Monthly Archives: July 2007

Ou sont les Smudges?

I must blog about the concert. But not now.
Now we’re off to catch the ferry.
Better get a move on, mustn’t miss is… cos this is the start of the grands vacances.
We’re off to France 😀
Well, to Hastings first for a couple of days, to Canterbury on the way back, but to a beautiful gite in Pas-de-Calais for a week in the middle. A long awaited break and a great adventure.

Please pray for my safe driving, especially in that strange country where driving is so different from at home (yes, I’m driving on mainland England!) and pray too that the three of us have fun, relax and survive each other’s company without any small boys being pulverised.

See you all in August, with tales to tell and photos to share. I’ll bring you some French chocolate home (but may have to eat it for you too, for logistical reasons).

Memorable moments

It’s an odd feeling, coming to the end of a school year and seeing the children I’ve taught for four years moving on to High School.

The groups I have, the can’ts and won’ts, I get somehow even more attached to than any other groups I’ve taught. These groups contain some real “characters” and with this year’s year eight this has been more true than with any group before. A real mix of, dare I say it, oddball children – each with something quite likeable about them but a really odd mix and a challenge to teach: when they first joined the school they didn’t know how to sit in a seat, how to listen and try, in fact in many cases even how to get to the lesson on time and it took me and two helpers to round them up ready to take the register… and this was a group of twelve children.

Two days ago was parents evening. I was dumbfounded when one of the parents who had come to see me held out their hand to me at the end of the meeting. “I just want to shake your hand and thank you for what you’ve done for my son. He couldn’t have asked for a better teacher than you.” Wow – how to render a teacher speechless in two sentences!

But today was the best – a moment I’ll never forget. A child who always seems to be in school against his will and whose mind certainly doesn’t accompany him to lessons. A child who seems to gain nothing from the lessons and has been hard to motivate without feeling that I’m perpetually nagging. A child who doesn’t often interact independently about maths. Today he sought me out to sign his autograph book and chatted for ages before finally saying “I am really going to miss doing maths with you. Your lessons are such fun and you make it seem so easy.. and well… thanks miss”. I so wanted to hug him. (I have a feeling he wanted a hug – he’s one of those children who probably doesn’t get many hugs – but it’s so hard in schools these days to take that risk).

As a part time teacher who doesn’t have a form class and who only teaches a very small percentage of the school, I don’t tend to get cards or presents at the end of the year. But that was like being handed a parcel of precious jewels. God bless you, Z, and all my Y8 group. I don’t know what the future holds for you, some of you I doubt will even make it through high school, but I’m going to miss you.


Plans for July: Somehow get everything done in the next eight days and leave for our holidays with a clear conscience, a painfree knee and a healthy gerbil. Travel first to Hastings for two days, then on to France, before returning home via Canterbury.

Plans for August: Come home from holiday. Enjoy all the free activities on the Island for three weeks. Declutter the home and sort out some boxes. Find where on earth I put my portfolio of finished (and half-finished) essays. Get a bit fitter. Relax more. Go to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 😀 Have an extension built.

Plans for September: Make an impression at work so that my job becomes a bit more secure and I get chance to do my performance management thingies which lead to a few more pennies in the bank. Possibly do an extra afternoon a week as the school’s data manager if the new Head agrees. Get a bit fitter. Formally recommence my training as a local preacher. (I have arranged to visit a friend monthly to discuss issues raised by the course and to help me keep up a good pace of work – saves me having to spend quite so much time with a tutor). Live 😀

Hopping mad

A bit of sympathy wouldn’t go amiss. Not that I tend to do sympathy, as my kids will doubtless tell you. But I have a poorly knee and it’s a downright nuisance. I want it to be better, and I want it to be better NOW

Not that I am a wimp when it comes to a bit of pain. I can put up with it. But it’s just so inconvenient. I have one week, and one week only, to resurrect my home from the depths of tip-itude before a friend comes to stay in it while we are away. In fact, I have one day to get it looking semi-habitable-and-hygienic before a certain Wiblogger arrives bearing…. hmmm, bearing shiny bead necklaces to bribe the inhabitants – maybe I won’t worry too much then! But getting it ready to let for ten days is a nightmare as it’s extremely cluttered and about to get worse. Yes, the sale of Dad’s bungalow is also almost complete and so poor hopalong is looking at seriously emptying the place of all the sundry bits and bobs before my brother comes down to move all the furniture into my garage. And of course, the garage needs clearing to make room for the furniture too. Alas, alack… all this with a poorly knee.

I was a bit frustrated when I saw the nurse this morning and she clearly thought it was psychosomatic because I didn’t want to clear Dad’s bungalow and would find it hard. Some aspects of it are hard – I can’t quite face taking his pictures of the wall – but on the whole the only thing that’s stopping me doing the rest is that I can’t carry it at the moment, and seriously daren’t try to lift it into the loft.

Meanwhile, with impeccable timing, I have a poorly car (needs new cambelt… heap big money!) and a poorly gerbil (trust my gerbil to have a skin disease which has the vets foxed) and my front door still doesn’t shut. However I have clean and dry washing 😀 I can watch videos as well as DVDs 😀 My boiler still seems to be working fine 😀 And I never, but never, wake up in the middle of the night with fears that I may die of boredom !

A new son

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my new son.

Actually, to tell the truth, it’s not exactly a new son, it’s my old son… one I haven’t seen for a long time.
Yes, Tiddles is home from school (or rather, was home from school – he’s gone again now) and I have got to say that God did great and wonderful things in leading us to that school. Even folk who don’t know my boy very well and don’t know the circumstances have commented in the change in his demeanour, his attitude, the way he stands, and the great smile of self-confidence on his face.

My sister’s heart sank when she went to pick him up for me and, on arrival at the school, was told that it was important that whoever picked him up should go and speak to one of his teachers before they left. With heart in boots she went in search of this teacher who said “I just had to let you know how impressed we all are with the start that he’s made here. He’s really thrown himself into school life and has done really well”. He has come home with a glowing first report – the first glowing report I can remember – but more to the point he has come home with a hug, with a desire to help, with loads of stories, and with a sense of responsibility already noticeable.

I think he’s noticed a difference in the knock-on effect of how he’s treated. He’s had a trip up the Spinnaker Tower with Honorary Auntie M, a serious amount of spending money for France from me, and is as I write probably lying exhausted in a bunk on TS Royalist – his dream come true as we managed to get sponsorship for him to spend a week on this sail training ship.

Best of all for both of us was the knowledge that when I threw my arms round him and said how much I’d missed him and how pleased I was to have him home, we both knew I meant it. 😀

Walking funny

I really ought to take those walking boots out of the car.

Yes, we left them in there so that there’d be no excuse for not going for a walk if we were out somewhere and the opportunity arose – working on the basis that we don’t go for “proper” walks straight from home so the car was the best place to keep them. However, we don’t often go for “proper” walks from the car either. And as the summer months approach – or more accurately, as I use the car heating system to counteract the chill in the far-from-summery summer air – the aroma of “used walking boot” is somewhat overwhelming.

Yesterday was such a lovely warm afternoon that I opened the car window to let some slightly fresher and less pongy air into the car. Knowing that my sojourn at home was only temporary, I left the window open while I came in and had my tea before leaping back into the car to go and pick Smudgelet up from pottery.

It was the soggy feeling around the knicker area, together with the splashing sound as my feet touched the pedals, that made me think that maybe I should have checked the clouds overhead before leaving the car window open…. and the wrinkling of the nose suggested that it might be a good thing to take the walking boots OUT of the car.

Moral dilemma

My good friend, the Honorary Auntie M, rang me tonight with a question.
“What are your feelings about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?”

Having first thought of all the facetious comments I could make at that point, I faced the dilemma.
The musical is on at The Mayflower in Southampton.
Honorary Auntie M really wants to go and she wants us to go with her.
Smudgelet really wants to go – he adores Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
I really want to take Smudgelet, really want to go with M, really want to see it myself cos I think it will be brilliant.

So what’s the problem?

Well, being pecuniarily embarrassed at the moment, and with the quote for the extension turning up at about £10,000 more than planned, and with a holiday booked that we can’t really afford right now, I had decided that I was going to have to start being more sensible with money and treats, at least until France is over (the holiday, that is, not the country). Tightening belts was going to have to include trips to the theatre etc. When I had seen details of the show and first thought how much we’d love to go, I had thought it through and decided that it was a definite “no go” – a show that would cost us nearly £100 were we all to go, once we’d paid for the ferry and something to eat. I’d made the decision, reconciled myself to it, broke the news to a hopeful Smudgelet when he suggested we might go…. after all, we’ve missed plays before and the world hasn’t come to an end, and the deprivation won’t be for ever (hopefully), but it’s wrong to be borrowing money on one hand and spending it madly on treats on the other hand.

I explained this to M.

“How about if I paid? How about if I suggested it as an advance birthday present? And I owe Smudgelet a treat as I gave Tiddles a treat for starting school”.

The time would have passed anyway

An ancient family word of wisdom from my nephew when he was about ten. My sister commented that she was doing something to pass the time, and he replied that the time would have passed anyway, had she done that or not. Out of the mouths of babes…

I am sitting here to pass the time. It’s a bit late to be doing so, actually. I was planning to get a lot done tonight but could not get properly into any of it as I was awaiting a policeman. We’re not doing very well at getting Smudgelet and a policeman in the same location at the same time. Either the policeman gets called away for far more important purposes than taking a statement from a small boy who’s been bullied on the bus (hmmm… not sure what messages this gives to my indignant Smudgelet) or Smudgelet and I get stranded on the mainland by an out-of-action ferry and miss our appointed meeting with said policeman. I’m impressed with how Smudgelet’s dealing with the wait – it’s now about five weeks since the incident – and find myself struggling to keep the momentum of going ahead with pressing charges, although I think that something has to be done. But the “we’ll be there some time around six, depending on how busy we are” seems to have stretched on rather far into the night and I somehow don’t think they’d get much sense out of my sleeping beauty if they were to arrive now.

Meanwhile this blog is brought to you in between visits to a place which, in rather vulgar parlance, rhymes with it. I have a horrible suspicion that I have managed to pick up a kidney infection. What surprises me is that I did not realise that kidney infections can cause.. how can I express this gentilely?… a dire effect in the rear. The periodic punch to the small of the back, though, is an expected and unwanted symptom… and typically just when I need such a thing least. Botheration.

However, the main reason for blogging tonight is just to smile proudly. My year sixes, sevens and eights got their SATs results today. 😀 Fantastic work, kids. Who cares whether we’re top or bottom of the league table? (We’re bottom, if you hadn’t guessed) -when kids like mine make progress like this, there’s nothing more we could ask of them.

Mummy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow

Well, “took us to the zoo yesterday” would be more appropriate.
A fantastic day – indescribably fun. A little too late to bed for a certain young man, due to the Red Jet being cancelled!!! but many memories and far too many photos for me to share. But if you fancy seeing some animals -and in particular to see Smudgelet overcome his fear of snakes and also almost become tiger-food – then nip along to flickr. If I could work out how to make these photos into a link then I’d do so, but as it is you’re just going to have to find it for yourself!

Baby meerkat

Mmmmm... tasty

Thoughtful moments

I can’t believe I’ve been sitting here listening to the Concert for Diana all evening. Bits have been really good, others dreadful, but it’s been a lovely lazy evening which somehow seems to have distracted me from my determination to clean the kitchen. How sad! Interesting to see how many of the more modern pop singers were unable to belt their music out and hold some of the notes.. compare that with the singers of the musicals demonstrating amazing vocal dexterity. Can you be vocally dextrous? And I was pleased to see that the majority of the show wasn’t on the same level as wotsisname… bo diddly? Mr “Oh Diana, you’re looking down on us from a better place. We love you, we miss you” – I felt myself getting really quite riled on behalf of the princes. After all, it’s not our mother who died – what an assumption, quite OTT and unnecessary, thank you very much. I liked most of the music, I admired the woman, but I am not mourning her death (I have a few more important ones to think about, and I don’t get so overtly effusive even about them, so don’t expect me to “wave my arms for Diana”, you silly little man.)

The news has also hit home a little bit, unsettling me today. Over the last few months we’ve been flying Tiddles back and forth to my brother’s and teaching him to do more and more of the journey independently. Yes – to Glasgow airport. In fact he’s going up there again, alone, shortly after he comes home next week. I know that I can’t wrap him in cotton wool and I don’t intend to. I know that he has to learn to travel and manage without me there holding his hand, and I intend that he will. I know that he’s no less at risk from terrorists when I’m there than when he’s unaccompanied. And I am absolutely adamant that there’s no way that terrorists are going to frighten us into staying at home and me into overly protecting my children and we’re not going to get risk-obsessed. But I have felt slightly queasy all day and will have to work on hiding it from both boys. And my prayers go out to everyone touched by ongoing threat and violence, and the people who must have been mentally scarred by this and similar events.

Hard to settle to anything today. Wonder how I am ever going to get this house fit for visitors in the summer holidays and next door ready to hand over to the new owner in the not too distant future. I am going to have to start to give myself the kick up the backside I need to get myself moving and working my way through. Perhaps I’ll take a leaf out of Chas’ book and tidy my desk 😉