Sunday, 12 December 2010

Changes... I have seen lots of changes in the last five years. I've been on a long journey, finding the real me. I messed up, was judged and found wanting. I moved home four times, I do hope I stay where I am now for a long time. I have changed career completely. I am now remarried, despite at one time being adamant that I would NEVER marry again. The joy I feel, almost everyday, at my new found contentment still takes my breath away. I believe I am so lucky to have a job I enjoy, (although it does sometimes infuriate me), a lovely man as my husband (I know I sometimes irritate him!)and I live in a warm and cosy house in a delightful little market town in middle England. I have much to be grateful for indeed. But I am not complacent - the last five years have shown me on several occasions that all we take for granted can be taken away in a moment. Ill health and redundancy dropped bombs into my quiet world more than once. That is why I will be content, but not smug, and I never judge anyone.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Reflections on a week in Kos - Part 1.

I am, I think, a little in love with Kos. Friendly, friendly people. A parched autumn landscape, dried aromatic herbs on the hillsides. Plane, Olive and Palm trees line the roads. Flat roofed houses topped with the ubiquitous solar water heater panels and tanks. Ochre, cream, white, olive green. Cerulean sea - all just gorgeous. At Plaka in the wild pine forests, roam wild Peafowl. Resplendent males and drabber females beg for food. The plaintive cries of a large chick resonated through the peaceful forest. We travelled on up hairpin bends,past precipices to find the tiny Basilica of Agios Ioannis (St John). The church has breathtaking views down to the sea. We found the key tucked behind a stone. The unlocked door revealed a fabulous interior with ceiling paintings, stunning icons and gold embellishments. A moment of intense spirituality swept over me. The sense of history was overcoming. There were beeswax tapers for sale - I lit one and spent some time in long unaccustomed prayer.
Later we moved on to Askelepion - a Greek/Roman site of archeological and historical significance. Another place of great serenity. Many steps led to the top of the site and truly spectacular views across the sea to Turkey. There were many butterflies and lizards basking in the sunshine. As everywhere on Kos, there were many feral cats. An especially tame one came and befriended Richard.
So much to tell, yet we had only been on Kos two days.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Roger and Val have just got in...

We watched the first episode of 'Roger and Val have just got in', starring Dawn French and Alfred Molina, this week. It is funny, but contained some aspects of life that certainly rang a bell with me. They were searching for a mislaid guarantee, without which their broken vacuum cleaner could not be repaired/replaced. Val had searched the top of the wardrobe and the small drawer to no avail, it seemed the next and last place to search was the 'big drawer'. The searching of the 'big drawer' caused a great deal of angst and incidental humour. My own filing system bears a great resemblance to that of Val and Roger. Instead of a 'big drawer' I have several smaller drawers - which can fill me with the same sense of dread when I have to search them for an errant document.
The programme, in fact, filled me with such discomfort that I actually cleared my collection of drawers. Unwanted papers were torn and shredded over the course of a day - I filled a black sack with the fruits of my efforts. I no longer have a 'big drawer' to fill me with fear. I am not a naturally organised person so the new order of my papers is a thing of wonder to behold.
I am, however, a little concerned about which fifty something foible will be tackled by Roger and Val in the next episode...

Saturday, 26 June 2010


It's been a while since I last blogged. Things have not been easy. My beloved husband has been unwell, and partly as a consequence of this, lost his job. We can just about manage, but things are difficult.
However, he is enjoying volunteering at a local watermill, situated on a local Farm and Country Centre. He had always said he would love to work in a watermill and now he has the opportunity. He loves cleaning the millrace and showing all the visitors how wheat is ground and how the mill works.
I'm looking at big changes at work too. We are having a big staff change, five new members of staff, things are going to be different. I'm changing year group and looking forward to next year enormously.
We have been trying to sell our house, there is someone interested, so we hope things move ahead.
If we do sell it will be another change but another good one, we hope to move to a more rural area for our future home.
Some changes are painful, others are great. What I do know is that life with no change causes us to stagnate. We'll get over the hard times, and then we'll enjoy the good changes even more.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Paradise found...

After a hectic week during which Ofsted visited the school, we left early on Saturday for a destination unknown to me. We headed to North Norfolk and explored various little market towns before reaching our destination. The campsite was exquisite, beautifully groomed and blissfully child free. There were birds everywhere, so tame they took no notice as we passed by. We erected our new tepee easily. We could see our neighbours were astounded as so much equipment emerged from a Smart notch back Roadster (albeit one with a Bootbag!)
Soon, we headed off to Cromer. We explored the town, walked on the pier,visited the Lifeboat Museum. My inner child was satisfied by the opportunity to try on a lifeboat persons outfit!
We headed off to Sheringham for dinner, and a very quick walk by the sea, there was a stiff sea breeze. Later we watched TV and read in the comfortable site lounge, but headed for bed early. Our slumber was interrupted by a scratching noise, quietly persistent. Then we heard a gentle mewing, one of the campsite cats was trying to come and visit! We ignored it and it went away.
The dawn chorus was spectacular, so many varieties of bird were singing. It was not just the somewhat strident blackbirds as at home. The variety of song was just gorgeous.
We will be returning just as soon as we can. For a completely tranquil, away from the rat race, bolthole, our secret campsite has it all.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

I only commented on Pupil Voice!

'I was interviewed by the School Council for my current post (Junior School). They were perceptive and probing and it was a challenging interview. Their views were considered, but it was only one small part of a whole day of interviews and teaching. The School Council are still involved in interviewing prospective teachers at our school and I think it is a valuable part of recruitment.'
The above post led to a very exciting holiday Saturday. I had commented on an article on the BBC news website concerning the NASUWT and Pupil Voice. I was e-mailed back very quickly and asked if I minded the BBC contacting me about my comments. You could have knocked me down with a feather, but thought no more about it. We headed out to further explore the area that we hope will be our new home. I missed a call while enjoying a latte, but returned the call immediately. It was the BBC asking me to appear live on the BBC News Channel at two o'clock. I was asked 'Could they send a car for me?' I declined, quickly realising I needed to do something about my appearance before I appeared on TV.
We rushed back home, where my lovely husband pressed a new top and pashmina for me, and I worked quick miracles on my face and hair.
When we arrived at BBC Cambridge, I was ushered into a room, more like a cupboard, and fitted with microphone and ear-piece. It was really strange talking to a circle of green LED's, and being quite fiercely challenged by a man I could not see, and whose name I did not know. Although he really pushed me to agree with his point of view, I stood firm and spoke about that in which I believe. I said that our pupils took their responsibility in interviewing staff very seriously, but did not have the ultimate say in appointments. He did say I was clearly confident and outgoing and that children would like me! He also asked ask me what I would have felt if I had not got the job, when interviewed by the school council. I assured him that I would not have blamed the children, but my own failings.
I feel justified in all I said - I know there are many who have concerns about pupil voice but at my school it works.
I only commented on Pupil Voice and ended up on the telly!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

On the behviour of some adults...

I was out for a meal last night with my husband and stepdaughter. We were in a lively Turkish restaurant which had a number of large groups dining at once. However the evening was nearly ruined by the raucous and thoughtless behaviour of the party closest to us. There were about twelve women aged from late thirties to fiftyish, and two men of similar age. They were drunk, and very loud. One of the women, almost clad in sequins and lace, frequently exposed her apparently naked bottom to me, while leaning over to have a shrieked domestic with her male companion. She was entirely unaware of the exhibition she was making of herself. The waiter apologised about their behaviour and said he had asked them to moderate their noise several times.
Eventually they called for the bill,which was delivered in double quick time, and the party started to leave. Two of the women apologised to us, saying that their companions had given them a headache!
People of a certain age regularly complain about the behaviour of young people. The young woman with me (my stepdaughter) was as horrified as I at the actions of these 'mature' adults. I really wish they could see a video of their dreadful behaviour in public - next time they might empty a few less bottles of wine!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

On revisiting the past...

We decided to come home the 'pretty' way today. We had stayed overnight about 10 miles from the village that was my childhood home. The gently undulating chalk hills brought back strange feelings of unidentifiable nostalgia. As we drove past the small housing estate that had been the dairy farm, I remembered collecting extra milk, cream and eggs. There was a fierce pig who made us jump by putting its legs on the sty door and grunting loudly at us.
We looked at my first home - I have dim memories of my sister's birth. I remember sitting grizzling on the back doorstep as my Mother left us in the care of the sharp tongued 'Auntie Joan' next door.
Utterly amazingly - my second home, built by my parents had not changed at ALL. The metal window frames were still there. The tree I fell out of was a stump, but still recognisable. We walked what had been my daily dry weather route to school across the allotments. It was only about 400 metres. It seemed such a long way aged 6 or 7.
We played all the time in and around the spring which bubbled under the willow tree. That tree was surrounded, now as then, by brambles and stinging nettles - that was where I landed when I fell!
I saw again the ditch I tried to jump - dared by the big boys. The village is, as it was then beautiful, but not nearly so rural. It has grown to accommodate commuters to the nearby city.
It was fun revisiting the past, but I am truly happy in my life now. I can see though, that nostalgia could be a very dangerous emotion if one was dis-satisfied at a later moment in life.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Life's rich tapestry...

A very sad but not unexpected event happened this week. My dearly beloved friend Felicity lost her fight against Ovarian Cancer. I had spent much time with her during her diagnosis almost five years ago. It took weeks for the hospital to find out what was the matter and she nearly died then. She bravely fought on, only having more treatment when as she put it 'it started to hurt'. I spoke to her on the phone a few weeks ago and we said goodbye then - I hoped her wait would not be too long.
The day I heard about her death also brought a big surprise.
My husband sat me down and said he had something to tell me. My heart missed a beat...He continued 'I have a daughter I did not know I had, she's 19 and called Ellie'. You could have knocked me down with a feather!
Today, we went to meet Ellie on her 20th birthday. She's charming, definitely her Father's daughter and I'm really pleased to have her in my life.
What a week! A sad, sad loss of an old friend and a wonderful new step-daughter.
Life is full of ups and downs. This reminds me to actively live life NOW. We never know what is going to come along. I will strive to greet every day with an open heart and mind - to honour Felicity and welcome my lovely new stepdaughter.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Stonehenge and mortars on Salisbury Plain

This week, I went to Stonehenge. I had visited before, when you could get closer to the stones. It was cold and wet and busy this week. The jackdaws were so unimpressed they huddled under the stones, looking as miserable as a bird can. In the distance, the deep booms of mortar rounds provided a counter note to the chatter of the young tourists. Suddenly above all this rose the exquisite song of a skylark. He rose, soaring and fluttering, singing his heart out. The next moment he stooped to the grass, fluttering madly in a tussle with another lark.
In that moment I realised that when Stonehenge was built, there would have been skylarks, singing and soaring.
Here was a connection with the distant past.
The mortars still boomed.
Yet, on Salisbury Plain, beside the guns and mortars, the skylarks would also be singing and soaring.