Tuesday, 28 July 2009

I played two lots of 9 o clock tennis today. That was 9am with Dolcie from my beginners class, who managed to beat me 3 games to 2 when we were scoring, and has a wicked serve. Then 9pm tennis, which is R and I's regular slot, and today we were joined with another of my new tennis buddies, Jo. She is about as bad as me. R played against us, ie one vs two, and the only way we got anything like an even game (ie we won 1, he won 9) was when we made him play right handed. Things were so bad we were going to blindfold him and make him hop, just so we could get the odd point. I did my swimming practice straight after, and so in this last 24 hours 10% of my time has been devoted to exercising.

The girls and I had a lovely time in the Hedge End park next to the library, where I got chatting (for once it was someone else who started it) to someone which passed the time, and A made a lovely little friend to go on the swings etc with. Someone at work said that she and her son have a summer holiday challenge to go to a different park everyday, which I like. We did the park next to my new school the other day, a short, pleasant walk from Royal Victoria Park and a mlluch better selection of play equipment than in the parks by the tea shop. We popped into Hedge End library on a quest for as many CDs as possible to listen to on summer jouneys in the car. Maybe we could add to the park a day challenge, and add a library a day to it? we are enjoying some books by Jeanne Willis and Korky Paul called 'Crazy Jobs' and also reading Mr Gum by Andy Stanton. I totally recommend his writing, even if you don't have children, he loves words. I just found out about a course I want to do, it is an MA in Children's literature. I did English literature A level and wanted to study fairy tales at university, but didn't realise you actually could, so did Environmental Sciences. So, this could be my big chance, and as I have an MSc it would only be right to get an MA too. However, I don't think this year coming up would be the best time to start it, so am resisting and going to have a look at it again for next September, maybe. Its a distance learning course, and as I learn by talking, that might be a struggle for me.

H came to school with me today and proved to be very nifty on the paper trimmer, helping me out immensely. There still seems a lot to do, but the classroom is now clean and getting a bit of order in it! Meanwhile at home, A and R were busy cleaning out the playroom, with the objective of ridding it of cat wee smell once and for all. This involved sawing the bottom sections off all the shelves and 3 washes of the floor. We have put a fair few bits of toys/tat on freecycle, and are hoping to be able to do the ironing in the play room, as its not much fun having an ironing board in your bedroom. Where do other people keep theirs? It should be renamed the office/ironing room, as no one plays in it much. Only to do messy craft projects. A's project of the day was cutting hair off the doll's head thing she has and gluing it inside a shoebox. A bit macabre. She said her doll's head looked like a freak. It did before she cut its hair off, now it looks like a freak who had an appointment with the worst hairdresser in Britain.

R took the tents down at Netley, as a whole day passed without precipitation. Hurrah! And he took them for their obligatory daily dip at the pool while I tried to tidy the house up a bit ready for Wendy.

Most exciting of all, H and I went to Bitterne today, to pick up my prescription from Superdrug, and to buy some buns for us all in the Baker's Oven. H had some goes on the slide, but she is now so big for it, she gets to the bottom before she has left the top. On the noticeboard was a sign which said Bitterne's got talent! Geddit! It was asking for people to sign up to do a turn at some local talent contest. Now, how good is that? Sadly I don't have any talents which work on stage. yet.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Home again after 4 nights in a tent in Netley. We stayed Thursday in the rain, just us and one other guy in the field. Friday night was busier, Saturday night it was looking and sounding like Glastonbury, and we had AJ and co and Kelly and co with us too, then last night in the rain, down to ony 3 tents again, and the rope tyre swing to ourselves. All the children had some injury or other from the rope tyre swing, but that's what they are for, isn't it? Children virtually feral, rounded up now and again for showers or odd food that you only eat when you are camping. As we eat out of plastic pots from the scrapstore to minimise washing up, the meals are a little odd. Everyone got on relatively happily, and I found a great short cut to my new work, where I spent the day on Friday. I did several runs down there too, nice to run somewhere pretty much flat. I am so worried about impending triathlon, and a 10k run booked for October! I went to Body Balance today, as my training schedule suggests once a week not running but doing some stretching and core conditioning. Sure was that! We got to the swimming pool straight from the camp site, and found that there were two ladies in the pool. We assumed there was a secret new adult only session during the summer holidays, but no, just we were there at the right time. How cool was that? I spent the afternoon washing and inventing new places to hang wet clothes. Sadly ran out of ideas before I ran out of washing. Those of you who read the Southampton Vineyard blog will know that I am planning to write a book: 'I still have more washing than line'. An autobiography. Meanwhile, the girls watched Mary Poppins, which is the only sane thing to do on a wet afternoon in the summer holidays.

Smelly horrid cat has weed all over the place in our absence, I find myself apologising to our lovely cleaner about it.

A used the word 'negotiate' correctly in a sentence yesterday. I was stunned, as I don't think I have ever used the word in a sentence, let alone correctly.

I have just spent a couple of hours trying to find resources to make my new class room look smart and nice. It is big, which is in its favour compared to the cupboards that pass for classrooms at Berrywood, and it has a door and is getting a archway plasterboarded up, again, a massive bonus as Berrywood is as open plan as they come. The school is older, 1950s, and just that bit gloomier. Hence my quest for groovy display materials.

Jo Hayles popped down to our campsite on Sunday, and spent the afternoon doing crosswords in the rain with me, enjoying the English monsoon season. We also watched R sail for a bit, and on Saturday I had a go at sailing. The weather on Saturday was a force 5, and on Sunday, when R did two races, Force 6 gusting 7. Now, I did 10 minutes on the Saturday and had to come in, I was a liability as I need to be told what to do all the time to keep me calm, and R was doing all he could to keep the boat the right way up in the water. I screamed so much and couldn't see or breathe, as there were waves splashing me constantly. We had been listening to some instruction on land, and were supposed to be putting it into action on the water. I couldn't even see the instructors. when R said 'if we capsize...' I decided to head for sure, and nearly suggested jumping in and swimming for it rather than negotiate (see, did it) some tacking to get in to land.
I am made for a gin palace, or a maximum wind force of 3 if that's not an option. I glazed over in the theory bit when the guy mentioned downloading the technical manual and measuring things. R, meanwhile, thought the ideas sounded great and can't wait to get down there with his tape measure and a marker pen. Next summer the national championships are being held at Netley, so R has the trophy in his sights! Without me as crew, clearly, unless the sun is shining hard and the water is like a mirror. He had a great time, and managed not only to not capsize but to come a decent 4th out of 8 in one race, and first in another! He loved it, but was a bit wobbly afterwards. Interestingly, he has waterproofed the tent earlier on and inadvertantly waterproofed his hands, which made holding wet ropes a challenge.

Before the camping, I can barely remember life. It was the last week of term, and I came home laden down with generous gifts from the adorable children I am leaving behind. I didn't feel that emotional to be leaving, just exhausted and ready for a nap. Tennis was much better this week, it was my last class and went well, we played games to practise scoring, and I got some serves in, and returned some balls. Which seems to be the aim of the game.

Oh, last week we had H's birthday party, a barbecue at home. She had 6 friends over, and we did T shirt painting, played games and iced biscuits and made fruit kebabs. I so love doing parties, and they all had a a great time. End of term - the girls were pleased to find out who their new teachers are for September, and H pleased to get her 100% attendance certificate for the year. She in entitled to a John Lewis voucher and a trip out with the other children from across the school who achieved 100%. A made 98.3%, she missed one day in October. So, I can safely say that my children are helping the school hit its attendance figures! Now I am working 3 days they can't be ill!

I had a mad Friday a couple of weeks ago, where I rushed to Sainsburys after school to buy hundreds of baps for the school barbecue, then dropped them off at Kanes hill, picked up girls and helped slice all the baps. Then to tennis lesson, then back to school barbecue briefly ( Granny Mary won a bottle of wine in the raffle), then off to another barbecue at the home of my job share partner, who, incidentally, is the sister of my old Slimming World consultant. That was all between 4pm and 8pm. On the Saturday we went to Granny Mary's for lunch ( I drove up, and had a sleep on arrival) and R emptied the loft of a load of old crap prior to the insulation men coming round. Hurray! This Christmas I might be able to move away from the fire! Andreas was with Mary for complicated reasons beyond our understanding, but it meant he got to hang out with his cousins all day, whom he rarely sees as he is always in Cyprus in the holidays, and in Tooting the rest of the time. Him and H went on the ghost train at the Claygate flower show, a lucrative business plan, as it cost £2.50 and took about 30 seconds. But the look on H's face was priceless! We had lovely Ellie with us, and hung around with other cousin Angus too, so a lovely day, except for the rubbish weather. We had tea at the Foley, a nice Claygate pub with a big garden and play area, and a barbecue being staffed by the most incompetent people you could dream of. Eventually we were all fed, but by then it was raining hard and we had the look of tired, cold, wet and hungry people you normally see selling the Big Issue, not sitting in pub gardens. One other rubbish thing was the Punch and Judy show. The sound quality was dire, and she gets paid £100 for two little shows. I seriously am thinking about that as a a job when I retire. I could so easily be so much better than her, and not wear tartan trousers. Pete Kitts could do sound effects for me on his guitar.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

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Matthew, I knew you would shed some light on the subject of velocity.

New joke for you: accidentally made up yesterday... What's the fastest salad vegetable?
rocket. Amy thought it would be spinach, which would work if the movement was gyratory.

Today is H's 8th birthday, which is enough to put anyone in a High School Muscial frenzy. Well done to Fairy Godmother Jo who sent a HSM bag, book, purse and top trumps. I don't get how Sharpei has low style marks and lots of brains. And Gabriella's best friend who is really clever gets lower scores for brains than style. A bought H a HSM dress and leggings. We bought her a basketball hoop and netball (not that I am competitive) and Mary bought her a grown up sleeping bag. Granny B and Grandad P sent money, Amanda gave her an MP3 player (R had it lying around, so don't tell anyone). H has a great gift for looking genuinely delighted with all her presents, and the balloon puffing exhalations of late last night made for a suitably perky looking kitchen table at 7am. We all shot home from school to go for our family meal at Pizza Express, H's choice, courtesy of Tesco Clubcards. We don't go to Tesco much, but the odd stop at a garage convenience store, and buying a TV clearly helped bump up the vouchers. I got £8 in the Coop's recent dividend payout, so that's a hell of a lot of bread and milk! We had a pleasant meal in a busy but efficient restaurant, they do a great child's menu for £6 for 3 courses. Would have done me too, the amounts the girls got - I was fed up of pizza too soon. Had banoffee pie and cake. Going out for lunch tomorrow, then out for 2 barbecues in the evening, then lunch at Mary's and lunch with church on Sunday - I shall burst.

R and I had a fractious tennis session on Tuesday night. I ran there, as desperate for the time to train, but running followed by tennnis shows up my lack of fitness right now. And my grumpiness when blood sugar down. Got tennis lesson tomorrow. Last week was awful, as I just don't get the smash shot at all. I am no good at serving either, but did improve on Tuesday.

Swine flu is everywhere, my school and the girls' school. I read the list of symptons and am pretty sure both R and I have already had it, and H has had a sore throat last week too. So, sorry everyone, we just carried on as normal so hope we are not the guilty ones who sent it to you. Don't think its the kind of virus you can get through an email.

Our amp has recently malfunctioned, after we bought speaker stands and got a colleague's partner to set them all up properly ( it is his job, not just being cheeky to a comparative stranger). Before he did that we hardly used it and it worked, then we started using it more and it doesn't. We now have to decide whether to repair or replace. Its less than 2 years old, so either of those options seems a bit premature. Our lawnmower is not great either, it is a composite of two old ones from the dump, and doesn't seem to be able to achieve cutting grass and getting it out of the way. Again - repair? recycle? or sod it and buy a new one? Do you like what I did there?

We were intending on taking this comparative stranger (Mike - great name for a guy in PA and stereos and all that) and Laura for a sail on Saturday, along with manning the bar. But did you see the weather on Saturday? I rushed back from pony trekking in the New Forest as they were expecting a lot of extra boats at the club for a national something or other, however, the 25 hardy boatsful of teenagers who had travelled to do the competition were not beer monsters, and were happy with chips and tea and blankets. At one point the bar had 2 people in it, both reading books. Granny M was down, and she and I and H walked to the village to buy a paper, but that was the most energetic any of us got.

The morning weather in Burley was drizzly, but fun to be on a horse, and did some trotting! Shame I had the special needs horse, Hayley, who had to go at the back and needed a behaviour chart to stick with the rest of the pack. She did 3 wees as well. It was a busy weekend, as on the Friday night I was staying in Beaulieu with my old school, to celebrate the retirement of my mentor from my NQT year. It is the most amazing bunch of staff you could hope for, a great fun evening with all joining in. I was the only old colleague there, and I left in 2000, but they welcomed me as though I had never left. I would work there again at the drop of a hat (what does that mean?) but its too far away with getting the girls to breakfast club. It's a real community of people, a band of brothers - well sisters and one brother. I did a nice flat, fast run in Beaulieu, and then the horse riding was part of the festivities for Ann's retirement.

On Sunday I went to Hampton Court flower show with Libby, and enjoyed better weather and a really relaxed day out, mooching around looking at ideas for gardens and enjoying the picnic R has carefully selected to appeal to our palates. The only problem were the other people there, it was very crowded and in future I shall ask for a private viewing. I shall try to upload you some pictures forthwith.

Last night I impaled six slugs and two snails, and threw their carcasses on the shed roof, as a warning to other molluscs flying over to stay away from my tomatoes.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Aha! Its Fri 25th of Sept for the pottery throwing evening.

Recently we have tried being nice to our fat cat, in an effort to make her slimmer and less horrid (ie not pooing in the playroom/kitchen/lounge). We looked up what to do, and have moved her food, changed her food and put a bit of string on a stick to wave at her and help her exercise. We started all this on Monday. Today, H said to Emily (cat) 'Well done! you are getting thinner!' (hadn't spotted it myself). H then went and made a medal for the cat which says
'No 1 Well done, excellent you are getting thinner.'

All those Slimming World meetings she attended as a baby obviously went in at a deep level.

The girls had sports day yesterday, and Amanda went to whoop and holler them along, A found the whole thing a bit odd and walked the races she was in, by all accounts, with a bemused but happy smile. I went for my first run in nearly 3 weeks yesterday, and managed half my usual distance at half my pace in the same time! I have to rebuild some form soon, as I finally think this throat infection/gland thing etc etc has gone!! I am running in the 3.30 at Tadcaster this Saturday but don't put any money on me.

Today was one of those days at school where you leave with your head in your hands, having severed it at the neck to spare yourself the agony of dealing with quite how ineffective and rubbish you feel. Hoping things will be on the up tomorrow, especially as I am meeting my new class.

R and I had an amusing conversation ( for him, not me) a few nights ago when he was testing me on my sailing theory. It's all about apparent and real wind, and how, if you were cycling at 90mph in a hurricane of 90mph, in the same direction at the wind, IT WOULD NOT FEEL WINDY. We went through many scenarios ( downhill, uphill, Isle of Wight ferry doing 90mph, but he says it is one of those rules of the universe that holds fast whatever the vehicle. It seems to be a bit of Physics I skipped at school, too busy counting dots on ticker tape.

Monday, 6 July 2009

After such a flurry of comments from my devotees, I feel compelled to tell you that it is raining here, and although as a gardener I see summer rain as a 'good thing' I fear for the lettuces as the slugs will be out. Come over at 10 tonight with a penknife (not one you use for camp cooking) and you can take home a slug harvest.

Today, I met up with Suzanne, who is going to be my informal support worker, supporting me and letting me get things off my chest, as it were, with regard to our in house project. Was a bit of a Kevin morning for the dear darling, but she said sorry later, and getting to rant at Suzanne while walking around Victoria Park was very positive.

I also picked up some printers from work which are en route to R's work, and went to H's music concert at school. Violins, clarinets and french horns, played by 8 year olds, are far from 'music to my ears'. They had put in lots of effort, were reading proper notes and H played the tune to Old Macdonald, and did a dance to Cotton Eye Joe. As always I am impressed with the quality of the arts at Kanes Hill, they have a great music coordinator and next year H will be in the orchestra. Many schools in much more affluent areas do not have nearly such good music and drama. For me it, and excellence in sports, are an indicator of a good education being provided.

After school we went to Bitterne library, perfect rainy day choice. Then home to make cornflake cakes with Amanda, and cook tea for us and another family who have recently had a baby. We do that for people in our church, but I have always thought it is more radical and more like Jesus to do it for people who are not in our church. It was a bit of a cop out meal though, mostly cooked by Mr Sainsbury and his friends and heated up by me. Our tea tonight was odd, H ate, while I delivered the dinner and Amanda cooked an omlette for me and her. Then R ate (he has been ill at home today - highly unusual, query SWINE FLU), while I talked to Jo Hayles on the phone. Then I and Amanda ate. Then I picked A up from Rainbows and she ate. We are a family who all sit around the table to have dinner. Just not at the same time.

Tried to persuade Jo that the Claygate flower show was worth coming back from Bangladesh for( I genuinely believe that it is). We settled on pencilling in a possible sailing date - as I am now so good I think R and I could have a bash at the Isle of Wight this summer. I did all the helming on Saturday, and was generally aware of the wind and knew what I was doing wrong, and how to sort out my own problems without a whiff of panic. Jo does the odd bit of sailing so is looking forward to a spin round the bay, as it were, with me.

I filled in a form today for the NUT, and as well as wanting to know whether I was disabled, they wanted to know if I was gay, lesbian etc. I ticked the 'prefer not to say' box. What a nosy bunch of malingerers must work at Union HQ. Does it affect anyone's ability to teach? No? Then why do they want to know?

I have achieved a couple of very dull admin tasks this week - getting a quote and paying for travel and home insurance. Having Amanda bumped our premium up significantly, as she is a risk. Tell me about it! she set light to her kitchen at the YMCA. I go through all that hoo hah on line filling in the details, then do it again on the phone, and feel my life blood dripping away as I hold to be connected to someone else who wants me to repeat my address. Still, got the breakdown cover sorted at the same time, so don't need to watch the paint dry while listening to Vivaldi again on another 'help' line.

Heather (lovely neighbour) is going to take me on a returning the favour trip to The Range, a super big shop which is like Pound land but without the uniform pricing. I also have a pleasant trip out planned with my old Year 3 LSA, to a National Trust property. Oh, and I am having another one of those pottery parties in September, where you paint a plate, if you want to come.

Yesterday we went to the big church where our house group led the first half of the meeting, then we had a barbecue with Paul and Rachel in Fair Oak, enjoying their garden, hammocks and chickens, and the Pimms I had taken along. Pimms also consumed at our womens' group on Saturday night. As it was my turn, I made everyone come on a walk with me, the one I found as a run around Botley/Hedge End/Manor Farm that I keep going on about. I had organised a pudding and Pimms picnic for the end, so much laughter and fun had as we watched the bats fly overhead. A beautiful evening which I hope they all remember with joy and laughter!

Friday, 3 July 2009

I made it to Wimbledon on Monday, court no 4 - I know, I was disappointed but I was only number 3648 in the queue, despite arriving at 6am. We watched two matches in the sweltering sunshine, not able to leave our seats to go the the loo as you can't save them, and someone in the queue below the court would come and pinch your seat. So, an endurance test of no drinking and lots of sweating. Anyhow, the day was lots of fun and very long. The queue was very well organised and involved 3 hours of sitting on the grass in the sunshine snoozing and reading the papers, then a polite trundle across the golf course to pay £20 to get a ground ticket. We had strawberries and scones, as would have been rude not to, and didn't leave till 10.45pm, as we were on 'Murray Mount' for the game that went on into the darkness. I got home at 1am. Thanks to Granny Mary for driving, paying for the parking and my ticket and making the picnic.

On Wednesday, R and I went to Wembley to see Take That. Judging by the trend, I should really be somewhere in London beginning with W right now! I was intending to be in Wimborne, doing an Aquathlon this evening, but Sarah turned up to take me having not eaten for 48 hours and looking rough, and I have had a throat thing (swine flu?) and sore glands for two weeks, and my legs felt like lead so I was not gutted to throw in the towel on that one. I haven't trained for 2 weeks, swimming or running, and feel run down. Getting to bed at 2.15 on Thursday morning probably didn't help. 3 of the mums of my class were at the same Take That gig, and numerous other school friends and colleagues. I didn't bump into any of them! 85 000 people, it is an awesome building which would be interesting regardless of the show. The show was fabulous, I am not the biggest Take That fan ever (would struggle to tell you their names - lets try.. Gary, Robbie - no, he left - Jason maybe? ) and am ashamed to say I could not sing along to many of the tunes, but the other 84,999 could so it didn't matter. I won't say too much in case you are going, but it was a spectacular Circus themed show which featured some amazing performers - and Take That. Afterwards there is a clever herding system to avoid overcrowding in the station, with police horses. You could not hope to be in a more polite or cheerful crowd than a Take That fan crowd. There were 25 women to every man, no one was drunk, everyone was smiley and nice. The crowd was about 95% white british heritage, which I thought was interesting but not suprising, and it felt quite liberating to have so many women in one place and somehow the absence of men in any number felt less oppressive and hostile. I am not complaining of men's existence, jut remarking on what a safe experience it was, crowds not being anyone's favourite thing, being in a crowd full of people like me.

One weird thing was how much people were texting - even during the show - and taking photos - it was beautiful just watching all the flashes. I thinks its weird taking photos or video at events, cos you don't live it at the time, but store it up for some time in the future when it is not real anymore. I am not very good at capturing the moment in photos, and gave up taking cameras to weddings etc a long time ago. I never look at the pictures anyway. I like taking photos of flowers.

I had tennis lesson number 2 tonight, when I would have been doing my Aquathlon, I though a mild tennis lesson would be an OK substitute for a endurance activity. I bought some of the kit today, pleased to have planned my trip to the shop to coincide with a sale on tennis clothing, so I now have one of those little skirts with built in shorts, and some proper tennis shoes. I have always given R a hard time for having to have the right kit for his sports (he bought a cricket helmet and wore it for one season, he has special pedals and special pedal specific shoes, and so on...) but here I am, taking part in new sports at a rate of one a month and needing to have the right kit to do it. So I confess that I can no longer complain of his obsessive equipment purchases, I am even worse, having got him to buy a new boat which suits me better than the Topper. I am intending to try horseriding next weekend, and tapdancing is on my list. Will not purchase anything for the horse riding. It costs enough to have a couple of hours on a horse. I thought they wanted me to be the whole nag when they told me the price!

We have sailed the last 2 weekends, and I have enjoyed it. I have done some of the steering and not done too badly, and it is fun and peaceful and challenging all at the same time. I am hoping to do a race with R at some point soon. He decided last weekend that H and I were competent enough to go out on our own on the Mirror. Now, I have an aversion to boats that look like boats as they are too wobbly. I was panicking and H was so calm, suggesting that she take over and she was oozing confidence, despite us going round in circles to my untrained eye, she was absolutely in control and suggested that I 'show some enthusiasm with the gyb ( thats what daddy says)'.

At last my class took their reports home tonight, as it has been a headache fiddling around with them and getting the right one saying the right thing for the right child! Luckily - or maybe I played safe - no parents came back to complain about anything. Yet. Wait till they read them!! I have had a work experience student in our class all week, she is great, really hands on, great with the children and happy to do little tasks which leave me free to teach, and my LSA free to be an LSA and not do all the chasing round. We did maypole dancing today, which was organised chaos but they seem to like it. Weird. I found specific things to praise, but after saying 'I like your careful skipping' several times I jut turned the music up louder and danced on. Nearly decapitated by the ribbons on many occasions. One of the hazards of the job that NO ONE mentions at teacher training college! One of the perks is August - especially an August with pay. Sadly I won't be getting one of those this year, so am having to rein in my sports related spending slightly to make the last month's pay last through many camping/sailing trips we have planned. Somehow, despite my organisation and buying things to take, we always buy more food away than at home. H has been camping with the school last night, and is camping tonight with R and A at the sailing club, while I do the Mum thing and stay at home.

Amanda goes from strength to strength, via the odd dip in the road, but can see a positive attitude coming through more days than not, and she is making her own life happen a bit more now. Still making mistakes but at a slower rate and with learning outcomes. She describes R as the only dad she has known, and said she loved me more than she loved her mum, which I think is a bit much and I wouldn't want her saying that to her mum! But she is getting the boundaries she never had, and children of whatever age, thank you for boundaries in the end, a la Supernanny. I guess we are like a Supernanny for 20 year olds. She looked after the girls for us on Wednesday, did bath time and got them to sleep, with only a tincy bit of help from Hattie.

So, I leave you this night with only a slightly drippy nose. Goodnight, America.