Monthly Archives: March 2005

Relaxation provider???

Did I really say that this afternoon was to be a good provider of relaxation? I should have known better than to think I was getting a free lunch. Not that lunch itself was a disappointment. A delicious lasagne with salad, chips and garlic bread followed by a virtuous fruit salad (not quite so virtuous as M refused to get it without icecream on the grounds that I had missed out on my feast day yesterday!). We sat in a window seat overlooking the creek, watching the swans and ducks negotiate the narrow channel of water as the tide was low, and watching the seagulls and egrets exploring the estuary mud for what goodies they could find… which were clearly plentiful, judging by the number of birds indulging. This compensated for the fact that the boats don’t look at their best at low tide, as they lie marooned on the mud with the paintwork of their hulls looking a little the worse for wear.

We sent evil stares to the people on the neighbouring table. How could they? Didn’t they know we were there for a nice relaxing and stressfree meal? Did they have to spend their entire lunchtime discussing how appalling the current education system is and how it’s selling children short? I hadn’t the inclination to go and join them and enlighten them to the error of their ways, but fortunately the evil vibes we were sending them clearly persuaded them to finish their meal quickly and depart without a final cup of coffee 😀 .

It was as I placed my latte cup on its saucer, deliciously empty, that the bombshell was dropped. “Oooh, we’ve still got enough time before you fetch Smudgelet from school – would you like to pass a quarter of an hour helping me fetch the cross from the old church and put it in my car?”. An invitation I could hardly refuse.

It was quite sad going into the old church. It closed down last October as it had fallen into disrepair and was going to cost too much to update. Each year they used to make a beautiful Easter Garden, but this year they had decided to relocate it to another church and M and I were to collect the parts from the store. To be precise, the cross. It is a near- “lifesize” cross, and we discovered it was being stored up in the minstral’s gallery, up a tiny winding wooden staircase. No problem. We located the upright part and carried that down the stairs to the car. We located the crosspiece and carried that down the stairs to the car. Then came the challenge. The base.

The base is about the size of an upturned bucket, with a hole in the top into which the upright is placed. Needless to say, in order to support the entire cross, the base has to be heavy. Remarkably heavy. Made of concrete, in fact. How on earth anyone got the thing up that staircase into the gallery is a wonder to be pondered…. second only to the challenge of getting the thing down the stairs again and into M’s car. It was far too heavy to lift from floor level, and the winding staircase was barely wide enough for one person’s body, let alone two. Both of us were determined to be as protective of our backs as possible…. but the thing was almost too heavy for two people to carry and yet too small for more to gather round it.. and there wasn’t space for anyone else if we’d had them to call on.

So, unable to lift it single handed as a dead weight, and unable to get to carry it together because of the narrowness of the winding stair… it was a good job I had a brainwave. It wasn’t easy (moving the stone, I mean, not having the brainwave!) but we managed it. If the weight of this stone was anything to go by, it’s no wonder the moving of the stone blocking the tomb was such a miracle!

Remind me, next time M offers me a free lunch, to have a prior engagement.

Sad fact of life.

Well, after the lesson I’ve just had covering a Y8 group, I don’t feel guilty stealing ten minutes of my non contact time updating my wiblog.

I think it’s the saddest thing about teaching, when you are faced with a group of children – boys, actually, as we do separate sex teaching for our older children – who have already given up on themselves at the age of twelve or thirteen. How do you ever get through to children who just will not listen, will not try, will not stop ‘playing’, clearly through such an ingrained fear of failing, or even of succeeding, or being rejected by their peers. What does the future hold for these kids who simply will not give themselves a chance? I ended up sending four out, giving six playtime detentions, two after school detentions, and keeping the whole class in for five minutes of silence… which of course took the whole of break as these kids just can’t get the message about complying with instructions. What does the future hold for them and their own children?

More reassuring, my other groups. They’re making incredible progress most of them – it makes the job really worthwhile. Not that I wouldn’t rather be on Shanklin beach, mind.

This afternoon should be a good relaxation provider. Lunch with M at the local Brewers’ Fayre as she has yet another voucher needs using. Well, it’d be a shame to let the voucher go to waste, don’t you think? Even if I should be doing the cleaning. My sister has decided not to visit this weekend after all, so I don’t need things superficially tidy for her inspection… but there is a downside to this as she was going to keep Dad out of my hair for a day so I could do the bedroom. Hopefully he’ll be sufficiently engrossed in Good Friday activities (which is why he told her not to bother coming) … although I have a sinking feeling he may expect me to be engrossed in them too. I would, under normal circumstances, but I feel I would rather talk about Good Friday with my boys myself rather than drag them along to countless services at this stage in their development. Easter Day will be sufficient this weekend, I reckon.

No sign of Andre on my way to work again this morning. I hope he hasn’t been squished! 🙁

My son, the drama queen

Honestly, my Tiddles after a late night could certainly give Jack the Lass a run for her money in the contest for Drama Queen of the Year award. The mistake was, of course, mine – he was tired because, instead of me insisting on an early night last night where he’s been so unwell and just returned to school, I went and got engrossed in the story I was telling them. It was a Michael Morpurgo retelling of the story of King Arthur, the book Tiddles had chosen with his World Book Day token. And by the time I looked at the clock, it was half past seven!

And so, tonight, we had the customary tantrum… though this time with a little added interest. He decided he was going to kill himself. He was going to do this by breaking his big toe. I didn’t enlighten him as to the fact that this, as a form of suicide, was not going to be particularly efficient.. especially as he started to cry when, in the attempt, he accidentally put his bare foot against the hot radiator and burnt it. I left him to it and went to get some tea, seeing as they’d all eaten except me and I was ready for a snooze on the sofa. He’s just come in to say sorry and ask if he can go to bed… toe still miraculously intact. The reason for his paddy? Well, I had given them half an hour to pick their dirty clothes (just today’s worth – and for a reward of 25p each for a spotless bedroom as a result) up off the floor and put them in the wash basket before having their tea in front of the TV programme about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson. And yes, you’ve guessed it.. picking up two pairs of trousers, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks and two T-shirts and jumpers took them forty-five minutes and I wouldn’t let them watch TV as a result.

It was an interesting end to a rather lovely day. From swimming this morning we went on to church where I was playing the organ for the communion service. Tiddles was delighted to be centre of attention as everyone knew he’d been proper poorly and wanted to know he was OK. He was able to collect his Mothers’ Day card that he’d made for me, too – an interesting design made with lentils, with a gorgeous photo of him in the centre. Smudgelet had already delivered his to me – an even more gorgeous photo because he was wearing the blue shirt that makes his eyes sparkle like diamonds.

The service was interesting because the minister has managed to go down with the same virus as Tiddles had. He was proper poorly too, but had turned up to take the communion service regardless. Poor man could hardly stand or speak, so the liturgy was all said communally and the sermon was about one paragraph long (but possibly all the more effective as a result!).

I then talked with my friend M about the Local Arrangement service in two weeks’ time, seeing as I’d missed the planning meeting. These services are led by members of the congregation and are not to include a sermon, nor are Local Preachers allowed to lead them. So it generally falls to M and me. This time there’d been a plan to get more people involved, with volunteers sought to put forward ideas for the content of the service or to do readings etc. Hmmm… I am a little perturbed to discover they have until next week to make suggestions (of which very few have arrived so far, apart from one poem and two hymns) and then it will be up to Martin and me to build a service around them by the following Sunday. Interesting!

I picked up Dad and we went out for the afternoon, taking him to Shanklin to visit his friend who’s been moved from the hospital to a nursing home for a fortnight. We called in at a garden centre for lunch en route… only to discover the rest of the Island had had the same idea!!!! Rather a longer wait than anticipated. Dad was going to treat us, as thanks for taking him, but discovered that he’d forgotten his wallet and they didn’t accept cards, so it was lucky I’d taken my purse, especially as there were some bits and pieces he decided he needed from the garden centre. Funny that! Trouble was, I forgot that I had planned to keep a few pounds by to get some icecreams in the afternoon.

But the afternoon was delightful despite being icecreamless (such a frustration on the one day in Lent I can have it!). We went down on the beach at Shanklin – our first beach visit this year. The sand was pristine – newly raked in anticipation of the new season which begins next weekend. The sun shone down on us, the waves lapped the shore, the beach was busy enough to feel summery but clear enough for us to have one whole section to ourselves for most of the afternoon. Smudgelet flew his kite. Hmm.. maybe better rephrase that. Smudgelet ran across the beach dragging his kite behind him. Tiddles has been reading “Holes” at school and decided to pretend to be Zero digging a hole in the desert. And mummy found a clean and comfortable concrete breakwater and decided to laze the afternoon away horizontally, talking to God, watching her two boys engrossed in play, and revelling in the glories of God’s wonderful creation free of charge.

What a shame we have to go to school tomorrow.

Spring is just around the corner

What a wonderful morning. Once the sun finally burned its way through the fog (I wondered what those strange noises were all night – how could I have forgotten the sweet sound of foghorns out at sea?) it’s a beautiful day – the sort that almost makes you want to do a load of washing for the sheer pleasure of seeing it hanging on the line. I say almost, you’ll notice. Although actually the machine is busy whirring away against my inclinations otherwise.

What made it more wonderful is that Tiddles is finally well enough to return to school. Well, not today, obviously.. it being Saturday and all. But yesterday he managed a full day (was utterly exhausted when he got home) and today has returned rejoicing to music centre. Smudgelet’s back swimming, too, after missing a fortnight with his conjunctivitis, and all’s right with the world.

I was inspired this morning to start tackling the bedroom but didn’t get very far. Under normal circumstances I’d have been really frustrated, but I must admit I am glad I went over to Dad’s for a coffee instead, much as I grimaced when the call came and took me away from the task which, for once, I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into. But I went graciously for my coffee and, once he’d finished telling me the content of a radio programme we’d listened to together and he’d forgotten I’d heard too, I suddenly asked a question on impulse that I’ve never thought of asking before. I asked Dad if his grandparents were alive when he was a child.

It was wonderful, sitting there in the sunlight listening to Dad revisiting the sunny side of his childhood. He had a very disturbed childhood which we don’t often discuss because he finds it difficult to talk about, but suddenly I’d tapped into a feast of good and interesting memories. I heard about Dad sitting under the table having a tantrum and his grandma poking him with her walking stick. I heard about Aunt Liz’s little shop up the road and how it was my Great Aunt Bee who had been there when my siblings and I were born in the local maternity hospital (apart from my sister who decided to put in an early appearance under the bathroom sink!). I heard about trips with his Uncle Bill who was deaf as a post and had a colonial moustache. He had a soft spot for my dad out of all the six children and took him on trips to Bristol Zoo. I heard about Doris who was a bit odd, and about Roy who was involved in something unsavoury and locked away somewhere. And I heard the one good memory my Dad had of his Dad, which somehow makes my Grandad a bit more real. Mind you, at this point Dad decided to change the subject – although he went on to memories we actually shared, he and I, which itself was wonderful. It was hard to tear myself away. It makes me wonder, though, about how memories and relationships are tied up in our minds and how this plays itself out in the minds of children who are adopted. My boys love stories about my mum, whom they never met, and happily call her “Grandma” (Although it’s funny because she was always “Gran” to the other grandchildren). She’d have loved them as her own – I wonder if she sees them now – but it’s funny to ponder the relationship in the other direction.

The other good thing is that our chat this morning has broken the ice once again between my Dad and me. He was in a foul mood last night because I dropped him off at the hospital to spend an hour and a half with his friend, only to discover that she’s been moved to a nursing home on the other side of the Island. When I picked him up again, he was understandably tired after hanging around all that time, even though he’d quite enjoyed sitting in the hospital grounds in the sunshine, and thus was really quite put out that I insisted in picking both the boys up from school on the way home. I really am the most inconsiderate of daughters 😉

It’s a mad world

I had a splinter in my hand this morning. A tiny one, so small you could only just see it, but incredibly irritating none-the-less. Being in the palm of my right hand, I was unable to get it out without tweezers this morning (goodness knows where they’ve gone) and my attention was repeatedly dragged from the road to the tiny twinge of irritation whenever the palm of my hand made contact with the steering wheel on the drive to school.

Never mind, I reassured myself. When you get to school you can pop in the medical room and swipe the tweezers from the first aid box in there. That should sort it, especially as the top was still clearly visible if you looked really closely.

I get to school and make an emergency call to the medical room with my injury. Hmmm… no tweezers to be found. Realising they may have been put out of child’s reach, I go to the secretary to check on the whereabouts of this sanity-saving device…..

Schools aren’t allowed to keep tweezers any more because removing a splinter from a child’s hand can be classified as abuse!


It was a good idea, using Flylady tactics on the boys’ room. I’d tried it before to little avail, but this time I made it competitive. Each child has an area of the room to get spotless and only fifteen minutes to do it – with immediate sweeties as a reward. They took a little while to get the general idea – they just cannot do it without coming out to ask me or comment to me about every little item they find. “Where do I put this, mum?” (wherever you like, son, as long as it’s not in the middle of the floor!), “Look at this book I’ve found, isn’t it interesting?” (You’re wasting time son, you can read it afterwards while you eat your sweeties if you get any), “Do you remember when I made this, mum?” (Do you remember what you’re supposed to be doing, son?)… they’ve obviously learnt their procrastination skills from the master 😀 Tiddles did manage to wangle an extension on the 15 minutes, mind, by falling over the book box and cutting his lip!

He’s actually finally a lot better. He’s given in and agreed to do the steam inhalations without me nagging him and, in desperation, I bought some white vinegar, raspberries and sugar and googled a recipe for raspberry vinegar. I’d scoured the town in search of some, totally in vain (although I did find a new source for my Green and Blacks chocolate which I aim to fully exploit after Lent), and decided that I would simply have to enlist said child and make some ourselves. Highly recommended as an expectorant cough medicine – a small amount drunk in some hot water.

Did I ever tell you about the time I kept some in a cough mixture bottle? In the middle of the night Tiddles was coughing so badly that I got up and, without really waking up, I poured him a dose of Tixylix to drink down from the medicine cup. Except it wasn’t Tixylix. It was neat raspberry vinegar… as I remembered just as he swallowed a huge mouthful. I’ll tell you one thing – he didn’t dare cough again!

My journey to work is currently a delight and a bit traumatic. A pheasant has made his home by the side of the road. He’s stunningly beautiful – such a wealth of rich colours and in very good condition. I’ve called him Andre. Don’t ask me why! In fact, I sometimes wonder if he sees me pass in my green motor each morning and evening. Of course, the delight I feel at seeing him is always tempered by the premonition of doom that one day I will see him squished.

Massage class mock assessment next week so I’m frantically trying to memorise the routine. I was so desperate I even practised on Smudgelet, who managed to talk incessantly for the whole hour. And my Local Preacher Training tutor coming to visit me tomorrow too. Goodness, I’d better get a-house-cleaning myself. Do you think fifteen minutes would do it, if I don’t fall over a book box?

I’m well

I wish my baby was, though.

I was hoping he’d be able to go back to school this week, so as we had tickets booked for the theatre, we reckoned we’d see how he got on with a trip there. The Mikado was fantastic, but my baby wasn’t. He managed to survive the play (which he loved) but it’s set him right back. He’s just as poorly as ever.

And to top it all, now Dad’s ill. He’s hardly eating – not the best situation for a diabetic.

Smudgelet’s nearly better, though. And at least the cat’s eating properly again. (Not ill, as such, just determined that he’s one of the two out of ten who downright refuses to eat Whiskas!) And I’m still feeling my old self again – which is just as well, really.


I was the most boring teacher in the whole school today. In fact, I had to let my classes play a game of Mastermind just to retain my street cred (retain it? who am I kidding?) as having an ounce (slap wrist.. we don’t use ounces in school these days. Replace “ounce” with “28.3495 grams” if you please) of sense of humour in me. The only plus side is that people don’t expect humour of maths teachers anyway.

So why precisely didn’t I wear fancy dress and decorate my hair lavishly this morning, unlike me colleague who had even decorated each fingernail with a tiny face with red nose? Well, let me introduce you to my morning which began when the alarm went off at 5.45ish…

Get up, get washed and dressed and wash hair.
Put kettle on and prepare the breakfast trays.
Wake children.
Put Tiddles over a steaming bowl of Olbas oil and send Smudgelet to get washed and dressed all in red for school.
Go over to wake Dad and get him vertical. Discover that he’s not feeling too good and has a stiff shoulder from trying (I ask you – where’s the rolleyes smilie?) to mow his back lawn. He is unable to move his arm so needs a massage to relax the muscle in his shoulder (which I now can state with confidence is called the trapezius).
Home to supervise Tiddles taking his inhaler and cough medicine.
Wash out Smudgelet’s post-conjunctivitisy eyes and put drops in.
Wash Smudgelet’s hands thoroughly and apply ointment to eczema.
Wash out Tiddles’ extremely conjuntivitisy eyes (now transferred to the other one, of course!) and put drops in. Write out instructions on medication for Tiddles.
Pack bag of medication for Tiddles and send him to pack a bag of things to entertain himself at Grandad’s.
Find the Deep Heat for Grandad.
Feed children and myself simultaneously.
Supervise cleaning of teeth.
Apply copious quantities of extremely pink hair gel to Smudgelet’s head and encourage his rather sweet little curls into spike, sticking out randomly from his head.
Put out the bin bags from our house and Dad’s (usually Tiddles’ job, but under the circumstances….)
Deliver Tiddles to Grandad and Smudgelet to the childminder.

A bit slack of me not to dress up and decorate my hair really 😉

Of course, Tiddles insisted on having his hair done when I got home from work. His was far more effective. He looked a real treat with a stegasaurus design of spikes and horns across the top of his head in shocking pink. The only thing was, both he and Smudgelet had ears to match !!!

Oh what a shame red nose day is only once a year!

Well, that’s torn it.

They approved my application.
My tutor’s just phoned to arrange to see me next week.
My mentor’s been contacted and has agreed to oversee my work.

Still, at least I should get a shiny new folder (with the course notes in it) of my very own instead of having to borrow someone else’s.