Sunday, 1 May 2016

May Day


We recently had a special St. George's celebration in the town square, aptly named St. George's Square. There were all sorts of things to see and lots of games for the children to play. Here I'm showing you the Maypole dancing because it's so appropriate for today - May Day.  The children came from a nearby town and surroundings and they really were very good.  Do click on the pictures to enlarge and see the intricate patterns the ribbons make whilst moving down the pole.  In the background are the musicians, all dressed beautifully in their special costumes. It was great fun!







Maypole dancing has been around for many years and symbolises the rites of Spring.  The maypole is a phallic symbol, which is plunged into the ground to ensure fertility for the coming season.  These days we don't rely quite so much on that sort of symbolism, or do we? Perhaps we should because our world is very fragile these days and we do well to respect it.




I wish you all a wonderful May Day. Will you be dancing round a maypole?

Star


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

My English Garden in April 2016



Finally the sun came out long enough for me to take some pictures of the garden.  These were all taken this morning when the light is at its best. It's so lovely to be in Spring again!




I put a hanging basket in the lilac tree so I could observe the bulbs growing at eye level.


Pink tulip surrounded by 'love-in-a-mist'.


Red and orange striped tulip having been nibble in three places!


 Some of these yellow tulips were gigantic. Now mostly over, they still add a lot of welcome colour to the border. The grassy looking stuff in between is wheat, left over from chicken food years ago. It comes up every year.





 The log pile with tulips growing through it.


Panda, looking surprised to find me in his garden!


Our small pond. No frogspawn so far this year.



Panda, looking to see who is round the side of the shed...



Panda, having a sleep on the step in the sunshine.


Happy days people.

Star

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Wishing you a very Happy Easter



As the wheel turns, it is once again time to wish you all a very Happy Easter. Whatever your religion or none, this is the time of year to look forward to hope in our troubled world.

I have been absent more than usual on here and the reason for that is my inability to get used to the picture arrangements on my Apple computer. I just can't find what I want. On my Sony laptop with Windows, I used Picassa and it was great but on here Picassa is not liked and I struggle to find the pictures I know and love. Where are they? How can I find them again?  Are they still there.  I must be one of the few people who doesn't like this new arrangement!

Today is a good day to plant some seeds, seeds which will grow and feed the family or delight the eye and I am nearly ready. Yesterday I bought some new pea seeds and they will go into the new raised bed - picture to come. I also found some sunflower seeds in the shed and got interested in those. However, the weather here in England today is awful.  We have had some sun and some showers and a blustery storm is forecast sometime today in this region of the South East. So I won't be planting my peas today after all. I will be curled up indoors watching television or reading a good book or doing some other indoor activity.

One interesting fact of note in the garden this Spring is the longevity of the daffodils.  They seem to have gone on and on and they have been beautiful. It's almost as if they are making up for last year when so many of them came up blind for some reason.  I'm glad they are here today.  Their sunny faces are so cheering and they don't seem to mind how much the wind blows.  They just nod it away and keep going.

So whatever you are doing today, enjoy it. We are here today and gone tomorrow so let's enjoy what we can and share our joy with others too.

True Happiness

Some have much and some have more,
Some are rich and some are poor.
Some have little, some have less,
Some have not a cent to bless.
Their empty pockets, yet possess
True riches in true happiness.

Oxenham

Sunday, 14 February 2016

My Memoirs - 1986 part 4


Happy Valentine's Day!


... Christmas came and went and we returned to school as was usual, round about the 5th January. The interviews for the School Secretary post were arranged and I was one of four candidates.  I was nervous about it. I hadn't been for an interview in over eleven years, but I was very pleased to be included.

January is always a difficult month in a school. There are so many bugs and viruses about and the children, from five to seven years old, are just building up their immunity and seemed to go down like flies. Sometimes it seemed like half the class was out with something or other.

Then the blow struck! My David, also five years old, started complaining that he felt unwell. He had a bit of a fever and he looked flushed but he didn't have the usual sore throat that all my children seemed to succumb to. I thought it might pass during the day, but I was worried. Here was a new challenge for me. Did I keep him home or send him to school? Things were different now.  I had a job myself, albeit temporary and I didn't want to let my own school down. I made an appointment at the doctor's office and phoned my Head Mistress for advice. She advised me to stay home, telling me they would manage and asking me to let her know what the doctor said.

I was lucky to get an appointment that same day and by the afternoon it was becoming obvious what was wrong with David.  He was looking more like a hamster as each hour went by. I felt sure he had the mumps and when we got to the doctor's office, he confirmed it.

The next day, I phoned work again. "David has the mumps" I said. 

It couldn't have come at a worse time, with the interviews looming on February 3rd and me trying to create a good impression.

To my surprise, the Head Mistress invited me to come into work, with David, accompanied by his spider-man duvet and a pillow.

"He can sleep under the spare desk in your room', she suggested. "so long as you keep him away from all the other children, he will be fine".

I was very surprised, but pleased and relieved.  I knew David would be a good boy and do as he was told so I agreed. Luckily I had the car that day. It was one of the two days a week which I had access to it, so we went in to the school and David curled up and went to sleep under the spare desk. He had a couple of toys with him, but slept most of the time and was no trouble at all.

The Head Mistress seemed to think that it was a good thing for boys of that age to get the mumps so she was not unduly perturbed about it and I was grateful to her indeed!

In about a week David was better and returned to school and I turned my attention to the interviews. Falling on Edward's birthday, I felt it was a good omen and I was proved right. The interview went well and later on that afternoon, I was telephoned at home and told I could start permanently the next week.  I was delighted and immediately started looking through my catalogue for that special vacuum cleaner that I had promised myself once I got a permanent job.

+++ Star

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

My Memoirs - 1985/6 - Part Three

David's first day at school - September 1985.

The Autumn Term in a primary school is a very busy one.  From the first day to the last, there is something important happening. We celebrated all the major religions, starting with Diwahli - the Hindu festival of light, Harvest Festival, through Jewish New Year, Eid and finally Christmas came. In the school we celebrated before Christmas so that all the decorations could be taken down before school broke up for the two week Christmas holiday. Some teachers liked to celebrate Epiphany on or around the 7th January so the three Kings would be dressing the walls in a wonderful frieze for a few days in the New Year.

In between the festivals, the nature tables were overflowing with produce - everything from old birds' nests to tiny acorns.

The staff were very kind to me when I started my temporary assignment and I soon became familiar with the daily routine,which was not too onerous for me in the beginning. Later on, in 1989, when the first computer arrived and new software was installed, life became easier on one hand and more difficult on the other. It's strange how those things happened.  We were aiming towards a paperless office but in reality, there seemed to be more paper generated because it was so easy just to print off a new class list, every time someone joined or left the class.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Here I am in the Autumn of 1985 expecting the temporary assignment to last until the end of the year so I didn't want to get too used to it. However, I knew that the outgoing secretary was not coming back and she had had her retirement party in the school hall with tears and cheers to celebrate her seventeen years there.  So I had hopes.  I liked the atmosphere at the school. I got on well with the Head Mistress and the staff and the distance of the school from home was just right to fit into my daily routine.  It was tiring but doable.

David enjoyed his first term at his own school. His teacher was straight out of college, new qualified, young and enthusiastic and he did well from the start.  In the picture above he is wearing his new spiderman shoes, which he was very proud of, I recall!

My job was advertised in all the local newspapers and in the local educational supplement (no websites in those days). The job was paid for forty weeks of the year - no pay in the holidays for the ancillary staff, but the pay was spread out over twelve months so there weren't any gaps.  It came with a calling; not everyone would like to be in a building with 150 five to seven year olds on a daily basis.

I applied and was pleased to get an interview. The interview date was set for February 3rd 1986, the same day as my middle son Edward's birthday.  He was going to be eight years old, which involved a party and lots of friends round to the house for games and cake.  

Perhaps it would be a double celebration? I had to wait and see and it seemed a long wait. It was not a foregone conclusion that I would get the job but I suppose I had an advantage because I was there doing it. I would have to wait and see...

Next time: 1986 - an interview and a case of the mumps.

Monday, 8 February 2016

My Memoirs1985 - Part Two



Cont'd... so David and I started school together; he as a five year old starting school for the first time and me as a 34 year old going back to work after an eleven year break. I suppose you could say we both found it a bit daunting. In fact he started a few days before me, setting off in a new uniform and with a new coat and lunchbox. I started in my only good suit but with some new court shoes.  After all, we all need a new pair of shoes when we start back after the summer holidays, don't we!

The Head Mistress (now called Headteacher) was kindness itself to me. She introduced me to the outgoing Secretary who had been in post for 17 years and left me in her capable hands to learn the ropes.

The office was small but adequate with a wooden desk in the middle supporting an old Olympia typewriter.  At least that was familiar because I had used one just like it in the past when I worked at Electrolux in 1968. There was an old, dark green filing cabinet next to the window and the walls were covered in class lists. It all felt strange but somehow cosy and I felt I would enjoy my short time there just so long as I could cope at home with looking after my four men, three sons and husband.

The children at the school were between five and seven years old - ages I was very familiar with. There were six classrooms, all with the names of colours - red, purple and silver were the oldest children, then came orange and green and finally pink for the 'babies'. Pink class started small and got bigger as the year went by and the two new intakes were admitted. One of my jobs was to keep up with the admissions. This was a time before computers so class lists were paramount and were constantly being updated by retyping because there was no other way of doing it then.  Word processors were a godsend when they arrived a few years later and when, in 1989, I got the first computer, my job became much easier.

On Monday morning, I counted the dinner money. That came in in small packet, almost all cash. It had to be counted and bagged up properly. It was a bit of a challenge to do it all on my small desk, but without too many interruptions, it was possible to do it by coffee time. The school was quite noisy especially at playtimes and I had to learn to do my work with a cacophony of small voices in the background and constant phone calls and doorbells dinging.

The days passed quickly. By Christmas I was getting used to the new routine and managing to fit in my home routine around it. I found that by working an extra two hours each day (for no pay), I could collect my youngest from his school without having to go home first and then out again. So my days were full of a triangular walk -home to his school, then to my school. Then at three o'clock back to his school and then home again.  There was a bit of a wait after I collected David, whilst I waited for Edward to come out of his school next door because they were in school for twenty minutes longer than the infants. So we got home about a quarter past four, then it was lunch box washing and sandwiches to be made for the next day and then the dinner to cook.

Life was busy.

Next time: The job is advertised.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

My Memoirs - 1985

On the Path of Life

1985 was a very significant year for me because my youngest son became five years old and a few months later, I went back to work.

I had been at home with the children for eleven years so returning to work was very daunting for me. In a way I was looking forward to it but in another way not! I was wondering how many things had changed over those eleven years and was I going to be able to keep up with it all?

I decided to take it steady. First I needed to get David settled at school. Then I had to find a job. I had no idea if this would be easy or difficult. My skills had lapsed a bit because with three sons to bring up, it is not easy to keep up. Technology wasn't really an issue in 1985 - (I didn't use a computer until 1989). By then I was 38 years old already. When I left school I took secretarial examinations - shorthand and typing and that was deemed enough to set a young lady up in an office job.

I really wanted to go to University to study art and French, but that had been out of the question because my mother, who was divorced, had no way to afford it. So I knew that I would have to get a job, but that's another story.

Fast forward to September 1985. David took to school well.  The house felt empty without him and there were so many things that we needed and hadn't been able to afford that I was pleased to make a list of those things and decided to tick them off once I got back into it. Top of the list was a new vacuum cleaner! Somewhere further down was a sewing machine.

By taking it steady, I thought I would do temporary work. That would ease me in and maybe give me confidence. It came to me that it would be good to work in a school, if I could, because that would give me the school holidays to be with my boys and catch up with the housework. However, school jobs were hard to find and I didn't expect to get lucky.  Then I had an idea.... I would telephone the Local Education Office and ask them if they needed temporary help. I said I could be available in the town where I lived and could do as much or as little as necessary. To my surprise I was told that there was an opening at an Infants School near where I lived and I could go along and speak to the Head Mistress of the school in need.  The School Secretary there was retiring after seventeen years in the job and they wanted somebody to help until Christmas.  Their intention was to appoint for the new year.  In those days there were three intakes, one in September, the second in January and the third just after Easter.

I was nervous but dressed in the best clothes I had and, after walking David to his own school,  went along to the interview. The new school was a twenty minute walk from David's school and I was full of fresh air when I arrived.  The Head Mistress was friendly and welcoming and seemed to be pleased to get someone so quickly.  I'm sure I had a guardian angel looking after me that day because I just walked in to the situation without any real problems. Initially the post was for three months, which I felt was just right. The Head Mistress asked me some questions, which I was able to answer - nothing difficult, just general and we agreed that I would start the following Monday morning.

Tomorrow I'll tell you how I got on on my first day.