Wednesday 30 September 2015


Welcome to the last day of September.  Tomorrow the most Autumnal month of the year will start.  In September I can still pretend that it is summer, especially when we have the sort of weather we have enjoyed over the past few days.  In November there are so many reminders of Winter with Christmas stuff taking up large swathes of shop space and personal mental organisation as well as the possibility of frosts and maybe snow (it has been known).

But October is Autumn, pure and simple.  Evenings and morning get ever chillier and darker with that huge time shift towards the end of the month, leaves become radiant in their final beauty before death.  I love it . . .
It also contains the Autumn half term, of course, not that this has as much impact on me this year but habits die hard and I feel a throb of joy to think that as I am on contract I will be paid for that one day when I should work but won't.  Common sense tells me that because of this I get paid less on the days I do wok, but even so . . .

Yesterday was one of those days and it was very pleasant indeed, despite the fact that I left my carefully packed pasta lunch on the side in the kitchen instead of taking it with me.  I decided going over to Morrisons would cost more than a school lunch so I had the latter and it was very nice.  Unfortunately, after sitting on the side through what turned out to be a pleasantly warm day, the lunch had to be binned.  Such a waste and all my own fault.

Today is a home day.  I have a couple of friends coming for a late lunch so I will use some morning time to tidy and clean the living room which could certainly do with a bit of attention.  It will be a simple lunch.  Basically bread, pate and cheese with biscuits and apples for dessert.  The bread will be one of my home made baguettes, there will be home made chutney on the side and the biscuits will also be home made.  I must search for a nice recipe.  I am wondering about biscotti but I don't have any nuts and they are so nice in biscotti.  Muffins are easy and I have plenty of eggs, but I really fancy biscuits!  Decisions, decisions!

Well, I have washing to put in, which I want to be dried and back inside before my friends arrive, so I had better got started.  There's a dishwasher to empty and surfaces to wipe over too.  And coffee - always coffee- to make and consume!

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast
Lunch:  Baguette with cheese, pate and chutney, mini tomatoes, biscuits, apples
Dinner:  I will likely have some baguette left so I think I will make a sort of French Bread pizza with whatever I have in the fridge.  I can make some tomato sauce when I fry my breakfast tomatoes!

A lot of bread today - ah well, at least I know what's gone into it!

Tuesday 29 September 2015


Yesterday was another gloriously sunny day here and, I hope, where you are too.  I'm loving this Indian summer, even though it means I have to remember to water the tomatoes.  Fingers crossed for today too.

Tuesday is school day and I am looking at the planning and remembering two years ago when I delivered more or less the same lessons in Y1.  Phonics and maths, then off to Foundation Stage.  Woohoo.

We had another lovely swim yesterday although I felt extremely tired afterwards.  I'm trying to push myself a little bit more so spent some time doing front and back crawl which left me breathless after a short distance.  I can't even do a proper length yet so there's room for much improvement there.  It can be a very splashy stroke and I hate getting water up my nose.  Yuck.

Once home I took in the washing and then pootled round to school to get the planning and leave a note.  It's takes a long time but I have realised that the reason I didn't get the call for supply last week is because they contacted me via my mobile which is often flat and lifeless!  It was last week anyway.  I've handed over my landline number and email addy now so hopefully that won't happen again.  And I will try to keep the mobile charged up too.

In the afternoon I set to and got all the ironing done.  Happiness is definitely an empty ironing basket!  While I was doing that I watched the Strictly Come Dancing that I missed on Friday evening so now I am up to date.

Evening telly has improved with the addition of Strictly: It Takes Two.  However, yesterday, the highlight was at the start of University Challenge when the first student was someone I remember very well.  A very bright and quirky lad, I taught him to read and write in Foundation Stage.  It took him about four weeks to go from not reading to reading anything in the book boxes - it was so quick I assumed that he started school as a reader but his parents assured me that no, he couldn't read when he started school.  I can even remember the day phonics clicked for him: it was like turning on a light, saudden and illuminating.
I can't take much credit though - he was quite obviously going to succeed in his own individual way right from the word go.
A shame his team lost though!

Sadly, I'm not sure there's anyone on staff at the moment who was there when he was with us although some of my maternity leave colleagues will remember him well.  Time flies, doesn't it?

I was going to have a couple of friends staying overnight but, sadly, one of them is unwell so they couldn't come.  We exchanged texts though and have decided to have an early Christmas dinner together sometime in the next three months.  That will be fun indeed and I shall start looking around for, or making, little bits and bobs to make it a good-un..

Well, the day is getting lighter and everything has a pink tinge to it.  Red sky in the morning, etc, - hoping the old saying is wrong today.

Breakfast:  Autumn stew and pasta
Lunch:  Ditto (it has to be used up)
Dinner:  Savoury mince with runner beans (last of the beans, sad) and fried tomatoes.
Also:  apples. yogurts

Monday 28 September 2015


So here we are at the start of another week.  It was a chilly and very lovely night: yes, I managed to watch the lunar eclipse - sort of.  I set the alarm, opened the curtains, turned around in bed so that I could watch, put on my glasses and then dozed on and off.  It was hard to keep my eyes open but I did manage to see the last bit of cover and it really was lovely in a cold and majestic sort of way.  It is awesome to consider what is happening to produce that effect - such huge celestial bodies and - a shadow!  Just a very big shadow.

As a result I was awake a little later today - half past six!  We're going swimming, Beth and I, so I need to get a move on!

Back to yesterday.  It was a very busy afternoon.  Beth and I sewed, finished off, took photographs, edited photographs and generally didn't stop for quite a long time but we now have quite a lot of things for our little 'shop' and for the couple of craft fairs we hope to sell at.  I also made two batches of bread and lunch for me and Beth so you can see that it was a busy day.

Today, after swimming, we're parting company.  I have quite a lot to do at home, including making up beds for friends and some ironing.  I also need to do more sewing as I am behind with my own projects.  And I MUST tackle to mess in my own room!

The vegetable stew (now called Autumn stew because it sounds nicer) was delicious, but I wasn't so impressed with the suet free/fat free/made with egg dumplings.  I suppose any recipe that asks for two cups of flour (mug size) is going to be somewhat problematic.  I might try again sometime.  Diane - you often talk of 'potsticker dumplings' - what are they and do you have a recipe, please?

So - better get going.  The sun is shining and I have washing to get out onto the line.  Have a super day.

Breakfast:  toast and jam
Lunch:  omelette and salad
Dinner:  Autumn stew with pasta and grated cheese

Sunday 27 September 2015


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to Sunday.  Today I actually managed to stay asleep beyond the darkness and, while it is certainly not properly light, it isn't completely dark either   It looks OK out there, no rain (MUST remember to water the tomatoes) and fingers crossed it turns into another lovely day.

It seems that 'they' think we could be in for a bit of an Indian summer with plenty of sun and I do hope so because, guess what, the accidental hundreds and thousands tomato plant actually has one (of the hundreds of minis on the plant), just one tomato going orange.  It's taken its time but a week or so of sun and I could get quite a lot of fruit from it.  That would be not bad for an accidental, third generation plant - anything would be a bonus after all.

After the final picking of the runners, yesterday the plants came down and now there's a gap.  The runner beans grow up a metal arch between two of the beds and it now looks very bare and empty again.  Fortunately, the many rooting strawberry runners take away complete bareness from the bed and the tomatoes the other end are looking odd, as they do at this time of the year, but productive.

In the kitchen I set to and created a vegetable 'stew' for dinner today.  I found a recipe for egg based dumplings and wanted to try it so needed something to cook them in.  I'll give it a whirl and see.  The stew has onion, potato, carrot, sweet potato, courgette, mushroom, butter beans, lentils and oats in chopped tomato with stock and herbs, garlic, a bit of chilli and seasonings and it tastes ever so nice!  I'm expecting that the flavours will have developed overnight and it will be even more scrummy today!  Maybe I will remember to take a photo, Valerie, you never know!

It was all go p.m.  Eddie came to carry on with sorting out the new computer.  Sim turned up to do some gardening.  Beth arrived to sew.  Nice!

For once, Saturday evening was filled with telly I wanted to watch.  Pointless, Strictly, Doctor Who and then I turned to another channel to watch the Vicar of Dibley.  Plenty of alternatives to rugby, thank goodness!  To celebrate, I ordered in a take away, bad me!

Today I have bread to make for my two customers and maybe bread for Beth, I need to check.  There's a bedroom to sort out which will result in washing to do so please, sun, shine for me.  No swimming today but we will both be going tomorrow morning.

Breakfast: toast, etc
Dinner: Vegetable stew with dumplings - and if it works I will have to think of another name - something more interesting than 'stew'.  Any ideas?
Tea: re-heated takeaway!

But first - coffee.  Real coffee seeing as it is Sunday.  And talking of coffee, I see that an Aldi coffee has come top in a Which? taste thingy.  Cheapest and best.  I like that!  I like their Italian blend which is what I have at the moment.  Better go and get it rolling then.

Saturday 26 September 2015


One of the absolute delights of retirement is going away.  On Friday morning.  While others are at work.  Especially when it is a glorious Autumn day, the drive is mostly across country and Classic FM has some of your all time favourites playing.  What more could a girl ask for, eh?

It's just a quick visit.  In fact, before most of my gentle readers see this today I will be home again.  Home to a tidy and clean house because the cleaners worked their magic yesterday while I was away.  I've been thinking about this - it seems very naughty to have cleaners in when I now have the time to do it perfectly well myself, but it is also very nice.  So, if possible, I will keep them on until after Christmas and then evaluate.  In the meanwhile I will work towards getting some better habits established, some sort of routine going again.

I came over here because I have coats to return, left at their last visit to mine.  As the weather is getting cooler, the coats are becoming more needed again and anyway it was a good excuse to pop over.

Once home, I will have washing and ironing to do and a bedroom to get ready for some dear friends who are coming to stay over Monday night.  It's all go in not-Teacherland!

Today's food:
Breakfast: toast and things
Lunch:  mushroom omelet, yogurt
Dinner:  gammon steak, wedges (home made), fried tomatoes.

Friday 25 September 2015


Well, yesterday I was waffling on about hoping for another lovely, sunny Autumnal day.  Within the hour it was raining cats and dogs!  I should've kept my big mouth closed really, shouldn't I?  Fortunately it cleared up to a certain extent and we did get some sun although not as much as I'd have liked.

Borrowed from Google Images
Beth and I had a great swim.  We have discovered that we can use the diving area when it's not open. This is a 'pit' off the main pool, separated from it by some floats and it's about 10m x 10m and very deep.  We did ten lengths in the proper lane and then slipped under the floats where I seized the opportunity to have a go at other strokes, especially front crawl, which I haven't done for ages - and I really do mean ages as in decades.  I can see now why it burns up a lot more calories than breast stroke and different parts of my body are now aching, which is good.  I will work on it because it really wasn't brilliant - very clumsy and splashy but quite a lot faster.

While we were swimming to and fro, up and down and having a lovely time, it was just as well I didn't know that I had missed a phone call asking if I could do some supply.  Darn it!  I was in the kitchen when the call was made and - well, no hearing aids in means no hearing the phone.

The funny thing was that I was in school 'granny helping' in the afternoon and I saw the supply teacher (tried to help her in fact) and was thinking 'why wasn't I asked?' and telling myself to stop being so egocentric because, after all, why should I have first pick?
A lesson learnt . . . from now on it is hearing aids in first thing!  When I want to hear the phone, that is.  Today I don't need to!

However, I think I probably have four days supply in a few weeks.  It could be five days but one day is already booked for something else.  Four days is brilliant!

I have become mildly addicted to a programme called 'Money for Nothing' where the presenter takes old stuff that was heading for the dump, recycles/re-purposes it (or gets someone else to) and sells it again to make money.  Have you seen it?   I don't know if it is a new thing or not because it starts before I would have got home from school but I am enjoying it.  I particularly enjoyed yesterday's show because it featured an up and coming designer/seamstress, Chinelo, who first appeared on the Sewing Bee (another favourite) and who impressed me very much with her sense of design and creativity.  It is nice to know that her unique talents are being used.

Today should be a lovely day and I am going out to dinner this evening with some good friends.  And then it is the weekend - not that this makes such a difference nowadays!

Breakfast:  toast and jam
Lunch:  not sure yet
Dinner: eating out - yay!
Really informative, that, isn't it!

Now I must get going as there's a lot to do in a short time.  Have a great day, gentle readers.

Thursday 24 September 2015


I was driving home after swimming yesterday in glorious sunshine and noticed for pretty well the first time how autumnal everything is getting.  A most appropriate thought for the first official day of the new season, don't you think?  I think it is going to be a lovely autumn - there were some wonderful reds, golds and oranges amidst the green.  I love every season for different reasons but the shining, golden colours of autumn are hard to beat.
Three weeks ago I was at Beth Chatto Gardens and was astounded at how green and lush everything was, a result of  a wet summer, I suppose.  How quickly nature can change!

Beth and I went swimming for the first time in far too long and boy, couldn't we tell!  It was a bit of a killer and we both came home shattered but it just goes to show the impact it must have.  We're going again today because I cannot go tomorrow.

Once home, we set to and sewed.  Beth's next OU course starts very soon and she wants to get the great majority of the items finished before then.  It is now mostly finishing off rather than making, but that can often be the most tedious and long winded part of the whole process.  We have decided that toggles will be better than buttons on the bags we have made so I guess that's another trip to the market.

I pootled off into school in the afternoon and, thankfully, this time I was able to start putting my data onto the program we use.  It is rather  long winded and somewhat tedious but, dear me, it has to be done.  As I selected and clicked, selected and click-click-clicked I thought of how many teachers or TAs all through the country have been through this process this summer and will do as they go through this school year and for years to come.  The cost in hours is frightening.  Assessment is crucial, it has to be recorded and this is as good a way as any to do it but . . . in more than one way it is costly.

It's still dark out there but it's a dressing gown and slippers morning and there's a bit of a breeze too.  I'm hoping that today is as lovely as the past several days have been -  sunny and pleasantly warm.  The tomatoes are ripening well still but I have one more picking of runner beans and that's it.  By next week I will have to pull down the plants and feed the brown bin!  The tomatoes will last until the first frost, fingers crossed  We've been lucky with blight - there's only been one full Smith period warning this year for this area (and a few near misses).  It's been wet enough at times but the cooler weather has reduced the spread of the fungus, maybe.  No complaints from me anyway!

After swimming it is more sewing and then I am off into school to do my granny helper thing with Y2.  Then, this evening, it is Eat Well for Less? which I thoroughly enjoy, even if it creates a bit of frustration at times!

And that's today sorted!  But first - coffee.

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast
Lunch:  tomato risotto
Dinner:  spag bol and runner beans
also fruit and yogurt.

Wednesday 23 September 2015


Welcome to what looks as if it will be a beautifully sunny day.  It was rather chilly earlier on but the sun should bring the temperature up somewhat.

I know it was chilly earlier because I did one of my increasingly rare waking at stupid o'clock things.  Two of the morning IS stupid, isn't it?  Fortunately I managed to get back to sleep after about three hours awake and doing so I should be OK today.  I know why - I was tired yesterday evening, slept from 7 to 8 and then went to bed not long after that.  My fault!

Yesterday was my day in school.  Year 1 and then Foundation Stage.  It is fun seeing activities, worksheets and resources I created years ago still being used.  It also amuses me that people still ask me questions as if I should know - such as 'is assembly in the big or the little hall?'.

After a few words with someone who knows, we sorted out the problems with the software and now I can get on with what I would have done in the holidays, had there not been problems.  It is going to take several hours - no, more than several, to get it done so I am starting this afternoon!

Something that's never happened before - after school the fire alarm went off.  Now, we are fairly used to the alarm being tested when the children are not there but, as this one went on and on, we realised that it wasn't just a test so we all had to pile out of the school into the playground while it was sorted out.  I guess there will be some sort of post mortem today although I am not likely to hear what happened.
Fortunately it wasn't raining!

After that bit of excitement I came home and did not-a-lot!

Today I'm meeting Beth in the pool for the first swim either of us have had for a while.  Life sort of got in the way.  After that it is sewing until I go into school.  I also have a pile of washing which I need to get done today.

And it is Bake Off this evening!

Tuesday 22 September 2015


Good morning
Yesterday started off fine, weather wise, but by afternoon playtime it was drizzling and that turned into proper rain which made the end of the day miserable but aren't we lucky to have a shelter and a safe refuge?  This morning it's too dark to see properly but everything is dripping so it's obviously been raining a fair bit.

It was a bit of a frustrating day really yesterday.  I pootled into school only to find that the software just wasn't going to play ball for me.  I don't know why, maybe I shall find out today when I am in for my day's work.  At least I was able to pick up the planning.  In the end I gave up and heard some year ones read instead.  That was very nice and at least I was making myself useful.  I got a few comments from random parents along the lines of 'I thought you had retired', mind you!!!

Before then I had a go at making another Lorraine Pascale recipe, this time a sort of glorified soda bread/cheese scone thing.  I have to say it was simple and delicious and I have blogged about it.  Worth a go, for sure although I might add a tad more cheese next time or make sure the cheese is blow-your-head off maturer-than-mature cheddar.

When I got home I set to and made some loaves as my little loaf initiative thing has started.  Typically, because I wanted them to be nice, one stuck in the tin.  Fortunately it came out before I needed to inflict too much damage.  I changed my mind about dinner as I had some veg left over from yesterday including the roasted mixed veg which had created its own sauce.  Instead of a stir fry, I cooked the chicken and then heated up the left over veg before stirring the lot with some cooked pasta and a grated quarter of a mozarella that I had in the fridge.  Still delish!

Today's food:
Breakfast: tomatoes on toast
Lunch:  sarnie with meat paste and tomatoes, yogurt, fruit
Dinner:  tuna burgers, wedgies, tomatoes

Monday 21 September 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's bright but not sunny this morning so I am hoping the clouds will burn away and the sun will shine again, just like the last four days which have been beautiful.  I've taken to picking the tomatoes before they are ready and bringing them in to ripen and there have been loads.  Enough to make some passata for the first time this year.  Mind you, there's still plenty on the plants!  I think the weather will win, eventually as there have been a few very chilly early mornings and it only takes one hard frost!

Yesterday I managed a roast dinner for the first time in ages.  Several months ago I managed to get a rolled turkey thigh for 99p and I bunged it straight in the freezer.  I roasted that yesterday and it was very delicious.  The brown meat does have a lot more flavour than the white meat, doesn't it.  With it I used up the last of the frozen prepared-for-roasting potatoes (so must get some more in at some point soon), some roasted veg (onion, red pepper, mushroom and tomato) and some runner beans.  After that I made a dessert which is rare for me but Alex was here!  Apple crumble and custard.  It was so scrummy!
Borrowed from Google Images.

Beth and I sewed all afternoon - well she sewed and I partly sewed and partly kept up to date with a 'situation' (forum mods will know what I mean here).  As a result we got several more Christmas things finished for the Craft Fair Beth is going to in October.  We can only sew for so long before our eyes go funny and also, even though it was still sunny, the light changed and it wasn't as good so we stopped late afternoon.

Sunday evening telly was a bit rubbish really so I read and networked!

Today I will be going into school later to do some stuff that needs doing.  Before then I have a kitchen to tidy (endless, isn't it?) and I MUST do something about my bedroom.
I also have a bag to finish off.  I was expecting friends to stay for a few nights but they can't come now so I have a bit more time than I expected.

Today's food:
Breakfast:  toast and jam, fruit
Lunch:  cheese salad roll, yogurt
Dinner:  chicken and veg stir fry with pasta, yogurt, fruit.  I will stir fry the veg and the chicken in a minimum of oil and then make a sauce by adding some philly light and herbs/seasonings, then mix it with cooked pasta.   It makes a delicious meal!

Sunday 20 September 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  I'm feeling much more like myself today which is a great relief.  And it's sunny again - just like yesterday was.  Three cheers.

Things gradually became more cheerful as the day progressed - oh, OK, I became more cheerful; there was nothing wrong with things at all!  I lazed around, slept quite a lot (and all through the night) and generally wasted the day but that's OK.  It all finished off with a cracker of a first episode of Doctor Who so I went to bed happy!

Today - well, I was going shopping to Aldi but I don't think I will bother, not on a Sunday when it is so crowded.  The only thing I actually NEED is strong flour and even that I can do without for today or even pop round to Morrisons as I notice they sell strong white for 80p now which, I think, is new.  If you take petrol into account, it's cheaper to get it there than make the trip to Aldi unless there's other items on the list.  Beth AND Alex are coming over for lunch so I am doing a roast dinner using a turkey thigh roast I had in the freezer.  There's enough runners still to feed the tree of us and I shall do some roasted 'Mediterranean' veg as well as the roast potatoes.  That should all go down well.  I might even do a dessert.  I quite fancy a rice pudding if I have pudding rice in the cupboard.  If not, then an apple crumble as I do have apples.

I have some sewing to do - I need to finish off some bits and bobs for Beth - and there's some bread to make for her too.

On Friday I made some little loaves as 'tasters' for the two friends who have said if I make bread for them, they will buy it from me.  Yesterday and this morning I had emails from them saying lovely and yes please so, wow, I have two 'clients'.  I've costed things out, allowing for over heating and a bit of profit, but the fact is I love making bread and it's good to have more opportunity.  I am considering trying different things now and if they work adding them to the list of 'breads wot I can make'!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast
Dinner:  Roast turkey, roast potatoes, roasted veg and runner beans, maybe rice pud or apple crumble
Tea:  Probably turkey sandwich, fruit, yogurt

But before I get started - more coffee please!

Saturday 19 September 2015


It's dull and boring outside today.  Maybe that's because I feel rather dull and boring and might sleep my life away today.

I've been fighting a bug this week and I think I have won but am so, so tired this morning.
Yesterday was - just ordinary except that I picked Alex up from school and we had a nice chat on the way home.
I think that today will be an indoors and sleeping day.  Things will pick up again though!

I think I shall be on caffeine today.  Better put the kettle on then!

Friday 18 September 2015


Yesterday was sunny ALL DAY LONG!  What a change from the day before.  It looks as if it's going to be OK today too but it's just half light at the moment so hard to tell.

Didn't go swimming but I did busy myself in the kitchen.  I made that ketchup I have been wittering on about and, apart from being maybe a bit too spicy, it's scrummy.  Now I have to have sausages and wedges this evening so I can have some!  If you're interested, I have posted the recipe here.
The beetroot-chocolate cake didn't get made though and I'm glad it didn't because I'd have eaten the lot the mood I was in!  Fortunately the beetroot is vacuum packed and has a long life.

In Tuesday's entry I mentioned that I had poached a whole chicken in Thermione.  Since then I have wondered what to do with the stock so yesterday I got creative and used some of it in a leek, chicken and mushroom risotto which was absolutely gorgeous, especially with runner beans on the side.  I could easily have eaten twice as much if I'd made more so it's just as well I didn't really.

Then I pootled off the school and did my mummy helper thing with some children, hearing them read.  It was great, most enjoyable to be able to just do my thing with individuals with having to manage a class as well.

And finally the telly in the evening wasn't too bad.  Sometimes I do wonder about the families in Eat Well for Less?  They seem so very extreme in some ways.  I'm aware that I have hoarding instincts but never, ever have I had that much cheese unless I'm having a party or something.  And yes, I do have more pots of jam than that but only because it is home made and only three open at a time!  It makes for great viewing though.

Today I AM going swimming.  Beth can't come so I will go on my own.  Also I want to make some loaves.
When I was doing a 'Today's happy things' on my Facebook page I mentioned about making bread and then muttered that I really needed some people to buy my bread because I wanted to bake far more than I could possibly eat.  It was a jokey little aside.  However, I now have three friends who might like me to bake for them so these loaves are tasters for two of them who I will be able to see today.  Hope they like them.

At some point I also need to do a little bit of housework too!  Maybe.  I am being good at keeping the kitchen tidy now I actually have time to clear up after culinary activities so that's good.  It just needs to spread to other areas.

Now it's time to have another coffee.

Today's food
Breakfast:  toast and jam, fruit, yogurt
Lunch:  chicken sarnie, tomatoes, fruit or yogurt
Dinner:  Remember I roasted chicken over some mediterranean type vegetables?  I want to do similar with sausages tonight.  Also runner beans, wedges (and home made spicy ketchup)

Looks good, doesn't it?

Thursday 17 September 2015


I had to use this; thank you, Google Images!
After yesterday's downpours, it is a sheer delight to look outside this morning and to see the sun shining merrily.  Lovely and shiny it is, and fingers crossed that it stays around for a while.  To adapt a well known song into a very different context, 'all is calm, all is bright' right now.  As with everything, I appreciate the good days much more after a nasty, rainy day.  Don't we all?

What a soggy, soaking wet day it was round here yesterday though.  I don't think it really stopped raining all day and there were some torrential downpours.  Thankfully the wind stayed away despite a worrying little hint on Facebook about tornado like cloud movement over Essex in the evening.  It they did develop, there's no evidence of it here.  However, I shall be on blight watch today!

As I was a bit not 100% I didn't do all that much and every time I sat down I went to sleep (I do feel much better now though).  I decided to make it a PJ day and it was a peculiar feeling, as if I ought to be at work but wasn't, I suppose because that's almost always been the situation when I've stayed in bed clothes all day.  To be fair, if I was still working I'd have gone in and put up with it but I'm glad I didn't have to.                      
In between snoozes I made some bread.  I wasn't convinced by the Lorraine Pascale burger baps recipe.  It was laden with salt and sugar and just wasn't soft.  Very disappointing.  Not one to attempt again.  The other bake was my usual wholemeal/granary and that came out really well although I made a mistake.  I've taken to standing Thermione on a tray when she's kneading the dough to prevent 'travel' (Thermo owners will know what I mean) but didn't realise that she was leaning on the back 'wall' of the tray as I measured in the flour and the water.  As a result I had a much larger amount of dough than usual, enough for four loaves, not three.  I only noticed when I measured out much less flour for the baps and thought 'That's way too much!'  However, it worked fine, dough being more a matter of touch and instinct than accurate measurement.  I did have to add more water and the loaves will be slightly under seasoned, I expect, but that's not a problem for me at all.

I don't usually make that much dough because I think it is hard on Thermione's engine but once will have done no harm.  From now on I know to check!

Also between naps I got stuck into the Housekeeper's Tale book and it is good.  Not exactly light reading but not heavy either and extremely interesting.  After reading some of it, I'm glad I live nowadays!

Today, this afternoon, I am in school and this morning I might have a go at that beetroot cake.  Fingers crossed!  Right now I have to get myself sorted and get the bins out.  I forgot yesterday evening.

Food: (I think)
Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast
Lunch:  chicken salad
Dinner:  chicken and mushroom risotto, runner beans

Wednesday 16 September 2015


Dull and very wet.  That's the weather in a nutshell at the moment.  No wind yet although I gather there's some expected as the remains of some nasty weather could be heading this way.  Having said that, I have just checked the BBC weather page which is as reliable as any and wind is not expected to be an issue here, just rather a lot of rain.
So no hanging the washing out to dry today!

I had a very pleasant day in school yesterday.  In the afternoon the FS teachers were still out on their home visits and there were no children so Carly and I set to and sorted out a whole pile of books into book bands, stickered them and made a list of the books in each band for record keeping.  I hope we did it OK.  By the end, Carly had gone off to do marking as it was after three-fifteen and I did such a stupid thing - I over saved one of the lists and had to do it all over again.  Such an idiot!  I think I was getting tired by then and making silly mistakes but I'm glad I got it all finished.  It's one of those tasks that can hang around and hang around because teachers just don't have that much time to get it all done.  I felt useful which is always a good feeling!

After school I returned a few books to the library and found one that looks really interesting.  It is 'The Housekeeper's Tale' by Tessa Boase and it's all about the women who really ran the English country house.  It seems to be a brand new publication.
On the blurb it says:
"As a working class woman in the 19th century, you could do no better.  The housekeeper of a great English country house might manage a hundred servants, and a domestic budget on a par with a small bank.  She had no need for a home of her own - or, for that matter, a husband.  But for all her importance, she has been invisible to history."
This is just the sort of book I really enjoy.  I was not great cop at history when at school.  All those dates and battles and stuff.  As a teen I got into historical novels and really enjoyed the little details about how people really lived and this interest in social history, especially the minutiae of day to day living has stayed with me.  I love books like Lark Rise to Candleford, Parson Woodforde's diaries, Anne Hughes and her 'Boke in which I write', Molly Hughes' autobiographical books and the Miss Read village school stories for the same reason.  They tell of the little, everyday things.  Homely stuff.
I'm also quite excited (silly me) to see that there's a chapter about a housekeeper at Wrest Park which is one of my favourite places.  I can't wait to get stuck in.

I have digressed . . . sorry.

Once home, I'm afraid I went a bit bananas with food and am suffering from an upset tum this morning - serves me right for being such an idiot.  I might also be 'catching' something as I'm rather achey and hotty-cold.  No swimming today which is a shame as I could do with the exercise but never mind, there's always tomorrow and Friday and . . .

So what am I going to do today?  Well, that depends on how I feel.  Right now I intend to sit and read and, hopefully, sleep a bit more.  I want to make some bread - need to really as I am out of loaves - and I'd like to try Lorraine Pascale's recipe for burger baps.  Then maybe tomorrow I can have another tuna burger, in a bap this time.

I have some ironing to do which can be done sitting down and watching telly.  And speaking of telly, it is Bake Off this evening.  Excellent!

So that's me - a quiet day and a bit of rest and recovery.

Food: (depending on how things go)
Breakfast:  toast, apple
Lunch:  I have some passata so I might just heat that up and drink it.  It depends how the old tum is behaving really.
Dinner:  I didn't have the risotto so I must have it tonight.

How about you?  What are your food plans today?  And what sort of books do you enjoy?

Tuesday 15 September 2015


After a day that swung from one weather thing to another, sunny, then dark, dry, then lashing, calm, then very gusty, this morning it is, as far as I can tell, dry, quiet and pretty chilly.  It has that 'cold' smell, if you know what I mean.

Yesterday was an interesting day in a quiet, homey sort of way.  First of all I went swimming but Beth didn't as she's not feeling too wonderful and stayed home in the warm all day, sensible lady.  It was quite busy and I realised I must be getting faster without realising as I was overtaking several people.  Not fast enough for the middle lane yet though!

After swimming I popped to Morrisons to get some stuff I couldn't get in Aldi and then I had a go at making that microwave tomato risotto.  It was a great success, really delicious and I shall be having the other half this evening.

Later on I had a go at something I picked up at the Thermomix demo thing I went to just before term started - poaching a whole chicken in the thermomix.  Poor chicken - it had the top of the blades up its bum so that it turned slowly round and round as it poached in a liquid that was vaguely Asian, adapted from the original, with soy sauce, stock, ginger, honey, star anise, orange peel and a few other tasty things.  The resulting meat was moist and tender and the stock was superb.  The recipe suggests that you freeze the stock and use it the next time but I'm really now sure I want to.  Equally, I'm not totally sure what to use it for so any ideas would be most welcome.  I think that if I reduced it down further, it would make a fantastic sauce over rice or a great soup with noodles and a few other veg added.

Apart from that I read, snoozed, emailed and generally had a lazy time.  I went through the Lorraine Pascale book and put post-its in against likely looking recipes.  There are quite a lot so it is just as well I have the time now!  I also found a recipe for using up green tomatoes in a curry.  I suspect that, the way things are going, I will have a lot of green tomatoes this year and one can only cope with so much chutney!  Also, sadly, there are no more flowers coming on the runner beans so when the currently developing beans have gone, that's it for this year.  Hopefully, next year I will get them in sooner and have a longer picking season.

Today, being Tuesday, is school day.  I think it's jolly good for me to have some routine and busyness in my week and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.  No cooking plans, I think, although I picked up a recipe for a tomato ketchup on Facebook that I want to try.  It all depends how tired I am when I get home because it's an over two hour job.  Perhaps tomorrow instead, after swimming.

Breakfast:  Porridge with pineapple and yogurt.  Apple
Lunch:  Chicken roll, tomatoes, yogurt
Dinner:  Tomato risotto with added chicken, runner beans, pear.  I also have a couple of cooked new potatoes that need using up.  Would it be terrible to add potato to risotto - yes, probably.

Monday 14 September 2015


Good morning, gentle readers and welcome to Monday.  Although the forecast wasn't positive yesterday it turned out to be quite a nice day with some sun and no rain.  It wasn't terribly warm but never mind.  Now - it's raining!  Oh, well, it saves me having to water the garden, doesn't it?

I was, however, terribly lazy, especially in the morning.  I got stuck into one of my books and the time just - went!  One minute it was 10:00 and the next minute it was nearly midday.  Time can be odd like that, have you noticed?

However, I did manage to do a baking of bread for Beth (even if I over-proved it) and I managed to cook quite a nice simple lunch too.  Them in the afternoon, while Eddie was getting on with setting up the new PC, I set to and made the winter spiced lemon curd and, you know what, it is absolutely delicious.  I wouldn't call it frugal, far from it, in fact, with lemons, eggs, butter and sugar, but the flavourings (cloves, cinnamon, star anise with vanilla) turned it into something I will be proud to give to my friends as a gift closer to Christmas.

(I actually made three potsful but Eddie went home with one of them)

After that burst of energy it was lazy-time again and so it remained for the rest of the day, more or less.

Today is definitely swimming after missing two days on the trot.  Then it's back home for some sewing and some cooking - specifically that microwave tomato risotto.  That's probably about it.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

Breakfast:  porridge with yogurt and pineapple, orange
Lunch:  scrambled egg on toast, yogurt
Dinner:  tomato risotto, runner beans, pineapple and yogurt

Sunday 13 September 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's Sunday.  Right now it is a bit chilly but fine although it looks as if there's rain a-coming this afternoon.  After some early wet weather yesterday, it all cleared up and it was quite a pleasant day really although the wind did pick up at times so it wasn't sitting outside weather.

I was thinking about my instinctive reactions as Saturday started.  Must do this, must finish that, must get the other thing started.  It's taking an effort to remember than now I don't HAVE to do certain things on certain days.
Making the bread, for example.  On Saturday I made bread for me, on Sunday for Beth (so she could have it really fresh).  Now - well, as long as I'm in, it can be any day.
Or the washing/ironing.  No longer does it need to be washed on Saturday, ironed on Sunday (not that I always did the ironing on Sunday anyway, sometimes it was iron and wear!).

Yesterday I arrived at Aldi just before it opened and was surprised that the car park wasn't packed and there was only a small queue waiting to go in.  Very different from Sunday but I suppose the time difference plays a big part.  getting there for eight on Saturday is very different from ten on Sunday.  Anyway, it was a good shop and I seemed to get loads for not much money.
I had intended to get some tomatoes that were one of the super six but they weren't yet out.  I looked at the other tomatoes and saw that some others were far better value.  It was a lesson in looking carefully for me as one expects the super six to be cheaper.  I wonder why vine tomatoes are so much dearer that 'ordinary' ones.
As I only wanted them to make that tomato risotto featured on Eat Well for Less, ordinary ones will do!

On the way home I stopped off at the library and now have some fiction reading too.  As a result I spent a fair bit of the day reading and will do so again today.

I had a go at the Hollywood Baguette recipe and yes, it worked well.  Gorgeous crusty outside and very tasty inside.  I shall copy that one out and use it!  I now want to try it using wholemeal but not today as today I need to make loaves for me and Beth.

So what will I do today?

First of all I didn't get the winter spiced lemon curd made so I will do that.  I have lemons that really need using up so this will be ideal.  I also didn't get the apple and pear jam made so might start on that and finish it tomorrow as it is a two step recipe.  I have bread to make, as mentioned.  I want to find a good onion gravy to go with sausages: I like a deeply savoury gravy and most onion gravies seem to be too sweet so I think I shall have to adapt one.  I want to make that tomato risotto, if I get to Morrison's, as I don't have enough arborio rice - or maybe I shall use a mixture of what I have and basmati rice - yes, I might do that.  We will have that tomorrow, I think, for lunch maybe.

Eddie is coming round again to get on with the computer.  It will be nice when that is all done and dusted!

It's all go!  But first - coffee.

Breakfast:  toast and jam, yogurt
Dinner:  sausages, new potatoes (from allotment), runner beans (from garden), courgettes (from allotment) and a bit of cauliflower (from Aldi!!!), fruit
Tea:  tomato soup with baguette croutons, yogurt

Saturday 12 September 2015

Saturday. Really Saturday this time!

A very good Saturday morning to you all!  It's been raining (boo) and I am so very glad I stirred myself to spray the tomatoes yesterday evening after reading that the weather was going to break.
Phew, that should hold off the dreaded blight for a few weeks more.
It was another beautifully sunny day yesterday but not that hot.  At one point I sat out in the garden but ended up looking for my cardigan as there was a cool breeze.  It was nice to sit out though.

I managed to pack in quite a lot.

First of all I went swimming with Beth.  we were both quite tired so took it easy, managing about 45 minutes and meeting our 20 length target but having plenty of rest and chat in between times.

Then I managed to get to the library at last.  Now I have a shiny new ticket and five books.  Typical for me, four of them are 'making' books and one is history.  I might pop in and pick up some fiction this morning.  I borrowed a Lorraine Pascale book and Paul Hollywood's 'Bread', both of which I have considered buying in the past but didn't as they were very expensive.  Now I'm glad I didn't because, although there are some super recipes, there's a lot I wouldn't use.
I can see the scanner working overtime!

After that Beth and I went down to her allotment.  She hasn't been able to do much with it this summer so it's rather overgrown but, dear me, some plants seem to thrive on neglect and we came home laden with potatoes, corn, courgettes and pears.  Beth was very pleased with how many pears there were and there's still spuds by the sackload to dig, more corn to mature and more courgettes coming along.  In terms of an allotment, not much, but in terms of reality, brilliant!  Thanks, Beth!

As a result, for lunch we had some corn on the cob for a starter before the soup and roll and, my word, they tasted fantastic!  It gave me a very warm and satisfied feeling.  Fresh corn on the cob followed by home made soup with a home made roll.  What could be nicer?

I'm afraid that, after dealing with the rest of the corn which is now blanched, shared and in our freezers, I sat down and had a snooze before Beth went.  Shocking!

Then the cleaners came so, to get out of their way and to avoid feeling guilty, I went out into the garden.  I read for a while and then decided to dig up the crocosmia.  That was hard work as they've been in that place for years and the corms (are they corms or bulbs - anyway, you know what I mean) went deep.  In fact, I will have to have another go as I left lots behind in the soil.  I was rather hampered by the cyclamen that has spread among the crocosmia stems and I think that I will just have to forget about them in order to dig out the corms properly.  I won't get them all, of course, but I ought to get most.
Beth said she will take them off my hands and I shall plant some in a couple of pots.
I then arranged the pots of plants I have bought to fill the space and it did look quite nice.  I will get them in soon and cross my fingers for next summer and a change of focus in the middle bed.

After that it was time to cook dinner and I had a couple of the allotment spuds with my tuna burger and salad - absolutely delicious!  After that, in between watching telly and reading, I went online and managed to get two of the recipes from Eat Well for Less that they haven't posted on their site yet - the microwave risotto and the beetroot chocolate cake - by watching through the programme on iPlayer and pausing again and again to get the ingredients and method written down.  I want to make them both at some point - maybe the risotto will do for tomorrow's lunch for Beth and me.  What do you think, Beth?

So all in all it was a great day!

Today.  Well, no swimming.  I have been swimming for four out of the five days this week and I did feel rather weary yesterday so today is a rest day and I will swim tomorrow.  That means I can get to Aldi early and do my shop and still have the rest of the day for other things.  I have a recipe for apple and pear jam and as I have both apples and pears I shall make it to share.  Some for Jackie who gave me the apples and some for Beth whose allotment provided the pears.

I found a recipe for 'winter spiced lemon curd with cinnamon and vanilla' in the Pascale book which sounds totally scrummy so I will give that a go and I also want to try the Hollywood recipe for baguettes.  I can see that Thermione will be earning her space today!

Well, I have rambled on far too much this morning so please forgive me and I will stop now.  Have a wonderful day, whatever the weather!

Breakfast:  toast and jam, apple or pear
Lunch: cream of tomato soup, baguette,
Dinner:  not really sure but I haven't had chicken for ages so maybe I will do a chicken leg in a barbecue sauce (home made, of course) with new potatoes, runner beans and cauliflower, followed by a yogurt.

Friday 11 September 2015


At last, at long, long last, it is Friday!  No school, an hour of swimming, get library ticket and books to read for the weekend Friday.  Three cheers and happy dance Friday!
Borrowed from Google Images.
Wasn't it gorgeous yesterday?  Wall to wall sunshine and intense blue skies all day but not uncomfortably warm in any way.  Great for drying clothes, walking, lounging.  Light is just dawning and it is too early to tell what the skies are like but it certainly hasn't been raining and even if it's not sunny, I hope it is dry.  It's definitely getting cooler as each morning my heating is clicking in and even in the bright sun yesterday it was no more than pleasantly warm.

I did decide to go swimming in the end.  Thursdays are obviously popular because when I got there at 6:45, there were a surprisingly large number of people going up and down, up and down.  I may wait until 7:30 to start, it seems to be better at that time.  I did my hour, lost count of the lengths but it must have been between 30 and 40 and then came home.  Not long after, Beth arrived too and we settled down to some sewing - well, she did.  I did some cutting out and some learning, made coffee, made tuna burgers (more about these at another point) and made lunch - beans on toast!

Then I meandered along the road to school as I was a 'mummy helper' yesterday afternoon and didn't I enjoy it!!!  So nice to concentrate on one child at a time and to use my skills to help without being stressed and pulled in a dozen different ways at once.

Once home I watched telly, ate dinner, snoozed and generally relaxed.

So today I will be swimming, getting my library ticket, going along to the allotment at some point and generally having a good time.  No school until Tuesday.

Breakfast:  Toast and jam early, then fruit after swimming.
Lunch:  tomato soup as I have loads and loads of tins of tomatoes at the moment, bread roll maybe.
Dinner:  Tuna burger (as made last week on Eat Well for Less), salad, fruit

Now I am off to make the tomato soup!  Have a super day!

(Edited to say I have popped some entries on the recipe blog here

Thursday 10 September 2015



After not being sure what day it was, the time confusion carried on.  My brain then convinced me it was Tuesday which made sense - I'd just done my first full day's work of the week so it MUST been Tuesday, so I looked up the library opening times online and pootled around to sort out my library card and get some books, all excited-like and happy.

Huh!  Closed on Wednesday.  Closed on Thursday.  I have to wait until tomorrow now.  What a muddle.

To be fair, yesterday was rather upsetting as in my heart I said goodbye to a little cat who has given much joy.  She was very ill and made her last journey to the vet.  RIP, little Sofia.

I got my early morning swim and did my usual hour and 40 lengths.  I am aiming to get faster although I looked up calories burnt, etc., online and for breast stroke it isn't actually the speed, given a certain amount of effort, it's the distance and the length time you swim that boosts the calories.  Right now I am umming and ahing about going today.  I probably will but haven't totally decided.

The yellow plum jam is now made.  Five lovely pots of delicious sunshine.  I just have to label them and then I can share them with Julia.

Supply in the afternoon was fun but you know what the best thing was?  It was seeing everyone go to staff meeting and then walking home!

I made the bacon and roasted tomato pasta I mentioned yesterday, changed things quite a bit to fit with what I had and it was really rather delicious, so I shall post it on the recipe blog.

After swimming (if), Beth is coming round and this afternoon I am back in school as a 'mummy helper', with Y2 doing reading.  Nice!

And then, this evening, it is 'Eat Well for Less'.  This programme holds a sort of horrid fascination for me.  It's enjoyable and can be informative and there's some great ideas for more frugal shopping and cooking but what some of the families featured do and think is quite upsetting in this age of food banks and bin scavanging.  When you see someone throwing out perfectly good food because it has reached its sell-by date it's enough to bring tears to the eyes.  What I really do like is how lovely the children all seem to be.  Usually in reality programme they tend to be horrid brats but last episode's children enjoyed food, they were willing to try things and they enjoyed their mum's home cooking.  They were happy to sit at table and eat family meals.  They were, in short, delightful.

So that's today all mapped out!

Today's food
Breakfast:  toast and jam, apple
Lunch:  beans on toast
Dinner: the rest of the bacon and roasted tomato pasta from yesterday with runner beans.

And today I will not snack.  I MUST not snack.  Oh, dear.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Saturday - er - I mean, Wednesday!

Good (very early) morning to all my lovely readers.  It's interesting that after a day in school I am back to early waking, perfectly wide awake and raring to go!  I have no idea what it's like outside but it can't be that chilly because it's a slippers-but-no-dressing gown situation.

I was ridiculously nervous yesterday morning, as if I'd been away from school for ages rather than the one day it really was.  I kept glancing towards what was my tray in the staffroom to check for mail, something that is just pure habit, and I did miss having a classroom base at lunchtime, but it really was a wonderful day.  I had a blast with year 1 to start with.  Year 1 is my all time fave year and the one with which I have most experience.  After play it was into Foundation Stage to start getting to know the very new to school littlies and after lunch it was home visits and no children so I helped to clean and tidy the outside classroom area.

When I got home it felt so like Friday with Saturday coming because of no school the next day.  A very odd feeling which lessened somewhat when I got an email asking if I could do supply this afternoon.  Still feels a but Saturday-ish though!

I know I have to be getting fitter with losing a bit of weight and all that swimming but it is easy to forget quite how active one is at school.  By the end of the day I was stiff and aching and my ankles were starting to swell so once I got home I sat down, feet up, and did some knitting which was just the ticket.  Almost I wished I had taken the car but no, I am determined to save money and get fitter by walking whenever possible.  After all, it is less than five minutes away!  It is something I only remember about the beginning of each year when it actually happens.

It was a lot of fun seeing my old class again and loads of them came up to chat.  I got a few 'I thought you had retired' comments from folk, followed by 'how lovely to see you again' which was heart warming.

I had planned to spend this afternoon in the garden but maybe I can squash it in after swimming.  Beth can't swim with me today so I will aim for the early birds time which starts at 6:30 and which fits very well with the work after lunch too.  I really do need to deal with all the strawberry runners - they are taking over the garden and need cutting off.  I've allowed lots of them to root on one of the beds and will have plenty of strawberry plants next year, which is great and I can fill the gaps with what has escaped over the side of the bed.  It would be super to grow enough to make some of my own jam next summer but I suspect they will actually be picked and eaten straight!

I had another feast of runner beans for dinner yesterday and they will need picking again today.  As for the tomatoes, well, it's brilliant and while there are loads I want to use a recipe for tomato chutney in Thermione.  OK, so it will be 'orange tomato chutney' rather than 'red tomato chutney' but it should look lovely as well as tasting delicious.  Fingers crossed, anyway.

At lunch on Monday, Linda brought some plums for us, being a lucky lady with a tree in her garden.  Julie let me have her share so when I have jammed it, she will get back a good share of the jam.  She's great at letting me have the jars back too!  I've been simmering the plums (may as well make the most of a very early start), have added the jam sugar and am letting it dissolve as the mixture cools.  I will do the boiling later as firstly I have no intention of making my way to the garage for jam pots in my bed things, the garage being outside the garden area and also I have found that if I do it this way the mixture seems to reach setting point a lot faster.  Weird but true.  So I shall finish it off after swimming and before gardening!  And if I don't get it done, no problems, it will keep until tomorrow.

Well, I have waffled on rather too much so had better stop.  There's still two hours until swimming so I will have another coffee and sort out the food for the day.  I've found a recipe for bacon and roast tomato pasta from Slimming World and I seem to have most of the ingredients, only needing to substitute one thing (I have no broad beans but do have plenty of red/yellow peppers and mushrooms to use up) and it looks dead easy!

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast (I do so love this and while the tomatoes are so plentiful and so flavoursome I am treating myself), apple.
Lunch:  the last of the mini frittatas, tomatoes, yogurt
Dinner:  bacon and roast tomato pasta, fruit

It's very heavy on the old tomatoes but they're a 'superfood' and free!!!  Oh, and they taste delicious!

Tuesday 8 September 2015


Good morning, gentle readers. It looks quite nice out there as far as one can tell although there seems to be clouds in the sky so perhaps it won't be all that sunny.  Time will tell!

Yesterday was pleasant - quite sunny and not too chilly although I wouldn't say it was particularly warm.  Swimming was good - nice and sociable with lots of chats every two lengths.  Then it was lunch and all my frugal plans went awry, although I didn't really spend too much!  Then, I am afraid, I ate far too much for the rest of the day.  Something I will need to watch out for in the future.

Today I actually woke to the alarm.  I have little need for my alarm nowadays but on Tuesdays I will.  I popped into school to get the planning and it is very different when using the planning of others.  Not that it isn't clear and complete, it is, but it's not mine!  I guess it will stick in my head when it comes to it!  I take Y1 until playtime and then FS for the rest of the day.  Yay.

So it's back to the old routines except that I don't have to be in as early and I don't have heavy bags so can walk - that will be good.

That's about it for today.  No swimming!

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast, apple
Lunch:  mini frittata, yogurt, tomatoes
Dinner:  pasta bolognaise, runner beans, fruit
And there will be playtime fruit too.

Monday 7 September 2015


It is half past six.  I am sitting at the PC, nice and relaxed, no planning scattered around, no feeling of being rushed, no 'must go up and have my bath soon' thoughts.  As the day brightens it is all calmness and light at Diary of a Teacher (must think about changing that name at some point).

As the school gates open this morning I will be on the way to the leisure centre, as the children go in I will be getting into the pool for my hour of pleasant exercise and I should be getting back out again as the children head off for morning assembly.

Then, as they head to the new hall for lunch, I will be heading to the Hare for lunch with Julia and Linda.  We're all retired now and lunch is easier for us all that dinner so we have become Ladies That Lunch!

I will be popping in after school to get some planning for tomorrow but only for a very short time.

< relaxed sigh >

Yesterday was a lovely, warm and sunny day with wall to wall sunshine and even some warmth.  I dried two loads of washing, picked runner beans for a friend and by the evening there was a bowlful of ripe tomatoes to pick.  They are coming fast and furious now and I reckon I have had less than half so far.  If the frost or the blight comes before they are all gone then they will be used for green tomato chutney.  It's win-win.
The runners are also doing their best but, as there's only half as many plants as I originally wanted, there are less beans that I'd planned.  They're doing very well though and I should be picking for several weeks still, weather permitting.

I did manage to get to the pool at 6:30 when it opened and am determined to get there at that time more often as it was really lovely.  Just four or five of us ploughing our way up and back, up and back and it stayed like that for the whole hour.  Gorgeous!

Thanks to my all in one shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, I no longer have to have another shower when I get home, I just have to finish drying and 'straightening' my hair which looks like a bird's nest if I don't.  Much more convenient.

I did some knitting (warm woolly hats for refugees) and then Eddie arrived to carry on with sorting out my new computer stuff.  He managed to get Photoshop sorted on the new laptop so I should no longer have issues with getting photos uploaded.  Then he just did 'clever stuff' while I got on with other 'stuff'!!

Later, a dear friend arrived to pick up some runner beans and some jam and we had a lovely catchup chat before she went on to her daughter's home.

Then, in the evening, I watched rubbish telly, did my ironing (clear basket again - I'm getting used to this one) and had a comparatively early night because I was falling asleep.

And that was the day before the start of the new school year.  Ordinary, normal, calm, gentle and unfussed.
I hope yours was as pleasant.

Breakfast:  yogurt and apple
Lunch:  At the Hare.  Looking at the menu I think I will go for maybe a small soup of the day with bread (very frugal) or a pulled pork wrap!  It's a shame their breakfasts stop at 12 because their sausage sandwich sounds delicious.
Dinner:  Depends what I have at lunch but I've found a recipe for mini-frittatas that you make in a muffin tin and, as I have loads of eggs and veg, I might make some to have with salad.  Any leftovers can be frozen (frittatas, not salad!)

Sunday 6 September 2015


Good morning and welcome to a rather chilly Sunday.  It's dark and I am up earlier than I would wish but I do love these dark and quiet times when the rest of the world is still asleep (silly thing to say but that's how it feels) and the hustle and bustle of life is hours away.  When I was working they were a sanity saver at times and, I am told, it is likely to take some time before the habit fades.  On balance that's fine by me!

I love sitting here, blogging and watching for the first glimmers of light as the darkness melts first into shades of grey and then into colours, first muted and subdued and then brighter and brighter.  In a way, I hope I don't really grow out of it.

First of all I must apologise to everyone who left comments in the last week (or so).  I do like to respond to every comment but, with visitors and so on taking up my time and attention, some slipped through the net.  I have gone back through the last two weeks and made sure I have responded to all of you who were kind enough to leave comments.

Yesterday was a very good day.  I went to a Thermomix demo lesson thingy led by the local 'consultant', Leonie, and a friend.  Now and again, Leonie has sent me details of classes she runs and each time I have had to say no thanks, partly because of time and partly because of distance.  This time, however, it was not too far away, out in the Ongar direction and I don't have planning, preparation, evaluations, assessments or marking to catch up on so I paid my dues and put it in the diary.

Leonie's home is out in the sticks, in a little Essex village and, inevitably, I took a wrong turning and got lost - well, not lost exactly, I just didn't know where I was.  Luckily I had my mobile with me - I don't always - and phoned only to find that I was just one turning and about a mile away from my destination.  Annoyingly, I hadn't been able to program it into my sat nav which doesn't seem to allow me to input post codes.  It's the first time I have used it and I must get more used to it.

Anyway, got there just in time and we all trooped into the kitchen to watch a jolly interesting demo/lesson.  I learnt quite a lot of new things, even when she covered bread making.  The theme was 'when East meets West' and they will be sending over the recipes by email.  Watch this space - or rather, watch the recipe blog space!

After the end of the lesson we all went into the dining room and were served a very delicious five course meal.  OK, small courses (thank goodness) but we all ended up stuffed and I, for one, couldn't manage more than a few crackers and cheese later in the day.  So much for the ham, chips and beans I had optimistically planned.  What with the tuition/demo and the meal, the course turned out to be jolly good value.

It's always easier travelling home and I was able to work out where I went wrong.  Just one wrong turning, that's all.  Silly me!

After that I settled to some ironing and managed to clear the load which included several items of bedding which are always a bit of a drag.  Then I picked up the woolly hat knitting and watched Pointless and Strictly.  A quiet end to a lovely day.

Today it's swimming and later Eddie is round to carry on with getting the new computer system set up and running.  No planning, no nervous knot in my stomach, just a rather empty space!  Later on in the week, when it is open, I must join the library.  I now have time to read books again!

Breakfast:  boiled eggs and toasty soldiers (after swimming)
Lunch:  Very little, probably just a cuppa soup and an apple.
Dinner:  got to use up that ham.  Ham, chips, beans.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Beth Chatto gardens: some photos

I finally managed to load them up for editing so here they are.  What really struck me as I looked through them was how very green everything is.  Usually by this time of the year the verges are brown, the lawns have bare patches, the vegetation is drooping, but it almost looks spring - a real 'green and pleasant land'.


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to Saturday.  The first weekend of the new school year, even if the children aren't back until Mnday.  Yes, it does feel odd but I will get used to it in time.

Hasn't it been chilly though?  There have been some most sensationalist headlines about blizzards this weekend (ha ha) and the temperature tonight is predicted to go down pretty low although I doubt we are in any danger of frost in this warmer corner of our isles.  'They' also say we could have an Indian Summer later this month which would be nice for continuing to ripen the tomatoes and I suppose one must be grateful for small mercies and realise that the cold temperatures mean that it is unlikely that blight will develop, despite the rain!

So . . . yesterday.  Well, as I said, I was in school for the school conference and it was lovely to see everyone after the break.  These people have been a big part of my life for a very long time after all.  So many little habits - I checked my tray for mail (but don't have a try any more as the names have all been changed), I looked at the rotas on the noticeboard for when my dishwasher duty was (and don't have dishwasher duty any more), I looked for my name on the playground rote (which was more likely) and I don't seem to have any playground duties although I think I will do some afternoon duty when that rota is drawn up and I almost headed off towards what was my bay when I arrived and had to make myself turn towards the staff room.

It was a weird feeling.  Just me with none of the wrappings I have been used to.  No coordinator role, no SENCo role (although I had got used to that a bit), no curriculum leader role, just me wearing my 'newish governor' hat.

What was really nice though was walking back out at around 12:30 to go swimming!  I shall get used to that one fairly quickly!

What was interesting was my reaction during the conference.  The first half was devoted to exploring the new school development plan and the changes in expectations that are there as a result.  Terms like 'accelerated learning',  'core learning skills' and 'learning for life' , all very admirable and desirable, floated around and I was pretty relieved to realise that they won't be worrying me too much, that I won't have any responsibility for making them 'work'.  I'm getting too old for too much change!

The second half was more interesting.  Each governor who attended was teamed up with the subject leader to look at that subject's objectives for the year.  Most of the governors are linked to a curriculum area, you see, and we - I mean school staff - stay in contact and invite them in for meetings, discussions, interviews with the children, etc.  Anyway, I don't have a subject area yet so was put with Music, Art and DT because that governor hadn't come and had a great time working out schedules for visits through the coming year.

I learnt that handbells will still be on Wednesday at lunchtime and am hoping to be able to get to that still.

After that it was a pleasure to go swimming with Beth although I was pretty tired after such a very early awakening.  We took it easy, no bursts of what passes for 'faster' in my unfit world, and managed to get 26 lengths done before we got out.

It was no surprise that, when I got home and sat down to get on with some knitting, I fell asleep pretty quickly and slept for a good hour!

So that was yesterday!  I will tell you about today in the next entry but will just say I am very much looking forward to it all.

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast, apple
Lunch:  don't know yet
Dinner:  Ham, chips and runner beans.  Nice and easy!

Friday 4 September 2015


As Burns told us, 'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley' and that was certainly true of yesterday.  When I typed yesterday's entry it was fairly early and my guests were still in bed.  When Mum came down, it was to say that Dad had done something to his ankle and was unable to put any weight on it at all.  That being so, they would be going home after breakfast and hoping to get a GP appointment.

We managed, one way and another and thanked the stars that their car is an automatic and the painful ankle was on the left!  

So that left me with a day.  Now I have started knitting warm, woolly hats for the refugees and Beth will take them to a pick up point not far from here.  It's not a lot but it is something and it's better than nothing.

So no soup and bread at Hyde Hall but, even nicer, corn on the cob from Dad's garden and it was totally delicious.  I'd got the lasagne out to thaw but was able to put it back in the freezer for another time.  Instead I had the leftovers from Wednesday's dinner that I had been intending to freeze.  All it needed was a few more runner beans.

Today I will be going into school, wearing my governor's hat, for a school conference.  We've had them before but I will be looking at it from a different perspective - or at any rate I will try to.  Guess what - I was awake just after four!  Doesn't take long to get back into less than desirable habits, does it?  Not long at all.

When that is over I'm hoping that Beth and I can go swimming.  I have missed it this week.

And then it is the weekend.

Breakfast:  toast and jam, apple
Lunch:  Baguette with cheese and tomatoes
Dinner:  Ham with spicy tomato sauce, runner beans, new pots.

Thursday 3 September 2015


. . . and a jolly chilly early morning it is too.  I had to pop out to the freezer to get something to defrost for dinner tonight and I was jolly glad of my slippers and dressing gown.  It's fine though - no rain, although it wasn't possible to see how much cloud there is (still dark).

Yesterday my guests and I did something I've  wanted to do for ages and that is to visit the Beth Chatto Gardens.  It's a very easy drive from here - just three roads once one is onto the A12 - and takes less than an hour from door to door.
The gravel garden, borrowed from Google.
It's a lovely place.  Not huge but packed with plants and such a wonderful layout that it feels a lot bigger than it really is.  We didn't see everything by any means and will have to go back there again - and again!  I took some photos but my old PC is being awkward about uploading them at the moment and my cloud thingy isn't set up for my new laptop yet, so I will have to work round it.

The weather was wonderful during the drive and we decided to have lunch before walking.  Of course, as soon as we had finished lunch the rain started and it was a short but very sharp shower.  Fortunately there are some under cover plants as part of the shop so we looked around there while the rain hammered on the plastic roof and I started thinking about the planting at the front of my garden which is somewhat less than inspiring except for the weeds which are really most remarkable right now!

I have a heuchera at the back which is being crowded out and the crowding plant needs splitting, so both could go to the front.  I have a hosta in a pot (rescued from Morrisons) which could also go in as hostas like shady conditions and I think I want to get another Japanese anemone.  That, with what is already there, should make a good show at the front which is in shade for most of the day.  Before I do any of that, however, it needs a good weed and a good feed.

Dinner last night was delicious.  I had a little ham from Aldi which I had boiled up.  I cooked new potatoes and cauliflower in my steamer and in the top layer I put the sliced ham, wrapped in parchment paper which heated it up beautifully.  I cooked runner beans (so delicious) and made a spicy barbecue-y, tomato based sauce to have as a gravy and it was so nice I have blogged about it in my recipe blog.

Today two of us are off into town to 'do' Lakeland and a few other shops.  Then - well, we will see how we feel.  It will be sweet though because if this was any other year I would be spending this,  the first day of the new school year, in a long staff meeting/INSET and then in my bay getting my classroom completely ready.  But I'm not!  Instead I will be sauntering around town putting my mind to more weighty considerations such as 'Should I buy a jelly bag?' or 'How many boxes of poly bags shall I get?'

Well, light is now dawning, I need a coffee and then I must get myself ready before the breakfast rush!  I hope your day goes well, wherever you are.

Breakfast:  Melon, toast and jam
Lunch:  Soup and bread
Dinner:  Lasagne, side salad, garlic bread, cheese and biscuits.