Sunday, 27 February 2011

That was the weekend that went too fast!

And it flew past - I don't even remember much of yesterday! I spent a lot of the day unearthing the hallway (it's quite big when it isn't cluttered with Stuff!) and then the office got a bit of a makeover going on in there too!

Today was church, and I am terribly uncharitable, but the preacher this morning was a drag.....people will say that of me one day, I know, but she said, "you know" 100 times if she said it once, and we were exchanging sidelong glances between ourselves before half time!! Surely someone closer to her would tell her that she does it, so that she could work on stopping.......I certainly hope that they wouldn't let me go on like that.

Got to go - early start for folk here in the morning - back to school and the YFG has to go to Cambridge for a checkup on her braces.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Mint sauce

Yep - the first Spring lambs of the year were seen today in the local fields!

I took the girls to the cinema to see "I am Number Four" (no idea who the lead couple were, but I liked Henri, played by Timothy Olyphant and then killed off - shame!) with the Tesco Clubcard vouchers. The cinema was heaving with kids and their families - but then they were showing Yogi Bear and Gnomeo & Juliet at the same time, so I guess that is where a lot of them were, as the cinema we were in wasn't that full.

We then went to Staples to find that cirlce-drawing thingy, and couldn't, so the EFG has deigned to say she will use a compass if it comes up in the exam on Tuesday - hurray for common sense at last! After that, we went in to the big Tesco there, where the EFG found some jeans and a top she liked and the YFG got a dress and leggings set. The EFG is so "not into" clothes that I do tend to buy her whatever she sees and likes as so many times I try to buy her things and she hates everything in sight and we come away empty handed.

And so to tonight - I came home, collected the eggs up, cooked the tea and we ate - and then I fell asleep.......I have done that a couple of times this week, so I must be tired!! And we are not getting up early either - it was past 8 when I got my feet to the floor this morning, and I had already had a text message from a friend who was bright and breezy at 7.30am. And the weekend is here tomorrow - so I am planning to have some time at home tomorrow sorting out the school uniforms and such, ready for Monday. I may also do some bread baking - I am looking forward to the smell of fresh bread!!


Yesterday morning was a busy "being out" time - the YFG had an appointment at the optician, then we made best use of our petrol by hitting the library, the bank, two supermarkets, WHSmith, and the Head Coach's house as well - and plopped back down here by 1pm, ready for lunch.

We made a major error in WHSmith, and forgot (well, she didn't remind me!) to buy a thing for the EFG for drawing circles. Back in the day, I used a compass to draw a circle, didn't you? These days, they have to have a thing that looks like two protractors joined together, so they can just draw around it........methinks teachers are finding it too difficult to explain the process of drawing a circle with a compass...shame! The FH was a technical drawing teacher, and can do amazing geometry from his time as a carpenter, so he was extremely shocked at this revelation.

I had to go to the HC house as we are applying for some funding for the gym club, and had some forms to fill in. I came home with onions and potatoes, as well as some odd tins of groceries that his mother-in-law had received in a hamper and not wanted, and he didn't want them either. Nothing wrong with them - a tin of tuna, some peas and carrots, and a tin of steak in gravy - perfect for a pie.

This afternoon, I will be taking the girls to the cinema as the Tesco clubcard voucher tokens arrived yesterday. There is a Staples shop in the vicinity, so we will have to look and see if they sell these strange circle-drawing implements.....

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lee and Jack

My cousin's husband lent me a bag of books by Lee Child after he saw "61 Hours" on my bookshelf. These books, featuring the enigmatic Jack Reacher, have become addictive. I tear through each one in a couple of days, and can't wait to grab the next one from the bag. I have read all bar one of them now, and have even looked on Amazon to see if there are more.....and there may be a film - I have found a website dedicated to the debate over which actor would be best as JR. I'm with the Hugh Jackman posse, I have to say, although I think Hugh would have to put on some weight!!

Parish Plan

I went to a meeting tonight in the village about the development of a new Parish Plan - a visionary document which drives the way the village should develop over the next 10 or so years. There was a lot of interest, because people didn't really understand the concept to start with, and thought that they could go along and lobby the parish council about the state of the roads or the sewers, or the local bus services or the threatened closure of the fire station.......but then there was some apathy when it was realised that this Parish Plan may take a year or longer to draw up and then begin to implement.

I went along to represent the Methodist Chapel with the steward, and I was also there with a bit of the school hat on as well. The steward was keen that I go forward onto the Steering group which will begin all the work on surveying the parishioners about what they want the Plan to do. I agreed, and put my name down, but I told her in no uncertain terms that if the amount of time it takes up becomes oppressive, I will have to stop. I will certainly not be taking on an officer role in the committee. I shall sit on my hands if I get the slightest inkling that one might shoot up and betray me! I do think that it is a good idea, and I am interested to know what it will involve. Members of our street committee were there, and promised me that they would support me as well, so if there is footwork needing to be done in the area, they will do it for me.

Approved Food

I really shouldn't have. But I read that there was a 10% discount code (AP10) valid until the 27th February, and then when I went looking, they have Matthew Walker Christmas Puddings (one of the best kinds) - the 454g size - for just 99p. So I did........

The things they do.......

The girls are enjoying some Wagon Wheels biscuits that I bought from Approved Food - and it has brought up an interesting thought. The EFG was reading the description on the pack, and it said that they are filled with, "raspberry flavoured plum jam". What do you make of that? We had a conversation about the concept of raspberry-flavoured plums being made into jam, or plum jam having raspberry flavouring added to it.......what is the food industry coming to? Why not just use plum jam? But what kind of plums would you use? To those of us who know, there is a wealth of difference between, say, Victoria plum jam, River plum jam and Monarch plum jam - and then there is Greengage - my favourite. It does no justice to the plums to call it "plum" jam - but then perhaps it is a mixture.....

There are downsides to buying food from AF - more processed food. BUT I am trying to balance it out by using the food in meals with "real" food so using the pasta packets as a side dish with pork chops and vegetables, for example, rather than as a meal on their own. AF is a marvel for loo roll - I have a serious stash now, and we should be set for the foreseeable future in that department!!

The chickens are on the move - 6 pens totalling 19 chooks - have been entered for the purebreed sale at Mildenhall on the 27th March. They are all rare - Gold Partridge Orps and Brown Sussex. That will reduce the amount here and we can then get started on this year's plans, which are more modest!

The weather in the Fens has been dire just lately and I am ready for spring - sunshine and showers would be a vast improvement on rain, rain and more is getting depressing. I have to be very careful about depression at this time of year, as my mum died in February 1998, and then Mother's Day is in March, followed in quick succession by her birthday in April so I have three months of has been a very dark time for me in years past but I am getting better at remembering the good times and thinking less about how much I miss her. There is an excellent passage in a Katie Fforde book which I would share with you if I knew where the right book was, but it goes along the lines of bereavement being like a darn in a sock: there is a gaping hole in your life at first, but then the years go by and you learn to begin to cope and you begin to fill the hole with the strands of life. Eventually, the hole is closed with all the strands but it is never as new again as there is a large darn in the sock which reminds you of the loved person all the time, but it is no longer a stonking great big hole the way it was at the beginning. My darn is no longer raw, but it is always going to be there in my sock.

I felt disrespected at the school last week - I had an email in which I felt I had been summoned to see the Head like a naughty school child, and I don't appreciate that. It has left me wondering why I bother........and then I had an email from a fellow Chair of Governors elsewhere in support of all that we do, and she reminded me that as we are both Christians, we do this in Jesus' strength, so I am going to carry on, because I strongly feel that things need to change, and I am a bit like the chap on Mastermind, "I've started, so I'll finish!" I feel that I would be letting some other people down if I don't carry through what I have started, but I would be grateful for those of you who pray to include me in your prayers on this for the rest of the school year.......5 months down and 5 more to go to July!

Half-term is upon us and the girls are enjoying some freedom from normal routine; on Monday, they had a very leisurely day! Yesterday, they painted the EFG's room and rearranged it, today they spent the morning on the YFG's room and now the FH has taken them across to Peterborough to do some visiting. We have the YFG at the optician tomorrow morning, and then the library to visit. We are hoping to go to the cinema to see "The King's Speech" if the Tesco Clubcard vouchers get here on time, but if not, we'll go to see something else at Easter. There is a local car boot sale on Saturday in aid of another Methodist chapel in our circuit on Saturday, so if the weather forecast is favourable, we may go to that. Sunday will be spent getting ready to get back into the swing of life again!!

Hope you are all well, and I am sorry that I haven't been around lately - I'll try to keep up more regularly now.........

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Waves briefly

I'm still here.........I'm reading your blogs........keep up the excellent work.......

Monday, 14 February 2011

650 and counting

Gosh - 650 posts - I had a mooch around the Stats page this morning and was surprised a little at what I found. A lot of traffic comes here from Silversewer's blog, and then from GTM's blog, and the most popular post, with the most page views, was Sausage Plait - when I gave detailed instructions with photos for a "how to make" post. People out there must like recipes! Over 9200 page views since I started - I am chuffed at how many people read my waffle!

Anyway - must apologise that I am not here an awful lot just lately. There are three big issues going on at school and that is taking a lot of my time, and my mental energy as I have to read up on how to deal with these things, and the procedures and regulations concerning them. Meetings as well! Then there is gym - we are working for another competition - but we don't yet know when it is so we have the added pressure of not knowing the level of urgency with which we need to train them.....if it turns out to be soon, perhaps we will have to add in another training session for a couple of weeks to help the girls learn their floor routines. The YFG has grown out of this level of competition and will be working for one in early summer so she has started to work on some of the stuff necessary for that.

The FH sowed the tomato seeds and they have come through at last - he was getting very disheartened that they were taking so long to come through and then a whole load of them came up on the same day, so he is relieved. The lettuces that he overwintered in the greenhouse are big enough to eat now, so he is nibbling away at those with his sandwiches at lunchtimes and is very pleased with that idea. He had been worried that they would all die in the really cold weather, but they have come through and are perfectly edible and taste fine. It is nice to be able to have some early greens at this time of year - there isn't an awful lot of nutrition in a lettuce leaf, I know, but he likes them!

And so to today - school meeting at 10.15am, church council tonight at 8pm, and the gang will be off to band practise between 6.30pm and 8pm so we'll have our tea before they go out. In between the meetings today, I need to get some washing done (MORE washing!), put the ironing away that the FH did yesterday, and do something with the mountain of paper in the office - I swear it is breeding.......the EFG said that it couldn't last night when I told her my thought, but I think it does!

Yesterday I went on a gym training course at Marriott's Gym in Stevenage - we were in the PE classroom, but the gym was very close by and we had time to watch the gymnasts training. I was so impressed and rather green with envy at their equipment and facilities! That was the best part about going - the training course was rather "pants" as one of the other students described it - the tutor had only 3 hours to get through a mountain of slides and activities - she said she could spend no more than 30 secs per slide and 2 minutes per activity - and she had us doing these activities but didn't have time to give us the right answers to most of them, so we didn't know if we had got it right. We have ended up with a great resource book, full of forms and plans to use in the admin side of the gym, but the level of info we received was minimal. It was nice to see some familiar faces from other gyms, and catch up on their news, but the course itself was disappointing.

Yesterday evening, I sat in the chair with my feet up and had a snooze, and then I watched tv for three hours or so - Antiques roadshow (I might have slept through some of that!), Countryfile, a bit of Larkrise to Candleford and then Wild at Heart - that is a) the longest I have sat still in a chair for a long time and b) the most TV I have watched for a Very Long time - but I was tired after the day!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Electricity - and feeling flush in the Fens, too

The electricity company got back to me, and offered me the chance to pay the £180 extra as a one-off cheque payment, which I have accepted, otherwise they wanted to raise our monthly payment to almost £80. I have agreed to raise it to about £65, but that seems like a lot to me, so I will be keeping a very sharp eye on the meter - I have read it today and we have used £20 of electricity in 10 days - £2 a day then. I will have to look at what we do and see if there are ways of reducing that. Five refrigerating items are not good - three freezers and two fridges.......might be a place to start.

UJ came over to go to the lunch club yesterday, and has indicated that he will be attending each week now, which will be a good thing in my opinion. He is in a lot of pain, and the paracetamol/codeine tablets are also constipating him into the bargain so he isn't too chuffed with it all at the moment. I have recommended another visit with the doctor.

The weather has given in to the rain and it is pouring down here this afternoon. I am having a break at the moment - the dentist was the first trip of the day for a checkup, and I came out £17 lighter, and no further treatment necessary, thank goodness. We then went to the tip with a carload of rubbish, thence to Tesco for some shopping and for the FH to get a passport sized photo so that he can send in his application for a blue badge. I got a huge lump of boiling bacon at half price, so that is boiling away now, and will be sliced up for tea and some for the freezer, most likely.

Gymnastics after-school club is the next thing, and then I have to go south towards Cambridge for another governor training meeting tonight - it is at Wood Green Animal Shelter - I hope that they have a conference room there somewhere, as I don't fancy being out with the sheep! I'll get home by about 10pm tonight, so it will have been a long day.....

The "feeling flush" is that the Tesco vouchers arrived today - £23odd - so I now have about £50 of them squirreled away, and I am wondering whether to keep them together for a larger item, whether to change some for cinema vouchers for the girls to have a treat at half-term, or whether to look and see what else there is available on the website.......ho hum - decisions!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Catching up with myself at last

Gosh, was it really last Wednesday since I was here?! I am getting slack!

The Governor training went well last Wednesday, and I feel more confident about what I am trying to do there. The group I sat with was the same as the previous time and we exchanged contact details so we can stay in touch, which was a good thing to do, I thought. It just gives us all that extra little bit of support and somewhere to ask questions and bounce ideas around.

The EFG had Wednesday and Thursday off school, but went back on Friday. She helped out at gym as well, and felt a lot better than she had done.

Friday was the Coffee morning at chapel, and I just didn't get around to making any baking, so I took along some cakes from the AF delivery - some Angel slices, a ginger cake and a marmalade cake. One of the other people there was obviously disappointed not to get some home baking because she disappeared off to a shop in the village and bought three home-made style cakes for the refreshments. This made me quite cross, because they have "let" me provide most of the baking for the last x number of events, and then when I don't, they can go and buy some - why couldn't they do that before and take some of the pressure off me? Hopefully they will be reconsidering their expectations in the light of my non-production this time, and expect less. The coffee morning was generally successful and put £170 into the coffers of the chapel. The steward was telling me on Sunday how much repair work the chapel needs, so it is important that we continue to raise money for the funds as the circuit doesn't help us with that sort of thing.

On Saturday, after gym, the FH took the girls to my sister's house, and they went off to the Holiday on Ice performance at the East of England showground in Peterborough. They really enjoyed the show and then my sister fed them, and kept them at hers until the FH and I got home after the Songs of Praise we did at the chapel on Saturday evening. It went well, and people enjoyed it, but we could have done with more people there to sing!!

Yesterday was the chapel anniversary, so the preacher brought a cake to use as part of the sermon, and then left it for the congregation to share afterwards, which was a lovely gesture. My dad came to tea in the late afternoon, bringing sad news that one of his oldest friends had died on Thursday - he had just had the phone call to tell him the news as he was leaving to come here so it was very fresh in his mind. His friend had become weak, and living alone, his son had thought it best to move him to a retirement home, which my dad had visited several times to see him, and the gentleman had seemed very happy there, with the care he was receiving. Unfortunately, although his general health had been improved and was now good, he had had a stroke and been admitted to hospital, and then had died. RIP Vic. The funeral is next Monday.

And so to today. The FH is off to Hinchingbrooke hospital for a check up on his prostate gland again, I am due at school at 11am to chat with other governors and an inspector about Leadership & Management in the school, and then I have to go back at 2.30pm to receive their feedback with the Head, the AF delivery is due this afternoon, and then the gang have band practice tonight. I want to get some more bread made, and some more digging done as well, so I shall have to find time, and pace myself, to get it all done. There's housework looking at me as well, but I did finish the ironing last night, so that is out of the way for a couple of days.

I saw some snowdrops on the way home from chapel yesterday which cheered me no end - spring is on its way!!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Challenges on a Wednesday

This is going to sound like a moan, so I am sorry, Kim!! There have been a few things happen this week which need addressing:
  • The electricity meter hasn't been read lately and we are paying estimated amounts to the company - trouble is, I discovered yesterday that the meter readings they are estimating are about £290 behind the actual meter reading - ouch! So, will they accept a lump sum payment to get the situation square, or will they want to increase the monthly DD to make the difference up gradually? It would be less trouble for me to pay a lump sum and then increase the DD slightly, I think. I have emailed them to get in touch so we can sort it out - I am not phoning them on a premium rate number!
  • The EFG had Monday off school, went in yesterday morning and then I was called at lunchtime to fetch her home - she looks like she has flu to me, so she will be staying in bed for a few days, drinking plenty and taking paracetamol. She's pretty wiped out, so plenty of rest is on the agenda for her.
  • My Uncle, UJ, has had a hip replacement operation years ago - so many that I don't remember how many - and now it looks like it has worn out, and the other hip has gone as well. He went to hospital yesterday for tests/X-rays etc to see what is going on, but if he has to have more operations, we will need to be thinking about how the family will care for him. He lives alone, about 25 miles away, in a big 5 bedroom house with over a quarter of an acre of veg garden and fruit orchard. The house does have a stairlift from when my gran was alive, so it is the ideal place to care for him, but it is beginning to look like the FH would have to be the one to go and do it, which is not ideal, but we are scratching our heads to work out how else to help him....and if he is less able and more fragile whilst he is waiting for an op, he will also need looking after in the meantime, and that could be a more long-term problem, knowing what NHS waiting lists are like these days.
  • Frustrated because I sat here last night doing the Volvo car insurance on the Post Office website - had a good quote and cashback from them for the Vectra so thought I would go back for the Volvo - got all the way through the site to the payment and then it said there was an Error and I would have to ring up Customer Services, who couldn't be sure I would still get the £25.25 cashback, so I declined to carry on at that point and said I would try again - but I suspect that the website did it to avoid paying me cashback again - or is that being paranoid!?! Have to try again somewhere anyway - blooming car has to be insured by the 20th.
  • One of the situations at school will probably go public to the other governors today, so I am preparing myself for some long conversations!
I am off to Cambridge today for another "Taking the Chair" course - 1.30pm to 6pm. Luckily this is the second half of the course and I met some lovely people last time, so I am hoping to sit with them again and the time will pass more quickly! It is an interesting course, but there is a lot to take in and I tend to get a bit overloaded!! Driving home in the dark will also be a challenge as I hate it.......I'll report back tomorrow - hope you all have a good day! It is misty and cold here in the Fens this morning, so not much incentive to get out and about...