Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review of 2015

Ah!  What can I say about 2015?
It's been a difficult year in a few ways.
From what I remember about January, there was pain from spinal stenosis, work, and the realisation that Spark was not a well doggie.
February brought a pain management appointment, and I had an injection.  I started knitting a "knit-along" blanket featured in Let's Knit magazine.....I enjoyed making the squares, and when I had completed it some months later, I gave it to Becky.
February was also what I hoped would be the worst month, as I took Spark to see the vet, and with my three the decision was made that it would be kinder to let him go.  Even though that was over ten months ago now, it still upsets me.
February is also the anniversary of Dad's death.
March through to early June was unremarkable, or at least I can't remember anything standing out, other than having a yearly meeting/review of my job.....fairly standard procedure that seemed to go innocent I can be at times.....rarely looking for ulterior motives for people's actions.
June started off fairly quietly, then the non-teaching staff restructuring was announced.  They laughingly called it a proposed restructure at first, however as the year unfurled, it became clear that they wanted to be rid of certain members of staff, first they "ring-fenced" each section of the non-teaching staff, but removed it when they were told....too late for some, that they couldn't do that, as it was essentially forcing certain people out of work. So....eventually, after voluntary redundancies, there came applying, and subsequent interviews for the remaining posts.  Although it has been claimed to have been a fair process, I don't think that it was, as there were more posts than people, yet it ended with me being made compulsory redundant.
Then, as well as that last bit, December brought named storms, storm Desmond managed to damage the power supply to the area, and we were on generators eventually, and switched back over to mains five days later. There's been another two storms since, again dropping loads of water on already sodden ground.
So.....after all that, I am hoping that 2016 might be kinder to me, and the general population.
There were positive things as well. Edwin graduated, and now has a job. Oliver submitted his thesis, and goes for his Viva on January 13th...  after that he should be a Doctor, a PhD doctor, not a medical one. Samantha is still at the same place, and settled in her new flat. And Becky has started her Masters year.....oh! And Oliver has a job as well.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Yule feast....a bit late, but still great fun

Due to my kids now being bona fide "grown ups"....with jobs!  Yule feast was late this year.
I can't remember if I've posted about this a brief explanation.
As my three got older and left for university...I decided that I didn't want to put pressure on them "having" to be with Mum for Xmas.  It was a joint decision that every year we would pick a day where we were all free, and get together. I make a buffet type meal, and when we are all here, we have food, as much, or as little as we want, when we want it. Now they are older, I do say to "bring your own booze".
We usually listen to music, catch up with each other, and play board games. The tv is not usually on, unless we are playing a multi player Wii game.
Also,  a few years back, I bought a large package of assorted dice, and gave everyone a set, and challenged them to create their own game, that we would play at the next Yule feast.  (There's just me left, I know what I want to create, just need time in which to do it.)

Oh boy! That's not brief!

However, in the past we've held Yule feast before Xmas, as that was most convenient.  This year, the most convenient was between Xmas and New Year, yesterday to be precise.

I made sweet chilli sausage rolls, quiche, pork pie, and heated through some jalapeno things.  Pickles, crisps were also available, plus plenty of cheese and crackers.

By three o'clock everyone who could be here was....Becky couldn't this year, as she'd not spent any time with her Mum over Xmas.
We opened gifts from any of us who hadn't seen each other before this Xmas, then we started games.
New game...Liar, once you "get" it.
Then Samantha's game,  a start/finish game, with "guards" throughout the course who you had to challenge in "top trumps" manner.
Then onto WobBally.....I bought this some years ago, it's a bit like Jenga, only you have around seven layers of marbles, each layer has around 15 marbles.  You have to knock out one marble, without knocking the stack down.
We play it as a knockout. Things are usually a bit "giddy" to say the least by this stage. I never win this, but it's fun.
Lastly, we played Oliver's game from last year....another one which is simple on the surface, but a lot of fun. You roll two dice to get the category,(99 in all,) then you roll another, (20 sided,) for how many you have to name.  Now comes the fun bit. After being allowed a minute or two to think, you have to name the number of things, before the sand timer runs out, about a minute......but.....the other players can decide whether to accept what you say, or not.....for elk tree......just doesn't exist......don't ask, "is that allowed?" don't have time....and the other players can also heckle with incorrect answers, suggested. We found out that Samantha's bf gets the giggles very whenever it was his turn....we did our best to get him that he couldn't possibly win.
Obviously all in good faith.........after can't win everything.....I never win anything, except the Oxford dictionary game....which might be why we don't play it.

So......if you have kids, and they're getting older, rather than hope they can be with you on Xmas day.....and you want them all there at flexible, adopt the Yule feast idea....choose a day when you can all be there, and have a great day.....and, if you've more leisure time than your children....let them sort the day out....just be there.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Inside I'm excited

Why? I hear you ask.
I am on a waiting list for a Maine Coon kitten.
I'm at the top......and new kitties expected late January.
I met some back in August....and before I wasn't convinced that a Maine Coon was for me.....however they were great.  One of them found that my skirt was slidy, and kept climbing on my lap and sliding down it.
So...I'm excited...but don't want to jinx anything.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Restful, but lonely day

I should be used to this by now.
Boxing Day is Dad time......fact!
Although earlier, I made more fudge......we had almost run out.....but then sent it to my ex's house, with Oliver and Edwin....along with his Yule gifts and two!boxes of truffles!
So....busy until about 2pm, then I had to sort out a pressie for my friend...she unfortunately has her birthday in January....(she lives in the postage can be a problem,).......however, I've started her gift....already have something......
But I'd forgotten how long it takes to source the threads needed for a cross stitch project.
Deep into the project now.....Hope that she likes it.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Busy day

Phew! I've had such a busy day today.....and I know that tomorrow will be just as busy.
I am glad that I try to have a "low key" Xmas, because I think that I'd need much more time to prepare. Or maybe it's because I make a lot of things for myself, and like to give people homemade sweets as gifts.
Anyway, tomorrow I will be making some more melting middle truffles, as I have lots of the middle left.
Truffles anyone?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Check your facts before opening your mouth.

Dear education minister,
Check your facts before opening your mouth.
From me.

Why? I hear you ask.
One of today's lead news stories is reporting that the education minister wants schools to put filters in place on pupil internet access to prevent them becoming "radicalised".
If he bothered to check first, he would have found that schools have very stringent filters on their internet.....that's point one.   The computers in many schools are getting old, and subsequently are slow, pages can take up to 15 minutes to load....point two.  You average teenager likes to have access to information is frustrated by my point two, and moves on.......point three.  Large swathes of printed information seems to lose the attention of any but the very intelligent, or very determined, teenager......point four.  Most teenagers have home internet access, which is faster than school connections, with more up to date equipment......parents can put filters in place,  but pc savvy teenagers could easily get around them.  In many cases the teenager is the one who has set up the home system.......point five.
So, Mr education minister, get your facts right, and look at problems from ALL sides. I have listed five reasons why schools are probably not responsible for "radicalisation" of teenagers.
I will point out that I do think things should be done to help prevent it, however, his idea is like offering a person with a broken leg a sticking plaster and a paracetamol, telling them to go away, everything will be OK.
Here's a "radical" idea!  How about stop making this country a more difficult place to live in, unless you have plenty of money.  Start treating the bulk of the people with the respect they deserve, and perhaps people will stop looking for a better life.
I know that I have gone off at a tangent a little here, but things are never as clear cut as politicians would like us to believe.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Spinal one!

This is not easy.
Today I went to see Mum, to deliver her presents, and my sister's.
On the way down there, I trapped a nerve, and was in pain by the time I got there.
I'm getting really frustrated by this thing that is taking over my body in an invasive way. I feel so helpless.
All I can do is wait for my next pain management injection.
And being 200% honest, it can't come too soon.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A day of annoyances and unusual happenings.

So, today was the final day of the "Afternoon Tea" exams. This is the first exam of the GCSE  catering exam, it's worth 20% of the final marks.
Most of the week has passed without note, however, today we had a "first"......a student flipped out because one of their recipes bombed. Ingredients flew and the student in question left the room, declaring that they had done with catering.
The student was persuaded back into the room, and they finished their exam. Whilst the Teaching Assistant was working on bringing them back to their exam, I cleared their work area, and weighed out the ingredients for the remaining recipe.
I also looked at what caused the "meltdown", a Swiss roll that wouldn't, decided there was enough to save.
The student came back. I suggested that they turn the Swiss roll into a sponge sandwich....and that was agreeable, and then I talked the student through their fourth recipe.....I felt so happy that the student completed their exam, and might have put themself on target for a great final grade.
On the negative side, I encountered someone who thought that it is OK to correct another person's pronunciation of certain words......I have been brought up to view this as the height of rudeness, as there are regional variations in pronunciation, and to correct it is being crass. The person who thought that how they spoke was the only way really annoyed me, and as I was in a situation where I couldn't express what I'd been brought up to accept ......I just couldn't express my feelings, and views.....I still have an intact tongue, which is a wonder.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Revision, guided or individual task?

Just been reading a discussion on the school Facebook page.
Between two pupils.  The school has been closed due to power cuts.  There should have been mock exams for years 11 to 13, and mini mocks for the other years.
The two pupils start out by complaining about the fact that school will be open tomorrow, and pointing out that we are still having unpredicted power cuts.  One points out that the school will be dark if the power goes off, and school will have no way of contacting parents.  All valid points.
However, they go on to discuss the exams that should be happening. And, bear in mind that they have had three days off.....they were complaining that they haven't had any revision sessions.
Excuse me if I am be presumptuous, but they have been at home, most of the time with no power, so why the hell haven't they been revising?
I know it's years since I was at school, but revision sessions were in addition to the normal school day back then. We were expected to revise in our own time.
I would be interested to know if it is just our school who spoon feeds reluctant pupils during lesson time, or is this trend widespread?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A few unusual days, and it's not over yet.

As well as other stuff, we had Storm Desmond this weekend.
It has caused widespread flooding and power cuts in North Lancashire and the whole of Cumbria.
In Lancaster the only two bridges over the river Lune had to be closed.  This was because a container from a construction site by the river was washed into the Lune, where it collided with both bridges.  They had to be inspected when the tide was at it's lowest for damage.
This meant people trying to drive from Lancaster to Morecambe, or vice-versa, had to go to junction 33, Galgate and drive up to junction 35, Carnforth......junction 34 was difficult to access at one point.  Another thing that closed the Greyhound bridge was there was an awful lot of flood debris caught on the metalwork below the bridge.
Today, things seem to be improving travel wise.

On top of that the flooding caused a huge area to be subject to power cuts.
Over the last couple of nights, Edwin and I have been having discussions about power.
Our conclusions were, it might be useful if households had a small wind turbine and solar panels.
Another thing we discussed was it would be a great idea if some enterprising engineers developed tidal energy harnessing, and other hydro electric power.  After all, the tide comes in twice a day, without fail.
I know that this is a serious discussion, and not my usual "at a tangent" posts.
I won't apologise, the situation caused the discussion.

On a lighthearted note however, it is odd what some people consider essential electricity usage, as we wait to be transferred back onto the national grid electricity supply. (We are currently on generators.)
A plea went out over The Bay radio to limit your electric use to essential.......and I saw someone pressure washing their car yesterday......and I thought what a moron! I didn't comment to them, as I didn't want to be verbally abused.

A big thanks to all the essential services who have done their best to keep everything OK. Thanks to the guys, and gals, from the electricity companies working flat out in order to restore power to the area, and a big thanks to The Bay radio for cobbling together a Heath Robinson studio in order to keep residents informed of progress, school closures, electricity supply updates, road condition and flood reports. You're absolute stars.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

What an absolute farce!

If what happened this last week, to me, happened in a film, or TV drama, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was far fetched.
I'm not going into details, and apologise for being cryptic, but why bother doing something that looks like you're being fair, when you have already made your decision beforehand?
I can't elaborate at the moment, maybe I will be able to, given time to come to terms with things.
A new chapter in my life is about to start, and I am, understandably more than a little nervous, but I need to make this work for me.