Archive for January, 2010

It all seems to be work

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2010 by David Palmer

It doesn’t seem like 2 weeks since the last time I wrote an entry into the family blogg, the time has shot by. We all seem to have been like ‘passing ships in the the night’, busy with our own little worlds and only occasionally bumping into each other when through necessity our paths collide (mealtimes and for lifts).

Jamie had to be ferried to work for the first week (no car insurance), Sue took him in the mornings (up at 5am) and I brought him home in the evening (6pm). Not a pleasant experience as working at a recycling plant for 12 hours ensures that you develop a rather environmentally ripe odour that becomes really concentrated when in the enclosed space of a car. Passing the downstairs utility room in the evening is not to be recommended as that is where Jamie deposits his work clothes ready to be attended to. Last week, his car was fully insured and he had the pleasure of driving to work along the A14 (a very poorly laid out and dangerous road). Being the time of year it is dark when he starts and dark when he finishes. He must have developed a poetic side to his nature as one day he commented on the beautiful sunrises and sunsets he has seen. A couple of days ago he informed me that his car is gobbling up the petrol on the journey to work and asked what he could do about it. I suggested he get into 5th gear as much as possible and ease off on the accelerator. He assured me that he already was doing that, yes Jamie! Yesterday his girlfriend Harley, had a part time job at the Red Lion Welham, serving at the tables on Saturday lunchtime. As Sarah had Lee down from Nottingham, we went to give Harley practise at waitressing, she was quite embarrassed as she was not expecting to see us.

Over the last couple of weeks Sue has been hoping to be called into school but has only managed a couple of days, one at St Joseph’s and one at Church Langton. She did manage lunch with Lynne Brown on one day and coffee and cake with Lynne Keane on another. She did have one very long day, where she was up at 5am to take Jamie to work, then went to Church Langton to pick up and discuss some planning for the following day, then drove up to Newark to meet Charlotte, then onto Lincoln with Charlotte for a pre-natal scan (see photo). I think they had lunch in Lincoln and probably a spot of shopping before she retraced her steps all the way to Harborough late that evening, and then to sit down with the planning for the next day. After working in school the following day, she looked very tired,  but luckily wasn’t required again (but I think she was hoping!)

I mentioned in the last blogg that I was going into Farndon Fields the day after they had, had their OFSTED inspection. It didn’t work out that way. Lucy, a teacher had collapsed at school on the Tuesday and I got an urgent call to see if I would come in and cover. I dutifully turned up on Wednesday and taught the class. I was hoping to see one of the two inspectors some time during the day to give them the benefit of my wisdom on the nature of Inspections and the credibility of inspectors. However, they didn’t pass the threshold of the classroom and had buried themselves away in a small room to write the report. The staff were relieved to find that once again they were satisfactory with a few points for improvement, amazing that, it has been the same result every time. There’s consistency for you. I wasn’t required to come in the following morning as the TA’s taught the class (Literacy and Numeracy), but I was required to come in during the afternoon to walk the children down to the swimming baths and watch them plough up and down the pool while I sat at the poolside twiddling my fingers in the oppressive moist atmosphere. As Sue said, it is easy money, but I would have much preferred to have done the morning and taught the children something (had a bit of fun) and let the TA’s take a walk at a fraction of the cost to the school. I was asked if I would teach the children on the Friday. It was mentioned that the previous morning had been a bit of a mare with the class and that they required some firm handling as they were the worst bunch of kids in the school. I went in and had a brilliant day with them, I took on the role of a bank robber and they had throughout the day to investigate what I had done, how I had done it, and collect the evidence to convict me. Needless to say I got off through lack of sufficient credible evidence. Who says crime doesn’t pay? I was asked if I would teach the older children on Monday, and I agreed as I was hoping that they would be doing science, which is what I am usually asked to do with them. However, I had to read through some very complex planning to deliver Numeracy, Literacy and SEAL (social & emotional active learning). Very rigid structure and I could have done it better if I had had the freedom. I did like the Madonna video I had to play to the children. Though asked I  told the school I wasn’t available the following day. That day Sue was working so I spent a lonely and cold day at home. Late in the afternoon I had the call to go in to FF on Wednesday, I said yes (In prefer company, warmth and free coffee).  It was the same bunch of reprobates. As soon as I arrived I was asked to do to the end of the week, I said yes. Before school started I set about changing the layout of the classroom so that there was little or no interaction between the children (certain ones in particular) while a lesson was going on. I then explained how I expected them to conduct themselves in the new layout and enforced it rigidly. There are 2 TA’s in the room and occasionally 3. There are 31 children. There is one computer in the classroom that the TA’s also use for their own planning, printing etc. Having to sit patiently waiting for the computer to be free so that I could set up the class learning for the day, was more than frustrating. Also, when you require the class to pay attention to you and be quiet and you have TA’s talking to groups or individuals in the same class it is very annoying and doesn’t help. As all computers printout at one photocopier, which is at the other end of the school, you do get fit taking a walk to see if it has printed properly. On every occasion I have stood in front of the machine waiting for my printouts to arrive while 190 children and over 20 staff have also the opportunity to send something to be printed. Most times it doesn’t arrive when you are standing there. Once it did and because the previous print run by ? had used landscape, so were mine, totally useless as half the page was missing. On anther occasion I was using the photocopier as a photo-copier and my run of printouts was interrupted by ? in ? where in the school and when it returned to printout mine, it just kept on churning page after page, despite it displaying 31 copies (what a waste of paper). But I suppose, such is the role of the supply teacher, after all, we are just smash and grab merchants and shouldn’t complain if things aren’t set up for our benefit alone. I did have fun, and the children were quiet and well behaved in the classroom, but still managed to form a disorderly queue at the Head’s room during the lunch hour (something’s didn’t change).

I was requested by the ‘Step-by-step’ After School Club: http://www.stepbysteplearning.co.uk/ to produce a brochure for them. They are a group of teachers and TA’s that have formed an after school club to help any children who need support with their schoolwork. I have produced some advertising material for them in the past and given some advice. They appear to be doing very well and are branching out into another session and have plans on building on their successes. I completed the brochure last week and visited them to see if I needed to make any changes, but it was fine. They are very well organised and professional, but that doesn’t surprise me.

Sarah has been busy with school and watching Gilmore Girls. Lee came down yesterday for a visit. Last week she did go off for some flying lessons with the Air Cadets, but when they got there the cloud base was too low and they had to return. I asked her if she had got any news, but she said no.

Charlotte is still pregnant and I believe over the morning sickness. She and Lucas went to visit Nan on Monday and had a pleasant time, the usual bowl of Yorkshire Stew was awaiting their arrival. I rang Nan in the evening but she was already in bed as they had tired her out. When I spoke to Lucas on the phone he told me that he had great fun playing football with Nan! Lucas has been to the hospital to check on his malfunctioning kidney and the news wasn’t good. One of the kidney appears blocked and quite shrivelled, but he is too young to do anything about it yet. Though the tube to it is growing healthily and it may recover as he gets older. I do hope it doesn’t curtail the social side too much, of his future rugby playing career. Suraj appears busy working all hours, mostly on computers and eBay (I think) and Charlotte failed to get my a cheap iPhone with Vodaphone, so I am pressurising Sarah to have hers in a years time, as she got one! I now have the oldest phone in the house, what does that tell you?

There’s snow business like snow business!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17, 2010 by David Palmer

Surprisingly, it’s only been 10 days since I wrote the last blogg. The sun made an appearance to day and encouraged me to tidy up the garden detritus and then chop a great big pile of logs, in readiness for come more cold weather that the has been predicted. The snow has now gone (except for the remnants of an igloo on the patio that Jamie and Harley built last week, the thaw has also encouraged the river to wake up and is now a raging torrent. It hasn’t broken over the lower bank for around 4 years now and it hasn’t this time. However, it doesn’t stop Sue from fretting that it will one day.

A lot of friends have been saying that they have had enough of the snow and are longing for a bit of warmth. I must admit I am sorry that it has gone, it pretties up a drab winter and it makes every outdoor task, just that little bit more interesting. I am so glad that I spent a great deal of the summer months collecting logs, a cheery fire makes a perfect evening for dozing in front of the TV when there is not a lot on. I just need to train the other members of the family to fetch the logs when the basket gets low.

Last week I decided to make ‘Leek au Gratin’. The ground was so hard that persuading the leeks to relinquish their hold on mother earth turned what I thought was going to be a 2 minute harvesting activity, into a ligament breaking, finger freezing, leek snapping unpleasant task (I did say that snow made things more interesting). However, the resulting dish tasted heavenly. You will have to take my word for it as I finished it all off. It is now officially one of my favourite top 10 dishes. I think that like so many things in life, the harder you have to work for it the more you appreciate it. I have decided, that if I go to Italy again this year, I shall make it for Joan and Phill (vegetarians) as a surprise, assuming of course that they have leeks in Italy.

Sarah has been busy with her ‘AS’ Levels. It has been a worrying time, especially with the snow threatening to close schools and taking 4 ‘A’ levels is a lot of revision! She has been ever so sensible and made a lot of social sacrifices to sit in my study night after night and read through her notes and make new ones. Sitting down and testing her has certainly convinced me that the Media are procreating a lie when they say that the examinations are being dumbed down (it is the sort of negative reporting that sells newspapers, but not in this household!) It seems to me that much of the old ‘O’ level material has been shoved down into the Primary  sector, the old ‘A’ level has been shoved into the GCSE’s and a great deal of the Degree course work now resides in the ‘A’ levels!!!!! On Friday, as a treat for surviving a gruelling timetable I took her and Jamie for a KFC and then to see ‘3D Avatar’. What a brilliant experience. What a brilliant film. I actually dodged out of my seat to avoid a rock that came hurling towards me during an explosion! And, I saw Sarah trying to pick  some tendrilly plants out of the air that were floating around us. It is surely the future of film making. On Saturday she travelled to Nottingham to see Lee and came back this morning.

Jamie starts his new job tomorrow. He had an interview about a month ago in Kettering at a company owned by Harley’s Dad, he starts at 6am along with another guy that has been taken on. As yet, his new car is not insured until the end of the month so Sue is going to take him to work. The hours are long, 6 while 6, but I think he is glad that at last he is going to earn some money. Last week he was thinking of doing voluntary work and had started to write some applications, so I am glad this opportunity has arrived. It is quite soul destroying for the youth of the country and I can’t see an end to it as a lot of my friends are in business and work is very hard to come by. I see the Bankers are still getting their bonuses, it makes you spit.

Sue as been hoping to be called into school for some supply work, but so far the phone has been quiet since Christmas. However, the house is very tidy and she appears to be up to date with all the washing etc. She has seen the Doctor over the headaches she occasionally suffers from. He thinks it might be Diabetes, but the test results say that it isn’t and she doesn’t think so either. She had a very long conversation with Shiela (a family friend in Tenbury Wells) the other day. The snow was very bad there and she hadn’t been able to get out of the house for a few days and had decided to ring Sue. Sue is planning to visit her in the summer.

I have done a couple of supply days at Farndon Fields since Christmas. I had to teach French to Keystage 2 on one day, all day! I don’t speak the language and I hate the French! However, it was a laugh and I shall say no more about that. I have been booked to take Year 4 next Thursday morning, it will be an interesting session as the School is being OFSTED’d on Tuesday and Wednesday. I shall look forward to seeing the result. As the weather has been so bad for sport, Harborough Rugby Club has not had any matches to watch and I haven’t been called to Referee. But I have been to see Leicester Tigers against Wasps (last week) and Viadana (yesterday). I went into Leicester on the train with a friend who is a season ticket holder and the weather was too cold for his wife, so I had her ticket. However, walking to the station, my knee went TWANG. I went to see the Doc about it on Thursday, and he suggested an operation, but we decided I was going to do that as I didn’t fancy 3 months on my back. Aren’t I brave?

Nan is keeping warm. I filled in her passport application form today, so that she can go and see David in Bulgaria. She is still using her batmobile to get about the village, even with all the snow about (she is obviously going a little mad). I have been ringing her each day while the weather is so bad. She is really quite an expert on sport, and much of what she wants to talk about is very wide ranging. I can’t keep up with her and try to change the subject to something I know about (rugby).

The Newarks are fine, and appear to be ALL healthy at the same time. CHARLOTTE. CHARLOTTE. CHARLOTTE. I suspect that Charlotte uses a search facility to find how many times I write about her, so she should be happy that she has been mentioned four times now. And I should also say she is pregnant, and that makes five.

THE END

Christmas 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 by David Palmer

I think like a lot of people I was looking forward to the end of 2009. Besides both Sue and I officially being retired and in receipt of our Teacher pensions before the whatever government is elected in the spring, takes away any benefits or extends the date at which it can be claimed. The summer of 2009 was rubbish, though in fairness, the end of the year was at least seasonal by being cold with a bit of snow.

Sadly, Aunty Anne died the week before Christmas. She was over 90 years old and had been in a home for the last 3 years. She had got quite confused towards the end and really didn’t recognise anyone anymore. I liked Anne, I saw more of her than many of my other relatives. She used to live in the row of houses that you can see regularly in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. When I was younger I used roam around many of the locations used in the series. I was always  pleased when I knew we were going to see Aunty Anne. Never saw Compo or Foggy though. I was in Thurcroft on Tuesday, especially to take Nan to the funeral and pay our last respects. However, the snow arrived on Monday night and we woke to 30cm+ of snow. The funeral was cancelled as much of South Yorkshire was gridlocked. We were informed that it had been put off for a couple of weeks. As the forecast was for more snow I decided to attempt the journey home. It took 4.5 hours (usually just over an hour). Last night I heard that the funeral was to go ahead today. Nan is going, but I shall not, the forecast is for more snow in the North.

As usual we had a very busy Christmas. Everyone was here the day before Christmas Eve, so there was no rush to get to Kettering for our traditional Christmas Eve, Tenpin Bowling. Nan stayed at home (watching TV) and Sue came but didn’t play this year because of her operation. Usually, you have to book  a month or two ahead as it is a very popular evening, this year you could tell the recession id biting as half of the lanes were empty. Lucas loved it and was a live wire despite the lateness. His perpetual motion slowed only slightly as the clock approached midnight (I used to have that amount of energy, once). There were two memorable moments:

1. A bunch of girls were playing in the lane next to ours and I was watching one of them bowl, when she forgot to let go of the ball on the outwards sweep and released in on the backwards arc. I watched the panic as her friends scattered in an attempt to avoid the Barnes Wallace Bouncing Bomb. I am afraid I found it so funny that I was besides myself with laughing (tears streaming!) that the unfortunate girl noticed and was mortified. I tried to stop, but it just seemed to make it even more funnier.

2. The younger members of the family always prat about when we go anywhere, and I have to admit it is usually very funny. Jamie needed a strike and was really concentrating on bowling his next ball. Charlotte was quietly stalking him down the lane as he was preparing to bowl and shouted out ‘Jamie’ as he released the ball. We all hooted with laughter as Jamie went spinning down the alley after his ball. He didn’t get his strike and was gutted when his ball was guttered.

Lucas fell asleep in the car on the way home and we all helped putting the presents around the tree, with Lucas tucked up in bed, before we retired ourselves. Christmas morning was opening presents and trying to make sure that the wrapping paper didn’t get everywhere. Lunch was exceptional this year, Nan had brought a Turkey Crown (whatever that is) and it carved perfectly and tasted fantastic. In the afternoon everyone played with their presents or read instructions, and I disappeared to the garage and made Lucas a sledge out of some old wood and curtain rail. The excitement was dampened slightly when on his 3rd go he slipped and squashed his nose on the icy driveway. It must be genetic that this Nation is rubbish at winter sports and also accounts for why the country comes to a standstill when two flakes of snow fall from the sky.

We watched Dr Who (it was rubbish) and Top Gear (it was funny).

On Boxing Day morning we went to Salcey Forest. It has a tree-top walkway (22m high) through the trees with spectacular views over Northamptonshire. The path to the walkway was absolutely lethal!!!! Sheer ice. Nan bravely walked with us hanging on to my arm, but I didn’t have much grip. The others pratted about throwing snowballs! It was a lovely morning walk and we made it safely back to the cafe where we all had large mugs of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, what a brilliant combination. We decided that we would return again in the summer. Afterwards, Nan, Sue, Lucas and I drove back to Harborough and Charlotte, Suraj, Jamie and Sarah went to the sales in Northampton.

The following day we went Greyhound racing in Peterborough (another tradition). Jamie’s girlfriend, Harley, came with us. I couldn’t repeat last years massive win, it was the turn of other family members. One race had just finished and depressingly I was considering the form of the hounds for the next race when suddenly a lot of squealing and screaming came from behind me. It was Sarah and Harley, they had decided to have a ‘Trio bet’ (pick the first 3 dogs in the right order). They had both picked the same dogs and had realised that they had won £64. It was several minutes before they stopped squealing, much to the amusement of all the spectators.

The next day, Nan Lucas and I went on the train to Leicester to see the Dinosaurs at New Walk Museum. It was a lovely,exciting trip on the train and despite only being able to see the Dinosaurs through a doorway as they were being cleaned, Lucas was fascinated with the Natural History exhibits.  His questions were endless and I am glad that Nan and Jamie were there to share them. Nan bought him a plastic dinosaur in the shop. When we returned in the afternoon, the others were out, Sales shopping again.

Suraj had to go home the following day as their neighbours were going on holiday and could not longer after the cats. Charlotte and Lucas  stayed for another day and then returned home. Nan stayed for New Years Eve and I took her back a few days later, via Newark to drop Lucas’s sledge off, as they had left it behind. Luckily it then snowed, a lot.

I did manage to take Roger for a walk around Pitsford Reservoir one afternoon, in the snow. Very enjoyable, especially as we only saw a couple of other people doing the same thing. Roger had only been out over Christmas for his Christmas lunch, and during the main course had broken his tooth. The only other time he left Braybrook was to have the tooth pulled out, I wonder if he kept it for the Tooth Fairy?

Nan and I went to see David and Genya at the Unit in Rotherham. Link: http://www.getsortedmusic.co.uk/ They had failed to phone or visit during the Christmas period and explained that some youths had thrown a brick through their van window as they were passing under a bridge. Though David managed to chase and catch them, they denied it and the police were powerless to do anything without other witnesses. He had been without transport until a few days ago. Nan told him off for not phoning and letting us know. He mentioned that he may be returning to Bulgaria in February (could be chilly).

Fingers crossed that 2010 will be a better year for everyone.

Wish one: All bankers are shot

Wish two: All MP’s are shot

Wish three: All OFSTED inspectors are shot.

Wish four: All terrorists are shot.

And finally, Sue and I were treated to an especially nice Christmas present. We have learnt that we are again to be grandparents. Charlotte and Suraj broke the news on Christmas Day. Quickly followed by what are we doing in August? Having had practise at this sort of news, it wasn’t such a shock. Life gets ever so interesting as you get older!