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.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Bearded Lady.

Driving up the hill this morning the first specks of snow began to fall. The road was clear for the journey in but there was a proper covering of snow on the playground by 9.00. Many very excited children. Later it all melted but it was sleeting on and off all day. Taking the view that if it was sleeting down at sea level it was probably snowing at home I rang Peter and asked him to collect me on his way back from work. This gave me time to turn my classroom into a Christmas grotto, sort of, as our school Christmas starts on 1 Dec. The Advent Calendar is up, slight panic when we thought that half the numbers were missing but they had stuck on the back of a sign in my folder of laminated Christmas pictures and labels. Threw some tinsel along the windows, hung up the squares the children had been measuring and hey presto, it's Christmas. Peter turned up as I was frantically hanging decorations so there's still some stuff to put up tomorrow. Same story as yesterday, not a sign of snow or ice as we drove out of town. Then snow in the fields and once we turned onto the back road more snow and ice on the road. Going up the long hill by the Lewis' farm there was a big articulated metal truck/ trailer type vehicle simply not moving. Ahead we could see a car parked on the side of the road with its hazard lights flashing. At first we thought the car had slid and got stuck but when I pulled on my boots and went out to investigate it was the truck that was stuck. Luckily there is a wide verge there and Peter squeezed the Rav past, I was still out on the road because I don't like being in the vehicle when he's doing things lie that. From there on there was a significant amount of ice on the road and by the time we got to the top of the drive we were driving through small snow drifts. 2-3ft high drifts were already forming across our drive as the wind was blowing straight across the field. We left the Rav up on the road and plodded our way down through the drifts. Down in our garden there are several inches of snow. Thank goodness we left the heating on all day. We had to laugh when we saw ourselves after the walk down. Peter looked like a creature from Tatuine,
and I was doing a good impression of a bearded lady!
As I sat down at my pc in the sitting room I could a frantic banging on one of the windows. We had thrown the cats out for a moment when we got in but I had thought they were all back in. I opened another window and called for whichever cat it was to come in. Then I looked down and saw that all the cats were behind me. I closed the window and went to investigate, a thrush was there frantically trying to get in. I went outside and caught it as it battered itself against the kitchen window. I can only think that it was totally disorientated and was looking for warmth. Bringing it indoors would probably have been too stressful so I took it up to the scree garden sheds and left it in a sheltered corner. I hope it survives.

Monday 29 November 2010

Brrr .

It's been a dry but bitterly cold day today. (-18C recorded in a shed in Wales last night.) Dawn was breaking as Peter drove me up the hill this morning. My brave little micra had been sitting up there exposed to the elements since last Thursday night yet it started first go. Took me longer to scrape the ice off the windows so that I could actually see where I was going.
School now is all about Christmas- rehearsals, costumes, glitter and glue. I did manage to combine maths with decoration making and was rather taken aback by how difficult many of my class found drawing and cutting out squares of set sizes (on squared paper). Obviously they need a lot more practice. Later we were all happily involved in an art afternoon so much so that I nearly forgot to send them out to play. Then I thought it was Tuesday and stood out in the cold on playground duty (we often choose to stay outside and chat rather than sit in the staffroom but today a coffee would have been my choice.) Driving out of town it was as if the snow and ice had never been. I was trying to decide if I should leave my car up at the top anyway in case the weather worsened during the night when I realised that either side of the road the verge was covered in ice/snow. This was at Shirwell which is my first high point on the homeward journey and is north facing. I was thinking that leaving the car up top would be a good precaution when I turned off the main road into the back roads. The road surface appeared to be a lot lighter than I remembered. Was this just my aging faulty memory, dried mud from the farm vehicles or ICE ? I decided to err on the side of caution slowing down and thinking that at least I would be ok while travelling in a straight line. I kept peering at the road and came to the conclusion that it was icing over so drove extra carefully around the corners. On the last hill crest there was also a thick central ridge of ice along the road which rang warning bells in my cautious mind. Driving all the way down the hill would have been quite safe but who knows what it would be like tomorrow morning. Walking down the last stretch in the dark I could see that the fields either side of me were still totally white. I'll catch a lift up with Peter in the morning and not spend the night worrying. The tv news is full of pictures of snow covered landscapes and warnings not to drive in the affected areas unless necessary.

Sunday 28 November 2010

A Brisk Walk.

No more snow today , at least in this corner of the UK. The weather people are saying it's the worst early cold snap for 17 years. Out in the garden the snow was sparkling in the sunshine.
The road was completely clear so I walked up to bring down the Rav. (Photos never show just how steep this section is.)

When I got up to the bad weather car park, (field gateway), it was so bright that I simply had to continue on for a brisk walk up to Indicott.
This used to be my running road before my knee made it clear that my running days are over.

I went as far a the gateway that overlooks our valley. Our house is hidden in the trees but our neighbour's barns and house are in the middle of the shot.
Back home I felt invigorated by my walk and after climbing up in the loft to get the decorations I sat down to write up my plans for next week. Then I decided to tackle a form that had been bounced back to me with insufficient information. I spent over an hour detailing every little thing I do in my class to make sure struggling pupils get sufficient support. Then saved the document following exactly the same procedures that I used successfully at school. But my pc runs windows 2003 not 2007 and it got lost forever! Took another hour to redo the form, Blah !

Saturday 27 November 2010

A Little More Snow.

It was so nice to have a lie-in this morning, all warm and cosy while yet more snow fell. On the radio there was a countrywide severe weather warning. The east and north seem to be the most badly affected. The snowfall here didn't last long and has been gradually melting during the day.After a bit of housework and popping the ingredients for a fruit loaf into the breadmaker I wrapped up well (2 layers of everything) and went out for a long walk.
The snow cover was very patchy even in our valley with not a scrap to be seen on the moorland on the top of the cliffs to the north.

Further east I could see a good covering on Exmoor.

There were 8 cars parked up in the gateway that we use as our 2nd parking space, people weren't taking chances with getting out of our valley. If things keep on improving I'll bring the micra down tomorrow afternoon. But there is more snow due in at the beginning of the week. I spent a couple of hours out and the roads are fine for now.
I haven't done much in the way of school work apart from lots of thinking. I have been a bit stressed by getting an email asking me to produce analysis of figures I've not been given and also for more details on various bits of paperwork. Ho hum is all I can say and put it to the back of my mind until Monday. This weekend I'll be thinking much nicer thoughts about Christmas such as which decorations I'll be bringing into school to decorate my classroom and where all the display materials are to change the theme from India to Christmas. We've made most of the things the children will be taking home for Christmas, just the cards to make and then we can do instructional writing on 'How to make a Christmas card'. Lots of play rehearsals, and rehearsing for the Nativity service at the church to come along with a whole school visit to the pantomime, Christmas lunch and Christmas parties.

Friday 26 November 2010

Let It Snow.

Woke this morning to ice on the road so I opted to take the 4x4 Rav for my journey in to school. All along the top of the hills the road, hedgerows and fields were a festive white. It was only as the road took a turn southwards could I see the fields in the distance showing green and of course by the time I got to town there was not a hint of ice or snow.

Up on our north facing hills we are in a little micro climate that seems to change dramatically once you get to the main road.
The garden this evening.
We had a fun filled Indian themed day in school with everyone dressed in Indian clothing ( or some approximation including belly dancer and Aladdin outfits), games, lots of food, samosas, bahjis and naans, for the children to eat and the afternoon filled with a celebration assembly with everyone showing some of the things they had been doing as part of the India topic. My class put on their dances which of course weren't half as good as when they practised in the class but still pretty good. It was during this assembly that I was given a message that someone had just come in from Shirwell with several inches of snow on their car. I wasn't too worried as I had the Rav but I headed out from school the minute the last of my class had been collected. Driving out from town each successive view of the hills showed whiter and whiter fields with low hanging mist/snow clouds. When I got up to Shirwell there were accident signs and police about as a car had crashed into a school bus (no one hurt I was told). Once I turned onto the back roads I kept my speed right down as I'm not sure what the grip of the Rav is and I don't want to find out the hard way. At the top of my drive I met my neighbours who had been for an emergency shop, we left our cars up by the top field where I left the micra last night, and walked down the hill together. I keep my spotty wellies in the back of the micra for such occasions. We've been forecast more snow for tomorrow and the beginning of next week. Only this morning on the radio they were saying it has been the hottest year ever (globally I think) and then remarking on how this is the earliest we've had a cold spell for many years.

It wasn't quite as dark as this when I took this picture of the scree garden, shows that I need to look at the instructions and/or the menu of my baby Nikon.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Snow Warning.

It has been bitterly cold all day. The morning news told of several inches of snow and ice in the north of England and warned that we could expect some snow here tomorrow.The door to my classroom/hut.

It was a pretty sunrise this morning with Dartmoor rising majestically against a backdrop of pink sky and grey clouds. By the time I got to school the clouds had become tinged with pink.

And as I walked across the playground very cold dry hail started to fall. This was soon over and the rest of the day was bright but very cold. One of my children was overheard at the end of the day saying 'We've done no work today'. Not quite accurate but as far as they're concerned it was all fun stuff, Bollywood dancing, swimming, more dancing, lunch, whole school play rehearsal, more dancing and then home.

All the bare woodwork of the new Tescos has been painted a gleaming white. I had hoped that we might be getting some interesting and innovative architecture but I guess not.
From this angle and in the sunshine the stones don't look too bad.
Left school early as I had to pick up the micra from the garage next door. Today's bill £5.88 to re-balance the wheels but it needs to go back next week for a new 'cross member' (angry parliamentarian ?) which costs £35 for the part but a full day's labour will be over £300. When I got home there was newly hoovered and tidied up kitchen (shame about all the plates left in the sitting room) and Linas asking for a lift back into town to get to the skate shop before catching the train back to Plymouth. I'd just left the micra at the top of the hill in case we get ice in the morning so we jumped into the 4x4 and took that instead. Off now to sort out my shalwar chemise for tomorrow and see what I can wear underneath it to keep warm.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Baby Pics.

I maligned the seller of my baby Nikon yesterday when I said the lead for the charger was missing as I had already taken it out of the box. I think that I've made a good choice in getting another Nikon as the leads and the software are the same which saves a lot of bother. I haven't done more than point and shoot and the pictures are OK. I took this photo of the children's Taj Mahal pictures after I had covered up the pcs for the night. I really enjoy looking across the classroom at these lovely silhouettes and each one is different.
After work I went across town to pick up some prescriptions from the pharmacy. (For overseas readers - Peter, being over 60 gets free prescriptions and I pay £7 per item per month.) I took the opportunity to call in at Lidls. This supermarket fits into the cheaper range but for me the attraction is the vast range of continental foods. This time of year it's like a German Christmas market with many kinds of gingerbread, stollen, marzipan bars, nuts, chocolates and other Christmas treats. There are also German decorations and lights. Something new to me was a range of Greek specialities and I couldn't resist buying some Halva though it took a while to decide between almond or chocolate. I also bought some Loukoumia (Turkish Delight) and a few other treats which are hard to find even in the big chain supermarkets. (The florentines are to take to school as a contribution towards a hamper for the Christmas Fair.) I much prefer continental chocolate to the British variety which is made with a much lower cocoa content and lots of sugar and other stuff and luckily Lidls stocks a good range.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Baby Nikon.

I couldn't bear to be without any camera at all so 3 days ago I typed in 'digital camera' into eBay. The first item to appear was this baby Nikon. It looked ok so I threw in a minimum bid and 3 mins later I was the proud owner of this Nikon Coolpix 2100 for the princely sum of £15 including postage. Not a bad buy as it retails at about 10x that. It arrived today with box, instructions, cable, rechargeable batteries and charger. The only thing lacking was the lead for the charger but it has the same connector as my flat battery charger for my bigger Nikon. The batteries were low so I only had time for a quick play but it seems to be working.

Not a bad day at school though my cold which I had thought was finally going (after 4 weeks) has hit me again with a vengeance. Runny nose, sore throat and today a fading voice. Not the best thing when you're teaching. Even so I could not resist joining in with the singing when we practised the songs for our school play. Even though we're still on our India topic the glitter came out today. The carpet looked very - sparkly, when I left the classroom.

Monday 22 November 2010

Archive Pictures Of Lundy.

Some more pictures from my archives, today from our previous day visit to Lundy in 2006. Most of the buildings on the island are built from the local granite which gives the architecture a squared off Italiante feel.

Some of the barns have been converted to a shop selling souvenirs and food for those staying on the island. There is a scheme where you can volunteer to work on the island in return for accommodation in caravans. You still have to provide your own food so the Landmark Trust are getting a good deal as you have to work for 5 days out of 7. This can be outdoor work but could also be cleaning the rental properties or working in the kitchen of the Marisco.

Here's the welcoming door of the Marisco with Linas (in his long-haired days) striding towards me. The Marisco is open all day and has the facilities of a pub , minus electronic music etc, and a place to sit, read, play games or just socialise. Only one drawback - no soft seating at all, I'll bring my own cushion next time.
Not too bad a day at school today with my student doing a fair bit of the teaching. However I did get an email from our Head teacher at 3.38 asking for information on 9 children to be returned to her by Monday! I sat in school until 6.00 getting that form done.

Sunday 21 November 2010

The Scree Garden.

As I'm without a camera instead I'm posting some pictures from my archives starting with the development of my favourite part of the garden, the scree garden. When we first moved here 17 years ago we became the proud owners of a swimming pool, 40ft x 20ft x 3- 12 ft. Each year we spent many hours cleaning the pool but we didn't use it that much as the weather in Devon is not outdoor pool weather and the beach is less than 1/2 hour away. Some years later several boat /raft building projects and various mishaps had punctured the liner and we lost most of the water apart from some at the deep end. Not having water pressure in the pool allowed some of the sides to slump and it was a bit of a sad sight. As we were quoted £35,000 to drop in a smaller more economical pool but keeping the same pipe work, pump etc we decided to to look at other options. A sunken Italian garden sounded good until we costed out the blockwork to form the sides. Then I spotted my neighbour dumping subsoil (from the footings of the house he was building) on the adjacent piece of ground. Soil + sad pool = new garden , I thought and for a reasonable amount of money he agreed to fill the pool with subsoil, soil and well rotted compost from his stables' muck heap.
Included in this mix were stones ranging from gravel size to 3ft and LOTS of bindweed roots. I started trenching at one end of the pool, digging on my hands & knees (or sitting down) to save my back. The clay was broken up and mixed with the soil and compost, every bindweed root dug out and given to the dustmen and each stone removed and graded for later use.

It took 18 months and during that time I allowed the design of the garden to emerge. It was based on flowing lines with swirls and circles delineated by different sizes of stones and the planting of aromatic plants (mostly grown from cuttings) and grasses.

By 1994 the garden was fully established with many nectar plants for the butterflies and bees and plants that provided summer height.

April 2010 during a shower.
Even in the winter it is my favourite place to sit and enjoy the beauty of our valley, the wonderful cloudscapes and the stones and grasses of the winter garden.

As the seasons progress the green plants begin to take over providing more shape and colour.

While in late summer the sedums and the different varieties of crocosmia still provide plenty of colour.

This summer I pressure washed the stones around the garden, built some steps and completely refurbished the grass bed at the end of the scree garden.

Today I managed to spend a few hours in the garden cutting back the last of the sedums and buddliea while remembering how things looked in the summer.

Saturday 20 November 2010

No Camera!

I took my camera back to the shop today. They're sending it back for repair. Supposedly it should only take 2 weeks but maybe they were just saying that. I did think about buying something small for the moment but nothing cheap caught my eye and £70 was too much to spend on a back-up. I was in town to meet my friend for coffee & cake which is always nice. Lime cheesecake today. I found one top in a charity shop but also bought a soft fluffy hooded top in sale in Millets (a camping shop), it was so me I couldn't not buy it. The teeming crowds were out buying for Christmas and the town lights are being switched on tomorrow.
I collected Linas from the train station and drove him down to Ilfracombe for the opening of a skatepark there. Skateparks, especially free ones are few and far between which is silly as they provide a place where youngsters can burn off lots of energy without having to spend money. The skatepark is near the harbour so while Linas met old friends and skated a bit,( it was very crowded,) I borrowed his phone (for the camera) and walked around the harbour. Due to technical reasons I have to wait for him to email the pictures to me. They wont be brilliant because I didn't have a zoom and the light was very grey. I enjoyed the walk along the working part of the harbour where our few remaining small fishing boats are kept. These are not the shiny playthings of rich businessmen but genuine working boats. The smell of the sea and dead fish and the presence of rusty chains, pots and general fishing junk took me right back to my childhood in St Ives. When my camera is back I'll try and get down there on a sunny day for a photo walk.

Friday 19 November 2010

Play Time.

Evening sun at school looking towards the junior school with the corner of my classroom/hut in the foreground.
The school play is now taking over our lives, long rehearsals started in earnest today and next week's timetable is mainly rehearsals and singing practice. At this stage it seems to be going well, only 2 more weeks and we'll be doing it for real. This year we are doing 2 evening performances to fit in with parents' schedules. It would be nice if we had a couple of hours later start on the following mornings to fit in with our personal schedules. Dream on.
Look blue skies! makes a nice change. This morning I had the Headteacher and one of the Literacy co-ordinators come to observe my guided reading session (where a group of children read the same book not together but at their own pace.) I do my guided reading out in our cloakroom where we sprawl on a couple of PE mats that I have stashed away in there. The fun part of these sessions is that we do a lot of talking about the book, predicting what will happen, looking for information, delving into characters and their motives/feelings. The children enjoy our reading sessions and we have already had 3 1/2 hour sessions on a book they would normally have raced through in one go without taking in what it was all about , and we haven't got to the end yet. I was pleased to get very good feedback as this is a lesson I do enjoy and feel confident in.

By the time I had put up one small display after school (clay cobras) and written notes home about costumes for the play the sun had gone. Tonight's full moon made for some interesting and dramatic cloudscapes. Poor old camera goes back to the shop tomorrow. What will I do without a camera ? Mine accompanies me at all times, it's part of my life. All I can say is they had better repair it quickly ............ or else !!!

Thursday 18 November 2010

Off To A Conference.

A day packed full of 'happenings'. I started the day well with a bit of a lie-in as I was going to a Science Co-ordinators' conference. It was the first time I had been to a conference (or indeed any off-site training for a very long time). Before I left I had to wash Smudge's throat which was all covered with muck that turned out to be a burst abscess, yuck. A bit later as I drove towards town I had to come to a stop for 2 cars parked in the road with their hazard lights flashing. Standing between them was a border collie (b & w sheepdog) that seemed reluctant to move. One of the drivers got out of his car to shoo it back to the driveway of one of the houses that border the road at this point but it was quite tottery. The man then picked the dog up in his arms and carried it up to the house. Sadly if this is the same dog that rushes out barking madly at cars it had probably been knocked by a car. Hope it is OK. I don't know anyone who lives in those 6 houses so I'll never know. Actually I do know one girl who used to be at school with my boys and has done teaching practice in our school but she is away at uni.Sunset over Tescos at Tiverton.
I had a bit of a 'blonde' journey finding my way to the conference using a faintly printed google map which resulted in my arriving 15 mins late. Of course the last empty seat was right at the front directly in front of the speaker. The powerpoint presentation was supplemented by printed copies that had been shrunk to a minuscule size so you could write notes and guess where my glasses were? Back in the car where I had taken them out to consult my map. So I had to get up and make an exit across the front to go and retrieve them. After all that hassle it was a good day, great to meet up with other teachers and exchange information, views and tips. As it was science we had some practical work to do which resulted in a lot of laughs. Quite a lot of the conference was about teaching older children but that was to be expected. Being in a hotel the food was superb, a fantastic selection of salads and hot dishes as well topped off with creamy fattening puddings (raspberry cheesecake for me). The final speaker of the conference introduced us to some amazing software for interactive whiteboards. There were so many things you could do with it , the first thing he showed us was the wordwall where you can put words, names, pictures etc on buttons which can be flipped over, rearranged or sorted in loads of exciting ways. When you've made a resource you are given the option to save it for all to use and you can use other people's resources. This part of the software we are being given free to use as a single user at school. Can't wait, that would be so impressive for OFSTED. The other part he showed us was the bit you buy and I can see it being a massive hit with older children. Everyone has a small phone-like handset which you operate as he said 'in the old fashioned way of texting' (That's old-fashioned!) and everyone can respond to a question , survey or multiple choice questions at the same time and the answers can be displayed as names or numbers or as a graph. Yes it does predictive text if you want. To check it out go to www.wordwallweb.com Tiverton nestles in the hills.
The conference was held in Tiverton an hour's drive away, probably less if you don't get lost as I did. I took the opportunity to visit the Tescos that was next to the hotel. Although these big chains are as similar as they can make them I just like to see if they have anything different (they didn't) and I would have had to go into the Tescos in Barnstaple on my way home anyway. The drive home was in the dark and the rain though this was mitigated by seeing some interesting grey clouds outlined against the darkening sky. I was not so keen on the bit where it was totally dark and I was being blinded by lorry lights and hoping there were no idiots coming towards me trying to overtake the lorries on my side of the road.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Stomp On That Pupil Tracker.

No photos today as the only ones I took were of my class doing their stomp dance moves and I can't put their faces on my blog. They're really enjoying the stomp dancing. It's only my attempts to copy moves from the video but after learning a few steps and shapes I let them freestyle to some very heavy rock/stomp/Indian music. One of the most satisfying things for me is the way most of them put all their energy into the dances and are completely puffing and panting by the end. I like the way that stomp with its high energy actions and optional heavy music appeals to most of the children while giving them the opportunity to makes shapes at different levels, compose routines with linking movements and do partner or group work. All the objectives that might come from more traditional styles of modern dance. Let's face it , it's fun.
After school was not fun as we (the teachers) all headed off to another local school for a 2 hour training session on the On-line Pupil Tracker. Learnt quite a bit and it's all good stuff ... if you don't mind spending time ticking little boxes. One good thing, provided you have been a good little teacher and put in assessments, targets and comments throughout the year, is that it will print the main part of each child's end of year report though I expect it will take a year of using the system before it starts making life easier. It's just a bit much to have to have 2 hours training after a working day especially when there is nowhere near the school to park and you end up parking a 10 min walk away as we did.
Ha, almost forgot to put in a bit about Peter's new job. He's really enjoying it and even convinced the lads he works with that he's some sort of Lothario. The reason, he's been seen chatting to two very glamorous young women who joined the firm recently. All the lads had failed to establish any contact with these girls while he's there only 2 days and already having lunch with them. The other men are most impressed but what they don't know yet is that Peter overheard the girls talking Lithuanian and being a fluent speaker he struck up a conversation with them and of course they were happy to chat with him. Lithuania being a very small country with a population of less than 3 1/2 million it is not surprising that one of the girls comes from Kaunas and knows of Peter's father's family. It won't take long for the penny to drop but for the moment he's enjoying being thought of as someone who the girls all fall for.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Frost Ferns.

The windscreen of my car was covered with pretty frost ferns this morning. For years I drove old Landrovers (series II/III) in which the heating is very basic, ie open or close a window, so now that I have a car in which the heating works I've become soft in my old age and revel in the warmth. It does take a good mile before the air blowing in warms up so today for the first time I left the engine running while I went back into the house for a bit. I have a bit of a fear of leaving a car with its engine running with no-one at the wheel but I overcame that in exchange for a warm journey.
My student taught 2 lessons today while I was her 'teaching assistant' which gave me time to make notes on the children again. One lesson was exciting but noisy as the children experimented with making circuits with bulbs and buzzers. I took the children outside for more stomp dancing (the hall was being used) and we worked on an actual sequence. The children were quite imaginative in naming the different arm and leg positions, I'll take some photos tomorrow for a display, that's to impress visitors as well as to help us to remember. We'll have the school stage set up soon so stomping will sound even better. I also had to teach a maths lesson on multiplication which was quite informative about the depth of the children's understanding of the process.

Monday 15 November 2010

Chilly Morning, Chilled Day.

Despite that it was a bitterly cold morning and I was running a little late due too having to de-ice the car windows, I had to stop and take some pictures of the morning sun lighting the tops of the clouds. It was even prettier than the pictures show. The plateau in the distance is Dartmoor a good 70 miles away to the south.
Swinging slightly west I had a glimpse of the western edge of Barnstaple as it straggles along the River Taw. I think the large grey buildings are the airfield at Chivenor, a Marine base.
I've had a reasonably relaxed day in school today. Having a teaching student working with me has meant that I have spent a lot of time going through lesson plans etc with her but this is balanced by being able to sit back while she teaches some of the lessons. I get to make notes (helpful I hope) on her but much more importantly much needed assessments on my children. Bloody OFSTED is turning us all into nervous wrecks especially as we hear they are about to inspect 2 schools that were just before us last time round. I only wish we could get the whole thing done and over with. Most of the afternoon was taken up with watching some drama students from the secondary school perform a couple of plays they had written following their initial visit to our classes. And they're back next week. Just need to write out a few of the steps from a great stomp dance video for tomorrow's lesson - YouTube African American step Shout'n stomp. (Sorry my brain can't sort out a proper link tonight.) Well worth a look.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Spring Cleaning.

Yesterday a metal butterfly, today a Small Tortoiseshell that was fluttering at the window by my pc. I released it outside so it could find somewhere cool to hibernate. The warmth of the house would keep it awake and it would use up all its energy trying to get out of the windows. Having got all my schoolwork out of the way yesterday I set myself the task of putting up some extra curtains on the bedroom windows. Even though we have double glazing last week's gales brought home the fact that the windows are a bit drafty and we are losing heat through them. I don't want to be paying all that money for expensive oil and still have a cold bedroom. As our walls are quite deep my plan is to have a second set of curtains right on the windows rather than on the bedroom walls. Along with a thorough filling in of all the holes and gaps with polyfiller they should provide an extra layer of insulation. First job was to buy some curtain tracks yesterday. Today I removed all the clutter which accumulates on every surface in this house, gave everything, clutter, walls and windows a through clean and put up the tracks. Some of the wall paper needs pasting down but I need to buy some more paste. Now all I have to do is remake some velvet curtains I was given ages ago. They match the carpet exactly so it is worth the bother of turning them sideways and re-stitching on the gathering tape. This I'll do by hand because I don't think my machine will go through several layers of velvet and lining fabric. I'm giving the whole room a good spring clean before we get our new bed. Depending on progress I might even give it a fresh coat of paint as well.
Just looked out of the window at the silhouette of the bare trees against the darkening sky and saw a squirrel leaping along from branch to branch. It has been pouring with rain nearly all day so no incentive to do any outdoor work once I fed the hens and hung up some food for the wild birds. Off now to start sewing.

Saturday 13 November 2010


Nothing major in terms of the family but my camera has GONE WRONG. How can this happen to a Nikon? It's making a suspicious grinding noise and on normal zoom you get a black shadow in the top right hand corner. It doesn't show when you use the zoom lens. I discovered the problem with the camera when I was in town on one of my leisurely shopping meanders in and out of all the charity shops and wanted to take some pictures of this wonderful metal sculpture/ seat in a courtyard by the Pannier Market. Whoever made it should have a sign up because several other people stopped to admire it when I was there. I wouldn't mind having one like that in the garden though it is probably extremely expensive. I might make some enquiries at the cafe that has some tables in this open space next time I'm in town. I wasn't too far from Jessops where I had bought the camera so back I went and they said yes there was something wrong with it but I needed to get the receipt and see when I bought it as it would only be under warranty for a year. Back home I checked and phew !! I bought it on November 28th last year. Just 2 weeks inside the year. I'll take the camera and my paperwork back to the shop next Saturday. I used my blog records to check when I had bought it and I had commented then that even though I had paid a bit more than if I had bought it on line at least I had a shop to return it to and thank goodness for that.
It has been a bright and sunny day today though when I drove into town I could see an massive weather front looming on the other side of town. If you looked one way up the High Street the sky was blue with fluffy clouds and the other way was all gloomy and grey. Luckily the rain held off and apart from the camera incident it was a good shopping trip. We are looking for a new 6ft wood bedframe and so far have had no luck on the internet. A friend had offered to get us one at trade price but I wasn't too keen on the 2 he showed us in the catalogue. Today I went into an expensive furniture store just to see what was around and they had both of the beds in the catalogue and they are actually rather nice. One of them is perfect so hopefully we can order it for a much cheaper price through this friend and then have a major move around of all the beds in the house. Also Peter asked me to buy him a new fleece neck warmer as his has gone missing. One of the outdoor wear shops had them on 'buy one get one free' and an extra 20% off today so I bought him one and a fleece headband for myself to keep the wind out of my ears. I have one I was given years ago which I love as I get earache very easily and it solves the problem much better than a hat.
My schoolwork has all been done so I've got tomorrow free, ah bliss!!

Friday 12 November 2010

Rain All Day.

Despite, or perhaps because of the unceasing rain it has been quite a relaxed day. It had been arranged that half of each Year 2 class would walk up to Rock Park for a Schools' Remembrance Day ceremony at the war memorial. They were going to place a poppy wreath there that they had made themselves. There is a marine base at Chivenor and we have a number of children whose fathers are on active services so it is especially relevant. Yesterday (Armistice Day) the children took part in the 2 minute silence at 11.00 while we were at the swimming pool. One little girl told me her Daddy cried because a friend of his had been killed. How do you cope with that? Anyway, it was decided not to take the children out in the rain for nearly 2 hours so we had longer to get on with the writing task I had planned for the children to do. My class are very creative and once they had written their instructions for making a Diva they were only too happy to do their own creative activities. They get through the sellotape at a rate of knots and I have limited their access to the chenille pipe-cleaners to 2 per day per child or all my stock would soon be gone. Their main passion is for paper folding and they come up with all sorts of ingenious ideas. A group of boys have been developing fantastical bomber craft along with a detailed airfield. Some of the girls have been working on a ghost map with things hiding behind flaps. Not exactly on the curriculum but who cares? We also fitted in our first complete run through of the Christmas Play as it is only 3 !!! weeks until they have to perform the play to their parents. I foresee a lot of rehearsing in the next few weeks. While we were in the hall I could see some of the youngest children (4yrs) out in the pouring rain on the bikes and scooters in the waterproof all-in-one outfits that the school has for such days.The rain stopped me from taking any outdoor pictures so here is one of our 4 cats, Smudge. He's the lowest ranking cat of the group and the most vocal. He spends most of the evening wailing at me in an attempt to hurry up the evening feeding time. He's also a very clever cat and can open most cupboards. We used to have to barricade our old fridge as he worked out how to open that as well. He even could pull down the handle of the porch door to open it. He's on the blog today because if you care to drop into Sarah's sweet family blog Catching The Magic at www.Chezlee.co.nz you will see that he was definitely in New Zealand last Wednesday.

Thursday 11 November 2010

W W Windy.

It was wild , wet , windy and warm this morning. The day continued with more of the same with a strong gale blowing by lunchtime. That was when one child in the playground was hit in the face by a small branch which fell off a tree. On the way home another branch fell in front of the car narrowly missing the bonnet. I actually left work earlier than usual because of the weather conditions. As I sit here at the pc I can hear the wind roaring in the trees outside and rattling our windows. Being Thursday it was time to go swimming. They've started putting in the glass windows/ walls in the new Tescos. I hope they haven't been caught by the wind as that could be rather expensive.
Stopping at the roundabout gave me a good view of the stone installation. I was told another story about our stones - one dark night somebody planted a set of smaller 'baby' stones at the feet of the big stones. That would have been funny to see.

Another view of the New Bridge but this picture also has a story to do with the large white mansion right in the middle up on the hill (click on the picture for a bigger view). Not that long ago, a middle aged local man who ran a small building firm, kids went to our school, wife was part of the PTA in other words an ordinary chap, unexpectedly inherited the mansion from a relative who he knew little or nothing about. This was an uncle who had moved to Australia many years before. That must have been a real surprise.
Not much else to say about my day. I have a 3rd year teaching student working in my class who is supposed to be doing quite a bit of teaching which I have to monitor but that does give me a bit of a break to get on with making assessments and some of the other 101 things that always need doing.