Friday, 29 February 2008

Today I had reason to travel through Cobham, and stopped at the Waitrose there, which now has a 2 storey car park. I fear I have written on Cobham before, but as a child I loved it and thought it a dream location for life, lots of my ancestors are buried thereabouts and I obviously felt the pull of the place. But now! Aargh! A multi storey ( OK, only 2) car park? All the cars are enormous urban tractors, the place has less soul than Esher. The American Community School and Chelsea Football Club training ground are the pulling power of Cobham. There is a street of cottages called Post Boys Row, but even the CEO of the Royal Mail probably does not have a salary that stretches to a mortgage on one of them.

Interesting things on the radio news, as I spent my day driving back and forth across Surrey - it always strikes me as amazing that Arsene Wenger got to be the manager of Arsenal. There are so many other football clubs that don't sound like his name - but he held out for the one that sounded so similar that he could have named it after himself. How amazing is that? I mean, did Blackburn approach him, and he said 'Nope, sorry, I need an anagram of my name at the least.'

Also on the news the mother of one of 5 British hostages who made a plea to their captors, who I didn't quite get who they were but guess they are baddies the US despise. Anyhow, in her speech, she said 'we are normal, peace loving British people. We are not responsible for the actions of the US and British governments'. I winced, because in a way we are. We live in a democracy, we (corporately) chose the government, so we have to take some of the responsibility for their actions - don't we? I mean, I get where she was coming from, but if we don't take responsibility for the actions of our government and hold them to account, who on earth will?

I am reading a book by Adrian Plass called 'Jesus - safe, tender, extreme' which is from Bitterne library and an awesome thought provoking read. He is not afraid to say the things that others are afraid to say.

I have been staying in Thames Ditton, after a great Megatrain journey up here for £6. That's from Southampton to London. We had a little section of the train all to ourselves, and as it was my birthday I splashed out on a cup of tea and a chocolate cookie. Regretted it today though, as I weighed in at a Slimming World group up here and I need to lose at least half a pound this week or will have to pay next week at class - ie I am at the top end of my target zone. Still, it was my birthday and I had a Chinese takeaway too...

I had a win this week - but a crummy one. We have won family tickets to the Dinghy show at Alexander Palace this weekend. Although R is a good sailor of old, and until 2 years ago was the proud owner of a catamaran, I don't think we can muster enthusiasm for getting up there. Anyone want them? It probably will be lots of fun if you are keen on boats.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Just returned from a swim at The Quays, and a quick sit in the steam room. It was busy - 4 of us in there, and when 2 started discussing Emmerdale I had to leave fast. I rarely go to The Quays of an evening, and it was busy all over, not just in the steam room. The swimming club took up half of the pool swimming way too fast for my liking. I was in a slow lane, and it was fast for me. Was pondering the fact that I am soon to reach another birthday - Wednesday, in fact, in case you have not yet posted the parcel off. I guess I am not going to ever be an Olympic swimmer now.

Steve and Elaine have still not invited me round for mince pies, and although I still have half a jar of mincemeat, I am embarrassed on their behalf to be making mince pies as the vernal equinox approaches. The great mince pie evening, traditionally held in December, was held back by their grand designs on their lounge. I assume by now it has been Feng shuied and Tony Robinson has unearthed a Roman mosiac under the floorboards which they are restoring. It is my birthday next week (did I say?) so they could always invite me round for a birthday mince pie, couldn't they?

Anyway! Things have been a bit lean in the winnings department this month, so have had to use up some old winnings, today we had the family day out to Paulton's Park. We were there for the whole 7 hours it is open, and although it was cold, it was not that quiet. First thing and last thing we managed to have double goes on some rides, and we went on everything they had there, that was included. Well, I personally didn't, being the least thrill seeking member of our family. H and R went on the Cobra rollercoaster, I bravely went on the other two roller coasters with A, and the teacups, which is pushing it for me. Felt like I had whiplash all day. I feel sick looking at a coach, let alone going on a Magic Carpet. Alton Towers is my idea of hell. The Waverunner is ace, and the water flume too, and we spent ages on the sack slide. Everything about Paulton's is great, the staff are friendly and the toilets are clean, there is no litter and it is full of families having fun. You can let your lunch go down by strolling around the aviaries and seeing the interesting birds who don't seem too fussed by living in the middle of a fun park.

Days of such excitement are rare, as I prefer to live within the confines of the Bitterne world, where excitement is not so easily found as at Paulton's. Still, we did our best yesterday, with a cycle ride to Bitterne (observing the newly laid road surface on Hinkler Rd - bliss!), followed by a Saxon 'fun' time at the library. This involved story telling, dressing up as Saxon people, spinning, weaving and the like. We met the Rodgers on the way, so the fun was greatly enhanced by being with them. We had booked a free game of bowling at AMF Bitterne, and R and I gave our spaces to B and J, so the 4 children bowled and the 3 adults made encouraging noises. The day was completed in Bitternetastic excitement with a DVD rented from the library for the girls to watch at home. Oh, and two Roald Dahl CD audio books to listen to in the car. We started the BFG today, which I didn't read as a child, I think he wrote it after I was too old for RD. The BFG gets his words mixed up and makes up new ones, like funkgobbling and nethertwitching and twirtling. Such fun!

Hope you noticed my love of acronyms in that last paragraph. RD, DVD, AMF, BFG... you could have fun guessing what they mean if you don't know already. I don't know what AMF stands for, for example. A Meaty Fist? AlMost Full? Must be the initials of the person who invented bowling.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Bitterne Walk in Centre this morning, for a blood test. I got there at about 8.15, and although it only opens at 8 it was packed. Clearly the walking wounded of Bitterne and environs made it through the night and up there to queue. I cycled, and felt very pleased that I had when I saw the big queue of exhaust puffing cars up the hill to Bitterne, which I breezed up comfortably. I am so much better at cycling that journey, which is hilly, especially on the way home. I did get off and walk up one of the ends of a hill today on the way home. Yesterday, coming home from the Doctors I did it no problem, and I had cycled to and from Woolston that day. Weird, isn't it? I was in Woolston for my haircut and trawl of the 5 fabulous charity shops Woolston contains. I walked over the Itchen bridge into work, which is not something I often do, and there are many plaques on the way over telling you the Samaritans phone number. Its enough to make you want to jump! R and the girls caught the bus to Bitterne yesterday for a swim, and they scootered all the way home and used the money they saved to buy chips for tea. We are having a cheap week, eating all the food in the freezer and doing fun things for free. Today we had a quick, cold trip to the beach to dig sand and splash in the water, and took flasks of hot drinks and home made cookies with us. Tomorrow we are planning a free day out in Bitterne, with a fun history event at the library, bowling for free using the AMF website freebie, and maybe I will take the girls swimming too. We are going swimming on Sunday, and even for us 3 times in one week is a lot.

No extreme sports going on this week. Extreme amounts of laundry though.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Bitterne today. Nearly went bowling, but it didn't quite come together. I was informed that plans are afoot to get rid of Bitterne AMF bowling centre. Libby, I think that is a cause for social campaigning of far greater worth than whatever is the worst Southampton City Council can do to the libraries. Culture, in its purest form, is to be found in the bowling fraternity. Anyway, we had a good time in the library, and brought home a variety of Anthony Browne books, an illustrator of genius. Also popped into BLC to pay for A's swimming lessons, as she is starting after half term, in the slot straight after H on a Tuesday! How good is that! Only not in the deep end. I imagine she is still in the learner pool. I think she will be freaked out if she has to go in the big cold pool. And who could blame her? It is cold.

Today we had a picnic lunch at the park, which was full of similar pre school children having fun. We were down there on Monday after school too, when it was the fullest I have ever seen it. The sunshine in February drags out even the most reluctant parents...

This morning was my turn to be on the Credit Union duty at the school, and we were rushed off our feet - well, hardly, it's not the Northern Rock or anything. Mainly one fab mum who has all her family and friends investing and brings their money in for them. Incidentally, in this world of repossessions and hard times, our mortgage statement came today, and our monthly payment is being reduced by £3. Only 11 years and 3 months to go! I wonder how much shorter the term would be if we asked to carry on paying the extra £3?

Mind you, the extra £3 will come in handy to pay for A's swimming lesson. Also H is proving expensive this week - £3.50 for a gymnastics badge, and £2.30 for a swimming badge, in the same week. It was her 100m badge. 100m!!!!! That's 4 lengths of Bitterne! How cool is that? Very proud of her, but told her I would not be buying another badge till she got to a mile. My mum bought all my badges, and sewed them on my costume. I sew them on the towel, or, in the case of gym, on the trousers. Gym badges seem a bit ridiculous, you get one for being able to walk in a straight line as far as I can work out.

Monday, 11 February 2008

We have a new chart to reward good behaviour this week in our home, we have been doing tick charts to work on specific areas and I am pleased to report the girls are helping with the laundry well now, although not ironing, sadly. However, this week's plan is a bit different, whereby you start the day with 4 ticks, and you lose one every time you speak in a rude/whiney/whingey/aggressive/whatever thats not kind voice. It seems already to be working, with H massively backtracking her tone in the space of one word as she realises how she sounds. Wouldn't the world be great if we all had a chart like that? I was at school today, in Year 3, stunned by how long it takes to draw 2 parallel lines with a pencil and ruler, and it made me realise how much patience a primary teacher needs - more than any human can possibly muster.

Yesterday was such a beautiful sunny day and we packed loads in. Here we go: church, followed by trip to see Chinese new year dragons in town. then on to Hill Head beach to sit in the sun and meet up with some fab mates, so children all paddled and did things with shells, while I spent most of the afternoon queueing for ice creams from the kiosk, with the staff of one caught out by the unseasonably clement weather. If clement is a word.

Talking of China, I have been thinking about the Olympics and the human rights record of China, being as appauling as it is, and wondering if I should boycott the Olympics in protest? I mean, clearly they are going to win all the Ping Pong, but I was going to enter the shot putt and the triathlon ski events, but may halt my training in protest. Seriously, should I not watch it? I mean, I deliberately don't go to Turkey on holiday because of their human rights record, and I would not go to the USA for recreation for similar reasons, so should I not watch the Chinese Olympics? Has anyone else thought about this? I am wondering if I am the only person on the earth who worries about such trifles, but the news today about the Americans torturing confessions out of the various Sheiks they have unearthed (all alleged, of course) has turned my attention to torture once more. I am not sure that I want to perpetuate this acceptance of torture by spending my cash in the USA. But should I boycott all Chinese products as well? There would be nothing in my house. Life is too complicated when you start thinking about the wider implications of what we do with our dollars. Better to listen to the Archers, keep your head down and grit your teeth. Its hard to do all those things at once.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Do a seat raise. Do snake hips. This is what was shouted at me last night. I was on the trampoline, with 7 girls aged 6-11 watching me have my 'turn' at Girls God Gang. I could barely stand up and jump, so they were expecting a lot of my first lesson. It is very aerobic. I recommend it for anyone wanting to burn off any pieces of Christmas pud or mince pies still lurking around the midriff.

I was cycling home from Netley yesterday, it was a beautiful day, and my route is relatively quiet and an enjoyable ride. Within 10 minutes from home I am on a country lane with fields and hedges and horses and a landfill site. Then comes the pick your own and the pub. Not quite the Cotswolds, but pretty good on a sunny day. Nearly home, I was overtaken (not hard) by a open top turquoise Rover, blaring out pop tunes into the atmosphere. I imagined, stereotypically, that it would be a young person who didn't know better than to buy such a sad car and drive it in February with the roof down. But it was an older guy. Older than me. I mean! Please! Have a bit of dignity, man! What were you thinking?

Each to their own. Live and let live. Etc.

I stopped off at Thornhill Plus You to have my photo taken, and to collect my winnings - its a £25 Tesco voucher. The next issue comes out on 8 March, so I imagine you will be desperate for a copy. I had a peek at the photos from the Awards ceremony we went to a few weeks ago, and there is a great one of AJ and Ellie doing the YMCA dance which I think made it into the magazine.

Today I met a lady called Stella, a name I always wished for as a child, along with Lorraine. Stella Lorraine would be even better. I hear you can change your name by deed poll online now.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Today I officially found out that I won a wordsearch competition in the Thrnhill Today magazine, and some vouchers will be coming my way. A recent tot up:
Year's gym membership ( R went for his induction on Monday)
Paultons trip
Exbury Santa special
Night at the hotel in London
Saints voucher, tour and pennant (sold the vouchers for cash as I not a great Saints fan)
Beaulieu tickets ( waste of pen, entering that one)
A book on Villages of England
A cloth bag

Not bad eh? Well, Ok the cloth bag was rubbish. I have been doing a lot of teaching lately, which may in part explain my not sharing my nuggets with you in this medium. It does give me great opportunity to explain the rules of chance to Year 5s, as we are doing probability in maths. It is all too hard for me to explain really, how buying two lottery tickets doubles your chances, but they are still rubbish odds. As well as struggling with probability (REALLY need Mr Evans Jr for that) I have been struggling with explaining the earth in space (need Mr Evans Sr and his telescope for that). I am OK with all the orbiting and what have you, but the seasons and the tilt of the earth just do my head in. Anyhow, we had a great kinasthetic session today running around on the playground pretending to be moons orbiting the earths who orbited the sun. Tried to do it to scale, so lots of running around in circles and one Earth got a bit dizzy and fell over. Its very awe inspiring stuff, and we had a crazy prof type guy with a blow up planetarium in the hall to show us the stars and talk about the planets and the galaxy and whatever else beyond. Great work if you can get it. The other topic is the Ancient Greeks, so have learnt loads of exciting myths, like Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Theseus and the Minotaur.

I am doing 8 full days work this fortnight, which is great fun, I am covering a paternity leave for a fabulous class. I have just about got them where I want them, which is infinitely more fussy about sharp pencils and clean floors than the average teacher. But tomorrow is my last day, then back to odd days of supply. Last week was tiring as I was at the Vineyard leaders conference in Hayling Island two evenings as well. Less said about Hayling Island the better. Put it this way, roll on global warming - a few inches should do the trick. If it happens while the vineyard leaders conference is on... no, no, perish the thought!

One lovely thing about school is having a school dinner cooked for me every day. Mostly I have a jacket potato and salad, but today was a magnificent roast, with Quorn burger as the Veggie option. I sit with the children in the hall and have odd conversations with them, mainly about how to hold a fork.

At the weekend we had a busy Saturday, with A having started ballet and tap. I used to take H at the agonisingly early time of 9.15 for tap, and had to run around after A who was little and toddly and climbing everything. Now we do the even more awful 8.45 start for ballet, but the delight of sitting in the waiting room with H, who reads her book and does colouring and chats - bliss! I managed to arrange a kids work leaders meeting on Saturday tea time, and fitted in a Tesco shop ( sorry all those a darker shade of green than me) and a trip to Bishopstoke too, then dinner with the lovely Galbraiths in the evening. The girls were having a sleepover evening with Cam, but A insulted him, calling him a poo head, so he wisely decided to leave them to it and slept alone. Last Saturday I drove to Eastbourne to a Children's ministry conference, and this Saturday I have a training day for kidsworkers, so am doing all my church work hours on the weekends and evenings right now.

The Eastbourne trip was cool, I was 'helping' Kathryn on the Curbs stand, but we weren't run off our feet and I made it to 2 seminars, including the fabulous storyteller Bob Hartman. Great to get a fix of Bob and his stories.

Was at Bitterne LC last night, in case you are concerned that all my gadding about the country keeps me from my spiritual home. R and I went for a late evening swim. Not too many veruccae bobbing around on the surf.