Saturday 31 March 2012

Now And Then– And A Giveaway Very Soon!

Four years ago I began this blog. Here’s my first ever blog picture – a delicious, leisurely breakfast [Bob went out early to buy fresh croissants, I was convalescing after a minor op]


and here is a Saturday breakfast the other week [Bob even bought a newspaper for me – I can’t remember the last time we spent money on a real paper – oh the luxury of crosswords and Sudoku!]


significant changes in our lives

  • Bob is considerably slimmer [as am I] and the “croissants for breakfast” are a rare treat these days!
  • the dining room is a much more attractive shade of cornmeal [thank you Frances for that inspiration!]
  • we have lost Charlie, our lovely collie cross
  • in 2008 I would have laughed if you’d said that four years on, I would be running regularly, or that I’d be a homeowner

significant constants

  • we still love each other as much as ever
  • our girls [and their blokes] remain a source of joy and pride
  • supply teaching remains exhausting but fulfilling [although there is less of it around, and it comes in fits-and-starts]
  • church life continues to thrive and keep us very busy
  • God’s Amazing Grace

I’m now up at 144 followers, and well over twice that many people reading the blog each day. I have new friends all round the world, and I have learned so many things. It is such fun, and I wouldn’t want to give it up, even if it is hard to fit in the time to post to my blog or catch up on reading others.

Giveaway banner

So to celebrate this significant Blog-anniversary, I am planning a giveaway very soon. Due to extreme busy-ness these past few days, I haven’t got it organised yet. I will announce my Blogger-versary cum Easter cum Birthday giveaway next week. So watch this space.

A Tight Spot?

tightsI have this absurd self-imposed rule about opaque tights. I will wear them between October 1st and March 31st – but from the late spring to early autumn, they are packed away with my ‘hibernal’ clothes. [What a lovely adjective!] So this has been my final week of winter clothes – and on different days I have worn red, plum, blue and green tights.


But I have observed something very strange – I have two pairs of bottle green tights, and for some reason, these ones have much longer legs than any other colour. Pippi Longstocking?

Does something happen in the dyeing process which makes them get longer when washed?

All the others fit my legs perfectly – even though my pins are rather short.


But I looked down the other evening at Sewing Club, and noticed that they had formed rather gruesome wrinkles round my calves. I also realised that trying to photograph one’s own feet is not successful – my legs appear even shorter and fatter than ever!

Perhaps before I pack them away I should sew a new toe seam across the bottom to remove 5cm or so?


I think I am less like Pippi Longstocking and more like Nora Batty!

On the subject of legwear, I notice that Marks and Spencer now sell leggings, jeggings and treggings!

Wikipedia says that

“Treggings are leggings styled to look like trousers. Much like jeggings, the word is a portmanteau of leggings and jeans. Treggings fit just like leggings, but are made out of a thicker fabric”

I expect to be wearing more summer skirts if the weather stays this pleasant. I certainly don’t envisage encasing my legs in treggings!

What an utterly stupid word!

Friday 30 March 2012

Whoopie Do!

Last day of term – but due to Circumstances Beyond My Control I had to spend all day in school working with my SATS pupils, reinforcing their numeracy and literacy skills. All the other children had Picnics in the Park and Easter Egg Hunts.

With permission, I ‘themed’ the day. Today was officially


We spent the whole day doing loads of literacy and numeracy topics, all around the WP theme. We also ate some at morning break


I festooned our work area with bunting**


I cannot tell you how thrilled I was at the way my pupils worked- they really got their heads down and achieved lots. At the end of the day I gave them certificates showing how many WP Challenges they had completed, and also a box of WPs to take home as an Easter gift [I should stress, I only have four pupils in this set!]

DSCF3499I spent yesterday making about 50 WPs, to ensure I had plenty – colleagues had been intrigued by the WP idea, so I needed to take a plateful into the Staffroom.

I ran out of cooling racks – but repurposed a well washed wire filing tray to hold the last few WPs. These are the misshapen rejects which Bob and I will enjoy at some point [WPs freeze beautifully]


**one of the worksheets involved making bunting to hang round a WP stall at a Summer Fete, and included lots of problems about angles and isosceles triangles.

And now term is over. Hallelujah! Don’t bother trying to contact me this evening, I’ll be Officially Relaxing and Totally Incommunicado!

Post Haste

Just a reminder to my blogfriends in Britain – as from 30th April, the cost of stamps is rising by 14p each - from 36p to 50p for 2nd class, and 46p to 60p for 1st class [I rarely use 1st class if at all possible]


However, it is worth remembering that you can buy the stamps now at the lower price and they have no ‘use by’ date.

I’m certainly planning to stock up [having used all my existing stamps on those Lent Postcards!]

m-z stamps

Shown above is the next set of commemoratives being issued by Royal Mail. they are coming out on April 10th [my birthday!] They represent locations round Britain with initials M-Z [more details here]

The locations are Manchester Town Hall, Narrow Water Castle, Old Bailey, Portmeirion, The Queens College Oxford, Roman Bath, Stirling Castle, Tyne Bridge, Urquhart Castle, Victoria and Albert Museum, White Cliffs of Dover, Station X Bletchley Park, York Minster and ZSL London Zoo

The places in red are ones we have visited on holiday – and the blue ones are because Bob studied at Queens, Mum worked at BP, and Bob Liz and Steph were all born in Kent. Maybe I should stock up on a few First Class ones as well as a larger stash of 2nds.

Are any of these locations special for you?

Thursday 29 March 2012

Finger-Picking Good!

A childhood favourite!

RIP Earl Scruggs, Banjo Player Extraordinaire

Amazing Talent!



Daffy-Down-Dilly has come up to town,

In a yellow petticoat and a green gown


Our green-fingered friend Bob [he of the splendid leeks] has planted some delightful miniature daffodils in the flower bed at the side of our church premises. They are ‘fluttering and dancing in the breeze’ as per Wordsworth, but Mr M’s happy little daffs reminded me more of the children's nursery rhyme than the classic poem!

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Syrupy Situations?

I have finally caught up with the finale [finale  with the finally?] of Upstairs Downstairs. I have to record it as it clashes with Homeland, which we both like [Bob leaves UD and Downton for me to watch alone!] I was in school all morning, but when I got home, I sat down after lunch to hem some jeans for a friend [Momma’s Little Baby Loves Shortenin’ Jeans!] and watched Sunday’s U/D.

Despite the relatively positive review in the Guardian, I found it quite sad.

upstairs downstairs agnes and hallam

I still think this is not a patch on the original 1970s – they are trying too hard to include too many ‘issues’

Why does there need to be this rivalry between UD and DA anyway? Can’t I just enjoy both?

Most of the ends were tied up neatly – but enough were left untied to give room for another series. Quite a few ‘sticky endings’ neatly averted – other characters clearly got their come-uppance.

upstairs-downstairs-blanche-pamelaAt last we got rid of the scheming, despicable Lady Persie [who seemed to be the Unity Mitford character] and Blanche has proved herself a thoroughly Good Egg.

upstairs downstairs thackeray

Life was all very exciting downstairs – and Pritchard and Thackeray etc. were kept very busy.

There was one sticky situation that concerned me though [why do I get so fussed about trivia in these programmes?] Mr P was sent out for some Lyle’s Black Treacle.When he eventually returned, the tin he had been clutching [for days] was clearly not Lyle’s brand. Why was this? Lyle’s is the iconic brand, after all.

new blck treacle

I know today’s tins have 454g on the side, not the imperial 1lb – but surely they could have borrowed a vintage tin from that nice Mr Opie at the Museum of Brands and Packaging. Or asked Mr Pritchard to hold his thumb over the weight and the e sign?

I’m hoping [being an incurable romantic] that in the next series Lady Agnes and Sir Hallam do manage to repair the ravages of their relationship. They have both been foolish [he more than she, I feel] but goodness, don’t they know there’s a War on? They need to be working together to get through this!

upstairs downstairs aduke of kent

Blake Ritson did a good job playing the part of The Duke Of Kent, Hallam’s one True Friend throughout all this. I think he had one of the best lines in the whole episode – I may even use it as a sermon illustration sometime.

In school this morning, I took Assembly, and talked about the Queen distributing the Royal Maundy Money, and Jesus, the Servant-King washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.

When the Duke arrives at Eaton Place, he is surprised when Hallam, and not Pritchard, opens the front door. H apologises to the Prince, and explains the servants are occupied having a wedding party downstairs. His Highness replies

“For as long as this war lasts, we are ALL each other’s servants”

which brings to mind what I explained to the children earlier…

This is my command – that you love one another.


Back in the 1980’s when I first began working as a Supply Teacher, life in schools was very different. You would arrive at the school and be told you had a Year 3 class and that was that. If you were lucky, there would be a note saying ‘do something about fractions’ or ‘we are studying the Tudors’ – or maybe the teacher from the class next door would say ‘I am using this worksheet after break, shall I photocopy a set for your class too?

markingAt the end of the day, Supply Staff were expected to mark all work set, and also leave a complete list of what they had done for the returning teacher. That sometimes meant staying behind ages after the bell.

In the staff room one day, another [older, more experienced] Supply Teacher said “Oh, I just put down 2.15-3.15 ECO & ECI” I was baffled – what on earth did that stand for?

She explained “It is simply Educational Cutting Out and Educational Colouring In – but in my experience, most class teachers don’t know and are embarrassed to reveal their ignorance by asking”

I confess that in the years since, I have often resorted to this device.

Nowadays there is almost always a comprehensive set of lesson plans waiting for me. But on Monday, there was no work set. I had worked with the class the previous week, and had no problems with continuing their maths and literacy in the morning– but had to find something to occupy them in the afternoon before the practice for the “Easter Service”

So we did ECO and ECI…

easter cards NL

…and made Easter Cards.

I showed them how to cut and fold a ‘stepped’ inner card [blue], and they stuck flowers inside – then they decorated the outer [pink], which I had pre-printed with the outline of ‘Easter Greetings’

[this is not my original idea- the Girl Guiding Website has a good tutorial here if you want to make similar cards]

Click on the pictures to see their cards in greater detail.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Easter Bunnies!

A lovely surprise when I got home from school today – not one but two parcels. The first was a set of books from The Book People, and I will blog about them later. Bob had already opened that parcel – because the delivery man from Yodel had dropped it over the top of the seven foot side gate. Fortunately the books were undamaged- but Bob needed to check before he rang them and complained [last time they did that, it was delicate computer components. Do these people have no sense?]

The second parcel contained a lovely long letter and these 3 things…


My friend Pam had sent me two Easter Bunny Egg Cosies. I used to see Pam regularly when I did supply teaching at her school – but we haven’t met up since January. So I’d sent her one of my Lent Postcards, and this was her generous reply.

knitters year

It was super to sit and read and catch up on all Pam’s news- and aren’t the cosies cute?

They are taken from this Debbie Bliss book, which I got as another Book People bargain at Christmas.

I have tried hard with the Lent Cards- but have only managed 23/35 days thus far

Next week I shall probably send a batch of Easter Cards – and try to write a proper message in each. That way I may get to target, but will not have done a Card-A-Day as I originally hoped.

How are you managing with Lent Challenges?

Have you made any Easter crafts?

The First Cornet Of Spring!

One very happy man, with his ‘99’ [complete with Flake and red sauce] The origin of the ‘99’ name is lost in the mists of time, and I am not convinced by any of the theories put forward – but Bob certainly enjoyed himself on Saturday afternoon when the van drove down the close.


We had a friend in London who said she would not purchase ice creams from vans. Whenever the chimes were heard in the street, she told her little boy he could only have one if the ice-cream man parked outside their house, came to the front door and said ‘Mrs Richard, would Cliff like a cornet?’ And as he never did, her son never enjoyed the thrill of Mr Whippy’s products. Poor child!

mr whippy

I think a hard working chap deserves a treat now and then, don’t you? Bob has always been fond of ice creams, his Italian Godmother ran this place down in Kent when he was a child.


Monday 26 March 2012

First BBQ Of The Season

Unexpectedly I did a day’s Supply Teaching today [I usually avoid Monday’s as it is our Day Off Together] So Bob went off to Derbyshire on the motorbike and had a great day riding around. He picked up some flash fry steaks whilst he was out, and suggested we had a BBQ this evening as the weather was so beautiful.


He cooked the steaks, and I put together a ‘layered salad’ from the stuff in the fridge [lettuce, cucumber, spring onion, celery, tomato, julienne carrot* and beetroot] It looked really pretty in my glass bowl.


I had already planned to have melon slices for dessert – but they got the full treatment as well with lemon slices and cherries!


Quick, easy and utterly delicious!

julienne*My Julienne Peeler, from Lakeland [years ago] is brilliant for making carrot strips to sprinkle in salads – very fast and very simple.

What do you serve with impromptu barbecues?

Pause In Lent #5 – Patience

A Pause in Lent Floss

Patience – the Pursuit of Peace

Of all the virtues, I will admit this one is truly the hardest for me.

I am always on the go, forever busy, eager to complete tasks.

Impatience does not make one a good cook. Ask my family about the innumerable disastrous meals I have served – either undercooked because I was impatient to get them on the table promptly, or overcooked, because I turned up the heat way too high, in the hopes that the food would cook faster.

Why do you think my family always pray before meals?

rockwell prayer

I get impatient with myself when I cannot manage something. Over the years I have got a little bit better about being patient with others when they do things more slowly than I would like. And I hope I do not get as impatient with God as I did in my youth, when prayers were not answered as quickly as I wanted.

  • Will I ever pass my driving test?
  • How long till I find the Right Man?
  • When will I be able to travel abroad?
  • Why hasn’t X become a Christian yet?

And I can still hear my Dad’s voice, wise and loving, saying

“Possess your soul in patience, my child”

And being an impatient person [or living with one in the family] certainly does not make for a peaceful existence. Down the years, my kith and kin have been far more tolerant with me than I deserve.

So many of the things I have read about patience, and my experience down the years, have helped my to realise that patience means waiting on God, to use the quaint old phrase. Life is often difficult, and turbulent, and the things we long for seem far away and taking forever to get here. But God has everything in hand, and if we trust Him, it will work out fine in the end. So we achieve nothing by irritated impatience.

Be still before the Lord and WAIT PATIENTLY for him[Ps 37]

Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and PATIENCE [Col 1]

with seeds

There is no point in pacing up and down like an impatient cardinal or an angry chicken! To everything there is a time and a purpose under heaven- and in the end it will work out just as God planned it. As Julian of Norwich wrote, six hundred years ago

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well

So I am still working hard at attaining this virtue [as it says on the tee-shirt ‘please be PATIENT, God hasn’t finished with me yet] and as I seek to possess my soul in patience, I am humming Spafford’s great hymn to myself

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

[by the way, the answers to the four prayers above- February 1978, June 1978, July 1981…and still waiting & praying. And congratulations to Steph for passing her driving test last week!]

Sunday 25 March 2012

Thank You Dear Friends

For all your kind wishes.

  • I have been sensible
  • I have rested.
  • I am feeling better.

Please join me for a refreshing cup of tea

marilyn[this seemed an appropriate picture for Diamond Jubilee Year!]

Homophones Of The Weak

Saturday Morning… Bob was busily pottering in and out lugging heavy bits of PA equipment to be put away after Friday’s [excellent] Folk Night [thanks Dave!] Meanwhile I was fatigued and flopping around in the kitchen, like a defrosted fish finger, with Radio 4 chuntering away happily in the background.

radio4And then I heard the announcer say Fraser Nelson would be bringing us “The Week In Westminster”

Weak in Westminster?!? what about the Kompletely Kream-Krackered in Kirby? I thought to myself.

Then it got even more confusing, when F. Nelson introduced Jessye Norman. Only it was Jesse Norman – Conservative MP for Herefordshire and member of the Treasury Select Committee, there to discuss The Budgetjessenoman mp

I would rather it had been the ‘original’ JN! Her singing might have given me a bit of an energy boost!

what a voice!

…I think I should have gone back to bed.

Too tired to do anything properly.

Saturday 24 March 2012



…it has been an unspeakably busy week. I am spending Saturday catching up on much needed rest.

Friday 23 March 2012

Do Drop In If You Are Passing!

folk night 03 12

It’s The Way They Tell Them!

Have you been watching the new CSI with Ted Danson? We have – and so when a 7 year old said to me at school “Please Miss, someone’s written ‘Gulliver’ on the ceiling” I thought of this film and looked upwards


The children laughed at me. “What did you say?” I queried

“He said someone’s written ‘Gulliver’ on the ceiling and if someone looks up it means they are silly” explained his friend, grinning .

“Ah – I think the word he should have said was GULLIBLE” I told them “And I am not sure that I am the silly one round here!

Then later I was admiring the Easter pictures being drawn by the Year 5 children. “Tell me about this one” I said [always a safe comment – never assume you understand their artwork, you may say something horrible embarrassing]


“This is Judas, and this is Pontee-Us Pil –art- ays the Governor” the boy told me

“His name is usually pronounced Pie-Lat” I said

“Oh no, Miss, at our church, every week they announce Pil-art-ays”

Well, if they say it like that at his church, where people ought to be Bible experts, who am I to argue? I suggested he might like to check up on that, as I suspected that was the name of the man who invented the exercises, and not the first century Roman ruler!

Thursday 22 March 2012

One In Eight

One in eight people do not have access to safe water. In the developing world, on average, people walk 3.7 miles daily to collect water for their basic needs.

Thank you Lucy for the reminder that today is World Water Day. Lucy has put one video clip on her blog – here is another.

…because we are hungry

If you are in the UK today, you may have got involved in the ‘Moaning About The Budget’ conversations [which happen every year, whoever is in Government] and you may be feeling hard done by. I am truly sorry if you are badly affected.

But spare a thought for those who walk 1000miles a year to get the stuff you can obtain easily by turning on a tap in a nearby room.

And the one in eight who cannot find safe clean water to drink – or to give their babies

And the ten people who died from waterborne illness whilst you were watching that video clip.

There Are Nine Million Bicycles In Beijing…

..but just one Penny Farthing outside my school


Yesterday, Tom was getting his bike ready for a ride when I got to school at 8am [this is not Tom, it is his friend]. He kindly let me take some pictures. Look at the rose detail just below the handlebars


The bike was made in the Czech Republic – and Tom requested  cream paintwork – he wanted to make it a 21st Century bike, not a black Victorian model! He mischievously rested the bike next to the Village Pump. The sign has been there a couple of days!


I think I preferred the previous finish to the pump’s paintwork! Fresh as paint, but it still won’t dispense water – although I notice that the top has been replaced since I photographed it last week.


Thank you Mr Pickering for letting me photograph your wondrous velocipede! It is a delightful machine, but I would still rather ride pillion on the Honda!

edit – Friday 23rd March – noticed this morning that the whole pump, including replaced dome on top, has been painted green and gold as before. Tuesday’s painting was obviously just the undercoat!

Wednesday 21 March 2012


The Vicar came into school today to take Assembly. He talked about Mothering Sunday and Mothers. I remembered I hadn’t posted my pictures from the weekend. My bag from church and the plant inside


And a very cute card [I just love buttons!]


[is the short woman holding the flowers meant to be me?]

The Vicar did an acrostic using some verbs applicable to mothers

  • Make
  • Organise
  • Teach
  • Help
  • Encourage
  • Repair

And he went on to say that these are things we can all do. I do enjoy Rev Peter’s Assemblies!