Thursday 31 October 2013


Good morning, everyone.  What dull and boring weather at the moment.  Rain, rain and more rain.  A bit of a let down after yesterday's glorious autumnal sunshine but never mind.  Everything was quite dry as we didn't have all that much rain on Monday.  Heavy showers, certainly, but they were very short lived.  I'm beginning to wonder if Kevin will come round to clear the garage, given that it is so miserable.

It was lovely day yesterday, with three friends round for a lunch that was almost totally home made: oaty rolls (using Diane's recipe), potato and leek soup, cake, banana bread and grapes (OK, so I didn't make them).  We had a great gossip and plenty of chuckles.  I gave out jams and received wine, a plant and some fresh laid eggs.  I have three portions of soup left over too, so that's sorted three school lunches next week.

Today and tomorrow I need to plan and prepare for our family do on Saturday.  I'm not going to be too adventurous and will go with the tried and trusted.  I shall be making the final decisions this morning and then the shopping list and  I'm thinking that it is just as well I have been paid recently!!!

The Victoria sponge ended up rather dry.  My own fault - I decided it needed a few extra moments and then forgot about it for five minutes or so - enough to make a difference.  Never mind, I was wondering what to have for a second dessert and now I can make a trifle - with jelly.  Eat your heart out, Mary Berry.  No alcohol though or the non-drinking members of the family won't be able to participate.  That and the magic key lime pie (or rather, lemon this time) will do nicely along with a birthday cake!

I'm not yet sure what's going on in the kitchen today but it will probably involve bread of some sort.  I'm going to make some more oaty bread rolls as I loved the ones I made at the weekend.  I might try them with wholemeal this time.  As I'm using Thermione and doing the rest slowly, timing doesn't matter as much so if it's slower to ride, no problems!  I also quite fancy making a plaited loaf like the Silver Fox showed us last night - I just caught it before I dropped off to sleep!

All of that, with more general houseworky stuff, should keep me nicely busy and out of trouble all day!

Wednesday 30 October 2013


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's a beautiful clear night at the moment and when I went out to pop something in the freezer I was enthralled at how bright the stars are.  Having the street lights off certainly does make a difference.  It's rather cold too, not quite frosty cold but not far off.  It is nearly November so hardly surprising really.

Yesterday was a most enjoyable and productive day.  At some time after eight, Doug arrived, new French window in tow, to start work on replacing the old one.  While he was working, along came the window cleaner who refunded me £2.00 because he couldn't wash that window - now that was unexpected!  Not long after Gary had finished, along came Kevin to look at the rubbish in my garage and to give me a quote for clearing what needs to go which was so very acceptable I said yes almost before he had finished speaking.  The main problem with yesterday morning was that for quite a while there was no French window and it was starting to feel jolly chilly in the house as there was a decided nip in the air at times.

In and out of all of that I made some cranberry sauce (cranberry, apple and orange, to be strictly accurate) and some Victorian apple jam.  Both recipes are now on Teacher's recipes.
After umming and ahing about what to do with the leftover whipped cream from Saturday, I finally decided to use Thermione and have a go at making some butter.  This was dead easy and seems to have been most successful although I shall know better after I have had my morning toast!  More about that another time.
After a quick trip to the shop I made some leek and potato soup, a banana loaf and a victoria sponge for tomorrow.  All great fun but I was thankful for the dishwasher!  Then leter on, in the evening, I made a banana loaf and some potato and leek soup.  I have friends round for lunch today and the rolls (from Sunday), soup and banana loaf is for them.  I've just turned the oven on to make a Victoria sponge and that's me more or less ready.  I then just need to make some croutons or some sort of garnish for the soup.

After all that hard work < cough >, I was most content to sit and relax with some wine, some rubbish magazines and the evening's telly.  After all, it *is* holiday!

And today?  Well, friends are round for lunch so I shall do a little bit of housework this morning including cleaning the outside of the new window which is quite a mess.  The trouble is I have a south facing garden so get the sun most of the day and the windows can look just awful when it shines through them!.  Kevin might be coming round to clear the garage at some point although I am rather hoping that he doesn't come until tomorrow.  I'm taking possession of a Vax hoover at some point (from a local selling page) on the possibly misguided assumption that if I have a hoover I keep upstairs I might sweep the bedrooms a bit more often.  At the price the seller wants I can hardly go wrong!

But first I must make that sponge cake!  Watch out, Mary Berry, here I come!

Tuesday 29 October 2013


Good morning, everyone!  First of all, before I forget, I've started posting recipes into Teacher's Recipes again and the latest is the merry berry cherry jam I made yesterday.  It worked well and will make lovely Christmas presents.

When the storm finally hit, it was pretty scary for a short time and, coward that I am, I kept the curtains drawn in a sort of head-in-the-sand gesture.  It might have helped!!!  Fortunately, very little damage was done round here.  Neighbours lost fence panels and someone's gazebo was blown over and damaged.  My runner beans are now listing to one side.  Apart from that, we were lucky.  Once it had passed I read derisive comments on Facebook about how it was a let down, a damp squib, a storm in a teacup.  My view is that lives were lost, homes have been damaged, trees uprooted as well as more minor losses and I would not call that a damp squib.  Thank your lucky stars it wasn't you who suffered in that way too.  I am sure that the long and considerable warnings we were given helped to reduce the damage as people got their gardens tidied up, moved things that were likely to blow around and cause other damage and generally made preparations 'in case'.  Thanks, George, for taking down the growhouse on Saturday: I'd have lost that, for sure.

I was glad that the worst didn't last all that long and not long after that things were more or less calm with some gusty wind at times and some heavy showers between the sunny times.  I very much hope all my readers who were affected were as fortunate as I.

Today is going to be busy.  My french wondow is being replaced, someone is coming regarding clearing the junk form my garage and I've just read an email informing me that the window cleaner will be round.  Busy times!  Better go and have my bath and get ready then!

Monday 28 October 2013


. . . and the much forecast storm is upon us!  Well, sort of anyway although I gather it will get more stormy as the rush hour approaches.  It's very wet, it's windy and the silver birch in the next garden is being tossed madly hither and thither but, so far, nothing too bad.

I have plans for today, seeing as I'm not going out anywhere.

Firstly I will be making and then freezing the pigs in blankets.  I always do this in half term: it's one of those fiddly jobs that is much better done when you're not in a rush and as I use chipolatas, they can be cooked from frozen.

I'm in the process of making a jam I will call Merry Cherry Berry Jam.  I'm using up some bags of frozen fruit from the freezer - two bags of mixed 'forest fruits', one bag of cherries and half a bag of cranberries.  The other half of the cranberries I will make some sort of cranberry sauce with (and freeze for the festive season).
I hate lots of seeds in my jam so I started by boiling up the mixed forest fruits in a little water and have just pushed the lot through a sieve.  I then added the cherries and cranberries and that's simmering away until all is soft.  Then I will measure, add sugar and so on.  Finally the merry bit will be some cherry brandy.  If it works well I will put the recipe on the other blog which has been sadly neglected in the last week or so.

I have friends round for lunch on Wednesday and I intend to make a nice leek and potato soup with home made rolls, followed by cake - banana bread (I just love that recipe) and a Victoria sponge.  I think I will make the rolls today because I can freeze them and make the rest tomorrow and then freeze any leftovers.

I have a little list of things to tidy and sort.  Just a few things so that it is manageable.  And I have a full ironing basket so I hope that
a)  the power doesn't go off and
b)  there something decent on the telly!

Finally, I have some photos of Saturday to upload and edit.

Now I know I'm supposed to take things easy but most of this is fun, fun, fun!  I love the kitchen stuff and I don't mind the ironing as long as I can watch the telly.  I will be glad to have done some clearing out and editing photos is fun too.  Also, any time I like I can take a break.  Bliss!!

I hope all my readers are safe and that, if you are affected, this storm causes no damage.   Stay dry!

Sunday 27 October 2013


The first busy day of the half term is now over.  There's a week of comparative idleness laying ahead of me now, punctuated by lunches with friends, house repair stuff and general clearing and reorganising.  I want to use the opportunity to start preparing for Christmas - pigs in blankets and roasties in the freezer and probably some of my remaining carrots too, as I usually roast them at Christmas.  Roasted veg looks so nice, taste so good and it's so much easier than boiling them!

Yesterday was wearisome and long but fantastic.  As I have mentioned, Alex organised a birthday party for Beth and took the opportunity to make it a frugal food raiser for the local Food Bank.  At one point we wondered if many would be able to come but in the end there were eighteen of us, although three had to go because the little lad wasn't well at all, poor chappie.  Another time to be glad of the extension and grateful to those whose generosity made it possible.

Al did brilliantly with the food - the tables were absolutely groaning under the weight.  He wisely kept it simple (and as frugal as he could) with sandwiches, scones (he made the scones and they were lovely) with cream and jam, sausage rolls, crisps and a wide variety of home made cakes.  Most people had tea so I was up and down refilling teapots quite a lot.  Beth bought three teapots from a local charity shop very, very cheaply.  Two of them she will re-donating but I have claimed the fourth, a  tall white pot with a lovely pour!  I will donate something to the food bank for it.

Between them, Beth and Alex devised some pencil and paper games, nothing brain aching, just good fun.  I heard peals of laughter as I busied myself in the kitchen.

All in all it was an outstanding success.  WELL DONE, ALEX!!!

And now, here am I, having managed to stay up a bit later last night so only waking at my usual time, even with the clocks going back.  It's pretty blowy outside and I am very glad I got George to dismantle the growhouse yesterday.  The last of the tomatoes has now been dealt with.  It's been such a good year but all good things . . . as the saying goes.  I still have chillies, carrots and parsley and the broccoli and leeks are doing great.  I've left the runners in for now but what's the betting the storm will blow them over!

Stay warm, stay cosy and I hope that whatever the weather has in store for us, all my readers are safe.

Saturday 26 October 2013


Apologies for yesterday's silence.  It's all been go and, with the cold hanging on, the tiredness and the general yuckiness, the blog took a back seat.  However, it is now Saturday morning, there's a busy day ahead but then the opportunity for a good rest.  Bliss.

First, thought, today . . . Alex is holding a tea party.  There are two main reasons.  First of all, it is Beth's birthday today (Happy Birthday, Beth) and  secondly, he needs to do some sort of fundraising event for his Duke of Edinburgh award.  So he has combined the two and is hoping that those coming will bring a nice donation to the Food Bank, which is his chosen charity.  I was feeling rather stressed about getting all the work done but when I got home yesterday, Beth and Alex were already there moving funriture and generally getting stuff organised.  The cleaner had been too.

Today will be busy but I'm not so worried now.

I just wish this cold would go though.  It's dragging on far too long and it's wearing me out!  Goodness, don't I sound dismal?  Sorry.

Well, I'd better go and do some stuff . . .

Thursday 24 October 2013


Two days to go - oh, my!  Half a day's teaching, that's all.  This afternoon I am off to a SENCO update course and tomorrow is my SEN day (and a VERY long list of things to do so that will keep me out of trouble).

This may be tempting fate and I have my fingers crossed as I typo, but I think we won't get The Call now until half term.  A biggish school like ours will need more than one day of inspection and even if they phone at lunchtime, there's not enough time.  I hope . . .

It's chilly outside.  I woke briefly in the night to find the room well lit up.  It had to be moonlight as all the street lights were off by then, but I was too dozy to get up and look!!  Clear skies = lower temperatures at this time of year.

We're a right lot of old crocks in Y1.  Both A and I have this virus which, apparently, could go on for a number of weeks - great!!!!  One of our LSAs is also suffering from the same thing and the children are dropping like flies.  Hopefully we are building an immunity and will be fine when everyone else is croaking around the school.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday 23 October 2013


Good morning!  Another wet night, by the looks of it, following a pretty wet Tuesday where the children didn't get out to play much and didn't get their outdoor games lesson in the morning.  To help my cover teacher (it was PPA for me), I mentioned that it might be 'housepoint afternoon' for children who worked hard and stayed sensible!  No, not bribery; encouragement and reward!  I think it worked anyway, whatever you call it!

Mind you, SOMEone, or several someones, left the home corner in a right state so there will be an inquest this morning!

Apart from that it is going to be a lovely practical day with word wheels to make, things to weigh, teddy bear headdresses to make and a visit to the library!  Lovely!

And then staff meeting . . . well, you can't have it all, can you?

Tuesday 22 October 2013

The story of a Christmas song

This story has several strands.  Please bear with me . . .

1.  Several years ago I was asked to take on the role of KS 1 coordinator at school.  One of the responsibilities I took on was to be responsible for the Infant Christmas performance.  The first one I produced was called 'Snowman at Sunset' and I added extra bits to it to make it 'ours' (and longer!).  One things I added was a song I wrote for especially that performance called 'Long, Long Ago', to be sung as the nativity tableau unfolded.  Simple - very, very simple, just three verses with a chorus - but it went down quite well.  I've written a number of Christmas songs over the years - the season seems to bring out something creative in me.  They've never been all that fantastic or complex, just simple children's songs because that's who I work with. Children!  Little children too.

2.  Wind back a couple of years before then and we had a new head who was - still is - a brilliant musician.  Every year she conducts massed children's choirs in places like the Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Abbey (in aid of Barnardos) and, of course, our own choir goes along.  It has been a great opportunity and one of the driving factors in our school gaining the Gold Artsmark Award in recent years.  I wish I had such experiences as a musical child.  I have been very, very fortunate to have taught under her inspiring leadership.

3.  Fast forward several years to now.  Amazingly and very humblingly, 'Long, Long Ago' comes to light again and has been chosen as one of two songs that will be performed in Westminster Abbey this Christmas.  And maybe, just maybe, I will be going along to accompany the massed children's choirs on the piano.  I'm overwhelmed and very, very excited.  It's just - oh, I don't know - amazing.

Eeeeek - a song I composed will be sung in Westminster Abbey!!!!!!!!!!!!
And I might be there too, playing the piano!!!!!!!!!!!!

Long, long ago
In the dark of the night
When the winds were blowing and the stars were shining,
A baby was born
In a manger laid
In a stable

He came to show us a better way
To live our lives from day to day
He came to show us how to love each other . . .
Ev'ry day.


Yesterday went well!  I 'warned' my littlies that I wasn't 100% and it might be a good idea to listen carefully and decide not to do anything silly (or words to that effect) and they were more or less as good as gold all day, bless their little socks!

Unfortunately, I find I have meetings after school every day this week, every flippin' day.  That is a right pain, a real nuisance, but there you go!  That's life.  The week will end at some point and then it's a week's break, thank goodness.

Apart from that there's not a lot to report - oh, yes there is.  I got my first 'I love you, Mrs Clark' letter of the school year.  Very sweet.  The hugs were in evidence yesterday too - they are a very loving little bunch.

Have a good day.

Monday 21 October 2013


Well, I survived the weekend.  Yesterday was much like Saturday - sleep, doze, sleep - with the addition of pillm popping to keep the cramps at bay.  I had to have some breakfast this morning as is is foolishness to try to work on a very empty tum so I had some toast and fingers crossed it won't start off the cramps again, which were pretty unpleasant.

This week is Bear Week.  The teddies are visiting and most of the activities are bear related.  Lovely!

Diane, have you seen my comments on the slow cooker bread?

Now I'm off for a nice, hot bath . . .

Sunday 20 October 2013

More thoughts on the slow cooker bread

Having let the various meds have their effect, I had another go at tasting the slow cooker loaf and, you know what, it's not that bad.  Here's my thoughts.

It has quite an open crumb with quite a lot of holes.   My dad called the holes 'butter thieves' when we were little!

It didn't 'gloop' when I put it in my mouth so was properly cooked.

Despite the difference in crust between the bottom and the top, it didn't spoil the bread for me.  Next time, I won't bother to brown the top in the oven.  I might try the grill but probably not.
It's not an attractive loaf, is it?

It didn't dome at the top as it rose..  I can see the use for such a regularly shaped slice, even if it just easier to cut off the crusts!.

So - not totally won over but it's certainly not wasted bread and I intend to have another go.  I suspect the cooking time varies from cooker to cooker.  Mine is very old so might take longer - it was baking the bread for two and a half hours.

If anyone (Diane?) has a go, please do let me know how it goes for you.


Good morning!   It's a damp but fine morning here, although it looks as if there is more rain to come at some point.  After a rather disturbed night (stomach cramps and the usual repercussions) I am looking forward to a proper lazy day today, once I have done a bit of shopping and picked up a couple of items I found on a facebook selling page.

Regarding the slow cooker bread, the conclusion is - I'm not sure.  It made a very strange loaf, the shape of the pot which I had lined with scrunched up greaseproof so the sides were oddly patterned.  The bottom is very crusty and the top was almost white so I popped it in a hot oven for ten minutes, which rather defeats the object.  Unfortunately, with not feeling wonderful, etc, I have only tasted a bit and all bread tastes lovely when it is still hot.  Hopefully I can give it a proper tasting later on today.
My impression isn't 'wow', sadly, but I will try again at some point very soon.

I suppose what's in my mind is that with Thermione, making bread is not a hassle anyway, except that I have to be around at four key points: making the dough, knocking back and shaping, in the oven and out of the oven.  I can get on with other stuff in between!

Have a good day and stay dry!

Saturday 19 October 2013


. . . and, of course, because it's Saturday I had to go and wake at three thirty, just because I didn't need to!  A bit of a pain but once the coughs and sneezes were done I felt (and still feel) quite bouncy so I've attached the kitchen a bit and the dough is in Thermione as I type.  Today is 'try slow cooker bread' day so once the kneading is done it's going to be shaped and then popped in the slow cooker to bake, fingers crossed.  It takes around two hours so I think i might pop back up and try to get a bit more snooze or I will be utterly worn out later on and might sleep through Strictly (and that would never do).

I was thinking today would be a totally idle day but Alex is coming to stay the day with me.  Beth has a journey to make and he didn't want to go with her.  However, he's a great lad, he has homework to do and I should be able to laze around and be utterly idle anyway, if I want or need to be.

OK, so now the dough is done, shaped into a nice round ball and popped into the slow cooker on some dampened, crumpled, shaken and smoothed out greaseproof paper.  It's turned to high and I will soon be popping back upstairs to set the alarm for one and a half hours' time before indulging in a morning snooze (I hope).

I'm still not sure.  The lack of a knock back and second rise concerns me but, on the other hand, long and slow is the way to go with bread.  Fingers crossed!

Friday 18 October 2013


It's Friday!  At last!  It has felt like a very long week this week, what with parents evening on top of everything else.  Rarely have I needed a weekend more and am so looking forward to a lazy Saturday doing not an awful lot!  Mind you, that will all change if we get the dreaded phone call today!  Fingers crossed . . .

We had a super day yesterday.  Two mums and babies came into class accompanied by one baby clinic nurse, to talk to the children about how babies grow and change and how to care for them.  I wish I could show you the gentle, tender, caring look on the faces of my littlies as they watched, listened and asked questions.  I think it is something they won't forget for a while.  Thank you so much to three lovely mums!

We had to laugh.  One of the mums said perhaps the children would like to come up and hold her baby's hand so they all queued up in groups to have a little hold and stroke baby's head (brave mum, she was).
So up came A, first in his group.  A few children later, there he was again - and again.  Turns out he was going to the back of the line to have another go and then he joined another group and then went to the back of that line as well!  He was totally smitten!

They were all so gentle . . . my lovely class.

Thursday 17 October 2013


Consultation evenings are over at long, long last.  Three cheers!  I survied, the parents survived.  The voice - well, we will see.  It's croaky but might pick up as I get going.  It's just today I have to manage as tomorrow I am out of class and don't need my voice nearly so much.  After then it's the weekend with nothing majorly social planned apart from Beth and Al coming over for lunch.  I can't wait!

I've heard that OFSTED are in the area.  I'm wondering if we are due for an unexpected visit.  I do so hope not but the continual 'are they/aren't they' is getting up my nose!  Life should NOT have to revolve around whether two or three people are going to visit school or not.  The power those few people hold in their hands is utterly ridiculous (I think!).

On that happy note, I'm off to have my bath!  Have a great day!

Wednesday 16 October 2013


Phew - such a long day yesterday.  I finally got in just before nine and wolfed down a cheese sarnie and checked my emails before going to bed.  Everything went well, all nice comments, so I was happy!

The only problem was that my voice was going and it doesn't appear to have come back today either.  That's a bit of a disaster with a day's teaching and another consultation evening ahead of me but that's the way of things, we will manage, I am sure.  Maybe it will get me the sympathy vote.  < smile >

Apart from that, it was busy, busy, busy all day and jolly cold too.  I thought it was supposed to be warming up a bit!  Maybe today.

The latest thing to catch my eye is slow cooker bread.  I didn't realise you could bake bread in the slow cooker but apparently you can.  It takes a lot longer but that's slow cookers for you.  It would actually give me time to go shopping or something at the same time.

You mix and knead (well, Thermione will!) and then pop it into your slow cooker lined with greaseproof paper and it does a slow rise and bake (two hours).  I'm a bit dubious about the lack of rise-knockback-prove but slow is good for bread.  Anyhow, I am going to try it on Saturday and we will see: if it doesn't work it's not much wasted.  If it does work I have lots of bread to bake over this weekend in preparation for a 'thing' the following weekend so it will be used.  Also, a mum dropped in a bag of flour for me after a chat on Facebook about bread flour of which I was a part.  Very, very kind of her so I must try it out this weekend.  It sounds like it will be a a bake-off weekend for me!

If it works, I will post on my recipe blog!  If it doesn't, I will whinge in here.  :-)

Tuesday 15 October 2013


It turned out to be not a very nice day yesterday, on and off.  It was raining at lunchtime, it was raining at afternoon playtime.  The children were very good about it really.  I kept them busy and they stayed happy.

It looks like today will be fine, tomorrow wet, Thursday fine, Friday wet, and so on.  We will see.

I think I am almost completely ready for parents' evenings.  The reports are printed out, the sheets are all sorted, the books are ready for inspection (not that there's an awful lot to see as a lot of stuff is practical) and the classroom will be tidy by the end of the day!  It's going to be a long day though - in at seven thirty and not home again until nearly nine this evening.  Thank goodness tomorrow's consultations start straight after school!

Today is mostly out of class as it is Tuesday - for once I am relieved as there's so many little things to be getting on with that I really do need the time.  And now I'd better get my smart board prepared for today - spellings updated, games prepared, etc, or I will never be ready.  That's the trouble with being a lark - I'm too tired in the evenings!

Monday 14 October 2013


It felt cold in the night here.  I woke a couple of times, shivered and snuggled under again - I seem to have a talent for throwing off the quilt while asleep!!  The Countryfile forecast said that it will be getting a bit warmer later on in the week in the south which sounds nice.  Delaying the inevitable at this time of year is good!

It's going to be a busy few days, for sure.  Two evenings out (Tuesday and Wednesday/parents evenings) although Wednesday will not be late, plus a myriad of other 'stuff' to get done will take all my time and it makes me tired just thinking about it.  However, there's the promise of half term, a light at the end of the tunnel, to keep me going.

As usual, yesterday was good.  The lunch went well: basically a roast dinner with a few trimmings and a good chat with friends.  The cold (yes, it is still there) has now turned yucky, as they do, and I can look forward to talking to all my parents through sniffs and nose blows.  Ah, well, a sign it's on its way out, for sure.

And now I have to get going!  Plenty to do, as always.  Have a grand day!

Sunday 13 October 2013


Yesterday I was lazier than I had hoped so there's quite a lot to do today.  Never mind, I needed the rest and spent quite a lot of time sleeping which helped, I am sure.

Apart from the bread (delicious) I made the lime pie for today's dinner and it's absolutely delicious.  As I type the pork is slowly and softly cooking in the slow cooker and the house smells delicious.  I've had a bit and mmmmmmm.

And now I have to get on with reports.  My blog is short and sweet today.

Saturday 12 October 2013


Bliss.  I slept until well after five today and, as far as I can remember, didn't wake in the night.  Excellent.  The cold is still having a nibble and breathing is a bit 'tight' but I feel so much better after a good night's sleep.

Again, it was lovely coming home to a very clean house.  There are so many benefits to this and I must stop being influenced by the miseries who imply that I shouldn't buy in help because others can't afford it.  After all, if we lived by that we'd never do or buy anything because there will always be people less able to afford 'it' (whatever 'it' is) than we.
My lovely friend A. spoke a truth when she said (in an email) that if I feel guilty, how can I enjoy it?
How true, such huge common sense.  I've added that to the fact that I am sharing my good fortune around by giving someone a job (or part of a job), encouraging a local company by giving it my custom and taking quite a lot of stress off myself.  I need to enjoy it and I must work on the positive.

Now - if I could motivate myself to doing maybe 30 minutes of clearing up - just half an hour - each day, my home would still be tidy as well as clean.  That's not a lot to ask, surely?  Why do I find it so hard? (no need to answer that)

Another good thing - there's bread a-rising in the kitchen, there's a shoulder of pork a-thawing, there's tomatoes to pick and deal with, a lime cheesecake (except that it isn't cheesecake) to make and, unfortunately, 28 reports to write.
And no house to clean!

Better get started then . . .

Friday 11 October 2013


There's a disadvantage about having a cleaner and that is that one feels in duty bound to leave the place reasonably (or do I mean relatively - yes, maybe I do) tidy for her.  I started writing this on Thursday evening, looking ruefully around my living space and wincing as I do so.  Ah well, she's going to have to get used to messy, manky me!

It started cold yesterday and it continued cold.  I was on playground duty in the afternoon and brrrr . . . even the children made comments.  It didn't help that I had left my coat at home, I suppose, nor that I have a cold (surprise!!!!) so was a bit shivery and achey!  Never mind, I survived!  At the moment it's raining and still a bit windy so I guess the Indian Summer is now over and winter is knocking on the door.  People tell me it is going to get very cold in the next few days.  Ah, well . . .

It was nice to have my class back although they were all over the place for a while until I got a bit stern.  The wind didn't help, of course. I was glad we had dance after morning play: the exercise was needed and they did some extremely good work.

I'd better go and get on with tidying stuff up now.  Needs must and all that!  I wish I was a neater person.

Thursday 10 October 2013


. . . and it feels cold outside.  I woke in the night on top of the duvet feeling very cold and it was bliss to snuggle under and warm up again - I love that feeling of warm, drowsy and protected!  I suppose I should have completely closed the window but I didn't!  I enjoyed the contrasts.

The meetings both went well yesterday so that's off my mind.  I have more to prepare for but those were biggies.  Unfortunately I was feeling increasingly unwell and took myself off home at the end of school, missing staff meeting.  That was a pain because I needed to see/hear what was on the agenda so that means more work later for me and for someone else too.  Oh, dear.

Today is a day with my class.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Wednesday 9 October 2013


. . . and the cold continues to bite.  It's now at the stage where breathing is a bit tight and I wish I could take a day off.  But I can't - two really important (in SEN terms) meeting are scheduled for today, plus a visit from a support teacher and staff meeting after school.  No chance of feeling poorly enough to stay at home with all that going on.

Enough whinge.  As I have those meetings I will be out of class and supply cover is a lovely lady who took my class Monday afternoon and who seems to be on my wavelength - I don't have to go through every detail of planning, she knew what I meant when I mentioned certain things.  So I am easy in my mind.  She also seems to like my class which is a big plus!

Today I am having a school dinner.  Yesterday I had a school dinner.  This seems to be getting something of a habit but it's a darn sight cheaper than going over to Morrisons where one of their sandwiches, a drink and an apple costs a darn sight more than a two course school lunch (and you can have an apple instead of dessert, if you want).  Of course it's dearer than a packed lunch but we won't talk about that!  Today is roast turkey with all the trimmings so what's not to like there?  Last time I had it, it was truly delicious.
I justify this with the argument that I need something sustaining between two meetings but, in fact, I am too lazy to bustle around the kitchen knocking together something that will keep me going through the afternoon and into staff meeting.
So there!

I haven't looked out yet today but hasn't the weather been lovely recently.  A very pleasant Indian Summer with increasingly glorious autumnal colours all around.  I gather the conkers are good too - so they tell me.  The children are starting to bring in handfuls of acorns, conkers, autumn leaves and the occasional daddy-long-legs who was foolish or unfortunate enough to fly in the wrong direction.  The first three I admire, the last I release.  That doesn't always make me that popular - except with the daddy-long-legs race, I guess.

Time for toast!  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday 8 October 2013


Well, I got through yesterday, aches notwithstanding.  The weather stayed fine and the sun came out in the afternoon which was good because it was our Harvest festival down at St. Andrew's Church which involves a pleasant 15 minutes walk each way.  I had loads of lovely parents helping to walk the children there and back which makes it so much less of a worry.
Borrowed from Google Search
In the afternoon I was at some 'bereavement training' at the Columbus School which was very interesting although I'm not sure I learned anything new.  At my age I think life has taught me an awful lot about that sort of thing.  We also learned about the Yoyo project, run by our local hospice, Farleigh, and that was also very interesting.  It was the first of two sessions, the second being more about strategies and techniques to help children in bereavement.  That will be in the new year and I'm looking forward to it already.

This morning I was looking around for a recipe for slow roasted pork.  Morrisons had some pork shoulders for half price and, because I have friends coming for lunch on Sunday, I got one.  If any of my readers have a tried and trusted recipe, it would be great if you could let me know via the comments.  Many thanks!

Today I don't have my class for very long - just up to 10:45 after which it is coordinator time and then PPA.  Loads to do today, made worse by the fact that it is consultation evenings next week so I have 28 reports to write plus three targets for each child!  Just short reports, for sure, but it all takes time.  With the weekend rather taken up (bad timing there) I need to get going!!

I need to get going now too - bath, here I come.

Monday 7 October 2013


After sleeping really well on Saturday night, I had another restless night last night and some most peculiar dreams, one of which was that my teeth were crumbling and bits kept falling off.  It was a relief to wake and realise that they are still as firm as ever they were!

Last weekend I went to Hyde Hall but have only just got round to uploading the photos.  I will give you all some relief from my usual ramblings and post some of the photos instead.

Sunday 6 October 2013


It was a weird day yesterday.  I think I mentioned that I hadn't slept all that well Friday night.  Part of that was pondering over the fruit salad jam (such a silly thing to have on ones mind) and the other was that I had an increasingly sore throat.
Borrowed from Google Images!
By the morning I could tell a cold was attacking.  I should have known because I was very sneezy on Thursday.  I was achey, shivery and sore throated but never minds, I had a lot to do so that would take my mind off it.  By lunchtime it was quite obvious that it wasn't going to go away by being ignored so I emailed N and asked if she would mind postponing our meal till another day.  She was very gracious about it, thanks, N.  I then decided to make it a weekend of rest and looking after myself so emailed Beth and cancelled today as well.  It's a great relief and I think I shall make today a pj day.

However, by the time I gave in I had made the salsa, the turkey pate and the mince for the lasagne.  The bread was rising too.  So I have stuff to use up, for sure!

The mince made enough for nine portions which was great value as it was half price.  I had some yesterday evening, I will have some today and the rest will go into the freezer.  I do love my savoury, tomato-ey, packed with vegetables mince with added lentils and oats, cooked in a slow oven (that sounds like Hyacinth Bucket!) and it makes a meaty, savoury base for many a dinner or lunch.
I'm not so sure about the pate as the turkey was previously frozen and it has philly in it which doesn't freeze all that well, I believe.  So maybe I will change my breakfast plan and have it on hot buttered toast with the salsa on top.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

I'm under the influence of  paracetomol right now so am feeling sort of OK and I should enjoy the peace and quiet of a selfish me-day.  I have some plums which need using up and last week I bought some gin to make plum gin with.  It's easy - you split the gin into two bottles, bung in an amount of sugar and top the bottle up with snoned plums.  Give it all a good shake every day until the sugar has all dissolved, then leave in a dark place, shaking occasionally for months!  It gets better the longer you leave it.  I've never done this with plums before so am looking forward to the results.

I also have a huge pile of tomatoes so hey for more tomato sauce and in my wonderful 'Let's Preserve It' book there are some intriguing recipes for such goodies as tomato honey, tomato jam and tomato marmalade as well as the more usual tomato relishes and chutneys.

However, if I feel dodgy then I shall be sensible and rest, so much of the above might not actually happen.  We will have to see.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Fruit salad jam recipe

. . . is now in Teacher's Recipes.


Yesterday we made fruit salad.
Well, I say 'we' but actually I had very little to do with it as it was SEN day - apart from planning it all and getting all the resources together, making the worksheets, etc.  Minor details!
The children had a wonderful time (many thanks to all the helpers) and at the end there were six containers with remains of each fruit.  We couldn't let the children have loads because tasting was in the  hour before lunch.  It was my fault that so much was prepared.  I'd bought (or otherwise acquired) the fruit but forgot to let C know how many portions of each were needed: the children had done a choosing page the day before and I had tallied the results so I did know.  They couldn't ask me because I was in a meeting, so they prepared all that I had provided.  Fair enough.
Well, I wasn't going to waste that, no way, so last night I piled it all into the maslin pan apart from the grapes - I ate those! - and simmered it away until it was soft, then pushed it through the mouli and added the sugar (about 70% of the weight of the fruit). .  I didn't know about pectin but I checked with my trusty 'Let's Preserve It' book and decided it would probably be OK but I had lemon juice just in case..
After dreaming about it all night (not terribly restful) I got up this morning and made the jam.  I did wonder at one point if I needed to add some lemon juice but the third testing showed it had reached setting point and now I have nine - yes, nine - pots of scrumptious and original jam to enjoy and share around!   A very frugal way to use up fruit that might otherwise have gone to waste.  I could have made smoothies but there's a limit to how many smoothies I could consume in one evening, I could have stewed it and frozen it, but I decided preserving it was the way to go.  It's well delicious so I will write up the recipe in Teacher's Recipes.  Do pop over there if you're interested!  I'm calling it fruit salad jam
Apart from that, I got loads and loads done yesterday.  All the paperwork for the two important meetings next Wednesday is done and dusted, individual and whole class planning is sorted so I can have a nice easy weekend with just resources to make which is a lot more fun.  The one meeting I did have was very helpful.  And after school I set to and put up three displays of work that has been hanging around for ages, just waiting for me to have the time.

Oh, and I ought to reassure my readers.  I didn't put the receipt for the fruit into the school office so it's all legitimate, above board and totally honest.  :-)