Monthly Archives: January 2008

Got your credit card handy?

In memory of Dad.
The Smudgelet and I, feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of the big fundraiser this year (me being rather unfit and Smudgelet being rather averse to exercise of any kind), have decided to do the “easy” version of Walk the Wight – 8 miles on the flat instead of 23 miles over hill and dale. But we need some encouragement!

Auntie Doris made me do it – I am easily lead!

My Personality

Openness To Experience

You do not experience strong, irresistible cravings and consequently do not find yourself tempted to overindulge, however you don’t usually get angry too easily but some things can annoy you. You get overwhelmed by too much noise and commotion and do not like thrill-seeking activities. You enjoy a certain amount of debate or intellectual thought, but sometimes get bored with too much. You are tenderhearted and compassionate, feeling the pain of others vicariously and are easily moved to pity, however you are not adverse to confrontation and will sometimes even intimidate others to get your own way. You have a strong sense of duty and obligation, and feel a moral obligation to do the right thing.

Take the Personality Test now or view the full personality report.


Bad bad news

I am still reeling from today’s news from the council. Whatever decision they make in March about changing the education system over the next two years, it looks like at least 28 schools are going to be closed. All staff are to lose their jobs, apparently without redundancy, and have to reapply to the remaining schools which will be reopening under new management.

In the meantime, in my own school other financial implications mean that in September four out of the eighteen teaching staff will be made redundant (this time with redundancy payments, although I don’t think that would be true for me as they changed my contract to temporary when I went part time last year because of Dad). Any voluntary redundancies have to be proposed by the end of next week, so not a lot of thinking time for anyone. I think I am in a very vulnerable position. So it looks like I could be seeking employment again twice in the next two years!

For our school too there is more news which makes all this even more daunting, though I can’t go into it here until certain announcements have been made to the parents.

Please please continue to hold the Isle of Wight Education system – children, parents, teachers and decision makers – in your prayers. These are dark days.

Scary day today

Please hold everyone involved in the Isle of Wight education system in your prayers. Today the council will release their decision on the total reorganisation of our schools. It will bring huge insecurity to teaching staff across the Island. To our school especially, where we know that at least two teaching jobs have to go regardless of any changes. And a change in system from three-tier to two-tier will mean that teachers like me, who are in their element teaching 9-13, will have to choose between Primary and Secondary and hope against hope to get a job there.

It’s a scary and unsettling time for all. And for me personally comes just as I feel desperately ready for a time of stability.

And to add insult to injury, I have to go to the meeting where the decision is announced slap-bang in the middle of the one afternoon when I could have helped my brother finish the tiling as Smudgelet doesn’t come home until 6pm on a Monday.

Oh I ache

But the first wall of the new wetroom is beautiful – tiled from top to bottom!
Smudgelet is particularly excited to know that the border tiles include 10 carat gold. :o) It wasn’t exactly an aerobic workout, but I ache in every part of my body .. and it’ll be an eternity before I get the tile cement out of my hair and finger nails.

Had some fun this morning. Suddenly discovering that Jack the Lass and TME were heading home from honeymoon today, I was able to enlist my brother to pull a few strings at CalMac and request an announcement over the ferry tannoy. Not sure whether the captain will have done more than that – the plan was to get them the chance to go up on the bridge, but it depends on the mood of the captain (and, as my brother said, whether the person in question looks a bit like a terrorist! ;o) ) – but it was nice to know that I could make up for missing sending them a wedding greeting and gift due to spending rather too much time in close contact with the plumbing at the appropriate time!

I’ve got to move it, move it.

Why am I still sitting here, after lying around in bed until almost 9am this morning, and still haven’t had a shower or got dressed when I have so much to do? It’s the Covenant service this afternoon and I want to go in a state of readiness, i.e with a clear conscience that I have done at least some of the tasks I set myself to complete before returning to w*rk tomorrow.

Still, Smudgelet is doing the decorations. Removing them, that is. In fact, from the rather unfortunate sounds coming from the dining room, completely removing them from the face of existance. “No mum, I’m being careful not to drop them. I know they’re delicate. It’s just that I keep treading on the tray that I’m putting them on”. I daren’t look. Some of those baubles are virtually antique! Sorry, “were”.

Now, what shall I do first? Clean the kitchen? Sort out the lounge? Get busy on the paperwork? Have another round of Freecell?


Honorary Auntie M is a bad influence on Smudgelet and me.
How much housework and schoolwork have I got to do before Monday? How much, I ask you? Too too much to spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing.
But it was wonderful.
Mr Magorian’s Wonder Emporium had me weeping copious secret tears in the darkness of the cinema – a veritable visual marvel and delight and a storyline which touches the heartstrings.
An hour for lunch – an unimpressive time in PizzaHut where they seemed strangely reluctant to bring us the bill.
Then back to the cinema for yet more magic in the form of Walt Disney’s fun romantic story Enchanted which left us all pretty enchanted to tell the truth – though I think I shall scream if I don’t soon find something to replace the first line of the song about true-love’s kiss which is on auto-repeat in my brain!


New Year’s Day was my first day of feeling human again after the gastroenteritis and also the first day of wanting to eat anything.
Determined to start the year with a serious attempt to get fitter and do more active things with Smudgelet, I put a proposal to him which he surprisingly accepted. We would pack our vouchers and wallet/purses in my bag and would set out to walk to Newport. This may have sounded foolhardy, but the walk is along a fairly frequent bus route and I had the bus fare in my pocket to be used as soon as either of us felt we could go no further, even if it turned out to be at the end of the road. But no, we managed it, much to our mutual pride and amazement (and aching feet and legs)… and with hardly a moan en route! We even chose not to go the most direct route, once we were close enough to dare venture away from the buses.

I’d planned it carefully, checking in advance that Waterstones would be open for Smudgelet to visit with his huge amount of book vouchers in search of the next Artemis Fowl book and also that Matalan would be open for me to buy new socks for Tiddles and new jeans for me (oh, how annoying, I accidentally got paint on my old jeans so sadly had to buy myself some new ones!!!). Only one thing I hadn’t thought to check. Yes, after our two hour walk to Newport, we then spent an eternity walking the streets in search of a cafe or restaurant that was open for us to revive our spirits, put our feet up for a moment or two, and eat. All in vain. I was starving, having not eaten for a week, and Smudgelet was starting to whinge so I had to give in and go to the only place that was working normal hours on New Years Day. Yes, my first meal of 2008, first meal of my new fitness drive, first meal on my poor tortured stomach, was……… MacDonalds!

A Happy and Blessed New Year

Well, what a lovely Chrsitmas we had. Thank you for all your greetings. It was a quiet but fun time, made all the nicer by the presence of Melangell (angel by any other name).

Highlights of the festivities? Our annual trip on the steam railway to see the REAL man in red. Last year for Tiddles, much to his disgust (especially as the Santa at Havenstreet gives really good quality presents!), but a treat for all of us… even if I didn’t get my glass of mulled wine.

Carol singing with my boys. This has become a bit of a tradition, missed only last year. We live in a close of really lovely, mostly elderly people who are good to have around and many of whom have watched over the Smudgelets as they played outside while they were growing up. Our Christmas gift (if you can call it that) to them is to go round and sing carols properly at their doors, traditional down to the very lantern we carry. It was a bit of a panic this year as I had thought they’d be too old to do it, with Tiddles’ voice breaking, and so had not got candles ready for the lantern – we had just enough remnants of nightlights to manage it. I don’t normally sing, but usually the boys have a friend with them to boost their voices so they roped me in this time and I have to admit it was a delight to sing with them, Smudgelet providing the angelic tunefulness, Tiddles providing the enthusiasm 😀 The neighbours were delighted (well, at least I think that was the meaning of the tears!). The only tough moment was going up the steps of next door and, with a shudder of loss, ringing the doorbell of my Dad’s front door, for it to be opened by my new neighbour. That was tough for all of us, but we managed it.

Church. Three times to three different churches in the space of three days. My carol and Christingle service went smoothly and I received a good report as well as thoroughly enjoying myself. We had Christmas Eve service at 5pm in my own church and then Christmas morning at the local Methodist church which is sort of my second home. The latter was hysterical – we were seated by a young lad with earnest expression who was aged around 2. He was most perturbed that Melangell put her hymn book down on an empty seat, and repeatedly walked round, took the book in his hands and handed it to her for her to hold, followed closely by the other book which was already lying there on the chair. Each time she put it down, he returned to hand it solomnly to her, and then spotting a handbag lying nearby, promptly placed that firmly in her hands too. Then he turned his attention to the almost-life-sized nativity scene on the stage. There were two small sheep (I say small, they were at least as big as he was!) and he was most concerned that the shepherds were not watching over their sheep but neglecting them in favour of a baby in a manger. So, responsible young man that he was, he grabbed each by the ear and dragged them off to the safety of his seat. By this time the congregation was in hysterics and the minister abandoned his sermon to the charms of the mini-sheep-rustler!

Christmas lunch: It was my first Christmas Dinner cooking experience for a long time. I’d never cooked Christmas dinner for Smudgelet before. My sister had always come for Christmas to help share Dad’s awkwardness and, as she doesn’t go to church, she’d always taken responsibility for the dinner. It was a real blessing to be able to prepare this special meal for my own little family and my guest, and to serve it in our new dining room. And rather delicious it was too.

Watching my boys opening their presents and knowing that this Christmas we were together and all was well.

Lowlights: hmmm…. well, I missed the panto. In fact, I missed most of the week from Boxing Day morning (4am) to New Year’s Eve. I found myself really wishing that the one job I didn’t get done before Christmas hadn’t been cleaning the floor in the loo, seeing as I spent rather a lot of time inspecting the plumbing… and wishing that our new wetroom had been finished. Yes, the viral gastroenteritis that was sweeping the Island and which brought our local hospital almost to a standstill had found its way to my stomach and laid me out for almost a week. I wonder if I lost any weight! I have to say, it did have its compensations, though. I lay in splendid isolation in the lounge, determined not to spread the illness to anyone else, leaving the room only to visit another smaller one very rapidly! Meanwhile poor Melangell spent that time esconced in the rest of the bungalow with: one gerbil, one cat, one over-excited ten-year-old, one hyper teenager, two remote control cars, one remote control hovercraft, one new train set, lots of new CDs and DVDs and two very popular harmonicas!!!!

As promised, there are now a few photos on flickr, including ones of my favourite Christmas tree decorations. Let’s see which ones to share with you here:

Santa's tray mat, this year a Smudgelet specialAll ready for dinnerJust in case Santa didn't know we'd had an extension

Is dinner ready yet?One spoilt boy

Christmas tree decorations - shepherdChristmas tree decorations - Mary and JesusChristmas tree decorations - Joseph