Sunday, April 29, 2007

Monkey Madness!

OK, so these are apes, not monkeys. but you'll see the link, I promise!

Today, we went to Chester Zoo with my Mum & Dad. they haven't been to a zoo for maybe 25 years, since Mum isn't really keen on the idea of them, but she was impressed by how much they have changed in recent years.

Here are some beautiful giraffes, aren't they lovely?

It was a glorious day, brilliant weather. Couldn't ask for more really.

And the monkey link? Well, I finished my Monkey socks, just in time to count as my April socks for SAM3!

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
Yarn: Opal Rainforest in Eule (Owl)
Needles: 2.5 mm aluminium DPNs
Mods: I just used 1x1 rib, rather than twisted rib - my ankles aren't as slender as Cookie's and I need all the stretch I can get!I also added one extra pair of decrease rows, to finish with 24 stitches.

Soundtrack: Orange Juice - Rip It Up; It's Yer Money - The Wonder Stuff; That's All - Genesis

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Stomper Girl has left the 100th comment on my blog! I'm blown away that I've had that many comments...

No prizes, but big thanks!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Parcel Photos

Well, as promised, here are the photos:

Why can't we buy lovely postal boxes like this in the UK? It's lovely to look at before you even open it!

Once opened, it revealed some gorgeous rose petal smellies (how did I get out of the habit of relaxing in the bath tub?), some Green & Black's chocolate (lovely!) and some yarn.

Closer inspection revealed it to be Emily 4 ply sock weight (80% lambswool 10% cashmere 10% angora) from Posh Yarn:

It's in a gorgeous colourway called Buddleia, all purples, blues and greens! I'll need to choose carefully to make the most of this!

Thank you, Secret Pal!

Soundtrack: Morrissey - English Blood Irish Heart; The Smiths - Ring Around The Fountain, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Goodies!

Just a quickie - the cat's on the desk so I can't see either keyboard or screen, but I wan't to get excited about my second parcel from my Secret Pal. I'll post photos tomorrow, since I've got planning to do tonight (and the cat's tail's almost in the photo card reader), but suffice to say it's another parcel of gorgeousness from Finland! You'll have to wait to see it all, but I just have two words to say:

Posh. Yarn.


Soundtrack: Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

Monday, April 23, 2007

April Showers

Today was wet play - oh deep joy! Luckily this afternoon was mainly role play and RE/PSHE discussions, so it got a little noisy but nothing too harum scarum. People who don't teach don't always appreciate how gruesome the effect of wet play can be - to that all I say is come into my classroom after wet dinner play and you will be met by the glorious smell of cooped up children. It's a little like the smell of wet dog, but less appealing...

This evening I'm staying to the Year 5 residential meeting, so I'm just taking a break from a huge pile of marking. Right now it seems like the magic porridge pot - however much I take away, the box is still full! Still, I can't get distracted by too much here in the classroom.

Oh, hang on...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sorry, I'm all out of witty titles

NB long post - but no self pity and it could be worth reading on for the humiliation factor...

Funny how a lack of sleep can almost totally disable a person. I'm dog tired, but I don't appear to be sleeping. I'm waking three or four times a night, but without the spur of OfSTED, I lack the drive to get out of bed and actually do anything constructive like mark books. Too tired to knit in the wee small hours either. Thank heavens A is away, I'd be driving him demented. The muscles in my arms ache and I can't for the life of me think why, and I'm now so tired that I have taken to lurching sideways like a drunk whilst standing completely still. I think I need some new ankles, since these ones are obviously a bit shot. Do you think it's a permanent reminder of Hadrian's Wall??!!

This term is always an interesting one in Year 2, as well - end of Key Stage Assessments. I've been working with the children on identifying what they think they need to improve. We've also done a lot of reflecting and they're quite amazed by how much their work has changed in the last few months. I always am too, but it's one of the miracles of teaching. I love it. It's better than drugs any day and that's why, even when I know I'm not getting it right, teaching Year 2 is such a blast. The progress is so much easier to see than when they are older.

Some funny things (and horrific ones!) have happened to me this week and I just haven't got around to blogging about them, but here are a couple of high (or should that be low?) lights.

I have decided this term I need to say "No" more, especially as I review all the assessment evidence for the whole year group and try to take on more of this Senior Management role I now have. I made a good, start, I told the Head I wouldn't be running an after school club this half-term. That same day, I was then asked to accompany the Year 5s on their weekend residential in the middle of May. Of course, being shattered, totally unfit and it being bang in the middle of the assessment period, I said yes. I can hear my mother's voice running through my head as I speak... "Don't come running to me if you break your ankle, ...."

Last night, I decided to pop along to a little social knitting group at a craft studio/yarn shop in nearby Knutsford. Now, Knutsford is rather genteel (although this news item might sully that image slightly), but I figured I could squeeze an hour of planning in in Costa Coffee before going and maybe catch a sandwich. I arrived at 6, just as Costa was closing, so that scuppered than plan, but I thought maybe I could slip into the local wine bar and find a space. It's been a long time since I was there, but I was really surprised to find it heaving that early. anyway, it was a nice evening, so although there was no room to do any work on my old steam powered laptop, I ordered a small Peroni and a plate of Nachos to soak it up and went to badger a nice chap into letting me sit at his table. Imagine my surprise when I ate the first Nachos, looked down and saw it had revealed a fingernail sized piece of blu-tac on the plate...


I took the refund rather than the replacement, but then realised that, without food, the Peroni was going to really hit me in about, oh, 15 minutes (I'm such a lightweight!) , so had to scurry along the main street deciding which place could serve me a meal in the shortest time. Pizza Express won, but it has been so long since I've been that I didn't realise it no longer served the Venezia (I love sultanas and pine kernels), so that was a bit of a blow. To top it off, once I arrived at the knit group, I settled down, knitted a nice chunk of sock, then realised I'd missed a row of the pattern out and the whole thing looked like a dog's dinner. I don't supposed anyone else would notice, but I would always know it was there, so that was those rows ripped out when I got home.

And finally...

On the way up from les parents on Sunday, I was listening to a new CD, of Cyril Tawney performing live in 1981. As I listened to a couple of songs I realised that some of the songs had quite a narrow vocal range and that I might just have a chance of singing them without mangling them. No, don't worry, I have no plans of stepping up at the local folk club's open mic spot, but I do remember fondly days when I lived in Cumbria and nights out with work mates on course were not complete without late night singing in the bar. I was always happy to join in with chorus and refrain of well known staples (Wild Rover, Soldier Soldier, etc) but never would I lead one. After all, I can't sing, I'm under no illusion about that. One of my lasting memories is of a school friend with a nice line in acidic put-downs who commented, "Nic enjoys listening to Otway because he makes her sound good" (God bless the good ship Jeneva and all who sail in her...)

Anyway, I digress. As already mentioned, I would never dare to sing in a public forum sober, but it would be nice to have a song to offer late at night (hah! Like I ever find myself in those situations these days). With this heavy dose of nostalgia in mind, I happily turned the CD off and sang through the song a few times. It was OK, the windscreen didn't crack. I struggled with the lowest note (the final note of the refrain) I think it may have been D, but whatever. I didn't think it was that bad. You can't teach Infants without singing and A has commented that I seem to be able to hold a tune a little better now than in my younger days.

Once I arrived home, the temptation of an empty house with no TV on when I arrived was too good to miss. I always sing along to music in the kitchen, but I just don't sing unaccompanied. I got quite excited thinking about it. I fed the cats, grovelled a bit about going away, unpacked and then decided it was now or never. I breathed deeply and started singing away:

Too soon to be out of me bed,
Too soon to be back at this bus queue caper,
Or fumbling for change for me picture paper,
On a Monday morning.

Wrong end of the week for a smile,
Wrong end of the day for being civil,
There’s many a saint would be a devil
On a Monday morning.

I didn't get past the second verse (out of six). I heard this dreadful caterwauling and turned round to find Lilly had jumped off the sofa from where she had been having a post-prandial nap and was stood behind me yowling her head off. I attempted to continue, but she promptly made for the cat flap, so I decided to call it a day.

Everyone's a critic...

Soundtrack: The Charmer - Seth Lakeman; Drowned Lovers - Kate Rusby; Heather - Wedding Present; Dirty Old Town - Ewan MacColl; Bold Privater - Eliza Carthy; Sweet England - Jim Moray; Planxty Davies - Nic Jones

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tired and Not Ready...

For school, that it. I am just not mentally ready at all, so whether I am physically ready is immaterial really.

Right now, I want to work out a way to make a living sitting and listening to folk music and knitting. The closest A and i have got to it is a small holding with alpaca, but I have no idea how many alpaca I'd need to make a living and at an average of £4,000 for a female (albeit pregnant), I don't think it's viable unless I win the lottery.

Ah well...


Yesterday was a brilliant day. A was flying out to the US, so he didn't get to join us, but I took Mum and Dad to an event at Cecil Sharp House, which is the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, in Camden Town. (Seems unlikely, so close to the buzz that is Camden market, but that's London for you - very... mixed!) Anyway, it was an event celebrating the life of Cyril Tawney, a folk singer who died a couple of years ago. I grew up listening to Cyril Tawney songs, since my Dad felt a great affinity for his songs, particularly those he'd written about his time in the Royal Navy. We never got to see him (by the time I'd thought to use the internet to track him down, he was becoming ill. His last gig was a maritime festival in Lancaster that was the same weekend as a family friend's wedding in Aylesbury, a good 200 miles away, so we missed the boat, so to speak.

But yesterday made up for it.

I laughed, I cried, I danced, I sang.

Dad loved it, as I knew he would, but so did Mum (to her surprise, I think!), since it was like an enormous party, the kind people of her generation went to, I guess, where people sang rather than deafen the neighbours with a stereo. Some of the acts were well-known on the folk circuit, others beyond to those people who only brush the edges,such as Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy, others still, were simply the bedrock of British folk - those people who turn out to the club and just sing, for the love of the song.

And then, there was Les Barker.

If you have never seen or heard Les Barker performing his poems, you have missed out, big time. I first saw him when a group of friends and I camped at Towersey Festival in 1990 (A good start at festival going, I thought - stay just a mile and half from home, then you can get back for a shower...). We howled with laughter, and I've never met anyone who doesn't.

A grand day out, indeed.


On a more reflective note, the sun shone again, today, as it often does. In memory of 96 people who went to watch a match and never came home, RIP.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I took this photo last week, but never got round to posting it:

I think I just discovered why other people have swifts and yarn winders! Never mind, an IKEA stool works just as well doesn't it? This is the yarn I received from my Secret Pal the other week. I know I said I wasn't going to cast on with it until I had made more progress on the other projects I have on the go, but whilst I was away, I couldn't resist. I've christened it the Purple Project for the moment, because I don't want to reveal what it is yet. Mind you, the cotton tote bag is now on the handle, so the end is nigh. It's great TV knitting, since it's garter stitch! That's more than can be said for the Purple Project - it's not fiddly (yet!) but it is a yarn that it's easy for my clumsy paws to split if I take my eye off of it, so it's not one for knitting during CSI, NCIS or Doctor Who!

Want a peek? Go on, then:

And just to finish off, when A and I were away at the weekend, we visited an Alpaca centre. These guys are very cute...

I wonder if we could fit one in the garden?

Soundtrack: Sweet Home Alabama - Lynard Skynard; Ever Fallen In Love? - Buzzcocks; Blue Monday - New Order; the Fly - U2; Waterfall - Atlantic Ocean; Outside - George Michael

This always happens!

I've got to this point of the holidays, where I should have done more school work than I have. The grand Spring Clean has been half completed, but has ground to a halt due to lack of time (A has gone back to work), wardrobe space (really need to work out how to make better use of the space in the wardrobe, it's a terrible design) and, let's be frank, inspiration. I have thrown away loads of paper, but there still seems to be loads left.

But some things have gone well. A and I went to Keswick over Easter and we managed a nice 8 mile walk around Derwentwater. I was really pleased with how well we coped with it, since neither of us have walked since Hadrien's Wall and we've both put on weight since then. There is hope! When A comes back from the US next week, we plan to start walking properly again.

This was the view from near the Lodore Hotel, across to the west side of Derwentwater. It was truly magical.

The view from our hotel window wasn't bad, either, but unfortunately I didn't take a photo of it until I was leaving on Monday when it was overcast and the mist was down.

Not a bad view to wake up to though, is it?

Soundtrack: Eminem - Lose Yourself, My Name Is

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hee Hee!

I've just watched Persuasion that I recorded on Sunday night (I lost to A's wish to see Louis Theroux). What a fabulous production! It really is my favourite Austin.

Then, lo and behold! I stumbled across a daft quiz and couldn't resist it!

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

At least I wasn't Catherine Morland!

Soundtrack: Sun Again Will Shine - slackstring

Monday, April 02, 2007

Archaeology and a FO (finally)

Well, I'm taking a quick break for a bacon buttie. I can see the carpet in the office, but sadly it's at the expense of the sitting room floor, which is currently covered in piles of books and papers that need sorting.

Meanwhile, the debris upstairs has now spread into the guest room and across the landing. I'm not convinced we'll ever find the spare bed again.

But every cloud has a silver lining.

While A was turfing out the back bedroom, he found the whale, which dates from 1994. 20 minutes later and I'd stitched his flippers on and added eyes, so here he is in all his glory:

As you can see, Lil is impressed. Not.

Pattern: Essentials Magazine, June 1994 (I don't think the magazine exists any more!)
Yarn: Lost the label, but it's DK
Needles: 4mm

So there you are. My oldest UFO is now finished, nearly 13 years after he was started. Beat that!

Soundtrack to this post: Money- Pink Floyd; Santa Cruz - Fatboy Slim; If Love Was a Train - Michelle Shocked; Another Man's Cause - The Levellers; Let's Get Tattoos - Carter USM

You can tell it's the holidays

... because I'm trying to excavate the office. Remember how joyous I was last summer? I'm trying to recapture that glorious feeling of finding the carpet again(excluding the Bunbury Cricket anthem, obviously).

Meanwhile, A is upstairs, tackling the little bedroom that, over the last two years or so, has silted up with debris from my teenage life, courtesy of my parents clearing out their loft ("Well, better we do it now than you have to do it once we're gone, dear..."). Trouble is, we live in a house built in the early 90s that has minimal (and I mean minimal) loft space. Anyone over 2 foot wide and taller than 4 foot struggles to move around within the rafters.

Wish us luck!

Soundtrack for today's post: Keep it Dark - Genesis; People Are People - Depeche Mode

Sunday, April 01, 2007

SP10 Contest No.1

Today Bobbi my SP10 hostess set us a contest:

1. How old were you when you learnt to knit?

I asked Mum, and neither of us are really sure. After a bit of discussion, we think 6 or 7. I was definitely knitting by the time I was in Brownies, but I joined late at 8. Tom Baker was playing Doctor Who at the time...

so I basically kept knitting this garter stitch scarf for a teddy. And kept knitting... and knitting... and knitting...

2. Who taught you to knit?

My Mum.