Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas 2011 went like this...

Christmas Eve Eve:

Carols on Classic FM in cosy car, while driving home for Christmas in torrential rain. First place prize for best descant line awarded to Hark The Herald Angels Sing (we sang along at the tops of our voices), with special mention to John Rutter, aka Christmas personified.

Home! Hugs, love, tree and tea. :)

Nativity! (the film). So cute. Without a doubt we’ll watch it every year from now on, in the same way that The Holiday is whipped out for festive viewing at some point during every Christmas holiday, no exceptions. 

Christmas Eve:

Last minute present dash and hunt for cheap tat for our inventive wrapping competition. Braving the high street was a bold move on Christmas Eve but it ended up being a highly successful trip. Poundland served me very well for the wrapping resources and I’d forgotten how much I like going shopping with Dad (we’re bad influences on each other, but that’s probably why I like it).

Saints triumphed over Bath at Franklin’s Gardens (admittedly not as convincingly as they should have done: 22 – 13 final score). Wearing tights under trousers, two pairs of socks, a vest top, long sleeved top, cardigan, Saints shirt, coat, scarf and gloves was a good move.  Mary and Joseph were in the crowd.  A satisfying early Christmas present, even without the bonus point.

Christmas vigil service at church after the rugby. We played our instruments and Mum smashed it on the organ in an EPIC carolothon. Christmas build up at its best.

Homemade bread and pate and cheese and chutney and other total deliciousness after church. Ate too much to expand stomach in prep for Christmas Day. 

Sherlock Holmes: put on for my benefit (I haven’t seen any of them and apparently NEED to before the new one comes out on New Year’s Day), but I fell asleep. Embarrassingly predictable.

Slightly stressful, late night, last minute inventive wrapping endangered my eight hours (still vital despite crashing out on the sofa for a good hour and a half) but got it done just in time. Spilt a lot of fake snow onto Charlotte’s bedroom floor (by accident).

Christmas Day Part One (The Motherland):

Church! Carolothon #2. Congregation clapped us at the end. Felt choked. Reminded myself of Grandad.

More last minute wrapping. Tea. 

Pre-presents croissants and more tea. Soundtrack: The Military Wives Choir. Choked again.

Incredibly amazing and highly amusing efforts by all in the inventive wrapping competition, which turned more into an inventive wrapping ‘festival’ because we thought it might be too stressful to deem some people losers on what should be a day of joy. So funny and would highly recommend. Another tradition has been born. 

Post-presents tea, chocolate and general family loveliness.

Christmas Day Part Two (The Inlaws): 

Singing on the doorstep, hugs, love, tree and tea. :)

Pre-Christmas dinner drinks with presents, round two (lucky!)

EPIC Christmas dinner. Huge turkey. Wine. Turkey. Stuffing. Wine. Turkey. Stuffing. More turkey. More wine. More stuffing. Cheeseboard. Wine. LUSH.

Log fire, post-dinner drinks and girls vs. boys Trivial Pursuit, followed by Downton Abbey. Never watched it before, enjoyed it during the post dinner slump, not in a hurry to watch it again.

Boxing Day:

The Boxing Day Games. Walked up the hill to the village green to wear off the (some) turkey, which rendered my forehead disturbingly moist. Resolved to get fit in the new year. Not before. 

Mud. Mulled wine. Laughed at people making fools of themselves by falling over lots. Favourite game: the one where you spin yourself into a maniacal frenzy by running around a post ten times and then attempt to run dizzily back to your team. The only injury was to a small child, who got knocked off a hay bale, when one participant went enthusiastically, but uncontrollably, careering in the wrong direction. The overall winners bagged a photo in the Advertiser and were obviously delighted with the bragging rights. The cricket club team won the tug of war, ending the very long run of annual victories seen by the scout leaders. Much pride. The prestigious 'loo seat' trophy will be displayed for all to see in the clubhouse.

Delish lunch with friends, more wine and four highly competitive rounds of Articulate.

The Boyfriend well and truly unconscious at 7.30pm, after another afternoon of excess. 

Brief summary of the above: LOVED IT. :)

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Five Day Countdown

Reasons for wanting it to be the holiday NOW:

1) This last week of term is going to be, simply, MENTAL. Some bits will be fun (cannot wait for the teachers’ Vanilla Ice inspired rap in the school talent show – oh yes!) and some bits will not be fun (like keeping the kids grounded until 3.30pm on Friday, without anyone jumping out of the windows or requiring to be peeled off the ceiling), but ALL of it will leave me needing to sleep for a week.

2) Impending assessment doom means that this week’s workload has the potential to be horrific if I want to relieve the first week of the holiday.

3) We have Christmas personified, or, well, you know, tree-ified, delightfully twinkling in our living room. (There must be a real word for that…)

4) Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, which is entirely LUSH and makes me want to sit and make Christmassy things from now until the 25th. I particularly desire a handmade vintage heart garland.

5) I'm feeling very unprepared because I still have Christmas presents to buy, cards to send and inventive wrapping to do, and am highly unlikely to sort it all out before the holiday.

6) Jamie’s Family Christmas – LOVE. Give me a bowl of crispy yet fluffy, garlic and rosemary infused roast potatoes now!

7) Much excitement for next weekend, which is going to be ACE: the CYCB Christmas Concert, a much needed haircut, Chris’s 18th birthday celebrations and Saints-Castres at The Gardens on Nay’s birthday. Can’t friggin wait.

8) Not watching ‘The Holiday’ in far too long is starting to give me withdrawal symptoms. I think the last time I watched it was last Christmas – how I’ve lasted out a whole year I have no idea! Anyway, it’s time to snuggle under the duvet and bring on Jude Law. Got to be a plan for next weekend.

9) The children have been hinting about Christmas presents they’ve bought me. My conscious effort to be nice may pay off!

10) And finally, I have much excitement for a lush Christmas Day with the fam, the village Boxing Day Games and merriment at New Year in Devon. 

Come on holiday, hurry up!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dinner dance distress

Tonight, we're going to the Cricket Club Dinner Dance.

We'd just arrived chez in-laws this afternoon when my heart stopped. I had forgotten my dress. ****. The most intense hour of my life had started.

Distraught and trying to fight back tears, I sped into town with one hope: the country's smallest Monsoon. It has, like, three dresses. The chance for failure was massive and hung over me like a huge black rain cloud about to dump.

In the car park, the ticket machine gobbled up my money and spat out the wrong ticket. The pressure increased; I only had one hour to get this mess sorted.

I dashed to Monsoon as fast as my legs would carry me, without drawing any attention to my panic. Heart pounding, I entered the shop.

Dress 1 was ugly. My blood pressure rose. Dress 2 I desperately wanted to think would look good, but realistically was always going to look awful. Dress 3 needed to be good. IT NEEDED TO BE GOOD.

Sitting at home drinking tea in front of the log fire, The Boyfriend was blissfully unaware that, in the cold and dark of the town centre, I was teetering on the edge of crumbling into a million pieces and he was going to have to pick me back up and put me back together again. A million pieces is a lot of pieces.

But back in the shop, divine intervention was about to happen. Out of the corner of my eye, amongst the granny-wear, I noticed sequins. Delicious sequins. Could it be that I was about to be saved?

Not taking my eyes off the sparkles in case they disappeared, I made a beeline for dress number 3. In the space of half an hour, I had turned into a crazed magpie.

They had my size and on the hanger it looked good. Very good. So I darted through the rails and ran to the changing rooms, nearly knocking over a small child in the process.

I ripped off my clothes and pulled the dress over my head as quickly as I could and BEHOLD, thank you God, it fitted and it looked good and I hadn't ripped off any sequins in my feverish haste. In fact, it looked better than good. It. Was. Friggin. Perfect!

It was so perfect that the blow of the price tag didn't make me fall over. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't filled with joy at the damage my bank balance was going to have to take, BUT, I didn't fall over. And desperate times do call for desperate measures and all that.

But THEN, I realised that buying Easy Living Magazine last week had happened for a reason. I grabbed my handbag and hurriedly started fishing around in amongst all the receipts (gulp) and other detritus to find - ta da! - my shiny £20 Monsoon Gift Card, smiling up at me.


So, I am about to get ready to go and, miraculously, I'm going to feel good. Phew!

Friday, 18 November 2011


Smiles from the past 48 hours:

  • Yesterday’s break-time presentation, from pupil to me, of a perfectly formed jam tart. It. Was. EPIC.
  • Reminiscing about Africa when I showed my class some of my photos this afternoon. They were so excited and interested and it was totally fab and I LOVED it.
  • Being asked by a kid in the cloakroom at the end of today if I like making men cry. (See next point.)
  • Sending the kids crazy by waxing our male teachers’ legs in assembly for Children in Need.
  • Stories from my literacy group which were based on African tales. Lots of them miraculously had a flavour of Africa; yam vines, millet plants and baobab trees featured in most and some even had cases of malaria!
  • One of the 'cool kids' referring to his drawing of a butterfly, created from plotting coordinates in four quadrants, as “Totally mint!”
  • Remembering that I only got through 2 glasses of the last bottle of wine on the wine rack last night, so there’s ample yum for tonight.
  • Gregg Wallace on The Great British Food Revival, referring to dauphinoise potatoes as “The closest you’ll get to a snog on a plate.” So true.
  • Realising that I’ve actually coped remarkably better than expected without The Boyfriend (once the first few days were out of the way), which isn’t to say that I can wait for him to come back, because I very much can’t, BUT, you know, I’ve not died or anything. And that’s probably down to my fab colleagues, who are just fab. And because I’ve not done much in the way of proper cooking this week, I don’t have the anticipated horrific piles of washing up to get through this weekend.
  • Being able to start the three day countdown to The Boyfriend’s return. At last!
  • Pure and unadulterated delight at realising that, not only are Saints playing tonight, but it’s also being broadcast on Sky friggin HD2. Thank you, Christian, for the heads up, and yes, I do predict an Ash-Splash!

Saturday, 12 November 2011


My worst magazine purchase ever was probably OK! Magazine when Katie Price was on the front cover, in her huge, horrific, Barbie pink, gypsy-wedding meringue (utter fail of a dress), under the headline “Katie Walks Down The Aisle Again!” She’d only very recently split from Peter Andre, and here she was, proclaiming her love for another man, when poor Pete was still mopping up his tears! What a bitch!

So I hastily bought it, swiftly realising that my £2.60 was wasted because actually her sick inducing ‘wedding dress’ was in fact a bridesmaid’s dress, which she wore for her friend’s nuptuals. I’d been had! 

Today, I made a similar error. At my petrol stop in the BP Garage on the way home, I opted for Easy Living Magazine. This decision took me by surprise, but there were three solid reasons for my choice.
  1. Cosmopolitan has lost its appeal. You wouldn’t believe it, but they recycle the same features from month to month!
  2. Kirstie Allsopp was on the front. I have no qualms in admitting that she is my heroine. I want to be her. 
  3. Most importantly, there was a shiny £20 Monsoon Gift Card attached to the glossy cover.
      I looked at it and thought that there might be a catch. I tried to give it a good inspection through the cellophane to see if there were any terms and conditions hiding anywhere; I didn’t want a repeat of the wasted OK! None were visible, so I bought it, thinking that it could be that they were being generous.

Turns out my naivety failed me and terms and conditions do very much apply. I’ve got to spend £80 before 10th December to be granted my £20 prize. 


Sunday, 6 November 2011

This weekend

This weekend, The Boyfriend went to Goa.

This weekend, I:

  • thought I'd broken the oven, thus rendering me in the shit for my dinners for the next two weeks.  Without The Boyfriend's culinary magic, I'm relying on frozen chilli, which he made me before going, and baked jacket potatoes. No oven = no jacket potatoes. (The panic was intense, but thankfully, short-lived. Turns out I'd been inept and set the oven to turn off automatically after fifteen minutes.)
  • thought I'd broken the washing machine. This requires little explanation; no washing machine = smelliness. (Turns out it wasn't broken. It was off.)
  • failed to work out how to connect the computer to the TV, thus rendering Black Swan (newly purchased DVD) completely useless and me royally hacked off. (It's still a mystery.)
  • got cold and had to turn the heating on for the first time, but didn't know how to do it. (Landlord's instructions now located and it's, thankfully, sorted.)
  • resorted to pesto mixed into pasta at the very first hurdle, when I should've been saving my 'minimal effort' dinners for mid week. (Fail.)
  • resorted to another glass of wine, giving me a final score of one out of seven nights off from alcohol this week. (Oops.)

  • would've been very distressed at The Boyfriend's absence had it not been for my three amazing siblings, who happened to be on hand, to sort me out. My fam is, quite frankly, fab. Thank you, kids! xxx

    Saturday, 29 October 2011


    During a Literacy lesson last week, we talked about what could’ve been said in a conversation between Mr and Mrs Twit, about the fact that they had ingeniously managed to capture an entire flock of birds by smearing glue on the branches of the tree in their garden.  

    Child A, representing the average 10 year old writer, suggested that Mrs Twit should turn to Mr Twit and say...


    The expression on my face quite possibly said it all and there were a few giggles. Sarcastically, I went on. “Yes, child A, Mrs Twit should then turn to Mr Twit and say lol,” at which point the entire table erupted into uncontrollable laughter because I had said lol.  

    This was obviously an exceedingly exciting situation, so I allowed the moment to happen, and then fizzle out, and then we decided on something more fitting for our passage of dialogue – “Go and fetch them down then, you old grouch, or there’ll be no pie for you tonight!”

    So it got me thinking about why they laughed. It may have been that, in my professional capacity as a teacher, it was just an unexpected utterance. Maybe they felt excitement for catching a glimpse of my youthful side! Perhaps it was a side effect of relief from having to decide where to put speech marks (they did find it bash-your-head-against-a-brick-wall hard)…

    But I think it’s more likely that they just perceive me as being old, and old people don’t say words like that. I mean, OMG, totes cringe! 

    The thing is, I want free access to all lexical choices available to me without wondering whether I’m too old to use some words, and it’s only going to get worse with age!

    So this got me thinking about when Dad first wrote lol in a text message. It was appalling.  The second time he did it, it was appalling. The third time, it was appalling. Over the years, I've been desensitised to it. Nevertheless, it still manages to provoke a dull cringe.

    BUT, now that I have experienced the situation from the oldies side…

    Dad – I give you permission to use ‘lol’ freely and without constraint. Paddle in the lexical pool of the Urban Dictionary whenever you feel the desire to broaden your vocabulary.*

    And next week I’m going to exercise my lexical freedom too by casually describing something as ‘sick’ at school, just to see what happens.

    * Just don’t use any ‘new’ words in surgery.

    Or when I’m at home.

    Monday, 24 October 2011


    Yesterday, I went into town to buy a coat. I came back with two. 

    I surprised myself with my first purchase, a camel coloured trench coat from Oasis. I wasn’t expecting to buy a trench and definitely not a camel coloured one. However, Christopher did a Gok and persuaded me it was a wise investment, and I couldn’t disagree with the £50 price tag, especially when it was reduced from £85; I was saving money!

    Despite feeling very happy with such a successful start to the shopping trip, when we carried on walking round town, I couldn’t help but keep an eye out just in case I spotted a better one. I could of course take the first back if I needed to.

    I found the second item in H&M. As I tried it on, part of me hoped it wouldn’t be as good as the first one (that would save me a lot of umming and ahhing) but it really was, and at £40 it was a snip! It had a lovely fitted shape and yet it was a duffle coat, which was the sort of coat I had been looking for in the first place. Perfect!

    SO, I found myself with a dilemma. Should I:

    A) Buy the H&M duffle and take the trench back to Oasis? 
    B) Stick with my original purchase only and forget about the second option?
          C) Buy the duffle and keep the trench too?

    Finding myself reeling off a very convincing list of justifications at Christopher on the shop floor (quite literally at this point), I decided to plump for option C.

    My rationale sounded something like this:

    Firstly, the trench is quite a thin coat in comparison to the duffle, really suited to milder autumnal days than the harsh cold of deep winter. Secondly, the trench doesn’t have a hood but the duffle does and on some days I won’t mind wearing a hat but on others I will. Thirdly, the trench coat is quite light in colour and would be in danger of getting dirty if, say, we went for a muddy winter walk in the woods. It’d be better to have a darker coloured coat for occasions like that. The trench is also smarter so would be perfect for wearing over more formal clothes, if we went out for dinner or something. The duffle would look good in the playground… And so it went on.

    The moral of the story: I am a sucker for a sale and victim of a consumer culture. That’s not to say it’s society at fault and not me, like I’m passive to the materialistic and falling for two coats has been done unto me in some uncontrollable way. That’s not what I mean. Only I whipped out my debit card in an all consumed shopping frenzy. Only I have two new coats hanging up in the hallway.

    I have my hands up here. It’s my fault. I’ve allowed myself to be caught up in the materialistic. Again.  Every now and then it smacks me in the face. Like when I find myself mindlessly posting a photo of a possession or when I block out the world in favour staring at my laptop screen, browsing online shops, or when I buy two coats. 

    All of this got me thinking about how I felt when I came home from Africa. Stepping off the plane back onto English soil, I hoped that I would live more frugally. I hoped that I would remember how material things count for nothing and life is only rich from the people who you meet and the experiences you’re lucky enough to have. Africa gave me that reminder full on; it was stark and it was in my face and I knew it and I understood it. Like, I properly understood it. When I stepped off that plane there is NO WAY that I would have bought two coats. I wouldn’t have bought one. Because really, I don’t need one. 

    So, where does this realisation leave me? Will I return the coats? Will I take one back and keep the other?

    Honestly? Probably not. I’ve been sucked back in and I’m feeling weak to consumerism and I like them too much (and there was a plethora of other factors influencing the coat buying, which I haven’t mentioned, such as needing to look smart at work and working hard to afford myself a treat. And stuff.) 

    So I’m going to enjoy these coats but I’m not going to post a picture of them of Facebook.

    And maybe I should buy a plane ticket back to Africa.

    Mostly Medicre (Maybe)

    When I was in Africa, I wrote a blog. Well, the blog wrote itself really. It wasn’t hard to think of things to say when every day I had the privilege of seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling or experiencing something totally new and eye-opening.

    When I got home, I stopped writing it.
      Partly because its title was Africa based and I was no longer in Africa, and partly because the grey of England on my return didn’t inspire in me the same desire to write.

    I decided that life - ‘normal’ life - was mostly mediocre. 

    But of course, I was wrong. So here’s my blog, Mostly Mediocre (Maybe).