Monthly Archives: July 2008


Another profitable day, though with little to show for it… and certainly little of my “plan for today” achieved. But I managed to get two more important letters in the post and four things photographed and advertised on wightbay (The local version of ebay 😀 ). I sorted out the fridge ready for cleaning and I tackled (in small doses) the start of Smudgelet’s bedroom – a massive task indeed. It involved moving loads of furniture and loads of junk and then getting depressed at how unsuccessful I was being and giving up in despair. Goodness knows where the boy is going to sleep when he comes home. But a plan is coming to fruition, all I need is the energy to follow it through.

The one thing on my list which I did manage, however, was a bit of energetic dog walking. It was the dog that was energetic, I hasten to add, although I did myself proud by walking not one but three dogs. When I took the last one back, the RSPCA woman said the dog looked shattered. She’d only done two laps! I’d done eight! It was blisteringly hot, of course, so probably an excellent workout. And I made two new friends amongst the other dog walkers which was rather nice.

Dogs of the day: I can’t believe I forgot to take my camera! Dog number one was Lady – a barrel-shaped old lady for a barrel-shaped old lady, I reckon. She was the most beautiful colour, a sort of goldeny milk-chocolate brown; a labrador who was as broad as she was long and to whom I was told most strictly I was to give no treats! She was lovely, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking her – though she made it perfectly clear that two circuits of the walk were quite enough.

Toby was the adventure. I must take him out when Smudgelet’s with him. We had to do several shouts of “Overtaking!” as we caught up with dog after dog on the walking route. When you overtake the other walker has to take their dog off the track as the dogs aren’t allowed to meet. I reckon he had something of the collie in him, and possibly something of an alsatian. He was great fun, full of life and determined to be fussed. We jogged at great speed round the track several times and went into the enclosure for a really good play. My inexperience with dogs became very clear when it came to be time for me to put the lead back on, mind! Toby, will you COME HERE PLEASE!!!!!!!

I managed to persuade them to let me take a third dog round for a short walk, even though time was running out. This dog, another collie cross, was called…. wait for it…. Smudge! She was gorgeous – I could have taken that one home with me. I was told she was very nervous with people and that I shouldn’t try to make a fuss of her or even stroke her or pat her. Hmmm.. obviously nobody had told Smudge that. She made eye contact, lovingly, all the way and kept stopping and nuzzling me for a bit of love. It was only when we got back to the “dog waiting area” that she assumed her former disinterested look as though it had been a real ordeal to spend that twenty minutes in my company. Tomorrow, I think, the camera comes with me and I ask to walk my namesake again.

So what now? Bath, I think, with my book. And then I have some child-free DVDs to watch while I do the ironing. Now which shall it be? Miss Potter? 1st Ladies’ Detective Agency? or Becoming Jane? All three perhaps. Oh, the luxury of temporary childlessness.

(Poor Smudgelet is apparently missing me dreadfully. Ho hum. He’ll cope. I know he’s having a good time, though, but he likes to pile on the guilt. Shame it doesn’t work, isn’t it? ;o) He reckons ten days is the longest he’s ever been off the Island. I told him that was utter rubbish, which totally took the wind out of his sails. Especially considering he was born and raised on the mainland for the first four years of his life – though I didn’t mention that bit. But we always try to make our mainland trips worth the ferry crossing so our holidays are invariably extended at each end with visits to relatives etc. We’re invariably away for a fortnight in the summer, and once it was four weeks as we travelled around a bit! )

OK, Unordered, I’m ready to go.

How’s that pantry looking? (and yes, I think you can count it as a room)

Today I aim to tackle the lounge, clear a bit of space in my bedroom, and sort out the kitchen. I also intend to walk a dog and finish an assignment, so I’d better get a move on, hadn’t I? The good news is that all of Tiddles’ new school uniform is now named. “I name this shirt Snowwhite, God bless it and all who study in it.”

Reminds me of a conversation with the Smudgelet a while ago. He was racing round the house looking for the school uniform he was supposed to have got ready the previous night. When I found him, he was rooting fruitlessly through the washing pile in search of clean underwear.

“You’ll just have to go to school without any and tell them you’ve changed your name to Knickerless,” I said, supportingly.

I was a helpful mummy eventually, after he’d sweated a bit, and I found him a pair to wear. He raced off into the bedroom to put on his underpants, socks and trousers. Then there was a bit more bustling and eventually he came running into the lounge.

“I don’t know about being called Knickerless, I think you’d better rename me ‘Shirt-lost Holmes’ ”



Thank you, Steve, for ignoring me so encouragingly. May you too be encouraged in your ignorance. ;o)

The day has progressed in a progressing sort of a way. I wish the place looked more as though I’d made as much progress as I actually have, but in fact it looks quite the opposite, as Honorary Auntie M remarked when she dropped in for coffee. Hmmm… this is frustrating, especially as it seems to have a negative impact on my motivation to do any more tonight!

However, I have sorted all the assorted clothes – put old school uniform in a bag for recycling and labelled loads of new school uniform and sundry clothes. I have filled a bag for the charity shop – ever noticed how charity shops rarely stock boys’ clothes? Can it be that boys wear their clothes out even faster than they outgrow them?

I have made inroads into sorting and tidying the lounge, Smudgelet’s bedroom, the kitchen, and have successfully amassed a mountain of full bin bags awaiting rehoming at the tip. Why it actually looks no different is anybody’s guess.

I have found (halleluia) the form that I had to fill in to claim some financial support and have filled it in and posted it, together with my credit card payment. En route I purchased more allergy tablets BEFORE I actually run out of them, which is in itself a major achievement. I also purchased some wood shavings and cleaned out the gerbil cage. Hamsters next, but not tonight. Oh, and I stuck labels saying “Tiddles” and “Smudgelet” (or words to that effect) on a multitude of writing equipment in a vain hope that the boys may still possess at least something to write with by the end of the first week of school.

Hmm.. and I’ve drunk coffee with Honorary Auntie M and have read another chapter of my book. Not bad, eh? Next on the agenda is unloading the dishwasher, having a quick bath, and watching New Tricks while sewing name labels onto new shirts. My life is just one long delight 😀

Oh bother!

I just deleted a blog.

I’ll just explain what it said.
I am shamelessly using you right now to motivate myself actually to get some housework done. You know the routine. I work hard for ten minutes then reward myself by spending half an hour on the computer telling you how well I’ve done. You ignore me, or say something encouraging, and I return once more to do another ten minutes of hard work feeling very pleased with myself for being such a good girl and an inspiration to those even more idle than myself, if such exist.

Right. Do you think it’s time to do my next ten minutes yet?

Goodness, it’s too hot for working, isn’t it?

Motivation activation

Not bad, I reckon, for an in-between-coffees session. One trip to the shop (OK, so who noticed I just slipped some clothes on over my PJs? I work better in PJs for some reason – Flylady stick that in your pipe and smoke it – so it made sense just to make myself only slightly more presentable!) to get rubber gloves. One dishwasher emptied and reloaded and just waiting for this coffee mug before it starts whirring away. Tumble dryer emptied.

Kitchen bustled around – all the almost-empty cardboard cereal boxes emptied and folded for a trip to the tip. A rather unpleasant bag of potatoes consigned to a binbag. Both lobbies and the wetroom cleaned from tip to toe, including doing the floors by hand. All the mirrors in the house cleaned and polished (Flylady, I think the mirrors have an even greater influence on the morale than the kitchen sink… provided you don’t look in them, of course!). Oh, and a couple of spiders made sadly homeless and evicted onto the streets. Doubtless they’ll be back.

Mousie the gerbil is miraculously still alive. He is so elderly that he could do with a gerbil-zimmer and he’s virtually blind. In some ways I wonder whether the kind thing to do would be to have him put to sleep, but then that would still mean his last hours being spent mauled into a tiny box, carried through the heat of the day down to the vets, and manhandled to be injected, poor fellow. I wouldn’t be able to nurse him in my arms like I did the cat and comfort him in that stressful situation. Is it kinder? Or is it kinder to let him die slowly and quietly in his own home? He must be fairly relaxed – it’s unusual for gerbils to live so long. Am I soppy about him? Ever so slightly, I think – though whether it’s because I love him despite him being so tiny and unloving back or whether it’s because he was Dad’s gerbil I don’t quite know. Bit of both, I guess.

Right, coffee finished. Next job, find that finance form I’ve lost and get it filled in before tackling the kitchen once more.

One way tickets and the sweet sound of freedom

[Cue John Inman* voice] I’m free! [/John Inman]

*For the sake of those too young or too distant to know who John Inman is, or rather “was”, there was a delightfully non-PC comedy programme in the 70s called “Are you being served?” where the jokes were all double-entendres and one of the salesmen was an OTT-camp gay man whose catch-phrase was “I’m free!”
Love it or hate it, it was probably one of the best known programmes on television at the time.

Last Thursday, at the crack of dawn (an experience from which I am only just recovering), I drove my son to the ferry terminal. “One single child’s ticket to Southampton Airport, please”.

“Single? He’s not coming back?”

“That’s right. Single. Good, isn’t it?”

“And you’re not travelling with him?”

“That’s right. One single child’s ticket to the airport. Good, isn’t it?”

And bag in hand, and somewhat nervous at doing the trip unaccompanied for the first time ever (because I’d got the dates wrong and thought I’d have already finished at school for the holidays by Thursday!), my eldest son set off on his great adventure and I, weeping, drove home for ten days without him. (Only one small untruth in that sentence. Can you guess which word it is?)

Last Friday, at the crack of dawn, (an experience from which I am only just recovering), I drove my son to the ferry terminal. Or rather, my friend Honorary Auntie M drove us there. “A return ticket to Bradford on Avon, please, and a single child’s ticket.”

“A return for you and only one way for the child?”

“Yes, that’s right. Good, isn’t it?”

“So you’re coming back tomorrow and the child isn’t coming back?”

“Yes, that’s right. Good, isn’t it?”

So I travelled with my youngest son, carrying an immensely large suitcase and a brightly wrapped hoe, to spend the night with my sister in Wiltshire. Then on Saturday my youngest son began his great adventure – five days staying with my sister and brother-in-law followed by a week at Scripture Union Camp near them, the longest he’s ever been away from home without me – and I, weeping, travelled home alone for eleven days without him. (Only one small untruth in that sentence. Can you guess which word it is?)

The week of freedom is well spoken for, however, with a whole house to clean and tidy, his bedroom to sort, two Shakespeare plays to watch in the open air, plenty of dog walking (haven’t done that for ages), paperwork to do, two assignments to write, some school work needing doing, and lots of coffee to drink with friends! ;o) But sitting here in my skimpy nightclothes (hee hee… no need to dress decently with no pubescent boys in the house!) and drinking coffee without interruption, and doing what I want when I want. Oh how I miss them!!! (pfah! Strangely, I am not one of those mothers who sits pining for her missing kids. Me? I love it!)

Dear Mr Prime Minister

The Smudgelet is indignant on my behalf that school inspections exhaust people and take them away from spending relaxing time with their families.

The inspection is over.
I am exhausted.
I have so much to do tonight – packed lunches to make, meals to prepare for Friday and Saturday, the bins to put out.
What am I actually doing?
I’m flicking from page to page on the internet – not even reading, just flicking – and in a moment will crawl into bed and hope to wake early enough to do it all tomorrow.

Two lessons observed. No feedback. Think it went OK (though would have liked both lessons to go better – they would have done if the kids hadn’t felt restricted by the presence of the inspectors as was evident when the inspectors left) but it’s hard to tell. Tears from all staff this morning, including the Head, at the way we’ve pulled together. Whether we’re a successful school or a failing one, we couldn’t work harder or with more dedication. I wonder what they’ll say. We may never know. (It isn’t OFSTED so it isn’t published).

Go to bed, Smudgie!

Pivot point

When I first began teaching, the pivot point was a wonderful thing devised by my friend and I to help us make it through the term. You work out the pivot point. This is the day, nay, the hour, when you suddenly have more of the half term behind you than you have ahead. And this is the moment that you focus on, the moment you need to reach rather than the dim and distant target of the actual start of the half term holidays. Then the beauty of the system is that, having celebrated reaching it, you work out the next pivot point – precisely half way through the remaining time – and work your way towards that moment. And again, and again, until you’ve only two hours to go and you celebrate the hour, then the half hour, and the quarter hour… and suddenly it’s the holidays and you’re free 😀

Today is a double pivot point. We have more time behind us with our visitors than ahead of us. They leave early next Tuesday morning. Now don’t get me wrong, I am really enjoying having them here most of the time, and this evening they decided to stay home with us and we have had a really lovely evening together. They are really lovely boys, all three of them, and when one of the parents rang me this evening I was able honestly to say how great their son is. But it’s an awkward time, tiring (not their fault, but they come in so late and leave so early) and taxing on our communication skills. It’s also particularly stressful when their leader’s forgotten to give them an activity list, so I’m stood at the stove making a cooked meal for 5.30 and they arrive home an hour earlier than usual and inform me that they have to be in Newport by 6pm instead of the usual 7 o’clock. Cooked meal consigned to the dustbin (it wouldn’t keep), boys sent to get fish and chips, which they then were too busy talking to eat in time so that mostly went in the dustbin too. I had a few choice words to say to the EF organisers on that one!!! So here we are, at the pivot point, and I realise that it will be really quiet when they do go. I hope at least one of them keeps in touch.

I cannot say the same for the second pivot point, even though the people in question have been really quite nice so far on a personal level (not sure yet on a professional level). Praise God, the first day of inspections is over. I had one complete lesson observed – didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped as the kids simply froze, but I was fairly pleased with things and don’t think it was bad at all. I have three lessons tomorrow and have heard a rumour that they may not still be doing observations by the third… so one I’m confident about and one I’m not.

Smudgelet, meanwhile, is planning to write to the Prime Minister. It’s not right, he says, that his mother should have so much paperwork to do that she doesn’t spend time with him. Too right, Smudgelet. You write your letter. You needed my attention these last few days – doing genetics in school isn’t that easy when you’re adopted and feel isolated within the lesson when everyone’s discussing things they have in common with their parents – and I was almost too busy. I say almost – I ditched the planning in favour of my son. After all, what’s more important. And what are they going to do to the school if we fail the inspection? Close it?

Sleeping on the sofa

“I feel like death warmed up,” I said to my colleague. “I spent last night sleeping on the sofa.”
“Smudgie, why on earth did you do that?” she enquired. “I mean, you’re single. You’ve nobody to have a row with!”

I suppose I could have done it just because I wanted the experience, but you know as well as I do that I have many a night slept on the sofa because of an inability to find my bed under all the junk accumulated upon it. This time it was different.

When my eldest son is here, I habitually lock my bedroom door when I’m not in there, and I decided that this might be a good policy while we have small inquisitive visitors, (especially as Mousie is dying of old age in there – just quietly fading away in his little nest in the corner, bless him, no longer really wanting to eat or drink or scamper, just to rest quietly as he ends his days). No problem. I keep my keys in a safe place, usually my pocket if I’m wearing jeans, but in a particular spot that only I know if I have no pockets to keep them in. Fine, simple plan. Until you slip your keys absent mindedly into your laptop case while trying to persuade three French boys to hurry up and get ready to catch the bus.

It was a manic few days writing countless lesson plans – repeatedly, as people thought of one more thing and one more thing to add to them. My visitors came in at 10pm wanting hot chocolate and biscuits to warm them up before they went to bed (honestly, Ryde beach in this lovely June weather….!), so it was 11pm by the time I was able to head towards my long-awaited bed. I got as far as the door… and… er….

OK, so where are my keys? In my pocket? No, I haven’t got any pockets. In the special place? No, the special place is empty. In the lounge? No. In the bathroom? No. In the kitchen? No. In my laptop bag which is sitting tucked under my desk in the empty classroom? Ping! Correct answer. So, the sofa it is. Good job Mousie doesn’t need feeding. Now, where will I find some spare bedding. I have loads of spare bedding. Ah, I have loads of spare bedding for when I have visitors. Trouble is, I have visitors, and I don’t think they’ll really appreciate it if I go and nick the bedding of their beds. And as for pyjamas? Well, they’re in the bedroom, of course, together with my clean clothes for next day….

Good job I still had a day to go before the inspectors were in!

I am going insane

I have spent all weekend writing lesson plans and doing paperwork for the new responsibilities I am taking on as the day after the inspection I have a day-long meeting with the LEA inspector/advisor for mathematics whose ASD-type qualities combined with genius with mathematics apparently make her very very intense and slow to comprehend that mere mortals like I don’t actually know a lot of the high-falutin’ maths stuff.

I have also spent much of the weekend being driven slowly up the wall by three adorable but increasingly hyper French boys who sleep little, make large quantities of noise (and farting sounds courtesy of some silly putty they purchased at the joke shop!), are eating far too many sweets and far too little food, and are generally relaxing far too much! Good job they’re so lovely or I think I might lock the door and let them suffocate themselves with the aerosol deodorant they are so fond of spraying right, left and centre. AGGGGGGGGGHHHH! They don’t get in until 10pm and they’re so lively, and all wanting hot chocolate and time to play when all I want to do is crawl off to bed ready for the early start next day.


And my lovely last little gerbil is slowly dying. 🙁 (Mousie the Gerbil, not Pavlova the hamsters)

Counting the days to the summer holidays? Me? Surely not.