Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Brain freeze

I am going to bed very shortly, tomorrow will be Thursday, I have a meeting all morning at school, AND I still have no service planned....brain is completely frozen in that respect!

I have to set aside a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon between that meeting and taking the EFG to the optician's when I have to come up with at least a service plan and choose some hymns, because the lady at the chapel will want the hymns tomorrow!! Nothing like a deadline...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Monitor success

I am hoping that the monitor continues to have a positive impact on our electricity usage. I take electricity readings at least fortnightly but mostly weekly, and have been doing so since May. This past fortnight has had the lowest weekly average usage since I began keeping the records, and it can only be that we have all had an eye on the monitor. If we can keep it this low, I will be pleased, but if we can go lower, I will be ecstatic!

Wild, windy and wet weather in the Fens this week - it is quite warm today although there is a wind. I have cleaned the chicken house out this morning, which has been quite an effort, but they are all happily pecking and dust bathing in the new fresh bedding that I have put down.

Sunday was our wedding anniversary - we have been married 15 years, although we have been together just over 19. We kept the day frugal and just had a sponge cake at teatime with the girls to celebrate. My dad was right when he said that it is the Marriage that matters as the Wedding quite often goes by the wayside. The wedding cost us less than £250 back then, but I remember a lovely day spent with friends, and the memories are worth a lot!

I am preaching on Sunday so I have to get a service together - I think the theme might be Waiting, but it might also be to do with Shepherds, so I need to think about it all and make my mind up, as there are a number of other things that have to get done between now and then, so I don't have a lot of time to make the decision because I need all my spare time to actually prepare it all...

Hope you are all well, and I will try to get back sooner this time!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


It has been very interesting and a source of some excitement (sad, but true!) these past few days. What is it? An energy monitor!

We don't know where it came from, but it appeared in the post at the weekend, addressed to the FH, which is where the mystery begins. If I had ordered it or even bought it, it would have definitely been addressed to me, not him, so that narrows it down a little - most likely to be something to do with the FH. There are two options left - that the FH put his name down for it amongst other offers at the local flu jab tea and cake afternoon that the surgery organised, which is possible, going on the fact that he came home from that afternoon with an energy saving plug, so there must have been people there from companies or charities to do with helping older people save money and energy. Option 2 is that the EFG put his name down on a freebie website she frequents - samples of strange teabags turn up occasionally, the odd pack of shampoo arrives in the post, that sort of thing. An energy monitor doesn't seem to be in the same league, so I am in favour of option 1.

So, we attached it to the electricity wires in the meter box as instructed, and got it all set up. It hovers around 4p/hour most of the time when we are not doing much, so that is covering the three freezers and two fridges, and the air pump in the sewage treatment plant - all of those are on constantly, although I know that the refrigeration equipment will cycle a bit. When we put the kettle on, it leaps up to about 43p/hour, and the dishwasher and washing machine are each putting it up to about 37p/hour - I haven't had them both on at the same time yet. I haven't dared see what the oven does to it, yet, although that will happen later on today when I do some baking. I have been using the Remoska instead of the oven more often lately anyway, and that hardly used much at all.

So thanks go to whoever sent it as it is educational and motivational as well; it is in the kitchen where we can all see it when we pass, and it is helping us to be more aware of our energy use. There are buttons where we can get it to tell us how much power we have used in the past hour or 12 hours, but I haven't read that section on the leaflet yet - I'll get to that soon...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The other side

We came through! We made it to the other side, and now I have done it once, I have a better idea what to expect next time Ofsted come calling. Can't say any more than that, but I am very grateful for all the support I have had from friends, in real life as well as blogging friends - thank you!

Lesley - I would have taken more people in there with me if I had known that I could, but I managed! He kept me waiting for an hour, which added to the tension but I don't know that many of the others would have known any more, and a very experienced Chair that I know has confessed that he would have had to bluff his way through a question I floundered on as he wouldn't have known either!!

And so life resumes: if you remember, I spent the week before this rather poorly and not doing an awful lot, and then this week has been spent in panic mode, so I haven't done a lot at all at home. The girls and I blitzed the lounge yesterday at tea time, so that we had somewhere more pleasant to sit for the evening - Saturdays are tv and knitting at the moment - Strictly and then Merlin. Last night we also tried to watch a Nicolas Cage film called Knowing, but towards the end the screen kept pixellating, so we attempted to retune the tv twice and then gave up - the ITV transmitter out in Norfolk is having some work done to it, so we hope that the issues will be resolved when that is finished.

The school washing is done, and is drying on the airer, and we have been to chapel. The EFG is at school [yes, on a Sunday] preparing for her art exam. They have to do 5 hours tomorrow and another 5 on Tuesday, so today they are spending 4 hours at school preparing their boards and refining their ideas. The FH dropped her off earlier, and we have to pick her up at 2pm.

The weather here is atrocious today - thick fog, and very chilly so we have the fire alight. The FH and YFG are watching a film version of "A Christmas Carol" as she is reading the book at school as a class text - she'd much rather watch than read and I am a little bit cross about that as it is the lazy way to do it! The EFG and I have read all the Harry Potter and Twilight books, but the YFG just watches the films and we cannot get over to her how much of the stories she is missing out on...The latest Twilight film is out now, Breaking Dawn part 1, so we have to get some Tesco vouchers exchanged for Cineworld tokens so that we can go and see it soon.

Hope you are all having a good weekend :-)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Just popping in

I am as ready as I can be!

I am going to be at school for the chaps from Ofsted arriving at 8am, and then I am going back to be interviewed at 3.30pm.

I know about our plans, our aims and our targets; I spent yesterday afternoon checking through our Governor policy folder and helping the secretary with some stuff, as well as talking with the Head for about an hour. She has had the pre-inspection interview on the phone and the pre-inspection report came through so she had some data analysis to do last night when I left at 6pm. It is her first inspection as our Head, of course, but she is experienced in these things as a Deputy Head, so I know she will let them know exactly how things stand.

Had better go and let the chooks out soon, find some posh clothes to wear, and then, when I have some time after I have greeted them, I am coming home to think through what I think our strengths and weaknesses are, and what we do well, and then I have to make a few cakes - it is the FH's birthday today, and there is a Christmas Coffee morning at chapel tomorrow so I need to do some baking to get ready for that - life has to go on, Ofsted or not!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Excuse me

We heard yesterday that Ofsted are coming to the school later this week. My first inspection as Chair of Governors. A little intimidating. Quite scary. Lots to read up on and remember all of a sudden. Staff feeling a little queasy in places. Nervous smiles. Late nights.

Hope to be back at the weekend....

Monday, 14 November 2011

Christmas in the Fens

Let's just face this head on. Christmas is coming, and fast. The EFG knows to the hour how long it is until Christmas and frequently tells me...she is obviously keen on Christmas.

But we are a fairly frugal family, so what has she got to look forward to? What is she so keen to experience?

I think she is, like me, looking forward to spending some time at home, with the family, with nowhere to go and not a lot to do, where we can spend time together, watching DVDs, knitting, chatting, snuggling by the fire, and enjoying having relatives visit us for meals and chat. We'll be in church a couple of times - I am taking the service Christmas morning, so we'll all be there then for sure!

There will also probably be a jigsaw to do - I always spend money on that, I am afraid, as I buy a new "Christmas" themed jigsaw each year, preferable a Ravensburger one. They are excellent quality, and in about 5 years time, I guess we will have a serious collection and stop buying them as we will be able to go around again and not remember them!

There may be snow...there may not! There will be good food, maybe a glass or two of wine or home made sloe gin, and there will be some presents. Some. Not obscene amounts. Not enough to cause debt problems which would take me months to pay off.

Christmas for us is never about spending a lot of money. We have had our little 5ft Christmas tree since 1992, making it 19 years old this year. It works fine! We love our collection of decorations we have acquired and made or been given over the years - there seems to be a red/green/silver theme going on, but it is purely accidental. The FH made a wooden shelter for the knitted nativity figures to stand in - they were made with love by a lady who has known me all my life and was a great friend of my mothers, and a great knitter. And a candle bridge stands in the window, glowing each evening to welcome people to our door.

And then there is the food. Probably a turkey, but perhaps a nice piece of beef. Or a large chicken. We haven't quite decided yet, but I will rummage in the shops and see where the best deals are. Roast potatoes, in goose fat, some roast parsnips, broccoli, cabbage perhaps, and carrots. Lots of gravy and stuffing. Then the pudding and brandy butter - home made, of course. The girls sometimes prefer to have a Vienetta ice cream as they don't like pudding. I don't buy Vienettas during the year, so although they usually cost about a pound, they are still a treat as they are not usual fare here. They might like a self-saucing chocolate pudding, though, so I shall have to consult them. At tea time (more food? Really?) it will be fairly simple as we are usually still quite stuffed from lunch - perhaps a sandwich or roll, some crisps, a jelly, and maybe some cake - Christmas cake, or something lighter.

And that is usually that. Christmas is a fantastic time which we are all looking forward to, but I am not about to go mad with the credit card and cheque book!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

We really won't forget

I have been reminded today about the friends and family we have in the services, and the part they are playing in today's military.

The FH's cousin's grandson is in the RAF, and his fiancee is in the Navy - we heard today that they have just had a baby boy, so the family has grown overnight! Not quite sure what relation we are to that baby, but it is a big family! The father is serving in south Wales at the moment, so is very glad to have been able to combine a fortnight's leave with a fortnight's paternity leave to enable him to spend a month in Aberdeen with his fiancee and son. They will be getting married early in 2012 and then should be able to get married quarters and be together properly. The father has recently returned from a tour in the Falkland Islands.

The EFG's godparents' son is serving in the Navy as an apprentice/trainee engineer, we believe, working on helicopter engines. He has just spent six months in Afghanistan and we were hugely relieved to hear of his safe return.

At this time of year, we are remembering those who have fought and died, as well as those who are still serving and giving their all.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Armistice Day 2011

My summer photo of the local poppy field

We remember.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sneezles and wheezles

When I was a child at a school in Cambridge, we had Speech Day each year at the city's Guildhall. Apart from the memorable time I got locked in the loo during the morning practice session, I most clearly remember the time my class recited the AAMilne poem about Christopher Robin having sneezles and wheezles. I found it for you here so do read and enjoy!

I have had the sneezles, and have now progressed to the wheezles with a chesty cough...

The EFG has been to two more Open Evenings for 6th form this week, but neither place has topped the one we saw last week, so that is still her top choice. Now we hope that she might be able to go there for a day or half a day to see what it is like on a day-to-day basis. That is next week's mission.

Monday, 7 November 2011

On trial - nearly there

I have been training, doing the first part of the course to become a Local Preacher in the Methodist church. It is quite a challenging course, and I am only just at the beginning! I have had to do three units of work and then on Sunday, I took the service at the local chapel and two people came along with notebooks to assess me - very nerve wracking! And with this cold that I am suffering from, it was quite a challenge. The two assessors were very kind, and the feedback mostly positive, so I am very relieved!

The next step is that they will report to the Local Preachers' Meeting, in early December, and I will also be interviewed at that meeting. If the community of Local Preachers likes what it hears, they will recommend that I go forward "On trial" so that I can take services, whilst I continue with the studying - a further 17 or 18 units of work! The tutor I have just met in the last week seems to think we might manage a unit a month, but I am not so sure - there are only so many hours in a day...we have 5 years to do it, but I hope not to take that long.

Here we go on another journey - another strand to this life! Can't wait to see where it will take me, really!

A quieter day

The days have been chasing by, and I have hardly had time to stop and gather myself. Unfortunately, I have come down with another cold, or perhaps I never really got rid of the last one, but I struggled through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I have given up with today so far and allowed myself a bit of a duvet day so far! I have to go out for 3pm, but only for a short while, and then I will be home again. I lit the fire early this morning before the girls went off to school, so the temperature in here is quite warm.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Nasty Netball

We don't mean that really - we girls all actually enjoy netball (well, I did when I played it!) but the problem is that it has caused us injuries! I broke my toe when I landed after catching the ball when I was about 10, and yesterday the EFG broke her finger when she caught the ball and the ball bent her finger badly.

She has had it examined and x-rayed today and strapped up, so I have to take her to the hospital to the fracture clinic for follow up on Monday. Having it in a sling for elevation has helped the pain, she says.

So, if she broke it yesterday, you are asking why it only got examined today? I thought it was only badly bruised, so I didn't take her yesterday. However, the PE teacher had her again today, and although the EFG had wanted to play again today, the teacher wouldn't let her and recommended that she get it looked at, hence the trip to the minor injuries unit after school today. The bone is not broken through, but it has chipped a little off the side near one of the joints.

We made it home from the unit and then went out again almost immediately to go to the 6th form evening at a nearby college. We quite like this college environment, and the EFG asked a lot of questions in the various departments - she is interested in Biology, Chemistry, Art and ICT. One of the computer department staff explained the difference between ICT and Computing qualifications and she has begin to consider Computing, I think, whereas last time we talked about it, it was an absolute no.

Long day, longer one on the cards for tomorrow, so off to bed now, and taking honey and hot lemon drink as I can feel a sore throat coming on, and the sneezles have already begun. The wheezles have yet to ensue!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding

A new group is trying to get off the ground in the village, an active retirement society. Although I am not old enough to be a member, the FH is, and several of my friends from the Knit and Natter group are supporting this plan, so I am being helpful too!

Tonight they held a "Pudding Evening" as an initial fundraiser and publicity event, so I made a pudding to take along. I couldn't stay to the evening as there was a Governors' meeting but I made a Sticky Toffee Pudding, and dropped it off.

I made this one from the Good Food website. And I made two! Well, never having made it before, I had to double the recipe so that the FH and UJ could do some quality control and make sure it was fit to give to the pudding-eating public! They declared it acceptable, so I allowed it to go to the party.

I couldn't eat it, but it and the sauce really do smell lovely!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Welcome, Romania!

All of a sudden, in the last month, the stats report 246 page views from Romania, and that is all that there are and they have all happened in the last month - so whoever is out there, welcome to the Fens! Do say "Hello" sometime!