Monday 28 February 2011

Z Marches on

The habit of a nightly round-up has become ingrained, it seems, and I have rather missed it.  Not that I've done anything much to entertain you with, but you can sit and wonder at my enthusiasm for getting 400 words (or whatever, I wonder how much I actually do write?) out of little or nothing.

The thing that mattered, this weekend, was getting the catalogue off to the printers.  For various excellent reasons, the Sage had made several alterations, and finally he made another one which he didn't tell me about.  This didn't matter as such, as he had discussed it with Weeza (an item had been shifted to enable it to be cited on the same page as its picture) but I noticed that it had been omitted from its original placing, spent some time finding it, and then the Sage denied having made the change.  Fortunately, Weeza's memory is better than his.  His mind is so full of things that really matter, you see, like bidding on Georgian table spoons (we have four now: or will have when the latest purchase arrives).

I haven't set foot out of the house all day today.  I have prepared several meals, however, casseroles that are large enough to feed us more than once each, so tomorrow I'll put some food in the freezer.  Oh, happy day (no need to sing along, Chris) when I don't feel like cooking and can haul out a beef stew or some lamb shanks and heat it up.

The oddest thing of the weekend was that I have slightly gone off drinking alcohol, for absolutely no reason that I'm aware of.  I haven't stopped, but a glass or so is taken for the sake of my digestion and to add savour to food, not because I really want it.  Most odd.  I started cooking at 6 o'clock and opened a bottle of red wine to go in the casseroles, and wasn't tempted at all to have a glass, and when I finally did serve up dinner (fish) I drank white.  I shall watch the situation with interest.  I don't feel ill and I rather doubt I'm pregnant, and I can't think of another reason.  Maybe I've just drunk enough for a bit, in the same way as my brain seems to have decided that I've read enough fiction for the present.

Maybe such an unusual event was worth writing about after all.  I shall now make a cup of tea to drink in the bath.  Goodnight, darlings.  Happy March.

Z is thinking of a holiday (but not planning one)

Having said what I don't look for in a holiday, I should consider what I do - although I am pretty easy-going, so it arguably made sense to eliminate the few things I wouldn't choose.

I like cities, and will happily spend a few days exploring one on foot.  I keep a general idea of where I am, but don't mind at all getting lost and chancing upon interesting buildings or parks.  I seem to have a friendly face and people often smile at me, but I don't mind at all if I don't exchange a word with anyone all day - although, since I evidently look at ease, it's not unusual for tourists to ask me the way - but, being a boringly sensible person, I generally have a map, so can often help.  Locals always pick me out as English though, at a glance.  I think that just wandering around helps you to get the feel of a place and I like quirky details - architectural ones, such as interesting windows and roofs, and amusing ones, such as the small pool with fountain in Krakow, where I watched a well-behaved dog, on its lead, wallow to cool itself down and then, with astonishing self-control, walk away with its owner rather than follow the instinct to shake itself - the amusing part was when a young man, a couple of minutes later, came and filled his drinking bottle from the same pool.  In cities, I also like visiting art galleries and museums, churches and so on.  I'd rather have 'culture' than go shopping, although I love local markets, especially food ones.  

I like rivers.  If ever I did go on any sort of cruise, I'd rather it was a river one.  I like a leisurely pace, prefer rowing to sailing and, when Weeza lived in London opposite a canal, rather envied the people living (or maybe just staying) on the houseboats.  I like being on the bank looking at the boats, the birds and insects and watching the fish, or being on a boat watching the scenery drift by.  I like looking at a rushing mountain stream, but would not have the least interest in doing anything like white-water rafting.  I can't imagine anything I would like less, in fact.  The best boating trip I've ever been on was a magical 23 hours on the Kerala backwaters.  If any of you have the opportunity, do take it.  A traditional rice boat, with an engineer, cook and guide, cost Weeza and me about £100, six (I think) years ago, which included all meals (Keralan cooking is spicy and delicious) and no other passengers - each booking is for the whole boat.

I have no objection to an organised holiday as long as I'm reasonably confident of the company.  I've been on several run by the Nadfas branch whose committee I used to be on.  An advantage was that I didn't have to sort out all the timings and everything, I am quite happy to leave that sort of thing to others.  The main disadvantage can be that too much is planned in the time and there's no flexibility.  I found that in Spain, where three hours in Segovia was nowhere near enough, and in Scotland last year, where I would have loved to spend longer at the Burrell collection instead of going on to something else rather less interesting.  In addition, the day we visited Edinburgh, I'd had no time to myself and opted out of a bus tour round the city, instead staying in the National Gallery for an extra hour or two and then buying lunch and eating it on the grass outside in the sun.  One wasn't supposed to, which I thought was a bit mean-spirited of the city fathers, but several hundred other people had also climbed over the barriers and were enjoying themselves too.  What was lovely about these trips was, when abroad, groups of people meeting up to go off for dinner together - we had a lot of fun, no one ever had to be alone and it was all arranged quite spontaneously, so you met new people.  The last visit, the friend I was sharing a room with was feeling a bit insecure and rather stuck by me - I didn't really mind, but I'm not really one for too much togetherness and found that I didn't get to know so many people that trip - when alone, someone always comes up for a chat.

When Weeza and Al were quite young, before Ro was born, we had a family holiday on Jersey (this is a Channel Island, Dave, not an item of knitwear).  They were aged nine and seven and there were lots of things to do.  What I loved most were the beaches on the rocky coasts, where there were rock pools and caves.  I spent a lot of time there watching sea anemones, hermit crabs and so on.  They are the sort of beaches I like best, I'm not one for sunbathing and I'm not that fond of sand.  I don't mind relaxing on a lounger for the odd few hours, however, as long as there's an umbrella for shade.  I don't go to seaside resorts, I grew up in Lowestoft and the beach in summer didn't appeal, far too crowded.  I liked it best in the winter, especially when it was stormy.

When I had a bad hip, I got out of the way of walking for pleasure.  Actually, I rather lost that many years earlier, when I had small children and walked at their pace.  Stopping every few years to examine a colony of ants or watch fish in a stream or counting the cracks in the pavement rather destroyed a previous enjoyment of hearty walks , although I do like going for a walk with a friend - you can chat or walk in companionable silence, and since everyone is more observant than I am, it increases several-fold the chance that I'll have a chance to see something interesting.

I like playing but I don't like sport.  I've never had the least inclination to go skiing, and am happy that it is now forbidden me (with an artificial hip, a proficient skier can continue to do it, but it's not a good idea to take it up).  If I went anywhere snowy, I'd like sleigh rides and frolicking, not skating and skiing.  I have to be careful of sun, but I'm fine with heat.  I don't mind not speaking the language where I am, which is just as well.  I don't mind a long aeroplane flight, give me books and, ideally, a film to watch when I want a break from reading and I won't move for hours.  I love trying different foods and don't mind what I eat.  In the evening, I like the theatre, concerts, walking and eating, preferably not all at the same time, but if I'm in a country area, I'm quite happy with a pub or bar, and a book.  I like some company but I don't need it.  I have to take loads of books on holiday or I don't feel secure.  It'll be interesting, when I've got an iPad, to see if electronic books will substitute.

Okay, I think I can sum up here.  I'd like to be within reach of a city with theatres and museums,, a river, some countryside with historic buildings or beautiful scenery and I don't want to do the same thing every day.  And I don't mind if a town has hills, but if the countryside is hilly, I'll go by car rather than walk.

Have I left anything out?

Sunday 27 February 2011

The perfect holiday?

What makes a good holiday for you, and how do you choose it?  Or even a really good day out?

It's only reasonable for me to go first, of course, and think about what I like - and there's not one ideal.  Probably the type I'd enjoy least would be the one that Dave says he looks for - "magnificent ruggest mountains or rolling moorland."  I might have enjoyed a rustic tramp in my younger days (no, stop sniggering) but I'm afraid that the novelty would quickly wear off nowadays.  When I'm on holiday, lovely scenery is a bonus, but it's something to look at, that's all.  If I were going on a rural holiday, I'd not choose mountains or moorland.  I'd want trees and water, partly for their own sake and partly for the wildlife they attract.  And I'd sit for ages watching them.

Beach and sun holidays have never really appealed either.  Again, I'll enjoy it for a day or two, but I'm not very good in the sun anyway, lying on sand isn't that comfortable and it gets boring after a short time.

I've just been realising what a short attention span I have.  Hm.  And also that this isn't supposed to be about imperfect holidays - although now I think of it, there's another sort of holiday that hasn't appealed to me, and that is a cruise.  Most of the ladies with whom I lunch every month are the fairly well-heeled sort, retired professionals (I got in because they like me) and a number of them enjoy cruises and have asked me if I'm interested in becoming one of a party.  I've always used as an excuse that the Sage is the worst sailor ever and can become queasy crossing a deep puddle in a strong wind, but the truth is that I don't want to go.  I have a feeling that it's too sociable.  I like the freedom to poddle off on my own, not meet up with chums several times a day.  And there isn't enough time anywhere to get to know it - I like to explore cities at my own pace and make contact with local people.  I remember reading an account of a cruise that involved docking at Venice (there was a massive cruise ship blocking the view when I went there and I resented it vastly) and the writer said that the guide advised them on where was 'safe' to go shopping and eating.  Since on of the charming things about Venice is that you feel totally safe at all times, day and night, this looked like over-caution.

I'm going to have to come back to this, I've got stuff to do tonight.  But for a start on what I do like, I enjoy getting lost on foot in a city.

Saturday 26 February 2011

Z spends £121 (including postage)

I've just spent half an hour booking four return train tickets  - although that does represent three different journeys.  The cost varies considerably, depending on what time you travel, between £8 and £35 for a single journey.  So my solo visit will cost £16, the Sage's £52 and the two of us together is also £52. It's  worth booking ahead, they're all a lot cheaper than buying on the day.  They're all quite short visits for specific purposes, although I have kept 3 hours for myself on the afternoon of 10th March.  I'll have to see what's on.  The book launch is in a gallery near New Bond Street.  I've only ever read one of Lynn's poems, and I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm sure to order several copies.  I'm very pleased for her.  It's not the first time her name has been in print by any means; she's an artist and art historian, and an expert on picture frames, but I think it'll be her first published (in book form, that is) venture outside the world of non-fiction.  It'll all be way over my head of course - I''m a bit of an oik and I don't often read poetry nowadays.  I'm too impatient.  Poetry has to be read slowly and I'm a skimmer.  I have to read it aloud to slow myself down.

Friday 25 February 2011

Train of thought

I took Charlotte over to Beccles after lunch to meet a friend, with whom she will stay in Lowestoft for a few days and the Sage and I have had a quiet evening.  I've been watching a DVD and he's been watching eBay.  It's been a splendidly different week, I said to her that it was the ideal week for her to come as, rarely, I didn't have to work in the evenings.  Since I also have had some days out and so on, it feels as if I've had a holiday.

And that's made me think about holidays, and I've a suspicion I probably won't have one this year because there will be more lovely things going on here.  If I get to the stage of feeling impulsive, I might have a couple of days in London or somewhere, but no more.

And that reminds, me, I must book train tickets for a couple of visits to London.  The first one will be to see my friend Lynn.  She is having a book of poetry published and has invited me to the launch.  I thought, how jolly.  I haven't seen her for ages and would love to.  Then we'll be going to an auction - that is, the Sage will.  I shall go with him to view it a couple of days beforehand, but I shan't go to the sale itself.

I should get round to reading blogs again over the weekend.  Sorry I've not been about much.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Z talks to monkeys

Another delightful day and the sun shone in the afternoon.  Al and I drove over to the zoo and met our friends there and we spent the day together - their son is Pugsley's age and they go to the same nursery school and they have two daughters, the younger being the most placid baby I've come across in a long time.  She smiled, she looked about, she fed or she slept, and never made a sound.

Nick and I were talking about otters, I think, and he mentioned the large grass snake in our garden ... "I know, because it was how I found your blog..."  Some time ago, I found a three-foot long snakeskin  in the greenhouse and put pictures here, and looking for information on local wildlife, he came across this blog.  I was rather charmed - a couple of years ago, even, I'd have been a bit nerve-wracked, but now a lot of friends know I have a blog, whether or not they've ever looked for or read it, and it's quite interesting when someone finds me by way of it - it's pretty easy to identify me if you know me already.

The children were all really good and had fun together.  We pottered around for several hours, letting them spend time in the playground, having a leisurely picnic lunch and so on - if you can relax into a child's perspective of time, it makes everything so much more enjoyable than trying to hurry them up.

On the way home, we discussed the animals and asked Squiffany what she'd enjoyed most.  "The dinosaur," she said.  Oh, okay.  It wasn't actually a real one, as you might rather suspect.  Al and I reckoned that the giraffes were the most beautiful animals and we'd loved watching the fur seals - in the morning they were enjoying the attentions of the zookeepers, the petting, feeding and swimming, but in the afternoon sunshine they were having a lovely bask.  Their pleasure was infectious.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Granny's being taken to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow

... as Julie Felix didn't sing.

I abandoned Charlotte today, because I went to see a friend for lunch.  I did make her a sandwich for her lunch though.  I didn't mention, she badly hurt her hand a couple of months ago (forgot you're supposed to pick up a carving knife by its handle) and it still isn't better - that is, the skin has healed but she can't use it yet.  Can you imagine, living alone and not having the use of your right hand?  Obv, if you're right-handed...

Even to butter ready-sliced bread, you need to steady it with one hand while buttering it with the other.  So anyway, I slapped on butter and smoked salmon.  That was it.  I cut it into quarters, covered the plate and put it back in the fridge.  Full hostess mode, hey.  I'm going out again tomorrow, and she plans to go into town and hit the charity shops and also to do a recce at the local takeaways, because she says that dinner is on her.

We've talked and talked.  The Sage startled me by talking broad Norfolk to her - of course, I knew that he could, but that didn't mean I've ever heard him do so.  I've told her of the few but, to her, precious memories I have of her beloved Granny, who died in January 1963 and that led on to more conversation about all sorts of people from our pasts.

And, as implied, I'm off with the family to the zoo tomorrow morning.  If I were to sneak into the monkey cage, do you think anyone would notice?

Ooh, I almost forgot.  I got the highest word score I probably ever will get at Scrabble, this evening.  TRILOBAL on two triples, 140 points.  If Rog beats me now, I shall be deeply impressed.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Z becomes excZited and is Zhocked

It's been quite a day, one way or another.  It started with an invitation to the zoo, went on to a reunion with an old friend and finished with a startling experience on Facebook Scrabble (look on Rog's Facebook page if you want to know more, I'm not saying another word on the subject).

Charlotte and I have known each other forever, she's a bit younger than I am, and our families have been friends forever - that is, for generations.  She lives in Holland, where she grew up, although she often used to visit her English grandparents as a child, and has lived both in England and the Netherlands.  The last time I saw her was at her mother's funeral several years ago, and when my mother was desperately ill in hospital I had phoned her to come over to visit her one last time - my mum wrong-footed us there by rallying and living with cheerful vigour for another six months.

She phoned this morning, she's travelling around the country for a few weeks and catching up with friends, so she's staying with us for a couple of days.  The Sage had a meeting this evening, so she and I spent the whole time talking, and at one point she mentioned having corresponded  with Benjamin Zander, the conductor, and meeting him when he invited her to a seminar as his guest.  I became extremely excited - well, darlings, you know what I'm like - and described a concert I'd been to several years ago at Snape.  You may remember that I wrote about it?  That is, two or three of you might: anyway, I looked it up for her, and here it is.  My usual laid-back blasé attitude, as you see.

Charlotte was keen for me to send it to him on Facebook; I demurred but I did let her email him the link.  We've spent quite a long time this evening watching him on YouTube this evening.  We meant to phone Wink, but never got around to it.  Tomorrow.

Monday 21 February 2011


I embarrassed myself.  The Sage and I were emptying the dishwasher and he was putting the cutlery away. As he put a tablespoon into the drawer, he remarked on how pleased he was with his eBay purchase.  "Yes," I said, "the difference between Georgian and Victorian silver is quite apparent to the touch, isn't it?"  He agreed, stroking the spoon, and I heard myself and quietly curled up.

I was, in addition, hit by the guilt of many years when I read the Peanuts cartoon in today's local paper.  A little blonde-haired girl whose name I can't remember was saying to Charlie Brown "what are the words you hate most to hear?" Snoopy, sitting the other side of him said in a thought-bubble"You stay home now and be a good dog."  Oh, the times I've said that to a dog with hopeful eyes and pricked ears and watched the whole-body droop or, worse, the desperate hope that I might change my mind and pick up the lead after all.

Bedtime, darlings.  For me, that is.  You party on, do.  Put the guard in front of the fire when you leave, won't you.

Sunday 20 February 2011

One computer, two computer, three...

I'm sitting here typing at my computer, with the Sage's laptop on my lap, my iPhone to hand for emailing and the printer churbling away behind me.  It feels a bit extreme, although I could easily get used to it - when I watch a DVD it's always on the computer and I've always read or played cards or sewed or used the computer or something while watching television, and I like to have the full range of options all the time.  They say that this is a fault of children and young people now, that they never give their whole attention to anything - I could always get engrossed in a book but otherwise I found doing just one thing a bit of a bore.

The reason for this appliance overload is simply that Weeza brought the draft catalogue over on a memory stick, but it hadn't loaded up properly, so she emailed it instead.  Because of its size, she couldn't do it simply as a PDF (not on a free programme, that is) so did it on Publisher and I don't have that on my Mac.  And I was exchanging emails with her and others, and didn't want to have to fiddle around so did it on my phone, and then I thought I'd write here while the document was printing - gosh, won't it be fun when we've got an iPad to play with too?  Like having an armful of very well-behaved babies.

No one is interested in taking on a small Jack Russell, 6 years old, which has never been very well trained and so has behaviour issues, I suppose?  Ro has been asked by a friend to ask around.  I'm not sure where the friend lives, I don't think he's local to here.  Ro said, he didn't think I'd be able to take it on, and I'm afraid not.  We haven't got any way of keeping a dog in the garden - that is, the garden has no solid boundaries and there are fields all around and it could get onto the road

Dinner went very well and Zerlina was extremely well behaved and ate lots.  She climbed on her chair, sat still, remarked "Oh, here's my napkin," and put it on her lap and ate neatly.  It all went very well, I cut the potatoes into 1 inch dice and roasted them, also roasted peppers and garlic, sautéed courgettes (I never let water near a courgette in the cooking), cauliflower and spinach.  I marinated the beef, browned it on all sides and then roasted it in a very hot oven for ten minutes, then let it rest while I dished up the veg.  The Sage, who likes meat on the browner side of cooked, cut off a chunk to be roasted a couple of minutes longer and it was ready by the time he'd served everyone else.  There's some cauli left (I suspect tomorrow's dinner will feature cauliflower cheese) and we didn't quite finish the pudding, but all other plates were emptied. Phil and Ro even made inroads into the cheeseboard.  We didn't drink much, by the way, not even a bottle between us.

Tomorrow, I'll retake a photo for the catalogue which, now we look again, realise we didn't get at quite the right angle, and take a few more pictures.  The catalogue has 22 pages, and needs either two more or two less, but there are no illustrations that the Sage wishes to lose.  So I hope it doesn't rain.  We've got until Friday, but Weeza works Monday to Wednesday and doesn't really want to spend more time than she can help on the computer on those evenings.  We'll proof-read too.  And I'll do the Nadfas stuff I've been neglecting.

Housework and gardening?  Probably not.  I'm hoping to go and visit a friend towards the end of the week, though.   And Ro has given me some films he's finished with, so I may spend an evening or two gaining square eyes.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Z takes the weekend off

I took the day off, mostly.  I did have one letter to write, which was to the members of my dining club (yes, I dine as well as lunch) giving them the dates of this year's meetings, which start next month, and I'm up to page 16 (of 36) of a legal document relating to the school becoming an academy, but that was it.  I've read and relaxed, and went to visit John in hospital this afternoon.  He is doing really well and is coming home on Tuesday.  He can go up and down stairs and has good movement in his arm.  The reason for the walking problem, in case I didn't explain before, is that his broken upper arm is the side he normally uses his stick, without which he can't walk.  Using a stick in the other hand doesn't give so much support.  However, he's determined and receiving really good care, and a carer will come in night and morning to help him, which will support his wife too.

Weeza angled for a dinner invitation when she found out about the fillet steak.  Fortunately, I have enough for them too.  Then Al and Dilly asked us to look after Squiffany and Pugsley tomorrow evening, because they're going to Dilly's mum's birthday party.  So I'll suggest they come and eat with us too, so that they can play with Zerlina.  The fillet won't stretch to them*, so I'll go and buy something for the children in the morning.  Since everyone enjoyed the Queen of Puddings at Christmas, I'll do that again.  We eat in the kitchen in the winter, usually, and the table won't quite take all of us - it seats six comfortably, eight at a pinch but it won't take nine so we'll put another table on the end.  It'll be fine.

I've just noticed that I was down to do the church flowers this weekend.  Whoops.  I'll buy some in the Co-op and do them quickly in the morning.  Andy has volunteered to play the music, which is brilliant.  He's getting on really well, but it has to be said that Gill is getting exhausted.  Not only is she looking after him, she's getting ready to move house and she's not had a break since mid-November when he first became ill.

A spot more relaxing with the papers before bedtime I think, darlings.  Goodnight.

*I have more in the freezer, I bought a whole fillet last week, so when a host of hungry blog-readers turn up, I'll be able to feed you all

Friday 18 February 2011

The village plans ahead

It's only half past ten, but I'm feeling ready for bed.  I always feel that an early night is giving in, though, so I'll hang on a bit longer.

I've always been an evening person, even as a child  When I used to share a bedroom with my sister, we both read for a while and then put the light out and I chatted away long after she was desperate to go to sleep.  I then slept heavily and found getting up in the morning really difficult.  I'm not a lot different now, although better at getting up if I need to.

We've started planning for this year's village festival in the middle of July.  It's called a festival rather than just a fête because of the beer festival which starts in the village hall about midday and goes on until late at night.  John at the pub, who runs it, always gets in some good guest beers and I sip gently away at the less alcoholic ones.  Well, it's middle of the afternoon when I go there and I wouldn't want to raise eyebrows.

I'm only on the committee because they needed someone to take notes.  I don't offer to do much more - I help at the time, of course.  We've always been remarkably lucky with the weather, I'm not sure what we'd do if it rained, as the beer is in the village hall - not that it takes all of it up, but there's not room for all the stalls.  I did the notes straight away and have emailed them out - it wasn't really important enough to take priority, considering the other things I have to do, but it was simpler than anything else, so I reckoned I might as well.

Ro rang this evening, wondering if it would be all right to come over on Sunday instead of Saturday.  Makes no difference to us.  They've been invited out on Saturday evening for dinner.  He knows I won't take it as a slight.  I've told him, there's been a change of menu and will fillet steak be all right?  He thought it would.  Oh good, what a relief.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Z, absurdly enough, gives beauty advice

The Sage decided to have a last-minute switch around of china.  I've altered the numbers on the photos and changed around the descriptions in the list, but I'm quite anxious in case I've made a mistake, so we'll have to proof-read carefully and check everything against the china itself.  I've sent 30 photos and the list to Weeza and she'll do a draft of the catalogue over the weekend.

I've been asked to judge the home produce classes at the Garden Club show again, in September.  It's in my diary now.  Call me attention-seeking, but I've taken it as a compliment that they asked me again.

Ro and Dora are coming over for dinner on Saturday, won't have seen them for three weeks and we're looking forward to it.  I'm doing a pot-roast.  Don't know yet what the pudding will be.

I've received two compliments on my complexion in the last few days, which I mention because I've been using a new (to me) product.  I went to a friend's Bodyshop evening and among the stuff we were shown was something called "Vitamin C Skin Reviver"  I put some on and said "gosh, that's so smooth, when my husband kisses me he'll fall right off" and duly bought some.  It isn't instead of moisturiser, but goes on top, and I assumed that the smoothness was a temporary feel rather than an actual benefit but there we are,  my face has been noticed.  I can't remember what it cost, but Bodyshop isn't big bucks after all.  While I'm on the subject, the face cleanser I've been using for several years is Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, which is so good that if ever I use anything else, my skin goes all dry and blotchy after a few days.  It's brilliant.  It's the only face wash I've ever used that isn't drying, and because it's washed off, you don't need cotton wool.

I'm hardly one from whom skin care advice  flows naturally, but there we go.  First time for everything.

Which reminds me, on the way home from lunch, one of the friends I give a lift to (two sisters, both in their early 80s) told us a distinctly risqué story that another 80-something friend had been regaling their table with.  I thought there were some chuckles from the other side of the room.  What rascals.

I've just been looking in the mirror.  I don't seem to look quite my usual raddled self.  But then, I have taken out my contact lens, so it could be a kind short-sighted blur.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Z felt a bit emotional

I wrote to all the staff at the school.  They were probably quite startled to receive a 1750-word letter, but I didn't waste words.  Meetings to come after half term.  I'm afraid that those who are reluctant to make changes aren't aware of what's going on.  I addressed and signed all the letters by hand - so glad I've got a short first name.  Although not quite as short as Z in real life.

Anyway, I went, this evening, to a little get-together for former and present governors to say goodbye to the Head at the village school.  She's been a teacher there for 15 years, the last 8 as Head, and now she's moving to North Yorkshire.  She is a lovely woman and a brilliant teacher and guide to her staff, and she will be hugely missed.  They didn't appoint from last week's interviews,  but her second in command will take over until the right person is found.

This afternoon, I took all the photos, edited (straightened!) and labelled them, and will email the ones for the catalogue to Weeza tomorrow, once the Sage has told me which ones they are.  They will all go in the online catalogue, of course.  Someone in Belgium asked for a catalogue - we charge £5 for the first one, just so we know people who ask really want one, and then send them out free of charge.  He hasn't got an English bank so offered a Euro bank transfer.  We checked, and it would cost us £7 to receive it, never mind the charge to him.  We've said we'll waive the charge and just send the catalogue.  By tomorrow at 11, I hope to have got everything off to Weeza and have finished work.  I'm out to lunch, then have classroom visit reports to type up (I have the handwritten notes) and send out, a final - heavy - meeting on Friday morning and then that's it for this half term.  Next week off, thank goodness.  I've got all my Nadfas stuff to do and the church rota.  I'm aiming to do them over the weekend, but it's pie in the sky, I know.  Once I start relaxing, I'll throw myself into it and forget all the work.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Music mixing

I'm finally getting to grips with the school music computer programmes.  It's taken a long time.  I was just getting used to Cubase, and this year we're using Musicmaker.  So I listened to the teacher explaining it all - she starts by demonstrating how to use it on her laptop which is linked to an interactive whiteboard so that everyone can see it - and I took notes on my phone.  Then, when all the pupils went off into small groups, I was able to help with problems.  I unashamedly look it up, I don't pretend to know more than I do.

The afternoon group are quite different from the morning one, much more inclined to relate to me as a person than a teacher-figure.  It's quite interesting in that respect, that the style of the class is so different.  I've noticed that I'm more relaxed this year, I'm finally feeling as confident as I pretend to be.

I was in a GCSE class last week, with a governor hat on (on helping days, I'm a friend of the school and unpaid assistant).  Part of the lesson involved analysis of a Moby song.  Homework had been listening to it and making notes and the lesson was writing down the analysis under various headings, without using any notes.  It was quite hard, I'd have found it very difficult.  They all dutifully set to and I went around speaking to some of them, asking questions and so on.  One lad, obviously very able, had a nice turn of phrase.  He admitted that he finds actually playing musical instruments the most enjoyable, not surprisingly.  The on-paper analysis, he said drily, is 'not the most interesting part"of the syllabus.  I asked if it has a knock-on effect - when he listens to music for pleasure, does he tend to analyse it?  'Annoyingly, yes,"  he replied.  He also asked me what instruments I play - good job I had an answer for him!

I haven't typed up my notes yet.  Must this week, it's half term next week.  And I haven't got a thing in my diary, except Meals on Wheels on the Thursday.  I might haul the hoover out.  I don't remember using it this month yet, although I have washed the kitchen floor.

Monday 14 February 2011

Snow on snow on snow

I'm not feeling very capable of describing how I feel.  There's too much that I'm not at liberty to say.  Suffice it to say that the Head and I evidently haven't handled things too well, because our wonderful and dedicated teachers are feeling really anxious, the Sage hasn't altogether behaved like one, and my car wouldn't start this morning.  That's without the rest of the stuff patiently waiting.

Do you know, cooking dinner this evening, I suddenly thought, thank goodness I'm a Christian boozer and I have something to fall back and land on?  What does a teetotal atheist do?  Shit still happens, for goodness sake. Resilience can only go so far.  Crunchy raw carrots are delicious, but don't cut the mustard.  Seriously, I'm interested.  If you have an answer, please tell me.  Because I may give up the booze one day, you never know, and who knows with faith?  I don't think I'm the sort to lose it because I'm the tenacious sort, but shit happens.

I'm sorry my loves, I know that this is a positive, forward thinking and cheerful blog, but it's also an honest one, and I'm having a day when I'm not feeling negative, not unhappy, but it's all too much.  I don't have to cope every day.

Okay, the good things.  The Sage was great, I called him when he was asleep to say the car wouldn't start, and he uncomplainingly was ready to drive me in within five minutes.  I said what I needed to, and I feel able to cope with it.  I've had a kind discussion over the Sage's screw-up and the result is his decision.  The car is back now, it's nothing major.  I've not let anyone down.  I slept last night for more than six hours.  My friend Mike came to my rescue over the car, and I had a good chat with his wife Ann (not you, Mike and Ann, darlings) and cuddled their dogs (they've got an adorable spaniel cross that I'd bring home right now) and admired photos of their cute granddaughter.  I received my quote for my car insurance today, and it's not much more than last year, which means I'm comfortable to just accept it and not go through the shopping around hell (I'll check the small print first).  I've got money in the bank and had a really helpful, though unsolicited, phone call to advise me on where to put it (ooer missus).

So, good way outweighs bad.  That it doesn't feel that way is just one of those things.  I'll be back tomorrow being frivolous.

Oh, and thanks, Dave.  Your remark on Facebook today had me laughing for quite some time.  I L'edOL.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Taking turns

I'm not sorry to find that the weather has turned too windy, I think, to do the photographs today.  A lot of those Nadfas returns have come in, and I haven't had time to do anything with them.

Al and Dilly went out for dinner last night, and had a delicious meal, they said, at a local restaurant.  They chatted to the proprietress and heard that, apparently, the satisfaction of a fully-booked dining room had been marred by two last-minute cancellations and a no-show.  Around here, people wouldn't expect to give their card details in advance and have a charge made for not turning up, but you can hardly blame a restaurant.  Al said there were 28 diners, so losing 6 is a big deal on the Saturday nearest Valentine's, when they'd probably turned away people and there was little chance of any last-minute hopefuls.

I remember, years ago, my mother telling me about a friend of hers, who'd had people come and stay for the weekend.  She lived in Beccles, where there were several nice places to eat.  Apparently, she blithely said that she had booked a table at three different places.  When the friends arrived, she asked them where they'd like to eat that night, and phoned and cancelled the other two.  My mother was shocked, and asked if she realised the implications for a business if people did that?  Friend didn't get it.  She was the customer, the consumer ho ho, and it was her choice.  Well yes, said my mother, but you expect a booking to be binding on the restaurant, and they buy their food, turn away other bookings if full, employ their staff for the night, on the basis of the expected number of diners.  Cancelling with a couple of hours notice doesn't give them a chance to repair the damage.  Friend still didn't get it.

Dave had a crack at my grammar in the last post (if I didn't know much about grammar, he'd not do it - don't think he's being pernickety, he's teasing and knows I'll tease right back) but it reminded me of a summer back over twenty years ago.  I think it was the summer holidays when Ro turned five, which meant that Weeza was fifteen and Al was thirteen, though it could have been a year later.  I don't think that the Sage's and my age are relevant, suffice it to say that we were young and lovely.  Anyway.  I had the bright idea that it would be a jolly good thing if everyone took it in turns to do the cooking that summer.

This was the proposal ... well, this was what I told them was going to happen.  Each of us would take it in turns to decide on the menu for the main meal and cook it.  I'd help and advise if necessary and, if told in advance, would do the shopping.

It worked really well, actually.  I can't remember much of what was cooked, but they didn't rely on convenience food.  We went through a fair few things on toast on Ro's days, I think - he did brilliantly well, especially when you consider it was a permanently hot Aga he was working on.  I did supervise him for safety's sake, but he did fine.  I remember him cooking scrambled eggs, and I remember watching anxiously as he chopped carrots.   They all took the task of preparing balanced meals in a sensible manner - but then, we've always eaten well and enjoy good food, so it wasn't surprising.

From my point of view, it wasn't much less work.  I gave a lot of advice and found up quite a few recipes, and had to take on the responsibility of making sure that the fridge and larder were well stocked - especially for the Sage, who didn't plan ahead - but letting go of the decision-making was a treat and it meant that I took care over choosing and cooking on my own days.  We didn't repeat the experiment, not because it wasn't successful but because it was a bit too regimented for our taste, really.  This rota stuff wasn't really our way.

Saturday 12 February 2011


We're well on the way with our next auction catalogue.  With one thing and another, we weren't ready to start typing it up until 5 o'clock yesterday evening, and it took three hours.  I always get an energy dip in the early evening, and although I'd had lunch, that was quite early and I'd eaten nothing since, so I was very tired and so was the Sage by the time we'd done.  We had given ourselves five minutes break for a glass of wine to perk us up and I was extremely careful after that with the china, I was at the clumsy stage of tiredness already.  I wanted brackets at some point - to type them, that is - and I couldn't remember where they were on the keyboard.  I learned to touch type more than forty years ago,  it's usually second nature which is a measure of how befuddled I was by tiredness and half a glass of wine.

It so happened that Roses has mentioned making a cheese omelette - or, as they are now known to her friends,  omnomnomelettes (thanks, Rog) and so I took her inspiration and we were eating dinner by 8.15.

Today, Weeza, Phil and Zerlina came over and I've spent half the day cooking and the rest typing.  But now the condition report (that is, the record of any damage on the china) is completed and we've just got the photos to take.  If the weather is okay, we'll do that tomorrow.  Having tried all sorts of ways, I like natural light and a lightbox so that there's no shadow, best.  I'll send everything to Weeza, who will prepare the catalogue and send it to the printers.  She's good at layouts and stuff, and I don't want to have to learn.

They stayed for dinner, which I hadn't really expected as Weeza doesn't like Zerlina to stay up late and roast chicken, roast potatoes, cabbage and courgette were cooked and on the table in not much over an hour from when the suggestion was made, which was a bit of a rush, with rhubarb crumble and custard for pudding.  I say all this to make Ro jealous if he reads it, of course (I don't know how regularly he drops in, but he does sometimes) although he and Dora might be coming over for a meal next weekend.

I've just remembered it's the early service tomorrow morning and I'm sidesman.  Oh bother.  I don't think I've been sent hymns for the later service either, which means I'll have to choose them.

Ah.  I've just looked at the rota.  I wrote it last November when Andy became ill - we check around to see who isn't going to be available each week, and evidently tomorrow is a bad day.  I'm down as sidesman at 8 o'clock, and to read both lessons.  At 11 o'clock, I'm playing the music, reading both lessons and making coffee afterwards.  That'll be fun then.  It's not as bad as it sounds actually, we're using the church meeting rooms to save heating the church for the winter, so it's not as if I'm trotting up and down the aisle.  And if a good-natured person turns up, I'll ask if he or she will read one of the lessons.

Friday 11 February 2011

Yester day

Sir B's comment about yesterday's post reminded me of a conversation I had with my son Ro when he was a small child.   I was talking of something that had happened the day before, and he said "but that wasn't today."  "No, it was yesterday."  "No, it wasn't today."  "I didn't say it was today, it was yesterday."

It was some time before I caught on, and took him a few minutes more to take in the difference between 'yes-today' and "yester-day."  And at least they did sound the same, very nearly (cf the extremely funny link that Rog put up the other day, on a newspaper article correction that hinged on mishearing "20 sows and pigs as 20,000 pigs).

I can remember many occasions, as a child, when something completely mystified me and it wasn't until years later that I worked out that I'd misheard or misunderstood an expression.  And children try to turn something that they don't understand into something that they do - lots of well-known examples of that, such as Pontius the Pilot: mind you, one only had to think of Mondegreens to realise that we all do that.  Even in everyday speech, that so many people say "could of" instead of "could have" is simply a mishearing of "could've" - and so, it's becoming an acceptable alternative, even if people who know it's wrong don't like that.  I've become a great deal more tolerant of this sort of thing in the past couple of years.  Language does and should evolve, and it's part of the complexity and fun of English.

What I don't like is simplifying things on the assumption that people won't understand the original and so it's best avoided.  It's by having to learn more complex things that one becomes able to - for example, back when I was a child, we all learned the 12 times table pretty quickly.  We had to.  There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound, and everyone knew what tables were for, and so had an incentive to learn the 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12 times tables, at any rate.  7 was entirely useless so children had to be forced into learning that.  It's 40 years ago next week that decimalised currency hit this country, and the purposefulness of everyday multiplication was lost instantly as well as the value and cost of everyday items, something that has never been caught up with since.  I'm not for a moment suggesting a return, it would be too damn difficult for everyone, including me, and even the extraordinary Secretary of State for Education, who probably regrets the passing of the slide rule and the introduction of the pocket calculator, hasn't come up with that.  But Dilly, who is doing one-to-one tutoring in schools at present, was telling me the other week that the biggest problem is that reasonably able teenagers have missed out on learning some basics, and so can't keep up. The biggest difference is in knowing times tables.  It so happens (and I didn't raise the subject) that a Learning Support teacher at the high school told me exactly the same thing about tables the next week.

Same with writing and spelling.  Back in the day when, as a parent, I used to go in to help at the village school, I was listening to a child read her book.  Neither her first nor surname was spelled phonetically, but she was a bright child, probably 5 or 6 at the time.  We talked about the spelling of the word "laugh" and I said, you can't sound it out, it's one of those words that you just have to learn.  And, I pointed out, her own name of Laughton contains laugh.  She could spell her name, and was quite tickled by the idea. And I bet she had no difficulty with the different 'augh' and 'ough' pronunciations that language-simplifiers complain about, because the peculiarity of such a thing was an everyday matter for her.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Happy Barryday

Weeza and Zerlina came over today.  Zerlina came bustling through to the kitchen, wearing an apron and declaring an intention to make cakes.  I settled her at the table and asked what we need.  "A sandwich" she said.  We worked out the ingredients and utensils and set to.  Handed an egg, she tapped it twice on the edge of a bowl and they started to pull it apart,  I hastily put the bowl underneath her hands, and the contents successfully landed.  We made a Victoria sponge and flapjacks, then went to buy sprinkles (hundreds and thousands and mini lemon and orange slices) and icing sugar, which I'd forgotten to get.

All in all, we ate rather a lot of cake and flapjacks today.

It was decided that Barry was about due for a birthday, so we lit a candle and sang to him.  Waiting for her slice, Zerlina actually drooled, fortunately on the table.

Later, when Zerlina was having her nap (she still sleeps for at least an hour after lunch every day), we were talking about the children.  All three of them are delightful at present, very happy, eating and sleeping well,  a real pleasure - "odd how you're all going to make your lives difficult again with a new baby each," I remarked.  We pondered a bit.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Iacta alea est, occupet extremum scabies

That is - al being well and unless a major problem turns up - we're going independent and becoming an academy.  Goodbye, local authority that used to be good and now isn't.  Hello, £290,000 that we have paid them each year to provide various services.  We reckon we can get those we need, in some cases from the LA, for half that.

But that's not the reason.  It's independence.  The next government initiative, we won't have to follow it unless we want to.  We'll still answer to Ofsted but, as long as we teach key subjects (no plans to drop English and Maths I promise), we'll be free.  I see it as protecting our marvellous staff.  Some of them are anxious, they see the LA as protective.  Hardly any more, less in the future.  We've made the right decision for the right reasons and it was a draining, but inspiring, meeting yesterday. I didn't really sleep last night, but not because of anxiety.

I take it to heart.  So do many of the staff and governors.  We don't leave it behind at the end of the day, but how could we?  We're, you know, passionate and stuff.  Idealistic, once in a while.  Not me of course, I'm practical, pragmatic and hard-headed.  I want those kids to earn whole lots so that there's enough money about to keep me in my dribbling dotage.

Please excuse the Latin, both are googeable quotations, or Chris, Dave, Dandelion or Mago will provide translations.  Or maybe Gledwood.  He's a dark horse.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Cheers, darlings

I arrived home and checked the situation.  Champagne, unchilled, in the larder, Cava in the fridge.  

Cava it is, then.  

The Devil's Advocate is in the detail

You know, if I were in a position of national authority, I'd want a pessimist with an analytical mind on my team - not just to say "it won't work, you know," but to be able to explain why.  Then, you've got an opportunity to pre-empt problems and work out how to get around them.  I'm quite sure that the reason for so much of our inept and botched legislation over the past years is because of a "can-do" attitude, where anyone who raises an objection is seen as undermining the team, or the leader.  As a result, unexpected obstacles occur.  There seems to be a fairly relaxed attitude about this - extra legislation can always be brought in later to deal with the loopholes.  I think this is dreadful - for one thing, it looks incompetent and lazy, for another it unnecessarily complicates the matter and for a third, some of the problems may not be identified for quite a long time.

There's also the habit, nowadays, of announcing something to see how it goes down with the public, and if there's a big outcry, a rapid turnabout and a cancelling of the plan.  The last government did that and, sad to say, the present one seems to be no less guilty of the same tedious thing.  I'm not being political, certainly not party political.

Another thing that has come in over the last fifteen or twenty years is measuring - standards, efficiency, whatever.  This may be to save money, spend it more wisely, get better results - and the result has been target setting.  This isn't always terribly helpful - for one thing, people can sometimes spend as long working out how to circumvent the targets as in meeting them, especially if it's not a realistic target in the first place and, for another, if one is missed then it doesn't necessarily matter by how much.  And there has to be a point at which efficiency reaches its peak, after which trying to save more just becomes either not cost-effective, or actually reduces efficacy.

I've got to get ready for my meeting this afternoon.  Dice haven't been rolled, but they're being shaken right now.

Monday 7 February 2011

Z's Big Mouth

I'm feeling a trifle drained, it's been quite a day and tomorrow is likely to be more so.  Al is also expecting a couple of very busy days, as the governors at the village school are interviewing prospective headteachers.

There's too much in my mind, and a lot of it can't be said at present.  Besides, I'd ramble.  And you'd be astonished if I were to ramble, wouldn't you?

I called on John and Andy today.  Both look very well.  John is walking a lot better and was able to stand up without putting his good hand on the arm of his chair (he was probably showing off, and good for him if so).  However, he still has to hold a stick on the wrong side, so it doesn't give him much support.  Andy is going home tomorrow.  His wife and family have cleared the dining room and put a bed in there for him (we're looking after some stuff for them, because there's no room for it).  He's still very positive and cheerful, and looking forward to being home.

I have a bar of chocolate and I can't remember where I put it.  Frustratingly, I know it's in this room somewhere.  I had to open the chocolate chip cookies - mind you, they've been  about since Christmas, so it was probably about time *checks use by date* - well, 31st March would be, anyway.  I'm in some doubt as to whether it's better to turn to chocolate or alcohol in moments of pressure.  I think that chocolate biscuits are the worst option of all - although they were FairTrade chocolate chip cookies.  I've given the rest of the packet to the Sage, anyway.

Regarding emails and keeping information - I was just asked for something dating from 2001, and had to say that I hadn't still got it.  Having changed computers a couple of times since then, some data got corrupted in the transfer and had to be deleted.  It happens two or three times a year that I'm asked about things that no one else remembers.  For instance, I've been asked about the details of the rewriting of the Articles of Memorandum of the village school from 1999 (I was able to answer), the facts about the leasing of a playing field (I knew about that) and the details needed in the information pack for job applicants (from eight and a half years ago, that was easy, I went straight to the file).  I am vague about a lot of things, but I remember a chain of events or something I've been closely involved in - for instance, I wrote those Articles.

I seem to have offered to try to track down the missing information.  Me and my big mouth.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Z sets out to make a silk purse

I made a total pig's ear of this job last autumn, I'd underestimated how much cross-referencing I'd have to do.  I got it all done in the end, but it was something of a nightmare to sort out. So this time, I've spent the last hour getting prepared for all the information I'm going to get back - if all goes well, this will be four different items from each of 25 people, plus one or two each from another dozen.  Some of the information has to be entered in more than place, and I'll also receive 25 cheques to record and keep carefully to give to the treasurer.  And I know that the forms they send back will just be filled in, resaved and returned so won't have a specific society heading.  I didn't twig this back in the autumn and found myself with a lot of documents, all labelled the same.  A few people didn't send theirs back at all until I'd reminded them several times.

That was most of the problem, actually.  I've deliberately sent out the request for information a fortnight later than last time to bring it all into a more reasonable period of time.  In the autumn, I merrily filed everything until I wanted to correlate it all, then couldn't find everything because I'd received it so long ago and dozens of emails in the meantime - this was in a folder, not the inbox, where I'd had hundreds.  And some sent everything back in a single mailing and others in four.

I know that a lot of people, in the course of their work, receive hundreds of emails a day.  How do they cope?  I find it quite daunting enough dealing with fifty or so.


Inboxes, hey - of the email persuasion, that is.  I expect most of you keep them really well sorted.  Delete what you don't need, file the rest.  I used to, once.  But then they started to build up and, although there are some things that always get filed (mostly receipts, guarantees and so on), it's all got way beyond me.  I do have a go once in a while, but it's too far out of hand and I lose heart.

The idea is, I leave it in the inbox, labelled, until it's dealt with and then I file it.  And I could just start doing that and at least have a cut-off, from which point onwards all will be organised.  What stops me?  I'd be so pleased.  Maybe this should be a belated New Year Resolution.

The reason it's on my mind, however, is that I've just been sorting out the inbox of another email address, to such good effect that it's now empty.  Everything dealt with and either filed or deleted (I tend to keep almost everything, which is part of my problem).  So, since I'm expecting a lot of emails to that inbox in the next couple of months, at least I'll know that what's there is relevant to now.

Those of you who are, either by nature or self-discipline, efficient in your filing must look at the rest of us and wonder why on earth we don't just get it right at the start and keep it right.  It's very little more bother to just file everything at once and keep it in order, and then it saves a lot of time and trouble in looking for things that are out of place or lost in the pile.  I've no answer for you.  You're right.  It doesn't seem to suit me, that's all.

Saturday 5 February 2011


Sorry about yesterday's lack of post.  I wrote on in the afternoon, but it was one of those that rambled on until it even bored me, so I deleted it.  Then I remembered on my way to bed, but fell asleep before I could write one on the phone.

What I had been going to write about, since nothing of particular interest happened yesterday, was that I'm finally starting to get into Facebook rather more warmly.  It's taken a while, but then so did blogging.  It was a long time before I stopped feeling quite artificial, pretentious even, and longer again before I felt part of a community here.

I'd been reading blogs for a while, but not venturing to comment because it didn't seem quite polite to barge in when people all seemed to know each other.  Then I discovered that most bloggers welcome comments and like to know they've got new readers, so I started to leave some comments and from there it wasn't long before I started blogging myself (five years ago last month, I'm not big on anniversaries so I didn't mention it at the time).  I really thought I was going to be completely anonymous, but that didn't last long.

I had the same idea on Facebook, very briefly, and put in a false surname but soon changed my mind.  It seemed pointless and indeed, I have now got quite a number of real-life friends there.   I've still kept the blog and FB separate however - some folks publish their posts there too (or rather, links to them), but I don't.  Quite a few of my friends do know I have a blog, but only three of them have asked for its name and one looked for me, that I know of.  However, Dave mentioned the blog on my wall this morning.  And I know that my name, Googled, leads here (a mishap when a box auto-filled and I didn't notice, years ago).  So, if anyone I actually know arrives by that route - yep, this is my little, not very well-kept secret.  

Thursday 3 February 2011

Double whammy granny

I slept jolly well last night, good job I didn't have anything on first thing.  This afternoon, as I said yesterday, I went to look after Zerlina because her parents had an appointment.  She was lovely and we played for the afternoon - I reminded her a couple of times about the loo, and she headed for the stairs when she felt the need.  Good girlie.

As you know, Dilly and Al are expecting a baby in late May.  Now Weeza has had a scan and is over the first more precarious weeks, I can tell you that she and Phil are expecting their second child in mid-August.    I'm feeling quite the matriarch, I can tell you, and it's a jolly good feeling.  One of these days, someone in the family might take me seriously and I may receive the respect I deserve.

Or maybe I do already.  Oh dear.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Big Girl's Pants

Blimey, I've been working hard.  This must be what it's like to be other people.  I did take a couple of hours off this morning to take in a lecture on Faberge, but as I kept going until 11.30 last night and started again at 6 this morning, I felt entitled.  I woke up at 4.20, by the way, and would be feeling a bit twitchy by now if not for the calming and restorative effect of half a bottle of Rioja.

I did avow my intent for a nap this afternoon, but I didn't get around to it.  I was planning an early night, but I see that Mad Men is on at 11.20 or something.  Is that a new series or a repeat?  I watch television so irregularly that I don't know at all what's going on.  I'm trying to watch Episodes, however because it is, rarely, a comedy that is funny (I don't mind sweary, though I have to apologise to the Sage a bit).

There's a lot happening, in regard to family, my business, the Sage's business and school.  I am keeping up together, except for the Nadfas stuff, for which the deadline is Friday.  That's all right, I've been keeping tomorrow morning.  Housework and gardening aren't happening, of course, but I don't care much about that.

I'm a bit hyper.  Sorry.

No, come on, what shall we talk about?  I looked at my phone for inspiration and discovered an email I haven't replied to.  Oh damn.  Sorry.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm babysitting Zerlina.  I haven't seen her for ten days, so it will be lovely.  She has finally left behind nappies and is wearing Big Girl's Pants.  As am I, so we'll have something in common.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

School Daze

Don't have a lot to say about today, except that I've come home with a whole lot of work to do.  I had said I'd go to WI, but I've emailed with my apologies.

I used to be a member for about 20 years, but haven't been for the past three.  This is nothing to do with the society I went to, but I was busy and missing more meetings than I attended.  And then, HQ decided that they were going to relaunch their magazine, send it to everyone, and charge a higher fee accordingly.

How it works, the subscription is decided at Head Office, with the capitation fee they take off.  The rest of the money is the society's to use as necessary and desired - on the meeting place, speakers, etc, and more fundraising can be done if required.  The thing is, though, I didn't want the magazine and there wasn't an option not to pay for it.  You could opt out of receiving it, but you still had to pay.  I gave it a chance to grow on me, but found I often wasn't bothering to take it out of its wrapper, and if I did, it took about five minutes to glance through.  I didn't mind paying the sub to the local branch even if I didn't make most of the meetings, but rather resented the high-handed manner of HQ, so my attendance and membership lapsed.  Ironically, I still get sent the magazine.  The first year, I thought that maybe they were doing it to keep me in touch and maybe tempt me back, but now I just think they're inefficient.  All the same, I do miss seeing my friends and so I am aiming to rejoin.  But not tonight.

I missed much of this morning's music lesson because the Finance meeting went on a long time (we're not out of money, a major policy item was being discussed), but when I joined the lesson to find that the pupils were learning how to mix tracks, I thought I was fairly okay, having used the programme before.  However, turned out they were using a different programme.  So, I asked one group who was doing well what they were doing and, when another had a problem, relayed the information.  This afternoon, as the teacher was showing the whole class what to do, I made notes on my phone (better than paper as I won't lose them).  So I was able to be a bit more useful.

I also had school dinner again, which was very good.  And cheap, £1.18 for a pasta/tomato sauce bake with cheese topping, and salad. And the catering manager came and offered me coffee afterwards.