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.

Sunday 30 November 2008

A Job Completed.

At last the tidying up of the side of the drive is done. This is the before picture. I didn't mind the grass in the middle of the drive but it made the 'washing away' problem worse.
Work in progress - Linas dismantled the old fallen down block wall and stacked the blocks for me and Romas did some of the heavy weed clearing.

Job done- the ornamental grass that I planted has a fair chance of surviving. The London Pride at the bottom end only has a slim chance but as it was a clump that was being cleared away anyway I thought I'd give it a go. I've a nice rockery sedum with dark red flowers that I shall use to cover up the rest of the bare soil but not until spring. It's not that I don't like bare soil, just the weeds that are bound to grow there.
It's been a house of ailing people this weekend. Romas is suffering badly from a 'boil on the bum' and a nasty cold, Pete woke up with back ache after moving his servers yesterday and yesterday evening I was hit with severe gastric pain. Apart from being extremely painful I was annoyed because I know that I have to be careful eating fatty foods especially when I've not eaten any for months and I over indulged yesterday. Well it's a good warning just before the festive season and going out for meals with work colleagues etc. It would be so embarrassing to be struck down in company. As long as I watch what I eat I'll be ok. It's all due to the medication I take.
This morning I had to go into town to get painkillers and drawing paste from the chemist. I am not a fan of Sunday shopping but the High Street was full of families doing their Christmas shopping. I heard one little lad say plaintively " Are we going to be much longer?". I'm sure he would have been much happier kicking a football about in the park or going for a walk on the beach.
Linas has been home for the weekend , he has been going to the gym every day and he tells me that they don't go out that much because they have too much work to do for their assignments - good!

Friday 28 November 2008

Another Week Over.

At last, a clear view of distant Dartmoor at sunrise this morning on my way into school. I had a very useful morning with the reception class teacher going through all the assessments we have to do in the foundation year and the all the forms we have to fill in. In the foundation year at school there are 6 areas of the curriculum, each of those is broken down into 5/6 sections and each of those sections has a whole list of sub-sections which we have to assess, with evidence - 80% from independent activities ( not tasks or questions initiated by the teacher), and this has to be done constantly for each of the 30 children in the class. It is good to have objectives and know where your children are but the government is obsessed with records. There are so many documents published that we are supposed to read and every year there are several radical changes. The foundation stage guide lines actually goes right down to birth with the government stating achievement targets from 3 months. This is to ensure that parents will be confident leaving small children in childcare while both parents go back to work - a government aim. And then the politicians complain that children do not have good parenting role models. I didn't work at all until Romas was 6 as we chose to be poorer but for me always to be there for the children. But that's not economically good for the country !!
I spent the afternoon teaching the reception class, already the school is fully in the Christmas mode. In every corner there are costumes, (for the Christmas play and the Nativity service at the Church), toys & stuff for the Christmas Fayre, ( next week) and shiny paper, glitter & sparkly pipe cleaners for Christmas art work.
After work I popped into town to return some library books and do a little Christmas shopping but I only bought 2 very small items. There weren't that many people as late night shopping hasn't yet started. I don't think people are spending that much as there is the feeling that we all need to be careful with our spending. Woolworths has folded though the shops will stay open till after Christmas. In general there did not seem to be a lot in the way of Christmas displays ( I suppose it is still November), and the street decorations could either be described as minimal and tasteful or basic and penny pinching. I can't quite make up my mind.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Being Thankful.

This morning I took Romas to The Ariel music centre where his band were due to do some recording. He tells me they laid down the drum tracks for all their songs so that next session they won't have to set up the drum kit and he can work on the mixing. This is all part of the music course that he is doing at college
http://www.ariel.org.uk/ ( Sorry, can't remember how to do the bit about renaming links.)

Standing beneath the radio aerial that was used for ship to shore communication, is an impressive set of junk drums.

It was a typical wet Devon day.

You can see how low the clouds are looming over Little Hangman and Great Hangman, the cliffs at Combe Martin.

This afternoon I got a reasonable shot of the woodpecker that often visits our bird feeder. It's been a wet day at home and eventually I gave up waiting for the rain to stop. I togged up in a big old gardening coat and went out to finish planting ornamental grass above and in front of the block wall along the drive. It's not really the right time to plant things but if it doesn't take all I will have lost is an afternoon's work while if it does take then it's one more job done and by mid spring the 12" grass should be hiding all the blocks. It wasn't rain that stopped me but the dark so I well may have ended up planting some of the grass upside down! It's a grass that grows well in the garden so I've plenty more if I need to replant in the spring.

As it is Thanksgiving (US) today I thought I would follow Julie's thread and make a list of things that I am thankful for :
!. That God is in my life and that my family know God.
2. That I am loved by a good man.
3. That our sons are all growing up into contented, sensible young men and look as if they will be able to follow their chosen careers.
4. That apart from minor wear and tear ailments , we are all healthy.
5. That I live in a country where I do not have to fear becoming ill.
6. That I do not have to fear attack on my family by armed militia.
7. That we live in a comfortable home with beautiful views from every window.
8. That we have secure jobs which will not be affected by the recession.
9. That the people I work with are caring and supportive of each other.
10. That we live in the countryside in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
11. That we have good friends.
12. That my food worries are about how to eat less not how to feed my family.
13. That the sea is only 20 minutes away by car.
Gosh, that makes me feel so much better, it's good to be positive.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Autumn Mists.

The pressure system has changed and today we had warm damp weather. Grey skies all day so I was quite pleased to be at work, (earning money), instead of sitting at home and trying to garden in between rain showers. This is a view looking across Youlston Park at the Shirwell trees at 8.00 this morning.

And yes I'm still sitting in the car.

4.00 this afternoon and all was still grey. The 2 fields along the drive which have been growing grass silage all summer now have stock in them. Heifers in this one .........

......... and sheep in the lower field.

This is the same view yesterday lunchtime. Clear blue skies with occasional fluffy clouds.
The drive drops steeply down into our valley which we share with an equestrian centre.

With this afternoon's class of 5 year olds I did a session on being a good friend. The children drew a picture of a friend and we talked about what makes a good friend. After that we hit Christmas mode making decorations for their class advent calendar. In the morning I had the other Year 1 class and we actually managed to play LaDiDA, sort of.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Views From The New Bridge.

This evening after school I thought I would try out the logistics of taking photos from the New Bridge. I had to park quite far away on a local industrial estate and walk about half a mile to get up onto the bridge. The sunset wasn't that brilliant but since I was there, and rather cold, I thought I would take some shots of the view down the estuary towards the sea.
As the sky darkened the colours started to be reflected in the river.

I wanted to take some shots of Barnstaple in the evening light but the traffic lights at both ends of the bridge were timed so that the road was never clear in both directions and the traffic was pretty heavy. And I didn't feel like walking all the way out to the traffic lights and back up again.
Later on I had to drive Romas and drum equipment to The Ariel, a recording studio in an old coastguard station high above Ilfracombe. It took Romas nearly an hour to set up his kit for a recording session he and his band are doing there on Thursday. I'm going to drive him down there mid-day Thursday so I will have the opportunity for some new views, that is if it isn't raining.

This next part will probably only make sense to anyone who is Lithuanian but I will try and explain why I've included this rather bizarre clip. First you need to know that Lithuanians sing ... a lot. It's in our blood. Next - the song in the clip is a simple folk song that everybody knows, it's sung at school, round camp fires and by drunks (we do like a drink too), who are too drunk to remember the words to anything else. Even I know it and I hardly speak the language. It's about young men wooing girls with bunches of rue (Ruta) and the girls' mothers warning them not to talk to the boys. So as you listen to the clip imagine someone singing 'Twinkle,twinkle Little Star ' in this way. That's why it's just so funny/weird. I love the bit where he is handed a bunch of flowers, typical in Lithuanian concerts, which he then plays air guitar on.

Monday 24 November 2008

Chasing Sunsets.

As I left work this evening I could see the most beautiful sunset. The sky was full of soft pinks and golds. Unfortunately Barnstaple is mainly on flat ground by the river and you can't get a good view. By the time I had got to a higher vantage point the character of the sky had changed. Next time I may try and find somewhere to park so that I can walk up onto the New bridge and possibly get some shots over the estuary.

At one point the sky reflecting the sunset was pink with light blue clouds.
Not the best elevation but the last sight of the soft sunset colours .....

....... which then became much more dramatic.
You can imagine a whole fiery landscape in those clouds.

The Sky men came this morning and put in a new box, we've now got all our usual channels back but they couldn't get the upstairs tv to respond to the controller. It did once upon a time but now you have to trot all the way downstairs if you want to change the channel. I taught in the afternoon, tag rugby which was quite cold as the icy wind was blowing from the east, down from Siberia?

Sunday 23 November 2008

Memories of Dr Who.

For some reason this morning I woke up at 4.00. After an hour I gave in and turned on the radio, (I'm trying to break myself of the habit of only falling asleep if the radio is on). First was the shipping forecast with gale force 8 & 9 and storm force 10 being predicted for all the areas from the Thames, around Southern England and back up to the Hebrides. This was confirmed by the wind I could hear rushing through the trees in our valley. The general forecast was for snow in Scotland and eastern England with warmer temperatures for the South West. Then a spot called 'On This Day' where they mentioned that Dr Who was first shown on tv 45 years ago.
This brought back a whole string of memories. My mother didn't have a tv , and didn't get one until 1976, but I happened to be staying the night at some friends of hers in Queensway, (my mother was probably at work), and I watched the pilot episode with their children. I don't remember very much except that it was very exciting and I can vividly remember thinking how strange it would be if I stood on one of the knots in the stripped pine floor and things started to change. I wonder if that was the start of my fascination with alternative realities. Later I can remember being scared of the cybermen mainly when it was revealed that they were originally humans who had gone overboard with replacement surgery. Anyway back to that weekend 45 years ago. The next morning I was supposed to go to the cinema with the rest of the children but for some reason I decided to take myself home early. I was 6 years old and travelled 7 stops on the underground from Bayswater to Parson's Green and walked home. My mother was always a worrier and this must have completely freaked her out and was probably the reason why she sent me to boarding school. It was a little convent boarding school, minimal teaching standards but the fees were £23 a term. We went home every 3rd weekend but on the Saturdays we were there we watched Dr Who. It was on at the same time as those who wanted to could go to Confession at the Church across the road so I didn't go to Confession that often. When I was at secondary school there was no tv unless I went next door where we watched 'The Monkees', (Mickey Dolenz was my favourite), but I read all the science fiction/fantasy I could get my hands on and we still have 100s of SF books. My mother didn't approve of reading fiction but there was only so much studying and piano practice I was prepared to do. And then I discovered boys and started going out with Peter when I was 15. Looking back at Dr Who the programmes were very basic but it was the concepts that were so exciting. Needless to say when I did have access to a tv we watched all the SF dramas, remember Blake's 7? Incidently I saw Clockwork Orange (with a different boyfriend) when it was first released. It was withdrawn because of death-threats made to the director and not released again in the UK until 2000, it didn't seem that extreme at the time.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Christmas Traditions.

4 1/2 weeks until Christmas !
I start planning in January, don't do anything until November and panic in December. So far this year I've sent off parcels, bought or thought about most people's presents and today I made 2 big stockings for the girls in our family.
All this got me thinking about our family Christmas traditions. I'm one of those people who really loves things to always stay the same, I know - I'm hoping to move to the other side of the world but then I can begin some new traditions. Because that's where most of our family traditions have come from - me! As a child my family consisted of my mother and myself, we were very poor and from a different culture. I don't think we did celebrate much. In fact I only have 2 childhood memories of Christmas Day, one where we stayed with a family in Stamford and the other when we went to dinner with some arts patrons. I remember that time because I was given the printed stocking above, which although only 10" high , was filled with many small wooden toys each wrapped in tissue paper. It was a very clever way of keeping a small child occupied during a long dinner. It was such a lovely idea that when we had our boys I made them all stockings which would be filled with small items individually wrapped, these were opened as soon they awoke and kept them happy first thing in the morning. And I still do this. We do keep the Lithuanian tradition of having a special meal on Christmas Eve. This meal should have 12 dishes and should not include any meat. I do a buffet style meal with different kinds of herrings, smoked fish and salads. The meal starts by breaking bread and saying Grace. One of our family traditions is to go for a walk in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, that was to expend some of the boys' energy and also to give a quiet interlude before all the cooking and general kitchen work. Since moving here we have always gone to Midnight Mass at one of the local village churches. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, He is the whole point of it all. There are so many people in this country who have no faith and I wonder what they are celebrating. I get really cross and think why don't they celebrate Yule or Midwinter and not be such hypocrites, wanting a party and presents and not acknowledging Christ except as part of a cute Nativity scene. But then I think that at least there is just the tiniest awareness of Christ which may one day lead to wanting to know more.
So we go as a family to Midnight Mass, I have to admit that this also had the advantage of ensuring that the boys fell asleep straight away when we got home so that I didn't have to wait long before creeping round and filling the stockings. There is always an overflow pile of small presents which is why I made the girls' stockings bigger. Breakfast is coffee and croissants then when everyone has emerged we gather around the tree, (always real) and the youngest person - Romas, hands out the presents. When the boys were little the tree wasn't put up until they had gone to sleep on Christmas Eve but now we usually decorate it a few days before. Our parents and other relatives used to give money for the boys and I would combine it and buy each boy one big present from Santa. That way they had some lovely presents that lasted for years. Now it's just a massive present pile. Despite having the Christmas Eve meal we then have a full on dinner. I'm not fond of turkey (taste, defrosting, cooking and dealing with afterwards), and usually try to persuade the family to have something else but they do like turkey with all the trimmings. After that it's general collapse with maybe a walk up the hill . I'm worn out just thinking about it but as this may be our last family Christmas at Dingles I shall make every effort to make it special.

This osteospermum in the garden was still flowering today despite the wind and shortening days.

Friday 21 November 2008

Buzzard Saga.

Buzzards are fairly common around here so when I first started this blog I thought it would be easy to get a good buzzard picture. I drive up and down this hill every day on my way to work and often there are 1 or 2 buzzards sitting on top of the telegraph poles that follow the road.
Normally they stay put even when you drive past but if you try and stop, even to take a photo through the windscreen........ they're off! I spent weeks scanning for those pesky birds, I tried coasting down the hill, camera at the ready, sunroof open in case I could get a better shot that way, even parking around the corner and crouching behind the hedge trying to creep up on the birds ....... but they always spotted me before I could get the camera aimed and focused. Irritatingly there was often a buzzard in the fields along the drive, sometimes just sitting on the fence or even just a few feet away.

I took to driving along our drive with the window open, the camera balanced on the steering wheel which I held with one hand while I kept waking up the camera by pushing the zoom button with the other hand. Eventually I got this long distance slightly blurry photo of a buzzard perched magnificently on ........ a pile of horse dung.

Another long distance photo showing just how big a buzzard is. They are about the same size as a golden eagle, (a falconer brought one to a WI evening).
When Johnny Kingdom came to our WI I asked his advice about how to get a good buzzard photo and he told he had found them very difficult to photo so I don't feel so bad that I still haven't managed to get a good photo.
I managed to do some more work in the garden this morning before going in to teach the reception class in the afternoon. I drove over to Sainsbury's after work, I rarely go there because it way out on the other side of town and generally more expensive than the supermarkets I go to. It is much bigger than the other supermarkets and I wasted a lot of time because it was full of families doing their week-end shop and also I didn't know where things were. They do have a very good clothes section and I treated myself to a zip up fleece hoody in a dull plum colour which I couldn't resist because it has a fluffy furry lining. I'm such a sucker for anything fluffy or sparkly though 50% of my wardrobe is black. No I'm not a goth, it's just I feel slimmer in black, but I do have lots of bright crocs to liven up my outfits.

Thursday 20 November 2008

PE Pandemonium.

The sky was very grey as I drove into school and and although the rain held off and it was quite warm the sun never really came out. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for northerly winds and much lower temperatures. Snow is forecast for Scotland but we should be ok here. We always have to be careful because wet weather and low temperatures mean that we can be trapped in our valley by black ice while 6 miles away in Barnstaple there is hardly a frost. It would be a little difficult to explain why I couldn't get to work. If we think this is going to happen we leave the cars in a gateway nearer to the top of the hill. As I drove home I thought I would wait and see if the grey clouds developed into an interesting sunset but this little patch of sun was the best that I could see, until I turned around and saw lovely pink and blue clouds behind me. By the time I got to a gateway that gave me a decent sky view the colour was fading. It is very hard to pick up subtle sky colours. I spent a long time varying the shutter speed and aperture at home trying to catch the deep pinky-orange clouds but I wasn't happy with any of my photos. I'll just have to keep on experimenting.
I had such a funny pe lesson with my class this afternoon. Well it would have been funny to anyone watching. The class teacher had asked me to teach the children some of the games we learnt in our pe session on Monday. All went reasonably well until I decided to show them how to play LaDiDa.The aim is to sit in a circle with everybody holding a beanbag or small object in the right hand. Then chanting LaDiDa several times you hold the beanbag infront of the person on your left, then on the right and several times back and forth until dropping the beanbag in front of the person on your right on the final Da. You all then pick up the beanbag that your neighbour has placed in front of you and start again. I knew it wasn't going to be that easy to teach this game but we came to grief first when I asked them to sit down in groups of 6. I always like to get children as independent as possible and not have them waiting for me to allocate each child to a team. Next hurdle- I asked for 1 person from each team to stand up, this really showed who could work as a team. Even when all the other teams had got their beanbags one team had 3 children standing up, each of whom was determined they were going to be the one standing up . They kept looking to me to sort them out but I left them to solve the problem while I started the other groups, eventually they did though then they couldn't sit in a circle. I stood there and asked them to make a circle around my feet- so they sat in a line! I won't even try to describe the mayhem when we tried to play the game. Eventually after getting them all to sit in a big circle and doing it in slow motion most of the children got the idea but when they went back into their groups a number of them didn't want to let anyone else have 'their' bean bag and kept trying to take them back. At that point we ran out of time. I 'm sure they'll be able to play it , one day!

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Bits and Bobs.

I had the morning at home today and I was looking forward to spending a couple of hours working outside. It was dry and fairly warm and there was lots of blue sky to lift the spirits. But then I remembered I had to phone up and book an appointment to have someone come and repair the Sky box as we have lost some of the channels. We are insured and Peter had already spoken to them but he left it to me to book a time as my working hours are so variable. The first number I rang weren't too sure and I had to wait for them to phone me back. Then they said that they didn't work directly with the insurers so I had to ring the insures. I then had 2 operators to talk to and each time I had to repeat all the details. Then I had to be given instructions on how to re-install all the settings. Not so easy as our phone is by the kitchen and the tv is in another room. Eventually I was given a time for someone to come and repair the system. Luckily I never had to deal with one of those awful computerised systems unlike The Farmer's Wife. If you want to bypass these systems go to http://www.gethuman.com/ which tells you the phone numbers or codes to speak to a real person in the major companies. Or you can press * or # several times and this will take you direct to a person. So in the end I had less than an hour outside shifting heavy concrete blocks, (not the light breeze blocks they use for house building) , but as my mother used to say, "Drop by drop makes a hole in the stone." The job will get done eventually. This is the reception classroom where I will be working full-time after Christmas. It's a bit messy because it's the middle of the day and also we've had to block the opening leading to the end classroom because the playgroup use that room at the moment. Normally both classes share the middle space where there is more role play , sand and water etc.

The sky started to turn golden as I set off for home.

A more dramatic view of the sunset.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Squeaky - Kitten Photos.

There was a tiny bit of blue in the sky as I went into work this morning, (this photo is a little dark). Luckily the clouds cleared away and the children didn't have to spend any of their playtimes in the classroom. I taught year 1 in the morning but for the afternoon I was in the reception class alongside the teacher to welcome and support the 3 children that will be joining us next January. They all settled in well as they already have friends in the class from playgroup. 15 of the rest of the new children had their afternoon visit with their new teacher in what will be their classroom though at the moment one of the local playgroups is using it in the mornings while the church hall has its roof repaired. In previous years all 30 of the new children have had their first visits together but when some of them may never have left mum before or even had experience of sharing with other children it can be pandemonium. While the children were having their visit their mums/carers were in the hall having a cup of tea and a general chat about how things are run in the reception classes.
Romas didn't go in to college as he only had one study session and was feeling achey and grot from a cold. Peter also didn't go to work because this week and 3 days next week, he is doing a windows server course on administration, systems and support. It seems very arbitrary as to who gets sent on courses and very often the managers, their proteges and even family members who just happen to work in the department get to go on the courses. As it is the NHS will send you on a course but will not pay for the exam at the end of the course and you just get a certificate of attendance. He is really enjoying the course and also appreciating the lunches which are provided at a local hostelry which does a good carvery.

As I didn't have much in the way of photos I thought I'd travel down Memory Lane and post a couple of photos taken 8 years ago when Squeaky was just a little kitten.
Completely worn out, asleep on her own special cushion.

Exploring the garden.
She squeaked then and she still squeaks now.

Monday 17 November 2008

Keeping Fit.

Today after school we had to attend a PE training session at Yeo Valley School. Despite the fact that none of us were looking forward to going it was actually very good as it was about fun games for in the classroom or at lunchtimes, that got the children active. As adults we had a good laugh and it was easy to see how these games could be adapted for different ages and abilities so that the children could get more enjoyment from their playtimes while using up lots of energy safely. Too often, as is the case with the daily PE plan we are supposed to follow, the activities are either boring or not very practical in a small hall with a limited amount of equipment. The government are really pushing the amount of activity the children do which is a good thing when you see how many overweight youngsters there are. I know I'm overweight but it's a bit more understandable at my age and I am truly shocked by the numbers of very fat teenagers I see in town. No wonder the health professionals are worried. I thought this clip was a nice link between today's PE and yesterday's sheep post. I discovered the Shaun the sheep animations one morning when the tv had been left on a different channel and I think they are absolutely brilliant.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Autumn Tidying.

The weather today was much the same as yesterday so I managed another couple of hours working in the garden. The tallest of the sedums get very heavy when they're wet and flop over onto the other plants so I'll have to cut them back if I don't want a slimy mess to clear up in the spring. I cut some to dry(I will eventually get round to painting the wall above the tiles which I put up 12 years ago!) , for a big art project that is going on at school using only natural materials. Although I will be doing a lot of art with the children this term it will all have been planned by the class teachers but once I have have my full time class I can let my imagination run free. Last year I managed to sneak in a lot more art than the curriculum guidelines for year2, (from the government) tells you to do, by planning everything with cross-curricular links. I'm already looking forward to our arts weeks. Originally it was just 1 week but last year it went to 2 weeks and our head told us to put everything aside and spend the whole time on the arts, on any themes we liked, fantastic.
This afternoon while we ate a Peter's special curry, with side dishes, we watched Star Wars IV on the tv. We still recall how impressed we were seeing it on an enormous screen in Leicester Square when it first opened back in 1977. Apart from the heavy make up it hasn't dated at all. The boys grew up with the videos and watched them so many times they wore out the tapes.
As we were watching on tv, (we do also have the dvds), we had to put up with the adverts and I thought this one for Trainline was quite amusing and might be familiar to anyone in NZ.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Happy News.

Congratulations to Vytas and Kate!
Vytas phoned earlier this evening to tell us that after 4 years of going out together he and Kate have decided to get engaged. They don't have any plans to get married for a few years but isn't that lovely news. They met when they were in their first year at Leicester University and living in the same halls and seem to be a very well suited couple. Peter and I are very pleased that they have decided to make this commitment to each other and they already know that we wish them every happiness. They'll be coming down for at least a week at Christmas so maybe Vytas will sort through the rest of his stuff that is overflowing Peter's study. (Hint, hint.)

Today we had ground level clouds which didn't lift until the middle of the day when I was able to get out and do some work on tidying up the edge of the drive. Well, I couldn't have gone out earlier because I had a really long sleep to make up for only sleeping 3 hours on Thursday night due to various aches and pains. It's mostly a matter of managing pain killers though I'll be happy when I finally get an appointment at the Bristol Dental Hospital because my lying, money grabbing NHS dentist refuses to do root canal filings.

There are a surprising number of roses still flowering in the garden. Usually I prune back the roses growing on the front of the house in the autumn half term but I don't want to start that job while there are so many flowers left.

A few more of the roses around the garden.

Friday 14 November 2008

Trefor's Party.

The party at the Wrey Inn tonight was to celebrate Claire's husband Trefor's 30th birthday. Claire with bump, aka Bob the Builder, is the reception teacher whose class I'll be teaching full-time in January. Unfortunately due to illness and previous commitments there were only myself, Peter and one other teacher from our school and most people there were teachers from Trefor's school.I'm glad we went but we didn't talk to that many people. It must be my age but I do find it annoying when the music is at such a level that it is very difficult to hold a conversation. It is hard to go and chat to new people when it's like that. Some of the best parties I've been to in the last year (and I go to very few parties), have been 'girl' parties at a colleague,s house where there has been lots of drink/ music/ ribaldry but also the chance to talk and have a good laugh. Nic's husband used to be in the forces but is now on an 18 month contract as an engineer for the British Antarctic research base. He had to have all sorts of training including being able to do minor operations if the base doctor became incapacitated. An amazing opportunity though the pay is not a great deal and it is hard for his family left in the UK.

This is my 'Galadriel' costume. The cloak is properly made and has a siver version of the leaf brooch seen in the films.

The dress was more of a chop, pin and hope it fits job made from a negligee set I got in a local charity shop.

The crown and the brooch were an exercise to see how close I could get to the original film props using foil backed card instead of wire and sheet metal. It was hard to stick the pieces together and I ended up using a combination of prit stick, sellotape and super glue which was very good at sticking my fingers together but not so good on the shiny card.

I also adapted some goblin ears by cutting them down, bending and sticking them with resin and finishing off the tips with some tile adhesive and a bit of paint. I enjoyed having a try at producing an elven style costume the one major problem being that I'm definitely not a slyph like elf shape though of course until I look in the mirror or at the photos my imagination shaves a good few pounds off the reality.