Wednesday 29 February 2012

Wednesday morning

Yesterday was just one of those lovely days that you get now and again.  It wasn't an easy day: I was busy from morning to night with hardly a chance to take breath at times.  Morning play duty, afternoon play duty plus something I hadn't expected, in charge of the school over lunch time with an unexpected recorder club to take for K.  As I already had rather a lot to do, it was rather awkward, but I wasn't going to say no as K looked so concerned.  No time for lunch, but that wasn't necessarily such a bad thing (rueful smile)!

Maths was a practical session based on sorting using a Carroll diagram.  This, if you've never heard of the term, involves thinking not only about the properties that an item has but also which properties it does not have before placing it in the correct part of a grid.  I felt it was a highly successful session and one that a teacher would wish could have been observed!
After play came just about my most favouritest lesson of the entire year.  As our theme is 'long, long ago', and linked to our trip to the museum, we are looking in detail at some old objects, talking about what they might be, what they really were for and so on.  Yesterday it was the turn of the chamber pot.  Well, we got the usual suggestions - a mug, a flower pot, a vase, a teapot, a serving bowl - but only Mischievous Little Boy got anywhere close. 
'It's a wee pot'' said he, triumphantly. 
'Ewwwww' said everyone else. 
Actually, we had a lot of ewwwwws through the lesson, especially when we got to the bit about putting it under the bed!!!  Not nearly so many sniggers this year though - they're really such a lovely little crowd.

And then, in the afternoon, they drew the chamber pot and designed a pattern that could decorate the pot, based on William Morris designs.  They were brilliant.  Well, the shapes of the chamber pots were somewhat - er - distorted - at times, but they worked so hard and did such lovely designs, I gave each house a housepoint for doing so well!

I took photos of some of them - sorry about the colours: I haven't had time to edit them.  They did their work on white paper, honest!
Some aren't finished yet but  I hope you like them as much as I do.

Tuesday 28 February 2012


Yesterday, Joan commented that the Artsmark award involved an awful lot of work.  You can find more Artsmark information here.  Interestingly enough, most of us didn't know anything much about the application until last week, the fact being that we are already fulfilling the criteria for an Artsmark award.  For a while now we have adopted a creative approach to learning, including approaches like Mantle of the Expert, P4C, and a wider use of Drama to enhance creative writing, filming and other computer based arts, art and design, dance and close links with the Essex Dance Theatre and, most strongly, I think, a very wide focus on music in varying forms.  The point is, I think, that it *is* happening and has been for quite a while, not that we have made it happen in order to get the award.

The most we had to do, and this applies to every time we have a 'special' visitor to the school, is make sure our bays are relatively tidy and displays are up to date.  As it's all open plan, any clutter is rather noticeable, and I'm afraid I do clutter rather well - if there was a Cluttersmark award I'd get it every time!  Hence my time in school on Saturday. 

Lunch with the good lady was very pleasant.  She seemed impressed with what she saw, raved enthusiastically about the Foundation Stage violin class and the singing in junion hymn practice, discussed Mantle of the Expert and ended up challenging us about 'modenrn maths methods'!  The jacket potato and fillings was rather good too!

We don't know yet whether we do enough to merit the award.  In a way it doesn't matter at all, we'll still be doing what we're doing, we won't be changing anything just to get an award like this.  But it would be nice, wouldn't it?  Positive recognition is always encouraging.

Monday 27 February 2012

Monday morning

Back to school.  It's hardly going to be an ordinary day with the Artsmark person in, but I'm pretending it is, the only difference being that I have to go for a special lunch with the good lady, me and some colleagues.  Saves me having to make lunch now, I suppose!

Apart from that, there's nothing much to add, so I won't!

Sunday 26 February 2012

Sunday morning

I have a feeling it's all going to be a bit inconsequential and rambly today in here, but here goes . . .

Yesterday evening we had a Witches get together planned.  For once it wasn't just for wine, nibbles and giggles, there was a serious (semi) purpose.  We're planning to have a party for the Jubilee, you see, just for those of us in the cul de sac plus others who are either family connections or used to live here and have stayed in touch.  Nothing complicated, just bunting, balloons, food and drink, a bouncy castle and lots of chat but, as is our way, it was necessary to have a get together to plan.  Yes, it was, don't argue!  So, we planned a planning meeting.  Sadly, one witch couldn't come anyway and three were ill enough to need to cancel so in the end it didn't happen.  A great shame all round but it couldn't be helped.

However, to compensate, on Friday it's the infant department Chinese and Chat.  Twenty plus of us in my nice large downstairs space, each bringing something to drink and their contribution to the cost of a Chinese takeaway.  It's always such great fun and I think that this time everyone is able to come,  Looking forward to it!

As my gentle readers must have picked up, our visit to the museum last Thursday was a howling success.  We all had a wonderful time.
There was something that troubled me, however.  The museum staff are always lovely, very accomodating and very helpful.  They bend over backward to make the trip a success and this time was no exception but I picked up an undercurrent of worry that I've never noticed before. 
Firstly, when I went to the shop to pay for the gift bags and collect the invoice, the lady there engaged me in chat about what other areas they could cover to attract more school visits.   This, of course, is not such a bad thing but she seemed anxious about it.
They've always been very good about allowing extra adults to get in on the nod (four per class, plus any special needs assistants, are allowed in free) but this time two extra adults went on the bill.  That's not a problem, we had budgeted for this, but it was new. 
Then she said, very politely and with a hint of anxiety, 'You will ask your office to pay this quickly, won't you?'  We always pay quickly so I wasn't 'offended' by this, but it was a surprise, something that has never been asked before. 
Then, right at the end, as the children were getting ready to leave, another museum lady came to see us off and I had a little chat with her.  They are all very worried about the future of the museum.  It's a wonderful old school building on a prime site and could fetch a whole load of money, should the council decide to sell and I got the impression that as it is the museum is not paying its way.  Times are hard and there's little room for sentiment at present, but I can't help feeling that it would be a tragedy if the place closed and was converted to housing or offices.  Another little bit of our past destroyed for ever.  On the other hand, it would make wonderful housing and I, for one, would love to live in an old school building.  When I went back to look around the little Derbyshire village where I grew up (Aston on Trent), they had turned the old school very sympathetically into housing which looked wonderful.  Here's a screen grab from Google Maps (apologies for the poor quality).  Who wouldn't want to live in a home like this?

And finally, just to complete the inconsequentiality (is there such a word?) of today's effort, I've just has a delicious brekkie.  I was given some Wensleydale cheese from the Wensleydale Creamery and I simply mashed some up with some good butter and spread it onto hot toast.  Mmmm - gorgeous!
The Creamery has a lovely recent history: it was closed with resulting local unemployment, was taken over by some local people and is now a roaring success.  I like stories like that.  If you're in the area, it's well worth a visit, and the cheese they make is fantabulous!

Saturday 25 February 2012

Got paid yesterday

. . . so today I spent a bit in Amazon.

On this:

Victorian Dolls House: 3-Dimensional Carousel (Three Dimensional)

It's a lovely pop up carousel book:  you undo the bows, open it right out and round and tie the bows again to make a circular 'carousel' pop up scene.  They had one at the Museum on one of the activity tables.  Quite fragile (only the adult was allowed to touch it), so it's not going to be out on general display, but as our D&T project is to make a simple pop up picture for our class museum, I think it will be a great starting point.

This is the one in the museum.  You can see that it is pretty battered (not surprisingly) but the children thought it was absolutely fantastic and I can see that they will love having one in the classroom.

It wasn't all that expensive and I reckon it is money well spent.  I might claim it back and I might not.  It depends how much I fall in love with the book when it arrives.

Saturday morning

First of all, here's a link to that article on sleep patterns:  Last night I went to sleep pretty quickly as I was feeling very tired and, I think, slept most of the night, waking quite early.  I read for a while, turned sleepy again and dozed off.  And then the alarm woke me - I'd forgotten to turn the stupid thing off last night!!  It's ironic that the only time it ever wakes me is when it doesn't need to.  Usually I'm awake way before it's due to sound, but I always have it as a back up during a school week.

Yesterday was OK.  It was sunny and mild and the children didn't need their coats on at playtime.  They produced a reasonable piece of writing about the trip.  They had obviously had a very good time and chatted endlessly about what they had seen and done.  Little H brought in an old satchel stuffed with olden days things (which I remember using when I was at school so we won't dwell too long on that, OK).  In Golden Time, a bunch of little girls tried to play olden day schools but discovered they really didn't know how to - so they pretended instead!

And today I have to work in school because the Artsmark people are in on Monday and my classroom is a mess!  Ho hum!

Mrs Clark, Mrs Clark, we've found a weaving loom, look!
And they had!

Friday 24 February 2012

Friday morning additional comment

. . . and . . . no-one was sick on the coach.  Yay!

Friday morning

I am quite evidently not used to being on my feet all day - OK, slight exaggeration there, from 10:00 to 2:00 is perhaps rather more truthful.  Oooh, the aches as I got up this morning. 

It was worth it though.  I wish I could post photos to show you how beautifully 'Victorian' (in a rather generically 'olden days' sort of way) we all looked, but I can't, obviously.  They all looked delightful in their costumes.  An enterprising mum had bought up a job lot of small brown paper carrier bags which she sold for cost price so just about all the children brought their Victorian oacked lunch in brown bags rather than the usual garish, very 21st century plastic lunch boxes, which greatly added to the authenticity of the day.  Shame about the plastic water bottles, but we can't have everything!

After a very pleasant coach trip which was punctuated by shrieks of 'that's an olden days house', 'look at that chimney, it's olden days' and, just once, 'that's a thatched roof' so it's an olden days cottage' (yes, is was), the coach was able to stop bang outside the museum so we all piled off the former, into the latter and got organised.

My class had the role play lesson first and a rather awed silence descended on them as they walked through the time corridor into the past and met 'Sir', a very stern, cane holding school teacher from the past.  He sat them down outside the school room, talked to then gently (I could see Nervous Little Girl's lips starting to quiver) and then went into role.  You could see the characters my children had at that moment.  The ones who thought it was all a great thrill, those who were nervous but determined, those who really didn't like it one little bit and a couple who would have ducked and run, had they been given the opportunity.

I thought he was really rather good.  Not authentically strict, of course, that would have been inappropriate, but strict enough to give them a taster, which is what it's all about.  They had to stand when they spoke to him and finish off their answer with 'sir', which they loved. 
He soon had them chanting the number bonds for ten:
One and  . . . 'Nine, sir'
Two and . . . 'Eight, sir'
Three and . . . 'Seven, sir'  etc, and I was glad we had focused so much on this in the first term.
They did handwriting, chanted a poem, did desk drill, counted in 5s and 10s, sang a song, said a prayer, had a drawing lesson . . . the hour went extremely quickly!
We had one tearful little girl, not because she was scared but because she couldn't do the old fashioned letters for handwriting, but she was soon pacified and happy again.  Nervous Little Girl answered several questions beautifully, never forgot to say 'sir' and had a whale of a time!

I was so proud - halfway through the lesson he came up to me and asked 'Are they always as absolutely delightful as they are at the moment?'   They are, of course, they're a lovely class.

And my Bright Little Mathematician will never forget.  B L M called out (oh dear) a correct answer to a very hard question without saying ‘sir’ afterwards (ooops) and the teacher stalked up to him looking stern.

He looked down at B L M and said something like. ‘You just called out in my lesson and I should give you the cane (dramatic pause). Stand up!’ B L M stood up looking as worried as he is capable of looking, which isn’t all that much as he’s a very confident and casual laddie. The rest of the class looked worried and the mums tried to hide their giggles. The teacher went on. ‘However, you are obviously a very clever young man so I will shake your hand instead.’ and then did so. B L M's face was a picture of delight!!!

They loved him.  At lunchtime he got in his car to drive away and they all lined up in the playground, waving and calling 'Goodbye, sir, thank you, sir'

We were so lucky with the weather too.  Glorious sunshine and very mild so we didn't bother to take coats, which saved a lot of hassle, one way and another.

And today they're going to have to write about it.  That's life!

Edited to add a photo of the outside of part of the museum

. . . and of the school room where they had the role play lesson.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Thursday evening

What a fantastic day.  What a brilliant time we have all had.  I will amplify more when I have got my head around it and also when I've had a good sleep.  Suffice it to say, I have no complaints, none whatsoever.  I am tired and my children looked worn out by the end of the day!

On my iGoogle this morning there was a link to an interesting article about sleep.  Basically it was suggesting that the traditional 'eight hours' isn't quite the way it is and that the rhythm seems to be four hours sleep, an hour (or more) awake and then another four hours or so of sleep.  There seems to be historical evidence for this as well as more modern evidence.
Makes my so-called 'weird' sleep pattern not so odd after all, doesn't it?  Maybe I am doing the right thing in coming down in the middle of the night and doing stuff until I feel tired again.

Mind you, since going back to school I have felt so much better (possibly due to DD lending me her daylight lamp as well as natural healing) but very, very tired of an evening.  Last night I had nine hours of more or less unbroken sleep, going to bed well before eight.  It feels good, very good indeed.


Children in groups.  Tick
Work sheets.  Tick
My Victorian lunch made.  Tick
Victorian outfit ready.  Tick
Camera charged.  Tick
List of things to do before we leave.  Tick.
Nice weather ordered.  Tick

I think we're all ready for a good day out at Braintree Museum.  Wish us luck.

Wednesday 22 February 2012


Sorry about yesterday's lack of blog.  One way or another I was either very busy or very tired.  School's going well thought and, at last, my voice is coming back.  I was worried about being back at school and straining it more so have been very careful with how I have used it and it's definitely stronger.  I can even sing in tune again now (although whether that's an improvement or not isn't for me to say!).

We are all deep in preparation for our year 1 visit to Braintree Museum tomorrow now.  It is an 'experience' day so everyone is dressing up in Victorian clothes (or what might pass for Victorian clothes with closed eyes and a lot of imagination) and it should be a huge bundle of fun!  There's no better way for the little ones to learn - when I was at college there was this saying 'I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand' and there's enough truth in that to make it worth remembering, especially for little children.

So we have decided on our safety/behaviour rules (all together so there's 'joint ownership'), the groups are all sorted out, the work sheets are being copied out today, I've got someone to do my early morning duty tomorrow and it's all go.

Today is PPA and there's staff meeting after school .  So that's going to be another very tired evening, I guess!

Monday 20 February 2012

Monday after school

Ooops - good start.  Yes, it was early morning but not playtime duty - that's tomorrow!  And afternoon play duty too.  Must remember . . .

Monday morning

. . . and it's back to school for me!  Such a shame.  Still snuffling (but not as badly), still croaky (but less so) and somewhat unprepared (but knowing what I am doing).

And I must remember it is playground duty and early morning duty today!

Sunday 19 February 2012

Sunday afternoon

. . . and my PC is up and running again, everything is working, other PC stuff has been sorted and I'm a happy bunny.  I've also managed to finish two little knitted tops for baby J.

And DD/DG are coming round for tea!   Nice.

Sunday morning

What a surprise when I drew back my curtains this morning!  After the mildness of most of the last week and the wind and rain yesterday afternoon, I was presentend with dazzling sun and frost.  Must have been pretty cold overnight.  I have no idea what it's like now as I haven't opened an outside door yet and am unlikely to until Eddie arrives.  I'm just hoping against hope that he can sort something out for me.

Apart from that, it's usual Sunday stuff.  Roast lamb for dinner and DG/DD over for tea.  I have given way and bought hot cross buns, so we can have them for cake and before that I will do cheese on toast or welsh rarebit or something similar.

And then tomorrow is back to school.  Holiday over!

Saturday 18 February 2012

Saturday evening

As if there wasn't enough going on, this morning my PC decided to throw a strop, which it did most energetically and dramatically.  I have no idea what's going on except that I suspect it's something malfunctioning inside.  Certainly I am most careful and regular (like daily) with virus checks and, thankfully, I do a backup very single day too so, whatever the problem, it shouldn't be the end of the world.

Also thankfully, my marvellous computer expert, Eddie, when I contacted him, said he was able to come round tomorrow morning to take a look.  Eddie, you are THE BEST!!!  Many, many thanks.  Actually, he's unlikely to read this so I must make sure I tell him tomorrow, whatever the outcome, because just knowing that he is coming round is preventing an unavoidable minor worry from developing into all round panic with a capital 'P', sleepless night, bad dreams (OK, so this is an oxymoron, I know), nail biting, alcohol attacking . . .

You see, yes, everything is backed up (something Eddie set up a while ago) but I don't know how to access the backed up stuff (which is on a separate back up thingy), I haven't yet done next week's planning and -and - worst of all - ALL THE PLANNING IS ON MY COMPUTER.  That means all of this year's, thus far, all of last year's (which we base this years on with necessary amendments) and every other year, all of the resources, assessments . . . EEEEEEKKKKK.  June is going to kill me (June being my co-year 1 colleague)! 

But it IS backed up!  Phew.  I just cannot bear the thought of having to plan again from utter scratch.  Yes, it changes every year and if you look at the first planning we did for Year 1, after we moved to a themed approach, a number of years ago now, it will be totally different from last year's plans, but having to start from scratch - well, it's enough to make me consider retiring right now . . . so thank goodness for backups. I am sure Eddie will help me to access it, should it be necessary.
If you don't - why not?  Get it sorted NOW. 

You're probably wondering how on earth I am managing this blog entry.  Well, I meandered into school this afternoon, via the local library, and came home with the class laptop.  It's old, it's slow (I believe I am on the next list for replacement) but IT WORKS!!  And that's all that matters really, isn't it?

One more thing to be grateful for, apart from understanding friends who I am always grateful for, is DD.  She read yesterday evening's blog, decided I needed some support and phoned this morning to offer a lend of her daylight lamp, which is supposed to help with the winter blues and which she has found very helpful.  Of course, I accepted with deep gratitude.  Many thanks, DD, love you!

So fingers crossed that it is something not too difficult to sort.  But if it is terminal, I am grateful for the fact that I do have some savings (I didn't spend Auntie May's legacy last year) and can resource a now computer.

I do have an awful lot to be thankful for, don't I?

Saturday morning

. . . and after a good night's sleep I feel a lot brighter and settled again now, thank goodness.  Rants are not really me, not usually anyway!  I have to do a bit of work but apart from that I intend to take things very easy and rest.

I had a stroke of luck yesterday.  As I've said, I am doing some knitting for my TA's new born grandson.  I had realised that I didn't get enough buttons - really sweet ladybird buttons - and would need to turn out and go across town to get some more, not something I particularly felt inclined to do.  I hunted out my box containing my sewing up needles, etc and, lo and behold, in there was just one more ladybird button, exactly the same as the ones I had bought, which meant I had just enough.  So now it is finished, looks cute and I will post a photo after I've given it.  Now to start the second one.

And that is it really.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend and a good rest, if that's what you need.

Friday 17 February 2012

Friday evening (whinge alert - a.k.a. don't read further if you'd rather not)

. . . and despite a week off school, I am still feeling 'orrible, on and off.  My voice is sometimes non existent (and what use is a teacher without a voice, eh?), recent events seem to be plotting to throw me off course in some very important areas of my life and ordinary, everyday things just seem too much for some of the time (quite a lot of the time, actually).  I met a lovely mum in Morrisons today (who is also an OU student) and she kept saying 'are you sure you're OK?' as I croaked my way through our chat.  I wanted to shout 'no, I bl**dy well am not' (which would have gone down a real treat, I am sure, so I bet you're glad I didn't) but natural courtesy and niceness prevailed, thank goodness, because she didn't deserve that. 

I suspect I will have to trouble my nice GP with it eventually, which I am really most reluctant to do.  I have a sort of - well, not exactly a phobia, but certainly a dislike of asking for medical help.  I have NO idea why, unless it is because my ex (and late) was a doctor, but I don't think it's that because he wasn't a GP.  It's just one of those things and once I go I think all sorts of self esteem stuff will come out and I don't so want that to happen.  Stiff upper lip and all that. 

Goodness, what a rant.  Sorry, gentle readers, but what use is a blog if you can't let rip occasionally?  I'm sure I will be back to my usual placid, peaceful, quirky self tomorrow and life will settle down again.  Fingers crossed.  And thanks for listening.

Friday morning

Feeling somewhat better after a very lazy day spent in my bed clothes, dozing on and off interspersed with some serious knitting, so serious that I have nearly finished the first little home knit for L's new grandson.  I'm on the collar, then I just have to do the button and button hole bands and the making up.  I got some gorgeous little ladybird buttons for it and am hoping it will look seriously cute.  Then I start the second one the pattern of which was sent to me by a friend who reads in here (thank you very much, I still think it is lovely).  The one I've nearly finished is a cheerful dark red and the next one will be shades of blue and beige.  Fire and water!

I'm afraid the shiny sink and the swish and swipe have taken a bit of a back seat over the last few days but the glory of the thing is that if it's usually done regularly, a missed day now and again is of no consequence whatsoever.  It will take me twenty minutes, if that, to sort it all out!  And I have incentive because K is coming round for coffee and chat this morning.  K was one of my SEN LSAs last year and we did work together so very, very well!  I'm looking forward to a good natter with her.

The decluttering hasn't worked out quite the way I had hoped, unfortunately.  I don't feel that I've wasted a lot of time (except for yesterday and there was a reason for that) but somehow I haven't really got stuck in as much as I had hoped.  Never mind, we will see what the next three days bring.

Lovely fresh colours!

Thursday 16 February 2012

Thursday morning

Yesterday was very pleasant with a good lunch at The Hare in the company of my lovely friend, J, followed by a visit to Hobbycraft, me for some wool and buttons and J to change a book.  After that it was a case of dropping her off home and coming home myself.

Unfortunately, today I am feeling quite rough: achey and sore and with a developing headache.  I think its a case of taking the pain killers and planning to rest, so that's what I'm going to do.  I may be back later . . .

A Poole Pottery owl.  Isn't he handsome?

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Wednesday morning

It's certainly warmed up considerably in the last few days.  I woke from a most peculiar dream very hot under my quilt (only 4 tog) and have now opened the bedroom window to air the house.  It's lovely to get some fresh air in without worrying about all the precious heat being wasted again, and a brisk breeze is certainly helping the airing process along.

It was a very odd dream indeed, starting with a school trip where I got on the wrong coach at the wrong time to come home, leaving my class behind with four parents in charge, realised after about ten minutes and got off to walk back.  At this point I was somewhere in a city, got lost, somehow ending up at the top of a block of flats from whence I was pushed down the fire escape in a wheelchair, screeching my head off the whole way (I do have a terrible head for heights at the best of times) - and so it went on.  I don't think I ever found my class and by the end it didn't matter, but you know how crazy dreams can get . . .

When I woke it was stupidly early so I came down (as I do), made a coffee, put the ingredients for a white loaf into the breadmaker, did some PC stuff and then went back up.  I intended to have some more sleep but instead wandered into the small bedroom and started sorting some more books out.  Some (many) have to be thrown out as they are in a disgraceful state and only fit for recycling, but there are some that I can post on Facebook Ree-cycle or take down to the local charity shop.  I have so many cookery books and craft/cross stitch books and, being utterly realistic, I know I shall never use many them again (if I ever really did).  It would be better for someone else to have the benefit of them and for me to have the space.
Equally, I have a pile of records.  LP records, dating back to the 60s and very early 70s when I was building up my collection of classical (with a small 'c') music.  Some are scratched terribly, some are warped and some - well, when I say they were already second, third or fourth hand when I bought them from David's Bookshop in Letchworth, you can see that they truly are not worth keeping, most of them.  I have no means of playing them and anyway the sound quality would be absolutely dreadful!  It's time they went but, oh, it's going to be emotionally difficult.

Fortunately I shall have a break at lunchtime.  J and I are going out to the Hare for lunch and a good natter.  I'm looking forward to that very much indeed - and it means I will HAVE to tidy up my car boot in order to get J's wheelchair in.  That has to be a very good thing indeed!

Another photo from my drive over to Letchworth last Saturday.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Tuesday morning: NOT target Tuesday

For once I didn't forget, but as I have made this time a fortnight I have no comments right now.  I spent an hour or so this morning sorting out the recent photographs and here's a few.  None of the kittens though, because DD has forbidden it  :0)

A view on the way over, just outside Chelmsford.


I just like the effect of the shadow.
The snow was still icy and crunchy at this point!

A fish-eye view of an interesting vase.

I love this box.

Monday 13 February 2012

Monday evening

So much for plans!  I went to Lakeland and got what I wanted.  I drove back home feeling worn out.  When I got hame I had a rest (spacing myself, you understand).  I went to DD's and looked after DG for longer than expected.  I got home and it was almost evening so I'm fighting sleep now.  So much for decluttering!

Never mind, it won't go away (unfortunately), it will be there when I am ready . . .

Monday morning

. . . and it's a lovely feeling.  I don't have to look at my planning, check my resources, make my sandwiches, check my OUSA forums for problems, rush around - in fact I could go back to bed without setting the alarm. if I wanted to.  Oh, it's lovely.

In fact, of course, I do have plans.  This morning I want to go into town to visit Lakeland.  I have a few things on the list, including a bread slicer thingy.  I have seen it in use at my parents' and decided that I simply cannot manage any longer without one!  You know how it goes!  Because its design means that it rather slithers about, I want to get some anti slip stuff (the kind that you put on lap trays) and will send some to my parents too, assuming it works (which it should).  I need to get some more poly bags and I daresay I will find other stuff I didn't know I needed until I see it!  That's Lakeland for you.

I'm starting some knitting!  Last week my TA, L, because a granny.  I didn't get anything at the time but I can easily knit a couple of little things over this week that will be really cute.  At the moment I am spoilt for choice as far as patterns go and I have loadsa wool, so I need to do some thinking.  That's the kind of problem I like to have - which pattern, which colour.

Yesterday evening I felt really rather rotten.  I'd been coughing all day so was aching and achy all over.  Bed at seven with anti-cough and anti-ache meds, straight to sleep and, apart from a trip down the landing, slept solidly through until around four this morning.  Amazing!  Now I just feel fragile instead of poorly and, providing I am sensible and space out my day, I should continue to feel better.

So today:   shopping, bread making, decluttering one of my big office cupboards - the paper one, I think, rather than the craft one, washing and ironing, sorting out the photos I took over the weekend and, best of all, spending some time with DG.  Should be a great day! 

I hope yours is good too!

Sunday 12 February 2012

Sunday late afternoon

I'm back home after spending yesterday and this morning with the dearly beloved parents.  I was rather worried about the thought of driving back as, judging by Fb messages, it sounded very cold and black-icy this end and several people took nasty falls this morning.  However the temperature gradually rose and by this afternoon any black ice wouldn't stand a chance.  As it happened it was an easy and steady drive home with everyone going at a sensible pace.  Phew.

Apart from that there's really nothing to say . . . so I won't!

Sunday morning

It's still cold here but nowhere near as freezingly low as yesterday morning which, I now gather, really was -13.  Yesterday the snow looked sparkly and it felt crunchy.  Today it seems to have lost its shimmer and gleam.  I know the sun isn't shining, but quite apart from that it looks nowhere near as cold.

In a 'nothing to do' moment yesterday I started fiddling with my (er - I mean the class) camera and discovered some new settings, including one that is supposed to be good for snowy scenes.  I wish I'd discovered that last weekend!!  I've taken a few shots but what I really need to do is some methodical investigation to see what works and what doesn't.  Perhaps I will have time for that this week.

I am cross with myself.  I had it firmly fixed in my head that I had a dental appointment this coming week.  When I dug out the card I don't - it was last week.  Darn it, that's a 'fine' to pay, an apology to make and I have to rearrange it - and the chances of getting one this week now are so small as to be non existent, this being half term week.

Oh, well, that's life . . .  :0(

Saturday 11 February 2012

Saturday morning

Given that half term has started, I'm feeling surprisingly down this morning.  It could be that I'm totally cheesed off with feeling not so good, it could be the cough, the snuffles, whatever . . .   I wish I could crawl back into bed and go back to sleep and maybe I will in a little while.  I have to be up and dressed by nine because that's when P is coming over to fit my battery.  I really ought to learn this skill - I gather it's not difficult.  Maybe he will teach me what to do so that next time I can be more independent and less helpless female about it all.  Mind you, I consider myself very fortunate to live in a cul de sac with such lovely, helpful neighbours who are so willing to help out.  It's good.

DD took me to Halfords last night to get a new battery.  I find Halfords a very alien environment indeed but the staff were extremely helpful and it didn't take long to find what I needed (I hope it's what I needed anyway!).  I didn't realise car batteries were so heavy though!

All this counting my blessings is cheering me up.  Good!  There's no point frowning when a smile is waiting to pop out!  I had to smile when I looked at my iGoogle page.  It informed me that the temperature in London was -6, but here in Chelmsford it was -13!  I think that must be a slip of the finger somewhere!  Mind you, having just peeped out, it is very, very, very cold with a clear sky and a hard frost. I doubt it's really -13 but the snow/ice isn't likely to go anywhere that fast today!

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and sheltered today.

Friday 10 February 2012

Friday morning

Just one more day and we are halfway through the school year.  A very chilly end to the half year it is too, with a little more snow last night and freezing temperatures to make walking to school something of a challenge.  I suspect it will be a case of walking in the road.  Still, it isn't far and, my goodness, I really could do with the exercise. 

I went into the kitchen just now to make breakfast and do the morning routine of emptying the dishwasher, which I knew was full.  Oooops - I loaded it up last night, put in the soap and . . . forgot to turn it on.   So now it is buzzing away merrily and will be finished, hopefully, before I have to leave for school.
I had nice weekend plans about visiting people which now seem to be scuppered.  Not only is the weather going to make the cross country drive something of a problem, the car battery is as flat as a pancake.  Fortunately, DD says she will take me to Halfords or somewhere similar to get a new battery and Lovely Neighbour's Husband across the cul de sac says he will fit it for me, pathetic female that I am!  Thanks you so much, P, I am very grateful for good neighbours.

And now I must, MUST remember to hand over the violin exam entries to the visiting teacher today . . . I think I need to tie a knot in my handkerchief to remind me, although I suspect I will forget what it is supposed to remind me of.  I'm getting old!

Thursday 9 February 2012

Thursday morning, aka Target Tuesday (again)

Oh, dear, will Target Tuesday ever get to be a habit, I wonder?  Anyway, here's the results.
1.  Work on the new Flylady baby step - fifteen minutes of decluttering a day  which I changed to five minutes of decluttering each week day and fifteen on Saturday and Sunday for practical reasons.  Hmmm - well, I've sort of achieved this, I think.  OK, let's be honest, not really, but I've done some which is a lot better than what it would normally be, which is nothing!   Also, I don't think I am accumulating rubbish to such an extent now: I'm thinking 'it's clutter' and acting accordingly, and that's making a big difference.  For example, the post gets dealt with sooner rather than waiting for a pile that falls over before I act.  The cupboards and fridge get a mini de-clutter pretty often, just to keep on top of things.
2. Keep up the shiny sink and the swish and swipe, with all that is involved in this.  Well, I'm extremely pleased with this one.  I don't feel 'right' if I haven't shined (or should that be 'shone'?) my sink before I go to bed and before I go to work now, ditto for the swish and swipe after my bath.  I find that by the time I've done the quick once over and shined (shone) the bath, I'm nearly dry anyway and can then go and get dressed straight away.  Also ditto for keeping my bedroom tidy (comparatively tidy anyway) and making the bed each day.  What a difference this has all made during the dark winter months too.  I feel very smiley about it.
3.  Get my clothes ready the night before.   Again, sort of.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.  Must try harder!  :0)

The new targets will last for two weeks, as it's half term next week and I want to get a lot done.  I want it so much that I am going schedule the bigger declutters into a calendar for next week.

1.  Keep up the daily checklist and keep working on the clothes bit.  Can't let that all slide now, it has made a HUGE difference.

2.  Declutter and defrost the freezers.  It's a good time because it's so cold the food can just go in bags outside the shed and will stay thoroughly frozen in the time it takes.

3.  Deal with my two office cupboards - and be ruthless with the rubbish!  Totally ruthless.  Even the craft stuff.  Eeek.

4.  Declutter the video cupboard in the guest room.  There are videos in there that I will never, ever watch again.  For example, I have some home recorded Star Treks that were made after the 'hurricane' in 1987 (I think it was 1987) when the TV aerial was damaged and reception was dreadful.  Why I have kept them so long I will never know (apart from Trouble with Tribbles, which will always remain a classic, however dreadful the quality).  On the other hand, I have the full set of the Forsyte Saga, which I definitely intend to keep!  AND a recording of when my two were on WACaday (remember WACaday?) singing a self composed song, prophetically entitled 'I wanna be a Menace'!  That's possibly the most precious thing I have.  Must get it onto DVD!
Once that cupboard is clear(er), I could put the spare bedding into it (possibly in vacubags) which would free up the wardrobe drawers for my guests to use.

5.  I have just filed something away and been reminded of the shocking state of my filing drawers.  I think new inserts and a really good clear out is required.  I can do that one insert at a time (thus fulfilling the 15 minutes of decluttering each day) so all I need to do is get the necessary from Staples or similar, dig out the shredder, and off we go!

That looks like enough to keep me out of mischief and make a significant difference to things, doesn't it?  Good!

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Wednesday evening

I can't say 'good morning', can I, seeing as it's now past 18:00?  So sorry about the morning silence.  I had a wakey spell in the night involving coming down, doing some work and having a coffee (which never seems to keep me awake), felt pretty grotty this morning as a result and generally didn't have the energy to do much at all.  There's some OUSA pressures troubling me and the latest cold is impacting double plus!

Oh, well, never mind, it is now the evening and it's been a pretty good day.  Apologies if it sounds like boasting, but I was thrilled with the ICT lesson I delivered this morning.  I've not done it before and it wasn't what I'd planned but I had a revelation and followed it through.  And it worked in spades . . .  YAY!!  That's set me up for the next week or so!  It's things like this that keep me wanting to teach rather than gently retire and makes me think that maybe I'm not such a bad teacher after all.  And also that OFSTED had seen it!

After school it was staff meeting.  Now, I don't think I have said much about our staff room, but it is the most inadequate use of space I have ever come across.  For a start, there isn't room for all members of staff, which means that some of us have our break and coffee in a bay.  The kitchen part is a disaster, creating more of a traffic jam than the Thames crossing on the M25.  And that's only a slight exaggeration, believe me. 
We had developed a total school remodelling plan after an official survey that declared our 'space' wasn't really adequate but,sadly, it was stopped in its tracks by the government.  However, phase one was able to go ahead.  That included a completely new staff room with space, storage, amazing kitchen facilities and work stations enough for all.  For the last three months most of our curriculum resources have been stored (inaccessibly) in a sort of portacabin in the playground.  Today we used staff meeting time to get them all into the new storage space in the staffroom.  We all ended up dusty and worn out but with everything put away in our new space.  It's just brilliant.  Now we're pushing for a formal opening on Friday (last day before half term) with a ribbon cutting ceremony, a few bottles of something nice and general celebration!

We are happy!  Very happy!  :0)

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Tuesday morning and the cheese sauce.

I thought I'd post what I did to make that cheese sauce as it was really delicious and very easy.  I'm afraid I don't have quantities as I don't measure out for a cheese sauce.  No photos either.  It was a kind of throw it all in and see kind of thing and really all I wanted to test was the cheese and cornflour method.

I used:
grated tasty cheddar mixed with some cornflour (enough to thicken)
semi skimmed milk
seasoning - a little salt, some pepper and some dried mustard to taste
some Marigold vegetable powder
some grated Parmesan
some cooked macaroni
chopped onion and yellow pepper, softened in butter
some bits of chicken or ham

OK, so the cheddar was grated and mixed with the Parmesan and the macaroni was cooked.  The onion and pepper were softened in butter and the chicken was in small chunks.
I put the milk on to heat up and added the mustard, seasonings and Marigold.  I was very careful with the salt.
when the milk was just under boiling I added the cheddar/cornflour bit by bit, stirring well with a balloon whisk as I did so.  I checked the seasoning (which was fine, as it happened) and then added a bit of grated . . . well, it wasn't Parmesan but something vaguely equivalent (but vegetarian).
What I actually did then was to pour the sauce into a dish and covered everything over because I wanted to do the rest just before dinner.  Originally I wasn't going to add the chicken, of course, but DD and DG didn't come over in the end.  So later on I re-heated the sauce, added all the other things, stirred well, continued reheating and then ate and jolly nice it was too.  I can see that also adding some cream cheese would be very nice but I didn't have any.  However, it's definitely one to do again and so I shall.  Without all the reheating, prepared and eaten straight off, it would be a very simple dish using one pan (I made the sauce in the pan I cooked the macaroni in), a chopping board, a grater and a few utensils.
I can't see myself going back to the roux method now, not with this way being so simple.

So not at all Heston really but I was pleased with it!

No photos of the recipe so here's another of that beautiful Christmas present instead.  If you look carefully, you can see the second bud which should flower soon after the first flowers fade and die.

Monday 6 February 2012


My home is generally a warm home.  It has efficient and effective heating.  It does feel cold at the moment, perhaps because it is so damp and raw outside.  When I've finished this I will snuggle down under my fleecy blanket in front of the telly and, probably, go to sleep.  Thinking about it, it would probably save time if I just go straight to bed, wouldn't it?

There was great excitement in school today as playtime neared.  The edict was that if you had wellies (or similar) you could go out and play on the field.  Of course the field was a virgin waste of snow, untrodden, unspoilt.  Until playtime, that is!  Of course, they got cold, wet, snow down their boots, socks/tights damp or worse and mildly masochistic little boy asked me, if his boots and socks were still damp at lunchtime, please could he go out in bare feet? 

I'm a right spoilsport, so I am!!

Monday morning

. . . and a very quick post.  At Christmas I was given an amaryllis in a box - one to plant and grow.  By the time I got to open it, it had decided to grow anyway and sported a handsome white bud on a long white stem!  So I planted it, stood it on the kitchen windowsill and hoped.  It has flowered beautifully with another bud also looking promising - but no leaves!

Sunday 5 February 2012

Sunday afternoon.

It's so nice being indoors all cosy and warm after brushing snow off the car.  No, I probably won't drive to school, I will walk because the roads will be bad, but just in case . . .  And if there's a big freeze overnight, will teachers be able to get into school anyway?  I don't know - time will tell.

It carried on snowing until around mid morning but has remained cloudy and dull all day.  For once we have had a fair bit more than my parents - usually it's the other way round.  I went out taking some photos but really they all look the same!  White . . .

DD and DG didn't come round (the roads are not good) so I have a pile of cheese sauce with nowhere to go right now.  Also chicken.  I ate more than I should have for dinner, seeing as it was just me, but there's still loads left and the carcass is boiling away at the moment.

Well, it's a big three cheers for the brining and slow cooking.  Diane was right, the flavour and texture is amazingly good.  No hint of dryness anywhere, despite being open roasted on a low heat for about three hours, it was firm and juicy and soft all at the same time.  And it didn't shed much stock, which means that all that deliciousness was retained inside the meat.  It's not a hassle either.  OK, so you have to brine the bird.  I did that yesterday and then left it wrapped in the fridge overnight, getting it out early morning to come up to room temperature.  But that wasn't a hassle.  And once in the oven it just got left.  No basting, uncovering, checking,. etc.  Just a quick glance at the thermometer now and again.  I wasn't convinced about that last hot blast.  Seems to me that is just for appearance as we don't eat the skin and is therefore unnecessary.  I'm sure Diane will put me right on this one if I have got it wrong. 
I guess this is how I will roast chicken from now on!  I think next time I will try it the other way up, with the breast underneath, just to see.

So tea today is macaroni cheese, tomorrow's lunch is lentil soup and chicken sarnies and tea has to be macaroni cheese with chicken!  All very scrummy.  I had planned to have beef in beer but that will just have to wait now.  One thing's for sure - I'm not going to starve!

Edited later to add - when I said 'we' don't eat the skin, I meant me and mine, not me and you, the reader.  For me the skin goes into the stock pot to simmer all the flavour out.

Sunday morning

At last it came.  It took its time.  All day it was intermittently sunny and cloudy and each time I thought 'here we go', but no, out came the sun again  Rather a shame in a way because I love watching the snow fall.  It has the same effect on me as watching waves or a waterfall or the wind in the trees - soothing, relaxing and hypnotic.  At about nine-thirty I looked out and the snow had just started.  Very fine, powdery flakes which were starting to settle on car and path.  And I think it must have kept going all night, which is most unusual for round here.  It's still falling, but not heavily and everywhere looks strangely bright, as if each snowflake had its own tiny inner gleam of power.  If it's like that here, it must be very impressive elsewhere. 

Yesterday was a busy 'in the kitchen' day, the first real test of my determination to keep everything neat and tidy and to go to bed with a shiny sink and a loaded dishwasher.  Early in the morning I popped out to Morrison's for a few things and ended up getting more than I intended - isn't it always the way?  I had a list too.  There was meat, prepacked, of course, for three for £10, so I bought two packs of casserole steak (can't remember what kind) and a pack of 25 meatballs.  Yes, I know, they are easily made, but they seemed very good value and saved time - and I didn't like the look of the mince that was part of the 3 for £10 offer.  I decided to do beef in beer, which I haven't made for ages, and make a sauce for the meatballs before freezing them in single portions.  A good tomato sauce isn't rushed, nor is beef in beer, so these were simmering on the hob for quite some time before cooling.  I have to say, the house did smell good.  I did something silly though.  I needed to make another loaf so loaded up the pan and set the breadmaker off.  It wasn't until the whole process was well under way that I realised I'd put on a wholemeal/granary load but used a white loaf setting, which is an hour faster.  As it was a bit late to do anything about it, I let it finish.  It actually wasn't too bad, a bit smaller than usual and likely to be more solid, but it will be perfectly edible, I am sure.
The ham and lentil soup was really scrummy and there's a portion left over for tomorrow's lunch.  Excellent!

In the OUSA Food and Drink forum a while back I was moaning about how naff I was with shortcrust pastry and someone told me about Proberts pastry, an alternative way to make it.  You have equal amounts of butter, white fat and boiling water (e.g. 4 oz, 4 oz and 4 fl oz) and the same weight of self raising flour (12 oz).  You put the fats in a bowl and add the boiling water, mashing it all down with a fork.  Then you add the flour, mix it in, cover and chill for at least two hours.  After then, you roll it out as usual.  I wasn't sure but thought I'd give it a go and, you know, it really wasn't so bad.  An awful lot better than my usual efforts anyway.  I made a mixed fruit pie with an assortment of fruit from the freezer as well as the leftovers from a fruit salad which we can have for dessert today (assuming DD and DG get here) with custard and then for dessert during the week too.  There's some left over so I might make some cheesy straws or some jam tarts or some apple turnovers or I might freeze it for another time.  Decisions, decisions!

Well, it's still snowing.  I need to do some kitchen stuff and make breakfast and then find my boots so that I can take the things I made yesterday to the freezer in the shed.  It's on days like this that I regret not having a freezer indoors! 
Stay warm and stay safe everyone.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Saturday morning

No snow (yet) but it's exceedingly cold:  I am highly grateful for working central heating that turns on at night when it's really cold.  I don't think I am planning to go anywhere much today, thank goodness.Stay calm and keep warm is the name of the game.

After the success of cooking the vacuum wrapped (bought like that, not done by me) ham in the slow cooker last week, I decided to do it again.  Morrison's have comparatively small gammon pieces at half price right now.  Morrison's hams are good.  My parents, who are fussy about their hams, go into their local Morrison's to buy them.  It simmered away in the slow cooker all day and by the evening it was done.  It sat in its juices in the bag until cooled and then I drained off the stock into a pan which I left on the hob overnight (forgot to put it in the fridge but it was cold so no problems).  This morning it had set to a lovely thick jelly so I guess it's a good stock!  So that's ham and lentil soup for lunch, probably with croutons (I have bread that needs eating up) and maybe ham, eggs and oven chips (home made) for tea tonight.  That's lovely cold weather food.  And I have some bags of fruit in the freezer that ought to be used up - cherries and the like, so I guess I will make a fruit pie and if the snow holds off and DD and DG come for dinner tomorrow we can have a slice each and if they don't, no problems, it will keep (or freeze).  I have a recipe for pastry (if I can find where I put it) that doesn't involve cold hands and rubbing in.
As it's a day in, I might actually prepare lots of the fruit and vacupack it as stewed fruit.  Always useful to have.  or even do a Diane and vacupack it first before cooking in a slow simmering pan of water.

If DD and DG don't come, I am still going to do the chicken a la Heston.  It wont go to waste, whatever happens.  I am so intrigued by the recipe.  Everything I have read indicates that it's the best ever and turns what could be a bland experience into a taste sensation - or something to that effect!  Now I like chicken anyway so it should be interesting.  I'm planning to have it with roasties and assorted veg.

It might be a lazy weekend, it might be cold, it might snow (note to self - get the spade into the house), but there's plenty to do inside.  Better go and start by putting a loaf on!  I love Saturdays.

Friday 3 February 2012

Friday evening

 . . . and the weekend starts here.  OK, so it doesn't officially start until tomorrow but, with planning done and the house relatively respectable, I feel it's started already.  The voice seems to be coming back a bit, helped by a day not teaching, the cough is definitely a lot better, especially when I wake, I'm feeling better in myself and I really think I'm finally recovering somewhat.  To be 100% in time for half term would be fantastic.  Actually, to be 90% well by then would be wonderful too.  Fingers crossed

It was an interesting day today.  Two long observations which didn't show much at all (which was interesting in itself), some time spent sorting out the violin entries, more time spent putting in orders for stock which have to be in by half term (so that's something ticked off the school list) and a good consultation with someone regarding nurture groups.  And I was on afternoon playground duty.  Now, I know children are pretty good at keeping themselves warm but it was bitingly cold and how anyone can run around in just their shirt sleeves (and bottom half covered, of course) is beyond me.  They put their coat on pretty sharpish once I noticed though!  :0)

So - the weekend.  It's supposed to snow tomorrow or maybe Sunday.  I have the Snowday work prepared, just in case.  If school is closed, we post work on the web site.  Poor children!  And George isn't coming.  It's so cold, the ground is hard as iron and there really seems to be no point whatsoever, so he's having a break.

As for the snow - we will see.

Friday morning

It's still extremely cold outside.  Colder than yesterday, I think.  Coming back into the living room after peeking out of the front door was a positive pleasure, it felt so warm and cosy.  I'm thinking of those without efficient heating systems right now, whatever the reason.

Today, of course, is Friday so my SEN day.  I have assessments today and need to set up some dates for meetings.  I think also some observations are on the list and helping with gym trail, not to mention putting in an order for resources.  I'm also collecting in entries and money for the next lot of violin exams and today is the last day, so I suspect that there will be a last minute flood of entries for that too.  It's all go today!

Sadly, I didn't get my decluttering done yesterday, unless you count a few more bits and bobs into the bin from the bedside drawer (I don't).  I note from Flylady that today is the day to declutter your 'purse' (I guess that means handbag here) and car.  Well, I can do my bag but I'm avoiding the mess in the car.  I have special glasses that filter out all the mess so it becomes invisible, you see!!!  And anyway, it is just too cold!

Better go and do the necessary in the kitchen . . .

Thursday 2 February 2012

Thursday morning

Oh, it's cold out there!  Bitterly cold, enough to freeze the toenails off your feet!  I feel extremely sorry for my little dears.  They have outdoor games this morning and it doesn't look as if there will be any excuses for not doing them - no rain, no wet playground, no strong winds.  Just coldy cold!  I don't feel sorry for me though, not in the slightest.  It's my coordinator time.

I see snow is forecast for Saturday.  It's simply not good enough and I shall have to complain to the weather man.  Snow should come on weekdays, enough to create a snowday.  Snowdays are no earthly use on Saturdays or Sundays.  Eny fule kno that!

I did my little bit of decluttering yesterday.  It was a bit of a cheat really - I sat in bed, opened one of the bedside drawers and chucked a whole load of old tubes and canisters into the bin.  Well, it's a start anyway!  :0)

I think I have this chicken thing sorted now.
1. Soak chicken in brine solution of 60g salt to each litre of water for about three hours.
2. Rinse and pat dry.  Put a few things into the cavity if wanted - I will bung in a cut lemon and a few herbs from the garden.
3.  Place in a roasting dish, uncovered and roast at 90 degrees until the inner temperature (of the chicken) reached 65 degrees for twelve minutes.  Could take several hours.  Luckily I have a roasting thermometer.
4. Baste with melted butter, whop the heat up to the highest it will go and brown off the chicken.
5. Eat!
I gather, from what I have read, that the soaking in brine helps the chicken to retain all its moisture and very little drips off so no stock for gravy.
I'll let you know . . .

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Wednesday morning

Oh, to see life with the eyes of a child.  It was great excitement all round yesterday morning because 'it's snowing, Mrs Clark, lots and lots of snow'.  'Just let me get my magnifying glass' said I, which, of course, went right over their heads!  I suppose you could call it snow - very light, fine flakes, settling on the grass and on top of the low wall but not on the playground.  At playtime they all trooped out ready for fun and games and came back telling me of fantastic snow fights.  'How?' said I - there really was only about 1mm of the stuff.  Turns out they gathered titchy little bits and flicked them at each other.

To follow the cough, the sneezes and the sort throat, I now have limited voice.  It was hard work making myself heard yesterday and I suppose today isn't going to be all that much better.  At least I don't have to do all that much direct teaching.  It's PPA, computer suite and library!  OK by me!!!

After reading about Diane's success with brining and roasting a chicken a la Heston, I bought one myself to have a go.  I can't believe that you can cook it at such a low temperature, but am very prepared to have a go.  It won't go to waste whatever happens.

It's a new month.  Pinch and punch!  The new baby step is in operation now.  Fingers crossed because I have serious doubts about keeping this one up!  I have the bags, I have the clutter, but do I have the motivation?  We will see.

Better go and unload the dishwasher.  Can't neglect the old tasks for the new.