Words of Wisdom

Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Bell Boy Rings It In

I miss this place. With daily views down at an all time low I have to acknowledge that facebook is winning...

but I wanted to tell you about this...

We have a new Reception boy this year. He's 'one of mine'. Diagnosed with Sensory Modulation disorder, we think he's probably 'on the spectrum'. He's demanding huge amounts of time and resources as we assign a Teacher's Aide to him 1:1, mainly to ensure his safety. If he doesn't like the class activity, he removes himself. This might involve a saunter off into the less structured area of the classroom or a complete runner where we find him sliding up and down the wooden 'fill-ins', between stairs and wall; or hiding in a PE store cupboard. (He's VERY quick!)

Today was another of those classics. I was in the middle of a class with my year 9 maths kids when the fire alarm went off. We dutifully made our way downstairs, wondering idly whether this was the 'surprise' drill following on from the practice drill last week....
Once I had been 'ticked off' the list, I went looking for the little lad, to see how he was coping with the change to his routine.

Before I got there, one of our First Aid ladies came striding purposefully across the oval, with a face that would sink ships. As she approached, she pinned me with a killer stare and announced "BELL Boy set off the alarm" before striding off to inform the two attendant fire engines that they would not be required.....

I moved on to find Bell Boy making his way bemusedly from classroom to the evacuation area with his class. When I greeted him he was quite happy and seemed totally unaware of the chaos he had caused. Not so the rest of the staff and students, who cried for his blood like a banshee pack!

Tomorrow he has the day off but by Thursday we are back on duty,  in the defence of the realm. Wish us luck.

Friday, 6 December 2013

DONALD AND DAISY, You Little Bastards.......

The pale fingers of dawn are creeping around the edges of my curtains as something awakens me. I check my phone. There is a message from the Baby Angel many thousands of miles away in the UK so I exchange a few thoughts with her in the thinning gloom.

It is still quite dark when I heard the first quack.
"Hey, I hear quacking" I type. I swing my legs over the edge of the bed and shrug on the sky blue fleece dressing gown that will not wear out. Padding through the darkened corridor, lit by the glow of my phone, I make my way to the back door and peer through the glass to see if I can see the telltale silhouette of a bobbing head.

He (or she) is right there. Poised on one leg on the wall between spa and pool, its shadowy outline clear in the burgeoning morning.

The little bastard.

Bearing in mind the earliness of the hour, I employ only a partial version of my tried and true method, leaping across the patio, vaulting up the stairs and stamping my feet on the wooden deck. The duck slips into the water and hastily makes for the other shore. I race for the long handled pool scoop and wave it savagely at the slightly nervous looking creature who simply paddles off in another direction. I give chase; it redirects. I redirect; it paddles faster, just out of reach of my pole. I forget the hour and ROAAAAAAARRRRRRR like a beast.


The duck takes off in a whirr of wings and I settle back to still my heart.
No really, I am a bit out of breath.

I reach for my phone. As I am reporting the incident to the BA, another duck (paler, smaller) plops into the water beside me. BLOODY CHEEK!

I employ my methods again but this time the creature squawks furiously and shakes its feathery little tail insolently at me, lifting off the water for a few feet and landing again amidst a flurry of splashing and flapping. I swipe, it lifts and lands. I swipe it lifts and lands in the spa. I swipe again, roaring all the time; it lifts and performs a series of landings all the way across the pool with my scoop millimetres from its fluffy arse...rather like chasing a skimming pebble. Finally, it gives up and takes off proper, quacking indignantly all the while. I skid to a halt and realise I have broken out in a sweat; my heart is hammering and I have no further need of exercise for the day. I may also have pulled a hammy.

Quickly reporting my exploits on the phone to the BA, who is warm and comfortable on the sofa in England, I become aware, in the rapidly growing light, that Duck 2 has not gone far. It is up on the next level, near the shed, lurking. Waiting. Hovering like a vulture over the gasping breaths of an expiring animal (That would be my gasping breaths as I get my pulse rate down). I throw myself up the next flight of stairs, waving my stick again, and it saunters off behind the shed. I race back down the steps to retrieve some decorative stones from around the asparagus fern. Lobbing a few, ineffectively, behind the shed, I am satisfied to hear some scuffling and then stillness. I think it went over the fence. Or under. Pretty sure my girlie stone throwing had nothing to do with it though.

Returning poolside I station myself on the spa with pool scoop by my side.


A whirr of wings as the second duck buzzes me from overhead, on its way north.

Friday, 29 November 2013

It's A Good Job I'm No Longer A Maths Teacher

So I'm totting up hours and the like, for next year.

Our timetable consists of 7 x 40 min lessons a day.

There are around 7 'severe' kids who will need 1:1 or at least 2:1 support from me next year. I'll give them 3 lessons each, any less and you don't get the consistency for progress. 21 lessons.

Then there's 5 lessons of Curriculum Support in the middle school and 3 lessons of flexible Year 9 support...that's 29 lessons. Admin, allow 6 lessons, that's the same as I've had this year...not ideal but it'll have to do....so...all up 35 lessons! Perfect!

With a sense of smug satisfaction and nagging amazement that it has worked out so well,  I saunter out to ask my colleague if I have missed anyone.

"So, I've worked it all out and it adds up exactly to 35 lessons per week!"

She looks at me curiously, at about the same as the lightbulb goes on in my head.

"But Arizaphale, you only work FOUR days a week."

28 lessons.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tales From The Chalkface: The Christmas Concert Edition

Scene: The stairwell. Myriads of tiny people in blue and white striped uniforms are returning from the gym, the scene of rehearsals for the Christmas Concert.

Me: (walking past a lively group, lining up at the foot of the stairs) Hello Reception! Have you been rehearsing for your concert?

Child 1: (bouncing from foot to foot with excitement) YES!!!!!!

Me: (continuing archly)And are you all going to be 'WOW' on Friday night?

Child 1/2/3: YES, YES, (giggles and squeals)

Me: Are you all going to be FANTASTIC?????

General Melee of Children: YES! WE'RE GOING TO BE FANTASTIC!!!!!!

Small But Determined Voice from the back of the line: I'm NOT.

Some five year old has been watching too much Monty Python, methinks.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Garden Makeover Part 3

So now most of the major makeover stuff is done, we are concentrating on a bit of honest to goodness gardening. Naturally, there is a modicum of trial and error involved.

This was the original plant-up.
Now there is a slight bone of contention associated with all this. Lately, I have mentioned to Himself that, in the interests of marital harmony, we need to do more things together. We need common projects. He seemed to acknowledge that this would be a good thing so in the spirit of this, I asked if we could go to the nursery the following weekend and choose some plants for the new garden. I got a vague agreement and went off to church on the Sunday, excited to know that we would be browsing plant sales together afterwards.
I got back to find him potting up plants on the back verandah with multiple trays of veggies and my personal least favoutite garden flower, the marigold, ready to be installed.

I went ballistic.

He was completely stunned. He completely failed to understand why I was upset.  After all, he had certainly considered my interests at the nursery when he had mentioned to the shop man that I liked flowers. He had also talked to the shop man about whether I would like the planters he had chosen. He was allowed to bring them back if I didn't like them however; I'm not sure planting them up before hand was a good way to ensure they were easily returnable.

We planted the cursed marigolds and some sad looking petunias, but several weeks later they had not made any progress at all and so this weekend I ripped some of them out and planted up some perennials instead!

Look how well the tomatoes are doing up the back there!

 Himself has put some gravel on the slope down.

Can you see actual tomatoes on them thar vines???

Himself actually outdid himself with this application of gravel and bed edging last weekend.

So that's as far as we've got. It's keeping us busy though and seriously, has gone a long way to re-cementing our relationship. Which is a good thing.....  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Garden Summary Part 2

So this is where I left you. The new wall was up and we had a whole of of dirt chucked back onto the slope where we wanted to create a garden, no paving and as yet, no pergola.

Meanwhile, down the other end of the garden, the decking and pool fence had gone in.

And, after a great deal of angst, the pergola went in.

 Then the paving went in just before the BA's birthday bash....

Once the big birthday was over, Himself charged No 2 Son with landscaping the other side of the garden. It took over 3 months to motivate him sufficiently to achieve anything but: we were impressed!

He re-used the old sleepers and excavated some overgrown, half buried rocks that we didn't even know were under all the overgrown shrubbery, to make the rockery.

He even created a sloping ramp from the top so we could access the middle level.

After the lads had dug out and refilled the horrid clay-ey soil with 15cm of topsoil, we started the fun part! These are capsicums.

Below: Some cucumbers. Unfortunately, only the middle one has survived. We are unsure as to why.

Lettuce, tomatoes on stakes, chillies and some random flowery things that Himself bought, probably on special and without consulting me. (Grrr. I don't like marigolds.)


The sloping ramp..

First stage of planting done...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Garden Makeover: The Summary Part 1

My husband and I are finally undertaking a joint project; something we can work on together and connect over. But first, let us remember what it looked like before.....

Here we are, shortly after we'd moved in. The challenge: failing retaining wall; Alcatraz-like fencing; random rectangle of lawn, the sole benefit of which was as a place to wash down sails after Saturday sailing; the garden slope at the far right of the picture, a mass of overgrown bushes and shrubs which seemed to signify.....nothing.....

Another shot of the useless sloped garden. At this time I was still attempting to keep it under control and had been hacking things back. This shot (probably 2005) was the last time I really made any attempt to do anything with the area. Firstly, the arguments with Himself which ensued around 'pruning' lodged heavily in my heart and kind of rendered me inert. I guess I was hoping if I did nothing and he saw how bad it got he would endorse my efforts. No such luck. He just didn't seem to notice. In fairness, I've got to say it wasn't an easy task anyway. Apart from the disapproval of Himself, the steepness of the slope; claylike nature of the soil and drought of 2006-9 all served to thwart any enthusiasm I had for working in that side of the garden. As evidenced by this shot, taken around 2007-8.

As you can see, things were deteriorating rapidly. The timber sleepers continued to rot and bulge  and the Small Boy, his brothers and mates delighted in using the paved area as a basketball court/ soccer pitch/cricket pitch/skateboard ramp, resulting many a broken branch/light fitting etc etc etc.

This was the eyesore at the other end of the patio/lawn. Note the ivy and lack of lawn where shade and soccer goals prevented growth.

By 2010 the state of the retaining wall was evident for all to see.

Christmas  2012 and we had given up all pretense of trying to keep the place neat knowing that it would be trashed by bulldozers within months.

I love this shot of A Free Man on New Year's Eve 2012/3. It was a last hurrah before the builders moved in on the 6th of Jan.

With their diggers.

 But finally, after all the chaos...some order.....

A bit of paving, a pergola and we were ready to start the sloping garden project.....

(OK so the paving hasn't been done here...but you get the idea....)