heard from Eddie - my PC has been done, whatever that means, and he will bring it back at some point. I have no idea what was wrong but I guess he will tell me when he brings it over. Whether I will understand what he tells me is quite another matter, of course. The chances are I won't, but maybe I can pretend.

There's nothing like the good, old-fashioned British weather to spoil an afternoon's planned outside activity lesson, is there. Pouring down, it was, yesterday afternoon, so my two remaining groups had to convert it to an indoor lesson with the hope of going out to check their answers at some convenient point in the future! They like wet playtimes occasionally though, because they get to watch part of a DVD!

And this morning it is outdoor PE so, of course, it is going to rain! Buckets of the stuff . . . bound to - it always does at the moment. Ho hum!

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Wednesday morning and some photos

The first of the three is out and about now.

The pinks are a mass of colour and very lovely they are too.

The first courgette didn't come to anything: it was obviously not fertilised. This one was - I made sure of that!

I hate and loathe these, but they do make an interesting photo!

Ooops, I missed yesterday's posting. Sorry. I was a bit rushed in the morning and in the evening I was so tired I didn't set up the laptop at all.

It was a very pleasant day again, although it got a bit humid at times. PPA and coordinator time in the morning, followed by a nice practical outside activity for half of the class in the afternoon. The other half will do it today. After school I had a meeting which went well and then it was home to fall asleep in my comfortable chair.

Today is a full day's teaching (great!) apart from a half hour of PPA, followed by staff meeting (assessment!). So I guess it will be more snoozing in the chair this evening.

No news about my poorly PC!

Monday 20 June 2011

Monday evening

Firstly, apologies to all those lovely people who leave Comments (I love getting Comments). I don't know what's going on but I can't leave comments on my own blog. It keeps asking me to sign in again and again. Most frustrating.

And I've just written a nice blog and lost it. It said page not found. What *is* going on with things? It's really weird.

I wonder if this will send.

Monday morning

A quick message as I was a bit pushed to get all the planning done after not having access to the internet for most of the weekend so am now rather late. It's been weird, this weekend. It makes me realise quite how dependent I am on all this technology and how much it does for me.

Thank goodness for computers!

Sunday 19 June 2011

Sunday evening addition . . .

. . . and I am so-o-o grateful for my external back up thing! Thank you Al, thanks you a million times!

Sunday afternoon

Eddie came at about 12 - and left several hours later having started stuff off and with the intention of connecting later to do the rest from his PC. He did, and it went on and on and . . . well, he's now taken my baby home with him to look at things in more detail.

So I'm on my school laptop. And the hay fever is biting, I have a headache, I didn't sleep well and I'm worn out. Off for a little sleep, I think . . .

Saturday 18 June 2011

Saturday morning

An unusual start to the day - unusual for me, that is. I got up very early, did some stuff, felt weary, went back to bed and slept for another two hours or so. Most unusual and very welcomed. Now it's bright and sunny, although it has obviously been raining hard overnight and there may be more to come. Still no complaints though, especially on DD's behalf. It's jolly hard work running an allotment when everything's bone dry.

Today is a housework day. The planning is more or less done and just needs tweaking, the house is a tip and I have Eddie coming at four to look at my increasingly slow PC and give it a health check. Fingers crossed he will bring it back to its previous speedy state. George might be coming, it depends what the weather does. We have an agreement that if the weather is bad he won't come.

The rain has improved the look of my front 'lawn' (cough, cough). It was looking dire after the work on next door's front and my pathway - hardly surprising as some heavy machinery needed to be rolled over it. It was dry and yellow. It's now sparse but lush and green. I still think it needs a good redoing though, from someone who knows what he's doing and has the heavy garden roller to match!

Twenty five teaching days to go. Eeek!

Friday 17 June 2011

Friday evening . . .

. . . and be careful what you wish for.

I wanted rain. Lots of rain. Guess what we've got. Yup, that's right -lots of rain. Wet lunchtime, wet playtime . . . and a non uniform day to cap it all. They had to come in dressed as film characters. All in aid of charity. Talk about hyper!

I need to explain. We have 'houses' at our school. Like teams. The children win house points, run for their house on sports day, etc, and each house gets to organise one fund raising event per year. Today was one of them, in aid of Help for Heroes, a wonderful charity and one I am so proud the children chose to adopt. Judging by the number of super-heroes I saw today, it was heroes for Heroes. So appropriate.

It was just a shame about the rain, but never mind, the children had a wonderful day, they looked amazing and well over £300 was raised. Really good for an event organised by children.

And my beds, DD's allotment, everyone's gardens have received a really good soaking. So despite the rain it has been a wonderful day. No complaints from me!

Friday morning

Seeing as the rain has created great growing conditions, here's a photographic update, photos taken half an hour ago.

The sunflowers are still growing - they'll be taller than I before they have finished!

And the tomatoes have tripled their size since planting. I have to remove the side shoots each day at present!

The thyme is in full flower and looks so very pretty.

This is the bay that I thought had died over the cold winter and so replaced with another one. I was wrong - it may have been very poorly, but it's making a great recovery. So now I have two bays in the garden!

And proof positive that this year I have NOT killed the mint! I wonder what I got right this time.

How's your garden doing?

Thursday 16 June 2011

Thursday morning

It 'pays' to be honest!
At school we have a designated area on the network that only teachers can access. Within it there's all sorts of stuff including planning, info, photos, assessment updates, etc. Over half term we were supposed to update certain things. I did it at home but then forgot to put the finished things back on the pool until last weekend, so I promptly did it on Monday. I had such a conscience about it (silly, maybe, but that's me) that I apologised to the person who asked for it to be done. She gave me a very wry smile and said 'Don't worry, you aren't the only one'.
Ooops. At least mine *are* done now and I feel better about it!

Why is it that the 'failings' of others make us feel better? A very human reaction but strange. Perhaps it's a fellow feeling - a sort of 'thank goodness I'm not the only one to get it wrong' reaction. It certainly isn't, for me, a gloating thing - I hope it isn't anyway.

Now on to the curriculum wheel. Loadsa highlighting of statements in such tiny writing that I have difficulty seeing it and my eyes go blurry. Not a task I enjoy but it has to be done! It was agreed ages ago that tick lists are pretty worthless as an assessment tool. This is the modern equivalent! Ho hum!

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Wednesday morning

I love cross-curricular work. We've been looking at Kandinsky's Concentric Circles - a real gift of a work of art for teachers of littlies. The top photo is a mixture of maths, art and ICT, using Dazzle to create our own versions, entitled Concentric Shapes. The second is fabric painting - art witha bit of maths thrown in. Not so much maths this time as most of them opted to do circles. Hard to do, quite messy, but very, very enjoyable. We'll do it again but next time we will water the paint down a little bit. It was very thick and didn't flow onto the fabric all that well. Each child created their own square and they were then stapled onto the display board - it's big, bright and very impressive. I reckon Mr Kandinsky would be proud of us!!!

Hay fever time has hit and hit hard. I haven't had much trouble so far this season but yesterday as I got to school it was overwhelming. Thoroughly disgusting until the tablet I took started to work. And today also feels uncomfortable. I reckon I will have to take the tablets regularly for a few weeks now - can't have that happening every day! It's a shame because the last few years I have got away with minimal medication for it. That's life!!

After that little blip, the rest of the day was good. PPA and coordinator time a.m. where I got a lot of stuff done for sports day. In the afternoon we had a geographical field 'trip' - plants in the school environment. This was thoroughly enjoyed by all, although I was extremely glad I had taken that tablet. What a glorious afternoon - warm, sunny and the children were engaged and busy. What more could an infant teacher ask for?

And I'm still revelling in the glow of having finished and handed in those reports!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Tuesday morning

Our school secretary must have been a very busy lady over the weekend because, when I looked in my pigeon hole first thing yesterday, all the attendance sheets had been printed out ready. I whizzed around and got the data in before school, printed the reports off and handed them in. SUCH a relief. And I was the first. I bet I wasn't the first to actually finish them, but everyone was waiting on the attendance data!

Then I was rather hard pushed to get everything ready for the day's work and to cap it all I found I had a visitor all day. We have links with Chinese teachers and one was in school yesterday and I was asked to host her. A bit unexpected but she was a lovely lady, was Emmy, and I think she enjoyed her time in my bay. She also agreed to help with Infant Assembly, which I was taking and had brought some gifts with her, so we showed them and talked a bit about China. It was lovely! She was very interested in my teaching and watched my maths lesson with the more able group very closely. She said that the children seemed much more enthusiastic than her Chinese class and showed a lot of enjoyment. I have to admit that zooming round the world on Google Earth did go down very well and the children wanted to visit all sorts of different places.

So, all in all, a good day.

However, I came home to a very sad evening. The last evening I will ever spend on FirstClass, the OU Conferencing site, due to be made Read Only today. I am not ashamed to say that there were tears and sentimental messages - there's a lot of very sad people around and we will miss our virtual campus very much.

RIP FirstClass.

Monday 13 June 2011

Monday morning

With the reports done, I feel as if things are getting back to normal again. There's still a fair bit to do, but the bulk of it is now sorted, thank goodness. I've loaded the reports onto my memory stick so that as soon as I get the remaining data I can put it in, print them off at school and hand them in, without any need to work on them at home.
And I might even start on the coloured tracking wheels today. You never know!

In other news, it's still chucking it down here which I am very grateful about. My order is as follows:
10:30 - stop raining
1:15 - start raining
3:10 - stop raining
5:00 onward - rain all you like until tomorrow morning.
A few days of that should sort out the dry gardens and allotments nicely.
Must check the weather forecast and see what the prospects are.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Sunday evening


Reports: done. All done, levels entered, proof read by DD (thank you so much sweetheart!), all errors corrected, first copies shredded and chucked.

Now all I have to do is enter the data relating to school attendance (which I haven't got yet) and then I can print them out and hand them in.

Phew - what a relief! All done!

Photo: the first courgette - just an inch long but growing! :0)

Saturday 11 June 2011

Saturday morning (nearly silent)

Just a quick break from assessments and reports and stuff to post a few photos from the garden.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Wednesday morning

So sorry about yesterday. I'm rather up to my eyes with work right now and am finding it hard to fit everything is, especially with the move from FirstClass to the V L E on top of everything else.

I'll be back to my over-wordy self soon!

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Tuesday morning

Looking out into to the gathering light, it still looks pretty dull and cloudy this morning, although not wet underfoot. Despite the downpour yesterday, the children got out to play morning, lunchtime and afternoon, so one can't ask for more really. They did struggle to remember to take their coats home after school though: it's been a while since they had to bring coats into school.

As I've said before, one of the occupational hazards of living in the area you teach is that ongoing recognition in shops. It's quite a regular feature of my shopping trips that a penetrating voice will suddenly exclaim loudly 'Hello, Mrs Clark' or something of the sort and one looks around to see a beaming little face, full of the joys of seeing their teacher escaping from school! If you're very lucky you will get a hug too, at which point you look around to check that mum or dad is nearby! Embarrassing as it sometimes is, the effect on those around is quite extraordinary. People smile, laugh, relax and generally cheer up when they see such a happy, shining little face. Children are wonderful like that.

Yesterday we had a great afternoon, looking at some paintings by Kandinsky and talking about the shapes, patterns and colour we could see and what they made us think of. Then I set them to drawing and colouring a Kandinksy-style 'thing'. The results were brilliant and they had an absolutely wonderful time. I thought they'd like the activity, but for most of them it was a lot more than 'like'. Today we are focusing on Concentric Circles, which should be good, and we're going to start our own 'masterpiece' using fabric and fabric paint, entitled 'concentric shapes'! Oh, the joys of cross curricular activity!

Photo: Taken last week when it was lovely and sunny.

Monday 6 June 2011

Monday morning

A very wet garden.

It started spitting with rain yesterday late afternoon. It didn't come to much, typically, so I watered the pots yesterday evening anyway. However, the Rain Machine had other plans and when I drew back the curtain this morning it was chucking it down and, judging by all the puddles, had been doing so for quite a while. Excellent. The beds are getting a great soaking and I don't have to water the pots this morning. For once it got right for the children. Lovely half term weather with rain holding off until they start back to school.

I used up the last of the three packs of chicken yesterday. I made some spicy chicken burgers by mincing up the chicken (in the zizzer), then also mincing a variety of ingredients, most of which I can't recall now. It was a see how it goes thing using what came to hand. They included onion, garlic, fresh chili (a green turning red one), spices, lemon zest and juice, red pepper, grated bread to make fresh breadcrumbs - that sort of thing. It all squidged together nicely, I shaped some burgers by hand and then open froze them before popping into a bag. I'm having a couple tonight for dinner so I'll let you know! :0)

And it's back to school today. Such a shame, it's been a lovely break but the daily crust must be earned. I didn't get as far as I'd hoped with those reports, but never mind, can't be helped now.
I'll have to dig in now and get it all sorted.

Sunday 5 June 2011


. . . the last day of a very pleasant half term break. We're on the home stretch now, with quite a lot to do before the end of term and thirty five days to do it in. Thirty five days sounds better than seven weeks, doesn't it? Three tens and five units, one score and fifteen. And no morning playground duty!

When I went shopping yesterday I got a real bargain. They were selling three packs of chicken for a tenner and, after comparing prices, weights, etc, I went for the chopped chicken pieces because that's what I would do to it anyway. It wasn't 'friendly' meat, unfortunately, but great value. And I have three jars of curry-type sauce which need using up, so yesterday I used one pack and one jar and made chicken pasanda, a sort of nutty, mindly spicy dish into which I added onion, red and yellow pepper, sliced apricots and some toasted flaked almonds. I'll do lemon chicken today.

The tomato plants seem to have bedded in well. Yesterday they were all curled over and sulking (don't blame them, crammed inside a little box as they were) and they were definitely root bound, but in less than 24 hours they have straightened up and look really healthy. It was a mixed pack of three varieties, Conchita (a large cherry tomato), Dasher (a mini plum tomato) and elegance (a standard tomato). I realise that I need to get three garden canes, unless I can find some in the depths of my garage.

My other big achievement yesterday was getting the backlog of ironing done. It's nice to start the second half of the term with an empty basket, not that it will stay like that for very long I'm afraid. Ironing is one of those chores that rarely seems to get completely finished, there's always something left to do.

Photo: courgette flowers are rather pretty close up.

Saturday 4 June 2011


Cheat's choc cherry ice

About 60 mls or so of natural yogurt, maybe a bit more, chilled
About 3/4 sachet of options Wicked White Chocolate powder
Twelce to fifteen cherries, frozen hard (I use the ones you get in Sainsbury's in the frozen food section)

You also need a mini chopper or similar.

Mix the chocolate powder with the yogurt and stir well (this can be done before hand, if so keep chilled until needed)
Put the choc yogurt and the hard frozen cherries in the mini chopper and zizz until the cherries are chopped fine and the yogurt freezes. It doesn't take long at all.
If it comes out a bit liquid, freeze for about 30 mins before eating.

It's lovely!

Saturday lunchtime

When I got home from a little bit of shopping I found three exciting things waiting.

The first was a parcel from Amazon which is a step attachment for my Wii balance board, so that when I do the step exercises I'm working a bit harder. I will 'christen' them later on.

The second was three grafted tomato plants which I ordered a couple of months ago and which are now in their home pots, well watered and, hopefully, feeling right at home against a nice warm wall. I'm hoping that, being grafted, they will be more blight resistant and give me loads of lovely fruit in late summer and through autumn. What with the herbs, the courgette and the tomatoes, my garden is now more than just a pretty place.

The third was a letter I have been waiting for which required an immediate response - so I did!

And now I am going to make my lunch and sit comfortably outside with a magazine and relax. Stuff the reports! :0)

Photo: Attractive leaves.

Saturday morning

Well, after saying I had no definite plans for anything yesterday, I did manage to get out. I went to B&Q and then Wyvale, which is next door, to get sundry garden bits and bobs. I ended up with a spade and a fork. I have no idea what happened to my old spade and fork: I thought I had lent them to DD but she says no, I didn't, so I'm puzzled. The pair I got are small (and cheap) and pretty lightweight, just right for the sort of thing I do. I wouldn't bother but I'm now starting to use the goodness that has been created by my compost bin and digging it out of the bottom with a small trowel is ridiculous!

I bought some small pots to pot on the baby rosemary cuttings as the new little roots were growing through the bottom of the mini pots I first put them in. I looked for (and found) some suitable bedding plants to fill the planter now that I've taken out the rosemary pots and also for another pot that I think I might put round the front, once the plants have established, to alleviate the 'brickness' of the new paving. There's no doubt it's neater and I know J and K are not gardeners and don't have the time to maintain the front of their house as it required, but I do miss the greenness of the hedge and the shrubs. No more photos of snow settling on the laurel hedge!

While I was looking I saw a nice looking trailing geranium and also some sturdy looking baby bays. Now I know my poor bay seems to be surviving against all odds and is sending out new leaves but there's no way I will be picking those leaves for a good time to come and last week I actually had to *buy* some dried bay leaves for a recipe, something I haven't needed to do for ages and which I rather resented. So when I saw these little bays at a reasonable price I thought 'why not - belt and braces' and bought one! Give it a month to settle and I ought to be able to use a few carefully chosen leaves now and again. And, of course, I have those dried ones to use up too.

So a good hour or so was then spent potting up and generally sorting out and I'm very pleased. Mind you, if all the rosemary cuttings do survive the latest move, I will be looking for homes for them - no way do I need ten! I guess if I bung them on the staffroom table, they will go fast enough!

Later on I wandered down the road to A's home to deliver her birthday present, went in and had cuppa and some gossip with her, which was jolly nice. When you work with people day in day out, you miss them after a while.

It's dull this morning (no chance of rain though, I bet) but yesterday was glorious with skies as blue as forget-me-nots and not a cloud to be seen. The photo really doesn't do it justice in any way whatsoever!

Friday 3 June 2011

Friday morning

Amazingly, I slept until nearly six this morning. It's only taken me seven days to get out of the four o'clock waking habit and what's the betting it will be back again on Monday! It's lovely and sunny at the moment, promising another warm, dry day, just right for sitting out with a cold drink and a good book. A shame about those reports, isn't it?

I don't have much on the cards today apart from the aforementioned reports, unfortunately. No cooking or baking projects, no visits, no shopping to do. How dull! It feels like the half term is ending and things are getting back to what passes for 'normal' (whatever that may mean).

The front path is nearly finished: just the final touches and the making good to do now, including covering that run of concrete in the photo. It's all rather too shiny and new at the moment, as you can see in the photo, but once it has mellowed and weathered it will look quite nice. I need to think about a pot of something green at one side and the 'lawn' has taken a battering and needs some TLC - not something I'm all that good at so I need to see what's on at the garden centre. Ah-ha - that's something I need to do today! Get grass seed to cover the bare patches. ;0)

And in the longer term I need to save and save so that I can afford to get the standing space in front of the house done to match. Cheap it certainly ain't!

Thursday 2 June 2011

Thursday evening

I wasn't going to post again today but I'm so pleased with the skinny pizza, I must. It was scrummy. This is what I did.

I had some Morrison's Mini Tortillas. They're about 15cm across and are just over 100 calories. I had a portion of thick tomato sauce that I made earlier in the week, basically just onion, garlic, olive oil and chopped tomatoes with tomato puree, a pinch of sugar and some seasonings, all boiled up until thick and then zizzed. To that I added some oragano leaves, heated it up again (it was frozen) and then left it for the flavour to infuse. I had some finely chopped red pepper, onion and mushroom that had all been 'dry fried' until softening, some bits of left over cold meat, mostly ham, and 30g Cathedral light, finely grated.
I spread over the tomato sauce, then the chopped veg, then the meat, then a bit more veg, and finally the grated cheese. It had about ten minutes at 200C in Handy Andy: I'd say one would need the same time and temperature in an ordinary oven.

All it needed was a side salad and it filled me up. Another one I will definitely be doing again, and soon! Sorry, I forgot to take a photo though.

Thursday morning

The brave little courgette, rapidly becoming not so little any more!

Another chilly morning but not nearly as shiver-creating as yesterday was, and the sun looks set to shine again. I've started sneezing after my trip to the shed, so must remember to take the anti-sneeze stuff when I next go into the kitchen.

Today I have some strawberry and rhubarb jam to make and a tortilla pizza to create. The jam is really in two stages, softening the fruit and adding the sugar, and then the boiling to setting point. I'll do the first bit early, then leave it while I do other things and boil it up this afternoon. I find that doing it with the gap is a great way to ensure that all the sugar disolves properly. As far as the pizza is concerned, I shall use one of the little tubs of tomato sauce I made earlier on in the week, add some oregano and then just soften some appropriate veg in as little oil as I can possibly get away with. Then everything will be ready to assemble and I reckon a quick blast in Handy Andy is all it will need this evening. I reckon the calories will be about 250 - 100 for the mini-tortilla, about 90 for the cheese and the rest is the toppings.

I'll let you know!

Edited to say the jam is made. It was quicker than I expected. Four nice little pots of deliciousness - well, to be strictly accurate, three and just over half! One for DD and DG, one for a friend and one and a half for me. Just right!

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wednesday evening

It's been a lovely warm day today after a very chilly start indeed. The heating clicked on and, while the house was cosy, I shivered as I made my way to the shed to collect the frozen stuff for the day. I was glad to get indoors again and shut the window.

Then was a big rush round to get the downstairs clean and tidy before my friend arrived but, as always, it was well worth the effort. Because I have such a lovely lot of space downstairs, it scrubs up a real treat: once I have finished I always vow that I'm going to keep it like that but I never do! Lazy me! But just now I can look around with considerable pleasure.

Well, as posted earlier, the tortilla quiche was a great success, so much so that L took a detour to Morrison's on the way home to get the necessary and has made it for her menfolk for their evening meal. That's certainly a vote of confidence, isn't it? I had also bought some mini tortillas and tomorrow I am using one of them as a base for a tortilla pizza. Talk about fusion food, eh? I have some bits of left-over cold meat and I have the low fat cheese that I needed to get for the quiche, so it should work very well and be very satisfying.

I had to pop down to Morrison's myself this evening to get some money out so, while I was there, I popped into the store and they had fresh rhubarb. Yay! I got some and some strawberries and have found a recipe for strawberry and rhubarb jam - I think the combination of the two fruits is a match made in gastronomic heaven - so that's what I will be doing tomorrow . . . perfect preserves!

And finally I got an email from the local PYO to say that gooseberry picking starts tomorrow. I think a nice big bag of frozen gooseberries in the freezer would be a very good thing so I'll pop down there at some point, but not tomorrow as the day is already timetabled out.

Cheese and tomato tortilla quiche

Yum yum yum yum yum yum.
Given that my pastry making is so very suspect, I can see myself always using this. It was as simple as preparing a vegetable omelet.

Wednesday morning

Yesterday was another pleasant, enjoyable day, albeit rather noisy from the ongoing work on next door's front and my pathway. It's certainly coming along nicely though and should look good once it's all done. I shall have to start saving up to have the rest done, I guess.

After a bit of shopping, I finally got round to writing the letter to the refuse department, asking them to come and take the old fridge. Having posted that I then lugged it round to the front, where it has to be for them to collect it. I felt guilty about that so wrote little notes to everyone in the cul-de-sac, apologising and explaining.

That duty done, I set to, tidying up the end of the garden, sorting out the pots and sweeping up the fallen leaves and seeds - there were a lot of them after the strong winds of last week. I then planted out a few more seedlings and that's about it for this year now. There's a few delphiniums to put at the front (in the hopes that they will survive there) and then it's just a questions of hoping everything will take and grow. Gardening is an act of faith and hope - at least it is in my garden!

The afternoon was spent feeding the washing machine and catching up with ironing. Not so exciting but necessary.

Today I have a friend coming round for lunch so am trying a pastry-free quiche. I'll let you know: if it works, I can't see myself going back to using pastry all that much and one could add all sorts of other stuff to it to ring the changes. I added a little pepper, a tiny pinch of salt and used parsley because I don't have any basil. I know people love basil - DD eats the leaves neat - but it doesn't really dig my garden much. You can find the recipe here.

Photo: The front.