Friday 30 November 2012


Good morning.  Another cold night overnight, wasn't it, and there's a heavy frost right now?  Yesterday was jolly chilly too and I was hugely relieved that I wasn't on any kind of playground duty.  By the time staff meeting started I was just about dropping but managed to stay awake.  The chap who was leading the phonic training was an interesting speaker so even though I didn't actually learn anything new, I stayed awake.  I think - hope - my junior colleagues did learn something about the part phonics play in early reading and writing though and the experinces and knowledge they bring with them into the juniors.  I'm a great 'believer' in phonics and have been since my teacher training days.  It's not the only route to becoming a reader/writer by a long shot (and I don't care what the government says about that one) but it has its place and a very important place too.

Apart from that, I was really very chuffed with my maths lesson yesterday.  Sometimers it can plod along and sometimes it seems that all the recent lessons come together and the children 'fly'.  Yesterday's lesson felt like flying!  A lovely feeling.

Today is, of course, SEN day.  There's quite a lot of stuff to catch up with and some issues to talk over with colleagues.  It's going to be a busy day so I am thankful for a good night's sleep.

Bring it on . . .  :-)

Thursday 29 November 2012


Yesterday evening I was ready to sleep at around eight but decided to try to stay awake for a while because of the consequence, which would be waking very early.  Fortunately, on Facebook, I got into a chat with another teacher talking about planning ideas and so on, so I finally went up at around nine thirty.  Ideal.

I should have known better.  A sore throat woke me at around two and I have been more or less awake since then.  I did go back up to bed for a little while and read and dozed but even so - yawn!

Yesterday was good!  Apart from the usual, pleasant, day-by-day happenings, staff meeting was cancelled.  A gift because we have another one today.  Phonics for the junior staff but we infant teachers are expected to come along too, quite rightly. 

It's going to be a lo-o-o-ng day!

Wednesday 28 November 2012


I had an unexpected and very pleasant surprise yesterday.  Due to an overbooking of a supply teacher, we had a cover teacher going 'spare' today (in the availability sense, not the crazy sense).  The deputy head very kindly offered the time to me to get on with Christmas show preparations.  To be honest, I nearly cried when she told me, I was so relieved.  So, with my usual coordinator time after play, that gave me the whole morning and it was much needed.  It helped a lot that the teacher  before play was the same teacher as after play so my class didn't have to handle another change of teacher.  Phew.

Apart from that blessing, things swung along nicely through the day so no complaints at all.  Hope today is as pleasant.

Isn't it getting cold though?   Brrrrr . . .

Tuesday 27 November 2012


Three cheers for preparation and another three cheers for wonderful classroom assistants!

Our meeting went really well yesterday.  The food was enjoyed, the music played,  show issues discussed and sorted out.  The ticket system worked well and accurately anbd made the task a whole lot easier.  Phew.
And then my FS colleagues said that one of their assistants would love to do the scenery/backcloth for the show and that she was very good at it.  So instead of spending an hour painting a seemingly endless strip of corrugated card blue and sticking loadsa stars on, it's all going to be done for us.  What with A doing the reindeer food for us, we are being thoroughly spoilt!

That's about it really.  Nothing compares with the show right now in terms of significance!  Nothing!

Monday 26 November 2012


Good morning - and I sincerely hope it IS a good morning and that none of my readers has woken up to an unpleasantly splashy surprise downstairs.
It's dreadfully wet here but, surprisingly, not windy as far as I can tell.  I am prepared for wet playtimes today and I think I will start what worked well last year which was giving them a DVD to watch over wet playtimes.  They really enjoyed that.

Yesterday was a busy day.  In the afternoon I went over to Beth's to help her clear a room before some decorating stuff and it was no joke.  Clearing one room when all your rooms are already cluttered is difficult, to say the least, and we could never have done it without Alex's help.  Al is a lot better now, his hand doesn't hurt at all (he says) and he is back to school today (he says, with determination).  Hopefully he will be OK; he's lost a lot of weight over the last two weeks but I guess at least some of that will roll back on again once he is really eating properly again.  Beth is still recovering; it's going to take her longer.  I am increasingly envious of how youngsters can bounce up so quickly once recovery starts.
Thank you to all who have send good wishes for them in the last couple of weeks.

I think I am more or less ready for the meeting this evening.  The shortbread and the mini mincepies are boxed up, the alcohol and fruit juice is in a strong carrier, the programmes are all sorted and the agenda is out to everyone, first thing they will see when they walk into their bays this morning, lucky them!  I just need to count how many chairs we already have in the hall.  I think the worst of the worry is over - at least I have had two nights of good, sound sleep which indicates there's nothing heavy on my mind right now.

Those little pies worked so well I am definitely making more, this time for the freezer.  Also, me being me, I am beginning to wonder what other fillings one could use.  Could I, perhaps, use hot water pastry and a savoury sausagemeat filling and make very mini pork pies?
Who knows, but lack of time means that there's no way I will find out this Christmas.  I don't have a week at home for experimenting this year, unlike last year.  The plus side is that there's nearly a week AFTER the festive stuff is finished to  rest and recover.  Win win!

And now it is half past five so I'd better go and have a hot, long, leisurely bath to start the week off and be grateful (in a non-proud kind of way) that I can.

Sunday 25 November 2012


One advantage of having hearing aids (among many) is that once they are out at night nothing disturbs me.  So, while I gather that it has been a wild and woolly night round here judging by Facebook comments, I heard not a sausage and slept like a log all through!  No flooding - an advantage of living in a 'dry' part of the country - either.  But my heart goes out to those who are been affected by this latest bout of terrible weather.

I was expecting to have Beth and Alex round for lunch but Beth is very busy with this and that so I am going over to help her sort a few things out.  That means I won't be at home for most of the afternoon.  At there is a bit of a tradition that the Infant coordinator provides drinks and nibbles for the Christmas Show meeting, I set to early this morning and made some mini mince pies with a star on the top.  They were dead easy.  Mince pies are easy anyway but these are easier than most.  For a start, I used shop bought shortcrust pastry and mincemeat.  I always buy pastry, it's not something I have a light hand with at all.  I ought to make mincemeat - it's easy and frugal and very tasty, but I simply haven't had the time.  One of the things I will do after retirement - and I will probably make lots, tie it all up with festive tops and ribbons and give them as Christmas presents.

I digress, sorry.  OK, so I bought pastry and used a mini muffin tin with a little doofah thingy that I got ages ago at a Pampered Chef party.  All you do is roll a bit of pastry into a ball, drop it into one of the muffin holes and then push the doofah thing (wish I could remember what it is called) into the pastry which magically rises up the side to make a neat little case.  Dead easy and trouble free.

Ah, found it by Googling - it's called a 'mini tart shaper'.  Such an original name!!!  Here it is:
Well worth getting if you do much of that sort of thing.

So now I have twenty four mini mince pies cooling on the rack awaiting a shower of icing sugar and packing into a tin..  It sounds a lot but there will be at least seven of us there, so that's only three each and they are tiny.  And a few might go missing on the way too!
Now I'd better go and sort out the kitchen.

Afterthought:  I always find it odd that a blogging site run by Google doesn't have 'Googling' as a word in its spell checker!

Saturday 24 November 2012

More Saturday

Would you believe, it is only three forty-five and I have closed the curtains to shut out the damp and gloom.  It's not dark but it's dark enough for me not to want to see it.  Not yet four o'clock!!
It's been a wet day and no mistake.  Fortunately we've not had an awful lot of wind, thank goodness, but it started raining around ten this morning and it really hasn't let up since.  I drove into town to get a few bits and bobs in Staples and there was a lot of lying water.

Still - I've been a good girl and done a lot of work.  I've worked out the numbers of programmes for each show (not so easy when you realise it's two programmes per family and three shows) using what seemed like a fiendishly complicated use of percentages to make sure it was all completely fair.
I've written the letter explaining how the ticket system works with several reminders about Not Losing Your Ticket As There Are No Substitutes and Yes, It's OK To Swap, etc.
I haven't written the letter about How To Order Your Copy Of The Performance On DVD, because I don't have all the info yet.
I've photocopied enough of everything and I've even sorted it all out into year groups.  Yes, I've been into school (via the library) and it wasn't half chilly!
And now I'm home with a wee bit of alcoholic reward for a job (several, in fact) well done (I hope).  And I feel I deserve it.  One thing's for sure, I won't sleep badly tonight.

It's odd, all the overnight fretting about numbers and chairs and room for filming and so on and when I actually sat down and worked out the numbers properly it wasn't too bad at all.  Yes, we will have to nick - er, I mean borrow - some chairs from somewhere in the school (probably year 5 or year 6) on Monday for the daytime performance; yes, the specially ordered and personalised stickers, intended to stop programme copying (yes, it does happen, I said they were like gold dust, didn't I) haven't come yet, but there's time and a way round that, if necessary.

And now I can look forward to our Christmas Staff Meeting on Monday with the feeling that I have everything more or less under control.  I've written the agenda, I've bought mulled wine, white wine, fruit juice, nibbles and stuff to make mini star-topped mince pies, I've sorted out my Christmas CDs . . . and if that doesn't satisfy my lovely colleagues, nothing will. 
No, I absolutely REFUSE to do the whole lot myself, so there!!! (just in case any of them are reading)

Now just wondering what I haven't thought of  or where my mathematical thinking has gone wrong (as it often does, me being mildly dyscalculic) - but not enough to cause sleeplessness! 

I hope!

A totally unconnected photo of an ornamental cabbage type thingy that was in a little bouquet given to me last weekend - and just after I took the photo nearly all the leaves dropped off.


I know it IS Saturday but it feels just like Sunday and I am feeling an irrational sense of panic regarding all the things I should have done before Sunday (hope that makes sense). Today is going to be busy, busy, busy.

 I had the strangest night.  Apart from anything else, at one point I wondered if I was going down with The Bug, with some tummy cramps, but no, thankfully not!  But the biggest thing was that all the arrangements I have to organise for the Christmas Show kept buzzing around and around inside my head and, in the middle of the night, one is not with it enough to rationalise them.  SO it was doze, wake, doze, wake all night.  Not very pleasant and I shall be napping later on, for sure.
There's so much to do prior to our big Christmas meeting on Monday after school - we infants always meet together to make the background, allocate the programmes, etc and we have mulled wine, nibbles and Christmas music playing in the background.  Very pleasant but it takes some organising, especially when one is teaching all afternoon.

Allocating tickets is going to be a problem.  They are like gold dust in out school community.  For the first time ever we are doing three performances, one in the daytime, the other two after school at 6:00.  Each family gets two tickets.  It's going to be complicated, even if it was just that.  The complication is compounded because we were expecting the daytime show to be filmed so were going to have fewer people in the audience which was fine because we don't have that many spare chairs.  However, the company got muddled and are now coming to film on Wednesday evening which means fewer tickets given out for that show (because of space) and correspondingly more for Monday (for whom we have no chairs).  Aaarrgggghhhh!
And of course there's the usual 'will everyone be ready, will they know their dances, will they know the words, will we have snowdays?' worries that are par for the course.

Hence the somewhat interrupted night!

I took this several days ago but thought it a very appropriate addition to this particular blog entry!

Friday 23 November 2012


. . . and here I am, sitting at my PC, still in my jim jams at nearly eight o'clock.
What has happened?  Am I ill, has the school exploded?  No, it's a non-pupil day!  Of course we have work to do, but time to do it and no strict schedule to follow.  Wonderful!!!

I've started off well by trying a biscuit recipe someone posted on Facebook.  This lady is wonderful - she makes and ices THE most creative, artistic, amazing cookies I have ever seen. 

Here is her Facebook page:!/pages/Honeycat-Cookies/300343123326487?fref=ts

here is her web site:  (which just points the way to her Facebook and Flickr pages)

and here is her Flickr area

Please, please do go and look, if only for the experience of seeing the work of an artist.  She does, however, take orders - marvellous for gifts or special occasions.

Anyhow, she posted her basic cookie recipe and I'm making some using soft brown sugar, mixed spice and orange oil.  They're chilling at the moment!  I'll let you know.
I have, however, no idea how she ices them so wonderfully.  Mine won't be!

Here's a sample.  I haven't asked for her permission yet to use this photo so will remove it if she says 'no'!

(Thought I ought to come back in to add that I haven't been recompensed in any way for writing the above - I genuinely think her work is amazing and that's why I've written it!)

Thursday 22 November 2012

I really should know better by now.

Teachers don't half ask some daft questions at times.  Or, if not daft, at the very least poorly worded.

Yesterday we went out to do a science investigation.   The question related to what happened to a sound when you went further away from it and the answer was, of course, that it sounds quieter.  It was the first time we've done an investigation so I went through the planning bit very carefully before taking them outside.  They were sitting for quite a while on the carpet, very engaged, very proactive, but sitting.

As we lined up, two girls needed the loo so I told them where we were going and that they were to come to us quickly.

We did the investigation.  It wasn't hard and the children enjoyed it. 

Just as we were lining up to walk back to the bay, up came the two little girls, having taken ages.  I glared at them and - foolish me - said:

'What have you been doing?' in my best shocked teacher voice.

Little girl one went really pink.  I repeated the question.

Little girl two looked at me and said . . . 'I did a wee but she did a poo!!!!!'



Such an early start to the day.  It's still before four o'clock as I start this blog and I am starting to flake out somewhat.  This evening is going to be a no-hoper as far as getting anything done is concerned, but tomorrow is a non-pupil day so it matters less than usual.

It was another busy day but with a few welcome breaks thrown into the mix yesterday.
Our Family Assembly was fab, really good.  I was so very proud of my littlies.  They were calm, composed, organised, they spoke up and everyone remembered what to do/say.  Very impressive and cute.
The lunchtime rehearsal also went well - the stars remembered their lines so now we are on to actions, acting and expression!  And there's still over two weeks to go.  Next week I have a couple of full cast rehearsals in the hall where the show will be, which will be a lot better than using my tiny classroom space.  The week after that is full rehearsals!  Eeek!

Now I'm off up to see if I can snatch a little more sleep before I get going for the day!

Wednesday 21 November 2012


Well, contrary to my pessimistic comments yesterday, Alex did have his hand operation yesterday.  They were in hospital all day yesterday and I gather Beth was exhausted by the end, but I think things were OK.  I'm glad that is over and that they are both recovering from what has proved to be a most unpleasant twelve days or so.

Yesterday was pretty hairy for me too in that it was unrelentingly work, work, work all day.  In school at 7:30 and straight in, on playground duty morning and afternoon, a full rehearsal over lunch time and two meetings after school.  By the time I got home I was pretty worn out as you may guess, but I've slept like a log!
The timetable gets dodgy from now until the Christmas Show: I feel very sorry for my student but that's reality in a primary school.

Today is PPA (relieved sigh), maths and some science this afternoon (hopefully).  No playground duty.  The children are in family assembly but we are ready for that!  Staff meeting is epipen training so nothing too tricky there.  We will get there, eventually!

Tuesday 20 November 2012


This is the day Alex should be having that operation on his hand but I doubt it will happen today.  He's not been vomit-free for long enough, I suspect.  However, being no specialist, I could be totally wrong - and if they think he is well enough it would be good.

I do feel a bit of a prune!  Lat week I oh-so-carefully planned this week's literacy and theme planning only to remember, yesterday, that Friday is a non-pupil day, which puts it all slightly out of kilter, darn it!  It's also messed up my student's three Reading Revelry group lessons which she has to plan and deliver, which is unavoidable but a great shame.  She said it doesn't matter, what will be assessed is the planning/evaluation cycle and she can show that anyway.  She took register yesterday, took them along to the hall for violins and afterwards back they came in a very controlled and sensible way.  Great start!

Can anyone have too much slow cooked lamb?  Lamb for breakfast yesterday, again for dinner and I've just prepared another lot for breakfast today (weird, I know, but my choice).  I find that conventionally roasted lamb isn't really the same second day.  It's still nice enough but not the same.  However, this slow cooked stuff is just gorgeous and seems to keep developing flavour.  Hardly a varied diet and it's protein overload, I know, but - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Today is another slightly muddled day.  My student is certainly getting the idea of how it really is in schools at times.  Not the perfectly structured and timetabled smoothness that OFSTED looks for but the oopsy daisy mishmash of stuff that has to be fitted in somehow, somewhere.  Today is is family assembly rehearsals, show dance practice and outdoor PE (which is timetabled for the morning).  My student is taking register and then phonics - sorry, Word Workshop - and then I take over.  Another one of those days, for sure, although I think the afternoon is more settled.

Ho hum!

Monday 19 November 2012


Here we are again, another Monday.  So regular, so reliable!  Mondays are quiet for my class at the moment.  We start off with violin lesson, then we move onto diary writing, then maths.  Oh, and there's phonics there too.  In the afternoon it is swimming and about one third of the class go off for their lesson leaving me with a smaller group.  Now, if it was Friday we could have a grand finishing off session but it isn't, it's Monday and anyway they're a lovely class and rarely have much finishing off to do.  Today we still have firework pictures to finish and a few bits and bobs to get done.  Oh, and the inevitable phonics, of course.

Given that I've already blogged about the weekend, here's the recipe for the dauphinoise potatoes cooked yesterday.  I'm afraid I don't have amounts, just ingredients and instinct! (and greed)  It's not one to do often, it's hardly healthy but it's delicious

You need a baking tray about 26x18x3 cm (ish) to make enough for six (or four with seconds and maybe thirds).

You also need:
potatoes - floury or waxy, to taste, the effect is different but both are delicious
a small onion chopped very fine
some butter
some grated Parmesan or veggie equivalent
half and half double cream and full fat milk
garlic clove
salt, pepper, mixed herbs, freshly grated nutmeg

Put the milk, cream, peeled garlic clove and herbs into a saucepan and heat until just under boiling.
Peel the potatoes and slice to about the thickness of a £1 coin.  A very sharp knife really helps here.
Line the baking tray with some parchment, scrunched up and hold under a running tap.  Open out, shake off the excess water and push into the tray.  Cut off any bits sticking too far up.

Using half the sliced potatoes, spread in the bottom of the baking tray as evenly as possible.  You could overlap them carefully, I didn't bother.
Add some salt and pepper and sprinkle over some cheese.  Dot over some little bits of butter.
Add the rest of the potato, spreading out evenly.  Salt and pepper again.
Ladle over the hot milk/cream mixture (discarding the garlic clove) until it is just about to the top of the potatoes.  Press down on the potatoes with your hand to settle them in the cream.  If, at this point, you find you don't have enough, just sloosh on some cold cream.  I did!
Finally, sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan cheese and give the whole thing a good grating of nutmeg.
Place the baking tray on a baking sheet (in case of spills) and put in an oven heated to around 160C or thereabouts.

Cook for at least 90 minutes and then check the centre with a skewer.  Give it a little longer if necessary and you may need to increase the heat to brown the top more.

Serve while still piping hot.  It also heats up nicely the next day.

Unlike the slow cooked lamb, this *is* something that can be cooked just for one, if you want the preparation for such a small amount.  I suppose you could get away with more milk and less cream, or using single cream instead of double.  You could change the cheese - a good strong cheddar would be less subtle but would work.  Or you could place some thinly sliced rings of leek in-between the two potato layers.  The possibilities are endless once you start thinking around it.

For me, like the lamb, this is definitely something to cook again because it is basically so easy and so delicious.

Sunday 18 November 2012

A little extra . . .

. . . to say how utterly scrummily delicious the slow cooked lamb was.  So good that here's the recipe.

Slow cooked leg of lamb

Serves: 6 generously – very generously. I’d say 8 to 10 myself, looking at how much I have left over

1 large leg of lamb
Head of garlic, split but not peeled (I kept one clove aside for the dauphinoise potatoes
Some Chantanay carrots or any you might have about 6-8 depending on size
300ml red wine (I used a merlot)
300ml stock (I used a lamb stock cube in 300ml hot water)

1.Preheat oven to 120C / fan 100C / gas 1/2
2. You need a roasting dish large enough to get the lamb in
3. Heat carrots, garlic, wine and stock in a saucepan until boiling. Pour into the roasting dish and lay the leg of lamb on top. No other seasoning needed.
4. Carefully cover with foil tightly, put in oven and cook for 7 hours. No need to check.
5.Remove lamb to a another tin, turn oven up to 200C / fan 180C / gas 6 and put lamb in to crisp skin for about 15 to 20 mins. (I actually didn’t do this, I just poured off the stock into a saucepan, re-covered it and put it back in the oven until time to serve).
6. Reduce cooking juices to make tasty gravy. I thickened it with thickening granules or you could use cornflour or a buerre marnier.

Great served with dauphinoise potatoes and veg – the carrots cooked in the wine and stock were gorgeous.

Scrummy!  And so much left over for other meals!  I do love leg of lamb but can never cook it just for one.  That would be silly!


Note to self - when cooking slow roasted lamb that takes seven hours and needs to be ready at 1:00, don't lie in bed until 6:45!  Ah well, I'm sure it won't matter too much in the wider scheme of things!

Yesterday was a bit of a lost day.  We spent the last part of the morning and all afternoon back in A&E while they checked Alex over and rebandaged his hand (the bandage had fallen off and also had been vomited on - not good.  This was after advice from the NHS drop in centre who couldn't find a doctor to visit!  Turns out they should never have advised anyone with D or V to turn up at A&E.  Anyway, we got there and after Beth explained everything to the desk lady we were shown to the kiddies waiting place.  A while after that along came a rather cross nurse to put us all in a room away from the other patients.  That was fine, what wasn't fine was that she was cross with Beth!!!!!   I hope that if it was such a naughty thing to do, they dealt with their own procedures and also gave where we had been a good wipe down.  I wonder if they did.

So that was yesterday!  Today will be a whirl of activity this morning, cleaning and tidying downstairs before my visitors come for lunch.  Lunch might be late but then they might arrive late - probably will, in fact!  It'll all pan out OK in the end!  Obviously, Beth and Alex won't be coming over though.

Just one of those casual days - and the lamb is already beginning to smell pretty good so here's hoping!

Saturday 17 November 2012

More . . .

I've found a couple of nice recipes, one for slow roasted lamb and the other for dauphinoise potatoes so that's what I'm doing.  Sounds nice, doesn't it.  I'll probably do peas to go with it all.  Dessert?  I'll perhaps cheat and buy something!


Weekend!  As I said, more or less, on Facebook, isn't it lucky it keeps coming round once a week, every seven days!  I do have to do some clearing up today as I have guests around for lunch tomorrow.  I bought a nice looking leg of lamb and want to do either a pulled lamb or a long, slow roasted dish so I have to look up some recipes - there's a lot of them about.  I'll serve it with roasted potatoes and a selection of veg.  I have to think about dessert . . .

Yesterday was a long day.  We had a non-uniform day, not for Children in Need, sadly, but to get things in for our Christmas fair which is in three weeks' time.  After school I hung around for a while but didn't get all that much done, after which I popped into Morrisons to get some stuff for Beth and Alex and then took it over.  Both invalids are improving slowly although Alex was very disinclined to talk much and took himself back to his room fairly quickly, bless him.

Having just written that, I've had a message to say the puking is back - poor old Al!  And Beth.  As she said, thank goodness she replaced the hall carpet with lino!

That's about it really!  Better get going with the tidying up, etc!

Friday 16 November 2012


Good morning!
Well, it was a very good course indeed yesterday.  Lots of confusion cleared up, lots of clearly defined expectations, good handouts and a very nice lunch.  I feel a lot more prepared to mentor now.  They have changed the system since the last time and very much for the better, I think.

A great shame I was only concentrating about 90% because of other stuff.  Beth and Alex have the norovirus (I reckon that's what they have) and Alex has damaged his knuckle to the extent that he will need an op.  He's dehydrated so they can't operate straight away but they are treating the sickness which is very good news.  Fingers crossed for the next four or five days.

It is at times like these that I am truly grateful yet again for working in such a caring and supportive school.  I whizzed back when the training finished to have a chat to the deputy head who immediately agreed to give me today off (this was before I knew they were intending to operate next Tuesday) without any hesitation whatsoever.  As it turned out, Beth refused my offer to help saying she didn't want me to get the virus (I agree, I don't want to either, not with a Christmas Show to produce) and that they would be OK and stay snug indoors.  So I will be in school today but will not forget the kindness that immediately agreed to give me a day off without any ifs, buts or maybes.

Thursday 15 November 2012


I feel as if I have been given a holiday.  Today I am not in school; I'm off to a PGCE mentor training day at our local university.  The training starts at half past nine and goes on until four so lunch is provided, as is coffee, tea, biccies, etc!

Now, usually, when I am on a course I go into school at the usual time, wait for the supply teacher to turn up, go through the pre-prepared and copiously detailed notes I have made for the day and then dash off, late and a bit (or a lot, depending on where I have to go) stressed, for the course.  Supplies are not noted for turning up early, I fear!

But the worm has turned.  No more!  After all, agency supplies are qualified teachers and ought to be as capable of interpreting planning as I am, especially planning that goes into as much detail as mine does.  They ought to be able to photocopy sheets, find resources and generally manage a class, especially one as delightful and well trained (I have to say that, don't I?) as mine.

So - I have annotated my usual planning, placed all necessary resources on an accessible part of my laptop (route also annotated), placed a necessary sheet for photocopying on the planning sheets and won't be going in early tomorrow.

Instead I have another two and a half hours at home before setting out into town.  Bliss.  And as I didn't know which nearby long stay car parks don't get totally clogged up early (some do), I have done something really shocking.  I have ordered a taxi!  There, isn't that decadent?  The thing is, I get travel sick on buses and my gammy knee isn't going to like it if I try to walk into town.  That's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it. 

Even worse, I will be getting another one home again.  Bad, bad me!

Hope the training is worth it!

Wednesday 14 November 2012


It always makes me giggle when I think of the different phrases children have for asking if they can go to the loo.  Most are very polite, some are pretty basic and I will never forget one little lad whispering urgently 'I wanna wee - NOW' - and did!

Yesterday, on playground duty
Child:   Mrs Clark, please may I go for the toilet?
Me:     (feeling flippant)  Why? What's it done to you?
Child:   ???????????????????????????????????????????????
Me:  (with a sigh)  Sure, off you go!

Some you win, some you don't!

Tuesday 13 November 2012


I had a brilliant night's sleep last night.  I fell asleep over the telly so dragged myself upstairs just after eight and slept the clock round until after four this morning (which is OK for me).  No tension, I guess.  Sunday night was better than the usual night-before-an-observation though.  Traditionally, I wake at around twelve thirty and stay awake - really awake - for two hours or so before dropping off again.  On Sunday night I did sleep but had vivid dreams, either about the planned lesson going horribly wrong or about lessons I could have planned that would be SO much better.  Hardly restful.  With the morning came common sense and I didn't panic around changing anything which is just as well, given the positive outcome.

Anyway, all done until next term now and another nice sheet in my PDP.  Not that I know why I'm still fussing with a PDP at my age.  It's not as if I plan to move anywhere else, go for any more promotions (perish the thought) or actively look for new routes.  Habit, I suppose.

Straight after my observation yesterday I had a first read through of our Christmas show with the Year 2s that have been chosen for the speaking parts.  A good bunch.  Nice clear, expressive speaking voices and several were trying to put in gestures as they read their part for the first time.  I can see this will go well.
I also had a thunk about a closing song and, with Andrea's help, came up with a jolly little ditty that ends up with 'Merry Christmas to you', which is just what is needed!  One of these days I will get round to collecting together all the songs I have written over my teaching years - there must be enough for a book by now!

Today I meet the shepherds and the kings.  Yippee!!!!!!

Monday 12 November 2012

Thank you . . .

. . . to all my readers who crossed their fingers for me.  You can uncross them now - and it worked.
I am a happy teacher this evening.  :0)

Thank you.  :-)

Recipe: Cranberry and pistachio flapjacks.

115g butter
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
Squeeze lemon juice
Small pinch salt (optional)
200g oats
60g dried cranberries
a handful shelled pistachios, chopped

Before you start, turn the oven on to 190C (less if you have a fan oven) and prepare a baking tin, either by greasing on by lining.  I use parchment, cut off the required amount, scrumple under a cold tap, open out and shake off the excess water, then place in the tin, pushing the paper into the corners.  When the mixture is in, it will hold the parchment in place.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the sugar and syrup.  Stir well until sugar is dissolved
Remove pan from the heat and add the remaining ingredients.
Stir well, then spread the mixture in the prepared tray until it is evenly distributed.

Bake in the oven for about half an hour until it is golden brown (about 30 mins)
Remove from the oven and carefully mark into bars - I made 16.
Leave in the tray to cool for a while, then lift the whole lot out by lifting the paper (if used)
Carefully finish cutting all the way through the mixture, then leave on a cooling rack to settle and firm up.

I know I have already posted this photo but it goes with the recipe.


. . . and another new week starts. 

Yesterday was good.  The flapjacks were delicious, the soup mix soup was scrummy and exceedingly filling for not all that many calories, the carpet is looking pretty good and there's just one more bit to do and the cupboard under the stairs got a jolly good clear out and I can now fit the Vax in there.

Today might not be so good as I Am Being Observed.  Two lessons, in fact, phonics and then maths.  Monday is always a chasing your tail day what with violin lesson in the morning and swimming in the afternoon, but I suspect we will have a minute's silence as close to 11:00 as we can make it which is going to eat into my lesson time too.  Ah well, once and only do ones best!  I've been racking my brains as to how to make a not terribly exciting subject more interesting but with minimal resources and I think I have something quite OK planned.  We just have to see what the headteacher thinks now.  Fingers crossed for me, please . . .

Scrummy cranberry and pistachio flapjacks!

Sunday 11 November 2012


Good morning, gentle readers.  I've just peeked out and now I know why I felt a bit chilly overnight.  There's quite a heavy frost at present although it might, of course, have thawed by the time the sun comes up.  I tend to 'sleep hot' so have a fairly light quilt which usually is fine for my needs.  However, on cold nights or on nights when I'm not 100% like last Friday it certainly isn't enough.  Feeling just a bit chilly is as miserable as feeling too hot in bed.  I think I need to commandeer the cellular blanket that my dad uses when they come to stay and just throw it over the quilt.  That should be enough to make the difference.  Ideally, I'd get a silk quilt, like Diane, but they are very expensive and I think I can make do.

I'm looking around at a somewhat jumbled living room at the moment.  Yesterday I started using the Vax and got about 2/3 of the carpet cleaned.  The trouble is, it's a large room and I had to move the furniture around to clear spaces for cleaning.  I am really very pleased with the results and am raring to start the last two sections.  I didn't move the really heavy stuff like the sideboards and the wall units, but everything else was pushed and pulled around.  I also took the opportunity to move the furniture to where I want it for over Christmas, which means I won't have to do it later when time is short and the pressure is on!

I found the Vax really easy to use after the initial feeling of slight  awkwardness passed.  It's just like dyson-ing in slow motion really.  I was worried about saturating the carpet, but that didn't happen.  I was worried about how long the carpet would take to dry but it took about an hour and a half to be completely dry: it was walkable on straight away but I kept the furniture off until it was properly dry.  This made for slow but steady progress.  All in all, a big success and I am planning to do the whole house over the next few weekends - the bits that show anyway!

Apart from that I soaked a bowl of soup mix and in the evening made a vegetable broth with the mix plus all sorts of veg I had in the fridge.  It all went into a big pan (the veg was prepared and chopped up) with some cumin, some smoked paprika, a bouquet garni, some water and some marigold - quite a lot of marigold.  Later I also added salt and pepper.  It's made a very substantial, thick, filling mixture which will do me for school lunches this week.  I might cook some chicken bits and add them to the individual portions too.

Today - well, I have washing to do, an observed lesson to plan thoroughly - two lessons, in fact - a living room floor to finish off and I want to make cranberry flapjacks.  Beth and Alex are round for lunch and we are having the soup with grated cheese and croutons followed by apples and flapjacks.  In fact, I'd better go and start the flapjacks now as I do have a full morning one way and another!
Dad's garden last weekend - I love the colours.

Saturday 10 November 2012


Yay - the weekend.  Two days of housework, washing, drying, ironing, cleaning out my bedroom and cleaning carpets.  Aren't I a lucky bunny?  Yes, I am!

I am feeling very well this morning.  It's a surprise.  Yesterday I came home from school early (that is four rather than six o'clock) because I was starting to feel quite poorly.  Sick, aching, shivery - oh, you get the idea.  The heating was on but I stayed cold, generally unpleasant stuff kept threatening (but didn't appear) and at five thirty I took myself to bed.  Still shivering cold so I dragged a duvet from the guest room and put it over my own.  That seemed to do the trick in that the coldness gradually receded and I warmed up, fell asleep and woke feeling fragile but fine.  Very peculiar indeed but I am extremely relieved I am not out of action over the weekend.  Whatever it was, it was short and sharp and, if it was infectious, I am unlikely to have shared it with the children as it was my SEN day.

A good day too.  I got LOADS done.  An interim IEP which I shared with the class teacher who agreed it was what was needed, a meeting - no, three meeting, some satisfactory conclusions, referral information worked through so my fellow SENCo can write a referral form, an observation and yet more paperwork done, a draft statement read and handed over to the class teacher . . . oh, and another meeting after school!  I was not on top of things by then but it went well and we were all thinking along the same lines which helped enormously.  So all in all, despite the yuck in the evening, it was a brilliant day.

This week I have had my student in and have tried to get to grips with the paperwork.  She, on her part, is coping well with various changes of teacher and has been a pleasure to have helping.  It's early days but she has impressed me.  She has also been receptive (perhaps politely) to some ideas I have had for keeping a record of things we have arranged and when.  She has so much to do, so many things that need arranging.  Observing other key stages, observing science, maths, English, foundation stage, phonics, some short sessions or group activities to teach, various key people to talk to . . . and I could see us getting hopelessly muddled if we don't have a system for keeping on top of it! 
She's observed me a lot this week, making notes as we go along in what seems to be a slightly unfocused fashion, so I suggested that she decides which lessons she wants (or needs) to observe in a focused way and use the lesson planning form she has to use to make notes on different aspects she sees and learns from.  After all, that's what these first weeks are all about.  Then, afterwards, to take herself off to the staffroom to make some more reflective comments to maximise her own learning.  That suggestion seemed to go down well too.

Well, better have my porridge with cranberries, cinnamon and maple syrup and then get going!  First stop, dry hoovering the carpet before trying out my Vax. 

I've chosen this for no other reason than that they are bright and cheerful and on a dull morning like this one today a bit of cheerfulness is a Good Idea!

Friday 9 November 2012


Last night I was tempted beyond resistance!  There sat the box in the living room, luring me on and I had to give in.  Out came the scissors, the screwdriver and the endless supplies of patience, while I attempted to assemble my Vax using what all the reviews had warned me were very poor instructions.  And they were right.  Misleading pictures (photos would have been a lot better), bits missed out, lack of clarity . . . but I got there.  I am grateful for the warnings; I was properly prepared!

However, there's no way I intend to try to use it before Saturday.  For a start, I gather it's extremely noisy so it would be very rude to use it in the evening - rude to my neighbours, I mean.  And I want to be wide awake and alert.  And I need to have some 'dry' runs, practising slowly forward pulling the lever and slowly backwards with the lever released.  Apart from that, I just have to decide which bit of carpet to start with!

Yesterday afternoon we started the last part of our multimedia firework pictures.  I picked up the idea years and years ago, from the first student I ever mentored.  She was on her final school experience and she was very good.  Art was her special area and she had some good ides, some of which worked better than others, inevitably.  Since then I have refined and modified her original idea and - well, this year I am jolly pleased with the results.   It ticks so many boxes for the art curriculum - colour, line, shape, imagination, a variety of tools and techniques, developing basic skills like drawing round shapes and careful cutting out, an element of choice within the structure.  And, most of all, it arouses a sense of awe and wonder in the children as they see their creations taking shape and developing.  We didn't get them all done, some will finish them next week, but the children who did finish were supremely satisfied with their efforts.  I took a few photos - remember, these are five year olds' efforts - and they're going to make a lovely display!
(Just to say, the red border isn't somewhat sloppy mounting, it's the table they were on, cropped to look like a frame!  I don't frame that badly!  Usually . . .)

Thursday 8 November 2012


One of the cupcakes JustJules made for the Monday meeting - and they tasted as good as they looked, if not better.  Mmmmmmmm

Thursday already!  Only yesterday it was Monday, I could swear!   One day, then SEN day and it's the weekend - and most of the planning is already done and dusted.  Yay!!!

Since we started having two sessions of phonics each day, everything seems so busy.  There's always something to do, always another task, another learning objective to master, another WALT (We Are Learning To) to work on . . . and on . . . and on!  I know things will slow down after the Christmas show and there will be one last week this term where we relax, make Christmas decorations, cards, paperchains and cover the carpet with glitter.  But right now it feels like a sprint the length of a marathon!  Phew.

We've started working on the show songs now.  Shine, Star, Shine is all about a Big Star who found he couldn't shine so when he was REALLY needed, everyone had to help him to learn how to shine again.  Lovely story, lovely songs.  Now we have to put it all together.

Today is the one day I have my class all day - except that while I have my student it won't be as we have an hour last thing in the afternoon for our weekly meeting where I go through the uni-agenda and K fills in one of the many pieces of paperwork.  You should see her file - she's only had four days with us and it's already starting to bulge at the seams!  No wonder teachers end up drowning in paperwork if that's how they are started off.  Incredible. 

Closer to home, I must be a very sad person indeed because I keep glancing proudly at the corner where sits my new toy, my Vax carpet cleaner.  Come Christmas I may have a clean living room carpet, you never know.  Mind you, I won't get very far while it sits in its box but that's a task for the weekend - unpack and assemble.  My very own D&T project!

Wednesday 7 November 2012


Brrrrrr - wasn't it cold yesterday morning.  The first proper frost of the season and I am sure there are more to come.  The cold brightness didn't last though as the clouds came rolling in and by the afternoon it was raining.  Not hard, despite A's protent that it was 'chucking it down, Mrs Clark, chucking it down' when he was informed that playtime was still on.  My marginally unsympathetic response was 'You'd better put your hood up then, don't you think?'!  I was on duty so it wasn't totally unsympathetic, but one must toe the party line and I had a stout umbrella!

Once I was out there in the cold and wet, with the children brightening the atmosphere with their games and laughter, I suddenly though 'How can I EVER give this all up?'  I guess I may feel different in four or five years' time but right now - well, if I can even enjoy a wet, drizzly playtime on duty, I must be pretty committed!

The other day I took the photo below.  It was a point, zoom and click moment, nothing planned, just happened.  I can't even remember off the top of my head whether it was morning or afternoon.  But I was well pleased with the result - my old camera would never have coped.  I will try this again when the opportunity presents itself again.

Apologies for the lateness of this.  I did write it this morning but didn't send it - silly me. 

Tuesday 6 November 2012


After the first few hours it was as if last week had never been.  It's amazing how quickly we get back into routine, me and my children.  It's comforting and reassuring and we all need routine, one way or another.

I needed to call an infant staff meeting after school and, in apology, ordered some lovely cakes from my friend, JustJules Cakes.  This time they were shiny and starry in honour of the theme for the meeting - our Christmas show, Shine, Star, Shine.    This link should lead you to a photo of them on Facebook - I think.  Apologies if it doesn't.

We got a lot sorted and now I have a lot to do.

My student is in for her first week of familiarisation.  She has three weeks before Christmas when she has certain things she has to do, find out, etc, followed by several weeks after Christmas.  She should be teaching for 50% of her time by the end of her school experience. 
After yesterday she can tick off the bit relating to attending meetings and doing playground duty.  At one point I thought we were going to be short on parents to help with swimming so she obligingly went over to the pool and came back an hour or so later hot but happy as it's not something she will be able to observe in many other schools.  Ditto for the violin lesson - every child in the Infants has a class violin lesson each week, all the way through their time in the infants.  Again, that is unusual and worth observing.
I think she was a little 'giddy' by the end of the day.  There's such a lot to take in and take on board in a school and when none of it is routine, it can be very confusing.  Just explaining things to her makes me realise quite how much I do automatically, naturally as a teacher.  No need to plan it through, it just happens!

Well, I'd better go and check that all is in order for school today.  Ho hum!

Dad needs to sweep his lawn!

Monday 5 November 2012


Back at school this morning and I'm looking forward to seeing my children again.  As a teacher, one shouldn't get over-attached to ones class, but the little ones function best then there is some  affection in the relationship.  They need to know that they are liked.  Indeed, there have been times when some go to some length to check that you still like them whatever they do.  Sometimes in the past it has been hard . . .

Back home too, after a few days with my parents.  As always, I had a lovely, restful time and was fed and watered well, both literally and emotionally.  I didn't enjoy the drive back yesterday morning though.  It had been raining hard on an already soaked landscape and there was quite of lot of flooding on the road over.  Nothing too deep - I think about one foot in the middle of Bishops Stortford was the worst - but it required some anxiously careful driving.  Of course, when I got home, the sun came out!  Not for long though . . .

The sun certainly shone over the weekend.  I took some nice autumnal photographs so here are a couple.

On Dad's lawn, much to his dismay, but they made a nice photo or two!

I just love the colour and lines in this!

Sunday 4 November 2012


The last day of the half term holiday.  Very sad but all good things . . . as the saying goes.  It's been lovely but we have to keep moving on.

Last night we went out to see the Arcadians' performance of Godspell.  Loved the music, loved the colour, fun, energy and general wackiness of their interpretation.  Not so sure about the venue - the stage was a church platform stage, not a proper stage and it wasn't that high so although we were only five rows back we missed a lot and couldn't see the footwork in the dances.   Their usual venue is the Gordon Craig Theatre, which gives them a lot more space too.
Still, it was a lot of fun and well worth going to and, unlike some of the older musicals, there wasn't a point at which I thought 'this is getting a bit slow'.  Some of them do have a very weak, thin storyline.

Today is going to be all about making sure all is ready for school.  Planning needs refining, resources need checking over - and, you never know, I might even get my bedroom tidied.

Oh, yes, and there's some ironing - again!

Saturday 3 November 2012


A quick one today.

Last night I was out at some friends for a meal.  Guess what they provided - chicken and mushroom puff pastry pie - just what I had at the Hare the night before.  No comparison, however.  The Hare meal was delicious, this was amazing.  Nothing posh - pie with roast potatroes and mini onions, broad beds that had been frozen from their garden and broccoli with a chicken gravy.  Wonderful British cooking at its best!   Just scrummy.

And then I almost slept the clock round so the wine must have been pretty good too!

Friday 2 November 2012


For the very first time for as long as I can remember, I slept in until after seven - that's like almost midday!!  Hardly surprising though, when I say it was well past midnight when I went to bed.

Yesterday evening I was out for a meal at the Hare with Julie and Linda.  We had a jolly good natter with plenty of fond reminiscing.  Our friendship goes back a very long way so there was plenty to cover while we troughed our way through the meal and lingered over the coffee.  By the time I got home it was nearly nine, I think, and my head was a-buzzing (no, not with alcohol, we didn't indulge) and I stayed up until I could feel the sleep coming over me.  That made it past midnight.  Hence the very late awakening this morning.

As always, we had a jolly good meal at the Hare.  They've increased the number of 'smaller plate' options from four to eight.  Great!!!  So I had their chicken and mushroom puff pastry pie with peas and chips and it was scrummy.  That, a dessert of two scoops of ice cream, two diet cokes and a large filter coffee came to just over £16, which I thought was jolly good value.  I couldn't have eaten much more, even if it had been presented, free, on a golden platter!

We set the next date and I  have undertaken to organise it.  We will go for a 'Christmas Party' meal with a special menu and for prebooking only.  Julie has sent me her choice already and I am just waiting for Linda's before I pootle down there and make the booking.  I'm having pate for a started followed by their winter vegetable and butter bean cobbler, which sounds absolutely delicious.  A whole selection of vegetables in a tomato sauce, topped with a cheese and herb scone.  Doesn't that sound wonderful?  It's accompanied by more vegetables - 'seasonal', which means sprouts, I guess - and roast potatoes.  Or I might change my mind and have the cranberry and mozzarella beef burger instead.  Decisions, decisions!  Dessert will be their ice creams, which are scrummy.
We're going to do a Secret Santa too, so it should all be very enjoyable!

Isn't it odd how, after a big meal the night before, one wakes feeling very hungry.  You'd think it would be the other way round, but it isn't, not for me.  I'm starving!  Mind you, I am used to breakfast at about six and it is now past eight . . .

Better go and feed myself then!

Thursday 1 November 2012


Welcome to November!  The eleventh month of the year, less than two months until Christmas.  Is panic setting in - well, no, not really!  No need to panic yet, is there?  The turkey is ordered, the food is all sorted out, Beth has sorted out a cleaner to come and give my home four hours of attention the week before Christmas . . . all good things!  The gifts will be home made and I haven't even started to think about that yet but there are enough weekends to go.

In the end, yesterday was a pj day - that's what Beth and I call days when we decide that we are staying in bedclothes all day.  A bit limiting, I admit, not being able to pop out to the shops or whatever else you need to do, but curiously relaxing and unstressful.  I did nearly break it at one point of frustration, but managed a work around.

You see, my TV, DVD player and cable thing work together in some complicated way I have never really been able to fathom.  It's just as well I have simple needs and rarely feel much inclination to record anything.  There are three remotes, one for each and some bits work together and some bits don't.  During the summer one remote, the one for the TV, ran away and has been seen no more.  Rather annoying really but not the end of the world until yesterday.  While trying to get the DVD showing on screen I wandered into what I think was freeview and immediately there was this great grey blob of a rectangle on screen telling me that the DVB (whatever that is) needed retuning as there were changes in the channels - or something to that effect. 
Do you think I could get rid of it?  I switched off and on, fiddled with the cable box, left it for a while, restarted the cable box, called it naughty names, all to no avail.  This stupid grey rectangle would NOT go home                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              .
So I went on to Amazon to find a replacement remote.  Searched and searched.  Couldn' find one that named my particular TV but found one that looked exactly the same as my lost remote so tried to buy it h the intention of using a speedy delivery so it arrived today.  Nope, that wasn't an option.  By that time I was getting really cross and was on the verge of getting dressed and stomping round to Comet to see if they had one when a still small voice reminded me that when all else fails to read the instructions.  So I did, reasoning that there HAS to be another way round apart from using a remote.  And, blow me, there was.  Not the quickest thing I've ever done with the TV but a lot quicker than driving to Comet, whether in pjs or not!  And now just feel silly!  I just don't understand technology all that well!
And yes, I will get a replacement remote, it's a lot easier to use!

Apart from that, the high spot of the day was watching a Morcambe and Wise programme - a sort of potted life story with lots of snippets from their shows.  They are still incredibly funny in gentle, warm-hearted way - even when you know exactly what's coming, it's still hilarious.  Pure genius through and through..

As for today - well, it can't be a pj day again, there's far too much to do and it would be far too self indulgent.  The only thing set in stone is a meal at the Hare with Julie and Linda but there's plenty else to do mostly connected with housework.  I looked up some recipes for croissants and found the whole process so incredibly complicated and long winded I decided not to bother - so I won't.  I wonder if brioche or stollen is easier.  Must look and see.

And now I need to load up the washing machine, get the ironing board out, turn on the telly and tackle what will be a huge daunting pile if I don't take some action!