Welcome to family, friends and visitors. Here you will find interesting (hopefully) pictures of my part of the world, news of our household and probably, long ramblings about anything that catches my interest.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Cowardly Calves.

The sun came out this afternoon for my drive home which made a pleasant change after all the greyness of the last few days. School seemed quite relaxed today. A lot of the children are falling ill with coughs, colds and sickness, the usual thing for this time of the year. You have to be real psychologist to work out if a child is unhappy because they are feeling ill or if they are simply missing home. I always err on the side of caution but some children would end up going home every day if I rang home each time they said they felt ill.
I stopped on the way home to take a few photos of the countryside bathed in the evening sunshine. This field of Mr Lewis' heifers were very interested in what I was up to, until I walked right up to the gate, whereupon they all ran away.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Linas Is Almost Back On The Road.

Linas came round to school this evening so we could go and collect his scooter which had been in for its MOT. Linas didn't even get to the traffic lights before the scooter started loosing power. A quick phone call to Ireland's and they came and picked it up.We'll have to wait and see what the problem is. The sooner Linas retakes his CBT and gets the bike on the road , the better. When we drove past the ponies' field we spotted Persy happily grazing on the wrong side of the electric fence. She and Coral walked through there into our garden last year and Paul had put the power back on that little stretch of fence which is right in the corner of the field. Most of the time the ponies respect the fence even though it isn't turned on but Persy obviously decided to try the grass on our side. If she starts walking around the garden I'll ask Sarah to to turn on the fence again.

I like this rubus for 3 reasons, 1- it has amazing magenta pom-pom flowers, 2- this 6ft high shrub is growing in a bucket sized hole dug out of solid clay and 3- it has good autumn colour before eventually dropping its leaves. Oh , and the slugs don't eat it so that's 4 reasons.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Where Have The Blue Skies Gone ?

It looks like we may be at the end of this current dry spell. There was some rain this afternoon and it has been grey skies all day long. It was another lateish evening at school as we had a staff meeting and then I still like to get my room ready for the next day. That way even if there is some major catastrophe at home, car not starting, oversleeping or just feeling grotty, I can walk in at the last minute and still be ready to hit the road running. Mondays are not too bad as we have an hour PPA time in the morning when we can get together with out TAs and go through the week's plans. In the afternoon we have a coach come in and take tag rugby sessions, we still join in with the teaching by taking one group but it is good to have some professional input. At the end of the session most of the children were puffing and panting and when they looked to me for sympathy my only comment was 'Good, you must have been trying really hard, well done.' The government is constantly pushing us to keep the children active as so many children these days are unfit due to lack of exercise and this is going to lead to major problems for them and the economy in the future. My boys have been fortunate in having the garden and surrounding fields to run wild in and although they have spent many hours on their PCs they have also the opportunity to be active and the chance to surf when the waves are right and we can get down to the beach.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A Brief Post.

Today has been calm and peaceful in the sunshine at home. With only Linas at home it seems very quiet. I've got on with tidying the place and sorting all my school plans for the week. The tiredness is beginning to catch up with me so it will be another early night so that I can start the week feeling refreshed.
The farmers have been out in the good weather cutting the grass for silage and making patterns across the fields.

Our newly painted chimneys all white against the blue sky are (with a little imagination) reminiscent of village houses on a Greek island.

It wasn't until I looked at the photo that I noticed the subtle pink tinge on this ornamental grass flower. Too tired to carry on .............. Good Night All.

The Last Of The Brood Leaves.

My baby has finally left ! Off to start a new life at uni. The trip was fine despite us leaving an hour later than planned. This was because Romas went into total meltdown over his PC because despite hours of downloading on our snail paced broadband he still had not got the drivers for his motherboard. Still I'm sure he will get some help from the the techies at uni and quite probably the missing disc with the drivers on will turn up when I blitz his room. We hadn't visited Keele before and I was quite impressed with the set up. It is a large self contained campus in the countryside several miles from Stoke-on-Trent. It is not brand new but the student blocks where Romas has his room have been totally refurbished this summer.

His room is the one at the end with the open window. The room is small but once we turned the bed against the wall to make it into a divan and put a throw over the duvet it looked more like a bed-sit rather than a bedroom. The en suite bathroom is all high tech with automatic lights and as Romas found out when he stuck his head inside to investigate the control panel, an automatic shower. About 8 rooms share a communal kitchen which also is nice and new. We saw and spoke to a few of the other students and their parents who were helping them carry their belongings in. I expect all the students were just waiting for us oldies to go and let them get on with having fun. Romas should be fine, there are 3 pretty young girls in the rooms next to him and he is good at making friends. He's already been in touch with several students on his course and he's got 2 weeks of Freshers' Events to get to know people. Well good luck to him, these 3 years should be a wonderful experience for him and hopefully will also improve his job prospects as well.

Romas' window is just behind me here. The block on the right is their communal building (and bar I presume - I was amazed by the number of bars all over the place when we visited Leicester Uni with Vytas).

The whole place was heaving with parents trying to find parking spaces to unload their children's worldly goods. The campus is big and spread out with plenty of trees and green areas. There is even a local bus service running through it to the city.

Once I'd settled Romas in, ie helped carry his stuff and even made his bed, aah, I left him to begin his new life and headed back down the M6/5 to drop in at our friends' in Tewkesbury for a coffee and a chat. The weather was sunny all day and as I drove past Birmmingham I could see the shoulder of the Malverns rising up in the distance. Most of the countryside along my journey was fairly flat with occasional ridges of hills breaking the skyline. It got hillier as I headed into Devon and from Bristol as I came down from the high ground I was treated to the most serene pink and orange skies as the sun slowly set on my right hand side dropping down below the hills. It was a long day but I find long journeys much easier when I'm the driver and of course Peter's car is comfortable and fast.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sunrise, Sunset.

A very quick blog this evening as we hope to set out on our trip at 6.00 tomorrow, just 6 1/2 hours away and I do need to get some sleep. Finally Romas has got most of his stuff packed in Peter's car. Only the PC to go as it is currently being rebuilt (software). Don't ask why this sort of thing always has to be done at the last minute. Peter also has a long journey tomorrow as he drives down to Camborne (in my micra) for a CCNA (OU computing study) day. I don't think we'll be doing much on Sunday ! It was another autumnal morning today with banks of mist forming in the valleys.

School was hectic as usual and with staff either being ill or seconded for other duties I've been having to reorganise my timetable each day as a lot of the time I've not had a teaching assistant with me and my class of 31 children though today I did have 5 children away.

There was a lovely sunset tonight and as I drove home golden light was shining in through the back window. From time to time I would catch glimpses of the setting sun shinning like a spotlight in my rear view mirror.

I hurried to my usual 'sunset' spot but the sun was dropping down behind a cloud bank. I still managed to get a few pictures.

The sunset was reflecting off the overhead clouds giving them a rosy glow. The forecast for tomorrow is good thankfully as I expect to be driving for about 9 hours. I'll be stopping at our friends' on the way back to give myself a bit of a break.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A Starry Night.

After a staff meeting talking about the latest method of ongoing assessment (APP ) it was lovely to be driving home in the evening sunshine. I really love it in the early mornings and evenings when the angle of the light casts lengthy shadows that highlight the undulations of the landscape. This morning's drive was also a treat to the eyes as thick pillows of mist covered my view of mid-Devon with dark ridges topped by the silhouettes of trees and Dartmoor in the distance rising out of the snow white mists. ( No good places to stop and take photos unfortunately).
Looking at this view it is hard to imagine that there is a deep valley in the centre with our house and the neighbouring stables nestled in it.

The bracken out on the moors at Trentishoe is turning a lovely autumnal brown. We don't go that way for walks very often as Morte Point is just so spectacular.

Although the sun was shining, standing where I was in the shade, it was rather cold. I've just popped out to get something from the car and was able to look up into the clear sky at bright stars and the Milky Way. Another chilly night on the way!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Raindrops On Roses.

I am hoping that the sight of this wet but beautiful rose over the front door will calm me down . I am seething at the moment having received a truly rude email from a school Principal in NZ basically saying that the email I sent along with my CV is a load of old rubbish and they only employ teachers of the highest standard. There was no need to be so rude, a simple thanks but no thanks would have done. What really makes me laugh is that this school with 'the highest teaching standards' sent me an email with a massive typo , a whole word missed out. So much for their standards. I certainly wouldn't want to work in that school.

It's been another wet day and as I stopped to post a letter I could see small clouds forming in the valleys.
In the garden the soft rain had left little crystal drops on the flowering grasses,

and on the spiders' webs making then look like miniature chandeliers. It is only when they are wet that it becomes clear just how many of these hammock webs there are.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Rain Sets In.

I drove home through the clouds this evening. The soft rain had started to fall during the afternoon, luckily after the children had had their afternoon playtime. There is nothing worse than a classroom full of energetic children unable to run around outside. It had just started while we were outside and a few children had come up to us to let us know that they could feel the rain drops. Everything is so dramatic when you are 5 years old. I think they were rather disappointed with our calm response that a little rain wouldn't melt us. I stopped at the lay by at Burridge to take these pictures of the low clouds over Muddiford.

Once I got as high as Shirwell the clouds were at ground level. When I got home the builders hadn't been as the cement needs to dry out before it is painted but Peter has spoken to the builder about doing my garden steps and maybe even some indoor work. Romas has brought down his drum kit to the kitchen ready for the move, even taken to pieces it is going to take a lot of room in the car. I think it is going to be a really tight squeeze to get all his belongings in.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Monday Moaning.

Woke up this morning to a very dramatic sunrise but by the time I got outside it had faded into a pretty blue and pink sky. The day has been fairly sunny but rain is forecast.

We should all be bright and breezy on a Monday but as usual most of us were feeling tired after busy weekends. Last night I had wondered if I was coming down with the flu but it is only a cold. That's not surprising considering how many times the children sneeze over us.
At home the builders have been and rendered the chimneys. They are coming back tomorrow to do the painting and seeing as they still have some bags of cement and a mixer here we will ask them if they could make a couple of concrete steps in the garden.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Evening Sun.

School planning this morning, picked Linas up from the bus station in the afternoon and finally some gardening in the last of the afternoon sunshine.
Romas was making smoke signals burning up some old wood that wasn't fit for the winter fuel pile. He's also getting on with other gardening jobs. Hopefully the weather will hold for the week so that he gets a lot done before he leaves for uni on Saturday. I've started gathering up the things he will be taking to Keele but I expect it will be the usual mad panic on Friday night.

The evening sun made it easy to see the webs spun by these hopeful spiders.

As the shadows began to fall the butterflies left the flowers that were now in the shade and instead kept landing on me as I took a coffee break.

As I sat there one landed on my hand right next to the camera, no chance of photographing that one.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Job Hunting.

It was so good to wake this morning knowing that I could turn over and go back to sleep, which is precisely what I did. Even with an extra snooze I was out feeding the hens by 8.00 in the misty but warm morning. After that I went ahead with my plan to be a bit more proactive in my NZ job search and emailed 14 schools that have suitable vacancies. And that is only the schools on North Island, my first choice. There are at least the same number of vacancies on South Island.
Later I took Linas into town as we needed a few things. He decided to go on down to Plymouth so Romas and I spent the rest of the afternoon beginning the job of overhauling an ornamental grass bed that had become somewhat wild and weed ridden.
The butterflies were out in force once more in the last patch of evening sunlight.

Time at home is so limited now that I am back at work that I decided not to go into town again for a wander round the fair and the evening fireworks even though I still have a childish delight in big firework displays. Instead we have started our annual transformation into ballroom dancing experts as we watch Strictly. Costumes are definitely better this year, last year's designers created some terribly unflattering outfits.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Weekend At Last.

At last it is Friday. It was really hard to open my eyes this morning and actually get out of bed. It's been warm again today though rather overcast. The weather of the last few weeks has been so much better than during the 'summer holidays'. We had the school nurse come and talk to the class about going to the opticians and when at the end of her talk she asked if anyone had any questions about the opticians lots of hand went up. However when the children were asked to give their questions most of them said 'I'm going to the fair tomorrow'. We did get some children who informed us that Granny or Mummy wears glasses. Well it was Friday afternoon and the fair is a big event in their lives.

I had a quiet walk around the garden this evening before entering the bombsite that is the kitchen. That's what happens when 2 lads cook their own suppers and 2nd suppers. Both of them met me at school for a lift home and we called in at Sommerfields to pick up a few bargains and treats. A whole corn fed chicken and some quarters were amongst our haul and they've already been roasted and will no doubt be demolished in a day or so. Linas was working again today and got roped into helping move some cattle including a large bull (placid) and a small bull (unruly) which leapt over and broke through fences. He's certainly learning some new skills.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tour Of Britain Cycle race.

I was so relieved to get home tonight and find that the postman had delivered a new card for my camera. I have got so used to having mt camera with me at all times ready to record anything interesting. I missed a great opportunity this afternoon when we walked the whole school up into town to watch the Tour of Britain Cycle Race. It was sunny and hot as we sat on the side of the road waiting for the cyclists. Police motorbikes kept zooming past and sounding their sirens to entertain the waiting crowds. I'm not sure if the policeman who rode along standing with his arms in the air was actually setting a good example. There were also a lot of support vehicles and police cars to add to the general excitement. I have been reliably informed that one of the world's best cycle teams was there but I know nothing about these things. It was nice to be able to take the children to see a national event. It is currently fair week, (a tradition going back hundreds of years), and on Saturday the same streets will be closed off for the annual carnival.
Back home the sun was shinning on our 2 scaffolding towers. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long for the builder to re-do the chimneys and then the scaffolding can be taken down.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pen-drive Panic.

No photos from today as I'm waiting for a new card for the camera. I had another IT disaster today at work as well. We had our planning afternoon and having finally sorted out all my files and templates into some sort of efficient system the pen drive I use for all my work refused to stay plugged into the lap top. The spring inside wasn't working. I was pretty annoyed about that but luckily Linas has managed to get it into a mini hub that I have at home, (to save me scrabbling around the back of the hard drive box to plug in the camera or my pen drives), and I will at least be able to download everything onto the pc.
The weather has been beautiful and sunny though knowing our luck it won't stay that way for the weekend. Linas came into town today to sigh off from his job seekers allowance as he has got a casual labouring job working for someone who is restoring an old farm. At home the scaffolders have been, Peter only told me last night they were coming, and put up scaffolding to get to the chimneys which are going to be re-rendered before bits start falling off them. There has been a bit of trampling of my plants but there wasn't any choice. Also the other bit of scaffolding is blocking the Sky signal but luckily we are a belt and braces family and the tv in the kitchen works on a terrestial system. We have back up systems for most things here though I drew a line at getting a generator for the few times the power goes down. As it is we have 3 heating systems- oil central heating, oil rayburn and wood burner, We also have 3 cooking systems- oil rayburn, electric hob & microwave and the top of the wood burner makes a good hot plate. Water comes from a bore hole which has enough pressure to provide water even if the electric pump fails and there is still the pipe work from the original gravity fed well up the hill. This makes it sound like we are in the middle of nowhere but it is only 15 mins drive to town, we just like to be prepared. On my Bristol trip I spent a while in the Designers' Guild shop. I didn't find anything to buy but I had to laugh at this giant knitted tea-pot and cup that were on sale. I'm not sure what they were for, children's toys or display objects?
I took a picture of this tea-pot in the museum as I have a couple of old hand painted plates of the same design.

The museum has a collection of Chinese glass and ceramics and I particularly like these ceramic horses. I'm now going to down load everything from my damaged pen drive onto the pc and hopefully buy a pen drive that has a fixed silver thingy.