Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lovely Smells


Today, a former colleague of mine from the Education Advisory Service came in to lead a follow up staff meeting on Challenging the More Able. There was a lot of focus on ways to promote higher order thinking, based on Bloom's Taxonomy, plus a consideration of other tools and techniques such as Philosophy for Children and De Bono's Thinking Hats. It was a refresher of what we looked at in April (remember the Pigs?) and she lead us through a review by way of a game of Bingo.

Right near the end, I managed a line and had a root around in her bag of prizes, pulling out some shower gel and a pair of "Funky Dice" - leopard print fake fur dice (although they have no spots, so they're cubes really) that are actually car air fresheners. I got really excited for about 5 minutes, until I realised how overpowering the perfume was. I don't have those horrible cardboard pine trees for exactly that reason.

However, never having had a pair of fluffy dice (or similar), and being obsessed with leopard print (Jackie Collins eat your heart out) I duly rigged them up in the car - after all, they are really quite small.

Small, but unfortunately, not discrete in the scent department.

After driving 18 miles with both front windows down, they were still making me feel naseous, so are currently hanging from the back door, putting the cats off their tea.

Ho hum.

Huff Personified

Here is Lil Cat, demonstrating her oh-so-helpful pose whenever I need to get to work on the computer...

The body language says it all...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Experiences

I'm always one for new experiences (and indeed, repeats of previously enjoyed ones). Yesterday involved both, combining a trip to the theatre, a plateful of raw lamb mince and Gordon Brown.


A and I haven't seen our friends V & C for far too long, so we arranged to go to see the fabulous Lip Service at the Quays Theatre at The Lowry. We've seen them a couple of times before, and they are hilarious. Yesterday, it was Withering Looks, their quirky look at the lives of the Brontes. Tears streaming and howls of laughter can be generated simply by a look from Maggie. She has one of the most expressive faces in theatre. If you get a chance to see them, do so, even if you have to haul yourself to Buxton Opera House (which is a lovely venue). You won't regret it.

Anyway, we started with the matinee there, then made our way back into Manchester. That was tricky enough, as the metro wasn't running all the way through due to a Peace/Anti-War demo timed to coincide with the start of the Labour Party conference. Seeing the assorted banners of the Socialist Workers, Communists and Stop the War Coalition branches from various London Boroughs managed to rattle A (aka to V, C and myself as Tory Boy) "Don't they have better things to do with their Saturdays?" he fumed, much to our glee. V, C and I are all left of A to a greater or lesser extent, so took great delight in goading him throughout our post-show drinking - much to his chagrin as he sipped his water glumly (I did suggest the train, but that's too green an option for Tory Boy - ever heard Fatima Mansions' Only Losers Take the Bus? I'm sure it was written with him in mind...)

Anyway, as well as the disruption to the metro, all around G-Mex was cordoned off in readiness for the Conference. Concrete road blocks mean it's difficult for vehicles to travel around the G-Mex/St Peter's Square/Peter Street area and therefore it was very easy to continue walking into town from the Briton's Protection - no dodging traffic, only protesters drifting off to the pub...

We hadn't got far from the pub though when we saw a convoy of vehicles approach G-Mex. They had to grind to a halt though, since the drivers didn't have a clue how to get to the Midland Hotel now the front of it was actually fenced off... leaving the Rt Hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer rather exposed as his Landrover Discovery sat impatiently behind the leading car. Oh for a bag of tomatoes (or failing that my camera...)

So that's covered the theatre trip and Gordon. What about the raw lamb mince? Well, since I'd organised the theatre, V & C organised the meal at the Cedar Tree, a Lebanese restaurant near Afflecks Palace. It looks a hole, but the food is fab! They also allow you to bring your own wine, so sadly V, C & I got progressively more tiddled and I was pretty blotto by 8.30. I am SOOO out of practice!

We had about 9 starters beteen us, then 2 main meals. It's loads of things I love, like grilled chicken, lamb, hummus, tabuleh, broadbeans, halloumi - gorgeous! The raw lamb mince had been marinaded in some spices and did have a nice flavour, but I think my favourite starters were the baby stuffed aubergine and the stuffed vine leaves. Yummy! The desserts are ace as well, but very sweet - lots of honey and nuts. The baklava was the best I've had in the UK. We ordered coffee too, which came as a shock to A, since you could almost slice it with a knife and it was heavily flavoured with cardamom. Sounds disgusting, and the first sip tasted it too, but then, after I'd eaten the sweet, it really worked, honest. It cut through the sweetness and really cleansed your mouth. Since A can't stand cardamom though, he pulled the kind of face that you normally see when a toddler eats brussels sprouts.

Poor lamb...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The march of time...

A returned from the States yesterday, slightly jetlagged. Today he popped in to the pharmacy to pick up this month's blood pressure medication, only to discover they had pinned a note to it: don't forget your flu' jab. I know he looks bleary-eyed, but certainly not that old...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fancy a pint?

As A has been away, I obviously haven't been getting through as much milk as usual, so every few days I stick a note out cancelling that day's pint. Last night, after seeing 2 ½ pints in the fridge, I decided I could cancel both pints that were due to come today (Wednesday is his day off). After writing a hasty note (No milk, today, please), I realised that A will be home about 9am on Wednesday and he'll probably want some for tea or coffee through the day. Thus I changed the note: One pint today please.

Imagine my joy at going out to collect three pints this morning.

I'm off to make like Cleopatra...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Musings on the M40

I nipped to see Mum and Dad today (there's nothing sadder than a Sunday roast for one and Dad makes ace gravy) and on the way back I saw 4 hot air balloons. That got me thinking about riding in a hot air balloon - someting I'd love to do. I remember a list I wrote when I was a teenager, of all the things I'd like to do in the future. I think I actually stipulated that I had to do them before 30, but then I suspect that as a young teenager, "30" might as well have been "dead".

Ah, the folly of youth. If I'd known then, what I know now, blah blah blah...

Anyway, this list. I'm not sure if I've remembered them all, but these are the ones I can recall:

Fly in a hot air balloon (not yet)

Do a parachute jump (tick: 19 years ago next week)

Get a degree (tick: 1991)

Walk along the Great Wall of China (not yet)

Visit Ayers Rock (ditto)

Visit Hong Kong before it's handed back to China (mmm - left that one too late!)

Fly a plane (this one was a bit of a no-brainer really, since I was counting down the days until I joined the air cadets at school!)

Go gliding (yep, see above, although I gave up my place for getting my glider wings since it was the week before my A levels. What's that smell? Oh yes, the whiff of burning martyr...)

Fly a helicopter (well, does a ride in a Sea King after cleaning it count?)

Rollerskate from Land's End to John O'Groats (that is SO not going to happen. One has to ask why?!)

Own a python (gone off this one now - too much specialist care needed...)

Rather eclectic, really. And it's rather sad to see that I've only knocked a few off the list!

The only consolation is that I have done things I'd never thought of at that time, such as walk from one side of the country to the other, record a song at Abbey Road for the B-side of a number 9 hit, walk across a live volcano and see a solar eclipse (even if it was overcast)

So... where's that number for the hot air ballooon company?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

He shoots...he scores!

10 days ago, A transfered Dean Ashton for Andrew Johnson into his Fantasy football Team. Johnson scored 2 goals for Everton last week and another one today. At the same time, I got rid of Solskjaer and brought on Kanu, who's given Portsmouth a cracking start to the season. Needless to say, he's not scored a goal since...
Let's hope the big games tomorrow garner me some points!

Au Revoir ... and Goodbye

So it's au revoir to L, who went on maternity yesterday. We started at the same time last September. How will I cope without her? She is my Key Stage 1 and Literacy bible!! Good job I have her email address ;-)

And it's goodbye to Raymond Baxter*. I don't really associate him with Tomorrow's World; to me he was, and always will be, the voice of Farnborough Air Show. What a lovely voice he had. I didn't realise until today that he'd been a Spitfire pilot in WWII.

*I can hear A now,on the other side of the Atlantic: "I didn't realise he was still alive..."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Repossession Averted

Faithful readers who have been worrying about my financial trauma of yesterday can rest assured - I got to the petrol station within the 24 hour period and will not now be receiving a visit from a big burly bloke called Dave. Phew.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How to avoid excrutiating embarrassment...

Realise you don't have your purse before filling your car with £37.25 worth of unleaded.

Nuff said.

Fantasy Football (again)

In our house there was a flurry of transfer activity last week, as A jettisoned a lot of dross from his team (I also had a little reshuffle). Both of us benefitted as we've scored a few more points this week than we would have done from our starting XI. however, I'm still ahead, with 102 points to A's 59. Sorry love! If it's any consolation, though, he has climbed to 231,898th in the league, whilst I've dropped to 108,627th!


Yesterday morning I got up to find the cat had knocked an envelope of the dining table, where A had left the superfluous contents of his laptop case before leaving for the US. I picked it up to find it had over $200 in beautiful crisp notes. Duh...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Alone Again Or

So A has jetted off to the States again this morning. No shopping trips for me this time though, just straight off to work after a quick sprint to the airport.

Am I worried that he's flying out on 9/11? Not as worried as I am about him getting behind a wheel for the first time ever abroad. If he manages to keep to 55 mph on the interstate, I will be gobsmacked...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Love My Job

It's just occured to me that the little spiel about me that's on my profile makes me sound like a sad old git wondering why I'm in teaching. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, although I wish I had the energy I had 10 years ago when I first started teaching. Last year was the first year I had taught infants and I didn't get it right straight away. This year I have Year 2 again, and I've got a smashing class. I use Sousa's Liberty March as tidying-up music and last year, I usually had to play it through twice. So far, in the first 4 days of term, 5 times that I've put it on, the classroom is spotless and all 28 children are on the carpet before the track has finished! Thank you, L and G, I have inherited what could be my dream Y2 class!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Done it. First day's over and I haven't killed any of them...

Monday, September 04, 2006


The kids are back in tomorrow, I'm not ready and the cat keeps sitting on my papers with her tail dangling over the keyboard!


Where's my anorak?

Heck, that last post was a little detailed, wasn't it?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Morris Masterclass

Haven't sorted out the root problem, but have circumvented it for now! So, as promised, here are some photos and clips from Towersey Festival, and a brief bit of explanation.

This is Gog Magog Molly, molly dancers from Cambridge.

Molly dancing is a form of traditional dancing from the fens, with a very distinctive style of step and clothing. It's believed it was danced by the ploughboys in the winter, going up to the big house to earn some money. I do have a deep love of folk dancing and would dearly love to be involved in some way. Due to my dreadful co-ordination, A believes I would have to undergo an inspection by Health & Safety before I was allowed to dance waving a wooden stick around. The video gives some idea of the molly dance style:

Sorted! I turned to A and asked him if he'd cope if I was seen in an outfit similar to the colourful ones on display. He then pointed out to me that I could rustle up a suitably garish unco-ordinating outfit and ridiculous hat quite easily out of the clothes I have lurking in the back of my wardrobe. Thanks for that...

This is Dogrose Morris from Yorkshire. They dance in the Cotswold style, which is the style most people think of when they think of Morris dancing (all in white with bells and baldrics). They leap higher than any Morris dancers I've ever seen, but they are a lot younger than most!

When I went back on Monday, they danced a tray dance, which I've never seen before. I can't imagine ever living anywhere else in the world - how can you be downhearted when you can spend a damp Bank holiday watching two blokes beat each other over the head with tea-trays?

This clip is of Chiltern Hundreds Morris, who dance North West Clog Morris. As you can see, it is a different style and has its roots in the industrial mill towns of the North West. The dancers used to process through the streets behind the rush carts. The chapel in Macclesfield Forest still has a rush bearing service every summer, even though there are no mills, but I've never seen dancers there.

These two clips are both of Black Adder Rapper and Step. As the name suggests, they dance percussive (step) and Rapper dances.

The first clip shows a percussive dance:

The second is a Rapper dance. Rapper is a style of dance that originated in the mining communities of Northumberland and Durham. The Rapper itself is a short sword that was probably originally adapted from a pit tool.

Sadly, since these were recorded on my camera, they look better viewed in a smaller window than they are in here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

At last!

Haven't sorted out the root problem, but have circumvented it for now! Just as a taster, here are some new additions to my classroom that I found at Towersey: I got the sheep and the giraffe on Sunday with A, and Mr Wolf is a present from my Dad. The giraffe is definitely a Geraldine, I just can't decide on a name for the sheep. I already have a Larry the Lamb (and indeed a Larry the Lizard), so it could be Sean, or Sharon. Any suggestions?
I'm so enamoured of Geraldine, she's become my profile pic! I'd like to think a giraffe is emblematic of me because I am tall and graceful with very long limbs, but in reality it's more likely to be because I too find it nigh on impossible to get up when I fall down...

Technical Problems

I did promise photos from last week and of some new arrivals I got when I was at Towersey. Due to some technical difficulties, I can't upload my photos at the moment - bear with me!

Salt in the wound

We've just checked the Fantasy Football website to see how many points the leaders have got (177 if you're interested). What has freaked A out though, is that we looked at the Bottom 100 as well as the top. At the bottom of the table are a bunch of people with -4 points, who are all tied for 264,490th place. A is distraught to be so close to this end of the table...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hee Hee...

Just logged on the PC to collect some stuff I need for school today (yes, it's time to set my classroom up again!!) and found this email from A last night:
Just noticed blog entry, am going to spend the rest of the autumn/winter and spring on mainland Europe, see u round about mid May!
Does that sound a little like wounded pride?