Tuesday 31 May 2011

It'd be Jolly Hockey Sticks, if Z were not allergic to hockey sticks

It was a rather jollier day than I'd expected.  Al phoned to suggest that Squiffany and Pugsley come round for a while - Dilly is feeling a bit fragile and he didn't want to leave her, and they really needed to get out and be active for a while.  So I took them to the playground and we all swung on swings and frolicked generally.  They stayed for lunch and helped me clean the kitchen, and we went in the garden for a bit, and Squiffany did some sums (she set the questions, answered them, marked them and awarded a star; she is destined to be a teacher, I suspect) while Pugsley played on my phone.

You know, I expect, that Apple Stores have computers at child height equipped with children's programmes.  Smart.  They also have loads of iPads, iPhones and computers that anyone can use for as long as they want.  Very smart.  Slightly worrying in a way - "there are more ways of killing a cat than by choking it with cream.  But I'm not sure that it's not the best way." as Saki put it (approx, darlings, it was Hermann the Irascible, The Story of The Great Weep if you want to look it up, which I can't quite be bothered to).

Anyway, I went to see Dilly and she's fine, just that she really needed a day lying down.  Hadrian is being a most accommodating baby.  He sleeps for three hours, wakes with a polite whimper, feeds with enthusiasm, pees and poos (sorry darlings, but it's what the young people say and who am I to argue?) as soon as his nappy is removed, looks about cheerfully for a bit and then sleeps for another three hours.

In the afternoon, I went to visit Dave and, unlike the first occasion when I was too polite to look around, I peered at all his furnishings.  The Wall Of Photos looks jolly good and so do his paintings.  And the garden is excellent, those granite setts set off the path nicely and the plants are doing nicely.

This evening, I made asparagus risotto, having saved the cooking water from yesterday for the stock.  Frugal, me, you see.  Non-wasteful.

What else? ... Rog mashed me again on Facebook Scrabble.  I can't remember the last time I beat him.

Anyway, tomorrow I've got Nadfas in town, but I've lost my programme card so I don't know the subject of the lecture, and then I'm having my hair cut, which it richly deserves.  After that, I'm footloose for the rest of the day.  Gosh.  Splendid.

Monday 30 May 2011

Too much stuff

We are considering where to put the pianola when it finally comes home.  It has never lived in this house, you see.  I had a piano of my own.  Actually, in our last house we had a boudoir grand piano which I liked very much but, although this house has fairly large rooms, they are almost square and we couldn't find anywhere for it to go so, reluctantly, we sold it.  I really missed having a piano, however, so after a while we bought an upright.  There was just room for it in the room I'm in now, on the wall between the hatchway into the kitchen and the window.  The pianola was in my mother's house, where Al and Dilly now live, so when it went for repair I gave them mine and put a bookcase where it had stood.

The problem is, the pianola is slightly larger than the piano, and it won't fit in that space and there isn't  anywhere else obviously available.  I could make room in the drawing room, but I don't want it there, both because it won't look right and because I don't want to burden the Sage with the sound of my piano practice.  There's plenty of room upstairs, but it's extremely heavy and so, even if we could manage to get it up there, I'm not sure that the floors of this old house would stand it.  There are two options, the hall or the dining room.  In either event, there's a piece of furniture in the only possible place.

It's just as well that we've been given a couple of months warning of its return.  We evidently need to do some rearranging of the furniture.   

Sunday 29 May 2011

11 + 10

If you were to ask the Sage to play you some music, there would be two likely 'instruments' to choose from.  One would be his polyphon, a late Victorian jukebox, and the other would be his wind-up gramophone, which I bought for him many years ago.  Thirty or so years I should think, certainly before we moved here.
This is the song that he would play for you.  Only slightly faster, and therefore a tone or two higher in pitch.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Keeping a Zecret

Admittedly, I'm secretive by nature, but I think I'd be wary of taking out a super-injunction.  I mean, by its nature, journalists have to know that you have something to hide, don't they?  If I were to be doing something a bit dodge that I don't want anyone to know about, then at what point would I go for it?  For a start, I'd have to tell the lawyer.  That's a bit no-go (or number 90, as Eric, as in Little By Little, would have it, as I think I remember from my extreme youth) for a start.  And then the judge would have to know, and then, as I said, the journalists, and once they knew I'd got something to hide, they surely wouldn't rest until they knew what, even if they weren't going to publish it.  The timing would be crucial, just within the time that they knew but before they went to print, or else the cat might be let out of the bag needlessly.

Of course, this is all hypothetical.  No really, of course.  Just look at me, you can see I'm a publish and be damned woman, and that most of my sins relate to chocolate and overenthusiasm.

Having said that, I've actually been cautious for years.  Right down to the parking ticket and the application of lipstick in a public place.  It has, for a long time, been my dread that my (very minor) *place in society* might become my identity.  From the time that I used, once in a while, to help with the children's group on a Sunday morning, I have veered from anything that might give rise to "Sunday School Teacher* In (insert misdemeanour of your choice) Scandal."

I did get a parking ticket once, actually.  It was about 20 years ago, I was heading back to the car park when a friend hailed me and, unwisely, I stopped for a chat.  Not for long, but for long enough.

Enough of that.  The family finally arrived home in the middle of the afternoon, and we went to have a cup of tea and some cake.  Hadrian was having a feed when we arrived, and afterwards his father changed his nappy, and was caught unawares by an unexpectedly sure aim.  After that, Hadrian stayed thoroughly awake and looked about him with great interest.  I know that small babies cannot focus at a distance, but he certainly has the measure of me and his Grandpa.

*or whatevs

Friday 27 May 2011

The guv'nor

It's an interesting thing, that we are now getting more enquiries from people interested in being a school governor.  We do have one vacancy, but it's for a parent governor and someone is considering it.  We've not had this situation before; only a couple of years back we had several empty seats and couldn't fill them. I'm not sure of the motive; I know that our school has a very good reputation, there is also the matter of our academy application - the subject is in the news at present and if someone is really interested, that's great, but I don't want people to become governors who just want to influence policy and be in the know, but won't do the donkey work and aren't bothered about the school itself.  It rules out a lot of people who don't have sympathetic employers who will give time off, but to know about the school, you have to come in to see it during the day.  If they are strong enough in other respects, it can be okay for a few governors not to do that, but the majority need to be available for daytime meetings, classroom visits, the occasional assembly etc and to take part in new staff interviews.  Some time ago, I think it was 1999 but can't quite be bothered to check, the then government had one of its "parent power' brainstorms and made a rule that one third of governors had to be parents.  We have never been able to fill those available places for more than a term or two, as when you have teenage children, odds are that you are busiest in your careers and least likely to spare time for active governorship.

Anyway, enough of that, it's half term and I'm taking the weekend off, if not the whole of next week.

The Sage and I went to visit Hadrian this afternoon.  His mother isn't keen on photos of her children being on the internet, so it may well vanish in a day or two, but here he is, in his Granny's arms.

Squiffany was also born with a great mop of brown hair, which eventually lightened and now is blonde and wavy.  The Sage and I cuddled him close for half an hour or so and are looking forward to his homecoming tomorrow.  Dilly is very well, and also looking forward to coming home.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Half a Cucumber

I was asleep by midnight, but awake just after 1 am and got up soon after, when it was obvious that I wasn't going back to sleep.  Since the alarm was set for 5.30, there wasn't much point in dozing off for half an hour or so.  At 6 o'clock I went to take care of Squiffany and Pugsley so that Al and Dilly could set off for the hospital.  I was interviewing teachers all morning, so had my phone on silent, but happened to stop for break just after Al sent me a text announcing the news and asking me to pass it on to the family.

Their baby was born just before 9 o'clock this morning, weighing 7 lbs 8 oz.  His name, funnily enough, is one I suggested to Weeza on Sunday, but not to the parents themselves.  His blog name - well, I'll explain.  At Roses' party I met a couple whose children "my little birds," the mum said, are called Raven and Phoenix, which charmed me mightily.

Accordingly, our little boy will be called Hadrian Swallow.

Dilly is very well and so is he, and they should be coming home on Saturday.  Al has taken S & P to visit them, and we've asked them in to supper when they come back.

Hadrian looks just like his mummy.

Wednesday 25 May 2011


Since Al let the shop to Tim last September, he has been a house-husband and, as a result, I have been called on to mind the children much less frequently.  We've seen them regularly, of course, but only occasionally looked after them.  Today, however, Dilly had a hospital appointment and so I was called upon to pick up Pugsley from nursery school, look after him during the afternoon and then fetch Squiffany from school.

The first surprise was that the school's entrance has completely changed.  There is a wall where there used to be a drive.  It looks established (it is rendered and painted, to match the wall that was already there), which shows it must have been a few months.  Pugsley called "hello Granny" from the other end of the yard, which he wouldn't have done a few months ago, and started chatting immediately, and remembered to say "goodbye" to the teacher, all of which says much for his improved social skills (at one time, he'd have remembered one but not both) and, upon being sat in the car, immediately reached for his book bag and read his book all the way home.

It has always been noticeable in the past that he likes to work and play by himself, he's perfectly happy with his own company, although not unsociable in general.  However, I'd bought a new craft activity for him and Squiffany and he was pleased with it, but wanted me to do it with him; not so much for the help as for the companionship.  I think that the extra attention from his father has done him a lot of good, but he has also, simply, grown up.  When he starts school he will be nearly five years old and will be well ready for it, although he thoroughly enjoys his nursery school.  Squiffany has always preferred the more structured school system; the main thing is that they are both very happy and secure and they both look forward to the homecoming of their baby brother.

Tomorrow, Dilly and Al will set off for the hospital at 6 am and, bar other emergency admissions, their baby will be born during the morning.  I shall be interviewing teachers at the time.  Just as well to have something to do, I suppose.  I switch on and off as necessary, usually.  I have been known to speak on a subject with great passion and enthusiasm, then have something else to do and, half an hour later, someone mentions what I spoke about and I look at them blankly.  It's not that I've forgotten, but that I've put it entirely out of my mind so that I can concentrate on the next thing.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

38 years, and 6 years

Today is our wedding anniversary.  We both forgot, until I had a text from a friend with congratulations - I'd told her last week, saying that it was quite likely that Ofsted would come to call either on our anniversary or the baby's birthday.  The Sage took me out to lunch, to the caff in Yagnub.  Later, he bought me flowers.

I went to Norwich, intending to buy myself a present from him and possibly even buy him a present from me.  I wasn't in the mood, sad to say, and bought clothes for the baby instead.  I felt a bit emotional actually, buying tiny baby things, and am starting to get very excited.

I did buy an electric mixer, a hand one to replace my very old one that is starting to make slightly grindy noises.  I also bought a chopping board and some staples.  Not staple foods, actual staples to go in a stapler.

Anyway, I'd only been home a few minutes when the Sage called from the door to say someone had come to see us.  I went to investigate, wondering why he'd shut the door - it was to give me a surprise.  It was the piano tuner, with news of my pianola.

It's a lovely piano with a very good tone and I spent my childhood happily pedalling when I wasn't playing the keys.  It looks almost like an ordinary piano - actually, look at this one here and it's very like the one at the top of the page.  The two doors at the top front slide apart and you insert a perforated paper roll, then you slide another door at the bottom front and a pair of pedals can be pulled out and down and, as you pedal, the roll goes round and the music plays.

When my mother died, we found that the mechanism had rather fallen apart, she hadn't told us about it though it must have upset her.  The piano itself still worked fine, but we asked the piano tuner about getting it restored.  Knowing him and how long it takes to get things done, I reckoned on four years.  In fact, he picked it up in his truck in January 2005.  I know just when it was, because I last went to India on 28th December 04, two days after the tsunami, and returned three weeks later, and as I came down the drive, the pianola was being taken away.  It's been rather a saga, but it's finally been returned to him with the mechanism mended and now the strings are being - I don't know, mended, replaced, whatever.  He reckons that another two months and it will be good as new.  It will be brilliant.  And expensive, I daresay.  I didn't like to ask.  I'm going to buy that iPad while I can still afford it.

Monday 23 May 2011

The bows and the bees

I'm being overwhelmed by emails.  I have them all directed to my phone, but they are only marked as read from one address (and so, if deleted, they vanish from that inbox but not the others).  I have four email address and the Sage did have three, but I've just set up another for him.  I just logged in to one of my addresses and there are 150 unread emails  - that is, they have been read but only on the phone.  I can't bear to look at the others.  Sorry, I know I'm sounding incoherent but I rather feel it.

The Sage wanted me to type up a letter for him, but I couldn't.  It was written as he talks which, as you may know (if you do know him) leaves one more bewildered than he intends.  He starts in the middle and goes back and forth, with digressions, and I have to stop him and get him to start from the beginning - if you don't know him well enough for that, you might never grasp what he's talking about.  Honestly, the more enthusiastic he is, the further he roams, but it really is normal for him, I don't think he's getting *much* worse than he ever was.

Anyway, after a longish chat, I've rewritten the letter and made it much shorter.  It isn't helped that he keeps going off and phoning people, when I want to ask him about something.

When this is finished, I have a lot of documents to sign and date.  At least the brain doesn't have to engage for that.

Friend Mike called round this morning.  Over coffee, we started to talk about bees and he was very interested.  When the Sage came in, I said that Mike now thinks I know all about bees, but actually I've shot my bolt - he now knows as much as I do!  But he did start from a fairly low base, I had to tell him about the queen's maiden flight and everything.  Really, it was quite embarrassing for a modest woman like me.

This evening, I heard a sudden flurry of falling drops of water.  I assumed it was Al watering his flower bed, but the wet was on a different window, so it actually was rain, although it lasted less than a minute.  I remarked to the Sage on the sunlight on the apple tree and the ash, which lit them in a completely different shade of green than the other trees in shadow.  When I turned back, there was a rainbow.  It cheered me up altogether.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Going to pot has its Ups and Downs

Weeza and family came over this afternoon, having been to visit friends in Oulton Broad.  We had a good day and Zerlina, after her nap was in excellent form.  She went straight to bed when they arrived and we listened on the monitor to her singing for a while before dropping off to sleep.  Grandpa went to wake her, bearing a Crunchie bar.  She dearly loves chocolate and was very impressed.

Zerlina is still at the age when she needs a bit of help when going to the lavatory, and sometimes misreads the signals, thinking she needs to go before she does.  Weeza said it's unmistakable when it is urgent, she looks like Mick Jagger.  She demonstrated.  It was amazing, to find how much like a young Rolling Stone a 6 months pregnant woman can look.
Go to about 28 seconds to see what I mean.

At about 5.34, Weeza hopefully mentioned dinner.  I had asked, last night, if they would come for lunch, but she said that they were going to eat with their friends, so I had assumed they weren't staying for a meal in the evening.  Fortunately, I had bought some meatballs.  Raw, that is, and I'd checked the label and there wasn't anything in there I didn't approve of.  I went and put them in a frying pan and then into the Aga, meanwhile Weeza cut up an onion, I fried it, poured in a glass or so of red wine, added a couple of tins of tomatoes and a stock cube and some pepper, cooked for a few minutes while I brought a kettle of water to the boil, added the meatballs to the sauce, put them in the bottom oven, put the spaghetti into the salted water, plates in to warm and followed Weeza out onto the Ups and Downs.  On the way back, Zerlina did her Jagger impression and wanted the loo.

The result has been hidden in a rabbit hole.  We can only imagine the dismay of the poor rabbits.

She enjoyed her (cooked from scratch in 20 minutes) dinner, and I also had bought some splendid Ronaldo ice cream and some raspberries.  When I went shopping, I had no idea we would have guests but just had an impulse to buy extra.  I've learned over the years to give in to my impulses, and it was just as well I did this time.

Saturday 21 May 2011


It's been a brilliant day.  Lovely weather again - English people cannot go a day without remarking on the weather, whatever it is.  Every conversation includes comments on the lack of rain but an appreciation of the sunshine.  We went to Gill's birthday party in the afternoon, left around 6 o'clock to go and put the chickens to bed, and set off for Roses' birthday party.  In the afternoon, there was a mixture of people we knew and those we didn't, so we chatted to everyone.  There was one almost silent girl, I still don't know who she was, Gill and Andy's three young grandchildren were there so, at one point, I asked her if any of them was hers.  "No!" she replied baldly and in a voice that didn't invite any comeback and I fell silent.  I did think of something else to say and turned to her again, but she was fiddling with her phone and didn't look up.  Gill's mum, who is a delightful old lady who never stops talking, invited me to call round before long, so I've said I'll go the week after next - this seems a long way away, but I don't think I'll have time next week.

I had briefly met Roses' Boy and a couple of his friends, but didn't know anyone else, but everyone was really friendly and chatty.  Several asked me how we knew each other.  I'm not sure if they all knew about her blog before tonight, but they do now (she didn't seem to mind being outed).  Roses looked beautiful and was wearing a fabulous dress.  I wore my emerald ring, which doesn't get too many outings, because it's a bit delicate for too much daytime use and I don't normally get out much in the evenings.

I was looking for a little card to go on her present, having sent her proper card earlier in the week, and found a photograph from my first visit to India.  Having finally found the CD to load the scanner software on the computer, I can show it to you.  We were being driven somewhere in Chennai when we saw this elephant looking in the hardware shop.  Just brilliant.  It was looked on in such a matter-of-fact way by everyone else.

Friday 20 May 2011

Question and answer

The question was "If you had a clever, quiet, student, disengaged, who did the work but you didn't feel you were really getting through to him/her, what would you do to engage him/her in all that the school had to offer?" It was based on me (and one of my children, actually) but not me, in part because schools are completely different now from when I was a pupil, and also because it doesn't quite describe young Z.  I was not really asking for on-the-spot psychoanalysis.

I can't remember quite what the Head said when he was being interviewed, but this time (I may have omitted the word 'quiet') he took it to mean a bored lad who was quietly subversive.  He certainly thought it was a masculine trait - which is fair enough, all the things they say about the way boys learn at school compared with girls, I'm well on the boys' wavelength.

The reason I brought the subject up was that we were planning questions to ask our student teacher, who was going for an interview the next day.  We asked the fairly standard ones, and then slipped in a few tricky ones.  I wanted to ask (and you might suspect you see something of the young Z here too) - oh, I should explain that she is a PE teacher - "teenagers tend to be either sporty or not, and you will naturally identify more easily with the sporty ones.  How do you encourage the less able pupil, who finds sport hard - may be small, overweight, have poor co-ordination or whatever, and doesn't want to join in?"

She came up with some good suggestions, including getting the pupil to do some coaching, doing dancing and non-competitive exercises, maybe aerobics and so on.  I was happy with her answer but afterwards, I said that her answer to a previous question had actually appealed to me a great deal.  That question was the fairly standard "describe a lesson that had been particularly successful, where learning had taken place, and how would you know that it had?"  She told us of an athletics lesson, where she had been improving the long-jumping skills of a class of girls.  She had put a low barrier of some sort to encourage them to jump higher as well as further, and then measured their progress with and without it.  Each girl had been able to measure her own jumping - there was a row of coloured cones so that, rather than spend time measuring, they had been able to see whether they'd reached the red, yellow or whatever cone, and they had become keen to beat their record.  The point was not, on that occasion, to compete with each other.  They had worked out why they were improving and (unprompted) talked about trajectory and so on - it was really interesting to hear her.  And I said, I thought that would also be good for someone who isn't a natural athlete, because she wouldn't have instinctively understood what she was doing wrong or how to improve.  I also think that, for the sort of person who would be more likely to be in the library reading than on the athletics field, that an analytic approach would engage interest, especially when it transpired that the theory worked in practice.

Afterwards, of course, the Head said to me, "so, what is the answer to your original question?"  And I'm not so sure that I had a complete one, although I did give him an answer.  And that can wait for another day.  Both the Sage and I had difficulty sleeping last night and kept waking each other up.  I'm tired and I've got two parties to go to tomorrow.  Of course, one always perks up for a party.

Thursday 19 May 2011


I'm feeling pleased with myself.  I have recruited a new governor.  She's already a governor at another school (which will close in another year, when we'll take on half its pupils) and I have been hoping to get her then, but I had half a chance and took it, and wrote to ask.  And she's accepted.  She is brilliant and will fit in perfectly.  I also, yesterday, wrote inviting another person to join us, and that he hasn't replied yet doesn't put me off, it's fine to take a few days to think about it.  He will also be ideal - I hardly know him myself, but he's experienced as a governor, is a parent at the school and supportive, and the Head knows and gets on with him.

I set a lot of store by having a full governing body, with people whom I trust to get on with things.  When I left my last chairmanship I had got bums on all the seats, and I found someone to replace me when I left.  With my more boring eye on legality, I'm always the first to count up to make sure we're quorate, and there are a lot of jobs to do and, the more people we have, the fewer there are for each of us.  I used to have three subject areas to monitor as well as being SEN governor and now I have one, music, which I do not want to relinquish anyway.

Oh, there was a chaffinch on the windowsill, peering in the window.  Lovely!

This afternoon, I heard a sound in the passageway, and knew who it was.  Black Granny.  She came in and waited while I fetched a slice of bread for her, which she pecked at on the carpet before pottering out again.  It's more like the Beverley Hillbillies around here every day.  The Sage and I had a conversation this afternoon where we agreed that, sooner or later, we would both move upstairs and leave the downstairs to the bantams.  They obviously would like to move in.


She was shaking the bread so hard that her neck is out of focus!

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Pfft. Bring it on.

Indeed, the flurry of worry was what I needed and I've focussed on what more I need to do, and the inspection can come along next week and I'll be fine.  I've noted down what I still need to check on and will have a meeting with the head on Friday and quiz him, and also give him some robust encouragement.  I'm feeling okay.

The cup and saucer that the Sage and I both liked best went for a startlingly high sum.  The Sage bid well, but wasn't going to pay £3,000 (plus commission and VAT on that, blimey, I make that £3,720!!!!!) for a 230-year-old cup and saucer - assuming that he wasn't outbid at that.  He bid up to two and a half, he says. He bought a lustre jug, which we both liked, and a couple of late Lowestoft teabowls, or maybe a bowl and a coffee cup, can't remember, both of which he has a saucer to match up with.  So, not what we'd have liked but he hasn't spent a lot and isn't empty handed.  He'll be back in an hour or so ... which reminds me, roast potatoes into the oven in a few minutes.

After our meeting with some Local Authority people, the Head asked if I'd be free to join him in a mock interview with a PGCE student who has an interview the day after tomorrow for her first job as a teacher.  As we discussed what to ask her - really tricky questions, we tried to cover all the bases - I reminded him of a question I'd asked him, as a supplementary in his final interview, when he was appointed.  "You still remember it, evidently it mattered," he said resignedly.  "You didn't quite get me either, I let you get away with it," I said.  I had to remind him.  Ahem.

Okay.  So, this was, more or less, the question, and I'd only have asked it of someone I was seriously considering giving the job to.  It was at the final, no holds barred interview and I only asked it of him.  "If you had a clever, quiet, student, disengaged, who did the work but you didn't feel you were really getting through to him/her, what would you do to engage him/her in all that the school had to offer?"

The best answer will win a prize if it's worth it.  In fact, I've finally, and largely due to Diana's interview this afternoon (she was really good and I hope she gets the job she wants) worked myself into the mind of the young Z.


Thank you for your comments, and I apologise for going wobbly on you.  I'll stop going on about it after this, but there's more to say than will fit in a comment.

I remember the first inspection I was involved in, years ago.  The chief inspector said, robustly, "satisfactory means that it gives satisfaction, and that is a perfectly good result."  In fact, it was never true (although she spoke in good faith) and satisfactory has always meant 'barely adequate' in Ofsted terms.  Every inspection of both schools I've been involved with has been 'good' and the village school only wasn't judged 'outstanding' because of the cramped conditions in a small and unsuitable building.

Last time, there was a brief one-day inspection and the governors weren't seen, apart from the then chairman.   The time before, all governors were interviewed in pairs.  On that occasion, the whimsical decision was taken to ask us about matters that weren't our area of expertise.  I was asked about finance and, fortunately, since we were faced with a spending cut at the time and the Head had explained exactly what measures were being taken to keep in the black, I knew plenty about it.  I did already know a fair bit about school finance because of my chairmanship of the other school.

I know I don't need to quote a lot of facts and I have no thought of doing so.  They will have been through our documents and it depends what they decide to focus on - obviously, it's likely to be our weaker areas and that's fair enough, and since I know what they are and what we're doing about them, and that we've already gained ground and that is demonstrable, it's all right.  But there are three reasons for my anxiety.

One is that, last time, it wasn't a good experience and everyone concerned found the attitude of the inspectors very unsettling.  The next is that, last time, I wasn't chairman and now I am.  The third is that, for the first time, I genuinely think that we deserve an evaluation of 'outstanding' and I would be devastated if we didn't get it because I hadn't come up to scratch or if I felt that they were nitpicking - if they can clearly explain why we've fallen short, fair enough.  However, I honestly believe that the school is excellent and I think that I'm doing pretty well - but inspectors do have their preconceived ideas and you can't always overturn them.  For example, once at the village school, an inspector asked about cultural diversity in a school where there was a predominately white English culture.  I explained about what we were doing and, as a practical example, mentioned that the two Chinese and two half-Chinese children in the school had been involved in our recent celebration of the Chinese New Year, bringing in clothes, food and speaking about customs and so on.  The eldest child, a boy of seven or eight had spoken with pride, loved being the centre of attention and I thought it had been successful.  "Oh," the inspector said, "but don't you think that smacks of tokenism?"   I really think that nothing would have been the right answer there, she had already made her decision.  If I hadn't mentioned it, she might well have been critical that we were not being inclusive of the culture of our ethnic minorities.

As a side reason, we're already up to our necks in preparing for the closure of the middle schools, taking on two extra year groups and moving our sixth form to different premises, arguing for funding to do that from the local authority because our capital formula funds have been slashed, working on becoming an academy by the end of this term, not knowing whether our application has been successful and in the middle of the exam period.

Fret work

I've had a meeting to get an update on Special Needs matters - I'm always pretty well in touch, but haven't had more than a brief chat this term so far, so it was good to have an update.  And I've arranged to go through our annual development plan with the Head on Friday.  I have to trust myself and not panic into a lot of rote-learning of facts and figures.  I don't think I need to know all the details; or rather, I don't have to remember them.  I go to a lot of trouble to find things out, to ask questions and to ensure what should be done is done, and then I forget the detail.

So, this afternoon, I asked him if there was anything I should address and he kindly reassured me - I said that I know where I'm good, it's where I am not and don't know it that a weakness may lie.  I would rather not be caught out.  He asked me an Ofstedish question and I stared horrified for a moment before rallying and answering straightforwardly - actually, the whole role-play sort of thing disconcerts me, but I did sort of ask for it.  Actually, I'd quite like some robust and specific criticism, it's not that I am modest about self-worth but I appreciate a frank appraisal, preferably in time to do something about it.  I have various documents to re-read - like, for example, I can't remember in the least what's in the Head's performance management, because I didn't do it.  Well, I wouldn't remember anyway.

I know how the students did so well last year and that it wasn't a fluke, and can explain in what ways the pupils are told what the point of a lesson is, what they are supposed to be learning and why, and how to know if they've learned it.  That would have been jolly useful when I was at school, I can tell you.  There were, certainly, teachers who brought that across but there were only too many lessons when I had no idea what, if any the purpose was, and didn't learn anything.  I also know how the teachers look out for difficulties a student, or group of students may have and address it - for example, when one of the governors was in a maths lesson back in the winter, a small group had a session on the use of brackets, because they hadn't grasped it.  I know who was entered early for an exam and who wasn't and why - not as individuals, but as groups.  I know that students should know their target grades and what marks they need to get them.

If I were asked why I'm the Special Needs governor, rather than someone else, I can explain, and say what I do and when I check on things and then leave them to it.  I can say what value we place on vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.  I can tell you what we do for our gifted students and how we support pupils who feel that they are bullied, and how we know about it.  If asked to talk by way through a financial spreadsheet, I'd be fine.  I know about partnerships with other schools and how we're developing them further.  If asked about uniform (behaviour, punctuality and appearance are going to be looked at) I can tell them that, a year ago, the School Council asked that staff be robust in enforcing the school uniform rules.  Dyed hair and dreadlocks are okay, piercings, apart from a single earring in each ear, are not.

I know a lot.  But what if I'm asked something and my mind is blank?  I don't know what they're going to talk to me about, that's the thing.

And if I'm this anxious now, what sort of a nervous wreck will I be when the inspectors actually announce their arrival?

Monday 16 May 2011


I've been watching a programme about problems with medical implants - I usually avoid such medical things, but I rather felt I should.

Those of you who have known me long enough may remember, some 20 months ago, I enquired about hip resurfacing as an alternative to a full hip replacement.  The surgeon to whom my GP referred me was very off-putting, saying that there were a lot of problems with metal-on-metal implants and, in addition, hip resurfacing had its own dangers, especially for women - this being because, post-menopause, most women lose bone density and the less invasive treatment of resurfacing can leave the femur more at risk of fracture.  I've got a socking great porcelain spike in my femur, which adds stability rather than lessens it.  I quizzed him pretty sceptically and straightforwardly (for example, I asked how many hip resurfacings he had done, and whether his reluctance was because he hadn't done enough of them to become fully adept) and I am appreciative that he took me seriously and explained without patronising or being offended.  Every time he has seen me since, he's asked if I've seen the latest findings, which, thanks to Hip Headlines, I have.

I asked him why, if there were good hip replacements, new and untried ones were being used, and he frankly said, because of the money in them.  Something new can be sold for a lot of money.  He didn't for a minute suggest any corruption or malpractice, but simply that it's a massive industry and that companies doing research need to sell their devices, and surgeons can be convinced to try them.  At Norwich, they had watched what was going on, were not comfortable with the number of problems thrown up and had made the decision to stop doing any metal-on-metal implants.  Since then, there have been a lot of recalls of specific devices and many people have had to have further operations to replace their artificial hips.

Today, we went to view a sale at B0nh@ms in London.  The Sage is going to the sale on Wednesday, but I won't go then.  We had plenty of time to look and handle all the china we wanted to - if you have never been to view an auction, you can ask to see and hold anything you want to (actually, I'm not sure if it works the same for delicate stuff worth millions, but it certainly does for the thousands-worth).  It's brilliant.  It's good to hold a lovely item that you will never own, and handling it adds a lot to just seeing it.  I have ambivalent thoughts about museum pieces - of course, some things are so rare and precious and of such historical significance that they should be kept in museums, but they will never be loved and appreciated again in the same way.  Lovely things should be touched, if they're not too fragile, and so much in museums is kept in store and rarely seen again.  Especially now, when a museum is meant to be a viewing experience rather than a historical record.  It's laid out very artistically, but there's not room to show much of the collection, even the really beautiful pieces.  They might as well be sold on for people to enjoy and appreciate again.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Bright College Daze

We had a governors' meeting last Monday, but on the Thursday before, I had an email from the Head asking me to come in for a meeting the next day.  He'd been notified that the school was going to be part of the pilot for the new regime of school inspections.  So at the meeting, the governors had to make a final decision about confirming our application for Academy status (the local paper, if you saw it, didn't get it quite right) and were also told about Ofsted coming.

We have made a commitment to becoming an academy and are waiting to hear if the application is successful.  What it means is that it will still be a fully state funded school and won't actually change at all, but the governors, under a board of trustees (four governors including the head) will take over running it, rather than Suffolk Local Authority.  The work that's been done so far - we're employing financial people, HR people and solicitors - is a revelation of efficiency.  The LA has not, over the past few years, been what it used to be and has been frustrating to work with.  And you don't know where you are with them, which has always been the case.  You are never lied to, I'm not making any accusations, but they don't volunteer any information they don't have to.  They have a lot of schools to take into account, but they don't actually say that, they say supportive but non-committal things and later you find out that you've gone away with the wrong impression, or find that all your reasoned arguments, which seemed to have been accepted, were quite pointless because an opposite decision had already been made.   It is so hard to work with.

There are, however, some really tricky things ahead in the next few years, and I have to accept that this is a commitment I'm not going to relinquish in a hurry.  We've got really good governors, but some of them have had other things crop up and don't have a lot of time at present.  Sad to say, the wife of one of them has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, so I'm particularly appreciative of Rog's cycling efforts this week, as he's raising money in memory of Kaz.  It's a beastly illness and not that unusual - I know more women who have or have had it than any other cancer except breast.  As you probably know, the worst problem is that it's often picked up relatively late, having few symptoms in the early stages and, even when the woman starts to feel unwell, the GP may well not immediately identify the need for tests; so when it's diagnosed it's already strongly established.

Our inspection is unlikely to be held this week, but could be next, or in the first week after half term.  This means that, under the rule of Sod's Law, that it could well be on the day that Dilly will have her baby.  Of course, that day and the next I am due to be on hand to look after Squiffany and Pugsley.

For the next few weeks, I really will feel as though I'm sliding down the razor-blade of life.  I am getting extremely anxious.  I'm very worried about letting the school down - I know a lot, but it all depends on what I'm asked and if they want to tie me in knots, as some inspectors do, I am afraid of letting the side down.

However, tomorrow we're going to London to view a sale at B0nh@ms.  So I'll try to put all this out of my mind.

Saturday 14 May 2011

The Sage sees a friend

The Sage has had a particularly cheery day.  His best friend moved to New Zealand some years ago.  The tale starts over ten years ago, when his daughter and her boyfriend decided to take a sabbatical from their jobs and travel the world.  They had both gone straight from school to further education to jobs, and took a belated gap year.  They wound up in New Zealand, loved it and wanted to live there.  They got married there, but had to return to their jobs and to apply for residency.  In due course, they moved back permanently and now have three daughters and are thoroughly settled in Auckland.  Her parents went to visit several times, loved it too and were able to get permission to live there as via Tom and Maxine.  They bought a house and, for a few years, divided their time between the hemispheres.  However, three years ago, their respective mothers died and since then they have lived in NZ.

The mothers dying when they did was an odd coincidence, in fact.  One of them was gravely ill, so Graham and Sandra flew back, to be told that she had just died - but within days, the other mother died too.  So both funerals were held within a week of each other, they sorted out the legal and domestic matters and went back again.  Since then, Sandra has been back but this is Graham's first visit.  He'll be here for six weeks, and you can imagine how pleased the Sage is.  They often talk on the phone, but they had a great four hours today catching up.

I cycled in to town to buy food and had hardly arrived back when it started to rain.  It was as well it rained then, because I had just been vexedly remembering that I'd forgotten to buy coffee beans, although I'd cycled past the shop.  As it was, I was glad that I'd come straight back.  I popped back again later and have just had my evening cup of strong black brew.  We've not had that much rain, don't know if there's much more to come.  The Ups and Downs (our undulating field of ancient meadow land) hasn't been grazed this year, but the grass is short and browning off as if it is August.

I saw Weeza on Thursday, first time since Easter.  She's now about six months pregnant and feeling well.  She was tired for a couple of weeks, but has got over that.  Phil's mother was staying for the long weekend - she's recently retired, so is footloose.  His dad is still working.  It was good to see her, and lovely how well Zerlina gets on with her.  Very sweet, she walked along holding each of us by the hand.  She'd been holding a biscuit, so put that in her mouth for safekeeping.

The old black Granny hen came from Graham, his eldest grandson was keen on chickens for a while and had reared more chicks than he wanted, so we had some.  As is the way of things, the majority turned out to be cockerels - the Sage had had an idea of keeping one, but they were a bit more feisty than we really wanted, so homes were found and we kept the hens.  Granny is the last one left, of three I think.  Must be at least 8 years old.  Anyway, Graham was very pleased to see her.  The chickens were all being very friendly and confident.  I hand-fed some of them some cheese yesterday.  They are inordinately fond of cheese, so now hang around by me almost as if I were the Sage.

Friday 13 May 2011

The birds and the bugs

Driving home yesterday evening, I was listening to a nature programme and they were talking about insects. This warm dry spring has been very good for them, it seems.  They said that there are a lot of cockchafers around this year.  I was going to post a picture of one, but it occurs to me that some of you really don’t like bugs, so I won’t. 

Cockchafer is, of course, the best and most amusing bug name of any and all, ever.  They are also known as May Bugs and, in this part of the country anyway, as Billy Witches.  They are big, slow, blundering beetles.  I remember once, when we lived in Lowestoft, all going for a stroll along Pakefield cliffs and a whole swarm of them came flying along.  They kept flying into us and it wasn’t pleasant at all, they tend to stick rather and are so heavy they quite hurt.  They don’t seem to have the sense to avoid you and there were on that occasion far too many to be able to dodge them.  Weeza shared a house with a friend’s brother in Norwich for a while (they just shared the house and the rent, they weren’t romantically linked) and he had a cockchafer phobia.  Weeza said that his sisters teased him about it, usually by finding one and threatening him with it.  It is a pleasure to sisters, it seems, to watch their elder brother in a state of panic.

Although this dry weather is not good for birds that eat worms or snails, it’s very good for birds that eat insects and that is what we have been noticing.  There are always a lot of nesting birds around here mind you, we have the sort of garden and environment that encourages them.  When the Sage was at the AGM of the Common owners a week or two ago, they had invited a bird expert who works for a naturalist organisation – I can’t remember which, and the Sage has squirrelled away his business card somewhere – and he invited the chap, whose name is Steve, to come and look around here and give advice on encouraging birds even more.  We have a few fields and Steve was very enthusiastic.  The one behind the house, there is a diagonal row of small trees – hedge plants that have grown into trees really, such as hawthorn – which he liked very much, and when they went over to the other field, he was even happier.  It is untouched, although grazed by sheep, and wildlife is completely undisturbed.  He said that he will come back at dawn one day soon to do a bird count and give us a list of the species he sees.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Tasking and basking

Having written yesterday's post early in the day, it seemed quite odd not to do a round-up in the evening.  I've never been one to keep a diary so it seems strange that it now matters to me.

It is a deliberate choice that I write pretty well every day, however.  The rule "only write when you have something to say" is perfectly valid.  However, if I followed it, I would rarely write anything - well, more than that, I'd have given up blogging a long time ago.  The thing is, I am no writer and not a lot happens in my life that 'needs' to be written about.  I've tried drafting posts, sometimes to put out if it's been a quiet day, sometimes because I want to talk about an issue that means a lot to me, and it doesn't work.  I am, indeed, no writer.  If a post is spontaneous, it's better than one I've carefully worked on; or so it seems to me.  Something that has been drafted and saved is rarely posted.  The subject seems trivial, my words are trite, I've lost interest or think that you will have done.  I delete it and have to rapidly put up a couple of photos instead.

The reason I put up photos, or write a quick post, is because I found, in early blogging days, that the longer I left it, the harder it was - that is, in a daily blog the odd duff post could be overlooked, but the less often I wrote, the more it seemed to matter.  So it's not a discipline, it's a pleasure, but it's also a chosen obligation.

What does seem odd is that I call my family by their real names on Facebook and by pseudonyms here.  Not so much with my children - or with my grandchildren, as I rarely mention them in The Other Place.  But it's the Sage.  I keep having to remember where I am and what to call him.  I do like to think of him as the Sage, but it seems quite artificial, when anyone who has followed the link to his website knows his real name.

Since you have been kind enough to read all this musing, I shall give you photos of bantams.  The first was taken at about 11 am and the second was 15 minutes later.  They are normally given their lunch after noon, but the black Granny led a deputation demanding elevenses, which was duly given them.  Not wanting to disturb them, I waiting until they had finished basking before going out to do my shopping.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Z will survive

Thank you for your concern over my hand, it really isn't so bad and here is a picture to prove it.  I'm sure it would have blistered badly if I hadn't kept it doused in cold water for a long time, it is still hot to the touch all these hours later, but I've been lucky and the red area has diminished a lot from last night.
You might have spotted someone in the background.  He's not quite a life-long friend, my parents bought him when I was five or so, tired of my quarrelling with my sister over ownership of her Big Ted.  I believed strongly in the principle of sharing.  I was slightly discomfited when bought my own teddy, which was far too new and yellow to love like Big Ted, but I no longer had an excuse to claim him.

He used to live in a spare bedroom, but he went to a party a couple of years ago and it gave him a renewed taste for company, so now he remains in my study.

When the sun is shining through the window, I find that he has moved across to bask in its rays.

Monday 9 May 2011

lower case z

I cooked fish tonight.  Olive oil in a saucepan, then the seasoned fish, then I put it in the oven.  I took it out with a towel-covered left hand, put each fish fillet on its plate, then switched hands to pour the juices.  The towel had slipped.

The worst of the burn is on the palm beneath my index and middle fingers, although each finger has a pale and wizened strip of skin.  I've had my hand in a bowl of chilled water, refreshed several times, and doused it with lavender oil and I hope I've saved it from blistering, but it's still very painful.

I'm feeling a bit punch-drunk from other matters, although not discouraged.  I'll tell you in a day or two.  Two things, a left and a right - or is that a shooting term?  one hates to mix metaphors.  i'm feeling a bit archy and metiphabel, typing one-handed and left-handed at that, the extra effort of capitals hardly seems worth-while.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Z is Sunday Lunched

A bit of a whoops today.  I locked my friend John in church.

You see, what happened is this - we all had coffee and then Brenda, Jo and I washed up and cleared away and Jo and I were the last to leave.  The church itself isn't locked, but the kitchen/meeting rooms are, and Jo and I were deep in conversation as we turned the keys and went out.  We were still talking in the road when Brenda drove back.  John had nipped into the loo, and emerged to find that there was no way back into the church or to the outside.  He had my mobile number, but my phone was on 'silent' so I didn't know.  Fortunately, Brenda's home number was written up on a notice, she being a churchwarden.

I apologised profusely, of course, and John, being really an extremely sweet-natured person, not only forgave me but took me out to lunch as well.  And, when he brought me home, pleased me by admiring The Wall, which he had seen during construction but not since we cleared the grass and spare bricks from around it.

The forecast rain did not arrive.  There were a few random tiny dots on a couple of occasions, but not enough to reach the ground, let alone wet it.  It was warm and sunny again this afternoon and that seems to be what's set to stay.  Just as well I didn't get around to planting vegetables, I'm not even going to grow the squashes.  It occurs to me that I'm saving a couple of hours a day at present - much as I love home-grown veggies and enjoy the growing of them, it would be a headache now, just trying to keep them alive.

There should be some asparagus, though.  I'll pick it tomorrow.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Not even a driZZle

The BBC website still says it was due to rain at 7 pm in Norwich.  We're not far from there, but there has been none here, at any rate.  Heavy rain by 1 pm tomorrow, it says - we'll see.  When the rain is coming from the West, it often peters out by the time it reaches this part of the country.  And it's very localised - some villages get a lot more rain than others do, and this is one of the drier ones; which can be an advantage of course, sometimes.

I never write the words "get" or "a lot" without a pang, and wouldn't ever write them in a formal letter or document.  Nor would I write "wouldn't", of course.  I doubt this sort of thing is ever taught nowadays, but  it was all considered bad English in my young day.  As was (I would not have got away with starting a sentence in that way, either) a word like "nice" unless used in its correct context, or adjectives such as "lovely" - not used more than occasionally, at any rate.

It is quite all right (alright was out.  Right out) to use all these colloquial terms here, however, because I deliberately write in the style I might chat to you with.  I do notice the poor English, but my rule is, if I would say it then I will write it here.  I also notice, but don't correct, my verbal/written habits - the use of "actually", for example and the slightly over-written, florid endearments.

I'm not sure if I am quite the same when speaking, although I suspect that, when some of you met me last week you will have felt that I speak just as I write.  As I said to some of you, my blog has shaped me to an extent and I am turning into my blog persona.  This is fair enough, as it's one that I chose; and it's based on me, after all.  I think I'm a little less Zeddish in real life, though.

The Sage was jolly sensible today.  He was up on a ladder clearing the gutters.  Not the whole house, but above this (one-storeyed) room, where three roofs drop rain on to one and sometimes we get rain in on the windowsill.  I had already been making cakes and so he was duly rewarded.  The family was in their garden next door, so I took them through and we all shared them, two each.  Dilly is tired, not surprisingly.  The baby will be born on the 26th of this month (if not before, of course) and she's working right up to the day before.  I said, I was surprised she hadn't booked the hospital for 4.30 on Friday so that she could fit in a full week's work.  She plans to take the rest of the year off, but I'll believe that when I see it.

As I was pottering back and forth in the kitchen this morning, I caught a sweet and heavy scent at intervals.  Eventually, I remembered the fresh lemons I'd bought last week from Tim.  Several still had stalks and leaves and one had flower buds.  The bud had opened and that was what I could smell.  I tried to put a picture on Facebook, but the connection is so slow here that it rarely works from the phone, but that's the reason for the slightly odd picture, I only took one, but you can just see the flower.

Friday 6 May 2011

Vote early, vote often

I think it would be good to have a referendum every year.  I can think of quite a few things that I'd like to vote on and, going by some of the peculiar decisions various governments have made, I reckon that British citizens could make at least as good a job of it as Parliament would.

The high school governors' meeting is on Monday and there will be a final decision, as far as we're concerned, about becoming an academy.  We do not yet know whether the application will be accepted.  I've arranged for a secret ballot because I think that's appropriate; however the vote goes, it'll be a joint decision and we'll all continue to work together.  Besides, once it was agreed (in another place) that the vote should be on a show of hands and several people voted one way or another because of who was watching, and it ended up with the chairman's casting vote.  I was chairman.  It gives no good feeling of power, I can tell you.  It was extremely difficult, under the particular circumstances.                                                                                                                              

I took most of the afternoon off.  I could have found work to do, of course, but I didn't - it was a beautiful day and it was far nicer to be outside.  The Sage was out and I made myself an omelette, poured a glass of wine and relaxed.  It was so pleasant that I'm rather tempted to do the same tomorrow.  Not outside though, not if the forecast rain falls.  I shall gaze at it with interest, however.  It's a long time since I've seen rain.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Passing the post

I spent the morning on housework, cooking and reading the papers, just like a proper housewife.  I was just wondering whether I could be bothered to go to the committee meeting (a duty thing, I'm not actually on the committee) when a friend rang.  She was an hour away instead of the three hours she lives, and wondered whether she could drop in.  Of course, I said yes, was going to email giving apologies for the meeting, and then received an email asking for another meeting instead.  One loves to be in demand, does one not?

So, I had already made some asparagus soup, so that and toasted cheese would be fine for lunch.  But, when the grill was heating up and we were waiting for the Sage, I heard a small pop and the element went from red to black.  Appliance malfunctions never come singly, do they?  It was all right, I put the toasted cheese in the Aga, and I do have another mini-oven which has a grill anyway, so I'll decide in a few days whether to replace the broken one.  It was only today that the Sage visited the dump to get rid of everything we'd chucked out; it's some way away and it'll be at least a week before he goes there again, but I'll shove it in the back of his van and then it'll be his problem.  Hem.

I voted before lunch and the Sage voted tonight.  I voted no in the referendum.  When you have people saying that it isn't great but you need to have some progress to press for further reforms, it's not that inspiring.  Besides, the MEPs are elected by PR and I hate it, I don't know who any of the East Anglian ones are, so further 'reform' wouldn't be for me on those terms.  I stepped back, as it were, and thought, if I voted for someone who came first, but then lost because of whose second or third choice they were, I'd be a bit miffed.  And I don't think there's been a reasoned debate by disinterested people, all the BBC has done is patronisingly explain how the system works, not what the possible implications are.  I don't buy pigs in pokes just to see what might happen when you open the basket.

The new kettle turned up this morning, which I think is pretty good, considering I ordered it on Tuesday and the promised delivery was 5 working days.

Mike is doing his annual Which Decade poll.  Love it.  I think this is the sixth year I've joined in, and I take it so seriously that I listen to each track at least three times before casting my votes.  Interestingly, I've usually changed my mind by the third hearing.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Belt and braces (and a length of bailer twine)

We bought a new laser printer recently.  The last one, which Ro was able to buy very cheaply from work a few years ago, is very old and was sticking badly.  I'd installed it on the Sage's computer, but I've only just got around to putting it on mine too.  And I'm disconcerted to find the great sense of relief and satisfaction when I printed my first documents on it.  Never again will I find, in the middle of printing out a series of papers, that a random ink cartridge has run out and I have to faff about changing it, never again will it be a disaster if I run out of a particular colour, I can just move over to the other printer.  And there is still the old one, which does work if I feed in the paper sheet by sheet.

I'd love to think I'm happy-go-lucky, but my in-built caution keeps frustrating my efforts.  I'm very good at letting go of some things.  When driving off to fetch Ro back from university in Lancashire once, I took a friend who wanted to visit his father there and we were delayed by a major traffic jam.  The friend was driving at the time and he decided to set off cross-country (roads, dears, not fields) and follow his nose.  I was perfectly relaxed about it and he was surprised.  He said his wife would have been examining the map, worrying that they might get lost and fretting about the delay.  I wasn't bothered at all - just because it isn't the sort of thing that upsets me.  We were going in the right direction, there wasn't a plane to catch, we had all day.  If people call in unexpectedly, I can always rustle up a meal and if not there's the chippie or the pub.  I assume that things will work out and it doesn't much matter if they don't.  But on the other hand, when something is my responsibility, I always have a plan and a back-up if it's at all possible.  But my semi-hidden need for a back-up for the back-up is slightly over the top.

Mind you, I put in the last cartridge of black ink the other day.  I won't quite relax until I've ordered more supplies.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

I do turn the kettle off first

The Sage has been enthusiastically cutting grass this afternoon.  I don't expect anyone went behind the bungalow yesterday or down towards the beehives, but the grass, which is mixed with a fair lot of nettles and so on, hadn't been cut at all this spring and it's quite a large area.  It was just not too long to be cut with the ride-on mower.  He had to finish this evening, after the bees had gone to bed, around the hives.  He came in very cold - Al says that a frost is forecast.  The Sage cut all the asparagus, in case.  He was just saying how much he enjoyed meeting you all yesterday.

The switch on the kettle is on the point of giving up.  It has been sticking in the 'on' position for the last few days and yesterday it didn't want to switch on at all.  I have to poke it with a knife to get it into the right position.  It's done pretty well, it's only the third kettle we've ever had.  I haven't time to go shopping this week so I've ordered a new one online.  I think that waiting until next Tuesday, the next time I'd have an opportunity to go to Norwich, would be pushing it and I've only got a tiny travelling kettle otherwise.  I appreciate the warning.

Monday 2 May 2011

Bringing on the wall party

I first talked about a party about a year and a half ago, so thank you for sticking with me until I finally did something about it.  And thank you so much for coming.  Dave, Mike and Ann, Christopher and J., Rog and Mrs Rine, with Lily and Oz and their Mini-Mes, Bill and his missus, Sarah, and Sir Bruin and the Small Bear  with Errol the Sheep all came along and were brilliant company.  Having optimistically planned a barbecue, I still thought the food could be cooked on it, even though it was too chilly to eat out of doors, but it was so windy that we thought better of it.  Grilling food for twenty people simultaneously is a  bit tricky, but Al and Ro helped and it all got served up together.  I'd made salad, but most people thought the weather made it more a day for the veggie dishes, which was just as well because I'd cooked too much as usual.

I didn't cook too much pudding, however.  We didn't actually run out, but there were some second and third helpings going on.

Memo for next time - make casseroles.  Buy more Schloer.  Don't feel the need to buy a bottle of wine per person for a lunchtime party where a lot of people will be driving home afterwards.  Make sure there is a next time.

I wonder how people will get on going back to work tomorrow, those who took last week off.  Two double Bank Holiday weekends in a row has really put everyone in a mood to relax for quite some time to come, it seems.

Sunday 1 May 2011


The big news of the day is that Jamie's wife is finding their Labrador a bit hard going and they are looking for a new home for him.  There's no immediate hurry and the Sage is a bit anxious, but I'm quite hopeful.  A black lab. called Spud (great), he is quite well trained and you can put food in front of him and he won't touch it until given the all clear.  He probably pulls on the lead, but that's all right, I can deal with that.  I asked about chickens, Jamie doesn't know because he has never seen them.

I'm not going to dwell on this until tomorrow's Party Wall is over.  People have been a bit dropping by the wayside today, and we're down to eighteen (I've halved the quantity of vegetarian food I'm doing, because I don't think I've any vegetarians coming now, although I will Be Prepared anyway).  Have no fear of the chill forecast, I'm reckoning on us eating indoors.  We won't all fit round the dining table, but there are chairs in various rooms, it'll be fine...there is enough food, anyway.

See most of you tomorrow, darlings - and there's enough food, if you suddenly decide to join us.  I have wildly over-catered in my enthusiasm.