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.

Monday 31 January 2011

Brrr !

Yesterday's view at Morte Point.
It was rather cold this morning, -9C which for here is mighty cold. Maybe we are seeing the impact of global warming which for the UK could mean that things get a lot colder as the Gulf Stream with its warming effect moves away from our waters.
A normal day at school which dragged on a little as we had somebody come to do a workshop on teaching basic gymnastics after school. It is good to brush up on such things but the enthusiasm wanes at the end of a school day. I tried to join in with the practical work but I could feel my knee and spine protesting so I stuck to watching instead.
I saw an odd sight on the way home tonight. At the point where a tiny lane turns off the back road, to Upcott, was a small table with a pet carrier on top. Attached to this was a sign on a piece of paper but it was too dark to see what it said. I wish I had stopped because now I am intrigued. Was this a roadside stall (sometimes seen but not often), with produce inside the pet carrier to keep it safe from the many crows and buzzards around or was there something live in the carrier? I doubt it but if it is still there tomorrow I'll have to stop to satisfy my curiosity.
The weather man is predicting overnight rain as well as low temperatures so my micra is now at the top of the hill in case of ice.

Sunday 30 January 2011

To See The Sea.

It was sunnier and warmer today with the outdoor thermometer showing 2C but the bitterly cold wind was still around. Maybe I should rename my blog Ruta's Weather watch but it does play such an important part in my life. Will we be able to drive the cars up the hill? Will we have to turn the heating on? Can I get out into the garden? Will the children be cooped up in class all day long? I don't even think of myself as an outdoor worker but the weather does make a difference to my daily living. Not to mention the fact that seeing the sun lifts my spirits. After spending the obligatory few hours sorting out my school plans for next week I took myself and my camera off for a hike around Morte Point. There were a few people about but for most of the time my view was only populated by sheep. (The eagle- eyed among you might have spotted Lundy on the horizon.)

This was a good walk to break in my new walking boots on rough ground. They felt rather heavy and the tipped up soles are a bit weird compared to my old trainers which are lightweight but unfortunately are not waterproof and don't provide any ankle support. Out on the Point it was cold enough for ice to be lying on the surface of the wet ground which looked rather strange.

I took the usual route going round the shaded, and very cold, side first. No seals today, just some floating logs. Once I got to the point I found a sheltered spot and sat on a sun warmed rock to enjoy the gentle roar of the waves and watch the swell as it rolled over the submerged rocks. I find it hard to pull myself away from spots like these but the clouds were beginning to cover the sun and home beckoned. The homeward leg of this walk is never as nice because the sea is mainly behind you and there are too many views of Woolacombe. Also there are generally more people out for a stroll and I am a rather selfish walker who prefers to enjoy my scenery uncluttered by buildings or people.
News story. Yesterday a 36 year old climber fell 1,000 ft down a mountain near Ben Nevis. When the rescue helicopter found him he was standing up looking at his map. Although he had fractured his back in 3 places he was still able to walk and after putting on his spare hat and gloves he was working out his next move. A very lucky man!

Saturday 29 January 2011


Very cold again today, -4C out of the wind. Peter went and checked on the pump and it looks as if the pump is ok, good news. There is no electricity getting to it so we'll have to get an electrician in to sort out the supply up to the outbuildings and that could be as expensive.
So for the moment this is the little waterfall where I go to fill up buckets for replenishing the toilet cisterns.
I spent the morning in town, meeting a friend for coffee and some general shopping. It wasn't too crowded first thing in the morning but the bitter cold made me eager to get inside the shops.
Some schoolwork this afternoon followed by roast lamb for dinner.

Friday 28 January 2011

Getting Cold Again.

Frost last Saturday.
It was bitterly cold this morning and indeed all day but the extreme dryness kept the frost away. We had quite a relaxed day in school again. The morning was spent doing more ice investigations. Today I was trying to get the children to design and carry out some simple experiments but my main goal was to develop the children's understanding and reasoning. Because of that I didn't simply want to give the children a set of instructions to follow and then record the results but provided them with a number of options that encouraged them to start to think about what they were investigating. So for a while it was rather chaotic but then the children began to come up with some good ideas and reasoning so I feel that the lesson was a success. In the afternoon half the class were out at the Gardening club so the rest of the children had Golden time though today I restricted the pcs to BBC science clips but they were just as happy exploring those rather than playing the usual simple games that our filter allows them to access. Another table of children were painting with watercolours and I could hear great conversations about the colours they were mixing and the pictures they were painting. One small child spent a long time simply playing with a tray full of ice cubes left over from the morning's investigations. Sadly in Year 2 there is not the time/space for much of this free play/investigation and the pressure is always on to cover the curriculum and focus on the requirements of the SATs tests which they will be sitting this year.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Poor Little Duck.

Late yesterday evening there was a commotion coming from the conservatory. When I went to investigate there was that fat cat Patch with a poor duck clutched in his jaws. He had carried it in through a small high window and only reluctantly (aided by a good shaking) let go of the terrified call duck. I threw Patch out, with a good telling off and went back to check on the duck. There was blood on it from a neck wound so I gave it some bread and water and left it in a box for the night. This morning it was looking quite lively so I took it out to the stream where it could make its way back to the lake and rejoin the other 9 call ducks that live there. Hopefully it will make a full recovery . There are quite a few mallard and wild geese on the lake now as well. I know there are many people who dislike cats because they kill small creatures but that is one good reason to have cats when you live in the country. Our cats keep the mice and other small creatures out of the house and many is the dead rat I've found in the front yard. And yes, I'm a cat person and simply like their company.
The weather has turned cold again. It was trying to snow this evening but I've taken a chance and not driven back up the hill. Worst comes to the worst Peter can give me a lift in the morning.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

A Promise of Things to Come.

We had some lovely sunshine this afternoon. The trees at the edge of the playing field.
Quite a good day at school today. This morning my class continued with writing character profiles. I found out some amusing facts about their family members including 'Grampy doesn't like sleeping with my granny because she snores a lot.' and 'Granny likes to go to the (British ) Legion (social club) with her pigeons.' Under 'Likes and Dislikes' one child wrote - 'My nanny loves me.' Aahh. Being Wednesday I had PPA time in the staffroom where I got all my maths assessment/ marking up to date.
Setting sun glimpsed over the school roofs.
Left school a little earlier than usual (5.00) and managed to get home before dark to fill up the buckets with water from the stream. More checks are pointing to the fact that we need a new pump though apparently it has lasted very well. Each day is a tiny bit lighter in the evenings and mornings so now I don't feel that my journeys are taking place in the middle of the night.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Boring Tuesday.

Taken last Saturday.
A very wet day today. The children spent most of the day in the classroom which is not good. We had an active PE session in the morning which got rid of some of their energy. Nothing else of note today.

Monday 24 January 2011

Still No Water.

Frosted plants last Saturday.
Another fairly mild day. No joy with the water yet. Peter has been up to check on the water pump and the best prognosis is that there is an ice plug somewhere in the system. Otherwise we may be looking at having to spend £500 on a new pump for the bore hole. At least with only 2 of us at home things are manageable, water from the handy stream for flushing the toilets and water from the loft tanks and work for drinking and washing. Not too bad really.
A fairly ordinary day workwise, slight excitement during PE when one child had her mouth knocked (she didn't know how) causing her tooth to bleed and tears to flow. Luckily my class are fairly sensible and followed my instructions to sit down and wait while I took the injured child out to wipe up the blood. By the time we came back into the hall she had recovered and was even happier when the tooth fell out - I'm sure the Tooth fairy will visit tonight. The current going rate seems to be £1- £5!
I've filled up all the water containers, got the breadmaker going, typed up tomorrow's plans and now feel tired enough to head off to watch some tv sitting on the floor of our bedroom which is the only way I can relax comfortably. Even lying down is not that good these days unless I fill myself up with pills. On the other hand I'm much better in the mornings, perhaps because the pressure is off my spine after a night's sleep. Nothing is dreadfully bad but I do get a bit fed up at times.

Sunday 23 January 2011

No Frost.

A little bit of sunshine today and generally it was much warmer. The new mattress is proving its worth in that it supports our aching backs perfectly so it was tempting to have a nice long lie-in but there were things to do.
Not a sign of frost as I took the rubbish up to the road. I left the car up the top just in case but also because a man was coming round to collect our unwanted 4ft bed. Originally bought at an auction the bed has old fashioned walnut? head and foot ends and it would have been a shame to simply throw it away. Freecycle is such a good way to pass on items that are still good enough to use, and it would have been a major job to take the bed down to the recycling centre so we both benefited.
Once the bed had gone I had time to finish off my school planning and then do some work out in the stream. It looks like the recent cold weather has affected the pipes or pump again and we currently have NO water coming into the house. Oops. Not sure what we are going to do about that but I'll leave that in Peter's hands.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Cold But Sunny.

Another cold day today, -5C all day. Peter had to work today so I had the house to myself. Spurred on by the bright sunshine I got a lot of things done including some small DIY jobs. I fixed a broken piece of our old bed which is now in a spare room, wood glue and mending plates for that job. Then I put 2 kinds of draught proofing on the front door. I was crouching down measuring the length of the brush strip which needed to be cut before when being screwed on when there was a tap at the glass panels above me. I popped up to see Jack from next door bearing a hanging basket of sprouting daffodils which he had planted for me. Luckily I had a Lindt chocolate Santa which I had been saving for him. I also managed to replace a broken hinge on one of the kitchen cupboard doors. I felt rather pleased that so many jobs were done.
I've even got most of my school planning sorted. Half an hour tomorrow should get the last bits done.

I can now relax with a cheesy pasta bake to look forward to and some easy watching on tv.

Friday 21 January 2011

An Icy Morning.

7.00 this morning.
I am lucky in that the first 3 miles of the journey to town are due east so that I get to enjoy the sunrise and then the sunset on the journey home. One year I worked at a school in a town to the west so as I travelled up over the hills I only caught glimpses of the sunsets & sunrises in my rear view mirror, that was really frustrating. Once again today we had clear skies but the road was not too bad considering that the temperature was -8C. I had taken the cautious option of leaving the micra up the hill and catching a lift up with Peter.
And today was another good day at school. I started the morning with a science investigation into ice (how apt) which I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out as I was trying something new with a lot more emphasis on the children's ideas. In the end the session was great with lots of ideas and questions that I can use to base a more formal investigation on. Using all my silicone cake and muffin tins & some latex gloves I had made ice blocks of all shaped and sizes and simply asked the children to work in teams to see what they could find out. Guess what? When you put paper on ice it gets wet. A couple of groups got very excited about hacking at their ice shapes with scissors but that could be moved into an investigation into the strength of ice. I think next week we'll do an investigation into a few of their questions and then the following week we'll investigate melting and solidifying chocolate. Why is it that so many of my science investigations involve food? Does that say something about me?
We had a whole school celebration assembly in the afternoon then half of my class went off to do Gardening Club (run by parents) and the other half had golden time apart from 2 who had spent most of the assembly chatting despite glares form me and so had to practise their handwriting while I put up a display.
After school Linas dropped in. He'd come up from Plymouth for a doctor's appointment and had asked me to bring some things from home. While he was at the doctors' I picked up a few items from the DIY store and then we stopped at Lydl's on the way to the station. That shop is the only place I know that sells a good range of tinned mackerel in sauces. Easy to prepare and very good for you. Tonight's supper was couscous and mackerel in barbecue sauce mmm.
Off now to get lost in that enormous bed.

Thursday 20 January 2011

A Reasonable Thursday.

A couple of photos from yesterday's homeward journey. Now that there is something to photograph in the evenings I'll start taking the big Nikon with me rather than the baby Nikon which is more limited but has the advantage of fitting into a pocket. Sunset over Hartland.
The full moon over Balckmoor Gate.
Last night's full-moon was so bright that I was able to read the typed address on an envelope out in the garden at 10.00 and it was almost like daylight when I was wandering around at 2.00 in the morning.
I had a good sleep on the new (all memory foam like Tempur) mattress once I had finally got to sleep as my back wasn't too happy with all the carrying and lifting I did in the evening. The bed is so much bigger than our old standard size double that it does make the room look a little crowded but I'm still very happy with it. Some serious tidying of my clutter is needed. You could fit a whole family in that bed, mum, dad, kids and cats.
I had quite a good day at school today. I keep Thursday afternoons quite relaxed as I am on my own with 30 kids but when the headteacher brought round some new parents who were looking at the school there were; a table of children painting bold designs with poster paints, children at the pcs creating animations, others writing up neat copies of some character profiles, others simply colouring or playing with our farm set on the carpet, a group playing 'schools' with our box of animal puppets and a final group outside playing with pe equipment. Amazingly it was reasonably calm though that is not always the case in my classroom and one of my more articulate children told the visitors all about his animations and how you could get 'cool' sound effects as well.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

All By Myself.

Came home early (5.00) to find new bed had been duly delivered and left in the porch as per instructions. Carried all parts upstairs. Dismantled old bed. Wiped down old bed. Carried old bed to spare bedroom. Answered phone to man who would like to have the spare room bed (I freecycled it). Cleared under bed storage boxes and moved to spare room. Hoovered much dust and removed accumulated odd items from under bed. ASSEMBLED NEW BED. Dragged in new mattress. Solved problem of new mattress being a couple of inches too small for the frame.
Made bed. Now worn out. It's 9.00 and planning still to do.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Hare, Hare.

Both my journeys today were very similar. This morning the lack of cloud cover meant the temperature had plummeted and there was ice on the car windscreen but this was balanced by increased light levels. Venus was living up to its alternative name The Morning Star or Eosphus and shining brightly in the deep blue sky. To the east the deep blue was lightening to a royal blue with the first streaks of turquoise on the horizon. It was so good to be able to see where I was going and not be blinded by the car lights bouncing back off the rain or fog. Just after Ashelford Corner I came upon a hare running down the road. I slowed down and gave it the chance to jink sideways into the hedge. Coming home tonight it was another clear night and this time my way was lit by the full moon. Once again the deep blue sky shaded down to a dirty turquoise changing to orange brown shades on the horizon across the sea. Small grey clouds could be seen scattered in the evening sky over the dark hills dotted with lights from homes and villages. Down at sea level the town of Appledore was a mass of orange lights on the far side of the estuary. I stopped by a gateway to take in the view with its subtle beauty. Then blow me down as I continued on my way home what should be running down the road but another hare, maybe only 100 yds from the morning sighting. Same hare or just lots of hares about at the moment?Evening sky at school.

Monday 17 January 2011

Train Thoughts.

This afternoon I skipped out of work at 12.00, drove down to the station and took the train to Exeter for a hospital appointment at the RDE. It was an interesting afternoon, not in terms of the appointment which I suspect is just the start of another series of diagnostic tests to find the cause of the pain in my legs. So far a type of neuralgia has been mentioned which first made me go 'Ah', then 'Oh dear, neuralgia is hard to treat' but when I thought a little longer I realised that neuralgia just means nerve pain which even I know is the problem. Next step is another MRI at our local hospital.Waiting for the bus in wet Exeter.
I chose to travel up to Exeter by train as the journey time is much the same and there is a direct bus to the hospital which I found easily enough. Also the hospital car parks are very expensive and notorious for not having any spaces. That combined with a complex one-way street system made me decide that public transport would be better, and it was. Now that I've made the journey once and know where to go it will be very easy. As I sat on the train for the hour's journey up, looking out at rain soaked water meadows my thoughts went back to the first time I travelled up on the Tarka Line 2 years ago. It was probably the first time in 30 years that I had been on public transport by myself. Having children and owning a car puts your journeys in a little family bubble usually shared with at least one other adult. 2 years ago we had thoughts of moving to the other side of the world and there was the possibility that I would be making some journeys on my own. I well remembered thinking (on a trip to the Bristol Dental Hospital) if I would be making similar solo journeys in other countries. Would I be looking out at 'foreign' hills and wondering about the lives of the people who lived in the houses seen through the train window? Even on those day trips I made the effort to use buses (instead of jumping in taxis) and (shock horror) strike up conversations with people as the first steps to venturing out into the big wide world alone. The job situation (you need a job before you can get a residential visa) now seems to rule out the big move but maybe we'll still do some travelling.
Coming back on the train set off more strange thoughts. The 2 carriage train filled up completely at Exeter Central and I was surprised to see that most of the passengers travelled all the way back to Barnstaple (an hour's journey). It was dark outside and the train was making those usual hissing & clacking train noises and it was very warm and soporific with the hum of groups of girls chattering away. When we lived in London I had a reoccurring dream where I discovered an Underground line where the last stop was in a moorland wilderness. I guess that was a reflection of my desire to escape the city. Tonight as I half drifted off I kept imagining that when we arrived at our station it would be a reversal of my escaping dreams and we would be in the hub of a great city. That was reinforced by the fact this was the older of the 2 trains which has carriages that are the same as old fashioned underground train carriages (apart from the hanging straps) with cramped bench seats. Driving out of Barnstaple even the industrial area seemed so open and spacious and once up in the hills I felt I could breathe freely again. I need my open spaces.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Boring Work.

On line at last. That trojan reappeared yesterday so it took until today to scan and then delete all the copies of the trojan. I'm going to invest in a better anti-virus so that I don't have to go through this again. I felt rather isolated not being able to check my e-mails, blogs & facebook but more importantly I couldn't do my school planning without access to emails from my colleagues. As it is I've had to spend the whole of this afternoon doing my planning, yuck. Normally I try and do as much as I can on Friday evening and an hour or so on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend has been very wet though a brief walk around the garden revealed lots of spring bulbs already making good progress. As I had to go to the bank yesterday I treated myself to a leisurely stroll around the sales. We've reached the time when final reductions are being made and I ended up buying £82 worth of clothes for just £21. Mostly tops and t-shirts and a pair of palazzo? pants with the idea that we might one day have some hot weather or even jet off to sunnier climes.
This morning even though it was raining quite heavily, I took stuff down to the dump including Romas' old mattress as our new bed is due to be delivered on Wednesday. Then will ensue a grand shuffling around of beds as our double bed is moved to the spare room, the small double mattress goes in Romas' room and we end up with a super-king (6ft wide) bed in our room. That is if it arrives and we can put it all together.

Friday 14 January 2011

Back As Usual.

Had a trojan yesterday which kept me off the net until it had been dealt with. I'm feeling relieved that today is Friday so I've got the week-end to look forward to. I've been going to school in the Rav for the last 2 days because the heavy rain had caused a lot of flooding especially on the back road. The big flood near the Lewis' was too deep for my Micra (at least I think so because it was so dark and foggy I could hardly see a thing) but the Rav is that much higher. Some of the smaller floods caught me unawares and I had to quickly turn on the windscreen wipers as the water splashed up and over the roof. Today there are only a few small patches of water at the side of the road which I was mainly able to avoid.
School today was not too bad. Finally finished the marathon task of writing newspaper reports for each day of The Great Fire of London. Yesterday we had fun as aided by 2 mums, all the children made bread rolls. It's a good hands on activity and the boys especially thought it was fun to knead the lumps of dough. Not too much flour scattered over the classroom either. Today's highlight was when I appeared in the classroom wearing a scarf and some material across my shoulders and hot-seated the part of an old cockney woman whose house had been pulled down in the fire of London. A good question and answer session followed with me using my best cockney accent (didn't spend all those years in Stepney for nothing), to try and instill some of the flavour of the event. When I berated some of the girls for having short skirts some of them tried to pull their skirts over their knees, bless.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Strange Journey.

My journey home was much the same as the journey into work; dark, lashing rain and foggy clouds across the road. It makes it so much harder to spot the enormous pot holes that have appeared after the last bout of cold weather. On the way home, by the time I got up to Shirwell the fog was thicker but there were other strange things happening. First I was held up at the back of a small convoy that had 2 cars driving very slowly at the front with their hazard lights flashing. I couldn't make out if one was towing the other, if the poor visibility was scaring them or if there was something out in the road. Suddenly the convoy increased speed, but on the other side of the road was a vehicle parked with its hazard lights flashing and then 20 yards on another. Finally just as I got to my turn off there was a police warning sign on the main road. It may well have been that the road was flooded right across or else there may have been an accident. The fog was now so bad that I couldn't see the road surface ahead to check for flooding. A couple of small floods caught me unawares but I slowed right down at the point that has caught me out several times (how can I be so daft as to strand my car twice in the same spot?) and sure enough the water was across the road. I kept to the higher side and got through without any problem, (that's when I miss my old Landrover ). And once home the news was full of the dreadful flooding in Australia.
I'd left school early to go to the dentist. It was a good visit (as dentists' visits go), small filling replaced, no needles and no pain. The other aches and pains in my jaw/cheekbones are either sinuses or due to my receding gums so I've booked a visit to the hygienist and changed my mouthwash. A dash round Tescos yielded double reduced fruit treats, blueberries, mango, cherries and cherry tomatoes and some king prawns which will do nicely for supper.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

What's The Fox Up To ?

It was really strange this evening, driving home while it was still light. I'm so used to working in my classroom until 5.30 in the dark that leaving an hour earlier made me feel quite guilty that I wasn't marking work or putting up a display. But there wasn't anything to clear up and my enthusiasm has waned. Things are not helped by my classroom printer having died after we did a lot of printing the other day. Now all it will do is slowly churn out blank pieces of paper and blink its little green light at me. Inks are fine, printer queue is cleared, I even unplugged it totally for 24hrs but it will not print for me. The staffroom pc prints but the permissions have gone haywire and everything from Google images is blocked by the filter so it is much harder to make resources or display material. Perhaps one day the repairman will come and fix all these problems. Stopping at the top of our drive to collect the recycling box I spotted a big dog fox in the field about 20ft away. I reached into my bag for my camera case but only came up with my purse and by then the fox had moved across the field stopping every now and then to look back and check what I was doing. He'd better not be thinking about making a meal of my 3 hens sitting on their roost in their shed.
I've done some housework, still think there might be a small leak in the downstairs toilet as there was still a small wet patch today, blogged and now I had better get on with my school planning.

Monday 10 January 2011

School PE.

My Monday morning PE slot is the favourite of my PE sessions with the children because the timing allows me to get out the bigger equipment. In recent years there has been a big push to increase the amount of physical activity the children do which is a good thing but in terms of practicality daily sessions of 20-40 mins (including getting changed) don't leave a lot of time for setting up (& putting away) equipment. We do have a PE curriculum scheme which is rather dreary so we often move off into activities that fit into the current topic (as with last term's Bollywood dancing which then moved into Stomp dancing). Having the first slot on a Monday morning allows me to set up a series of multi-skills activities which the children rotate through. As we do this every week the children are able to do most of the activities independently leaving me free to supervise off the floor work. The set up is the same every week (the activities are always slightly different and are progressively more demanding). Most of my class are now quite happy to walk along a narrow beam 2ft off the floor and even add a small jump in the middle and then jump off a higher stool at the end when initially they could hardly jump up on the stools or inch along a beam only 1ft off the floor. We used to have a big climbing frame that swung out from the wall but it had so little use it was eventually got rid of. I'm not a naturally athletic person so I do empathise with the children who are not that keen on PE and try to make the lessons enjoyable. We have some equipment in the playground but this country goes overboard with 'health and safety' regulations and most things are not allowed for that reason. Interesting ice shapes found in the garden yesterday.
Nothing much of note today, just rain, work and more rain. I was amused when marking the Monday spelling test, instead of ask, asked and asking 2 of my class wrote arsk, arsked and arsking which does actually fit in with the local Devon accent but still had to be marked wrong.
This evening I ripped out the lino from our downstairs toilet. Yesterday there was a minor flood, I think from the overflow pipe and the water had gone under the lino, not for the first time. I decided it was time to get rid of the lino to let the underlying concrete dry. Then I can think about tiling the floor or taking the easy option and using some concrete paint at least for the moment. I still bear the scar of a cut on my arm from when I was using a stanley knife to cut that very heavy duty (new) lino which I had found in a skip (dumpster) about 15 years ago.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Sunny Sunday.

We had plenty of sunshine today but had to put our plans for a walk by the sea on hold as Peter's foot is playing up and he needs to rest it before work tomorrow. While we had a lie in listening to the Archers (shocking events), a pair of sparrows were investigating the hole in the wall by our bedroom window. I think all the birds were enjoying this welcome sunny spell as there were sounds of bird song all through the valley. I got on with more garden jobs including brushing up leaves on the front patio (boring) and weeding and leaf clearing up by the scree garden, somehow much more satisfying.
Last night we had some heavy hail showers and piles of hail lay in the shady parts of the garden. The Link Road was closed at the Barnstaple end this morning due to the black ice and had to closed again in the afternoon as more people spun off the road up by Tiverton. The week's forecast is for warmer and wetter weather.

Saturday 8 January 2011

A Good Day.

All week long I've been thinking about the fact that you have to do without something for a while before you truly appreciate it and today simply confirms my thoughts. It was sheer bliss to lie in bed knowing that I could turn over and go back to sleep if I chose, (which I did at 6.30) or lie cosy under the duvet and listen to the radio. But would I feel like that if didn't have all those days before of having to get out of bed and off to work while it is still dark - I think not. Having properly working taps all through the house is wonderful after weeks of only one tap in the kitchen, yet how many people long for that basic of life ? And heating at the flick of a switch is something else I'm so grateful for. Although I love to have the house full of friends and family being back to just 2 of us seems so quiet and so simple. Another of my current pleasures is being able to load the washing machine instead of boiling kettles and washing clothes by hand. I even get pleasure from walking on the new carpet in the downstairs corridor, so soft and springy and clean. Thank you boys for dealing with that job. To make the day even better the sun came out, not for the whole time but enough to entice me out to the garden for an hour (after necessary school planning had been done). Well wrapped up I cleared the fallen leaves and weeds from the gravel in the grass bed by the scree garden. Every tiny weed pulled is a potential monster removed and the leaves eventually break into many small bits and make a mushy mess on the stones which is nasty and harder to remove. Failing light and a hailstorm stopped play but enough had been done to generate of satisfaction.
Bread has been baked, housework done and even the drive has been repaired after the the heavy rain so I can look forward to a relaxing evening and there is still Sunday to enjoy.

Friday 7 January 2011

No Snow, No Jab.

The predicted snow failed to arrive, just a lot of very heavy rain. Luckily it stopped just raining just before we set off to walk up the hill in the dark. The sky was a little lighter than yesterday as the clouds began to break up and it was quite pleasant to be able to stride up the hill and not worry about slipping on the ice.
Same old busy day at work. At least the children were able to get outside for their playtimes and burn off some energy.
I left school early to drive across town to see about a flu jab at Sainsbury's but all the publicity of the last few days has resulted in not a flu jab to be had in not only this area but anywhere at all. (And they won't be getting any new stocks). I should imagine that all stocks are being diverted straight to the doctors' surgeries where there had been some shortages. I shall have to keep my fingers crossed that I don't catch the flu because unlike most of my colleagues I don't get sick pay. I spent quite a while in Sainsbury's seeing what they had to offer and buying a few items in their sale. The range of goods is better than my usual supermarket but they are also generally more expensive. I treated myself to a small bag of dried cherries to nibble on as I drove home. I've had some of the pheasant casserole which is not bad. It mainly tastes of the tomatoes and other vegetables but the meat adds an interesting flavour. Having done my self-imposed quota of housework I'm off to collapse in the bedroom (the only place I can watch tv comfortably) before I fall asleep at the PC. zzzzzzzzz

Thursday 6 January 2011

A Pleasant Pheasant.

Pitch black again this morning on the way to work. The sky was just beginning to lighten and show a hint of dark blue as I arrived at school. The day flew by and soon it was time to tidy the classroom and head back home. I'm not the only one at work feeling so very tired and wishing the holidays had been longer. The next thing we will have to contented with is the 'flu which seems to be on the increase once more, (11 people died this week!) I can't have a flu jab from my doctor as they only do at risk groups (I used to be able to persuade my GP that working with germy children put me at risk but she stopped giving me a free jab 2 years ago.) Last year the nearest place you could pay to have a jab was Exeter 60 miles away but I've heard that the pharmacist at our local Sainsbury's does them so I'll try for that. This latest 'flu is making people ill for up to 8 weeks so it would be well worth trying to avoid that. A view from school towards the junior school with my classroom/hut on the right.
At work a colleague offered me some pheasant (shot yesterday) which I eagerly accepted as I had planned to make a hearty soup/stew in the slow cooker anyway and the pheasant would be perfect for that. I didn't even have to skin the bird as it came already skinned and jointed. I've added parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic along with a good dash of red wine. That will be something to look forward to tomorrow evening. Tonight we've left both our cars at the top of the hill as the forecast is for possible snow (on high ground- which is us), from midnight right through to 6.00. The long term forecast is for rain, then more snow possible the following week-end. So on a positive note this is a good time to be working full-time as outdoor jobs are not much fun at this time of year and if I was indoors I would be using up our expensive heating oil. This way I'm earning money and keeping warm at the same time.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Time Management.

Not a single photo today. It was pitch dark when I left this morning, so dark I had to feel my way around the car to avoid falling over it as I walked to the passenger side to put in our recycling box (it was rather full after Christmas and visitors). The journey home was not much better as the heavy fog obscured visibility. Even with the car's lights dipped it was difficult to see the road ahead. It was only because I know the back road so well that I was able to maintain some speed. Coming around Ashelford Corner I saw a car in front of me lighting the way which was a real help until I realised I had driven past our turning and had to reverse back.
I can't believe it is only the second day back at school, it seems like forever. One of my New Year's resolutions was to make better use of my time. I seem to be tired all the time but if I can spend 30 mins each day doing some small task around the house at least some things will get done. It was as I was coming up with this wonderful idea that I worked out exactly how much time I have available. Shock horror! During the week, each day I spend;
10 hours at school constantly on the go,
1 hour travelling time,
1 -2 hours school work at home.
Which leaves me with 11 hours for sleeping, eating, housework, relaxing and feeding the animals (cats & hens). At the week-ends I spend 4-8 hours on more school work and that's not counting the time when sleep is not possible due to school stuff whirring around in my head. No wonder so many people leave the teaching profession. I wouldn't want to do this for the rest of my working life but I am truly grateful in this economic climate to have a job. The temporary nature of my contracts means that I take whatever hours I am offered because I never know when I might be back to working much fewer hours. In the meantime I shall concentrate on making the best/most efficient use of my time and not waste (too much ) time on mindless tv watching. Also I can look forward too driving to work through the sunrise, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Back To Work.

I didn't take any photos today so I'm showing off Vytas' lovely long hair. Romas' hair is nearly as long and Linas now has shoulder length hair but used to have very long hair too. Can you tell that I think long hair on men is great? Today was the first day back at work and I am so tired. My own fault for staying up late and then being woken in the early hours by a cat wanting to go out. Added to that the fact that it was dark and cold and dark! when we left for work left me somewhat unable to dredge up a lot of enthusiasm for the day (and it rained for most of the day). The children all commented on how quickly the day had passed which at least indicates they had been focusing on their work. We watched some of RiverDance on a dvd and attempted some basic steps. I think it will be more fun when we have some lively music to dance to.

Monday 3 January 2011

Snow Again.

We woke this morning to a dusting of snow once more. The road was fine so I took the Micra up to the top with all our rubbish from the last 6 weeks. The dustmen only come once a fortnight and the last 2 times it was snowy and we didn't feel like carrying the bags half a mile up the hill. Now with all the extra rubbish from the holiday I'm hoping that the dustmen will not be held up by the snow. My day has mainly consisted of housework, general tidying up, hoovering up the last remnants of the tree, putting the decorations back in the loft and taking the second table out of the kitchen. Apart from the snow outside the window there is no sign of the holiday, sad but peaceful.
We had a brief spell of fat snowflakes drifting out of the sky but the forecast is for rain. I can rest easy knowing that the Micra is at the top of the hill and I can get a lift up with Peter as we both return to work in the morning. Now all that is left to do is to watch a short video about Irish dancing and learn a couple of steps to teach to my class tomorrow. This dancing lark is a bit of a case of the blind leading the blind but we all have fun. At least when we move on to English Country dancing I should be able to drag up memories of dancing at school and more recent barn dances with The Oggle Band.

Sunday 2 January 2011


All is quiet at home, very, very quiet. For me this is the sad part of the holiday knowing that it will be months before I see my boys again. Indeed last year it was Easter until I saw Romas and August before Vytas returned home. Linas is that much closer and does come back for the occasional week-end. But today the house is almost silent, even Peter has gone into town to get some things from the DIY store. I started taking down the cards yesterday (recycled into shopping list cards or next year's gift tags) and this morning I took down all the decorations. Before the boys left the tree was cut into burnable pieces and if I'm lucky the decorations will be soon packed away and back up in the loft. (Last year's tree decorations spent the whole year in a bag under a side table in the living room.)
Yesterday's lack of post (when I was going to detail my New Year's resolutions), was due to a major pc disaster. I've had the parts for a pc upgrade sitting here for some months so the boys decided that they would swap everything over yesterday. That way Romas could have my old hard drive etc to replace his which had finally bitten the dust. Unfortunately the end result was 3 dead pcs - DISASTER! I need my pc for work and Romas also has vital work to do for uni. More hours spent resulted in my pc being back up and running with all the old parts but the new mother board is no more, possibly static has killed it. Poor Romas has taken his salvaged parts back to uni but needs to buy a new mother board and some other vital parts. Such a shame. Romas and Vytas had been really helpful in the last few days, laying the new hall carpet, washing my car, putting extra lagging on the outside pipes and climbing up into the loft to blow out some of the airlocks in the plumbing. Our plumbing is not back completely but we have running hot and cold to most of the taps, what luxury. You think you appreciate your home comforts but doing without really makes you realise how good it is to have heat and water. It now feels like we are living in utter luxury.
This morning I repaired a pair of slippers that Romas likes to wear all the time. New furnishing fabric soles and a felt patch made Vicky's old slippers like new.

Yesterday the boys had planned to play a wargame but the pc swap disaster took up the whole evening so I took a photograph of part of their armies before they packed them away.
Lots of school work done this afternoon with just a little left to do tomorrow before our return to work on Tuesday.