Monday, 22 June 2009

Some of you have been asking why you haven't seen me yet on the courts at Wimbledon - its because I have a free ticket to the fourth round, so you won't see me in action till next Monday. I took up tennis on Saturday, so Venus is right to be looking a bit twitchy. R and I had our assessments together, where I came out as a beginner (could have told him that) and R as 'beyond beginner' - which is no surprise as he used to belong to a tennis club in the 1980s. And is good at every sport he tries. We got out 'free' racquets, but I fear I will have to get some of the proper gear before Monday - headband, wristbands, pony tail.

My other sporting passion, is of course, sailing, got until 2012 to get my act together for that, which is just as well as I am proficient at going round in circles. Yesterday the wind was calm and I helmed the whole time, with R as my crew. I managed to boss him around sufficiently, and use nautical terms, sometimes with accuracy! For example, I suggested that we should 'leave the mark to starboard and make for a broad reach on the lee ward side' and I was almost right! There are a lot of words which seem to mean the same thing, like a cricket wicket. I have to tell him when to pull his gyb in, and so on, which is akin to teaching my granny egg sucking. Still, he takes it well and its fun being at the back as the crew takes all the splashy waves in their face. I found that out last week when I was the crew. R took each of the girls out too, and A seemed to be more enthusiastic this time. He also did a race by himself, but I won't mention where he came.

Sarah and I (that's Gale, not T, in case you were panicking there Sarah T) had a training session on Saturday morning, and managed to do our swim in 17 mins ( predicted 18.30, so looking good!) and did the run in 46 minutes. Sarah could have done it in half that, but was pacemaking for me. I had R's new phone gadget which has GPS and can tell you how far you have run. I thought we had done 7 of our 8 km and Sarah ran ahead for the last 1k, back to the gym. I then noticed that we were actually at an altitude of exactly 7 m, and had done 6km. So, a lap of the car park and the cricket ground sorted that out. Still, pleased with my time, that should mean under 1hour 5 minutes on the day. Which is next week, by the way. That is the Aquathon we are doing. The next tri is on Aug something and is in Dibden Purlieu, should you want to spectate.

Amanda goes from strength to strength - she did really well today, buying stamps and envelopes and opening a savings account at the post office, and doing all her food shopping for her lunches and teas. I think she now realises just how much we are underwriting her eating habits! A miracle happened today too - she had to change bus in town to get the bus to her dentist, in Bassett Green near her old house. She 'bumped into' one of her old cronies, which is banned, and Sarah Gale was walking by, saw Amanda with C and took Amanda off in the car to the dentist. Thus saving her from a fate worse than death, which is spending time with someone who still lives at the YMCA. Her teeth are in a bad state, and I have made it one of my many missions to sort her out with something approaching decent looking teeth (that's Amanda, not Sarah - she can sort out her own teeth). I think it is shocking that poverty can be linked so closely with dental health in the 21st century in the UK. If I was her dentist I would be embarrassed to go out in public. So, lets see how we do. Have worked on optician, doctor, nurse, hospital, etc etc, so lets see what the dentist can do for her. Having decent teeth helps the self esteem so hugely I believe.

I did a quick swim today (got to keep you up to date with my training) and spent the morning with my good friend Andrea, from Winchester. I took some scones that were spare after the girls and I baked them before school, and some strawberries picked at Pickwells yesterday. We picked 6lbs in as many minutes, so had to make jam last night. Last week it was my class trip to Arturis to pick strawberries, and the pickings were leaner there. We also made jam and scones with all the children taking home their strawberries they had picked, their cup of jam and their scone. I had some fabulous mum helpers, and there is no way I could have done it without my fab Teaching Assistant who baked scones all day! Unfortunately the coach driver messed up the schedule and my class and I were left at the farm kicking our heels for half an hour, while I made up strawberry related maths tasks to occupy the children.

On Friday I had my INSET day at my new school, doing lots of planning, yummy! Went from there back to work to do some report amendments, and the girls were out at the circus so I stayed at work til 6. I still have never been to a circus. These days they don't have elephants on balls or anything like that, just clowns and acrobats. Still, the girls came home full of the excitement of it. Today, H said to me, as she fried herself an egg, 'these aren't battery eggs are they?' which SO sounded like me at her age! I am so chuffed with her for being able to fry an egg, I just hang around in case of disaster, but she is better at it than me. I always break the yolks and end up with a small messy omlette.

Our garden is doing well, everything growing madly, especially the lettuces, which are overpowering all the other crops in their boxes. One of my boxes seems to have a slug problem, the rest are fairly free of holes. The fruit is not looking too good though, I think I need to manure the soil this winter. Anyone offering? Last week on my run I passed a skip with some bedding plants in it, so I rescued them and gave them a new life in my garden. I went back the next day for some more, but a builder had poured rubble over them. And do you know, I felt guilty for not rescuing more. That shows that gardening has overtaken your soul.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

This is my lovely neighbour, Heather, who I took to Mottisfont yesterday. It was a lovely day out, I treated her, which was hard work as she kept trying to pay for things. She has lived in the same house since it was built ( 1958?) and is a very hard grafting lady, who does more cleaning in a day than the rest of us ever do. She still works, cleaning for 2 mornings a week for others. She said she had NEVER been to a place like Mottisfont before, and had no idea gardens with so many flowers existed. Now, ladies and genteleman, that sounds to me like an injustice if ever there was one. We had lunch in the pub at Dunbridge station, where Ang memorably knocked over her glass of beer that she had looked forward to throughout our mega bike ride last summer. We had no money left, so she had to lick up the remnant from the table and do without. R, H A and granny Mary came to Mottisfont on Friday evening too. It is really spectacular and open til 8pm in June. I could spend all day wandering around the walled gardens admiring the flowers. So, if you are at a loose end the next few weeks and want to take me with you, I have an NT card and get in for free and will be no trouble.

We worked hard on the garden at the weekend, and some pictures will be posted shortly to accompany the experience of listening to me, dear friends, this Sunday, 12 noon on BBC radio Solent, where once again I am taking to the airwaves to expound my knowledge of gardening. It will be over in about 30 seconds.

I am scheming with Grannmy Mary to go to Wimbledon this year, it having been 21 years since I last went I think I am due a visit. Sadly I was not seeded for this year's event, but you will be able to catch me at Eastbourne later in the year. Some of the ladies at the tennis club ( our posh gym) are so elderly that I surely would be able to play tennis, based on fitness alone with no regard for style or skill? We have really enjoyed the outdoor pool in the recent hot weather, sadly so do all the other members, so it gets a bit choppy. Most of them like sunbathing more than swimming. I went to aerobics this morning, which I really like, it is sad that with so many demands on my fitness time I rarely benefit from the plethora of classes on offer. On Saturday morning Sarah and I did a dummy run for our Aquathon, with a swim and a run around the common. I think I will do OK.
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Monday, 1 June 2009

And this is H, on her own in the Optomist, sailing while listening to the Okey Cokey on her MP3 player.
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I am the one at the back with the yellow life jacket and the stupid hat. Those of you with some knowledge of the high seas will notice that I am the one steering, and the land mass we are headed for is Mexico. Which shows you how good I am at steering.
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