Tuesday 30 September 2014

Fooc, Wato and Jam

No, these are not names for a new set of characters to replace the Teletubbies [though it is an interesting idea…] They are the abbreviated titles of favourite Radio 4 programmes [as I am sure many of you will have recognised] From our own correspondent, World At One, and Just a Minute. It is forty seven years ago today that BBC Radio 4 hit the airwaves [Happy Birthday!]


This is definitely my favourite radio station [closely followed by its younger sibling, Radio 4 Extra, formerly known as Radio 7]

Any time after 9.30 in the morning, I am likely to have a radio tuned into one of these two stations. Prior to 2010, I usually listened to the Today Programme – but the announcement of a General Election, combined with the departure of Terry Wogan and arrival of Chris Evans, and I decided to wake up to Radio 2 instead. CE’s cheerful, family orientated show gets my day off to a much better start than hearing argumentative politicians. But generally I listen to 4 or 4X


My good mate Gaz recently lent me this book – which is the vade mecum for devotees of the station.

It is full of all sorts of fascinating facts and pointless trivia, anecdotes about radio personalities, and reminders of programmes of the last forty odd years that you had quite forgotten. It is probably utterly meaningless to non Radio Four listeners!

The chapters are arranged in the order of the day’s programmes – up with the lark, and Farming Today, and ending with the strains of Sailing By, and the beloved Shipping Forecast. If I have a gripe about the book, it is the insertion of longer anecdotes which are printed in separate boxes at the top of some pages. But some of the anecdotes go on for 3 or 4 pages – and then you have to go back and finish the ‘regular’ bit of the story. I kept getting lost!

archersBut the book is great fun – and if you are thinking of travelling to Ambridge from Mornington Crescent, then this is the book to read on the train. Thanks Gaz!

PS I still miss Fritz Spiegel’s “UK Theme” tune!

Do you have a favourite radio station?

Are there some presenters you prefer to others ? [personally I prefer Jane Garvey to Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour]

Monday 29 September 2014

Sock It To Me, Baby!

sockAutumn is upon us, and my feet are feeling the chills – so I am wearing socks more than I was a couple of weeks ago. I decided my sock collection needed sorting. It is in a Truly Parlous State.

Some socks are without their mates, others are thin and holey … a serious cull is needed here. Statistics show that the average family of four loses around 60 socks a year. I am not sure that Bob and I have lost 30 socks in the past twelve months, so someone out there is being Very Careless!

But what to do with the odd socks, and the holey socks? I can, and do, darn holes where possible – but many of my cheap man-made fibre socks don’t really like being darned. I have been looking at the gazillion websites dedicated to ‘uses for old socks’ and the Pinterest page devoted to hapless hosiery. I have concluded there are three general categories of Old Socks.

  1. socks which are really beyond any useful purpose- bin them
  2. socks which are boring and dull, and holey – but could be put to use for dusting or other dirty household chores, and then be binned – these could go into the Rag Bag [if I had one]
  3. socks which have been ‘widowed’, but are far too attractive to thrown away – and can be used to cover jars and bottles, or be remade into soft toys, or turned into icepacks/wheat packs, purses, or wristwarmers. I have no socks in Group 3

sock monkey

Sadly I have never owned a pair of genuine Rockford Red Heel Socks, to make a proper sock monkey.

When I was running regularly, I invested in a few pairs of ‘trainer socks’ – but don’t like wearing them with regular shoes. They have so little fabric in them, they are hardly worth recycling into anything. My socks are all dull and functional. And I have plenty of dusters already. All my socks are in Group 1

viyella socks

I am just going to have to be ruthless here, and bin the ones which are beyond use.

Bob, on the other hand, owns a pair of wonderful striped Viyella cotton socks [a Christmas gift from his sister, some time ago] Now I could find all sorts of ways to repurpose them – but they never seem to get separated in the wash, and show no signs of developing holes yet. So I suppose I must “possess my soul in patience” – and put ‘new socks’ on my Christmas wish list!

Sunday 28 September 2014

I’ll Go Aygo

It is just four weeks since I took possession of my new car. It is a Toyota Aygo, 5 years old, and I am very pleased with it. Just don’t ask how much it cost…


Having problems loading pictures, so these are two from the net!Mine is silver, has about 40K on the clock, and has already proved itself a nippy little runabout, very appropriate for the life I lead. With the back seats down, I can transport all the flowers for a wedding, or 8 of the stacking chairs from the church. Even with back seats in place, the boot will comfortably hold two sewing machines in their carrying cases and a bag of fabric. It has technological luxuries I have only ever dreamed of in the past [A/C, CD player, central locking, electric windows…] It seems to be very economical in terms of fuel consumption. And best of all, it goes into gear, and will go backwards as well as forwards!


And the name reminds me of that old Sally Army Song with the happy tune - I’ll Go [Aygo] in the Strength of the Lord!

I’ll go in the strength of the Lord,
In paths he has marked for my feet;
I’ll follow the light of his word,
Nor shrink from the dangers I meet,
His presence my steps shall attend,
His fulness my wants shall supply;
On him, till my journey shall end,
My unwavering faith shall rely.

I’ll go, Aygo in the strength,
I’ll go in the strength of the Lord
I’ll go, Aygo in the strength,
I’ll go in the strength of the Lord.

I’ll go in the strength of the Lord
To work he appoints me to do;
In joy which his smile doth afford
My soul shall her vigour renew.
His wisdom shall guard me from harm.
His power my sufficiency prove;
I’ll trust his omnipotent arm,
And prove his unchangeable love.

I’ll go in the strength of the Lord
To conflicts which faith will require,
His grace as my shield and reward,
My courage and zeal shall inspire.
Since he gives the word of command.
To meet and encounter the foe,
With his sword of truth in my hand.
To suffer and triumph I’ll go.

Saturday 27 September 2014

What A Week!

Where has this week gone? Monday was our Day Off – but was full of all sorts of Things Which Needed To Be Done. Tuesday’s sewing students worked incredibly hard, producing items to sell at their MacMillan Cancer Fundraiser. But I was exhausted when I got home.

All our lesson plans at my Wed/Thurs school went up the spout, because the computer system was down. Some colleagues were completely thrown by this – but I am old enough to remember when a teacher’s equipment was a box of Cosmic Anti-Dust**, and her fingers were blue from making worksheets on the Banda Spirit Duplicator [like the one pictured below]

bandaI can certainly deliver a lesson without PCs, the Internet, and an Interactive Whiteboard – but when you are working with [someone else’s] plans which were written with such technology in mind, there has to be a lot of ‘thinking on your feet’. Friday’s teaching also had complications, and yet again I was later home than I had planned.

My phone is playing up again, and I am having problems uploading photos from my camera to my PC. But some things made me smile

  • the 5 year old boy who suddenly said on Wednesday “You have had your hair cut Miss, it looks nice”
  • the little girl who said on Thursday “I think you look really pretty today Miss”
  • having mentioned in passing to a colleague last Friday that the room where I work in the morning had no wpb, it was great to arrive and find one under the desk waiting for me. How thoughtful of her – she had spoken to the Premises Manager and he’d found a spare one.
  • someone unexpectedly repaid me some cash I had forgotten about – which meant I could call in the Chippy on the way home, and we could enjoy pie and chips as a treat for tea [on a day when I was very late leaving school, and Bob had to be out promptly to a meeting]
  • my new car is lovely and I am singing a lot as I drive along!

I am hoping next week is a little less fraught – we shall see.

cosmic anti dust_thumb[1]

** Cosmic Anti Dust is the name of the wonderful chalk that teachers used, back in the day. I still treasure a box of the stuff. It was a sad day when the giant US Crayola Company bought up the little English “Cosmic Crayon Co” of Bedford and dropped the old name. The CCC also had the telegraphic address “Glitterwax” – how cool is that?

cosmic poster

Friday 26 September 2014

Want To Buy A Book Bench ?

Back in July, I blogged about the Book Bench Trails which were set up in London this summer. Just to let you know, they are all being collected up, and next weekend [4th/5th October] you can see the whole lot. The University of London has kindly agreed to gather all 51 BookBenches together to be displayed to the public in Gordon Square Garden WC1 from 10am to 6pm over the weekend. 

And then, on 7th October, they are to be auctioned off to raise funds for the Literacy Trust. I imagine they will go for a tidy sum of money! I don’t think I should want the responsibility of owning one, myself. Would you need to keep it inside, out of the weather? And they are quite large – more of a ‘feature’ than a piece of comfortable seating – wouldn’t they be out of place in an ‘ordibary’ home?

greenwich trail

However, at a more realistic price, you can buy posters of the benches from Stanfords. There are four sets [one for each ‘trail] and in sizes from A4 to A0. I cannot think where I would hang it, but my favourite would be the A2 Greenwich poster. I have read, and enjoyed, 11 out of 12 of the books on it [never read Darwin, though I maybe ought to have done!] Do take a look at Stanfords site, and see which of the posters you might choose. I know the ‘City Trail’ would be last on my list.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Friends For Years To Come

Many schools use these fabric calendars to encourage children to learn the days of the week and the months – in both English and French [and I guess in other languages too]



The problem is, they only give you FIVE YEARS in the set – what do you do when you are coming to the end of the last year? Especially when the academic year starts in September, and you realise that in 4 months time you don’t have a “2015” ready and waiting?

P1000102Answer – you find someone [like me] with an izzy-whizzy embroidery machine, and get some more years sewn up. My machine can’t quite match the 2010 I was given as an exemplar- but it does pretty well I think.

If you are reading this blog and you have one of these calendars in your classroom, and need “2015” do email me, and I’ll send you one!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Autumn Is On Its Way


My Grandmother’s amber glass fruit bowl – containing some gloriously shiny conkers picked up as we walked home from church, my entire crop of little green tomatoes [all five of them] and a lovely golden patty-pan squash grown by my blogfriend Sandie.

I love these autumn hues, don’t you? Here is the portarit of Miss Evelyn Tennant by John Everett Millais – clearly out for some Autumnal foraging. [I cannot find anything out about her, sorry – but I love the colour of her dress and her basket of ferns]


Meanwhile, there are some strange pink blobs baking in my oven. All will be revealed very soon! [but they have nothing to do with GBBO]


Tuesday 23 September 2014

Genesis Is Gone – Waiting For Revelation!

The room at the bottom of our church premises [we are set on a hill!] was redecorated 20 years ago, and renamed The Re-Creation Room. Round the walls were amazing murals depicting the story of creation. They were drawn by an artist in the church and then painted by the teenagers. The artist has moved on, and the teenagers have grown up and gone away [sadly, few have returned to the village after Uni] And now the current church project is to redevelop the room in a way which makes it more usable for both the fellowship and our village community. The builders have started, and on Sunday morning after the service, we were able to see what’s been happening. Here is Bob with Rob* [Church Treasurer, and with his wife Alyson, two of the key people behind the vision for all this]



The new lowered ceiling already makes a huge difference, and the white walls seem so much brighter.

I hope someone has taken ‘before’ photos, because I was so busy recently, I quite forgot about it! 

I will certainly post some ‘afters’ when the finished room is revealed.

*our fellowship is full of Bobs, Robs, Davids, Janets, Margarets and Bettys. It’s quite confusing at times. Do you have people who share names in your church?

Monday 22 September 2014

Burning Questions

What is this?


Answer – the new hand operated fire bell we have for the church


It is such a beautifully simple design – no wires, electronics, or 21st century gadgetry – just turning the handle makes a wonderfully loud noise. I love shield-like shape of the backing plate [a curve of constant width] and the smooth circular front.Looking at it  reminded me of two incidents that happened in the school where I first taught.

Examination or evacuation?

It was in the 1970s, during “The Troubles”  and sadly there were a number of bomb threats in mainland Britain at that time. Obviously these all had to be taken seriously. Some mischievous pupils on study leave during ‘O’ levels [this was before GCSEs] took to telephoning local schools and claiming to have left bombs on the premises. Our school had two calls in one week – the fire alarm was sounded, the school was evacuated – and eventually we all went back inside again to continue the day, once it had been confirmed as a hoax. The third time it happened, some students were taking an exam in the gym. This was a separate building from the main school, and serried ranks of desks had been set out for them.

“The fire alarm has sounded. It is undoubtedly another hoax. Continue with your exam” said one teacher. “Those of you who wish to stay and burn with Mrs X may do so - the rest of you put down your pens, leave your papers and line up by the door, ready to be evacuated” said the other. Every student stood up!

break glass

Who sounded the alarm?

I was involved personally in the second incident. I had a free period and was in the staff room, just after morning assembly, when the fire alarm went. We all lined up on the field and registered our forms, while the caretaker went all round the premises to find out what had set off the alarm. After a long time, he came out to the Head and said he could not find any alarm which had been triggered. The Head announced that we were to abandon Period One, and go to the second lesson of the day. My lesson was in my own form room, and as I went in, an 11yr old [not the brightest in the year] said “Miss Hall, I lost my penny” He explained that he was lining up outside the room earlier, and tapping his penny on “that little red box outside” and it went in. He couldn’t stop to retrieve it, because at that very moment the alarm went and they all went outside.

I suddenly realised which “little red box” he meant! I fished in my pocket “Here you are, have this penny instead. Now sit down we have a maths lesson to get on with” When they all went out at break time, I checked. Sure enough, there was a penny sized slot in the top of the box. His coin must have slipped down, somehow triggered the alarm, then settled at the bottom of the box, out of sight, glass unbroken! I raced back to the staffroom “I know who set off the alarm – but the culprit has no idea at all that he did it!” I announced. During the next lesson, the caretaker went round, putting tape over the slot on every one of the “little red boxes” !

Since then, when doing supply, I have made a point of looking at the fire alarm boxes. A girl never knows when she might need to escape from a particularly difficult class, after all!

Is it bizarre of me to admire the design of the new fire bell and yet hope that it never gets used?

Sunday 21 September 2014

World Peace Day 2014

preace war

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord
And where there is doubt true faith in You

peace words

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness only light
And where there's sadness ever joy


practice peace

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul


Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in giving to all man that we receive
And in dying that we are born to eternal life

peace life

[Photos from Words Of Peace Global wopg.org]

Saturday 20 September 2014

The Monuments Men [And A Woman]

Bob was sent a voucher to get a free film over the Internet – and we chose “The Monuments Men” It was a film we both quite enjoyed and is based on a true story.


Once you get past the fact that the cast are [mostly] a load of very familiar US actors [plus our own dear Lord Grantham, aka Hugh Bonneville] and the real characters they portray were possibly not as photogenic as Messrs Clooney and Damon, it is an OK film.

But the one significant female character fascinated me. Played by Cate Blanchett, “Claire Simone” is based on an amazingly brave Frenchwoman, Rose Valland. Working in Paris as an assistant in the Jeu de Paume Museum, she was the only French person allowed to stay on when the Germans took over and used it as a base for the ERR [Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg] This was the Nazi organisation dedicated to acquiring Europes finest works of art for Hitler. They stole, and then hid, many masterpieces.


Rose kept a low profile, and spoke only French- so the Nazis never realised she was fluent in German – and she understood all their conversations!

But she kept a secret inventory of the works of art which passed through her hands- and after the war was able to help recover millions of pounds worth of art treasures. Her assistance to the Monuments Men was invaluable.

Valland’s accomplishments were virtually unrecognized in France during her lifetime, and she died in 1980 in relative anonymity. She is buried in her home village of Saint-Etienne-de-Saint-Geoirs where the Association de la Mémoire de Rose Valland has been founded to honour her life and work. [website here] Corinne Bouchoux wrote a book [in French] in 2006 which was translated into English and published last year, in time for the film release.

I don’t think MM is a particularly brilliant film in terms of accuracy – lots of technical mistakes about equipment in use in the 1940’s, and geographical errors too. And there is no way Cate B’s character would have attempted a romance with Matt D’s US Officer, Rose just wasn’t that sort of woman. But it was a film that made me want to find out more about these people, and I guess that improves my final verdict. I might not have paid to see it at the cinema, but a free viewing was certainly enjoyable. madonna of brugesVerdict ***

I ought to say that whilst I was happy just to watch the film then search for information online, Bob decided that it made him want to take the tent and motorbike across to Belgium for another camping holiday, to seek out these treasures now restored to their original homes. Like the Michelangelo Madonna in Bruges. So watch this space…

One other thing- the Rose Valland Association have developed a special flower in her honour – the Rose Valland Rose – which will go on sale next year. I wonder if my Francophile friend Elizabeth will get one for her beautiful garden in Cornwall? Or maybe Floss, another art lover will plant one in her French garden…

Friday 19 September 2014

There’s Trouble Brewing At The Manse…

My September Mange Tout Campaign is going relatively well, I think. We’ve eaten lots of meals made entirely from freezer and pantry goods. I have purchased some food though – I used some M&S reward vouchers to get fresh milk, and an unexpected food voucher from Makro was spent on a few other bits and pieces, plus I’ve been given beans and tomatoes by gardening friends with gluts. But I did fall down on the tea and coffee front. I picked up a pack of coffee when we were in IKEA on Monday – but then in the afternoon found we were completely out of Sainsbury's Red Label teabags. Panic!!!

P1000091I checked out the cupboards, and offered Bob a choice – Green tea, Herb tea, Redbush, Earl Grey…he opted for green. But then later I found a tin at the back of the cupboard -Fortnum and Mason “Royal Blend, Stronger Tea” [best before 2013. Oh dear!]

The label declares it was first blended for Edward VII. I made a pot of tea with leaves “A spoonful per person and one for the pot” said the label on the back of the tin. I had to find a tea strainer too.

It was OK [ish] as tea goes, but not the best I have tasted. But the real shock was when I came to rinse out the teapot. The leaves were huge – I mean, really large. I got out a ruler - and my camera. Some measured 2.5 cm across. They were like postage stamps!


I can hardly complain to F&M, can I? The tin [A 2012 Christmas gift] really should have been opened last year. But these leaves do seem excessively large. Maybe Royal Blend Tea requires KING-Sized leaves. I have been to Sainsbury's and bought some of our usual bags.

I may be attempting to be as frugal as possible this month – but O am not sure I can manage without a decent cuppa in the morning, and another when I get home from work.

I like a nice cup of tea with me dinner
And a nice cup of tea with me tea
And when it's getting late
Almost anything can wait
For a nice cup of tea

Thursday 18 September 2014

Time Flies Like An Arrow…

…But Fruit Flies Like A Banana!

There are many people out there who follow this blog – some far away, some local. Last year, when I made these for charity…


…my friends Lee and Dawn had one of them. They even christened it “Angela” [‘Have you put Angela on the teapot?’] Despite this, I still consider them to be my friends! At the FunDay they mentioned that they’ve been having a problem with fruit flies in the kitchen. I said we had been plagued with flies this summer at Cornerstones and recommended one of these food umbrellas

food cover

Lee pointed out, quite reasonably, that they take up rather a lot of space. “What we need” they said, “is a sort of mesh mob cap, to fit neatly over the bowl. But the flies are very small, so it needs to be fine mesh!”

Up to the loft, and into the Great Stash. I found some fabric [my SIL’s voiles, from the conservatory in her last house] and cut out a huge circle, using my IKEA tray as a template. It did not take long to zigzag round the edge of the fabric, then pin and sew elastic round to make a mob cap – which should allow air in – but keep flies out!

fruit bowl mob cap

What will they call this one do you think? [Ang the MOB, perhaps?]

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Village Fun Day–Number TEN!

It is ten years since the start of this annual event. It was started by Jenny after her son Kris died in a road accident, to benefit the young people of our community. Jenny spoke movingly about this on Sunday. Here’s Jenny – and a photo of Kris


One of our friends [as we packed up]commented that people who attend these events do not realise the amount of planning beforehand, and work on the actual day, that goes on behind the scenes. Here is the field at 8am when we arrived, along with Jenny.


Soon there were others there too – Abi & co setting up our ‘Thirst’ Youth Club display, and Debs preparing the Messy Church tent. And I got to blow up the church!!




Bob set up his sound system – and the village defibrillator was on display [funded by last year’s Fun Day]P1000069

And the weather was brilliant, loads of people turned up to watch the singers and dancers and school recorder group – and Dad’s Army!




And at the end, we deflated the church and put everything away again till next year… Here’s Bob and Paul, the Church Secretary squashing the inflatable, assisted by Lynda, observed by Carol…


Thank you everybody involved - especially our brilliant young people from Church [including Matty, Bob’s sidekick in the sound tent – who performed the very tedious task of announcing the Raffle Prize Draw]

Here’s the field at 6pm when we finally left…