Monday, 26 November 2012

25 Years Ago..

At the end of November 1987 - 25 years ago - Mark and I got engaged.
This is the moment that he put the ring on my finger at my 21st Birthday Party..
infront of all our family and friends.
Last Saturday night we had a family meal to celebrate this anniversary.
Everyone got into the 'spirit' of 1987 and dressed accordingly.
I'm a tremendous hoarder and I still have my 21st Birthday outfit - so I wore it again on Saturday!
My sister wore a skirt that she's had since 6th Form and a black C&A shirt that we had always shared
Mark and Dad wore DJs, and my Mum wore a pretty Monsoon evening dress.
My Brother in Law wore his 1980s leather jacket and jeans.
My nieces wore their latest party frocks and looked lovely.
I prepared a 1987 Meal..
Black Russian Cocktails
Pernod and Lemonade
Roast Chicken
Chicken Kiev
Iceberg Salad
Chip Chip Cookie Roulade
(Biscuits soaked in Tia Maria and smothered in Cream)
"Green Stuff"
(A family recipie of Ginger Biscuits, soaked in Whiskey, with Lime Mousse on top)
Rasberry Ripple
(Ice-cream, fresh Rasberries and Rasberry Coulis)
A Cheeseboard of
Bavarian Smoked Cheese, Applewood Smoked Ceddar and Creamy Lancashire
We dug out all the old photos from the mid-late 80s and had a fabulous trip down memory lane.
Welcome to my new followers..
...and a huge "Thank you" to everyone
who helped me out of my technical pickle yesterday!

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Can anyone explain how to remove pictures from the Picassa web album so that I can continue to post newer photos...



Monday, 19 November 2012

Lovely Vintage Caravans

Look what I found yesterday...
A small encampment of vintage caravans in a corner of a hall at the NEC!
Here's a beautifully preserved 1930s caravan..

And here's a 'trailer-tent' from a similar period..

I was completely captivated by the care that the owners had taken over the interiors.
Here's a dressing table in the corner of a 1940s caravan..

And here's the living area of the 1950s caravan.

All the owners clearly have a tremendous eye for detail...
I spent ages staring through the doors and windows, admiring the time and effort that must
have gone into collecting all these period items.
We were at the show because Mark's newer car was on the Marcos stand.
As an exhibitor he got free passes for each day - which made it a cheap day out.
He was quite worried when I came with all these pictures...
He seems to think that I'm a little too enthusiatic about George Clarke's new TV series and has openly wondered if I'm about to put a case for caravan ownership!
I don't know.. it might be fun!!!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Just Pottering

Today I've had a lovely day of quiet pottering.  I started by catching up with everyone's blogs over a mug of coffee first thing.  Do check out pearl@serenitycove's most recent post.  It transported me into a full-on Christmas mood!
Here's this week's 'Motorway Blanket'.  I decided to have a bit of a change and make a blanket for a baby this time.  The yarn has a a faint colour change in it (pink, purple and cream).  I added some soft white DK yarn and used both together to make the heavier edging.  I got it all from the Hobby Craft shop near school.  I just went in to pass a little bit of time and discovered that they have got a 'three for two' offer on all their yarns at the moment.  For once I didn't feel as if I was being slightly ripped off!  I asked how long the offer was going to be on for and got the typical large chain reply - "We're not sure..."
Those of you with sharp eyes will have spotted the new suite.  Thomas adores it and has chosen the chair in the corner as his own.  Fortunately the blue and beige colour combination seems to hide cat fur quite nicely!  Unfortunately the colours don't exactly go with the pale green theme of the rest of the lounge.  I'm going to have to get myself organised and sort it all out at some stage.... Probably Christmas or the January Sales.
Hope that you are all having a good weekend!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

We Will Remember Them

I just wanted to share a few photos from Tuesday's concert. Each year I set my new Year 9 classes the task to create a performance around the theme of 'Armistice Day'. I challenge them to maintain the core spirit of remembrance while creating a 'son et lumiere' of images and contemporary songs. This year I have a really thoughtful and reflective group and it was a particularly moving performance.

Some of the girls performed their own setting of 'In Flanders Fields'
The boys reflected on the way greed can fuel conflict.
This is M. singing 'I need a Dollar' in front of a video sequence he had compiled..

They decided to create a timeline of 20th century conflict.
This is a section where they reflected on the conflicts of the 1950s and 1960s..

And at the beginning and end of the performance F. played the Last Post beautifully.

I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.
I was imensely proud of them.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A couple more blankets and a new suite

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my last post.  You could probably tell that I was emotionally floundering yesterday afternoon.  Reading all your thoughts and supportive words helped me to get my head straight.  I really appreciated the fact that you took the time to write.

Anyway, here are a few more cheerful things from the world of 'Stand and Stare'... 

The 'Motorway Crochet Project' is working brilliantly.  Here's blanket number 2, largely crocheted in the two weeks before halfterm and finished off during that awful 5 hour journey back from the Lake District.  Its another 5X6 blanket, made with some chunky wool and a lot of blended DK yarns on a 10mm hook. 

This is blanket number 3 - which only took a week to make because it's one large square.  I found some lovely vari-colour baby yarn in a budget shop in Pershore.  I blended it with some blue, green and white DK wools.  It's really soft and snuggly.

Here's our lounge at the moment.  We are waiting for a new suite, which should be delivered tomorrow.  The two armchairs have been dragged in from the conservatory as a temporary measure.  The old suite (which we got from the Co-op back in 1996!) is going to a friend's son.  He and his family are going through some terribly difficult times at the moment and this is something of a 'cheer them up' measure.

We're not really "splashing the cash" though... The new suite was a bargain, clearance, factory direct purchase - costing less than 40% of what we paid for our old suite back in the 90s.  One of those lucky buys that generally happen to other people!!!
Thomas - who loves a day sleeping on the suite if he can get away with it - was horrified when it all disappeared yesterday afternoon.  He made me laugh though. It didn't take him long to work out that it was in the garage.  You could almost see him thinking "Ha - sussed you!  Now put it back...!"

Sunday, 11 November 2012

My Mum...

My Mum has Huntington's Disease. This is a genetic illness and it is hereditary.  Basically it causes damage to the nerve cells in the brain. As the damage progresses, HD reduces people’s ability to walk, talk, think and communicate. Symptoms include uncontrolled movements, changes in mood and behaviour and altered thought processes. Eventually individuals with HD become unable to look after themselves and need full-time care.  If an individual has one parent with the HD gene, he or she has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene and developing HD themselves.

HD comes from my Grandfather's side of the family.  He had it and so did one of his sisters.  The other sister did not inherit the HD gene.  HD does not skip generations.  This basically means that my sister's children are not at risk of the Disease if she does not develop it.  My sister and I could both get it - or neither of us could get it.

Like any other hereditary illness, the speed at which symptoms develop can vary wildly.  Some people can start displaying symptoms in their 30s.  Others don't see anything until their 50s.  We are lucky that our 'version' doesn't really manifest itself until people are in their late 50s.  After that, it follows the standard pattern of deterioration.

I am so proud of my Mum.  She has fought the symptoms and forced herself to keep going.  She tackled each stage of her deterioration and found a way round it - until now.  Today she and Dad called in for lunch after church.  After we'd eaten Dad and Mark went off to do a job and she just sobbed in my arms because she's so frustrated.

She walks badly and is exhausted by her own body as it jumps around.  The constant movement is putting pressure on her joints and muscles and she's in a fairly constant pain.  The involuntary muscles movements can also choke her when she's eating.  There are certain foods that she no longer eats or wouldn't tackle in public.  We understand her speech - but she's having greater problems communicating with people who are not used to it.  She was 69 at the beginning of September.

She nursed her Dad through the illness and knows exactly what's going to happen next.  We don't save things until tomorrow anymore.  Hopefully this recent period of deterioration will stabilise soon.  This will give Mum time to work out new ways of living round these lastest inconveniences.  She's a very brave woman.

Nevertheless I can't begin to describe how hard it is to be part of a family with HD.  Fortunately I'm close to my sister and we support each other.  Sorry that this is another gloomy post.  It's just that Mum's tears today have really unsettled me.  As you've probably guessed we are normally a 'get on with it and cope' family!

Welcome to Sandra and Sonny. I've tried to find your blogs so that I can follow you too - but I can't seem to find any links.  I'l try again in a couple of days.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I want to hide..

Normally I'm a bit of a 'Pollyanna'..
I try terribly hard to focus on the good things in life
and remain up-beat about the things that are getting me down..
The last few days have been a little more like this..
My school has been found liable in a Health and Safety court case..
Our Head now faces a civil action..
My Managers are pre-occupied and giving contradictory guidance...
Ofsted is looming...
Marking is mounting up...
My colleague is on Maternity Leave for another five months
Her replacement is getting very flakey...
There a performance tomorrow night..
Another performance next Tuesday..
AND my Mum's Huntington's Disease has made one of its sudden jumps for the worse.

I want to hide behind a very large teddy bear and never come out again..

Fortunately my pupils are still lovely and the teaching remains fab.
Things I can influence are fine...
I just need to find the mental equilibrium to handle the things that are buffeting me...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Lake District Re-visited..

This year Mark and I decided to re-visit familiar territory and spend a few days in the Lake District during half-term.  We went there for our honeymoon (in 1990!) and spent a lot of time walking up there in the late 90s.  We stopped visiting the area for a combination of reasons.  Firstly, I had a period of ill-health and long distance hill walking became difficult.  Then some friends who we used to walk with divorced.  Finally we discovered the lovely walking on Exmoor and decided that it was easier to drive down the M5 than up the M6.  As a result this little break was a 'full-on' trip down memory lane....

We stayed in the Britannia Inn at Elterwater - just where we'd always stayed.  This time our room was the first window on the left.  We got a great B+B rate because my half-term was a week later than the Lakeland schools.

The holiday was all about walking and taking photos.  This was the view over Elterwater common and back over the village on the first morning..
We walked over the hills towards Grasmere and enjoyed the wonderful reflections..

The cloud and light produced some spectacular effects.  This is one of a sequence of photos that I took at the top of Lake Windermere..
All this walking up and down hills gave us an appetite.  This was the best lunch stop of the holiday - blueberry scones, blueberry jam and cream with a view across  Lake Windermere to the Langdale valley.

There were fabulous sunsets too.  We were lucky enough to be driving round the bottom of Rydal Water when the sky turned this wonderful colour.

By the end of the holiday there was snow on the hills.  This was the view from our table at another of our lunch stops..
And 'BJ' the old Discovery seemed to enjoy the dramatic mountain passes (although she did have a major flood through the rear sky-light when Mark drove through a large puddle a little too fast!)
Having spent most of our recent holidays walking well off the main tourist trails, Mark and I took a while to adjust to the fact that we had to share our paths this week!  We also found Lake District prices a major shock.  We had a great journey up from Worcester - only two and half hours.  The M6 was at it's worst yesterday and it took us FIVE hours to do the same journey in reverse.
Nevertheless I think we will be going back again sooner rather than later.  The walking was fantastic  and we've come home feeling fitter and refreshed.  Next time we'll definitely self-cater - which will keep the food costs down.  I'm already in the process of creating a short list of cottages for Easter!