Thursday, 30 April 2009

Today I have been attempting to teach 5 and 6 year olds to write poems. It is not a pretty sight, and the efforts they have produced are entirely a credit to their other teacher, and not me. I was sweating blood trying to get rhyming couplets out of someone who doesn't use finger spaces! Felt all discomfistubalted today, rushing, and late to singing practice ( poetry overran) which I don't like. The rain didn't help the poems flow, and led to a fractious science lesson with them blowing through straws to move balls along tables. It looked like it had been raining indoors, but was actually flecks of spit from the ends of the straws. They are, luckily, superb and fun children to be with, even when trying to puff at balls and write poetry in the name of education. So I still would rather be there with them than behind a desk, even, dear Matthew, writing code, which you think I would enjoy. Writing codes for computers, or experimenting with balls and straws? It's a 'no brainer!' as they say!

Hey, we have been invited to a very posh sounding wedding by a Sir and Lady! This is a once in a lifetime occurence (this is the second time) up there with attending a funeral hosted by an Archbishop. So, I need to fish out a correspondence card and the family inkwell and reply to the gracious invitation etc etc.. R's uncle is a Sir, due to the amount of time he spent toiling away in academia and natural history, and R's cousin Louise is getting married. I am sure it will be a fabulous family event and despite us only seeing Louise at weddings we are delighted to be invited to her own.

All is going well here in the Rehab unit I am running. We now have a cleaner who does once a week and it is making a huge difference to how I feel about the balance of amanda/housework etc etc.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Today, after arising, I did usual chores and then had a lovely cup of tea and chat with AJ, who is a blessing of a friend who is not seen often enough these days. I gave her a lift to her next stop, en route to Netley Abbey, where I hung out with the monks and God for a bit of quiet time. It is so atmospheric there, you can almost feel a monk's habit brush past you in the cloister, or hear them singing in the chapel. The wall flowers were blooming, in the walls, and you just can't beat the place for peace. And, somehow, English Heritage have not slapped a kiosk and tea shop there, so you just wander in and round. I think it is a very underused resource for history teaching, and for worship, but maybe it is always heaving with visitors when I am not there. And now it is on here, it will be full of my followers clogging the place up, a la Furzey Gardens.

After the abbey was the beauty room for essential pre race waxing (need to be aerodynamic - had head done too) then off to school for a catch up with my partner. From there, a quick zip to M and S for lunch with a lady who lunches - that's Hattie, who is amazingly free on Tuesdays. That is, her schedule is uncluttered, or maybe I just got a lucky day, NOT that she is particularly free in anyway (you have to buy her lunch!). After a little foray into the freezer section in Sainsbury's it was home to a complicated and exhausting conversation with Amanda about her family, and why seeing them in a small window of time before another event was not going to work, then a trip to the park with the girls which was fun, while Amanda cooked tea. Our park finally has a few new items, they are big wooden climbing structures which proved lots of fun. We also nipped up the hill to the new zip wire in the woods and H and A had the advantage of two older girls happy to push them. So, tell the park conservators that they are doing a good job please Duncan. After tea I did bath time for A, while A helped and Emma and Alisha practised their maths in the kitchen, and Rob and H meanwhile were out swimming. After putting everyone to bed I should really be collapsed with a large sherry, but as my dad knows drinking alone is a sign of alcoholic tendency.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Today the girls had enough pasta in the jar for their treat, which was to go to Poppins for pancakes. Amazingly, on the rare occasion that we go to Portswood, A noticed that a new Poppins is being built there. I heartily recommend it, its like a Wimpy in the olden days, staffed entirely by Greek or Turkish or similar men. Sorry to cause offence by lumping the Greeks and Turks together like that. Anyhow, we went to Eastleigh for our Poppins experience, during which we also bought h some leggings in New Look. The girl was very helpful, explaining how to wear them - kind of scrunched up, a look I had hoped had gone out with the 80s. Its seems 80s is in, with lots of garish colours and boob tube style tops. NO ONE looks good in a boob tube!Might be handy top for breastfeeding, leading me neatly into describing my delight at meeting the latest Evans prodigy, a 3 day old A looky likey with dark hair and eyes and enough meat on her bones! I don't do scrawny babies, and like me, Anna likes to have hers overdone too, with 11 days coming close to H's overtime, but nothing on A's ridiculous 15 days over which is doubly ridiculous for someone who gets up early every morning and doesn't do late. I snuck in to see the lovely babe on a bike ride to Rhinefield where I met the rest of my family and the Whitmores for a 7 mile bike ride, which seemed like a walk in the park after the 15 miles in the saddle to get there. Made good time and confident for the race now. Did the ride straight out of the pool, wet, to try it out. I don't recommend it. Athletes foot should be called Triathletes foot, as if you jump out of a pool and put your feet in trainers you are asking to catch germs between your toes aren't you? Was fiddling around with a quick towel dry but think I need to improve my time in the changeover. Then did a run last night over to the Lone Barn - cross country, and was picked up by a friend just before that last steep hill up out of Lowford towards the pub. She had already been primed to bring my spare clothes so I was not sat in lycra for our NCT meet up. Had seen quite a lot of V and R as had looked after V's lovely children on Friday, and had R and co to lunch, then James and R came to the sailing club on Saturday for a trial sail for James. Sadly, his sea legs gave way and despite it being the calmest, sunniest most perfect day for beginners he found it all a bit much. A went right out on the Topper with R, and swapped sides a few times, and H did some capsize drill in the Topper with amazing style. Oh I am dreading that bit! We had swum before sailing, in my campaign to hothouse my children ready for 2012 - I know, A will be a bit young to be winning medals by then, but I am hoping H will sweep the board in the sailing and swimming events. Oh, cycling too, why not?

R has been busy making the planters for the garden, and I have today planted them up with some of my lettuces and tomatoes and other unidentified veg. I don't really do those little tags which say what is what, so its always a pleasant suprise to see what grows.

School tomorrow, back to real life after a fabulous couple of weeks off. The girls are so much nicer to each other in the holidays. Grit teeth for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009
I don't know how to do it better than that, but there is a photo of me doing the run. Unfortunately there is another (slower) person in the photo who I don't know, so will not be buying the mug.

However! The official times for the race show that I did it in 29 mins and 8 seconds, thus shaving 50 seconds off the unofficial time on the day and meaning I am massively better than I thought I was. HOW GOOD IS THAT??

Had a lovely run on bank holiday Monday along the shore from the sailing club to Hamble, then back through the country park. Sun shining as it always does on my runs. Worried about the swim and cycle now, but as my sponsor says - Just do it.

Today we went to Paulton's, thanks to the church parting gift from my job last year, we had gift vouchers, so the trip only cost us £6 - thus maintaining my aim to never pay full price to go to Paulton's. Fabulous weather for it, and I was really brave and went on the Cobra, which I have to say was one of the worst things I have ever done. But, I did it, felt the fear, didn't sweat the small stuff. Took ages to queue, next to a very badly behaved boy and his ineffective father. When you go to Paulton's you do see how badly lots of kids behave and how badly lots of parents parent. Not that we are perfect, but if they whine and moan there we threaten them with sitting in the car and they soon shut up - because we have followed through in other similar situations, I guess. I do my best teacher glare at these oiks in the queue and they tend to simmer down a little. That's just the parents! I love Paulton's, it is so clean, the staff are polite and the rules are strictly enforced, everyone is having a nice time, the food and drink is not shockingly expensive and it is nearby. And better still I have never paid more than £5 a head to get in.

Sailing club on Monday, I was on duty, in the bar, which is very quiet, despite the sun and a crowd, I sold a few very bad pints of beer ( bad because it was the first time I had poured beer in a bar) and a few packets of peanuts. It was cold indoors in the shade, and R was out sailing with both the girls, A's first go in the Mirror, then with H on the Topper with her doing everything and him sitting on the front instructing. I then swapped with R and he had a busy time of it in the bar for the last hour, after I had 4 hours of almost no trade at all. A made a little friend called Zac who is also 5, he seemed to get the measure of her and successfully came and found me for a rescue when she climbed too high up a tree. I had a scary moment when I lost her, and Zac came to the rescue with a precise location for her. I hope he is around every weekend. And possibly for the rest of her life!

The lovely Amanda is back living chez nous, glad to get her out of the YMCA. Despite the catchy lyrics and all the best intentions of everyone in the world of helping young people get their lives back on track, it is NOT fun to stay at the YMCA. It is the worst thing you can do if you are a vulnerable young person with a difficult life situation and background. You need a family for heavens sake! The last thing you need is to hang out with a lot of people with very similar situations to you and no coping strategies. The support staff are excellent, just only a few of them and a lot of tenants to deal with. Maybe society finds it easier to cope by effectively having difficult teenagers out of sight, out of mind? Can't help them all, but one rescued temporarily from the brink of homelessness so we shall see how we do! Will need a lot of love and support to do this and do it well for her. That's where you come in!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Have had a very agreeable time away in Surrey, staying with Ma and Pa Gibbs. We had a couple of days with our lovely nephew, A, who is 3 soon and so funny and adorable in a way only a 2 year old can be. We took him and the girls to Wisley, which is a garden run by the RHS and quite famous, and busy, and beautiful especially in Spring with the camelias, and other blossom everywhere. Ma and Pa took the girls to Claremont, another local garden, run by NT. The whole of Surrey is basically one National Trust property after another with a few villages in between, which, long term followers will note, only the gentry (who can not keep up the NT properties) can afford to live in. My dream house is up for sale - its an old cottage on Telegraph lane, right on the edge of Claygate with views of horses and fields, and two bedrooms. It costs £330 000. So, no move on the horizon. I did lots of running, its a runner's dream location, with instant access to fields, woods etc and relatively flat. Today I took Mike ( H's godfather) out for an 8am run, he had not run for a few years so I was playing the leader and he was catching up. Made a change. We did find the only hill for miles around to run up, and over, and back again as I had missed a turning. Poor Mike. Yesterday R and I went for a run with H on her bike, we did quite a long one and I felt great. H biking and me running is a winning combination. The day before that I did a run on my own across the common and was pleased with that too. Also did some swimming - 2 sessions, at the Esporta in Kingston, which we like as it is clean and quiet and we have paid for it already. We also tried out Esporta in Guildford, even cleaner and quieter, and water a bit cold. A (nephew) was not impressed, he is not a fan of swimming, but he and I played on Cbeebies website in the cafe while R and the girls carried on their swim. Took Mike's dog for a walk in the rain today, so all in all a very active few days for the Bowens. No shocks so far eh? I did a quick perusal of the charity shop in Claygate but did not do my usual pilgrimage to Surbiton to buy up all the bargains. I did drop my dad off at Surbiton station for one of his trips to London. He goes so rarely, it literally takes royalty to drop dead to get him on a train to Waterloo, this time it was a scouting friend of his whose funeral he was attending. Now, so far, so dull. But wait! The funeral was conducted at Lambeth Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury! Not many people get their funerals done by him, do they? He usually sends a lackey. Today we went to the church in Claygate, which is huge in terms of the size of the building, and the number of people who are members. It was full for the all age Good Friday session, at which we sang 5 songs and went round the building and did things to remember the crucifixion - a bit like we have done previously when our housegroup did Easter for our church, if you were there. It was all very well done and I think the girls appreciated the experience as an addition to their usual diet of godly play in a small group.

Back home to the mammoth shed; and the smell of cat poo in the play room.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Well, I am now an international top athlete, having acheived a previously unreachable time for a 5km run. unreachable by me. I am guessing Paula did it in nappies. Anyway, my target was to be under 30 mins, and I did it in 29 mins and 58 seconds. Good eh? Not knowing anything about race etiquette, I meekly put myself at the back end of the start for the 5k (we were mainly the fat, female or disabled, or wearing fancy dress, or all of the above) after the 21k and 10k had set off. Had that 'what to wear' dilemma, abut as the sun came out was glad I had opted for my bikini. Anyhow, as soon as we set off I was overtaking people, who seemed to be out for a walk in the park, frankly, some of them walking up the first hill. So over all, I overtook heaps of the field and was really really chuffed with my placing - 41st out of 181. HOW GOOD IS THAT FOR MY FIRST TIME? I am addicted and now planning a 10k run for a month or so after the tri. And then another tri to do with Sarah. The location was lovely, if difficult to find, but for future reference,its near Birdworld. The playpark by the start and finish was big and fun and kept the 4 children and Chris happy while the other 3 of us dashed around the woods. I loved the feeling of crossing the finish line, it made Paul's writing (Ephesians/Phillipians? ) much more real for me, as the last race I had entered was in 1985 the metaphor had no reference in my life. But that last little bit, coming up a hill and seeing the finish line, made me keep going just a teeny bit faster, and I got what Paul was talking about for myself.

R came home after doing the 10k run and set about constructing our new shed, with the help of his Amish barn building brothers. It looks like a barn. It is 14ft by 10ft in old money and has a double door, which has given rise to it being described as a stable and uses suggested including a practice room for Adam's drums or a sauna. I think we have a Philipino family moving in as refugees, but don't tell the neighbours. I am looking forward to getting the rubbish ( i mean R's important bike things) off the patio and into the huge wooden storage container in the corner.