Wednesday 30 November 2011


I read several blogs.  There's some really good ones out there - good in the sense that I enjoy them, I mean.  I lean towards the homey, domesticated blogs rather than the trendy, alternative culture type blog -  I can relate to the former but usually don't have a clue what the latter is going on about for a start.  I also choose to read the friendly, warm and gently humorous rather than the slightly bitter, antagonistic sarcastic, which hold little appeal for me.

Some blogs (like this one) are inconsequential, rambling, say-what-you-think at the time type blogs.  You never quite know what you are going to read when you open these.  It could be about yesterday's telly, the pile of ironing in the corner or the latest government cock-up.  Some have a purpose and a theme - all the messages develop this one way or another.  A recipe blog, a review blog, a disability related blog - oh, it's endless, there are so many and very useful they can be too.

And then there's the very structured blog.  Saturday is always about shopping, Wednesday is always a recipe . . . like the wonderful 'Frugal Girl' blog.  Very American but still very interesting.  Sometimes I wish that I could be as very bloggily organised as Kristen is.  She works on entries before hand, she has a structure so that you more or less know what each day will be about.  Saturday is about shopping and the week's food plans, Friday is about food waste, Monday tends to be answering questions . . . and it gives her a steady income, not to be sniffed up in the current climate - or at any time, in fact.

Today (or it might have been yesterday now) she was talking about her weekly targets.  Simple little targets that are very achievable but don't seem to get done, one way or another, as well as the one offs such as getting her living room painted.
Looking around, there's an awful lot of little things that I need to do.  I have a mental list as long as my arm (longer, in fact) but maybe I need more accountability.  Maybe (miracles do happen occasionally) if I record them here, I might do them.  Who knows?  Worth a try.  I have a snappy little title:  Target Tuesday.  So you have to pretend that today is Tuesday, OK?  Just this week.  Next week, maybe it WILL be Tuesday - if I remember.

So here they are:
1.  Keep my bedroom tidy for a week.  I'm terrible with my bedroom.  It's my dumping ground with piles of things that I just don't put away, throw away or give away.  On Monday I tidied it all up, REALLY tidied it up.  So the aim is to keep it as clear as it is now for one week.  One bite at a time . . .

2.  Phone about my oven which has something of a problem.  I hate phoning - with my hearing issues it can be a very unhappy experience and I often end a phone call feeling angry and upset, simply because I haven't heard the speaker properly and, consequently, feel a stupid failure (not rational, I know, but that's how it goes). I avoid answering the phone, I avoid making phone calls, I would much rather email.  While not exactly having a phone phobia, I definitely have an intolerance.  Not good.

3.  Linked to 2 - get that new phone ordered.  It doesn't help that my phone is old and the sound quality is poor.  In fact, seeing as I was paid the other day, I will get it ordered from Amazon as soon as I have finished this entry.  Then I might have some chance of achieving 2.

4.  Make the cranberry sauce for Christmas and get it into the freezer.  Self explanatory!

5.  Defrost the upright freezer - definitely a weekend job here.

So there you go - my feeble attempt to get some organisation into my home life.  It might work, you never know!

Tuesday 29 November 2011


It was the very first run through of our show, The Sleepy Shepherd, this afternoon.  The first time they had seen the dances from the other classes, the first time they had seen and heard the actors, the first time it had all run from start to finish.

It was very good indeed.  Not perfect (thank goodness, we don't want it to peak too early) but really good.  I feel a lot more settled about it all now!  Next run through on Friday!

Monday 28 November 2011

Any old iron . . .

. . . after unusually heavy use of my iron over the weekend, I realised that it just isn't working as well as it used to work.  It's not as hot and doesn't get the creases out as well.  Fair enough - as irons go this one is well into pensionable age and deserves honorable retirement.
So it was off to town to do various necessary things including banking some cheques.  I meandered into Debenhams to see what they had and bingo!  They had the iron I was looking for at half price.  I then remembered I had a gift card, given to me several years by the parents of my class at the time.  I had no idea how much was left on it but thought it was worth using it, even if it was only worth a little bit. 
To my delight it had more than I expected and so the iron only cost me £3.00 in total.  Not bad, eh?

Monday morning

Five things that are making me happy right now.  Nothing important in the wider scheme of things, but immediate, superficial and minor

1.  A frost outside.  I love frosts.  I know it means the heating clicks on.  I know it means the cars need scraping.  But doesn't it look lovely when the sun comes up and everything sparkles like diamonds?

2.  A good night's sleep between clean, fresh sheets.  Getting into a bed that has been made up with fresh sheets is one of life's simple, major pleasures and it happens every week too.  It's even better when the old sheets have been washed, dried and ironed and are airing before being put in the airing cupboard!

3.  Leading on from that - an empty ironing basket.  That's not totally accurate in that there's stuff on the drying rack, but it's not in the basket so it doesn't count.  Right now I can see the inside of the ironing basket and that's the important thing!

4.  A non-pupil day.  Don't get me wrong, I love my children very much and I love my job very much too but there's something deliciously naughty about not teaching on a teaching day.

5.  Peeking in the fridge and seeing that there's almost enough left-over food to feed me for the day.  That doesn't mean no cooking, dear me, no, but most of it will be 'free' as it's left-overs.  Breakfast is the only 'new' meal and I'm swivelling between beans on toast or bacon sarnie at the moment.  Lunch is finishing off the butternut and lentil soup which was absolutely scrummy yesterday.  And dinner is going to be hotpot made with the leftovers of the slow roast lamb.

So better go and put the lamb bone on to boil, make the coffee (another happy thing as I don't usually make proper coffee on a school day) and unload the dishwasher (for which I am properly grateful, believe me).  It's a good life and I'm feeling very thankful right now.

Looking across the road to the kickabout one misty morning recently.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Sunday morning

Good morning, everyone.  It's been a bit of a windy night round here, judging by the way my curtains were blowing in the night, but I gather from messages on Facebook that it's been pretty bad up in Scotland.  I hope there's not been too much damage of any kind.

Yesterday I set to with the iron, board and an overflowing basket.  Most of the stuff was very dry but, with a spray bottle, I managed.  I like those spray bottles.  They don't throw out nasty gunk from time to time and I like to add a few drops of scented oil - yesterday it was lavender - and it does make the ironed clothes smell so nice.  I shall be refilling the ironing basket today so I hope there's plenty of good viewing on the telly this evening.  It would be nice to look at an empty basket all week.

I made some lentil and butternut squash soup yesterday which was really rather tasty.  Weeks ago now, DD brought round two squashes, both not quite ripe, so they've both been sitting on the kitchen window ledge.  I used the smaller of the two yesterday.
First of all I cut the squash in half and scooped out the seeds.  I smeared the inside of the squash with butter and roasted it in the oven until soft.
While that was going on, I sliced a small onion, a carrot and a few stalks of celery (de-stringed) and softened them in butter.  Then I added half a glass of white wine, some water, some marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon, a couple of handfuls of red lentils and a good pinch of smoked paprika.  That all simmered away gently and when the squash was soft, I peeled off the skin which was lovely and soft and easily removed, adding the flesh to the simmering soup.  A quick zizz later, a bit of salt added and hey presto.  It's quite thick so I will slacken it a bit and top it with a good swirl of cream and that's the starter for Sunday dinner sorted.

As DD and DG come round for Sunday dinner at the moment (midday), I can indulge in a roast.  Today is it some leg of lamb which I intend to slow roast on a bad of red wine, carrot, onion, celery and potato with a sprig of rosemary.  The resulting sauce will make a fine gravy.  DD, being vegetarian, won't have any of that so I will make a separate gravy for her cauliflower cheese grill thingy.  Vegetables are roast potatoes, sprouts and broad beans so I think we will feast well.

There was rather a nice sunset yesterday and, for once, I managed to get a few decent shots of it.

Saturday 26 November 2011

A little bit later

I've finally got around to ordering the Christmas turkey from Kelly's of Danbury, as usual.  I'm usually hammering on their door, virtually speaking, the day they open for orders, so I'm a bit late this year, but never mind, all done now.

The garden is still upsy downsy, with plants growing, shooting, flowering where they have no right to grow, shoot or flower, seeing as it is nearly December.  I took these photos this morning.

Cosmos - still going strong.

Not a good photo, but see the buds?

Very pink: it certainly brightens up the garden.

See all the new growth on the French lavender

And this, would you believe, is one of my strawberry plants.  No need for straw protection yet!

Saturday morning

Taken last Saturday.  Middle of November and the fuschia is flowering!
Remember what I said yesterday about turning off the alarm clock making no difference?  Yup, I was wide awake at three thirty, properly wide awake, not just awake enough to register and then fall asleep again.  I've now been up for about two and a half hours and I can feel sleep returning but I must fight it.  This afternoon is the time for another snooze, not now.  I have Things To D. 

I'll be back!

Friday 25 November 2011

Friday evening

View from my bedroom window last Saturday evening.

. . . and the weekend has started.  I love my job as much as anyone does but I have to admit that the start of the weekend has a very special feel.  Sort of relaxed and spaced out - and that's before the large glass of chilled dry white. 

Equally pleasant is the ceremonial switching off of the alarm clock when I go to bed.  Now, I cannot remember the last time I slept up to the alarm and certainly switching it off makes little or no difference to my waking time (ridiculously early) but, somehow, the act of switching it off gives me a deep down pleasant feeling.  The fact that it can stay off until Monday evening just adds to the whole thing.

Even better is that planning is done, resources are printed out, all is ready for Tuesday.  I would love to say that a weekend of idleness beckons, but that is far from the truth.  However, it will be in my time, non-pressured and governed by a relaxed agenda - and that feels wonderful.

Long Live Weekends!


Still flowering in Dad's garden - at least they were last Saturday!
Good morning, everyone!  Friday again and now just three weeks until the end of term.  I know I state the obvious with tedious regularity but - where is the time going?

Yesterday was quite a good day with coordinator time, a rehearsal over the lunch break and then a meeting after school.  There's a bug going the rounds: I had five away yesterday, all with high temperatures, sickness, the runs and/or painful throat/ears, poor children.  I just wonder how many I will get in today: some of them were fading visibly as the day went on although perhaps it was just tiredness.

Today is SEN time in name, but some of that time will need to be handed over to the Christmas show.  There's a rare hall slot in the morning which I have nicked for a rehearsal with the actors - they need one run through in the hall before the first complete run through with everyone next Tuesday afternoon.  And we have hoops to make.  These are decorations for the hall and it will be easier to take a photo once they're made and up than to describe now.  Suffice it to say, anyone needing hoops for their PE lesson from now until the end of term will be sadly disappointed.  It's all go!!

At least the planning gets easier.  There's so many other things to do that planning becomes minimalistic and activities run over into the next week.  Small mercies!

Thursday 24 November 2011


Taken in Dad's garden last weekend.  When the sun shines, everything is still so very colourful. 
And doesn't the new camera take nice close-ups?

Ooops a daisy, I missed a post yesterday.  That was not intentional, just careless - the days are whizzing past at the moment and there seems very little time for pondering and musing. 

Yesterday was our PPA and June and I managed to get planning sorted for the next two weeks.  Actually, this is not quite as impressive as it sounds because next week is a short week.  Monday is a non-pupil day and on Wednesday the school is closed because a number of staff are taking industrial action.  For me and my colleagues who are not, it means a very welcome day to get a lot of things sorted out, but it's rather a pain at this time of year when the show is so close and there's just so much for the children to do.  However, one bows to the inevitable with a good grace and makes the best of things, so I'm creating a long list of Stuff To Do.  There will be three of us there in the morning in year 1, the two TAs and me, so we should get loads done, tidied, prepared, etc.

After school we had a surprise.  We didn't know, but some other school from our local delivery group descended on us for an inter-school training session on mindset.  That sounds a bit trendy but, in fact, it was very good, very practical and very down to earth.  Definitely worth listening to!

Today?  Well, today is just a normal day apart from perhaps a singing time instead of assembly, depending on whether it's a 'vicar assembly' or not.  We are lucky to have some local ministers/vicars who like to come into school to lead assemblies once a fortnight - but I can't remember if today is one of those days.  As I always lead the song practice for the infants on Monday, I don't have to take or supervise a Thursday assembly so I'm never up to speed regarding which kind of assembly it's going to be!  Bad me!!

And it's my coordinator time, thank goodness.  There's SO much to do and no time to do it. 

All in all it's been a rather fraught week but the weekend is nearly here, thank goodness.  There's loads to do at home but it will be different, I can pace myself, and the children won't be in until Tuesday!  On Tuesday last year, it snowed, if you remember and by Tuesday lunchtime the school had been closed and most of the children had already been picked up by their parents or minders.  As a result, the infant show was put back a week and we had to do any amount of replanning and juggling things around to make it all happen.  There doesn't seem to be any sign of a similar weather pattern this year, thank goodness (and fingers crossed).

. . . or is that Famous Last Words?

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Tuesday morning

Bright autumnal colours to brighten up a dull morning.
It's another dull, damp, misty early morning here.  As always, when the weather is like this, I am extremely grateful for central heating and the wherewithal to run it without too much worry.  As today is my playground duty day, I very much hope it will have brightened up before 10:45!

The meeting after school went well although earlier in the day there were some signs of overload stress and I must keep an eye and ear open for if/when I can support.  However, we had a great time over some rose, pringles and mince pies, got all the tickets done and ready and made the scenery, finishing with a rousing chorus of 'Merry Christmas, Everyone'.  It never takes too long when everyone piles in and works together, does it? 

Things are getting more than a little bit muddled with regards to the timetable.  Tomorrow morning, instead of my usual cover, one of my junior colleagues has the joy of taking my class for my PPA time as F will be leading a junior carol service rehearsal first thing in the morning.   I've tried to reserve some simple things for then but, given that it's reading revelry and then phonics AND it's our family assembly, it's not going to be all that simple.  Ah, well!  That's Christmas for you, isn't it?

Monday 21 November 2011

Monday morning

It is so damp and cold and horrible out there this morning.  If it doesn't clear I think some of my colleagues (who live further away) are going to have some trouble getting into school.  I wouldn't care to drive too far in what's currently swirling around the houses and that's a fact.

Today is complicated.  We have our family assembly on Wednesday so it's practice, practice, practice today!  And violins.  And swimming.  And Christmas rehearsals.  And the Christmas staff meeting after school where we sort out the tickets, make the scenery and generally get everything sorted!

One Of Those Days!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Sunday evening

Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh, what a beautiful day . . .
. . . and here I am, back home, after a lovely couple of days away at my parents' place.  It was the Arcadians' show yesterday evening - well, more of a concert than a show this time, but it was very, very good and we had a super evening.  But all good things come to an end and here I am, glad to be home again, imbibing a glass of vino and relaxing nicely!

Dad's garden is as confused as mine.  Apart from the usual hips and berries, the fuschia is still flowering, as are the nasturtiums.  Very odd but it keeps the garden colourful.  After a frost this morning Dad has decided to cut the last of the tomatoes that were still in a sheltered spot in the garden.  He's had a great crop this year.

Diane, you will be interested to read that I missed my foam topper and pillow.  The spare beds at my parents' home are very good, comfortable and supportive, but I woke rather stiff and I haven't experienced that since my foam topper arrived.  It just shows how very supportive and comfortable it is and if I can ever afford a proper memory foam mattress, I will buy one.

And so the new week is nearly here . . . I hope your weekend has been as pleasant as mine.


Jolly cold today, it really is.  There's a frost which I probably shouldn't be surprised to see as yesterday evening was gloriously clear and starry.

I was out late (for me) because I went out, had a great time, came home singing and fell asleep with Rogers and Hammerstein melodies dancing in my mind.  Not a bad way to create good dreams, is it?

Must go, breakfast is ready, but I may be back later.

Friday 18 November 2011


It's the end of another week and nearly half way through this second half term of the year.  The rest of it will whizz past at an alarming rate, especially as there's such a lot happening.

Today was busy and muddled and it was hard for those children who don't respond well to lack of routine but it was also lots of fun.  It was spotty day, of course, everyone came wearing spots (for a suitable donation to the charity, of course) and there were some very inventive costumes.  We do find that the children are easily distractible and excitable on non-uniform days but what the heck - it's a whole bundle of fun.

However . . . it wasn't just that.  It was also a cake day.  The children love cake days - 30p for a cake at playtime in a school that doesn't usually allow snacks apart from healthy fruit or veg makes for great excitement.  And another large amount of cash was raised for Children in Need.

But - and this really was unusual - it was violin exam day.  I think I have mentioned before that we are pretty unique (or, at least, very unusual) in that every single child in Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage has a weekly class violin lesson from a very talented teacher, Ruth Travis, who has developed her own system of teaching.  Today, over half of the children in years 1 and 2 took their first very preliminary violin exam with the London College of Music.  Given that so many children were entered, we were able to be an exam centre, which made things a lot simpler, but it was very disruptive as children came and went from their classes all morning.  They were examined in groups and I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of the group exams.  The examiner was just lovely with the children and dealt with them very much on their level, bless him.
We don't know specifically how they have done yet, but I gather he was not only pretty impressed with their early violin technique but also with their general musicality, which is very much down to the way my colleagues and I deliver the music curriculum as well as Ruth's inspiring instrumental teaching, so a pat on the back for all of us, especially my lovely colleagues who lay no claim to being any kind of musician whatsoever.

It took me back a decade or so.  In my earlier days at the school, I taught recorder to more children than I now care to think of and many were entered in graded exams with the LCM.  For several years we were able to be an exam centre at the school and we did jolly well too.  I couldn't continue teaching at that level as my in-school responsibilities grew, something I think is sad but inevitable.   So being an exam centre again was lovely!

But I am glad it is now the weekend!

Thursday 17 November 2011


It's been another not-seeing-much-of-my-class day today.  Interesting though.  I must start by going back to yesterday evening.  If you recall, we had a maths evening at school, to explain to the parents how we teach concepts and also why.  Leading it was the most wonderful lady, Gill Heysham by name, who enabled us to laugh and talk our way through over an hour of 'what-they-learn-in-KS1' without time dragging in any way whatsoever.  I went home at the half way point, but I gather the KS2 presentation was equally inspiring and enjoyable.  A couple of parents said that they ought to have seen it before their child started school and I can see what they meant.

So, on to today.  The first hour and three quarters was spent enjoying the company of my littlies, followed by KS1 coordinator time, much appreciated by me.  And then this afternoon I pootled over to the other side of town to the teachers' centre for a SENCo update meeting which was very informative, very interesting and, for once, it didn't make me feel inadequate.  Three cheers for the SEN team there!

I then went back to school to check on things and I was glad I did as one of my children had left something rather important behind.  I managed to track mum down in the school pool - well, not exactly IN the pool, but waiting while her daughter finished her lesson. 

And now I'm home, feeling tired and relaxed, planning done for next week (I slogged away at it early this morning) and feeling almost on top of things for once.

Long may it last!

Wednesday 16 November 2011


It feels pretty chilly this morning!  The weather information on iGoogle tells me that it is 8 degrees outside.  I don't believe it any more than I believed it yesterday evening when it told me that it was storming outside with heavy rain!  The heavy rain would be welcome, for sure, but I do wonder where Google gets its weather info from.  Not from anyone actually looking out of their front door, that's for sure.

Yesterday was a very pleasant day with my class.  They really are poppets and try very hard (most of them) to learn and progress.  The listening walk in the afternoon was particularly interesting as we wandered around different parts of the school environment, listening for sounds and talking about what made them and why.  I could have done with that tracking GPS gizmo thing which would have been interesting and would have added a nice geographical element to an activity which was mostly science based.  The sooner I get one the better!

Today is a busy day.  PPA first, and June and I have a lot of things to look at.  Then it's ICT suite.  After lunch it's more science and  a family assembly and Christmas dance practice.  Finally it's a trip to the library before home time.  The usual staff meeting has been cancelled as this evening is a special maths evening with the parents.  The Infant section of it starts at 6:00 and when that's finished there will be a break and us infant teachers can go when the junior section starts.   I'm rather relieved as you know what I'm like with being out late - and yes, past eight o'clock IS late.  Yes it is . . .!!!

I've been having fun with the new camera.  I wanted to test the zoom/close up functions and a friend needs some 'guess what it is' photos for a competition so I've combined the two and have merrily been sending off photo after photo.  I don't know if they will all be used, probably not, but some will be.  I might use them as an ice breaker at the Chinese and Chat (not that any ice ever needs breaking with us!).  Once the competition is over, I will post some for you to guess as well.

Better go and prepare some stuff for today.  It's all go!

Tuesday 15 November 2011


Yesterday I taught my children for one hour only!  The reason was that in the morning I was on a course (ICT and Geography, would you believe) and in the afternoon it was my PPA time.  The course was OK - rather demoralising to start with, as they usually are, as you realise how short of the ideal you fall.  This gradually picks up as you realise that all but one or two participants are feeling the same.  After a while the leader throws something into the mix and things come alive.  Yesterday was no exception, the 'something interesting' being a little gizmo called an i gotu which is a sort of satellite tracker USB GPS thingy that creates maps of where you take it.  Clever, and I can see loads of uses for it in school.  After a quick word with our ICT coordinator, I'm getting one to trial with a view to maybe having one in each year group.

The thing I hate most about these courses is the 'action plan' bit at the end, where you have to say what has changed as a result of this course and how you're going to tackle it.  Luckily I am already in the middle of some targets so was able to regurgitate them plus the idea of getting a GPS thingy.

Another useful thing was a sort of questionnaire checking whether we were '21st century teachers'.  In other words, how much and how well are we using available technology to enhance our teaching and the children's learning.  To my surprise, I seem reasonable up to date with technology, at the age I teach, and, that being so, I wondered whether the questionnaire itself was a bit out of date and was making assumptions about primary teachers that weren't all that relevant.  I'm just about the oldest teacher at our school after all.

And finally, in the garden the newly self seeded primroses are flowering.  Poor, mixed up little plants!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Sunday . . .

. . . and I am just waiting for DD and DG to turn up for Sunday dinner.  For the first time in ages I have done a roast - a pot roast, in fact.  The silverside looked really nice in Morrisons so I got some and it has been pot roasted with red wine, beef stock, carrot, onion and garlic.  The liquid has been zizzed down and has made a lovely thick, tasty sauce.  With it there's some of the red cabbage we made a month or so ago and some roast potatoes and carrots.  Should be tasty!

Apart from that, I've done a bit of tidying up, labelled some jam jars and generally fussed around doing not-a-lot!  I managed to get all the apples DD brought last week cooked and mouli-ed into apple sauce and now I have rather a lot.  I guess it will have to be frozen mostly, although I am going to use some to make apple and cranberry sauce for Christmas, using some nice dried cranberries that I have.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Saturday evening . . .

. . . and a few more close ups.  Not bad, are they?

Honeysuckle berries



Autumn leaf

And the rosemary is starting to flower.  In November!!!!!


Photos:  just playing.

Close up (macro), in the dark with the flash.  Very pleased with this - the centre is much sharper than I have ever managed to achieve with the Sony.  I really, really like it.

Two zooms (camera shake included) the first of the tree at the bottom of next door's garden and the other of the tree the other side of the other neighbour's garden.  Also not bad!
Weekend.  Two weeks down, five to go.  Only three until the Christmas show though - eeeek.  I seem to be doing a lot of eeeking at the moment one way and another, don't I?

I've already mentioned how much I like my new teacher-toy and am feeling a most ridiculous and irrational sense of disloyalty towards my own camera now.  Yesterday evening I took the wrist strap off my old Sony and put it on the Canon as the one provided with it doesn't have a gizmo-thing to tighten it on the wrist and I didn't feel it was safe.  Doing that just doesn't feel right though - aren't I a wally?

There's a lot more automatic stuff on the Canon - things that I had to set each time on the Sony.  It takes better pictures and is both easier and more difficult to use.  I'm on a learning curve here.  Time to load up the manuals disk for more info, I reckon.  The starter book is minimalistic, to say the least.

Now I can look elsewhere for a personal replacement camera.  No point getting the same, is there.  The pressure is now off and some of my auntie's legacy can be saved while I ponder.  And I'm off out later to get a nice little case for it (not provided by the school).  If I am going to use it at home, which I am allowed to, I need to take care of it and a carrying case is a protection.

I need a case but I want a tripod!

Friday 11 November 2011


Quite a clear close up!

Playing around and photoshopping!
I have a new toy!  Well, not me personally, but me as teacher.  Today new digi cameras were distributed to us all!   And would you believe it, it's a Which 2011 best buy and the one I was seriously considering buying as a replacement for my faithful old Sony P7 which has done sterling work over the years but (like it's owner) is now showing its age.  I'm well pleased, as you may imagine, and lost no time in charging up the batteries and doing some tentative snapping.   It seems to take a good close up, something sadly lacking in the Sony, and the zoom looks OK too.  A shame the garden is rather drab and drear now or I'd be testing it with close ups of flowers.

Talking of drab and drear, my goodness, what dull day it has been today.  Fog all day, not thick but enough to make walking over to Morrisons a very damp experience.  It seems to have cleared now but it feels jolly cold.  Very November, that's a fact.  As the Thomas Hood poem, November, says:

No sun--no moon!
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day--
No sky--no earthly view--
No distance looking blue--

It was just a bit like that today.

Oh, and the camera is a very pretty metallic blue, a bit like the blue in the bottom photo.  Nice.  :0)

Thursday 10 November 2011


Ewwww - I just went to look outside to see what the weather was doing and in the shadowy hall I saw a slug.  On my carpet.  Yuck, yuck and triple yuck.  I hate and loathe slugs and snails and all slimy things.  So it was very brave of me to investigate and, thank goodness, it was just a leaf.  Phew!

Anyway, although it's been raining, the sky looks a lot more promising and, hopefully, the children will be able to get their outdoor games lesson today, fingers crossed.

In our PPA yesterday, J and I looked carefully at the last several weeks' planning for this term and decided that there's absolutely no chance of getting it all done - so we set to and reduced it down a bit to make it more manageable.  We then worked out how we can adapt some science assessment material to make it accessible to the children for whom it is intended.  J and I concluded that whoever created this material has absolutely no idea of the way the youngest children develop, think and function: most of it was totally unrealistic and would have tested their (lack of) writing ability much more than their scientific understanding.  Given what I've just said above, there's no way we can find the time to individually assess 29 children on six or seven sheets.  Utterly ridiculous.
And, at their age, does it really matter anyway?

Maybe, one day, I should publish my own assessment stuff - after all, I end up having to make most of what we use.  I've just dug up and refreshed a maths assessment booklet to test their understanding of this term's work which I made a few years ago, all based around a Christmas theme.  Though I say it myself, it's really not bad at all!   :0) 

Wednesday 9 November 2011


. . . and what a day it was yesterday!  Raining almost all day, extremely dark and dull and quite hot and stuffy indoors.  It's very hard to get the heating right in a semi-open plan environment.  If it's right in one area, it won't be in another part.  And with the outside doors opening and closing all the time, there's no chance of maintaining a steady temperature, especially in winter.  However, there's nothing that can be done about it, so we plough on and Put Up With It.

For once there was no meeting after school.  That meant I was able to get my marking and assessment done and the books put away, thank goodness.  Today it's staff meeting and it's a NMD (No Marking Day).  Literacy is oral/practical, phonics doesn't usually generate marking at the moment, it's ICT suite after play and art in the afternoon.  NMDs are definitely a Good Thing.  And in case I heard a gentle whisper of 'assessment?', we assess as they work!

The weather looks none too hopeful for today at the moment.  It's still raining gently and feels chilly.  I suppose it would, after all, it is November now.  Fingers crossed that it brightens up for playtime.

Tuesday 8 November 2011


An example of a working wall from Ivington Primary, found on the Internet
Apologies for yesterday's non-appearance.  Things were pretty hectic all day, ending in an after school visit to another local school for a presentation on how they do their 'working walls' (don't ask! - education is jam packed full of jargon and buzz-things-of-the-moment).  It was interesting but I am filled with envy at the amount of space they have there.  Their hall is twice the size of ours, despite us being twice the size of them in numbers, and their classrooms are huge.  The year 1 class has an outside area that is twice the size of their inside area (which is a lot bigger than ours anyway), concrete, grass and a little garden, plus a sort of large conservatory.  We have a small display board and cupboard doors for our displays, they have reams and reams of display area.  They have a separate cloakroom/washing area too. 
My bay (all the bays, in fact) is small, one wall is windows, one wall is coats, sink and door to the loos, one wall is open to the corridor and the last wall is for the whiteboard and display board.  To have an effective working wall for maths, literacy and science is simply not possible.

Envious?  Me?  You bet I am!  And yet, despite out severe limitations in terms of space and therefore some resources (they have to go somewhere, after all, and if there's no space . . .), we manage to get the children on, we get good 'results', OFSTED finds us 'outstanding' despite the 'inadequate for purpose' label on our physical environment, and the school is happy and bright.  We must be doing something right!  Quite a lot of something, in fact.

But I'm still envious.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Garden Update

. . . not that there's much to see but what is there is surprising.

It's November.  So why are the cosmos, French lavender, dianthus and geraniums still flowering and the cut and come again leaves still producing?

Strange . . .

Sunday (but all about Saturday)

The bucket of apples

Apples are wonderful.  Just look at the shapes, colours, patterns and textures. The more you look, the more you see.

And the first thing I noticed when I opened up was that I've hit the 13,000 visitor mark.  Yay!  It may sound silly but I do like seeing the numbers go up.  It's a kind of link with people all over the world, people I will never ever meet but with whom there is a fleeting, momentary connection.  To all of you who read and come back for more inconsequential, often mundane, sometimes quirky, occasionally amusing persectives on a very ordinary person and her life, thank you very much.

Yesterday was, as expected, a really nice day, although not weather wise, as it was damp and dismal for much of the time.  The day started off with a visit to Little Waltham Market.  This is not a real market but a monthly get together of people with things to sell, often home made.  There was a table with cards made from photos taken by a mum from school and another mum had a table with home made cards, jam, chutney and some honey (not home made as far as I am aware).  There was an artisan bread stall with loaves and rolls that were so expensive but, oh, my, the bread tasted so very good (especially toasted) and I have made a promise to myself to go again and buy some more.  There were two meat stalls, one based around venison and one with some very nice looking sausages.  There were a couple of other stalls that didn't register all that much with me and, finally, a fruit, veg and plant stall which looked nice but which I didn't really look at that closely.  This time anyway,

When I got home I found that George had made the decision not to come - it's an arrangement we have that if the weather is not good he won't come.  Fine by me!  So I messed about a bit, decorated some of those little brown carrier bags ready for Christmas gifts (and very nice they look too - must take a few photos) and then settled down to some serious knitting while watching the film 'Kiss Me, Kate'.  As with many of the shows of that time, the plot is very thin indeed, but the singing, dancing and costumes were fantastic and tremendously enjoyable.

A little later DD and DG turned up.  They were just dropping in to bring round a bucket of apples from a friend's mum (thanks, friend's mum, they're lovely) and to show off a leek and a parsnip picked from the allotment.  They both looked magnificent and I was issued with an invite to go over to lunch today to sample them.  I knew some apples were coming, but was a bit taken aback with how many and am now racking my brains about what to do with them.  I suspect there will be a lot of unsweetened puree and blanched wedges in the freezer by this time next week, although I might recover my dehydrator from DD at luncktime and try drying some slices..

We also talked phones.  For reasons that are perfectly understandable, DD has ended up with two mobiles so I am taking one over.  My present mobile is a basic, dial, text and take not terribly good photos one and for a little while now I've been looking at the posh, all-singing, all-dancing ones that my colleagues use and wondering.  DD says she and a friend will sort out all the transferring over and stuff like that, which is a relief because I wouldn't have the first idea.  To me, blackberries are what you pick off bushes at Streele Farm and make into jam!

While I was motivated, I went into Amazon and picked a new landline phone.  The one I have is very, very old.  It came from the RNID and has a volume control, very useful for an deffie like me.  However, being so old now (the phone, not me), the sound quality has deteriorated and I get a much better quality of sound from my bog-standard mobile, so time for a new landline.

When they went, it was time to settled down with more knitting and the evening telly, punctuated by bangs, crashes and flashes as the families round about had their firework parties.  As for me, I hate the things and have done ever since a friend was killed by one, so was more than happy to shut them out and ignore them as much as possible.  As always, I enjoyed Strictly, but I cannot be the only one to be irritated not only by those ridiculous clips of the dancers doing silly things when I'd much rather be watching them rehearsing and sorting out various problems, etc, but also by the way the audience reacts to the only judge who seems to give contructive feedback designed to help the dancers improve.  Craig may say some hard things but he talks sense and what he says is based on what he has just seen and to boo him like that is plain ridiculous - he's the best judge of the lot of them at the moment and deserves more respect.

So, you see, it was a lovely day (Strictly audience to the contrary)!  Inconsequential, but most enjoyable.

Saturday 5 November 2011


IT'S THE WEEKEND!  Yay!  Six weeks to go until the end of term BUT (gulp) only four weeks to go until Christmas Show week.  Now that's scary!  I haven't even started our dance yet - not even decided on the music, in fact.  Better go to Amazon and find something.  As it's a 'skipping dance' I decided I'd create something based on a good old fashioned English country dance, so I need some appropriate music.  Cecil Sharp, here I come!

Yesterday was SEN day so lots of work there but at playtimes I was working on the costumes, scenery and props for The Sleepy Shepherd - planning them, I mean, not making them.  It's going to be very sweet this year with lots of toy sheep and little shepherds in dressing gowns (but NOT head dresses as they always fall off!!).  Sort of traditional with shepherds (lots of them), angels, stars, woolly sheep and a betrothed couple with a baby.  All together now - aaaaaahhhhhhhhh.

As for today it's all go.  George round, bags of housework, knitting, washing and ironing.  Phew.  Better get going then.

Friday 4 November 2011


Diane was right - it did rain.  Outdoor games was off because even though it wasn't actually raining, it was very puddly and neither J or I could bear the thought of 29 pairs of plimsolls (some not named) drying around a classroom that is already much too small for purpose anyway, and they can't put them back in their PE bags wet.
So they did maths which meant that the afternoon was given over to finishing their art.  Phew.

Children being children, however careful you are to create a supportive ethos within a community, there's always going to be a few ups and downs.  Yesterday, Vociferous Little Boy came in after dinner in a right old state.

Me:  Oh, dear, what's the matter.
V L B:  He hit me, and him and her.
Me:  Really?  What happened.
V L B:  (long winded and garbled explanation)
Me:  er . . . OK, but what actually happened?
V L B:  He hit me on the gazebo!
Me:  *splutter*

It turned out that he meant 'in' the gazebo (a structure in the playground for providing shelter) so I didn't have to make any potentially embarrassing enquiries as to where his gazebo was!  It also turned out that it was six of one and half a dozen of the other . . . as is usually the case.

I love teaching year 1!

Thursday 3 November 2011


According to my friend, Diane, on her blog, it's forecast to rain quite a lot today.  About time too.  Despite the little bit of rain we've been getting recently, the ground is still very dry and very hard a few centimetres down.  Some good rain will help considerably.  I want the ground to be good and wet when the cold weather comes so that the moisture breaks up the soil as it freezes.

The flip side is that it's Thursday.  Outdoor games day.  In a way, it might be a blessing is disguise, as it means the maths can be done this morning and I can catch up on the art this afternoon.  That really would be good!

Ah well, we will see.  Either way it won't affect me as the head and I are off to a funeral after play so it's a sad day today.

Wednesday 2 November 2011


. . . is PPA day, which means that I spend the hour and a quarter before the children come in dashing about making sure that everything is ready for my supply cover, Faith.  Last year I had my coordinator time straight afterwards which meant a whole morning's resources had to be ready.  It's easier now, as the coordinator time is tomorrow and it's outdoor games, so it's just a question of the TAs getting the equipment out of the shed as needed.

After school it is staff meeting and we are all dashing off to another local primary to share maths stuff.  It's all go today!

A sculpture at Hyde Hall: something about money being the root of evil, I seem to remember.

Tuesday 1 November 2011


. . . and it's November.  Yesterday (ish) it was July.  What's happened?  At this rate it will be Christmas the day after tomorrow and then where will we all be, eh?

It was nice getting back to school yesterday.  Lovely to see the children.  Good to get back into a routine again.  Great to meet up with colleagues and chat about stuff.  It's amazing how quickly one embraces the structure and timetabling of a normal working day again.  Diane commented yesterday that when I retire I will have to take something up to keep me occupied and I reckon she's right.  I do find that by the end of the summer holiday things have become a bit aimless and sloppy.  Maybe I could do 'tutoring' (for want of a better word), although that would tie me down to being at home when maybe I would like to go out and about.  It's a shame that a lot of daytime adult education has been slashed, what with cutbacks, etc.  I'd love to take up pillow lace again and there's lots of other crafts I have never tried but would like a go - pottery, bead craft, pergamano, all sorts.  Maybe things will be easier in a few years' time and there will be more on offer again.  Fingers crossed.

Today looks like being a very full day.  Solid teaching all the way through (no complaints there) and a meeting after school.  Then it's home to clickety clack with the knitting needles as I make can can scarves.  Again, no complaints.

I had some sad news yesterday.  The grandfather of one of our children, someone I have known for many years, although I haven't seen him recently, passed away last week.  He was my age, more or less.  The funeral is on Thursday and the headteacher and I will be going.  I'm glad I have the opportunity to say goodbye.  My thought go to his three daughters and their families at this very sad time.  RIP.

Autumn fruit at Hyde Hall