I did intend to go through all my photo folders and move the 'arty' ones into a new folder but you know what they say about good intentions? I got stuck into some old photos, editing them to make them look better, and never got round to the original intention.
Never mind, I found some not bad photos that I'd forgotten about so the next few messages will have 'oldies' as illustration!
After having lots of fun with Photoshop yesterday I set to printing out some of my - er - creations (for want of a better world) to see what they looked like on paper and maybe make some more cards.
And ran out of coloured ink very quickly into the procedure!
This edited photo printing doesn't half eat up the coloured ink! However, I reckon I've saved overall because of the cards I haven't had to buy. A half decent ready made card costs a lot nowadays and while I wouldn't call my creations 'half decent' yet, they're OK and seem to be quite acceptable. A set of four or six makes a nice little pressie too.
I think I'm going to have to search through my photo folders and move all the 'quirky' efforts into one separate folder - at the moment they're scattered all over the place and it's all a bit disorganised. I had a good system going until I started the photography course; they suggested another way (because of the way Photoshop works) and now I have a mixture of two different systems, mine and theirs, which has reduced it all to a fair degree of chaos.
Wish me luck - I may be gone some time!
Photo: This was the edited photo that the previous blog picture was based on.
And a rather dull, gloomy morning it looks too. I thought we were supposed to be having a hot summer but apart from that week's overly hot and humid weather a few weeks ago, there's no much sign of it - yet.
Having cancelled my parents coming over, I feel OK this morning - definitely no worse, which is great. Fingers crossed.
There's nothing in particular planned for today although I'm hoping to get a few bits and bobs tidied up and sorted out. Just a nice, easy, flexible, summer-holiday day. I might carry on working through my Photoshop book and get some more editing skills sorted out. Yesterday I selected, copied and pasted Al's two cats, getting rid of the background, but I did it using Paint Shop Pro. Now I want to see how easy it is using Photo Shop, bearing in mind I'm no artist and do not have a steady hand for mouse control like that!
Snuffle, sniff. Could still be a summer cold, but I've cancelled my mum and dad's trip over tomorrow, just in case. Not something you want to get and especially not if you're in your 80s and vulnerable.
The good news is that I could still go for that £20 note in the garden, which makes it officially a cold!
The other good news is that, whatever it is, I can stay in and not share it with anyone else. Plenty of food in the house and freezer!
It's been a rather wet, lazy, doing-not-a-lot sort of day, apart from making a few snippy comments on a FirstClass forum. When one is feeling tired all the time, it's hard to find the energy.
DG put me to shame - when I took the ginger biscuits round, despite being obviously still rather unwell, he bounced to the back door with the modern equivalent of the bell and 'unclean, unclean', warning me to stay away because 'we have both got swine flu and if you come in you will get it too.'
I went in and I hope I don't!
Photo: a 'photo waiting to happen' on the Blackdown Hills
Well, it's raining hard at the moment and looks set in for a while, so it's going to be mostly an indoor day today. First of all, I need to get some ginger biscuits for DD and DG. The tamiflu is making DG nauseous and, as it has to be taken with food, DD thinks gingernuts will help. Then back home to make a little thank you gift for someone! And then it's back to the housework as Mum and Dad are coming over on Wednesday and at the moment the place certainly isn't fit for visitors!
Remember me waxing lyrical about Sheppy's cider last week? You can order online so here's the addy:
Home now after a remarkably trouble free drive back. The M25 was a bit slow at times but nothing to complain about and I sailed gaily past what looked like a tremendous blockage at the Windsor turn off of the M4 which was only just starting to impact my way but which had already caused a backlog of several miles the other way.
So now I'm home! DD looks pretty unwell but she wouldn't let me anywhere near her or DG as I dropped off the supplies I got yesterday. DS had already set off to get the tamiflu for them both from somewhere miles away as there are no picking up points in Chelmsford. That is totally and utterly daft - for a county town not to have a pick-up point for something like this I am blessing DS with all my heart for helping out like that!
So I'm home, and no school tomorrow. It feels weird! Nice, but very odd. I guess I will get used to it though. I've spent the last hour or so looking through and editing the photos I took some are quite nice.
It's been a beautiful day. We went to Hestercombe Gardens as planned, spent the rest of the morning strolling around the woods and walks (lovely views), had a picnic lunch (always tastes better out of doors), then wandered round the formal gardens in the afternoon before setting off for Sheppy's and the Rumwell farm shop where I got several things that will serve as presents as well as two of the most delicious fruit vinegars I have ever tasted (for me!!!).
We arrived home to be greeted by a text message from DD to say that she and DG have probably got swine flu. Oh, dear!! So it was back out to Sainsbury's to get some essential supplies - painkillers, etc, plus basics like milk and bread to drop off on the way home tomorrow.
I've had a truly fantastic week here in Somerset with Alison. I was quite nervous of the drive, the distance , the fact that it was so soon after the end of the school year and so on, but my goodness, I am so very glad I came. Al's home felt just right, we have so very many things in common (even our door keys are almost identical) and it's been just great. Many, many thanks, Al - and tomorrow you can recapture your peace and quiet!
Photo: one of the many I took today at Hestercombe Gardens - well worth a visit or six if you are ever that way.
Hopefully, we are off to Hestercombe Gardens this morning, having a picnic lunch there, then re-visiting the cider farm and the farm shop before coming back so I can pack. That's the idea, anyway. Then a good night's sleep before leaving quite early tomorrow morning.
I'll travel with a much lighter mind knowing that the exhaust is OK and that I have a phone in case of problems. Not that I'm expecting problems (I hope) but . . . well, you know!
With luck and a following wind, I'll be at DD's house by 1:00 at the latest.
I had a lovely day today, driving round the N Somerset/Devon coast with Al, stopping off here and there, eating lunch at Dunster Beach (where my camera ran out of battery power) and then through parts of Exmoor where I took photos on my mobile (so please excuse the quality!). It's a lovely part of the country but Al says no it isn't because if I say it is everyone will want to come and visit and it will get somewhat crowded. So, folks, it's horrible here, the natives are nasty and the views are vile! OK?
And a big thanks to Lindy for helping us to get my laptop connected to the internet!!
That Somerset cider must be very powerful. I was asleep by about nine yesterday evening and slept through until about six-thirty this morning. That's a good lie-in for me.
It's been raining hard all morning, which is a great shame. It does look as if it's starting to clear up now, which would be nice, but, on the other hand, it's holiday so why shouldn't I do nothing very much, if that's how I feel? I might go and look around some of the shops near to Sainsbury's, if the rain properly stops. How's that for adventurous! Or I might just sit on the sofa with a book and snooze off. Isn't it terrible, having to make decisions! And there's six weeks of decisions like that . . .
I went to Sheppy's cider farm today and came back with a few bottles. Oooh, it's lovely stuff, so it is! Goes ever so well with a Thai chicken curry with lime rice (a ready meal, to my shame, but nice with it!) I then went for a drive in the Blackdown Hills - I have no idea whatsoever where I went, I just followed my nose in the knowledge that I'd get somewhere recognisable eventually - and I did.
And now I am nicely relaxing with a glass of nice stuff and a book or two! Bliss. A very good way to spend the first day of the holidays!
After a very good night's sleep (unusual for me first night in a strange bed) I am sat here wondering what to do today. I gather the weather is likely to be dodgy so I might take a drive around the Blackdown Hills and take some photos. Having said that, the sun has just come out so we will see. It's lovely to have the time and the freedom so I'm not worrying!
Well, actually, that's not quite true - more like bloomin' wet Somerset at the moment. It hasn't half been chucking it down with rain today. I'd have been very happy with a bit of it on my garden back in Essex, but the chances are there's been none there.
There was a hold-up on the M5n caused by an accident. It didn't look too bad, but there were ambulances and I hope anyone hurt is recovering well now.
Well, I'm here, at Al's house, moggy minding and gradually feeling more and more sleepy as the minutes tick on. And there's no nasty niggles in my mind about planning unfinished, marking that I forgot to bring home, assessments incomplete and teacher's table left in a right old mess. Oh, it does feel good.
That won't happen until Monday and by then I hope I will be comfortably settled down in Somerset for a few days. It feels good anyway, even if it isn't holiday yet. I've just been into town and would you believe there wasn't a single map of Somerset to be had. Plenty of Devon, none left of Somerset . . . I know, I shouldn't have left it so late! Amazon, here I come! Now I have a list of things to do as long as my arm (longer, in fact) before I'm ready to leave, hopefully at around six tomorrow morning, to get ahead of the rush.
The end of the year has happened . . . The children have gone home . . . The classroom is as tidy as it's ever going to be . . . (cough) No planning, no evaluations, no marking.
So why am I not feeling utterly elated? Why am I not on top of the world?
Well, apart from the overwhelming exhaustion which does tend to put a damper on the gleeful sprint up Everest, sadly, something happened right at the end of the day which was spiteful, unnecessary, malicious, possibly libellous and just terribly, terribly miserable and anger creating. And it's tainted an otherwise lovely last day. Such a shame.
We had the mother and father of a thunder storm this morning, just as we had the whole school crowded into our inadequate hall for a special goodbye assembly. It was - er - interesting!! And when I came home I realised that I'd left the french window open (ooops) and the carpet was - well, let's call it damp!
Just one day to go and I'm feeling quite sad. Firstly, I will be saying goodbye to my class. OK. some of the children can be a right pain and have been pretty challenging (and I'm a very experienced teacher), but I am very fond of them all and the class also contains some of the nicest, kindest, brightest and/or sparkiest children I have ever been lucky enough to teach, one way or another. So I think tears will be shed by this time tomorrow. The other terribly sad thing is that Lesley, who has been my supply/PPA cover for so many years now, is retiring and that is a real heartbreak. She's just a lovely person, a gifted teacher and someone I count myself very privileged to know. I am utterly sure we will keep in contact, one way or another, but tomorrow is her last official day at school and I know more tears will fall, not only from my eyes but also from all my teaching and non-teaching colleagues. Lesley, being such a modest lady, has no idea how much we all hold her in esteem and respect. I just hope we can get it over to her tomorrow.
I felt so sorry for Mandy yesterday Mandy is the Key Stage 2 co-ordinator and, as such, has been in overall responsibility for the juniors' show, Aladdin. Yesterday afternoon the KS2 staff and parent helpers were walking all of KS2 (wearing their costumes) down to a local secondary for the dress rehearsal because they're using the hall - ours is way too small. At about midday the heavens opened and it poured and poured - no way would they have been able to walk down in costumes, they would have been ruined. Fortunately, it had all stopped and wad drying up by 1:00 but not before some panic planning had taken place. I gather that when they got there, the hall was in a fair old shambles and the sound and light hadn't been sorted. What an afternoon! They gave their first performance last night and I'm going to the second performance tonight. I bet that it has been, and will be, absolutely brilliant! I'm very much looking forward to it.
. . . was on this afternoon. We went early (because DD is on the 'Friends' committee) and bustled around helping to get stuff set up.
DD was looking after a stall, DG was having a merry old time on the bouncy castles and I meandered over to the Pimms stall after telling DG I was heading 'over there'.
Five minutes later there was a bang and a crackle from the extremely efficient sound system, followed by a very familiar eleven year old voice booming out, 'Excuse me everyone. I am looking for an old lady with two black bags and glasses. Can anyone see her - oh, there you are, Nan!'
Things have been very busy here in not-so-sunny-Essex!
On Thursday morning it was bright and sunny and we all said (regarding Infant sports day) 'let's go for it' and so we did, on Thursday morning. It was lovely, all the kids had a great time and my organisation worked, thank goodness!! I got a bit fazed when I realise I had to give a speech at the end (should have been the head but she wasn't there) and I flustered my way through stuff and forgot to thank the staff - aaaarrrrgggghhhhh . . . it'll have to be a card on the staff board on Monday.
Then on Thursday evening it was Open Evening and 'meet your new teacher' time, so the school was buzzing! A nice time was had by all . . .
Friday morning was a Very Important Meeting in school with our esteemed MP, no less. It could have been tricky but wasn't, for which I am hugely grateful. The afternoon was Junior Sports Day, and, as my bay overlooks the school field, my class had a wonderful time watching from the window or from just outside, making team flags and banners and generally cheering on their own house. No hassle, no arguments, no problems, just a lovely, free choice, friendly, fun afternoon. And then in the evening we had our KS1 and FS staff social - a barbie round at June's. It was lovely - cool but dry and very pleasant. Many thanks for a great time, June.
So now it's the weekend again. It's raining so there go my plans for a laze in the garden with a book. And I have to go shopping as I have so many people to thank for helping out this term/year so thank goodness we get paid early because of the end of term.
Well, today was my first FS/KS1 Sports Day as organiser. Everything was organised to perfection. Everyone knew what their roles entailed. It was all just so - right and workable. The children took their chairs out before lunch and lined them up so there were seats for the parents, all the equipment was in place . . . and
. . . the heavens opened and the event was cancelled.
If I have one abiding memory of today it will be of a crowd of infants standing in a big group in the playground shouting defiance to the heavens.
Rain, rain, go away It's our Sports Day.
Such a shame it didn't work, isn't it?
However, DG's science SATs mark came back today - level 4, no less, again, without actually covering the level 4 curriculum. He's a STAR!! (even if he thinks I'm jolly old)
Well, the day went nothing like as planned, so it's just as well any subject coordinators are unlikely to look at the planning for the last two weeks of the school year. No maths, no literacy, but a morning of PSHE (sorry, fellow coordinators) all about how you can make people feel that you are being kind and friendly to them. Ho hum!!!
They'll get a shock tomorrow when they have to write a story! Hard slog . . .
And Very Little Able Boy came up to me at lunchtime. VALB: Mrs Clark, are we doing diary today? Me: Probably not now - is that a problem? VLAB: Well, yes, I've been practising my diary all weekend!
(which is how the able get on a lot of the time, isn't it - that hidden application and commitment to learning that we often take for granted)
I love my Very Able Children. I love them for their sincerity, their commitment and their love of learning something new. They are a joy to teach. But I also love my More Practical Children. They work so hard and are pleased with a little progress . . .
Actually, if truth be told - I just love my children, which is probably why I am still a teacher, despite government interference and setbacks. They are also a joy to teach. Long may it continue!!
I've been properly put in my generational place by my DG. It seems it was grandparents' day a while ago, and DG created a card for me. He's only just remembered to hand it over and the cover cause great amusement. Here's a scan of it!
. . . it was yesterday. I did get to school eventually but brought back home the work I needed to do; very idle of me!
It was such a delight to be able to sleep snuggled under the quilt - a much fresher, clearer, comfortable night. I have been so envying my parents who have air conditioning - proper air conditioning - in their living room and bedroom. It makes such a difference when it's hot and sultry and if I hadn't had to go to work I'd have gone to stay with them this week!
I hope next week is nowhere near as hot. It was just a bit too much really!
Today is housework day - at least, housework morning - and getting-the-weeds- out- of-the patio- gaps-morning. It's shocking the way they grow when it's hot and dry!
After that it's a day of rest until DG and DD come for Sunday tea as usual.
Yesterday went as planned. The morning out of class was enough to get the Very Important Paperwork finished and faxed off with the hard copy following in the pouch. That was a huge relief. There was also time to look over some other stuff at the writers' requests. The afternoon was as peaceful as crafts afternoons usually are, given that they love crafts. There was just one little incident - I looked up from my crowd of surrounding children to see my very Hot Tempered Boy looking red and furious and my Practical Little Boy in floods of tears.
Me: What's going on? HTB: We were fighting. Me: (in my best teacher voice) Fighting?????? HTB: fighting with talking, Mrs Clark (in other words, quarrelling) Me: What were you fighting about? HTB: He said I swim with armbands and I do-o-o-n't . . . (bursting into floods of tears and turning puce)
What an insult, eh? I won't go on about the rest of what happened, but it was not nice (grin).
As for today, it starts off with PPA (which we might possibly get, this time) and continues with Maths and Golden Time/finishing off models, and will possibly end with more of the B F G dvd which they are thoroughly enjoying. Also, maybe, some storms and rain, which would cool things down a bit.
Another hot day to come by the looks of it. Our lovely head is getting fans for all the bays so at least when the children are sitting at the front they can have cold air blowing over them. She's also given me this morning out of class so I can get some very important paperwork finished and off to the LEA by fax. So that's my morning sorted. This afternoon it's art/craft work, creating 3D fantasy pictures. Nice and quiet and restful, I hope.
For the last two summers I was out in a demountable classroom that had a flat roof and became an absolute nightmare in weather like this. I'm sure some health and safety regulation was broken at times.
Thankfully, I'm now back in the main school and it's much more pleasant, but I feel for those out there this year.
Yesterday was one long slog - getting paperwork together for a statement request. Almost there now, thank goodness. I think I'm going to have to be very cheeky and ask the head if my class can go into family assembly today so I can work on the covering letter.