Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Some of you will know that I like entering competitions - to be absolutely correct I like winning competitions. Pickings have been slim lately, with only a trip to the theatre for R's mum and brother in recent months. Today, I won a professional garden design! A lady is coming to my house to get my ideas for a - wait for it - fruit and vegetable garden! Then she takes photos and draws up a design. The process costs £1500 according to the entry form, but you could rebuild our whole garden for that! I warned her that the space available for fruit and veg was small, to put it mildly, but maybe she will be happy to work on the south terrace, the kitchen garden, the cottagers plots and the rose garden while she is here. We shall see. I remember entering and thinking it would be a stupid prize for us to win as we have one of the smallest gardens in Britain, but here I am, winning again!

School has got into that hectic phase, with trying to teach reading, papier mache, spelling, handwriting, maths, paper scrunching and folding techniques, all bundled in along with assembly and a writing audit (still not done that). That was all in one day, a bit paper heavy. The papier mache is coming along now, done three layers, almost ready to paint. Tomorrow is a sane morning of reading, English, Maths and I will do the audit, and I leave at lunchtime - well, I stay and get my planning done and leave at 2pm. Which is better than doing it at 11pm on a Sunday, as I did this week.

The girls have had their first couple of days at breakfast club, which seemed to go down ok, especially as pancakes and scrambled egg been on the menu so far. After school club today was not a disaster, A's old preschool teachers are now leading the after school club so she had friendly faces, and the other regular children seem nice, and one of them is a little girl A knew from toddler group. At last, she brought home a book with words, for much celebration from all as she read it to us, several times each. As well as the pasta jar (on target for Paultons this weekend) we have started a 'Posh meal out at an Indian restaurant' incentive. Each empty dinner plate is worth £1, and when we have £30 we will all go out for a curry. A a bit disappointed we not going to fly to India for the dinner, but Ryanair don't go there. Now don't come round bringing empty dinner plates and expect me to give you a £1, OK!

Just going to enter a competition to win M and S vouchers.

Wish me luck!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Today was wonderfully sunny, so we used the new 'Sunsail' shade system in our garden. It is a sail that you have to rig up on a clever system R invented. I have been helping rig the boat lately, so have learnt some important words, such as 'cleat'. Anyhow, after school we cycled to Hedge End to the park, which is a brilliant park unlike any of Southampton's offerings. A has only just last weekend got anywhere further than the floor on her stabiliser free bike, so she was back on mine. She and the bike fell over, and that was before we left the drive. There was a peculiar noise and it seemed as though the mudguard was rubbing on the tyre, but we carried on, it was hard work even though downhill and we sounded like a lawnmower buzzing along. On arriving in Hedge End, I called R to ask him to meet us there and bring a screw driver for some running repairs to get us home. It was noisy where both of us were, and I found myself shouting ' I need a screwdriver!' into my phone, to the amusement of a chap crossing the road nearby.

All ended well, as R not only arrived with the tool necessary to do the job, but with his mountain bike so A could sit on the crossbar seat on that rather than on the seat attached to my broken carrier.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Learning German, reading a self improvement book and watching devotional Psalm DVDs have slipped a bit now we are back to the real world of term time, with work on a whole 2.5 days of the week. Damned cat ignored the expensive Norwegian salmon biscuits and left a paw-made union jack in her food tray. I guess she is smarter than we thought, and keen to buy British.

Now, despite the lack of self improvement and language learning, my quest to find cheap entertaining and educational days out continues, and this weekend it is the Heritage Open days, when buildings that are rarely open to the public are open and FREE. Now, that is the draw, but there is usually a good reason why these places are usually shut. However, the museums of Southampton were joining in and offered free admission - and I had a half price bus voucher, so off we went. First stop - The Tudor House. This, and all the other museums, are in the old town of Southampton, which is behind the remarkably intact walls and a delightful area, despite huge and ugly blocks of flats, it retains a lot of character and is a part we never visit, but should! Now, the Tudor House is owned by Southampton City Council, who have finally got their act together and are renovating the house into a interactive and brilliant sounding museum, at a cost of about £5 million. The shocking thing is that the Council had neglected it for so long that English Heritage classed it as 'at risk'. It has a lovely Knot Garden, and a tunnel leading to a Norman merchant's house called King John's Palace, I think. Now, an added bonus of our visits today was the odd 'contemporary' art we literally stumbled upon, in the Vaults of old Southampton. So in this ruined Norman hall were concrete pillows, which I didn't realise, were ART. They really were a stumbling block, and the girls enjoyed using them as stepping stones.

We popped into the ancient St Michael's church and had a complicated discussion about bible thieves. Then off to the Maritime museum, which has an excellent and thoroughly engaging display about the crew of the Titanic, most of whom came from Southampton, and most of whom died. I recommend the museum, along with the Museum of Archeology, which was very interactive and worth more of our time, but we were hungry and had vouchers for Burger King. More art in the Vaults - this time torches making little shadow pictures on the walls. We then tried to do the Merchant House and Merchant Hall, but one was shut and one was being used for a wedding, so came home, via another Vault with a crashed spitfire, smoke and sound effects. ART. Southampton so undersells its history - it is a scandal and I fear yet another sympton of the council which seems to lack direction and vision for the city's culture. So! Take my word for it and go along to check these places out. I intend going on a tour of the city walls to learn more about the history of our city. I may even start taking people on such tours!

Tonight we had a phone call from an anonymous member of Southampton Vineyard Church, who was planning the songs for the meeting tomorrow. Always good to do it with plenty of spare time, and the challenge of leading on a ukele with a bongo for accompaniment would not daunt this housegroup. The request was for chords for songs, and what would have been a challenge would have been singing the tune of one to the chords of the one they asked for and which I dutifuuly passed on. They rang back half an hour later to ask for the right chords for the song they meant to sing. But wouldn't it be fun if they had tried to play the notes we gave them whilst singing another song, and all to a ukelele. Tee hee! When R was at uni, his Christian Union was a bit thin on the ground for musicians, and he once found himself playing the guitar and leading the singing, accompanied by a guy on a washboard and a girl on the trombone. I can't help thinking tomorrow might be a little like that...

Friday, 12 September 2008

Bitterne for food shopping tonight. Sainsburys, which has a weird layout with two entrances, and not enough staff. I bought cat food with 'real Norwegian Salmon'. Like our cat is going to know the difference between a fish caught in Scandinavian waters and one from Blighty. She is a cat with Special Needs, or as R rather unpolitically correct describes her a 'REM'. Short for remedial. Anyway, whatever you call her, she is it. Slow to learn, that pooing on the playroom floor just because it is raining and her litter tray is inches outside her cat flap is not acceptable beahviour. We shut the playroom door because she does it when we are out, but the other day, on Granny Mary's watch, the little feline cutie pie pooed in the playroom while H was sitting in it. So, she has lost another friend she needed to cultivate. She scratches the girls and poos in our house and frankly has nothing going for her apart from her grey fur, and she doesn't moult much or seem to cause too much bother to people with allergies.

I had to go out because I was on a very short fuse and had already blown, reminding the girls VERY LOUDLY that 35 000 children die of hunger every day while they faff about with their dinner and refuse to eat it. H started crying and being distraught, while A looked at me and nodded. But don't you remember your mum telling you 'Children in Africa would be grateful'? Well, here I am, putting the guilt of human poverty and starvation on my children's plates, along with sweet potato ( wrong kind of potato) and the 'wrong kind of sausages'.