Daily Archives: April 22, 2005

Can you believe it’s a year since the Bikeathon?

I’ve just updated the link at the side of the page which takes you to the Smudgelets’ fundraising page for the Bikeathon. They’re really keen to do it again after last year’s success and a mug I know well has offered to ride with them, as long as they raise the princely sum of £100 to make it worth her while. So if you’re feeling particularly supportive of the Smudgelets and of Leukaemia research or sufficiently vindictive towards their exceedingly overweight and unfit mother (unfit exercise-wise rather than an unfit mother…. I hope!), then maybe you’d like to click on the link and make a donation.

Goodness, that photo doesn’t do justice to my sylphlike figure at all!

testing times

Deeleea, next time you come to the Oisle o’ Woight I’ll definitely take you to the falconry centre. In fact, bring enough pennies with you and I’ll book us into a day’s workshop learning to fly the falcons there. That’s Tiddles’ aim at the moment too.

It’s funny, I’d been planning to entitle this wiblog entry “testing times” before this evening. This evening’s been a bit testing, though. My word, when my Dad gets one on him, he’s more than my patience can bear!!!! He’s worked up, of course, because he’s got to go to my sister’s. Not that he shows any actual appreciation of the fact that he’s going there instead of into respite. Oh no, that’d be far too easy!!! And he’s had a few digs about me “putting him in the workhouse while I go swanning off on holiday”. What he doesn’t quite realise is that it looks now as though our long weekend’s holiday is going to be camping in the garden. UGH! Well, I can either afford the ferry fare for the car to go over to the New Forest or I can afford the new school shoes to replace the ones which BOTH boys have decided to rip the soles off this week, but I can’t afford both. I bit back the temptation simply to send them both to school in their slippers!

But no, my testing times are not my father’s tantrums. No, I’ve finally got to that stage in my massage course. Tuesday afternoon was the first of two practical assessments. I have to do a full body massage on a willing volunteer and be assessed as I do it. My good friend E reluctantly 😉 volunteered to come over from Winchester so I could practise on her on Monday and then pummel her for real on Tuesday afternoon. A bit strange massaging a friend for the first time – so far I’d practised on family and on fellow students – but it went extremely well and I didn’t forget a thing. Passed with flying colours – so I hope I can do as well next time in a fortnight’s time.

E stayed on to babysit for me in the evening while I went back into college to do my written exam. I’d been revising madly – Smudgelet had been testing me and is now extremely knowledgeable about the functions of the blood! I was tempted to send him in in my place to take the exam. The paper was very fair – not too hard and, thank goodness, not too easy. I’m not sure what I think about the method used, though. The pass mark, apparently, is 100%. Hmmm, I though…. quite a challenge! But maybe not. The way it works is that you do the exam, you get your mark and they tell you which questions you got wrong. You then resit the exam, just doing the questions you didn’t pass on, and if you get them wrong again they tell you and send you away to revise some more before resitting the same questions again the following week. And so on, and so forth. So ultimately, everyone passes. You know, I could have saved myself a lot of hard work by not revising at all, taking the test so that I knew precisely what questions they were going to ask, and then doing my revision ready for the resit instead of learning things which I turned out not to need at all. My reckoning is that I got three questions wrong. One was a “kickself” question where I knew the right answer and wrote down the wrong one. Idiot! The other two I don’t know whether I missed some details or added some extra details or whether they mark it fairly leniently. But at least I know in the long run that I’ll pass. Needless to say, I passed the Health and Safety one – you’d have to try really really hard to fail that one.

The following day I went off to work, leaving E just getting up. She was going to have her breakfast, lock up, have a coffee with my Dad and then get the bus back to the ferry. (Did I miss out “get dressed” somewhere in there?). It seemed quite strange coming home to an empty house, with just her dirty breakfast dishes sitting in the dishwasher pile, even though she’d only been here a couple of nights. I decided to do a cooked dinner for Dad – ham and cheese omelettes with chips and salad so I bustled around and got it ready then took it round to eat with him at his place. He was quite disappointed to tell me that E had not been for her coffee and he’d phoned my house twice so she’d obviously dashed off and forgotten him. 🙁 Seemed unlike her to be so inconsiderate as he’d stayed in all morning to wait for her, but there we go… she’d probably suddenly realised the time and raced to get her bus.

At three I nipped home to load the dishwasher before going to collect the Smudgelet and nearly jumped out of my skin. There was E just emerging from my bedroom. She’d just lain down for a few minutes on the bed after her breakfast and had sunk into a deep sleep for six hours!!! Goodness, that massage must have been good!

High days and holidays

I can’t believe how quickly the fortnight’s holiday has receded into the far distant corner of my memory. Is it really only five days that we’ve been back at school? Only another six weeks to go until the next break then… thank goodness. It won’t come a moment too soon!

I am not quite sure where the holiday days went. One day was a trip to the mainland, of course, to have my Dad glow radioactive. I’ve mentioned Smudgelet’s special day, well Tiddles had his special day last Saturday.

It started with Smudgelet, though, seeing as this worthy soul had his swimming lesson at 9.00 am. It was badge day and he is now the proud owner of an Angelfish 1 certificate and badge which has has proudly taken into school today to have presented in assembly. Not that he deserves it. How on earth can they justify giving him a certificate for which one of the pass criteria was “can swim 15 metres on his front using a recognised stroke with correct breathing”? This child doesn’t know the meaning of “close your mouth”! He swims with an inane open-mouthed grin which remains intact when he puts his head in the water. Thus within three strokes a third of the contents of the swimming pool have flooded his lungs and he is choking for England.

We deposited Smudgelet at the rendezvous site with his carer for the day – the local cinema. (The rendezvous, that is, not the carer!) Hmmm… bad news. The carer has been invited to a party and can only have him until 3pm ! Not good. The only good thing is that I’d decided against taking Tiddles to London for the day, which had been my first thought… and the film I’d planned to take him to see at the cinema in the afternoon is not being screened until the end of May, so I’d had to abandon that plan too. Thus it was, with a heavy heart, that I had to agree that it would be possible for me to have my youngest son returned to me at 2.45 and cut my special day with Tiddles short by about four hours.

Our venue for the day was Appuldurcombe House. It was delightful. The weather was just perfect, if a little too cold. Tiddles is mad about history and was delighted to discover where we were going as he’s always wanted to explore this shell of a mansion, ever since it was used as the backdrop to a performance of Treasure Island we saw last summer. He commented wistfully that he always feels a little strange visiting places from the past, as though there’s a sort of sadness there. He’s incredibly sensitive like that. He may not be able to remember dates and factual details, but he can “feel” a place and his empathy is amazing. But we were not just there to get a taste of the past, we were there to solve a mystery. So it was on with the thinking caps and off to work.

Appuldurcombe House hosts a Cluedo game through the summer, based on a rather salacious period of its own history, although as far as I know no real murder took place there. We were sent first of all into the cellars to examine the “body” – a cardboard cut out of Lady Bordsley who had sadly been murdered. We were to solve the mystery of whodunnit, by examining all the clues, thinking about all the alibis of the people in the household at the time, and exploring the layout of the house to decide who, how and where. It was great fun. Taxing enough to have us running back and forth between different sources of information (and sniffing the body to see if it smelt of woodsmoke or bath oils) and deliberating between the different options. “If it was the butler, then I reckon he’d have used a candlestick… but it’s more likely to have been her husband’s lover…. after all, she carried a pistol….. but would she have been strong enough to have moved the body?…….. ”

Our sleuthing paid off. We worked out whodunnit and how, and were only slightly out about where, simply because we were being too darned clever. We got a prize anyhow – a creme egg. Worthy reward for our endeavours.

Next on the agenda was lunch and a lovely film about the wild birds of prey that live on the estate – barn owls and kestrels and little owls aplenty. The perfect preparation for what was to follow. Because fairly recently Appuldurcombe has been gaining a reputation as an excellent centre for falconry. We toured the aviaries, talking to the vultures, bobbing at the harris hawks, and being screeched at most impressively by Vivienne the owl whose beak appeared tiny but whose open mouth seemed to cut her head in half! (A bit like Smudgelet, really). Then came the flying display – a breathtaking performance by several of the birds… apart from Chester that is. He didn’t really…well… how can I put this? It was the highlight of the show, watching the falconer (a rather lovely chap, and really quite fanciable to boot!) trying valiently to persuade Chester that, actually, American Bald Eagles are expert fishermen and take their food from the surface of the water in an elegant and powerful swoop. They are. And they do. Apparently…. unless they’re afraid of the water, that is. Yes, good old Chester is afraid of the water and refuses to take any food from there, no matter how hungry he is or how much his keeper tempts him. He studiously ignored all attempts to encourage him or entice him, just looked the other way and feigned total disinterest… until the falconer accidentally dropped a piece of food on the grass next to the pond when he was perfectly alert enough to swoop down and pounce on it before it could be thrown back into the water.

To be honest, our early end to the day wasn’t too much of a disappointment as both Tiddles and I were so exhausted from all that fresh air and enjoying ourselves that we were glad to come home and collapse in a crumpled heap in front of the telly. And we know we owe ourselves half a day… we just have to wait until Star Wars is released at the cinema!

Writing reports

That’s what I’m doing right now. It may look as though I am squandering time on my wiblog, but actually I am industriously writing reports while my Year Five class are busy online playing maths games. I love it when they get a “reward lesson” for doing so well and meeting their targets.

Targets are, of course, the buzz word in education. Along with redundancy and league tables and lettting the special needs kids sink or swim. Sorry, little rant slipping in there 😉 And no, the redundancy isn’t mine, although it looks as though my teaching commitment is going to change somewhat radically next year, with bottom set children amalgamated into big classes and most of the support assistants taken away so that the money can be invested where it will be of more benefit. But I’m not going to rant about that right now. The sun is shining, my little ones are playing “splat” and “moneywise” and it’s Friday. Oh, and tonight my sister’s arriving 🙂 and taking Dad to stay with her for a fortnight 😀

Bad news is that the boys need new shoes. Both of them. For fourteen weeks more of school. The timing couldn’t have been worse actually as I was planning to take them on a surprise long-weekend’s holiday in the New Forest next weekend. Good job I hadn’t paid a deposit or booked the ferry!!! Still, we’re getting an extra unexpected holiday in the summer when we go up North for my nephew’s wedding at Culzean Castle. I’ve booked a cottage for the week. When dad complained that he didn’t want to go, I smiled sweetly and said “That’s fine, Dad. Shall I ring the nursing home and see if they’ve got a room free for the week?” Strange to tell, he suddenly experienced a huge change of mind and is quite enthusiastic about a week on holiday with his daughter and grandsons 😉

Life has been a bit hectic but very pleasant just lately. I shall blog separately about the two great events of the last week…. especially for Deeleea!