Thursday 28 February 2013

Chocolate custard

I've posted a new recipe on Teacher's Recipes.  It's not original it comes from this site.  

It's lovely!


After a weary day yesterday and a miserable evening, I slept surprisingly well.  Still feeling tired, just not as tired as last night.   Still feeling miserable (can't be hormones, can it, not at my age) but not as bad as last night.

Tired as I am feeling, I had the energy to make a 'mystery soup' this morning in the new toy.  The TM 'mystery soup' is basically my 'Saturday soup' and I really don't care that it isn't Saturday yet.  Well, I do, sort of, because I'd love it to be Saturday, but it isn't and it won't be for another two days and that's that!

So I followed the recipe (I love the way you grind up the lentils first) and I made my lentil, leek, carrot, parsnip and tomato soup.  It looks loads!  It is tasty.  It was a doddle.  It is vegetarian friendly.   Cheers!

And now I have a lovely big pot of fresh home made soup to take to school and more for tomorrow.  I might even have some this evening too because, after all, it's gotta be used!

So - so far
Lemon curd:  6/10
Soup:  9/10

Now I need to get some more eggs because I want to make custard.  Real custard, maybe chocolate custard.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm  And pea veloute because I like the name!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

First go

. . . with TM.

Lemon curd.

It's a very thick mixture (great for cakes) so that's good - no setting problems at all - but I'm not sure about all the zest and it didn't make as much as I expected.  I'm going to have another go using my own microwave ingredients and amounts and see how that works out.  Fortunately, I know people who love lemon curd so it won't go to waste..

I made five little pots for my infant colleagues who have been very sweet to me today and who deserve a little sweet something as a thank you.  I hope they like it!


We survived yesterday.  It was a long day and by the end of the phonic training it felt like it too.  All good though so no complaints from me.  When I got home, mum and dad had popped in earlier to meet Beth to discuss stuff and they had left goodies - some cheese from the Wensleydale Creamery.  Very nice too.  I was too tired to make dinner so I had cheese on ryvita and it was scrummy.  Today is another day and, after a good night's sleep, I feel ready to face the world again!

Today is a 'normal' day (whatever normal means when you are a teacher).  PPA, ICT and we are starting some weaving this afternoon.  Yay!!!

And now I must fly because I'm a bit behind myself.  Just look at that time!!!  Have a good day.

Tuesday 26 February 2013


. . . and here I am, all ready for a Victorian Experience Day at Braintree Museum - with the rest of year 1, I hasten to add, before anyone things I am skiving off school.  The Victorian lunch (cheese sarnie wrapped in paper, an apple and two plums) is ready, the sort-of-Victorian costume (a shawl and putting my hair up) is planned, the sick buckets (sorry, gentle readers) are ready, the spare knickers and pants are out of the cupboard and I have ejected the yarn from one of my wicker baskets to hold the lot.  The workbooks are sorted, the spare pencils, sharpeners and rubbers are sorted . . . oh, and the highly un-Victorian digital camera has a fully charged battery and the spare is charging too, just in case!
Braintree Museum
Braintree Museum is lovely and they always give the children a great time as well as teaching them plenty.  We are using this as a springboard for our new theme rather than a conclusion, so they should learn a lot.   It is an old school and the outside as as interesting as the inside - and I bet 99% of people who live locally just walk past it without a second glance, as we all do when something is very familiar to us.

It's just a great shame about the Phonics training in the evening, meaning that we won't get home until around eight thirty.  Thirteen hours without much of a break makes for a very long day!  Truly Victorian, I guess!

Monday 25 February 2013

Savoury crumble topping recipe

. . . in Teacher's Recipes.

Just saying!  :-)

Monday evening

The thermomix has arrived   Now I have to work out what to make with it.  And I need a name.  My halogen oven is Handy Andy.  What can I call the new baby?  All sensible(ish) suggestions will be considered.


Back to school.  This has been a good half term but it has finished with a very chesty cough and aches.  Darn it!  I could do without feeling grotty, especially this week as I find myself without my TA all week which is going to make things very difficult.  It's not her fault, she is pretty unwell herself, but I'm not sure how I'm going to get things done that are part of her daily work as well as doing my own.  It's going to be complicated!

Sunday 24 February 2013

Sunday - last day of the half term break

Good morning again and apologies for this being a little bit late.  Amazingly (for me, that is) I slept in until nearly seven and since then I've been doing little kitchen tasks such as emptying the dishwasher, moving things around, sorting out my electrical cupboard (what a load of stuff I had in there, to be sure) and generally making space for the new kitchen baby.  Now, hopefully, Beth will take the processor and all the associated bits and bobs.
Note to self: dig out the paperwork.

Yesterday's soup was very delicious, full of flavour and with a good texture too.  I do love my Saturday soups.  I have frozen three generous portions too so, what with that and the leek and potato soup, that's school lunches sorted for next week.  Great!

After the soup, I went on to make some savoury mince and some savoury crumble topping, both for Al and me today.  I got a bean and vegetable pie out of the freezer for Beth so that is Sunday dinner sorted apart from heating up some sweet corn.  I might put the mince and crumble topping recipes on Teacher's Recipes - there's nothing unusual about them but they are tasty and easy.  It's a shame I'm just so bad about measuring amounts for things like this.  The method is to bung it in and if it doesn't look or feel right, bung in some more.

The rest of the day was spent in knitting and crochet and I have nearly finished another row of the bed cover.  As always with a made up pattern, one thinks of improvements as one goes along and I am no exception.  If I ever do it again I will plan out the colours a lot more carefully.  When I look at pictured on the Internet, I see that although the colours look quite random, they really aren't.  You live and learn!
I'm starting to run out of some colours so another order to Deramore's seems to be on the cards.

It snowed very prettily yesterday morning.  Lovely big flakes drifting gently down.  At one point it seemed to be settling but it didn't, sadly.  Never mind, it was a lovely sight, especially from the this side of the glass where it is cosy and warm.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Teacher's Recipes

I've just posted my latest offering, a Saturday Soup, link here.
I'll add a photo when I've taken one.


Morrisons had little pots of mini daffs reduced to 50p per pot.  I bought some and they are cheering up my downstairs.  The lovely thing is that I can then put them out in the front bed where they will give pleasure for years - a great way to spend a few 50ps.

Wasn't it cold yesterday?  It certainly was around here;  little pieces of snow flying around aimlessly most of the day, without having any purpose or determination, not enough to settles but too cold to melt.  I had to turn out late morning to pick up a parcel and was mighty glad to get back home and into the warmth again.  The rest of the day was spent crafting, reading and generally chilling out with a few idle and gentle moments in the kitchen concocting dinner from leftovers - and very tasty it was too.

The Thermomix demo on Thursday was fascinating.  It is a very different way of doing things at first glance and yet perhaps not so different after all.  It does take the chore out of mundane things such as standing beside a pot, stirring 'continuously' for half an hour (not that I usually bother with such time consuming stuff) and those controls that look so very complex are actually a lot more intuitive than they seem at first glance although one has to be organised!.  I'm looking forward to making a whole load of things that I've hardly bothered with before because they are time consuming plus other stuff that I do make and which looks 'good', including real custard, a variety of risotto, lemon curd (I know I make that already in the microwave but I want to have a go in Thermo) and a whole range of soups including the intriguingly named (at least it is to me) pea veloute which just looks like posh frozen pea soup! - and that's just a start!  And I really want to have a go at Diane's stock paste!  It sounds so useful.  And make my own gram flour . . . and icing sugar . . . and . . .    Diane - what's it worth a newbie trying, please?

Today - well, today I need to work, sadly.  Whether I do or not is another matter, but there's work to get done before Monday.  I think I must brave the cold and get myself into school (and it will be flippin' cold in school) to get some stuff organised.  And before I go I must make a list or I will forget something crucial.  How boring!

It's been a good half term break.  Some things I planned to do were postponed, unavoidably, but it gave me more space.  I feel I've had a reasonable rest, the kitchen is clean and tidy (yay) and I'm up to date with the ironing (double yay). After today I won't be, of course, that's the pain of ironing, but never mind, at least it is not pile on pile.  That can only be good!

Friday 22 February 2013

Friday leftover dinner

Leftover fish pie.  Totally scrummy (not all that original, but never mind).
In Teacher's Recipes.


I had intended to get back in here later on yesterday but, as things turned out, I didn't make it.  It was a busy day, one way and another.

In the morning I rushed about a bit, getting things ready for a double dose of visitors - triple, if you count Beth and Alex (and why not?).  I even managed to steam clean the kitchen floor, wondering as I did so why I don't do it this way more often as it is so simple and easy.  Once the steamer was away I stood in the middle of the kitchen and started thinking about how to rearrange things to make space for the thermomix.  See, I'd already decided really, even before the demo, because these last four or five months I have scoured the internet for any and all information I can find about it, information, recipes, positive and negative points, problems, triumphs . . . so the demo was really going to be merely a confirmation and a teaching session.  Not that I admitted that out loud or even to myself in so many words, of course.

It's actually a grand opportunity to sort out one or two of my cupboards, especially the one with the electrical equipment.  I have a food processor that takes up a fair amount of space, I have various other bits and bobs that I haven't used for many seasons.  They are not earning their space.  And then I have other things that I use a lot - my hand held mixer, the Bamix stick blender (expensive but wonderful), the slow cooker and various other odds and ends.  And, somehow, I have two steamers.  Not electrical steamers, just ones that you pop on the hob.  No-one needs two steamers, surely!!!  One is large, solid based, great quality, bought with a school parents voucher many, many years ago and which I haven't used for ages, certainly not since the extension was done.  The other is molto cheapo from Matalan, smaller, different shape entirely but I use it all the time.  It's the right size for me.  So the other has to go and I am hoping that Jemma (last week's bride) will be able to use it.  Very sensibly, they are not expecting everything to be brand new and sparkling as they start their married life together and Beth thinks that she (Jemma) will be able to use it.  Beth herself seems keen to have the food processor so I'm very happy about that.  With all its bits and pieces it takes up a stupid amount of space in the cupboard.

But, despite all the common sense, I am sad.  I have become attached to these things.  It's not the things themselves, it is what they represent in my life that creates attachment.  There are always memories attached to objects and I have to remember that I am not discarding the memories as I rationalise my storage space.  It just feels like it!

Tania turned up for lunch.  Tania is an OU friend who I met briefly at Conference a few years ago and I was delighted when she emailed to say she was in Chelmsford and could we meet up for coffee.  This quickly turned into a 'come and have lunch here' occasion.  I made a  rather nice leek and potato soup (I LOVE leek and potato soup) with croutons, cheese and creme fraiche and then I knocked out a Victoria sponge for afters.  The soup recipe is on Teacher's Recipes, so this is a link to it.

After a good natter, Tania left and Beth and Alex arrived, followed shortly afterwards by Leonie, the Thermomix demo-lady.  What followed was fascinating and great fun.  I won't go into details now but suffice it to say by the time she left we had dinner ready and I had shelled out a shockingly large amount of Auntie May's legacy on one for myself.  It's being delivered next week.

They say soup is a very filling dish, more filling than the equivalent ingredients non-souped, and I can well believe it.  After two lots of soup yesterday I was stuffed and it looks as if today will be similar as I have leftovers!

Today is going to be a rest day.  I intend to pick up a packet from the parcel office and then knit, crochet and watch telly for most of the day.  It's cold and gloomy outside and I intend to stay warm, especially as the aches of a few days ago have turned into a cough/cold.  I also intend to hunt out and print off some Thermomix recipes so when my new toy arrives I can get going straight away.  It's a different way of doing things, that's for sure.

But now I'm off to make my breakfast porridge, having waffled on for much longer than I originally intended. Sorry!

Thursday 21 February 2013

Thursday morning

I haven't had much luck with my socialising so far this half term break.  On Tuesday I was going out with N for dinner and wasn't well.  Yesterday I was going out with K for a meal and her babysitter wasn't well.  Fingers crossed for today when I have T coming for lunch, the Thermomix lady over for a demo in the afternoon and Beth coming to watch it.  Here's hoping.

And now I have to carry on getting ready.  See you later!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Wednesday (later)

Kitchen: clean and tidy
Living room: half clean and tidy

Number of granny squares crocheted: none

Getting there!

Image fount on the Internet.


Amount of crochet done:  1 complete row and a few more (vg)
Amount of housework done: hardy any (d)

And it is dreadful too.  I am gritting my teeth and getting going today.  I shouldn't live in this mess!!!  Perhaps if I use a payback system - half an hour's housework = one granny square . . .
In my defence, yesterday I wasn't feeling so great.  Aches and shivers.  Beth and Alex popped over and Beth had been feeling like that Sunday and Monday so maybe we had the same thing.  Anyway, today feels better so here's hoping.

I also need to go shopping.  It's the demo tomorrow and there are some food items I need to get.  Also I have a visitor over for lunch (tomorrow) and I've decided to make leek and potato soup, for which I need leeks!

I shall get going at eight and get everything done < gritting teeth in a determined fashion >.  Yes, I will!!

Not mine, of course, but I found this at

Mine will be nicer (of course) and will have an edging to finish it off..  
Interesting to note that it says it takes about 35 hours of hard work to make one.  Mine's going to take longer than that!  My squares are smaller and I guess this one is made with chunky or whatever it's called in the States - thicker than DK anyway.
Also, it costs $250 - wonder what that is in pounds.  Not a lot per hour, that's for sure.

Isn't it lovely though?

Tuesday 19 February 2013


Second day in already.  Time is flying.  It's jolly cold outside this morning and the car is all frosted up.  Still, I won't be needing it until this evening so no problems!

I've updated the potato soup recipe, which can be found here.  Well worth making; it is absolutely delicious.

Yesterday I got stuck into a bit of kitchen tidying and then I worked on my bed cover.  It's going to take forever but will look good when it is finished, I think.  Each square takes only a little time but the cumulative effect is much longer, of course.  Never mind, I did another row of them and part of the next row.  I will have to order some more yarn at some point (this isn't going to be exactly cheap) so I must remember to keep the ball bands and a sample of each colour sellotaped to it.
Sewing the ends in and using a join as you go technique is definitely going to make a big difference.

Today - well, a bit more housework is the main aim.  I really am terribly lazy where housework is concerned.  I must also do some ironing.  The trouble with these activities, admirable as they are in themselves  is that they take me away from the crafting and this is my prime directive over half term.  I have to do something though - the place is a dogs dinner and I have a friend coming over on Thursday followed by the Thermomix demo lady (so the kitchen has to be spotless - as spotless as it can ever be, anyway).

I don't think I will get a row done today!!

Monday 18 February 2013

More Monday

 . . . after all, it *is* half term!

I've just posted a recipe here, on my other blog.  Now I'm off to try it out!

Monday: photos

They're none of them very good as the light was bad most of the time, and I won't be showing any of Beth and Alex, but here we go!

I went prepared!

No, I didn't take it to the wedding!  I was very glad to have something for my hands to do before and after though!  Two rows of squares completed now.

I was somewhat envious of her photographic equipment!  But, to be fair, I wouldn't have a clue how to use it.

Beth's flowers.  The flowers were just lovely!

Just playing about!

Lace on the bride's dress.  It was beautiful.

The happy couple - and they were VERY happy!

The reason for the bad lighting - but they looked fab.

When I did the OU photography course, they said one must keep ones eyes open for a good shot at all times.  This is a wood pile, seen as we walked back from the church to where the car was parked.  I love the pattern.  I'd like an inside wall make of logs like that!

The table.  It was super.  The hyacinths in pots were for the ladies at the table to take home afterwards, there were things for the children, there were quiz cards, puzzles, play dough . . . we had good fun making animals with the playdough between soup and main course.

No caption needed here.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Sunday - rather late

And here I am, back again, later than expected but safe and sound..

I was away overnight.  A good friend of Beth's got married yesterday and Beth was a bridesmaid.  Alex was asked along too, of course, and because he needs someone to make sure he's OK, I was also invited, which was very nice as I know the bride via Beth but am not a friend or anything.

Beth drove to Suffolk on Friday (straight along on the A12 most of the way, couldn't be easier).  She'd booked a family room in the Premier Inn , just outside Ipswich.  I picked Al up from school on Friday evening and we travelled on Saturday morning.

Now,. I'm not a dreadful driver but I am not so confident when I don't know the terrain, so to speak.  I worried a bit about finding the hotel (which turned out to be easy peasy), a bit about getting from the hotel to the church (which was fine), getting from the church to the reception (good instructions given on the order of service - how sensible - and road signs, so not too bad) and from the reception back to the hotel along country roads in the middle of the night (bit of a nightmare really).  By then I had Beth with me and she was brilliant, finding the route and telling me where to go (nicely), even when we lost our way - thank you, honey!.  The trouble is, my night vision really isn't as good as it used to be and I do avoid driving at night unless I know the route really well.  So, even with Beth's help, it was a bit of a nightmare really and I was so glad when we were safely on the A14 again.  I could feel the tension all down my back and arms and today my shoulders, arms and back ache something chronic.  Serves me right for being such a wimp!

Something that did make me laugh though.  Getting from the church to the reception was a drive of about 30 minutes.  Great instructions (and thank you, Alex, for reading them all out to me at the appropriate times as we drove along) but I took it carefully and at a speed I felt OK with.  It wasn't long before I had a convoy of about six or seven cars behind me: a bit embarrassing really but I refused to be pressured into driving any faster.  As we took turnings and so on, I realised that they were all staying with me and that they must also be wedding guests, presumably relieved to have someone to follow as no-one attempted to overtake me.  Talk about the blind leading the blind!

It was a lovely, homey, friendly wedding.  The hotel room was OK, given that it wasn't all that expensive.  A single bed, a double bed and a pull out trundle bed which Alex claimed as his!  Good heating, a big wall telly, not loads of space but enough to be reasonable and a good hot water supply.  The service was a wee bit tearful at times, starting when Beth paraded down the aisle on her own (I bet she hated that but it was effective and she looked so lovely I felt the tears start) and continuing through the vows (I'm just a softie) and the final procession out at the end.
The reception was beautiful but decidedly unposh and we had lovely, friendly people on our table.  After the meal a band arrived and we had a sort of ceilidh.  Well, Alex was in his element.  He had a go at nearly every dance and showed himself to be quite a dancer.
And he slept well last night!

 On the way home I stopped off at Sainsbury's to get some stuff in and then, as I was so close, popped into Hobbycraft.  Well, it seemed silly not to really!  And it *is* half term, isn't it?  Yes, I did spend more of my voucher - I bought the afghan square book I thought I was getting previously but it turned out to be a different book.  Oh, and a few balls of yarn.  Can't go to Hobbycraft and not buy yarn!

And now I'm home.  The yarn delivery arrived yesterday (I only ordered it on Friday!) and, very sensibly, they had stuffed it under the green box!  So now I'm home, no planning, no school tomorrow, a bottle of Suffolk cider (sorry, 'cyder') beside me and the yarn to enable me to continue with my bed cover.

What more could I ask?

I have some photos of yesterday but haven't uploaded them yet so will post some when I do.

Saturday 16 February 2013


Just a very quick entry as I'm rather pressured and stressed this morning for reasons I will let you know about next entry. Nothing bad, just my incompetence in certain areas!

See you tomorrow!

Friday 15 February 2013


Last day of the half term today.  Also SEN day so I'm not actually taking my class.  It doesn't stop them coming over to me as I beaver away on the laptop just outside my bay (open plan, so it's easy for them) to ask me questions and to tell me about things.

I've just put in another wool order to Deramore's.  Since I changed my pattern for the bed cover, I realised that I am going to need a lot more of one particular colour.  I started the order last weekend and didn't finish it.  As a result, I got an email from the company wondering why I hadn't completed the order and with a 10% discount voucher to encourage me to come back and buy.  The cover itself is going great guns.  I've finished the first row and and am now on the second row.  I think it is going to look really lovely when finished and I suspect I will then be hankering after making another for the other bed, same colours, different design or same design, different colours.  I wonder which would be best - the former, I suspect, but I have time to ponder that one!

A friend is expecting a baby and I think I am going to make a hexagonal blanket.  Joan sent me a lovely pattern for a hexagonal Afghan which I could adapt to suit or I could make smaller ones and arrange in the traditional hexagonal patchwork design.  I just need to know what colours - bright or pastel - she would prefer.  There's bags of time as the baby isn't due until the summer.

And now I need to go and get ready for school.  It's an early start today as I have to pop to the garage to fill up with petrol first, before the roads get too busy.

I took this using the zoom on my camera.  These trees are really right on the horizon.

Thursday 14 February 2013


It has warmed up considerable overnight (thank goodness: yesterday was c-c-cold) and the snow around the house has virtually all gone.  Whether the large lump on the school field, hopefully called a 'snowman' by the children, has gone is anyone's guess right now, but if it hasn't, it has to be on its way out!  Not so nice is that it is quite breezy and raining hard.

I see wet playtimes coming up.  The children will be pleased: one of them brought in a lovely DVD with some Roald Dahl stories on, with pictures to go with the words - like a storybook on screen.  They watched the enormous crocodile the other day and have been clamouring for another ever since.  Wet playtime would be an ideal opportunity!   It's the Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake magic working its alchemy here as there's only a little movement on screen.  Most of the time it's still pictures and words - and they are loving it.

Wet playtimes can be difficult.  We do sent the children out if it is just drizzling, but sometimes we infant teachers decide it is just not worth the hassle of soaking wet shoes and socks and keep them in.  Inside, they are supposed to use playtime things from a 'wet playtime' box but it's very old now and much of the stuff that was in the box has long since been damaged, lost or whatever.  They get out the construction stuff but don't really have long to make anything worthwhile.  Therefore, an eagerly awaited DVD is a great way to entertain them and keep them happy.

Two more days until half term, that's all.  This half term has been six weeks but it seems to have flashed past in no time at all.  We're now half way through the school year - amazing.  The second half always goes faster than the first half as well.  It won't be long before final assessments, reports and new classes.  And that will be another year done and dusted.  It always amazes me how fully one becomes involved with ones children and how quickly the disassociation happens once they are no longer ones class any more.  I've been known to become a bit tearful when saying goodbye to my lovely classes and I have some extremely fond and positive memories (as well as a few not so pleasant ones) but one moves on to the the all absorbing needs and demands of the new class very smartly!  It's a case of survival really.  :-)  Mine and theirs!

I took this last week - I just love the patterns and the subtle shades of green.  Things like this make me wish I could paint.

Wednesday 13 February 2013


I like blogs.  I like them very much.  I like the insight they give me into the mind and the life of other people more interesting that I.  When I come across a new blog that I like, I save it as a favourite and try to revisit it regularly (if not frequently).

I haven't visited some of 'my' blogs for a while so, over the last few days, I have been going a-visiting.  What has dismayed me is how many formerly lively and interesting blogs now seem deserted, empty, with no messages for months, sometimes over a year.  Like my Food Diary blog until a few days ago, in fact, although I haven't left it for as long as a year.
It leaves me wondering how the owners are, whether life has hit them a very hard blow, whether they are still around at all in fact.  It can be a worry.
I makes me realise how involved I get in the lives of others, in a very quiet way, and how much I worry when things go silent.  Silly?  Maybe, maybe not.  Who can tell?  Not I.

Yesterday I drove my car to work and left it in the school car park all day.  When I came out at the end of school and post-school work I found that the snow that had been firmly on the roof had - er - moved.  i actually looked quite dramatic.

There's a fair bit of overhang there, don't you think.  Almost an avalanche's worth!

I made another Yorkshire pudding yesterday, a bigger one, like a bowl, into which I piled some of the Sunday beef and some veg and gravy.  It was wonderful.  I've posted the recipe on my other blog blog with due credit to the wonderful Delia,
You can get there using this link.

Tuesday 12 February 2013


The snow carried on yesterday well into the morning after starting again at around eight.  It wasn't very nice though - small, damp flakes that were continually threatening to become rain but didn't quite seem to have the courage.  Playtime on the field seemed to be great fun (I very sensibly stayed inside) but the children's efforts turned the surface slushy and the field was muddy underneath.  By lunch time the bottom playground was cleared (thanks, Steve) and the field was out of bounds.

I had a pleasant surprise yesterday evening.  I was working away at school, marking, evaluating and generally doing what needed doing   At about 5:40 I thought I'd just catch up with Facebook before leaving for home and it's just as well I did because there was a message from Julie saying she's pick me up at around 5:50.
Pick me up?????
And then I remembered - we were going out, me, Linda and Julie, for a meal at the Hare.

Oh, dear!  I dropped everything and ran and managed to get home before she arrived, managed to change my tights which had started to disintegrate and tidied myself up a little bit.  I felt a scruff all the same but serves me right.

So we drove along to the Hare, only to find it closed for 'essential electrical work'.  After a bit of consultation we drove back towards town and stopped off at the Horse and Groom.  It was OK, it was wheelchair friendly in parts, the food was quite good but, oh my!, it was so cold . . .  It was almost as if they hadn't turned the heating on at all.  I know there weren't many people there but even so . . .   We might go back there come the summer, when cold won't be an issue (I hope), but we are looking forward to our usual eating experience at the Hare next time.

After that I was very tired and went to bed fairly soon after getting home.

Linda and Julie were asking me about the Christmas Throw and I realised I hadn't posted a picture of the finished article.  Here is it.  The colours on the photo are not great - it's brighter and less 'orangy' than it looks here and I'm pleased with it!

Monday 11 February 2013


Good morning, everyone.  Well, I made the Yorkshire puds but, sadly, they won't be seeing the inside of the freezer.  It's frightening how incredibly easy it is to eat twelve little Yorkshires on a cold and increasingly snowy day (not all at once, I hasten to add)!  Those first too didn't even live to see the outside of the oven - well, I had to check that they were done, didn't I?  They were lovely, as was/is the slow roasted beef.  I've posted a recipe for the beef on Teacher's Recipes; just follow the link.  It's nothing special but it tasted very good indeed and there's plenty left over for other meals.

Yesterday I said that the weathermen got it right as far as the rain was concerned.  As the day passed, they got it right regarding the sleet and finally the snow too.  It was snowing pretty hard in the evening and starting to settle too, despite the ground being so wet.  I can't see it staying long but, hopefully, the children will have time to play a bit before it mushes and slushes.  It was all very pretty.  And cold!

As for today, we will see.  No K so I will have to work a bit harder again - what a shame.  I can't see there being a snowday, although most of my colleagues come from further away and I don't know what driving conditions are like.  The call comes through before seven, so I think I will have my bath now and do the preparations for school after I'm dressed, so I will be at the phone at the right time.  Better get going then.

Sunday 10 February 2013


Good morning and welcome to . . .
That's how I always start my morning message to my children, written on the interactive white board when they come in.  The hope is, of course, that the children will read it, especially as it sometimes has a starter activity on it.

So - good morning and welcome to a cold and very wet early morning here in not-so-sunny Essex.  We were promised a mixture of rain, sleet and snow and it looks as if the rain bit was correct anyway.  It seems to be raining, not hard but very steadily, and it makes me heartily glad that I don't have to go out today, having done my bit of shopping yesterday.

Yesterday, after a nominal and half hearted clear up, and a few culinary endeavours, I set to and knitted and crocheted and knitted all day, more or less.  Alex was here but teens don't want their Nan playing games with them and Alex is more than capable of entertaining himself in between raiding the kitchen for snacks.   Regular readers may remember that last week I wrote about crochet owls and daughter Beth pounced on the idea and asked if I could make a couple of owly themed hats.  I had a pattern but the first size was 0 to 3 months and Beth wanted it for a newborn, so I modified the pattern (not difficult at all) and got the hat finished.  Now to make a crochet owl to sew onto the hat.  I made one last week and it was fine but first efforts are usually a bit rough and ready so I'm having another go today.  The other hat is for the newborn's nearly-three-year-old sister so I logged onto the incomparable Ravelry site for ideas and found a whole page or so of free patterns.  When Beth got back she picked one and that's my project for today.  It shouldn't take long and is all crochet - English instructions too, which helps.  If you don't crochet, you are unlikely to know that American instructions are different.  An English 'treble crochet' is called a 'double crochet' in American patterns, which can be a bit bewildering when you first start a pattern.
Must remember to take some photos of the hats.

The granny square bed cover is coming on although, as is the way of the world when one makes it up as one goes, after doing one row I decided I didn't like something and started again.  I'm not going to try to unravel what I've done: that's the disadvantage of sewing all the ends in as you go.  It can go in the dressing up box at school where I am sure they will use it well.

A friend (thanks Joan) pointed me in the direction of a hexagonal granny 'square' and it's lovely.  Hexagons make nice patchwork too, don't they?  Oh, dear!

The sticky sausages I made yesterday for Alex's lunch were delicious, so I have posted the recipe on t'other blog, here.   It's loosely based on a Nigella recipe but with enough variation/changes for me to be able to claim some creative credit.

I was expecting Alex and Beth round for dinner today but they're not coming after all.  In Morrison's the other day they had some beef.  Just lumps of beef.  Not identified, just vacu-wrapped lumps of beef.  It actually didn't look bad at all and was on special so VERY reasonably priced and I popped one in my trolley for our Sunday dinner.  I will cook it anyway and use it up over the week in various ways.  Given that it might be a bit tough and that I don't really go for pink beef at the best of times anyway (sorry, Diane), I am slow roasting it on a bed of carrot, onion, parsnip, red wine, beef stock, seasonings and what was left of the sticky sauce from yesterday (because it needs using up).  It's in now a slow oven and will stay in until I feel like looking at it.  With any luck I will have a lovely gravy at the end as well as some tender, melt in the mouth beef.  Fingers crossed.
And I still think I will make Yorkshires but will put some in the freezer for another time.  Not as nice as fresh cooked but very useful at the end of a long day when you don't have the time to cook from scratch.

Well, better go and make some breakfast.  Either bacon and beans or beans on toast (beans were left over from yesterday so are not a variable).   Decisions,  decisions!

Saturday 9 February 2013

The other blog

As I mentioned last week, I have now cleared out the other blog and I've decided to use it for recipes.  Recipes I have developed and recipes I have tried and enjoyed from other sources (with acknowledgements when possible).
If I post a recipe, I will try to remember to link to it from here (if I remember), so here we go.
Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Back again

I looked and I had some very manky sweet potatoes (but usable - just), onion (of course), one and a half parsnips (also manky), ordinary potatoes and some squishy tomatoes.

So I peeled (discarding manky bits, obviously) and bunged the lot in a pan with some garlic puree, two good handfuls of red lentils (I LOVE lentils in soup), some pepper, some marigold, some garlic puree and a spoonful of korma paste for a bit of zip, topped up with some w ater and it's now all simmering gently on the hob.

When - er, I mean IF - I get the thermomix, that's the sort of thing it will be used for a lot - it does the zizzing at the end too, without any need to make more washing up.

Now I need to go veg shopping.


. . . and it's jolly cold but not frosty, as far as I can tell.  I've been informed by several people that we might get snow tomorrow or Monday (or both) but I'm not holding out much hope really.  I love snow, as you know, but this is not the place to live if you want substantial falls of the stuff.

So it's the weekend.  Lovely.  Today I have Alex all day while Beth goes to a tutorial, so I have planned a fairly substantial lunch for him.  Sausages in a sticky sauce, chips and beans with chocolate sponge to follow. That should go down a treat!  Then, if they come round tomorrow, it's roast beef of some kind with roasties and veg and I may even splash out on some Yorkshire puds - I haven't had a good Yorkshire pud for ages.  In fact, it makes me feel hungry just thinking about it, slurp, slurp.

The crochet is going well.  I've nearly finished one row (width) of granny squares so the bed cover should be finished the Christmas after next!!  I had a go at the owl and got the hang of it, although it wasn't very good - first efforts often aren't, have you noticed?  And as if I haven't got enough projects on the go, I started a little hat as requested by Beth, just to see what it's like.  I might get that finished today and if Beth doesn't want it, it won't be wasted.  I might even get round to taking some photos.

Then there's the usual weekend stuff that I always intend doing and sometimes don't.  Washing, ironing, bed changing, cleaning, dusting, etc . . .   It would be great to have a maid but I doubt my conscience would give me much peace if I did!

Better go and see what veg I have in the fridge for the weekend soup.  When it is cold and bleak, a good vegetable soup just hits the spot!  I'll be back!

Friday 8 February 2013

Friday (rather later than it should be)

Sorry, sorry, sorry   I blame my friend Al who was staying over (after all, she usually blames me for stuff so it is satisfying to get back!).  I did intend to message but she surprised me by coming down early!  See, it's all her fault, so it is!

Yesterday and today have passed in a haze of signatures for standards, observation grades, last minute panics (on my student's part) and a rather sad farewell after school today.  K has finished her first placement and she's done jolly well, bless her.  We will miss her very much.

Apart from that, things have rolled along with their upsies and downsies and now it's Friday evening, the bottle is open and I can feel relaxation just around the corner.  Phew . . .

Thursday 7 February 2013


Wasn't it cold yesterday?  It was here anyway. I gather the actual temperature wasn't close to zero but, with that biting wind, it felt shockingly cold.  I felt for my colleagues on playground duty (but not enough to offer to do it for one of them!).
I think there's a frost now so the wind must have does down quite a lot, thank goodness.

My friend duly arrived yesterday evening.  Not long after six I got a text to say that the train was due in at seven so off I set, braving the traffic around the station (it's an awful bottle neck there) and doggedly refusing to move on (not that I could anyway) until A turned up.  Then it was home, James, to fish and chips that were baking in the oven (while I picked A up) and a good natter.  I haven't seen A for a couple of years at least, although we exchange very regular messages by email, so it's a sheer delight to have her staying for a few days.  Such a shame about work, isn't it!  :-)

Today I am actually doing some teaching.  Yes, I am.  All afternoon too (apart from story time, I think)!  Wow.  I shall have to get used to it because it's back to whatever passes for normal around here on Monday because K finished her school experience on Friday.  She will be missed.  Thanks, K.

So here's a bit of a countdown.
Two days till K leaves
Three days till I have Al for the day
Five days till my class is my own again
Seven teaching days until half term
Fourteen days until I have my Thermomix demo.

Wednesday 6 February 2013


As I left school yesterday evening it was raining (and windy and very cold) so I made my way over to Morrisons very quickly.  By the time I'd finished in Morrisons, it was snowing.  Very wet and quite hard just for a short interval after which it stopped.  Brrrr, it was so very cold!

I'm extremely glad that there are no snow problems now because a friend is due to visit for a few days, from tonight to Friday morning.  The house is a right tip but I am sure she won't mind that at all.  I'm looking forward to seeing her again!

School was good yesterday.  I did K's last observation (very sad) and today we have her last mentor meeting where I have to write her last report.  I'm going to miss her: she's settled into the class so quickly and has become one of the team.

So on to today - PPA, mentor meeting and not very much in-between because K is teaching.  Next week is back to normal again and I'm very much looking forward to getting back in front of 'my' children again.  It's nice not having to do all the planning, etc, but I do miss the teaching.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Tuesday evening comment!

As anyone who comments on my blog will realise, a while ago I removed that annoying capcha (is that the right word) thingy that tells you to prove yourself a human through and through while demanding that you reproduce letters and numbers that only those with robot eyesight can possibly identify.  I am sure that blessings were heaped upon my head by my oh-so-grateful readers.

Since then I have, from time to time, been bombarded with spammy stuff, most of which ends up in the spam folder, not on my blog (apologies for the few that have escaped), indicating that Blogger's safeguarding isn't all that bad really.

Each evening I check the comments folder (some comments attach to very old entries but show as newly made) and delete all the spam.    Mostly there's nothing but sometimes there's quite a lot.  The comments that end up in there have given me some private chuckles, not the least because many are such appalling, toe-curling translations from whatever the original language was.  For example, did you realise that I am the 'queen to the blogs' and that what I write is 'meritorious of all the world'?  How's that for buttering up, eh?  A shame they then want me to visit their blog entitled 'Saturday Casino', Big Tits (sorry), or Money Lending Maestro (OK, so I made that last one up), isn't it?
I wonder who they think they are kidding!

I've deleted the latest lot but will try to remember to share my amusement with my readers, when appropriate!  After all, why turn down a good laugh in this day and age?

And if anything really nasty does get through by accident, I would be very grateful if you would let me know, just in case it slips through my daily net.  Thanks.


I have time this morning!  Again, sorry about yesterday: I don't miss the morning message very often.

Yesterday was made good with the arrival of my yarn order.  Ordered on Saturday, arrived on Monday, free postage.  Now that really cannot be bad, can it?  The book about granny squares wasn't what I expected.  I though it was patterns for lots of different granny squares but it was a book of projects you can make with granny squares.  Nice, all the same.  I should have looked more carefully, I guess.  However, as I said, some of the projects look good fun and I am sure I will be making them in time.

What with meetings and paperwork, I was kept busy yesterday, despite K doing most of the teaching.  There's still a bug going round the class - going round the school, in fact.  Five away and another sent home. I suspect that's what I had over Christmas, complicated by worn-outness and a sinus problem too.  It makes a right mess of the planning because a series of lessons is just that - miss one and it makes things very tricky. Ah, well, it is certainly giving my student a taste of what it is like in real life rather than the rarefied picture painted in uni.  There's nothing wrong with being taught how it *ought* to be, just as long as one understands how it *really* is at times!  K is certainly learning that!

When I got home I looked at the two projects I have on the go right now, looked at my lovely new stash of tarn - and started the bed cover.  I got seven squares done which is about half of one across-the-bed stripe so only about another 200 or so to go!!  The book shows a 'join as you go' method and I always sew in the ends after each square is finished so once all the squares are done I won't be faced with all of that, I can go straight on with the edging.  I have just two rules.  One is that the edging colour of one square becomes the centre colour of the next square and the other is that each square must have at least one blue on it.  Apart from that, it is random and we will see how it goes.

I also ordered some lovely light, incredibly soft, fluffy yarn to make a little hat for the baby over the road.  I didn't make anything for her when she was born because she was inundated with gifts, so now's the time!  It won't take long, just an evening.

And now I'm off to Google for some different granny squares.  The info has to be out there, somewhere!

(added a bit later because I forgot to send)
Now isn't this cute?  And the pattern is there, WITH photos.  Brilliant!  And I have appropriate colours!
Do you think it would work to pop a few on my bed cover, in random spots?  *thinking about it*

Monday 4 February 2013


Huge apologies to my regular readers who came in this morning to find . . . nothing.  I was a bit late up, having dozed off after waking.  That'll teach me to read in bed when I should be up and doing, won't it?

I'll leave today for tomorrow's entry.  Sunday was peaceful, quiet and filled with crochet!  The Christmas throw is finished (did I say that on Sunday's blog entry?) and I worked on the shawl.  To my dismay, I found a mistake quite early on so made the brave decision to undo and try again.  I'm glad I did - it's going to be complicated enough without different numbers of stitches in the different sections when I come to do the lacy edging.

That's more or less it really.  I like quiet weekends.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Doing a happy dance

If you are a very avid reader of my blog and have a superb memory, you may remember that Beth bought me some lovely cotton yarn for Christmas and I added some other yarn to it to make a shawl.  Well, given that my throw is nearly finished and the blue yarn for the bed cover is only on its way, not here, I thought I'd get the shawl sorted.
Do you think I could find the pattern anywhere?  It was one I found on the internet so I looked high and low online yesterday and couldn't find it anywhere.  Major annoyance.
So I had one more look this morning and there it was, staring me in the face.  Yippee.
(and now it is saved, just in case)


Wasn't it cold overnight?  It was here anyway.  When the witches (Witches of Pickwick, remember?) strolled along to the Flyer yesterday evening, the skies were clear and the stars were glorious, even in a lit up area like ours.  We might be one road away from the countryside but we don't have the country darkness.  It was chilly then.  However, a few hours later there was frost on the car roofs and we were very glad we had brought coats, scarves and gloves.

A good time was had by all last night.  We chatted, drank, ate and drank, chatted and drank - well, some of us did anyway.  By the time the next round of wine bottles was bought, I'd had more than enough and got a diet coke instead!  I really can't take it like the youngsters!  Old age!
They don't take bookings at the Flyer and when we turned up, the place was packed.  It wasn't long though before one table was empty and then another and after about half an hour our favourite round table in the corner was vacated and we whizzed over there.  And there we stayed all evening until the lights were dimmed and there were several not-terribly-subtle hints about closing up.
I've never managed to last out a whole witches' evening before so was quite pleased with myself.  It was fun but not something to do too often, I think, especially when one is an early waker (just before six today is comparatively late, but it is Sunday!).

Earlier in the day, inspired by the fact that I have a dear friend coming to stay for a few nights this week, I gave the kitchen a good clear out.  I need to tackle the fridge today - there's something in there that doesn't smell so sweet: probably something in the vegetable line.  There are some old veggies in there so I feel a soup coming on.

I've nearly finished the Christmas throw!  The plain edging is taking ages, as it does, but we're getting there.  Inspired by this and armed with a 10% discount code, I went back online to Deramore's and ordered copious amounts of blue toned cheapo yarn and a book about granny squares.  The project is to make a bed cover for one of the beds in the spare room and, if that goes well, one for the other bed.  The book was a bit of an impulse buy.  I saw it in Hobbycraft last weekend and nearly bought it then so when I saw it again with granny squares in mind, I just fell for it.  As mentioned, the main colour is going to be blue but I also ordered some muted bluey-pinks and some purples and lilacs and some creams and greys.  Just one ball of each for now and see how it goes.  It's going to take for ages, isn't it
I also got yarn for a cardigan I want to make and some yarn and a pattern for a teddy bear hat.  No, not for me!!  R over the cul-de-sac had a baby a year ago and I didn't get anything then, knowing that she was swamped with gifts.  This will be my gift - better late than never!
So there's enough projects to keep me going for a while to come.  I'm quite excited about the bed cover but wonder how long the enthusiasm will last!  We will see!

Saturday 2 February 2013


. . . again!
Did you realise that Thursday was a palindromic date?  31-1-13  It reads the same forward and backward.  That's my bit of useless information for the day!  You really wanted to know that, didn't you?

I got loads done yesterday.  I did an analysis of the SEN register, sorting by whole school with percentages, by types of need and by class.  Very interesting (honestly, it was) and helpful when thinking of general provision.  I did it really in order to see that types of need were matched by provision and whether there are any gaps.  We have an SEN register, but you can't see the more general picture very easily.
Then I got on with some important paperwork that will need to be completed in a fortnight's time.  If I don't start it now, it won't be ready!  And between times, at play and lunch, I sorted out violin entries, wrote receipts, analysed the day's spelling checks and generally got a fair bit organised.
And then S (the other SENCo) came round to my little corner and we discussed the analysis before I took it to the head.
And between all of that I said 'hi' to individuals in my class, listened to worries and happies, thought about next week's work and generally made myself useful.
I slept well last night!

Today I need to go back into school.  Things have got a bit upsy downsy with two teachers in the class, and there's stuff that needs doing before I go doolally over it.  I need to file resource sheets away before the pile topples over and creates mayhem!  At home it's the usual Saturday stuff.  I'm not sure whether George is coming over - I *think* it's raining at the moment but I can't be bothered to get up and check right now.

You can tell winter is on the way out now, whatever she may have for us in the way of a final fling.  Suddenly the snowdrops have all popped up and also when I came home from school around five yesterday it was still light!  Lovely.

It's a bit out of focus, sorry!

Friday 1 February 2013


How the weeks do roll round!  Another last day and it seems I've hardly had time to say 'phoneme grapheme correspondence' and the week is almost over.  Another weekend is only a blink away!

Yesterday was good.  In the morning I was at a SENCo meeting and in the afternoon I was at school.  My student, K, took the class just about all day (there was a supply in the morning who must have been delighted to find she had to do precious little direct teaching!) and she (K) rose to the occasion magnificently.  I bet she slept well though!

In the evening we had a 'thing' - a training sessions for parents to which we teachers were all expected.  It was about spelling and grammar and it was jolly good.  There was a lot of fun and laughter and I am sure the parents attending came away with a much clearer realisation of what their children are learning in this particular area.  As always, the ones who attended were, in the main, the ones who are already a superb support to their children and to the school, but one has to start somewhere.

By the time I got home, it was well past eight which made for a very long day.  I wasn't surprised to find myself ready for bed by just after nine and I slept solidly through the night.  Lovely!

Today, being Friday, is SEN day and I have a very long list of Things To Do, including paperwork, reports and observations.  It should keep me busy, that's for sure.  Then tonight I intend to do nothing except slob out in front of the TV and knit/crochet as the spirit leads.  Doesn't that sound good?

Talking of crochet, remember I ran out of yarn for the throw and Hobbycraft didn't have any more (boooo) so I went online and found some that way?  Well, I ordered on Sunday and it arrived on Wednesday, as also did some knitting patterns I ordered later on (waste of the second lot of postage, I know, but there you go!) I was impressed so have no hesitation in mentioning the name of . They seem to have a fantastic stock and they do have special offers on sometimes.

After umming and ahing for a good couple of months or so, doing research, reading forums, asking questions, looking for recipes and saving many pennies I have booked a demonstration session for the Thermomix thingy.  It will be over half term so I have that to look forward to.  I've been in touch with the local rep who seemed very keen for me to have a demo 'party' and to invite three friends along but I very firmly declined.  First of all, I hate the idea of putting any kind of pressure on my friends and secondly, if I do buy the thing in the end (which seems likely right now) I will be spending enough to justify a private demo.  Anyway, the date is in the diary!