Wednesday 31 July 2013

A good idea

. . . please go and read.


Another cooler night after a lot of rain yesterday.  At times it poured!  It did clear later on, which was nice, but we could do with some more; the ground is so very dry and even the soaking yesterday will not have penetrated very deeply.

Lunch was lovely.  I departed from my usual habit of having a small plate menu and had a Caesar salad with chicken.  It was lovely but way, way too much.  I must have left about a third, which went very much against the grain as it was waste, but I couldn't manage any more.  They are very obliging there so next time I fancy something off the small plate menu I must ask for a small plate version.  Even if it means paying the same, at least there won't be the waste.  And it was so very nice (and simple), I must make it at home.  I just have to find how to make the dressing.  Google, here I come!

Liz and I had a jolly good chat about all sorts of stuff.  It's always nice to catch up with friends and Liz and I have worked as colleagues more or less since I first moved to the area.  Our sons were both in the same class.  I took over her role as SEN support teacher when she went full time.  We ended up as co-year 1 teachers for a couple of years before she retired.  It's great to stay in touch.

I don't think I have any plans for today.  That's good, it frees me up to make some!  Have a good one, everybody!

Tuesday 30 July 2013


It's much cooler again this morning and overnight I was able to sleep under the cover, thank goodness.  There's quite a breeze blowing and that is keeping everything nice and chilled.

Yesterday was a funny old day, weather wise.  There was hot sun, there was some rain, there were some cool and couldy bits and all through there was quite a stiff breeze blowing.  When I came back from Fibre-East on Sunday I was greeted by the sight of a blown over grow house and the pots of tomatoes had been knocked over onto their side.  After getting it all back upo again I did what I should have done when I first put it up and fastened it down with the rope provided.  Pegs are also provided but there's no convenient soil or grass to use for that so it is fastened to the fence.  It seems to have worked because even the large gusts of wind didn't move it in the least.  Phew!

I have more tomatoes ripening now, but none in the grow house yet, which is a surprise.  The tumbling toms in the hanging basket are definitely turning orange now though.  There's loads of very tiny tomatoes on the hundreds and thousands now but none to pick yet.  Also there are plenty of flowers on the runner beans but none are setting yet.  They need more pollinating insects!  And I have a chilli pepper!!!!  Just the one, small and immature, but definitely a chilli!

As for today, it's out for lunch with a friend and generally being idle and enjoying the holiday again.  I'm getting extremely lazy!

Monday 29 July 2013


After some rain overnight, it's lovely and cool this morning.  The sun is trying to break through as I type but it looks as if there's a bit more rain to come yet.

Yesterday was lovely.  I went, with a dear friend, Jen, to Fibre-East 2013 which is, according to the leaflet, 'a celebration of British fibre crafts'.

Well, it was certainly that.  Sheep sheering, weaving, felting, knitting, crochet . . . wool, silk, cotton . . . so many wonderful colours and textures.  Of course, being a 'Miss', I was on the lookout for ideas for school and I found some too.  Ever heard of a 'peg loom'?  I hadn't, until I saw someone demo-ing.  I've no idea how old or historical it is but it looks to be something my children could manage for very little effort . . .

. . . so I'm looking out for one to buy!  Or to make one!

I came back with all sorts and spent rather too much but never mind, it is holiday time and I need a few projects.  I now have to teach myself how to spin fleece with a spindle!

AFter such a day I was very tired in the evening but decided to wind up one of the hanks of yarn I bought.  Oh, dear, what I nightmare.  At 11:30 I gave up and went to bed and as soon as I've finished here I will resume the struggle.  I'll get there, somehow, some day!

As for today, I have a few bits and bobs to do but intend to get the ironing done and then to focus on my acquisitions from yesterday.

Thank you Jen, and thanks you K for driving us there and back again!

Sunday 28 July 2013


Good morning.  It's a much more pleasant morning too after a humid evening and quite a lot of rain.  I went to sleep sweating on top of the quilt and woke shivering (the fan was on!).  At the moment there is a delightfully fresh breeze blowing, the sun is shining and the sky is that wonderful clear blue that you can get when humidity is low.  I bet you can see for miles and miles on the London Eye at the moment!

Yesterday was quite a lazy day.  I made bread, did a bit of stuff in the garden, did a bit of shopping, read, dozed, wartched rubbish TV and generally wasted the day away.

Today I expect to be busy.  I'll tell you about it later!

Saturday 27 July 2013

recipe for courgette bake . . .

. . . in Teacher's Recipes, here.


Taken two or three days ago using the sunset setting on my camera.  It wasn't really as intense as this seems to indicate!

Another day over and done and a new day beginning.  The sky looks promising, it's lovely and cool right now and there's such a fresh scent in the garden.  I've been out there, planting up a few bits and bobs while it is cool and fresh.

I slept like a log last night.  Rather belatedly I have sussed that although the memory foam topper certainly does hold and give out unwelcomed (in this weather) heat, all I need to do is sleep on TOP of the duvet rather than folding it down to the bottom of the bed!  The last two nights have been much better.

Two more fans arrived yesterday, one for me (so I don't have to keep carrying the existing fan up and down the stairs) and one for Beth who couldn't get one for love or money round here right now.  I Amazoned and got two from Germany, no more expensive than I'd have to pay in B&Q, including postage.  Luckily there were picture instructions because the written ones were all in German and while Beth may have done German, it was a long time ago and not up to that level!  I do love the way Germans create compoundly compound words.  There's a word on the box that makes me smile - 3 Geschwindigkeitsstufen which, I presume from the context, means three different speeds!  I am sure Sonja, a fluent German speaker (and writer) will illuminate when she reads this.  I can't even begin to pronounce it but it just looks very satisfying!

Today is Saturday but because it's the holiday it's not going to be a wild rush around trying to fit a week's stuff into one or two days.  That feels so, so good.  Downstairs is as neat and tidy as it is ever going to be (which isn't saying all that much really), I don't need to do a clothes wash today (but I probably will), the ironing basket isn't overflowing and, although there's a pile of stuff waiting to go into the dishwasher, it's orderly and won't take more than ten minutes to unload and reload.  The garden is looking nice and anyway, George is coming, hopefully, for an hour this morning.

I know that by week 5, I will be fretting to get back to work and put some order back into my days, but right now it's feeling very good!

Friday 26 July 2013

Friday later on

Well, I rushed around to some purpose, downstairs got thoroughly cleaned and tidied (and now looks nice) and I've sorted out a whole pile of papers.

Beth and Alex arrived at eleven and thank goodness they did because close on their tail were my visitors who arrived while I was getting dressed!  I thought they were coming at twelve!!

Never mind, it wasn't a problem, we had a nice lunch and a good chat, I have leftovers for later and the house (downstairs) is a lot cleaner and tidier than it has been.  Three cheers!

Now I am resting.  After all, it is holiday!  And it's hot!

I reckon they'll be ready just in time for going away on holiday!  Typical!


A whole week has gone by.  One sixth of the holiday finished, more or less.  Oh, dear!

This is a short entry as I am supposed to be rushing around getting things ready for visitors.  Obviously, I'm not - yet - but I will be!

I'll be back.

Thursday 25 July 2013

The July garden.

Apologies for any repeats.
The sage needs cutting right back, it's taking over!
I'm not sure about such a garish splash of colour but it certainly brightens things up!
The runner beans have finally decided to get a move on
Plenty of tomatoes for later on in the year, blight permitting!
Chocolate mint looking healthy and happy.
The hundreds and thousands of little flowers . . . 
. . . just starting to turn into hundreds and thousands of little fruit.  Sorry about the poor quality of the image.
Two thirds of the garden, more or less!


Another hot day yesterday but quite a nice hot for most of the day although it did get rather humid for a while before clearing again.  I woke to the sound of rain on the window pane and for a while it was quite heavy.  It cleared a short time ago but it's clouding over and looks ominous again now.  I should have known it would rain as the window cleaner came yesterday!

Yesterday was quite a busy day at times.

Beth came round to pick up her garden furniture (flat packed) and take it to the allotment.  It wouldn't fit in her car so she borrowed mine.  It was nice to see her and Alex, although they didn't stay long.

I did some gardening - well, pott(er)ing anyway.  I got the chocolate mint into its destination pot (oh, my, it does smell good) and ditto for the tayberry, pot-wise.  The garden really does look nice.  I posted some photos on Facebook and will put a few on here too.  The sun definitely makes everything look a lot nicer.

A short while ago I got one of those blue, lightweight, expandable hoses but when it came it wouldn't fit the tap or the spray nozzle I already had so I then had to send off for an adaptor and a nozzle.  They came today and after a dead easy (even for me) fitting, hey presto, it was ready to go.  I'm delighted with it.  It really is light, it really does expand as the water passes through and quickly contract again afterwards and it fits neatly on a hook that fits over the tap.  Excellent.  Beth thinks so too because I'm giving her my old hose!

Later on I went back into town, first to sort something out with the bank (which turned out to be my 'fault') and then to go to the hearing aid place for a hearing test and also to send my right ear aid off for repair.  Fortunately, when I bought them, I took out an extended warrantee which is still viable so that's saved me nearly £100 - and the warrantee was a fair bit less than that.  Less fortunately, my hearing has deteriorated slightly again (no real surprises there) and is now categorised as 'severe'.  Ho hum, thank goodness for modern technology and hearing aids that really do a grand job, all things considered.  Also, I guess, thank goodness I have never been the life and soul of the party type or the loss would impact more severely on me, socially speaking.  After an adjustment of the aid that still works, and a small amount of money the poorer for some little thingy-bobs that catch the wax and stop it going into the aid, I came home, leaving one of my precious little aids behind.  We will be reunited in a fortnight!

So, one way and another it was an interesting day.

Today I am off out to spend some time with an old friend and expect to have a lovely time.  It feels great!

Wednesday 24 July 2013


Yesterday was nasty.  Yes, we had a most welcoming storm and quite a lot of rain but it didn't clear the atmosphere at all.  It remained hot and sticky and very uncomfortable for the rest of the day and well into the night.  I slept fitfully, woke at about 2:30 unable to get back to sleep. came down and cooled off with the French window open and the fan blowing on me.  After a while I felt well enough to go back up where I felt cold enough to get under the cover and slept for about two hours.  Odd dreams though, about a very steamy and hot swimming pool and problems finding somewhere to change.  Just as I did and came out of the changing room, the steam cleared and I was about to dive into the suddenly delightfully cool water when I noticed everyone else was getting out of the pool and the police had arrived because there was a body at the bottom of the pool.  And then I woke up!  Oh, dear!

As it was so uncomfortable, I didn't actually do all that much yesterday.  I had to stay in because I was awaiting a delivery of some furniture for Beth, so I wasted the day watching TV and reading (not that reading is a waste of time but - you know . . .).  I didn't even need to water the garden because of the rain.

What a to-do regarding the emerging of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their little prince though!  After seeing Camilla telling us how fantastic Prince Charles was with children the third time I channel hopped.  Poor loves, it must have been dreadful knowing that the hospital was besieged by reporters from round the world and that they would have to step out and face them all.  No wonder they held on to their bit of peace and quiet and family in the hospital for so long (and I bet the air conditioning helped too).  They may have wealth and privilege and will never want for material things but I wouldn't swap my life for theirs with its total lack of privacy, criticism, obsessive adoration and public ownership for anything.  And I read that someone had criticised the Duchess for having a bit of a tummy on her - for goodness sakes, she's just had a baby!!!!!   Once they were out, didn't they do a grand job though?

Wouldn't mind just a bit of the money though!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Tuesday: spend, spend, spend.

So yesterday I went into town on a mission - to spend (if I could) my gift cards.

I had to check a couple because they were so old but, luckily for me, they were all still good.

So . . .
Debenhams:   a nice wooden bread board, a splatter guard (my old one fell apart) and, because it was a money off day, I was able to make it up to £20 with two little boxes of Ferraro Rocher which will make most acceptable little gifts, always supposing I haven't eaten them first!  One card down!

Then into Waterstones:  after much enjoyable rootling around I bought Nigel Slater's 'Real Food' because it looks great.  Normal ingredients, not stuffed with glossy coloured pictures to the exclusion of recipes and just really sensible looking recipes and lots of them.  Delia is my hero but I do have a very soft spot for Mr Slater.  Two cards down

Then I did a few boring but necessary things, such as paying in a couple of cheques and making a long overdue hearing aid appointment.  I also went into Whittards and bought one of those ball shaped tea infusers.
Teapot Mesh Ball Infuser
Mine is the one with the blue teapot.  It's cute
Photo can be found here
Boots next:  hearing aid batteries went in the basket.  Then I treated myself to some lavender and jasmine soaps (I love the scent of lavender), some lavender body spray and a perfume stick.  Perfect for this hot weather.  Three cards down!

M&S was pretty crowded and I focused on the food area.  I got some roasted garam masala powder because the current lot has nearly gone.  Then I spotted one of their meal deals in the Chinese display cabinet.  Two mains and two sides for £8.  It was supposed to make two dinners but - blush - I've just finished it off for breakfast.  Ooops.  It was delicious though.  The card lives to spend another day.

After some time picking strawberries (so relaxing) I went over the road to Abercorns and spent all my garden vouchers.  Some plants, some plant food, two nice pots and a rake head (I have a system of tools where you buy the handles you need and the heads are interchangeable.  Very sturdy, very convenient and I used the rake to good effect before sowing some seeds in my newly created veg bed last night.  Just carrots and radishes for a quick return!  I also got some tomato food, some herb food (I didn't know there was such a thing), some bug spray and a few bits and bobs.  All useful stuff and a mixture of useful and spoiling.
If any of 'my' mums read this, thank you very, very much for the vouchers and I love what I have spent them on!  Please pass that on.

So that was four cards down and one slightly battered.

And then I went home, had lunch and fell asleep for a couple of hours!  I slept again in the evening and it's just as well I did because it was a most uncomfortable night, hot and humid and full of restless dreams and waking ups.  Horrid really.  We're now in the middle of a storm.  Not a violent one but some lightning and thunder and some rain.  It doesn't feel any less humid though - yet.  Fingers crossed.

Providing the weather is OK, I plan to pot up my tayberry into one of the pots I bought and place it where it's going to be trained along the fence.  No tying up yet as the fence has to be painted and anyway it's not big enough for that.  Yet!
Borrowed from Google.  
Here's what a tayberry looks like and this is what Wiki says about the tayberry.
Tayberry (Rubus fruticosus x idaeus) is a cultivated shrub in the genus Rubus of the family Rosaceae patented in 1979 as a cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry, and named after the river Tay in Scotland. The fruit is sweeter, much larger, and more aromatic than that of the loganberry, itself a blackberry and red raspberry cross. The tayberry is grown for its edible fruits which can be eaten raw or cooked, but the fruit do not pick easily by hand and cannot be machine harvested, so they have not become a commercially grown berry crop. As a domestic crop, this plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

When I was living in London decades ago we had a loganberry at the bottom of the garden and the tayberry reminds me a lot of that.  It's not the same, as it says above, but both have blackberry in them.  The loganberries made lovely jam.

Apologies for such a long post and congratulations if you've made it to the end without dozing off.  Have a good, cool day.

Monday 22 July 2013

Monday: first proper day of the holidays

Good morning everyone!  It's a lovely, sunny but still cool early morning here and I've already done a bit of garden pottering.  Unfortunately, the weather forecast products very humid conditions this afternoon with possible thundery showers.  Darn it!  I can manage the heat, swollen feet and ankles not withstanding, but humidity is unpleasant.  if I had the odd three hundred spare I would invest in a dehumidifier, but as I don't it's a question of grin and bear it, I guess.  Fortunately I CAN stay indoors, I CAN rest, I CAN take things slowly.  I can because today is the first proper day of the holidays.  YESSSSSSS

Ok, so, back to being an adult again now.  Yesterday morning I went shopping.  Firstly it was a good potter around Wyvale.  Into my trolley jumped a chocolate mint (smells gorgeous), a curry plant (smells delicious) and, find of the day, a tray of parsley plants for just one pound.  Yes, there were some dead bits but there was also still plenty of green and twelve for a pound - even if one survived it would be good value!  This morning I planted six of them after taking off the dead stems and the other six are for Beth.  I also bought a few bits and bobs such as labels, feeding granules, etc, and headed for the checkout to present one of my voucher cards, only to be told Wyvale don't take them.  Darn it!  When I got home I did what I should have done and checked the web site to discover that Abercorn over the other side of town takes them.  And guess what is opposite that garden centre - Lathcoats Farm.  Good-oh!  Guess where I am going this morning too, unless it gets too hot too quickly!
Here they are, just in, just watered and looking a bit flat at the moment, but they will perk up during the day.
After that I popped into Lidl and stocked up with strong bread flour which was 6p a bag cheaper than the last time I got some, so that's good.  79p for a 1.5k bag isn't bad at all, is it?  And I got the fence paint from B&Q too.

Then it was home by which time the sun was burning through and it was becoming pretty hot.  It was a bit of a rush to get the pizza dough made (see Teacher's Recipes for the details of the recipe) but we got there in the end, sitting down to eat just before 1:30.  Today I am going to make a double batch (enough for six single pizza bases) and freeze them after the rising and knocking back down, as suggested in the recipe.  Rather than making pizza, I might use some for making a calzone which I have always liked.  Basically, it is the Italian version of a Cornish pasty and dead easy to make!  The filling will not be authentic though.

I've kept the best news for the end - I have a tomato!!  More accurately, I have a ripening tomato.  It's one of the tumbling toms and I shall resist the temptation to pick and eat so it can send the 'come on chaps, keep up' message to all the other tomatoes.  I might even take the basket down and pop it in the grow house for a while, to spread the word.
Doesn't it look good?

Well, I'd better get going.  I found an old Debenhams giftcard.  When I checked on the web site it was still valid but it must be coming to the end of its life and I need to spend it, quickly.  So I'm off into town to do just that!  I will also spend my Waterstone money and my Boots money (on hearing aid batteries, which I always need, and will use the value of them elsewhere) and then potter around M&S because, guess what, I have a gift card for there as well.  After that it's strawberry picking at Lathcoats (if it's not ridiculously hot) followed by a trawl around the garden centre!

A nice way to spend the very first proper day of the holiday, don't you think?

Sunday 21 July 2013


What a surprise yesterday was.  It was mostly dull, much cooler and there was a fresh breeze blowing.  No rain, but one cannot have everything!   I didn't have to turn the fan on at all and it was very pleasant to be able to snuggled down under the quilt and feel comfortable.  The bread rose, the jam jammed and I went to sleep several times.  In between sleeps I started sorting out the kitchen, started sorting out the living room, potted on the chilli plant I was given and generally did not a lot else rather slowly!

It's too early to say about today but it is still cool at the moment.  Looking at the BBC weather site it tells me today will be hotter, especially after the sun comes out around midday, there are storms forecast for next week and some general rain too.  Perhaps a tomato spray is called for, to ward off the dreaded blight!  I shall have a think about that one!

The raised bed that was half covered by the hedge is due for an overhaul.  Yesterday George took out a shrub that is now just too big, and moved an ornamental grass, putting half of it in the leaf and herb bed and the other half at the front.  The only other thing there now is the bush-that-thinks-it's-a-tree and that is staying there until autumn because it is too near to the runner beans and I don't want to disturb them.  I tried to dig the bed over but it was extremely dry after being shaded by trees for so many years so I gave it a long, long soaking and will try again this morning.  It's going to be a mini veg patch and Beth is bringing over some baby leeks and some purple sprouting broccoli to start me off, bless her.
As mentioned earlier, I potted on the cayenne chilli and noticed, to my delight, that it has a flower.  I did the 'gentle swish' so, hopefully, it will develop into the first ever chilli I have grown rather than bought!  The tomatoes are coming on apace but I wish they would start ripening.  All it takes is one and then the others get the idea.  At the moment there's one hopeful looking tumbling tom in the hanging basket and that's it.  Thankfully, my hundreds and thousands plants, having produced hundreds and thousands of flowers, have decided to start turning some of them into titchy little fruit.
Photo borrowed from Google.  Mine aren't in a hanging basket but in a raised willow planter, but you get the idea of how they are supposed to look at their best.

Finally, the apple mint cuttings have decided to stay alive and are sending out some fresh growth.  I don't think I will get much from them this season, but next year it will be apple mint tea every day.  Lovely!

Today Beth and Alex are round for lunch and I think I will make a home made pizza or two.  That sounds about right to me.  Before then I need to do some shopping so it's heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to Lidl I go, as they do great value strong bread flour and I'm almost out.  I will also stock up on chopped tomatoes (HOW could I let myself run out of chopped tomatoes) and anything else that looks good value and that I need.  If I feel like it I might pootle on to Wyvale after that to have fun thinking about what I can spend my garden vouchers on.  Or maybe not.  After all, I have pizza dough to make for lunch and SIX WEEKS of school days to do things like that.  Bliss!

Talking of vouchers, I went through my bag yesterday and found a couple of vouchers I had forgortten about, one for Debenhams and one for Waterstones.  I've checked the Debenhams one and it is still 'alive' so fingers crossed.  Looks like it is a trip into town on Monday!  More bliss!  Town on a Monday!

Better stop rambling and get on with some work - house work, not school work!

Saturday 20 July 2013

A new recipe

. . . posted on Teacher's Recipes, here


School's out.  The school year has finished.  So - if course - I am awake at just past four and can't get back to sleep.  It was a hot night but at the moment I have the door and windows oven, flooding the house with coolness.  Bliss.  I wish I could store it up and release it later.  I can, of course, open the upstairs windows and leave them open all day, if I want.

There are advantages.  To start with, the bread rises wonderfully well in the warm atmosphere and I shall be making bread today.  I shall also be making more jam (phew) and trying to concoct a marinade for chicken thigh I intend to have for lunch with salad - assuming I feel like any lunch in this heat.

Unfortunately, with the business that has been my life in the last few weeks, the house is in a dreadful mess so I am on a mission today and that is to tidy it all up in-between chilling and resting!  Hopefulness by the end of the day it should look a whole lot less unwelcoming!

I was lucky enough to receive some lovely gifts from the children (and their parents) this week.  They're all gorgeous and I can't mention everything, it would take for ages, so I will mention just a few.  I was given a cayenne chilli pepper plant which will be re-potted and go out in the tomato grow house with the other chilli plant and the tomatoes.  I was given a hebe golden globe which will looks really super in one of my ceramic pots and should last for years.  I was given, collectively, some garden centre vouchers for such a generous amount that it fair took my breath away.  So that's a joy to come!
Borrowed from Google images, this is sort of how it will look except that I think I will use a glazed pot.

Another Google borrow.  Of course mine isn't anything like as well grown as this - yet.  And the thought of cooking with a fresh chilli picked off the plant is very appealing indeed.  Fingers crossed!

Well, if all these plans are going to come to fruition, I'd better get started.  It's going to be so nice to potter in the kitchen without feeling guilty that I'm not doing school work.

Have a lovely day!

Friday 19 July 2013


Another very warm day yesterday, wasn't it?  However, it was much more pleasant that Wednesday, which was hot and humid.  Yesterday was hot, sure, but there didn't seem to be much humidity about and I felt fairly comfortable all day.  We didn't do an awful lot.  There was a fair amount of what they call 'choosing' and I call 'self chosen play activities' and we caught up on some Fourways farm videos that they love to bits!  Today is more of the same with the additional fun of bringing a small toy into school and a DVD to watch, plus two assemblies - a leavers' assembly and a 'goodbye' assembly.

I think I have done everything now.  I think all paperwork is complete, everything that needs to be handed on has been handed on and now I have two bags to stuff to go through and keep or chuck as appropriate.  Oh, or take to the confidential waste bag.  It's such a relief to have that.  I must have spent literally days tearing up confidential stuff into titchy pieces in the past.

The big news is that the fence is up!  It looks OK too, despite being different (and higher) than my other fences.  It's a bit startling at the moment but once I get a tin of the Somerset green stuff I use and get it all painted on, it's going to look good.  Two years down the track, with the tayberry trained along, it will look great!  SO much extra space too.  Amazing.  I keep walking along the side of the raised bed simply because now I can!  Woohoo!
I do miss the green of the hedge, but I don't miss the way it took up so much of my garden space.  And the fence sheds a nice length of shade for sitting out in the evenings.

Last day today - one day to go.  It will be bitter sweet today.  Yesterday evening I got an email from one of my children saying 'Thank you for being a great teacher.  I am going to miss you very very very very very very very much.'  Apart from the fact that I taught them how to use commas in this context three or so weeks ago (grrrr), I can't be too put out because the sentiments are so lovely, aren't they?

One more day!

Thursday 18 July 2013


So open evening is over.  Free flow and swapover are over.  The walls are becoming increasingly bare.  Next year's books have name and subject labels on them.  Little ones keep coming up and saying 'I'm in your class, Mrs C' in a confident-that-this-is-good-news voice.  Not-so-little-ones-any-more come up and say 'I want to stay in your class', knowing full well that they can't and won't.

I am wrapping up thankyous that represent only a fraction of the gratitude I feel for the support and help I have been given this year.  Lovely home made thankyous that I hope are received well.

So I'd better go back to the table and get on with it, hadn't I?

Two days!

Wednesday 17 July 2013



Oh, my goodness, I can't believe how utterly worn out I am right now.  It's morning.  I am supposed to be bright and breezy. Ha flippin' ha!  Where's the matchsticks to prop open the eyelids?

Re: fence.  Company didn't show up, I believe.  I am making the best of the extra light.  Privacy will come in due course

Re: open evening.  Great, no complaints, all parents very happy as minimum.  Phew.

Three days to go!

Tuesday 16 July 2013


Today the fence goes up.  I'm quite sorry about that, in a way.  The extra light has been nice and some of the will go.  The impression of a much bigger garden has been an interesting feeling.  Oddly, while I know full well that only half of the space is 'mine', I've been thinking about how I could manage the space if it WAS mine and some of that dreaming involves some lovely vegetable beds.  I think I'd have a hexagonal shape with pathways from the corners into the centre.  And in the centre I'd have a small stone circle.  Dreaming is fun.

Anyway, today (I hope) the fence goes up.  It will be lovely to get my privacy back.  Next door there are two little boys.  They're lovely!  J and K have been very kind and have kept them out of the back garden when I'm at home more, I think, that they usually would.  They have side space and front space and we're in a small cul-de-sac so it hasn't limited their play opportunities, but I am so appreciative of the thoughtfulness of J and K.

Today I will get back some shade.  I'm not a sun person and sitting out in the blazing sun is definitely NOT my scene.  However, I found sitting in the shade of the hedge with a fan blowing was a delight.  At the moment there's very little shade.  Come the holiday (in four days' time, yay) I shall want to sit out more in the cool of the day and I will have shade again.

Yesterday was great fun.  In the evening J, L and I went to the Hare for one of our regular get-togethers.  As the weather was so good we chose an outside table and it was a real delight.  Not hot like earlier, just warm and cool and calm.  We chatter and laughed and ate and chatted some more and it was a very happy time.

Today I am being a Mean Old Teacher.  Yes, I am.  I am getting the children to make up and write a story entitled Little Ted's Seaside Adventure!  Poor poppets!  However, with no assembly, the time has to be filled somehow and I'm betting many will greet the news with delight.  After that it is all downhill with outdoor games (if it's not too hot) and a swap around in the afternoon.  I'm having my new class for an hour so they are going to the reception classroom where they will have a wonderful time, I am sure!

Tonight is Open Evening.  A fraught first hour as everyone arrives at the same time and the bay is heaving, an hour where one can relax and chatter and then that's it.  Done and dusted, more or less.  It's all downhill rolling from then on!

Just four more days!

Monday 15 July 2013


Woo-hoo!  Five more days to go.  It's going to be warm.  The sun is shining brightly.  It lifts my spirits high!

After the weekend's efforts I now have 26 little pots of jam, more than enough for all my helpers, a bottle of strawberry gin in the making and one of strawberry vodka and a nice little loaf of bread!  Hot work but worth it!

Sunset last night, somewhat enhanced by my camera setting!

Sunday 14 July 2013

Recipe over in Teacher's Recipes

 . . . one not to miss (unless you are teetotal)

Thank you

. . . to Beth

. . . and to Lathcoats


Some things really do remind you of warm summer days, don't they?  (apart from the fact that it * is * a warm summer day, I mean)

1.  Strawberry picking.  wandering along the rows, selecting carefully here and there, while all around you the sun is warming the fruit, causing it to send a warm, heady fragrance into the air, surrounding the pickers with strawberry scent.

2.  The scent of strawberry jam, boiling up in the pan before being poured into little jars ready to give as gifts to lovely parent helpers at the end of the school year.

3.  Following on from that, the aroma of freshly baking bread mingling with the sumptuous jammy smells.

4.  The smell of  new potatoes boiling in water and mint.  

All summer scents.  All experienced yesterday.  All simply wonderful.  What a lovely day it was!

Saturday 13 July 2013


No fence.  They've done the other side and the back.  I guess that's reasonable and certainly sensible from the security point of view.  J said they had hoped to have it all done by this evening but things took longer than expected.  I think the stumps were harder to deal with than they had anticipated.  The fence itself is going to be easy to stain, so that's good!  I'll give it a go myself and hopefully I won't make too much of a mish-mash of the thing.  It will be quite high but it won;t be higher than the hedge, it will be lower and, of course, it won't take up anything like the width.

Yesterday was another good day.  The important meeting went extremely well and everyone was really pleased.  I managed to get the paperwork done without any panic.  There was no need to change anything on the meeting report so that can go off first thing on Monday, so that's then off my hands.  The reports are out now.  There's a little bit more paperwork to do but not a phenomenal amount.  We're getting there.

And now it's Saturday and at 8:45 I'm heading off out strawberry picking, the word from Lathcoats being that there's plenty to pick.  Excellent!  I guess then I will be jamming in the culinary sense of the word.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Hot, but good.

Better get going than!


Friday 12 July 2013


Six days to go, that's all.  Six teaching days plus a weekend when, I hope, the Sunday will be work free.  Bliss.  If the weather is good and the fence is up, I shall sit out in the garden and relax. for a while.

Yesterday was absolutely lovely.  The free flow went so well and my children loved being mini-buddies, taking their little friend around the bay and explaining how everything worked in Lime Bay - where to put the dinner boxes, how Golden Time works, etc.  The show was great again, despite the restraints of a small school hall.  And I came home to work and it all flowed so very well.

Today is SEN day and there's an important meeting in the afternoon.  The morning will mostly be spent preparing for this.

Oh - and the school reports go home!  Teachers' Revenge!!!  < evil cackle >

They're getting on with the fence work.  The stumps are now gone and there's piles of sawdust everywhere!  Without the barriers it drives home to me quite how close we are to the busy road and my garden feels curiously exposed whereas it really isn't overlooked at all.  I am sure I will notice the road noise more without two over-tall hedges to block the worst of it but never mind.  I'm still glad the hedges are gone (they had one the other side too.
My garden - look, no stumps!

Across next door's garden to the road and then the country beyond.

I wonder if there will be a fence up when I get home from school this evening.

Thursday 11 July 2013


Yesterday evening I went to the Junior summer show.  The did Alice the Musical, another amazing show from the wonderful Out Of The Ark people who also provide us Infants with our show material.

Words aren't enough but suffice it to say the whole things was a delight from beginning to end.  They were brilliant.

Earlier on the school had its swaparound morning where all the classes spend the morning with their new teachers.  In Y1/FS we have our own way of doing it so weren't directly involved.  Consequently, all the Y6 leavers landed in Y1.  It was PPA before play and our cover teachers did the necessary but after play we had a lovely session of Buddy Time between the four classes which was great.

Afternoon was nearly normal!

Today I am with my class all day but . . . before play is our own swaparound - freeflow, we call it -, after play is normal and the afternoon will be taken up watching the Junior show.  Should be good.

And now - back to work!

Wednesday 10 July 2013


So sorry about missing yesterday.  It always happens at this time of year as things hot up (including the weather) and everyone seems to be rushing hither and thither, chasing our tails and getting nowhere in a tremendous hurry.

The best news is that the hedge is down and the stumps are being dealt with.  For a short time I can see the countryside from my garden.  Once the new fence goes up, I won't be able to any more so I'm enjoying it while I can.

Not a terribly good photo, but you can see the difference it makes.  All the space between the fence and the walled beds was hedge and it covered half of the bed too, hence the lack of planting.  I've decided that the over-big bush is coming out, as is the bush that thinks it's a tree (which has been chopped right back but can't be dug out until the end of the runner bean season because it's too close to them) and that little bed will become vegetable based now that it's getting enough light.  I will have one herb and leaf based bed, one for flowers and one for veg which sounds about right to me.

Apart from that, it's all about school work but, with eight working days to go, the end is in sight!  Thank goodness.

Monday 8 July 2013


What a hot day it was yesterday!  So hot that, for the first time, we sat in front of the fan.  I felt incredibly sorry for anyone who HAD to work out in it yesterday, especially for two guys who were slogging it out on a tennis course somewhere in SW London.  What a match it was too!  Well done to them both.

I had an unexpected extra guest for lunch.  Dave turned up bringing back my chair.  Luckily everything easily stretched to four without any going short and it was very pleasant to have the four of us round the table.  It may seem odd to have a curry on the hottest day of the year so far but they have it in India all the time, don't they?   The evening was very pleasant though: It all cooled down and one could move around again without feeling too hot.

Today looks as if it will be another gorgeous day.  It seems a shame to have to sit inside and work, doesn't it?  I am glad I won't be at home though, because . . . today the hedge comes down!  They'd better not mess up my garden too much!  It's quite a bright, sunny garden anyway, more or less south facing which is lovely, but I should notice a difference to the light mornings and evenings.  Hopefully!

Sunday 7 July 2013


When I peeped through the curtains about three hours ago, I was very surprised to see a fair old mist wafting around the air.  There was a very welcomed freshness in the air and no sneezing!  Of course, it's burnt off now, the sun is shining  brightly and it will start heating up soon, ready for another gloriously summery day, just like yesterday.  It was hot, but it didn't feel humid and although I don't like really hot weather at all, I thought it very pleasant and hope today will be similar.

After rushing around a few shops I came home and started putting up the grow house.  Well, it didn't take me long to realise that I misjudged the measurements and it is - er - bigger than I expected.  I had to rethink my plans as where I had hoped to put it, with the tomatoes inside, was in just about the shadiest part of my small but pleasant garden.  Not a good idea.  After some wibbling I found the right spot and it's now standing in all its glory with four tomato plants and a small chilli plant inside (I bought one yesterday in hopes!).  Mostly it will remain open but on cold/damp days I will close it in the hopes of protection from the dreaded blight.  I didn't know there's a 'blight watch' but now I do I will be checking.
Yes, Beth, it IS blocking the side gate.  We will have to only use the back one for the season!

The other tomatoes, the hundreds and thousands, will have to take their luck, as will the tumbling toms in the hanging basket.

After sorting that out, I set to and started Dysoning the carpet only to hurriedly turn it off again as it was making the most horrendous noise.  I know Dysons aren't the quietest of cleaners but really!!!!  After investigation I found a rather badly broken bit and decided rather than to wait for parts (which might not be available anyway),  I would spoil myself and buy a new one.  So I no longer Dyson my carpets, I Meile them.  I decided that I might like a change from an upright so I got a cylinder cleaner and I hope I don't regret it as I have had a Dyson for many years now.  It's lighter, quieter, smaller and more easily stored but it uses bags and it's been a long time since I needed bags.  Rather expensive bags too, much to my annoyance.  However, Which spoke highly of it, so it should be OK and it should make sweeping the stairs a lot easier.
We will see.

And still no sneezing - excellent!

Saturday 6 July 2013


Another lovely day yesterday, quite a lot hotter than Thursday and I was glad it wasn't sports day.  I think it would have been uncomfortable for the children and adults alike.  Afternoon playtime was lovely though.

In-between appreciating the sunshine, I managed to get quite a lot done including finishing off the paperwork for an annual review next Friday afternoon so that's a weight off my mind!  With planning winding down for the end of term (yes - two weeks to go but rather a lot of 'events' to fit in) and the weather finally picking up, it's nice to be able to relax with a clear conscience.  George is coming this morning so the garden will look nice too, not that it will last for long because of the hedge coming down but never mind, no complaints!  It will all sweep up and a short term mess leads to a longer term gain.

I was going to Lathcoats to pick strawberries today but they sent out an email saying there was very little ripe fruit to the extent that they might close early and keep the farm closed for a few days, so I won't bother.  There ought to be plenty next week.  I am, however, going to Wyvale for a browse around!

The tomato grow houses arrives and ooops, they are too big for where I was planning for them to go, much bigger than I envisaged and I only really need one, I think.   Never mind, there are some alternative places and while it is hot and dry I won't be worrying about shutting them in anyway.  The nice thing about a container garden (semi, anyway) is that you can move pots around to change things very quickly and easily.   So if I move the tomatoes to in front of the shed where there's room for the grow house (and it's a sunny spot too), I can have my herbs  that are in pots closer to the house.  That would work well.  Or I could do what I've wanted to do for ages and get a bench to go where the tomatoes have always gone before.  If I did, I could paint it the same colour as the shed and the fences.
Must take a look and see what's on offer!

Friday 5 July 2013


Yesterday was lovely.  So many nice things happened or were noticed.

1.  The sun shone and there was no rain.
2.  Infant sports day was a great success (and my house won the cup)!
3.  My tomato plants have baby tomatoes.  Excellent.  Ditto  for the two baby redlove apples that are growing this year.

4.  Some of the runner beans finally seem to have made up their minds to grow.
5.  My nice neighbours told me that the hedge is coming down Monday and Tuesday.  That might not sound that good but the hedge is an overgrown row of leylandii and it's taking at least a metre off the width of my garden, more in places.  It's not my responsibility and I shall be glad to see it go.  I shall miss the greenness and the Christmas cuttings though.  I have a little tayberry in a small pot that can be planted on and trained along the fence that is replacing the trees.
The side of the garden is around a metre away from the edge of the walled bed.  See how much garden the hedge is taking up!
6.  A book I ordered arrived.
7.  The tomato grow houses arrived at long last.  Now I have to erect them.  The theory is that I can shut them off on damp and nasty days and they won't get blight - the tomatoes, I mean, not the houses.  Fingers crossed!
8.  I ended up with two TAs - neither of them 'mine', who set to and got everything ready for sports day for me, which meant that I was able to have a proper lunch break (and eat a proper lunch).  They were wonderful, they know who they are and if they're reading this - many, many thanks.
9.  Dinner (Moroccan pork mince) was really tasty.  One to make again.  Recipe here.
10.  All my school reports are back, very few mistakes, all done and dusted now (including corrections).

Wasn't that a lovely day?

Thursday 4 July 2013


Sports Day and the sun is shining.  Three cheers and fingers crossed that it stays this way until three thirty at least.

A short post today (no cheering at the back now) because there's a lot to do.  I'll be back!

Wednesday 3 July 2013


I drew back the curtains with a view to watering the garden - the pots anyway - only to realise that it's raining very steadily!    Now I have to decide if I want to get wet watering the tomatoes.  I think probably not, given that I've just gone out to the shed and now feel thoroughly damp!
Borrowed from Google.
So - sports day.  I dislike this sort of situation.  Will it/won't it?  Will the field dry off enough or will it be just too slippery for that fantasy creature Elfin Safety?  Who knows?  I bet that some will start asking today though.  The forecast is not good, not good at all.  Darn it!

Yesterday was really good.  It was the annual SENCO conference and we (Sheila and I) couldn't make our local one so we pootled up to just past Colchester.  It was so easy to find, unlike the Teacher's centre IN Colchester, which is absolutely dire!  Three nasty roundabouts and if you take the wrong turning you're lost - well, I am anyway!
The sounds system was good, the huge room was reasonable comfortable, nice lunch and some great content, especially in the afternoon.  I wasn't sure about the morning speaker: he was from a working group that produced an important document regarding the use of TAs and I felt he had an agenda to work towards.  Judging by the slightly edgy atmosphere in the room and the questions asked (which he didn't really answer), so did a number of others.  And he wasn't funny!  Most 'keynote' speakers at teachers' conferences lace their points with humour.  he didn't.  It was all deadly serious and the discussion points were definitely loaded at times.  However, being teachers, we saw through this and discussed to our own agenda anyway!  Far more helpful and useful.
The afternoon was much better.  A talk on heuristic  scaffolding and very, very practical and useful with lots of things to take back to school.  Just what the doctor ordered!

And then it was back to school to prepare for today and then off to the Hare for a pleasant meal with some friends.  Once back home I crashed out very quickly and have had a wonderful night's sleep.  I'm definitely sleeping better now I've just about cut out the caffeine.

And today?  PPA, Big  Write, writing the pupil part of the school reports and library time.  After school, an important meeting which gets me out of staff meeting.  And, I guess, another early night!  What with getting things ready for sports day as well it's going to be a busy day!

Have a good 'un!

Tuesday 2 July 2013


After a very cosy and soundly sleeping night, it's not so sunny this morning.  The sky isn't blue so there's some very high cloud there.  It's comfortably cool at the moment which suits me, especially as I am attending a SENCo conference all day and I have no idea if there will be air conditioning in the hall or not.

Yesterday was gorgeous.  Warm but not too warm, sunny and with a slight breeze to keep the air moving.  Really lovely!  We're due rain tomorrow, I gather, but Thursday is going to be dry.  I hope so as it is the Infant Sports Day on Thursday.  It takes enough organising as it is, without weather worries and needing to re-schedule.

Being out on a conference means free lunch - well, free for me, anyway.  However, in the evening I'm off out to the Hare for a meal with friends so, as I said on TsRs, that's my week's food money and more blown in a single evening.  It will be fun, though, great fun!

I got an email yesterday from Lathcoats Farm.  At last, at long, long last, they are opening their PYO.  I'm umming and ahing about this Saturday morning for an initial pick, but we will see, maybe not this weekend as there may not be all that many.  Definitely next weekend though as I have to make jam for all my lovely parent helpers.  Either jam or lemon curd!  I will be busy!

Monday 1 July 2013


A new day, a new week and a new month.  Fifteen days to go!  Woohoo!

What a glorious day it was yesterday.  Hot and sunny and cool come the evening.  Beth and I had a very pleasant half an hour in the garden re-potting the tomatoes which are now in their final destination.  We'd better not get any frosts now!  She also brought over some apple mint roots and we planted them in a pot - no way am I going to plant mint in the beds, it is so invasive.  The leaves we took off went into the teapot later for apple mint tea and very sparky and refreshing it was too!  Delicious and a beautiful yellow colour.

Over lunch, Alex broke the glad news that he will be making a cooked breakfast in school this week so after lunch we went out, first to Wyvale to get some pots and then to Aldi which is nearby for bacon, sausages, etc.  Not something that Beth normally has around although many households would.  She also got some cream as they have a number of ripe strawberries on her plants and she'd promised Alex Strawberries and cream.  That was changed to a cream tea when I offered to knock up some scones for them (which came out really nice, though I say it myself).

Today I am with my class all day and I do hope it stays fine and sunny.  They are so happy when the weather is good!  At the moment the sun is shining, there's a light breeze and the sky is clear and blue and beautiful.  I've watered the plants so all should be well!

I won't be able to send this yet as the internet connection seems to be down.  It's been very erratic this morning.  I hope no-one needs to be in touch with me urgently!