Friday 31 January 2014


Good morning.  It's shiveringly cold today but I am snug as a bug in a rug thank goodness.  Part of the reason for that is that I have been bustling around getting things ready for the lovely Lenka to work her magic today.  When I walk in this evening everything will sparkle so it is nice to make sure she can do the necessary without too much of my clutter in the way!

Today is SEN day and it's meetings, meetings, meetings all day.  At least the paperwork is already done so I won't have to stay too long after school to catch up, I hope.  And then it is another weekend.

Because of the bad start to the term what with all that illness, I feel we've really only just got stuck into things and the fact that half term is only a fortnight away seems a ridiculous joke.  Even more ridiculous is the other fact that we're half way through the school year.  How did that happen?

For once I am more or less all ready for school so I think I shall now treat myself to a nice long, hot bath with a mug of coffee to keep me company!   Spoiling myself!

Thursday 30 January 2014


Good morning, everyone.  It feels jolly cold right now, just before the day starts, and the weather forecast is not wonderful as it's likely to be cold and a bit damp, but never mind, wishes won't change anything, will they.  I'm on playground duty this afternoon so I am preparing to shiver and put up with it!

Yesterday went as well as Wednesdays usually go.  Amazingly, everyone had finished their work by the end of the day, even Rather Lazy Little Person.  That is very encouraging!  Perhaps my mini-clampdown is working.

Also amazingly, staff meeting was also encouraging.  As anyone in education will know, the whole curriculum is changing in September and it's down to the schools to make sure they are ready and prepared.  We started the process a while ago, and yesterday we looked at the History, Geography and Science curriculums and suggestions for topics and themes and worked out how we could fit the different literacy text types into each half term.  It was very helpful in beginning to get a broad overview and in seeing how much of our current planning can be recycled and what will need to be newly planned.

I will be sorry to say goodbye to some things I have been teaching in Y1 for quite a time and it's a shame about the big bank of resources I have built up over the years.  Our trip to Braintree Museum for an experience day after half term will be the last one, for example, as we will not longer be doing that history theme.  Very sad but things don't stay in the same place for ever.

Today is another full day with my class.  Three cheers.  It's all planned out and ready to go!  Next year will be much harder work, of course.  New themes, new objectives, etc, mean new planning and new resources to make and no longer will I be able to fell back on years and years of knowledge of teaching content, differentiation and banks of resources.  Ho hum!

Wednesday 29 January 2014


Good morning to half way through the week!  Cold and damp outside but seeing as I don't intend to do outside all that much today, no problems.

Yesterday morning I was at training for the TAs and LSAs.  it was all about asking questions and it was very, very good indeed.  The afternoon was PPA but I had to look through a short stack of applications for a job after the deputy head had sorted through them and made notes, after which we compared findings and shortlisted.  It took for ever but it was gratifying to see how close our views were.  Interviews are next week.

Today I have my class.  All day.  Looking forward to it very much indeed.

Tuesday 28 January 2014


Good morning, everyone.  Brrrr - it's jolly cold outside and damp too.  Outdoor games are in danger and I must make sure that maths is ready in case.

I did get supply cover yesterday and managed to get the mountain of paperwork reduced just a little bit.  It was a day for solid working from about 7:45 to 6:00 when school was locked, apart from half an hour for lunch, but worth the effort.

Today is another day doing other things.  It's coordinator time and PPA but also half of the LSAs/TAs are having training and I will be attending that.  The other half will have it at another time and the junior coordinator will go to that one.  All is planned and prepared for my regular cover, so that's OK.

Now I need to go into the kitchen and get some soup made for tea tonight.  This is where Thermione really comes into her own.  All jolly good fun!

Enjoy your day.  I'm sure I will.

Monday 27 January 2014


Brrrr - it's rather cold outside and I have to do an afternoon playground duty.  I'm hoping it will have warmed up a bit by then.  Yesterday wasn't exactly cold but it sure was wet.  I got somewhat damp in the rush to the car after doing a small shop at Morrison's.  I'd run out of things like hair conditioner, etc.

After the shop (with Beth as she needed a few things too) we went back to mine for a chat and after Alex had finished karate we all went back to Beth's for lunch which was very simple: beans on toast with grated cheese on top but, as is often the case, the simplest things can be absolutely delicious and we all love beans on toast.

I had lots of fun with the kittens who are now delightfully sociable and waddle towards visitors squealing with delight and try to climb up your leg.  Those little claws are SHARP!!
I apologise for the picture quality.  They would not stay still, the light wasn't good and I didn't want to use a flash.
They are very lovely, aren't they.  Pure Tonkinese.

I'm not sure if I am taking my class today but everything is well prepared so no problems!  I love the feeling of being ready for them!

The weather is getting colder, I gather, with the possibility of a little snow later on in the week.  I don't think there's much chance of any here and it's supposed to be just a short cold snap before getting back to the rain, rain, rain.  No chance of any snow days this year!

Sunday 26 January 2014


Yesterday was a really lovely day.  I had Alex here most of the day as Beth was at a tutorial.  She's doing a degree through the Open University and her current degree is a level 3 creative writing course (she's doing extremely well with it too).

For lunch we had a highly untraditional pizza.  As I mentioned somewhere, I bought the base but I made the topping like this.  I had some cooking bacon so I cut off the fat and gently fried that in the pan until it released its fat.  After removing that from the pan (and eating it because it was so scrummy), I fried the chopped up bacon, removed it and set it aside, then added onion, pepper, baby corn and  mushroom, all sliced appropriately.  After a long, slow saute, I added some passata that I had made from last summer's tomatoes (and frozen), added a few herbs, the bacon and a bit of seasoning and then tipped it all over the base.  Then on went some grated cheese and into the oven for about 15 or so minutes.  It wasn't in the least bit authentic Italian but what does that matter?  It was absolutely delicious and between us not one scrap was left.  I used what was left of the sauce in the evening, just mixed with home made pasta with more cheese (not a lot) over and that was utterly delicious too!  A bit of bacon makes for a great flavour and those tomatoes were scrumptious.

Today I am off to Beth's for lunch.  I haven't seen the kittens since they were really tiny, more than three weeks ago now.  They have changed a lot, of course, and are very photogenic.  If you like cute kittens, go and take a look at Indikon Tonkinese

In the evening Jack Monroe posted a recipe for peanut butter hot chocolate.  It looked simple and I was intrigued so, despite a bit of friendly negativity on Facebook, I had a go and treated myself and my work, it was fantastic.  I posted about it on Teacher's Recipes.  Well worth a go, I think.  I shall certainly be making it again, when I want a sweet treat but not too often as low calorie it ain't!

Saturday 25 January 2014

Saturday: the best laid plans . . .

Well, in my last message I anticipated a day's hard work reducing the pile of SEN things that Needed Doing!  Unfortunately and without going into too much detail, I had to take my class all day so no SEN stuff got done.

That's the flip side.

However, never let it be said that my school is unfair - on Friday evening they were doing their best to get cover for me on Monday and Tuesday to make up.  OK, so Tuesday is my PPA and my coordinator time anyway but that's not the point.  The point is that the school is doing its best to make up the lost time and I think that's brilliant.

The problem was that we needed supply cover and there was none to be had, not anywhere either from our own personal list or from the various agencies we use.  I wonder if other schools are also feeling the effects of the norovirus.  It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

The plus was that I got to have my lovely class again, all day.  I have never had them on a Friday.  It was lovely!

And today and tomorrow are rest days.  The planning is all done and dusted, most of the resources are made and I can have some me time.  Alex is coming over for the day and I shall really enjoy that.  Thank goodness for weekends.

Friday 24 January 2014


So here we are at the end of week 3 of the term, half way through the half term.  Where is the time going?  Today is, of course, SEN day but I am very happy that C will sort the children out.  She's a fantastic teacher.

As for me, there's a huge mound of SEN paperwork waiting to be dealt with and I am thankful that I have a day a week which goes some way towards dealing with it.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when Alex spends the day with me.  It should be good.

Thursday 23 January 2014


It's a bit cold this morning but nothing like as chilly as yesterday.  Fortunately, the rain cleared and by lunchtime it was lovely and sunny.  It begins to look as if we won't be getting much proper winter weather.  It's always the same - predict a long hot summer and what do we get - rain, rain and more rain.  Predict a long cold winter and . . . yes, you've guessed it!  So much for those headlines about the longest, coldest winter ever!  Mind you, perhaps those living in parts of the USA would say differently!

School was better yesterday.  Instead of being quiet and gentle I was sparky and hustling and they were much better and worked well.  Hopefully I can be me again today and they will remember.

It feels very weird to think that we are half way through the half term now.  It's been so disjointed and fragmented so far but hopefully all is now sorted and settled and we can move on.  I'm starting to feel the pressure of the phonic screen.  It's not until July but it is not that one starts to identify those who need a little extra push in order to get the 'pass' mark, whatever that will be.  They're not telling us the pass mark this year until the screen is over so we will be left in supreme anxiety until they condescend to release it, whenever that will be.  Still seems a bit weird and unnecessary for five year olds but there you go, that's education for you!

And talking of education, I'd better look over my maths - adding and subtracting ten to or from a two digit number.  They say standards are falling but I don't remember doing anything like that at the age of five.  Mind you, if I believed 'them' when they whitter on about falling standards, I'd expect to see them submerged under the sea or deep in subterranean caves by now!

I'd better stop now, before I get too silly!

Wednesday 22 January 2014


Just a quick entry today as there's a lot to do.  It's still cold here and it's obviously been raining but not, it seems, right now.  I went to the front door to look and came quickly back in and stood by the radiator.  Brrrr.

It was hard work yesterday.  I think that having rather a lot of different teachers last week has had its impact.  I can see that today will need to be a strict day to get things back into some sort of order again.  Ho hum!

Have a lovely day and stay warm!

Tuesday 21 January 2014


Brrrr - it's jolly cold outside but at least it isn't foggy any more.  At some point yesterday evening I ventured out to the shed and got quite a surprise when I realised there was fog.  Not terribly bad fog but more than a light mist.  That's gone but there is a frost.

Over the weekend I had a go at making non-egg pasta, just to see how it went and as a sort of early preparation for LBTL - not that I will necessarily make my own pasta that week but you never know!  I froze it in portions and had some yesterday evening.  Egg pasta is nicer, there's no doubt about that, but it really wasn't too bad at all.  Just plain flour (no faffing with pasta flour when it's an exercise in frugality), water and oil.  I think I added too much water as the dough really was too soft but once I have finished what I've made I will have another go and reduce the amount of water I add.

I've now finished simmering the remains of the turkey leg and there's a rich, dark, hopefully delicious stock (rather a lot of it) cooling in a bowl.  It should have cooled enough to go into the fridge before it's time to go to school and in the evening I can lift off the dripping (there's not much but I'm not going to waste it) and deal with the stock.

School is fine.  Some are still away but most are back.  It felt like the first normal day since the first day of term so I made the most of it!  Poor children!  Today is coordinator time and PPA.  From the point of view of planning, monitoring, etc, it makes sense for my cover teacher to have her range of subjects that she teaches every week so I don't take my class for outdoor games, RE or music, which is a shame but much more easily organised.

Right, well, better finish off my first coffee of the day and get going.  I'm still usually on decaf although once a week I do treat myself to a pot of real fresh coffee which is wonderful.  I still remember how hard LBTL was those first few days without caffeine.  There shouldn't be that problem this year.

Have a great day!

Monday 20 January 2014


Good morning, all.  It's quite a cold morning this morning with frost on the cars.  Makes a change from the last week or so.  I don't think it heralds the start of any winter weather though.

I've really enjoyed this weekend.  It's been the opportunity to have a good rest and to get things going again after a week of considerable lethargy.  I'm not more or less up to date with the washing and drying (but not the ironing) and the kitchen is in pretty good nick too, although much of that is due to Lenka's ministrations on Friday.  The dishwasher has done overtime as I have cooked and baked and generally meandered around.

I've waffled a bit about the cooking on the other blog so I won't bore my readers all over again, but I was pondering on turkey legs.
It doesn't seem all that long ago (although it probably is) when you could get a good sized turkey drumstick for 99p and they didn't fly off the shelves in any way.  It used to be just the drumstick, not the thigh as well, to be fair, but even so, it was jolly good value.
At £4.50 (which is what I paid) for the whole deal, drumstick and thigh, it's still excellent value considering what you get from it but the difference now is that usually you have to be there pretty fast after they're put out to actually get one.  I got more or less the last one and I saw at least three other people with one in their trolley.  Sign of the times or just that people have cottoned on to the good flavours of these less obvious and cheaper sources of protein?  I don't know but it's nice to think that others are also enjoying the whole process and getting enjoyment out of making the best of things.
My turkey dinner yesterday - not a great arrangement on the plate but it tasted so good!  No room for dessert!

Does anyone (Diane, perhaps) know - do you need to 'boil out the toxins' for chickpeas?  I know you do for kidney beans but I thought it was just kidney beans, not other pulses.
Anyway, I prepared some yesterday and I followed someone's hint to soak, boil for 20 mins and then take off the heat, cover with towels or whatever and just leave and they would finish cooking in their own heat.  And it worked.  This morning, when I checked, they were beautifully cooked, a bit al dente but not at all hard, no mushiness and, usually my biggest problem, no catching on the bottom.  Might try it with butter beans next.  I feel a vegetarian meal or two coming up but I want to use some of this lot of chickpeas to make hummus.  Now I don't like tahini but find that if I make hummus without tahini there's a certain 'thinness' of flavour which is not attractive.  However, I have read that you can substitute the tahini with peanut butter so I'm going to try this.  I will roast the garlic cloves first though - roasted garlic is lovely!

The start of a new school week and I can't help wondering how many will be away.  I'm hoping the virus has run its course with my children and that I have a full class again.  Ah well, I will find out in just over three hours' time.

Sunday 19 January 2014


Good morning, everyone.  It has obviously been a wet night but it isn't raining right now so here's hoping the day will be a little more cheerful.

Life is picking up again now.  I popped into town yesterday morning for just a few things.  I went to Wilco's to get some tights - they do tights that just fit me right and they are great value.  No point wearing expensive tights for school.  I also found in there a pyrex dish that is just what I have been looking for, a perfect size for making a lasagne/cottage pie/crumble for three (Beth, Alex and me) or for one with leftovers for other days.  I then summoned up enough indignation to go into the bank and demand to know why my pinsentry, which I had been waiting for since early November, delivery of which had been actioned twice, STILL hadn't arrived.  The importance of the pinsentry is that without it I cannot access my online banking.  I suppose I was a bit pushy (in a polite way) about coming in next week to pick it up rather than waiting for it to be delivered so the young lady went to look to see if they had any spares and, surprise, surprise, they did!  Now why couldn't they have done that in November?  Or December?  Anyway, I was politely grateful (it wasn't her fault, after all) and now I am back in contact with my bank account again.  What's the betting the other two will arrive next week now.

Then I went to Lakeland and was sorely tempted by all sorts of things but, you will be amazed to hear, didn't succumb.  I bought the appropriate size of loaf tin liners, some poly bags and some baggies.  I can't remember the last time I needed to get baggies (those twisty plastic bag tie things) because I'm in the habit of untwisting and reusing and you get so very many in a bundle but I needed to get some more out the other day and realised I was on my last 'sheet' of them.

Earlier on I had baked a banana loaf as I had a banana that was verging on disgusting (but still usable) so, when I got home, a cup of coffee and a slice went down a real treat before I started the bread making, having nearly used up the last pre-Christmas baked loaf from the freezer.  I now use nice deep 1lb loaf tins that make a perfectly sized loaf for one and as I did a 750g of flour mix I now have three lovely half and half loaves which will certainly see me through until nearly half term, ridiculous as it sounds.

I have posted about the chicken soup on my other blog so I won't ramble about it here.  It was scrummy.

The rest of the day was spent in idleness, finishing off Pride and Prejudice on my Kindle and then starting Death comes to Pemberley.  I've decided I love my Kindle.

Today might end up a PJ day.  Beth and Alex won't be coming round.  I have a full turkey leg, both bits, that have just gone into the oven for a long slow roast and later on I shall make a pan of Yorkshires, two for dinner ands the rest for the freezer.  I love Yorkshires but a one egg mixture makes such a lot.  It won't be the same as fresh made but it will be nice to pop just one or two in the oven to thaw, heat and crisp up for a meal.  And much better value than buying them.  Yes, Beth, I can save some meat for the kittens.

You can tell I'm back up to scratch.  I have a little pile of print outs of recipes I want to try and a whole pile of Kindle-freeby recipe books to trawl through.  Fun!

And now I need to brave the chill and pop out to the freezer to deposit the bread and to get the bits and pieces I need for today.

Saturday 18 January 2014


Good morning.  Isn't it nice to feel fine?  Something I take for granted most of the time.  OK, so I stiffen in bed at times, I grunt my way to an upright position, I meander to the bathroom still half asleep and definitely not well balanced but . . . oh, it's so nice to feel fine again.  Such a wonderful feeling . . .

Yersterday was good.  Everyone was lovely and caring.  I was greeted by a 'and just WHY are you in today, Mrs Clark?' from a TA who I have known since our children were both at the same school together (so she can get away with blue murder) and plenty of 'take it easy and if you don't feel right, just go home'.  I am so lucky to work in such a caring environment, aren't I?
Amnd on the same theme, many thanks to all of you who have send kind, supportive messages this week.  It really helped and you are all lovely.

Well, I did feel right, righter and righter as the day went on which is a sure sign that this time I made the right decision.  OK, so I was knock-out tired by the end of the day but then it's Friday.  We're always worn out by Friday evening.  I was so glad I went in because there was so much SEN stuff to get done, including stuff that came up during the day.  And I needed to see the children.

This is a right rotten bug though.  I still have some away and one more complained of sickness so we hurriedly sent him to the office to go home.  And it's escaped from my bay and is making itself felt elsewhere as well.   Not good, not good at all.

As for today - I intend to take it easy which isn't the same thing as doing nothing.  I have to go to town, I need to bake some bread, I am going to also make some banana bread (I have over-ripe bananas), I have some lovely chicken and stock to turn into a simple clear soup with floaty bits and then some risotto for dinner but what I don't have to do is housework because my lovely Lenka visited yesterday and the place is now shiny clean!

And I want to try making thermomix cream after Diane recommended it.  I'll let you know . . .

Friday 17 January 2014

Friday: the end of a most peculiar week

I'm hoping that today will return some normality to my life.  It's been so weird and I need things to settle down again.  As it is SEN day, if things do go belly-up (or do I mean belly-down), I can go without causing any problems whatsoever.

I honestly do think I'm more or less OK again now.  Tired, of course, but then it is Friday and I would be tired anyway.  It goes with the day.

I hope your day is good, however it goes and whatever you do.

Thursday 16 January 2014


Back to school yesterday was a bit of a mistake.  Interesting how wise we can be with hindsight.  I thought I was OK at the beginning of the day but it didn't take long before - well, no details, but by the end of the day I said I wouldn't be in tomorrow (today as it is now) so it's another day at home, hopefully recovering quickly.  I've actually had not a bad night.  Not good but not too bad either, so fingers crossed, please.  and oh, the guilt!  Seriously . . .

Children are still getting it, whatever 'it' is.  Not huge numbers now but a few at a time.  By the time this is over I wouldn't be surprised if just about all of them have been affected.  We're all taking hand washing, etc, very seriously now as you can imagine!


Wednesday 15 January 2014


. . . and it's back to school I go this morning, thank goodness.  As we often say, it's bad luck that when we're off school it's because we are too unwell to enjoy being off school.  How true.

I've not enjoyed the last few days but I guess you could say that they have been very successful on the frugality side of life.  Unfortunately, it's all been counter balanced by the fact that there is now stuff in the fridge that needs throwing out, darn it.

Today is, I hope, a full day in class.  No time out, no cover for anything, just me and my poppets.  Looking forward to it.  Not quite so much looking forward to staff meeting afterwards but there you go, rough and smooth go together.

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday 14 January 2014


Thank you for all the kind wishes (and gentle tickings off) yesterday.  Things are picking up now and I suspect that by this afternoon the guilt will have set in good and proper.  However, right now, I am glad I'm not working today.

Unless there's a relapse, I will be back to work tomorrow!

Monday 13 January 2014


I went to school.
I came home again.

Sunday 12 January 2014


Unsurprisingly, the bug has finally landed and I'm in a yuck state so this will be brief.  I suppose it is not surprising, but I hoped I had missed it.  After a bad night I shall be going back to bed soon so fingers crossed it will all settle down again.

I'll be back!

Saturday 11 January 2014


The sun is celebrating with me the fact that it is the weekend, shining brightly, if a little palely.  I have no confidence that it will stay that way for long.  We need a jolly good shine and some warmth to start drying up the ground and it's getting colder, not warmer.  Rotten for those flooded out as, even if the rain stops, the water and the misery remains.

Yesterday was hectically (is that a real word?) busy and I managed to get loads of Special Needs work done.  It was hard work but I had a sense of satisfaction when it was all over that was worth having.  My poor class was no better.  A few back but a few more away and another was ill overnight, I gather.  They must be feeling rotten and my heart goes out to them.  I hate it when they are unwell.

Today I am going to use the Dove gluten free bread flour I bought the other day with the recipe on the back of the bag to see if I can make anything like half decent bread with it.  I've heard no good things about gluten free bread so I don;t hold out much hope but it's worth a go.  I have some beef and pork mince that was on spacial in Morrisons so I'm going to do a savoury mince thingy with that today.  Bulked out with veg, lentils and oats, it should be a tasty and frugal use of the mince.

Apart from that, it's likely to be a lazy day today.  I'm looking forward to it so much.

Christmas nuts!

Friday 10 January 2014


Another really mixed up day yesterday with over a quarter of my class still away and to cap it all I came home with some building tummy cramps of my own.  Ooops!  So I popped some tabs, had an early night and I feel fine this morning.  Weird.  I'm thankful though I wouldn't have been surprised if I had 'got it' as well.

I could get used to having a class in the low 20s though.  It's not the lower numbers, it's the knowledge that I will have to repeat a considerable amount of this week's work for the substantial minority who missed it and that will be a pain for the others, especially those who got it first time.  Maths, in particular, is an issue!

And, on reflection, it's one down (almost), five to go!  Weeks, that is.

We had a grand old time yesterday playing houses.  I call out the sort of house (detached, semi, terraced or flats) and they have to work with friends to make that house 'shape' with their bodies.  We had such a giggle about it and I was thankful for the lower numbers.  They were good at it and didn't take the opportunity to mess about, mainly because I had the camera ready to take photos and if you don't do it properly Mrs Clark can't take your photo!  Terrible, isn't it (and works a treat!)?

So it is Friday.  SEN day.  Loads to do and I'm thankful of the time to do it.  It's a long time since I was expected to do all the SEN stuff on top of a full day's teaching but I still remember how difficult it was and am very grateful that it is different now.

I wonder how big my class will be today!

Thursday 9 January 2014


Well, I have to say, this is the weirdest start to a term I have ever had in all my long teaching career.  By yesterday afternoon I had seventeen, one having gone home at lunchtime and the rest still off from the day before or newly off from the start of the day.  Poor littlies, they must be feeling really horrible.  I wonder what today will bring.

The rather unorthodox morning sorted itself out quite well.  We are lucky enough to have a library attached to the school with a door from the library to the old staffroom.  This was originally there so that the library staff could shate 'facilities' with the school, but it has been jolly useful, helping to create and maintain a link that has been of great benefit to us at school.  Once a fortnight each class has time in the library with a librarian.  The smallest children look at books, return and borrow and as they progress up through the school they learn library and study skills.

So I was able to take my class into the library after registration for Reading Revelry, then into J's bay while her class was in the library and then into A's bay while her class was in the library.  Then it was into the hall for a few action games before assembly, violins being over and finished by then.  Thank goodness for memory sticks!
And it was worth it!  I now have a super built in cupboard in my bay which is large enough to contain all the toys, construction kits, boxes of books, etc, that were previously just cluttering up a corner.
After play we all set to, sorting, reorganising, dusting, and generally making sure everything was where it ought to be before putting it away.  Things were dusty, etc, but I was very pleased at how little was in the wrong box.  My children do put things awar very efficiently after a choosing time - there's no bunging things in the nearest box.

However, teaching is a bit difficult and muddled right now.  It's the start of the new term so what I had planned was all new stuff for a new theme.  I am horribly aware that I'm going to have to teach it all over again when most of the class is back.  What a waste of time.  But what else can I do.  I've revamped my planning and it is full of ifs, buts and maybes but what can you do - that's just the way it is.

Silly photo - I just like it!

Wednesday 8 January 2014


Yesterday was weird, really weird.  Some bug is zooming its way through my class and I started the day with eight away which had increased to eleven by the afternoon.  Hardly a class at all.  No other class has been affected similarly (yet) and I am wondering what today will bring - or should I say WHO?

It's a weird feeling teaching something and knowing that you're going to have to do exactly the same lesson over again because it is an important one.  I didn't do a couple of things I had intended to do with them too.  I gather the local hospital is chocky full of norovirus problems and I am very, very hoping that it is just a bug, not the norovirus.  We were pretty unaffected by last year's outbreak with just a few in my class away, but I know other classes were affected more.  Perhaps it is our turn.

This morning is going to be weird too because I can't be in my classroom until playtime, basically.  New cupboards are being built!  Go to the hall, said someone.  Can't - violins in the hall.  OK, so the ICT suite.  Nope - the ICT technician in working in there today.
I think I can work round it but this is one of many problems of an undersized but popular school and it is grossly undersized: about 35% smaller than it should be.  There's no room for manoeuvre!  We will manage, we have to but I'm guessing it won't be fun!

I was right about outdoor games yesterday.  They weren't!  At playtime we all booted the children out into a light drizzle.  Two minutes later they were lining up to come in again as the drizzle had turned into a downpour.  So no games.  A shame because with such low numbers, games would have been great.

Ah, well, these things happen and here's hoping today won't be as upsy downsy as it could be.

I just like this photo.  There's something very satisfying about it, somehow!

Tuesday 7 January 2014


Good morning, everyone.  It's yet another damp, mild early morning but no wind as far as I can tell.  I'm starting to wonder if it actually will get winter-cold at all or have the Americans hogged it all to themselves?  Surely they'd be glad to share; after all, it doesn't sound wonderful over there right now.

No complaints though and, contrary to my predictions, yesterday turned out OK, weather-wise, with sun at playtimes and the heavy showers were sensible enough to fall only during lesson times.  No teacher could ask for more.

Oh, I was so tired yesterday evening.  All through Sunday night had slept badly, having one of those senseless dreams where you have to keep doing something and it never works out so you have to repeat it again and again . . .all night long.  Not great!  Thankfully, last night I slept like a log, despite the very early bedtime (before eight) and falling asleep almost immediately!  Not even my new Kindle could keep me awake.

Yes, it has arrived and even techno-twit me managed to make sense of it straight away.  I now need to have a good trawl through the free books and see what's on offer.  I bet there will be some goodies.  Recipe books?  Hope so!

Today is coordinator time and PPA so I have my work cut out.  There never seems to be enough time to fit everything in but it is superb to get the next week's planning done and dusted.  I have a meeting in the morning - important but not tricky.

And now I must just review my planning for the day and make sure I have all the right sheets, etc.  The biggest problem is whether there will be outdoor PE this morning.  Two things will stop it: precipitation and puddles.  You see, while the older children usually wear their trainers for outdoor PE, the younger children have plimsolls which, as any teacher knows, get wet easily.  The playgrounds are uneven and very puddly, especially at the moment as the rain has nowhere to soak.  There is no way we can cope with twenty eight pairs of trainers all drying in a long line in an undersized classroom for the rest of the day, even assuming they are all named (which they won't be).  So - we will see!
Christmas satsumas - still going strong.  Lovely leftovers!

Monday 6 January 2014

Monday: back to school!

Hey ho, the golden time is over, back to work again.  It's been a lovely break, despite the aches, pains, exhaustion and general urgh.

It's quite a while since I cooked a proper roast beef dinner - yorkshires, roasties, veg and a good gravy - but yesterday's effort was absolutely delicious with hardly any left over after seconds had been demolished.  I am very glad I kept some of the meat aside for another day or two.

I've never been all that good with roast beef and, in any case, am not keen on the pink variety, so I did a slow roast in my slow cooker overnight and during the first part of the morning and it was scrummy, so scrummy that I have posted the recipe in Teacher's Recipes, here.  As Beth cannot have meat, I made her some butter bean burgers and they came out well too, so I posted about that too, here.  The beef certainly isn't frugal but the burgers are pretty good value.

Today is, as already mentioned, back to work day but I am looking forward to seeing all my littlies again.  A few of them have kept in contact via our learning platform and some have blogged but it's not really the same.
However, it has been raining overnight and more is predicted so I am prepared for wet playtimes!  Ho Hum!

Can't wait for 8:45!!!

Mum's VERY popular vegetarian sausage rolls!

Sunday 5 January 2014

Sunday: The Very Last Day!

After the winds dropped and the skies cleared we had quite a chilly night and I woke to a frost this morning which was nice to see after so much damp dreariness.  Hopefully it won't have been bad enough to make the roads dangerous though.

Yesterday was a satisfyingly lazy day, punctuated by fun in the kitchen now and again.  Today is a family day and both my 'children' are round for lunch (and Alex, of course), so I'm looking forward to that.  The rest of the time will be spent making sure that I am fully prepared for tomorrow and the start of the new term.  I have just realised that this coming half term is my turn to be off morning playground duties, which is rather nice.

I've been busy in the kitchen checking the beef in the slow cooker, making Beth's vegetarian dinner, making the batter for the Yorkshires and, of course, making my breakfast.  Now I need to go up and get myself bathed and dressed.

Have a good day!

More Christmas photo, this one taken before the hoardes descended!

Saturday 4 January 2014


Left over fom the smoked salmon!
Well, it's still raining, still gusty at times although nothing worse than gusty though, thank goodness, still dull as ditchwater and very, very mild for the time of year but it's lovely and bright indoors.  The tree lights are on (I'm making the most of the sight as it all goes away tomorrow), I've turned the heating down as it was too warm which is one big advantage of the mild weather, my breakfast porridge is slowly cooking, there's a batch of dough rising steadily and sensibly and there's not an awful lot needs doing today as my lovely cleaning lady, Lenka, came yesterday and worked her usual magic!  What more could you ask of a last weekend before the new term starts, eh?

I'm being very good and sticking to my no spend pledge, more or less.  I did pop into Morrison's a few days ago as I needed milk, washing powder and carrots (can't manage without carrots!) but apart from that I am using what I have pretty well really.  As I have just bought a kindle, it is just as well I can and am saving in other directions, isn't it?

I have just braved the wind and rain and dashed out to the freezer to bring something in for my evening meal.  Some of my freezer stuff is very old and I have brought in some stew which is - well, I'm not going to say how old it is but I will thaw it, check, and if the texture is wrong, I will zizz it into a soup which should do nicely as it won't have gone 'bad', not in the freezer.  Nothing wrong with living on soups and I can wham in some cooked pasta to make it more substantial, if I wish.  If it is OK, I might strain off the gravy and make a pie/pasty or something of the kind.  Or I could slide in some spicy stuff and make it into a sort of curry-type thing.  Lots of options and I'm not sure which I fancy right now.

I think my main task today is to sort out one of my wardrobes.  There's stuff in there I won't ever wear again and it needs ditching.  Some of it is so very old it is almost falling to pieces.  I don't intend to go out so I might be incredibly lazy yet again and make it another PJ day; the third this week but dear me, what are holidays for if not for being very lazy?

Right, well, I think the porridge is ready, I need to check the rising dough and I think I will treat myself to proper coffee this morning so I'd better get going.
Have a safe, warm and dry day today, wherever you are.  Stay safe.

Friday 3 January 2014

Just to add . . .

I've just made a leek and potato soup . . . with . . . a leek pulled from my garden.

And it's absolutely gorgeous!!

That's all.


. . . and here we are at the last day of the holiday.  Weekends don't count - well, they do but they're always there so they're not, strictly speaking, holiday.  It's been a good one, aches and sleeps to the contrary notwithstanding.  I'm not entirely sure I am ready to go back but I've missed the children so Monday will be a delight!

Yesterday was also a delight.  I had lunch with a dear friend, Jackie, who cooked a quiche with new potatoes and a salad and it was scrummy.  I love quiche but for one it isn't all that sensible.  I've tried freezing leftovers but it loses a certain something in the process.  We also had a great chat and will be continuing this sometime soon.

One of the nice things about making your own is that you usually have something tasty and unique to pick up and take as a gift and I was thrilled to be able to take over a wee pot of plam jam with star anise and a titchy bottle of strawberry vodka.  In exchange I came home with a red onion as Jackie has bought a net of three but didn't need them all!  You know me - never one to say no to a frugal offer!

On the way back I quickly popped into Beths.  I didn't stay long as she was right in the middle of a TMA but I did stay long enough to aaaahhhhh over the kittens.  Their eyes are now open and their ears are beginning to unfold and they are much more active and very indignant if they are taken away from mamma-milk-machine for any time.  Very cute.

Today is cleaning lady day so I need to just tidy up a little bit.  It's not too bad and won't take too long, thank goodness.  Then I need to get the planning ready for next week - sigh!  After that it is planning/making dinner which will be a savoury rice mixture as the ham needs finishing off today or thrown away (and I'm not doing that).  There isn't enough to freeze really.

So better get going!

Christmas pot pourri

Thursday 2 January 2014


Well, what a day yesterday was.  Cold, very wet, very blustery, dark and dismal.  I did open the curtains in the morning but wondered why several times during the day.  By four they were all drawn across again and a little while later the heating clicked on to warm up the home.

I have a wonder-thermostat that enables me to set for four periods each day, weekdays and weekends.  Obviously, the week-day daytime temperature is set quite low (because usually I am out) and, in an effort to be frugal with heating, I am trying to manage without turning it up this week.  It wasn't too bad , as I had the halogen oven on for some of the time and was working in the kitchen but I was glad when the heating clicked on for the evening slot all the same.

After several days of listless aches and pains, my get-up-and-go, which had got-up-and-gone somewhere came back again and I was much more lively.  I made a mini loaf (using the halogen oven) which should do me until the weekend and I made some really delicious cream of tomato and lentil soup which I blogged about in Teacher's Recipes .  I've also just added the recipe for the cheese, ham and potato bake I made for my evening meal and the banana pancakes I had for breakfast. Do follow the link if you're interested.   I also managed several loads of washing and a bit of ironing yesterday so I think I'm definitely on the up, thank goodness.

Glancing out, it is lovely and sunny and the winds have died down.  How cheering to see the sun again.  What is also cheering is a quick glance around the living room as it isn't too messy and untidy so I won't have a big panic before my cleaning lady, Lenka, arrives tomorrow to work her fortnightly magic.  It's not totally tidy but it's all little things and will take around 30 mins of gentle pottering to sort it out - less time if I move faster!

Well, the decorations are due to come down in a few days.  I feel quite sad about that as what I get up is fairly minimal so doesn't make a mess.  Basically it is the tree, the crib and the candles.  I stick to red and gold so a little goes a long way.  Ah, well, the way time is flying it will be Christmas again in a few months' time.
The crib, bought when the children were very small and a tradition in itself.  Also a tradition is that the baby doesn't go in the manger until Christmas morning so SOMEone (not looking at anyone in particular, Beth) puts a wrapped sweet there instead!!

And I'd better get moving.  I'm being very lazy this holiday and need to bustle a bit more with the new term looming on the horizon.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Wednesday: New year's day!

Accidental photo taken outside on Christmas Eve.  I want to put musical notes on those lines!

A very Happy New Year to you all!

I had a 'nothing' day yesterday.  As promised, I went back to bed and slept soundly for another two hours or so, unheard of in my book but there you go, I must have needed it.  I then pootled around on Facebook which was quite busy and lively and bravely ventured into the OUSA forums.  After another sleep in the afternoon and again in the evening, I was sure I wouldn't sleep at night but I did.  And I've just yawned again - but that might be because I haven't yet had my coffee.

One friend with a young family wrote about her 'family pig' and I thought it was such a great idea.  Basically she got her two children to list things that they would like to do on Saturdays and post each idea in the family pig.  The only restrictions were that they shouldn't be expensive and they must be things they could and would would all do together, she and the two children.  Each week one will be chosen and done.
What a super idea, don't you think?  The responses were good too - things like playing pooh sticks, reading a book together, having breakfast out, etc.  All to be done together, enjoying each others' company without any huge financial outlay.  All power to them.

I thought I might adapt it for myself at some time.  I'm not good at that sort of thing, either looking back or looking forward.  Perhaps I live too much in the present, I don't know.  However, I have just treated myself to a Kindle.  It's something I have been wanting for quite some time and as I have just joined a Facebook reading group it seemed as good a time as any.  I'm hoping I get on with it OK although I still reckon there's nothing like the feel and smell of a real book.  I know Kindles are old hat now but it takes me time to get used to new-fangled technology!

Right, well, I had better get the coffee on - as it is NYD I am treating myself to proper coffee, caffeine and all.  Ooooh, naughty!  And then I am going to spend some time thinking about menu planning for the next little while.  I do also have some planning to do - school planning.  All good things, etc . . .