Thursday 29 June 2017

Letter from the past

In a post-exam euphoric state , I managed to stub my left food BADLY against the leg of the bed and smashed up two of my toes.

As they say though, every cloud has a silver lining and that came in the form of a box of old letters rescued from the loft to keep me entertained whilst I hoisted my foot up onto the sofa and wrapped it in ice.

Talk about a Pandora's Box. Memories came flooding back. I must have kept every single card and letter ever written to me when I was a student. I'm so pleased I did now, as reading them has transported me back into a glowing reverie of happy hippy days at University. Maybe the tinted glasses are a little too rosy as I'm sure I must have had my fair share of teeneage angst and heartache. If you've ever wondered why most pop songs feature broken hearts and lost love you only have to go back in time to your 18 year old self and see what all the fuss was about.

Youngest son couldn't belive his eyes when he saw the mountain of carefully , and occassionslly not so carfelly, handwritten letters - often several pages long. Of course , sending letters is anathema to youngsters. Why get your fountain pen out when you can zip off a text in seconds, a 140 character tweet or worse still a snapchat which disapperas into the ether within 24hours. What are they going to remember ?

I haven't stopped laughing at my deathly dull diary entries ... " Oct24th - Got up, washed hair, ate a susage roll " as if I'd ever need to be reminded of the tedium of my everyday life. Of course now , although it makes me cringe , it also makes me smile.

There were boyfriends' names I'd forgotten - sorry , whoever you were, unidentifiable locations on faded photographs and a bizzare letter from someone callled Mike Jonhson which read ...

I have no idea who he is or what on earth he's talking about or why he's wishing me luck at the museum !

Haven't had this good a laugh in ages .

Thursday 22 June 2017


... which is Ikea speak for brand new wall storage / organiser thingy.

Just bought one yesterday . Decided to beat the heat by driving across town to Ikea with the air conditioning at full pelt . It worked a treat for the trip there but after having being stood for a couple of hours on an acre of tarmac in 35 degrees of burning heat, the car felt like a furnace and the ride home was hell as the air con just couldn't cope. Ah well , at least I had Ikea almost to myself as I'd planned my visit to co-incide with the day before their sale and when the kid's care was closed - result !

I was determined not to fill my trolley with napkins, frames and useless kitchen storage jars which is what I normally come home with . Ok , so one frame and 2 packs of napkins did sneak their way in but I think I did well to manage my addiction to that extent.

I am beyond excited to get this up on the wall. For a mere £9 I'm looking forward to having an office that looks like this ...

... well maybe even nicer than this dependent on what I hang on it. Of course they get you with all the knicky knacky add-ons you have to buy but who cares when organisation comes as stylish as this and each accessory is only about £2-£3 although it does add up. Think I probably spent about £22 in total. 

Now all I have to do is interpret the oh-so-helpful instructions.

From this picture I'm getting  - strip naked, look glum, chop it all into pieces then smile at a naked man with a pencil behind his ear. Those Swedish have a knack at this assembly thing.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

When the going gets hot ...

... the hot go shopping ... but only if the store has air conditioning.

I never thought I'd hear myself say " Can't wait to get to Sainsburys" but yesterday I not only loitered around the chiller cabinets for un unacceptably long time but also cruised up and down each and every frozen food aisle, idling away a happy hour next to the frozen peas and chips.

I'm betting Iceland is popular too this week ... and Tescos... and Waitrose ... and any other supermarket come to mention it .

I managed to sling a few boxes of Magnums and Rowntrees Fruit Lollies into my trolley before paying at the till then draggied myself reluctantly, blinking in the sunshine, back over the boiling tarmac of the carpark to my furnace of a car.

I hate heat unless I'm by the sea,or lounging next to a swimming pool. What's to like about sweat drenched clothing, sleepless nights and flared tempers ? Yestreay it wa hotter in London overnight than the daytime temperature of Istanbul apparently. The ice maker broke on our freezer, the A/C on the car packed up and I probably could have baked a pizza on my desktop without the aid of an oven.

Not even Stevie Wonder's 'Hotter than July' album, to get me in the summer mood, could cheer me up. Pity those sat in exam rooms around the country sitting through hours of their maths A Level exam this afternoon ( my youngest son included ) . My pupils have been turning up in full length wool trousers and blazers to match ( not allowed to be seen in public withoum them on apparently ) having spent the afternoon being made to play football at school. As a nation are we bonkers ? - that was a rhetorical question btw.

My 'Keeping Cool' tactics so far have included sitting next to a bowl of ice as if looking at it might help, cowering in shady corners and taking hourly cold showers. I'm hopeless in the heat but I'll be damned if I'm going to fork out an arm and a leg for the only fan on the market that actually works ( Dyson as if you didn't know at over £300 a go ) for the 3 days of the year that I'll actually get to use it.

So, shopping is the way to go and it's costing me a small fortune. Today , I popped into Oliver Bonas ( Air Con 4* ) and bought this little cutie ...

... having promised myself that I would never buy another item that came under the heading of 'clutter' but who could resist ? I was so hot and flustered by the time I'd staggered into the first shop I could find with air con , that I forgot to ask how much it was and inevitably had come out without any glasses. Fortunately , I still got some change from a tenner.

Big up for WH Smith ( whose air con was 5* ) - I could have stayed there all day. Came home with a bagful of 3 for 2 stationery - that's not even shopping - I can get away with calling that office supplies.

Nul points for Paperchase which was like an oven. 

Last stop Itsu's for a healthy salad for youngest son as pre-exam lunch treat . I could climbed right in with the supremely chilled trays of Sushi and just lain there all day without breaking a bead of sweat.

John Lewis scored a measly 2* for their Air Con which meant a hasty exit.

So - shopkeepers of the world take note - the more you ratch up the chilled air, the more shoppers you're likely to lure through the summer months. I'll be back out tomorrow to loiter amongst the frozen foods in Tescos no doubt.

Monday 19 June 2017

the end is near ...

... not of the world but of A Levels and I'm not even sitting them. I've never know such a turtuously drawn out process and I'm a teacher.

Youngest son is sitting in his revision 'cave'  ( think black out curtains and feeble fan wafting hot air around in 30 degree temperatures ) where's he's been holed up for the last 2 months. Motivation is at an all time low and yet he's ploughing through his revision notes studiously and I'm immensely proud of him.

The mood in the country is sombre following recent events and I can't help feeling a wave of nausea at what the future holds. To be a youngster in the current political climate must be  monumentally dis-spiriting and I think of myself as an optimist. Heaven help us.

I'm currently reading Jeremy Paxman's autobiography which is mildly amusing and surprisingly self deprecating thankfully. At least there's a wealth of decent vocabulary in it to keep me on my toes and remind me that the last time I looked in a dictionary was rather a long time ago.

Recommendations please on what to read next .

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Traveler's Notebooks

A round-up of my favourites :

Midori - can't beat them for style, panache and all round beautiful quality and the cover really is made of leather which other companies bogusly imply. I brought one of these on holiday with me last year and religiously filled in all our holiday details on a daily basis. It's been a joy to read back and remind me of the wonderful time we had. Pricey though at around £40 - £45.

Then there are the new kids on the block , jumping on the recent planner frenzy that's hit the scrapbooking community. I just don't get the whole 'planner' thing.  Quite why you'd want to buy a whole raft of new stamps, stickers and accessories for what is basically a diary ( we used to called them by the brand name Filofax back in my day ) , I do not know. Having to go to the dentist is bad enough without making a decorative song and dance about it . But hey ... these scrapbooking companies have got to think up new ways to fleece us every year . These come, inevitably, in a whole range of designs and permutations ... as the man from Bluemoon Scrapbooking says " Gotta have 'em all " . Well not at £25 a pop you don't.

And then there's this one from my favourite bargain shop - Tiger - the place I go to when I can't fit into any clothes I've just tried on and so resort to stationery to cheer myself up. A delightful mint green and white striped afffair, perefect for Summer, with a snazzy red elastic to keep it all in place.

Inside the front flap there's a sweet little pocket and it comes with 2 notebooks - one lined and one squared with another insert at the back to accommdate a few extras.

I honestly don't know how Tiger do it ( I probably do, it's called China ) but just check out the price .

Yep, all of £2. I could even buy a replacement notebook for the other brands with much change from a fiver and yet I could have bought 2 of these for less ! Un-flipping -believable. No doubt they'll sell like hotcakes, so I'm going back to buy a few for my students before they all get snapped up. Nice one Tiger .


Tuesday 13 June 2017

I'm back

Apologies for my overlong absence but life ( aka work, chores, family in revere order ) got in the way. That makes me feel guilty including family in with chores and work so maybe I should re-word that as family-related chores - nope , still feeling guilty ... ah forget it ).

Well, it's 'that' time of year - exam season - guaranteed to strike a chord of fear in any parent's heart let alone their kids'. We are two thirds of the way through youngest son's A levels and the 'end of exams' present was opened last night in an act of undelayed gratification or rather desperation. In an attempt to keep the motivation going I allowed him to open the headphones I'd bought him which were supposedly to assist with his music technology coursework but in truth will be put through their paces in a late night computer gaming orgy. Yes, I've turned soft. I recall admonishing him for his inability to demonstrate any patience when it came to retail therapy , but when your children have watched you rip open a parcel before it's even hit the doormat, in a barely concealed frenzy of delight , you haven't really got a leg to stand on.

So, does that mean I may have to get him a two thirds of the way through the exams incentive ? A pack of Pokemon cards used to cut the mustard when they were seven but not any more now they're 6'4" tall and even a pair of trainers costs an arm and a leg and probably two feet more appropriately.

I feel so sorry for all the teenagers in the UK sitting their GCSE exams and A Levels right now. My gut wrenches as I see them trudging off to school first thing in the morning with a back-pack full of revision cards and a bottle of water with the label ripped off  ( parents of exam age children will know what I mean by that - as if you could even write the amount of formulae and quotes today's youngsters have to memorise on the back of a water bottle label) .

I'm incensed at the way the government have forced them back into a Victorian styled examination system that ensures success will fall to those who can memorise the whole of Romeo and Juliet and the equation for the volume of a frustum* ( yep - sound more like a rather depraved sexual act than anything to do with geometry ) , rather than celebrate the fact that many of our youngesters may have a more original take on knowledge that goes beyoned the purely methodical recall method that exams have become. Shame on you Michael Gove - and to see his rubbery grinning face gurning for the cameras as he stepped back into the cabinet made my stomach turn. Good grief , what did the Environment do to deserve him ?

So, if you , like me are parenting a youngster who is still only a fraction of the way through the exams that they are told will either make or break them ( no pressure then ) , buy them a pack of Pokemon cards and remind them of their happy childhood when Frustums , iambic pentameter and iterative methods for solving cubic equations were a mere distant blot on the horizon of their otherwise happy lives.

the portion of a solid (normally a cone or pyramid) that lies between one or two parallel planes cutting it.