Friday, 30 November 2007

Bleakest Bitterne tonight. The rain was wild and the wind tunnel effect in the subway from the leisure centre to the shops was wild. H and I ran through to Sainsburys, where we chose seriously payday options for tea, as we have been living on cupboard rations and lunch for A today consisted of a yogurt, some raisins and two Viennese whirls ( they were 10p a pack at the Coop last night). Glad no social workers read this. I did give her half a ryvita with cream cheese, and later some breadsticks and rice cakes. Phew, off the 'at risk' list. Anyhow, to gorge on pizza, garlic bread, chocolate milkshake, flake cakes and I had green herb salad and goats cheese with mushrooms, and some soup that was celeriac, pear and walnut flavour. Even I had chocolate milkshake. What a great invention.

H won a competition last night. It is getting so dull, I know, and she can hardly be bothered to open envelopes these days. It is a family pass to go to Beaulieu, sadly just to the motor museum and not for supper with Lord and Lady Montagu. I entered the competition in 'The Hog' ( you know if you know) and am hoping for a £10 waterstones voucher. I did get a phone call from a lady at the Bold 2 in 1 competition promotion department, who said it was ok to take R on my girly night to the Berkeley hotel, and booked us a date, and actually swapped it to a different package where we get champagne and breakfast instead of chocolate and a manicure. R loves champagne, and breakfast, so that is a good swap. Last time we stayed in a posh hotel was our honeymoon, and the menu was so scarily expensive (the first item was caviar) that we ate at Burger King for our first breakfast of married life. Have not been back since.

I seem a little food obsessed, yes? You would be if you had been producing miracle meals for 8 out of rice, burnt fishfingers and cauliflower ( a white meal, that one). I taught yesterday afternoon, and it went well, had lots of fun doing electricity with Y6, did remind them not to try such experiments at home on the mains circuit. Maybe some of them would be a bit more perky in school for learning if they had a quick poke in a plug socket each morning though... AJ looked after A for me, and then as oldest 2 have sports club, she and her 3 stayed for tea, hence the meal for 8!

I have just been marking R's exams for him, but was losing the will to breathe so gave up. I had thought about doing SATs marking, but as well as it not sitting comfortably with my deep seated opposition to the system they represent, I would be bored to tears and could not bring myself to do it with any degree of sincereity. When I was a student I worked 2 summers in London for the exam board, opening parcels of scripts, counting them, checking the centre numbers, candidate numbers etc. It was dull, but reasonably well paid, I made loads of friends from different backgrounds, got to commute and enjoy a beautiful bit of London in 2 fantastically hot summers with train strikes. I walked from Waterloo, it was a half hour walk over the bridge, up Holburn and Southampton Street or something to Russell Square. We sat in the square for our lunch hours, and sometimes went to the British museum. I went to the theatre on standby to see St Joan. I ate out at Wagamummas for the first time. This was back in the days before they built the IMAX cinema which has probably gone now, and there was a hole in the road with a cardboard city of homeless people that you had to walk through to get to the bridge for the station. I can still remember the smell walking down that subway. When work on the parcel opening section was short (and sometime we came in and did overtime all weekend, and did 8-6 days too) we had to do B checking. Adding up the marks. Great for your mental arithmetic. Some people had to do it all the time, including my friend Amy, who I got the job for. Poor girl. I left early in the season to get married, and they bought us a picnic hamper, and wrapped it up and put it in the parcel post thing and made me go and open it. They were such a great bunch of people. The boss commented that getting married was a drastic way out of B checking, but I disagree. In my first year there, when there was hardly any work but we had to stay at our desks, so we did crosswords and wrote poems, there was a lady who sold the buns off a trolley. She always had earphones in, and all she ever said was a number, for the price you had to pay. It was weird, and we experimented, to find out that the price of, say, a doughnut and a coffee, varied by a couple of pence or so each day. I suggested that her earphones were to the stock exchsnge, and by keeping up to date on the price of bun commodities she coud make up to the minut changes to her prices to reflect the costs of commodities and maintain her margins. Buy doughnuts! Buy! Sell currant buns!! Sell! Sell!

See, even my memories are food centred today.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

In my church work I have done overtime this week, and I am going to write something on the thoughts section of the official Southampton Vineyard website, so I will direct you there for in depth analysis of the underlying trends in children's ministry today.

This place would be ruined by such trifles. I learnt a new word today, only I can't remember it. It means 'saying the same thing over and over again' and is related to people with Autism or similar in the context I learnt it. Or didn't. It ended in -lalia which is an unusual word ending and one I like. I like learning about words. Entomology or something like that is the scientific term, I think. I have a few books on words which I browse sometimes, like the dictionary. Sometimes I repeat words, which sound good, like Thacker.

We sang a song today which is an old un but a good un.
I'm callin out,
'Light the fire again'

R lights a fire most nights at this time of year, so if it goes out ( not much kindling in stock you see) I will sing it to him.

The reason I was singing old songs was because I was at a training day on children with additional needs at Highfield church hall. We did some good things with a parachute, but, as I say, you will have to wait and check out the official, censored website at for more reportage. One nugget I will give you is the conversation I had with a lovely couple at lunch time, who live in Millbrook but attend a church in Weston. I asked them how they had found their son's education at his secondary school. The dad answered in the form of a riddle:

You know the kind of music M and M sings ( well, barely, but OK, rap)
Well, put a C in front of that and you get what the special needs support was like at the school.

Those of you who have known me for a while will know that rap is not my specialist subject, and in fact any American male singers are a mystery to me - ie Duff Paddy. In fact, American films are generally wasted on me unless I have to have the sound up and subtitles on as I can't understand what they are saying. Which makes me sound really old. An older lady at the training day misunderstood me as I was introduced to her, and thought I was telling her I was a granny. To which she said' Oh that's nice', barely an eyebrow batted.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Last Friday for Pudsey bear the children at H's school were invited to go to school dressed as they would doing the job they wanted to do when they grew up. I saw through this thinly veiled attempt to assess the children's aspirations and plan accordingly ( staff room conversation: damn. Johnny wants to be a rocket scientist. Get those magnetic letters out and run through the vowels with him....)

H went as a hair dresser, which is also A's optimal career. H has changed her mind and decided to become a gymnastics teacher. I noticed in her class a few soldiers (cannon fodder) and an awful lot of pop stars, footballers and princesses. People will always need their hair cutting. the other excitement at school is the practising for Mary. I have ironed the blue tunic and have only to rummage around for a bit of white sheet for a head dress.

Today I spent almost all day at BLC. Ange and I met at the gym, then A's swim lesson and my swim, then home only to come back again for H's lesson. They were putting the Christmas tree up in the reception area, a task which took the best part of an hour for 3 recreation assistants and a manager. Its worse than one of those lightbulb jokes, because its true.

As we have an extra family member at the moment, ( Amanda, who is 18) we showed her our baby albums and wedding album. I don't know home many times I can take hearing ' You look so young then....' which might as well be saying ' You look so old now...' She takes delight in telling me I could be her mother. Thanks.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Briefly stopped in Bitterne today to go to the Post Office, which has the longest queue ever. I was posting a golf club, and I did the same on Monday. Monday's one was rejected by ther purchaser, so it should be coming back for me to post to someone else. R buys them at the dump, and sells them on ebay.

There is a newsagents in Bitterne with this curious sign in the window:

Sharps, grinders and blades sold here.

I think that is right. It puzzles me EVERY time.

Yesterday I went to BLC for a quick gym session, I had not been for ages and had forgotten how delightful are the surroundings of the blue and orange centre.

On the weekend R and I went on a Marriage Encounter. It was fantastic, a very intense weekend but so good for helping us to learn better ways to talk to each other. I am recommending it to every couple I know, it really is worth going to. We even went to Kent to go on ours! I don't do that very often, as it seems from the little I have seen that we would all be better off if a polar ice cap came and melted in the River Medway, thus drowning all of the Medway towns. I hear other bits of Kent are nicer, but then, they couldn't be worse.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

I went to Slimming World this week, as I have done for last 10 weeks, and am pleased to say I have re lost some weight to be back at my target. I lost 10lbs, and that works out at a lb a week. Am pleased to put it mildly. Anyway, I took a friend along and I knew that new people don't queue but go in first for an explanation talk. So, there was a really big queue and we walked past it. One lady said ' you can queue' in a sarcastic tone, which is fair enough as she obviously thought we were jumping in. I turned around and used my best posh voice to tell her ' We're much too important to queue' which made her puzzled and made the other people in the queue giggle. I ended up taking the money as someone was missing and I 'know the ropes' as it were, and bless her, she apologised to me. I had a queue of fantastic proportions on Monday, at the post office place where you go when you get one of those cards... Sorry you were out.... which make your heart sink. Anyway, I got people chatting in there. You know me and queues - I like a good queue, reason to talk to strangers with them having no hope of moving away if they are to retain their position in the queue. Its great. Probably why I liked Paultons Park so much.

Today I did very little, I got up, was grumpy and served the girls breakfast in as civil a manner as I could muster, then went back to bed, arising at 1pm. A fine time to get up on a Saturday. R H and A went to see Surfs Up at the cinema and were very excited about it. Its great that my children are still at the age where they don't mind that the film is not a new release, as that way it only costs £5 for an adult and 2 children to go. I did the hoovering, the ironing and walked to the Coop. Not my best day for physical activity then. Am doing some sewing tonight. I can't bear sewing. It is the most awful chore and there is a years worth of rips and buttons to attend to. My bible reading at moment is Luke 2, and you know how Mary is always depicted as sewing when the Angel Gabriel came with the big news? Well, he would have to have picked a small window in my diary to catch me sewing. Probably why it was her and not me. Maybe she sewed all the time and so it wasn't odd. Does it mention her sewing anywhere - or is that just artistic interpretation. Maybe she was sweeping up Cheerios or hoovering. Now, those chores the Angel G could catch me doing every day of the week.

Will meet you in B and Q tomorrow to watch some paint dry.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

I just tried to upload some pictures of the wedding. Maybe they are there somewhere. It all went well. I was a bridesmaid, and particularly enjoyed getting ready with a photographer taking 'natural' shots of us drinking tea and putting on make up. Also being in the big car was fun as other people smile and wave. Getting the train there was fun, as we met an old lady just back from a cruise, with her nephew, who is 60. It was his first cruise, she and her husband had treated him for his birthday. He read the FT and worked in a day centre for people with head injuries, for the shameful sum of £5 an hour. Still, clearly knew what he was doing with it if he got the FT. The train is small and very busy. A was very good considering she had to sit still for 3 hours, clearly the practice on the plane helped. Our car journey back was not so good, she was sick before we got to the Severn bridge. We stayed in a Travelodge, an interesting experience. Well, OK, not at all interesting actually. Today I got an email from them asking what I thought- you know - 'we'd love to hear your views'. I had none. I pressed delete.

H won another competition yesterday. We are off to Exbury Gardens just before Christmas for a ride on the Santa special train. The lady called and I could pick my dates, so went for the 23 December, don't want Santa getting a rest on his day before his busy day. I went through my present collection tonight. H and I made a great t shirt on Vistaprint for her teacher. It has a cartoon of a school and the inscription 'Bumble Bee Base - we are the best' I hope he wears it for PE for the rest of the year.

H has just got into Roald Dahl books, which is encouraging from an academic point of view but also personally as they were favourites of mine. We have started George's marvellous medicine- who can forget Rik Mayall's version on Jackanory? And don't the words 'Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker' make you quiver with anticipation and fear?

All this gadding about to Wales being a bridesmaid has left me far short of my quota of Bitterne visits this week. I did like the village of Whitchurch, where the wedding was held. It had a Peacocks, many varieties of charity shop and a butcher, a baker and a fishmonger all in a row, 2 greegrocers, 2 opticians, several pubs and cafes... I purchased a badge maker for one pound in a charity shop, as it is on H's list for Santa. Feeling very proud of myself, I secreted it in the boot.

On Sunday, R and H went to his headteacher's house to buy a cabin bed for H, and the teenage girl who was selling it gave H the most hi tec badge maker ever. So, my little charity shop bargain is sitting in the present cupboard. I expect A will appreciate having one of her own- or any offers? What are the chances, Matthew, of coming across 2 badge making kits in one weekend?