Thursday 31 October 2013

My Month in Numbers - October

"October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book."
John Sinor

I couldn't have put it better myself!  Hands up all those who are imagining being curled up in a comfy armchair with a warm blanket around you in your PJs and slippers.  Mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a table nearby, a roaring fire in the fireplace, curtains drawn and the muffled sound of the wind swirling round outside? 

Well don't get yourself too comfortable because we need to go out for a drive in my NEW CAR!!!!  Yes, I have a brand new bright red shiny Mini ONE.
I had my last mini for nearly 10 years, I loved it so much I didn't want to part with it but the time had come and now I have a new one to love. 
While we drive around I can tell you that this month we had 4 hours without power at work which resulted in an early end to the day for me at work. Of course I was devastated to have to be at home sewing instead of sitting at my desk,(fortunately my side of town got power back 2 hours before the school side)absoltuely devastated. 
We've only had one birthday this month so it was light on the candle front (no pun intended) 24
There was a storm in this area where they were predicting the end of the world ,doom gloom and terror, flash floods and hurricane winds. It was pretty windy for an hour or so and we had a bit of rain but nothing as dramatic as they said it would be. Although I hear via Facebook that some areas about half an hour away had 55 hours with no power.  My daughter was unable to get into London for work for 2 days due to problems on the train lines (this meant she had to work in the local branch office, which did not please her as all her work was sitting on a desk in London.) The reason for 2 full days of no trains? 240 trees blown onto the lines for the Greater Anglian region alone.   On dog walks we noticed 4 trees that had blown over on the pathways around where we live.

Talking of dogs, someone had a wonderful 2 hours in the mobile dog groomers van

At work I have entered the details of 340 girls who want to come to our school next year.  Sadly we only have 180 places so a lot of them will be disappointed. It also means that I have spent hours inputting 160 files of data for nothing.  Let's not dwell on that eh?
500mg per tablet of the antibiotics I was prescribed for sinusitis.  And if Denise is reading this, step away now, it's the antibiotic that you are REALLY allergic to! I'm pretty sure it won't get beyond the firewall of the computer, but we don't want to take any risks do we?

This Month in Numbers project is organized by Julie Kirk, who suggests a Communal Count each month, this month it was
Letters were thin on the ground this month, 27 were directly addressed to me. If we were including junk mail, it would have been higher. 
Now, as to numbers relating to weather, let's head over to the weather app to see what they predicted for us on the Day Of The Big Storm
98% chance of rain?  29mph winds?  Let's get back into that armchair with a good book and the hot chocolate.

See you in November!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of tea in October

I feel like this post should come with a health warning, don't come too close, I'm full of cold and sinusitis! A nice cup of tea will go down a treat though so come on in, sit down and let's pour a cup.
Did you remember to put the clocks back last night?  Back to Greenwich Meantime, Summer is most definitely over.
I'm about to have a week's half term holiday and it couldn't have come at a better time.  Apart from the fact that I'm feeling poorly, hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon and I'll feel better.  The term at school ended in the most horrible way, with a memorial service for a Year 9 student of our who was killed whilst crossing the road a week ago.  The feeling of sadness and loss encompasses the whole school and it is heartbreaking to see the outpouring of grief from her young friends and classmates.
So how will I spend my week off - with weather forecasts for torrential rain, storms and gale force winds on Monday!  Well, I have a couple of new projects to start.  Fabric related!  My niece came over a little while ago and saw my quilts and suggested that for Christmas presents I could make her two children floor cushions with a patchwork cover.  I didn't need to be asked twice!  I sourced some floor cushion pads on the Internet and now they have arrived, the fun begins.  I had already ordered this fabric for Jacob's ...

and I just need to get a couple of other plainer fabrics to add to this little stash.  I think it's great fabric for a 2 year old boy!  So I shall be returning to the fabric shop I discovered last week to do a little retail therapy and get the fabrics for his sister's as well.  Then I think it's safe to say that the dining room will be turned into a sewing room for the rest of the week!
I have to make a bit of a confession.  My scrapbooking mojo has disappeared completely.  I don't know why - maybe I've run out of photographs that I want to use, but then again, there are many clever scrappers out there who manage to make beautiful pages with not a photo in sight!  Or maybe it's just that sewing has taken over a little and once I've done a bit more of that, I'll get back to may pages again.  Do you ever feel like that?  And if you do, how do you get back into it? 
I'll be telling you how much I am enjoying the Friendship Quilt project and how easy it would be for me to rush in and get all 12 squares done, right here, right now!  But I'm trying hard to pace myself and clever Fiona hasn't sent us all the addresses so I can't anyway.  Let's just say that I have been practicing with the next two.  I can't wait to see more of Abi's as they arrive.  Did you see the one Deb Turtle sent her of a tea cup with a little loopy handle?  So clever!  And I know that othere have made a start too as I've seen little hints here and there on blogs and instagram.
Well, I do hope I have not shared too many germs with you along with the cup of tea.  I see that my daughter is gathering her hairdressing equipment together which means that my long overdue hair cut is about to happen.  My hair hasn't been this long for years.  14".  But that's quite long enough, should I go for something a bit shorter again, keep it more or less as it is with just a trim?  Decisions, decisions.  You'll have to wait until next month to find out when we get together again!
This post is part of an idea put together by Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams - please pop over there and see who else is about to put the kettle on for you!

Saturday 19 October 2013

One picture - twenty words

A trip out in the new car ended in a surprise discovery. An Aladdins cave of beautiful fabrics. Patchwork paradise.

Friday 11 October 2013

Going Postal

Has anyone else noticed Julie Kirk going a bit 'postal' recently?  Lots of ideas for using postcards and stamps and anything post related really.  So I thought I would set you a puzzle.  How did a liking for Davy Jones and the TV show The Monkees lead to a 45 year old friendship with a person I've only met three times?
The story starts in 1968, with me at primary school and loving the music of The Monkees.  I loved the TV show so much that I joined their fan club.  I used to get newsletters every now and again and in one edition they were advertising a pen-pal service to link up fans in different countries.  Oh wow.  I knew I wanted to get involved.  I filled in my form.  'What state do you want your pen pal to come from?'  Well the one state I had heard of that sounded glamorous was California, so that was what I wrote.  However, when they wrote back, they said they didn't have anyone in California (what?  No Monkees fans in California - I can't believe it!) but they had someone in Chicago who matched my likes and dislikes.  And so I wrote a letter to a total stranger, explaining how I loved the Monkees, especially Davy Jones, I had a black poodle and I loved  writing stories.  I wrote it on a special air mail letter that was wafer thin paper with little flaps and a striped edge to it.  I took it to the post office and posted it off.
I probably drove the whole family mad wondering when a reply would come, wondering IF a reply would come and who would be reading my letter. A few weeks later I was so excited to see a letter on the side with my name written in an unknown handwriting style.  It had an unusual stamp on it and a return address in Chicago.  It was from a girl called Cindy (I'd never heard of anyone called Cindy before apart from my Sindy doll and it sounded so foreign and exotic).  She was sorry it had taken her a while to reply as she had had an accident and had to have her arm set in plaster so she couldn't write properly.  She had a dog too, and she was just a little bit older, but loved the Monkees.
And so began a long distance friendship.  We've grown up together, each of us got married, had children, gone through the ups and downs that life threw at us.  We went from writing letters, to sending cassette tapes, where we would talk on one side and record our favourite Top Ten music hits on the other.  Then emails and now Facebook messages.  We've met three times.  She came over when we were 20, then we met up when I went to Florida with my family in 1998 and she came over a couple of years ago on her way to join a cruise ship for a European cruise.  All thanks to a chance letter sent into a fan club magazine!
There's been a fair few stamps stuck on letters and postcards and so I hope that this will work in linking up with Julie's theme.  Looking at these stamps, I'm guessing it costs a lot more than 20c to get a letter sent Air Mail from the US to the UK nowadays! 

Thursday 10 October 2013

Power down

A strange thing happened at work today.  At about 11.30 we had a power cut.  It's not something that happens very often because not only are we a school but we are only about half a mile from the local hospital, so we're kind of on a protected circuit.  When the power hadn't come back 5 minutes later, the guys in the IT network office started to get a bit twitchy.  Because the backup computer generator only lasts 10 mins and they only had 5 minutes to close everything down safely or there would be mega problems with loss of data. 
After about half an hour, rumours started to fly.  Parents started coming into school.  They were 'just passing' and wondered if we would be closing early.  Because of course, our whole telephone system crashed and no one could ring up to check.
Delivery drivers came in with tales of the whole town being without power.  Shops closing as their electronic tills couldn't work.  Traffic lights being out of action, roads being gridlocked.  The train station couldn't sell tickets as they are all automated.  The mobile phone networks must have been deluged with extra demand as it was hard to get a signal.  The school manager managed to use the payphone and talk to National Grid.  It could be out for up to four hours.  The canteen manager came to ask how she was expected to cook dinners for over 1000 people. 
Soon the rumours were stating a 24 hour shut down and it was not only our town but 'the whole of the South East of England.'  I guess it's a form of 'Chinese whispers'!
Now it's fairly easy for a teacher to carry on as normal, although any interactive whiteboards etc. were useless, but imagine being a secretary.  How much work can you do with no electricity?  No computer so no typing, no letters, no labels. Can't get on the school's database so can't do any reports, can't add any admission applications, can't even track down students if their parent's turn up with a PE kit that got left at home as we can't check their timetables.  So we tidied.  We sorted paperwork.  We filed.  By lunchtime our desks were pristine.  Never has my desk been so tidy.  And at half past 2 I was sent home!!!  Even once power is resumed it takes an hour and a half to reboot the network which took us past my going home time. 
And the even better news?  When I got home, expecting defrosting freezers and warm fridge - the power had just come back on my side of town.  But it really makes you realize how dependent we are on electricity because whilst we were smugly saying how we could use our mobile phones, what would happen once the batteries ran down? Those of us who grew up in the late 70s reminisced about the way things were during the power cuts back then and how we all soldiered on. 
So whilst it was nice to have an early end to my day, I've got a heck of a lot of work left to get through tomorrow!

Monday 7 October 2013


I'm not sure that I've really got time to go to work at the moment, there's far too many interesting things going on.  I'm absolutely loving my quilting and so excited to be taking part in the Friendship Quilt organized by Fiona.  She sent us the information for the first month and I was fortunate enough to have the day off work on the 2nd of the month.  Abi had chosen the colours of 'neutral with a pop of colour' and I loved the excuse to go browsing for some new fabrics.  I know that Abi is currently at university in Durham where there is a beautiful cathedral and I also know that the church is a big part of Abi's life - so it was perfect for me to do a cathedral window pattern.  I made two squares, one with pink on taupe and one with taupe on pink then drove the family mad by asking which one they thought was best!  This was the one they chose:

So of course, I get to keep the alternative one ;-)
We've now got the colour schemes for everyone else so I know that my next one will be peach.  Which gave me the perfect excuse to go out shopping for more fabric, which was also the perfect excuse to go out in my new car!  I thought I loved my first mini but I really love my new one.

So, I'm jumping ahead of myself - Saturday was the EK crop and the class was taught by Ann Freeman who had designed two lovely layouts for us.  In the morning I 'did my own thing' (drank mugs of tea, ate cake and did a lot of chatting with Jane) and even managed to get a couple of scenic photos of Ibiza onto a layout. 

For the first of Ann's layouts I used a couple of pictures that we took when we went out for a meal after J's graduation.  Photos of him and his sister are rare now so it was lovely to get one of them together as well as one of him and his girlfriend.

Karen had cooked up a storm and provided us with scrummy cupcakes.
Clearly a scrapper needs to keep her sugar levels up to keep the creative energy flowing. 

karen's cakes 2

And so onto the next of Ann's layouts which I used as an opportunity to display a self timer picture of me and Paul.  We always do a self timer picture on hotel balconies when we are on holiday and it always involves about 20 pictures before we get one that we both like! 

I had my performance appraisal at work on Friday and my line manager said that no matter what was going on, and however busy we were, I was always cheerful and everyone always comments on what a positive attitude I have all the time. I think she was a little taken aback when I said that the reason for that was that I didn't work full time and that because I have Wednesdays off, I am never more than two days away from a day out of the office doing something I enjoy (ie not being at work!). I suggested that it might be nice if everyone only worked 2 days then 1 day off then 2 days and then a weekend, but she didn't seem to think the board of governors would agree to it!  Shall we take a vote?  Hands up who thinks that everyone should have an extra day off mid week.  Motion carried, see you all on Wednesday!

Sunday 6 October 2013

Storytelling Sunday - A Level Toys

Act One
Scene One

Three 16 year old friends are sitting around a table in the needlework classroom of a secondary school.  The teacher is telling them the items that they will need to make in the next two years in order to get their A Level: an outfit for themselves comprising of a jacket and at least one other item, an item of children's clothing incorporating hand embroidery and a soft toy. 

The girls search through a Simplicity sewing pattern book for inspiration.  The smallest of the group sees something that takes her eye.  Something that will fulfil the last criteria and give her the opportunity to customise it to show off an extra sewing skill.  In order to make life much more difficult for herself, she decides to make the base of the toy out of cordoroy which will prove very difficult to work with and cause endless frustration trying to line the fabric up with the pile going in the right direction and all stripes of the cord matching exactly.  She will also choose to do hand sewing to make the major part of the toy, trying a technique she has never used before.  Something that seemed a good idea at the time, but will untimately reduce her to tears as the teacher looks at it and says 'No, I can see your stitching.  Unpick it and start again.' 

After finishing the items and passing the exam, they will be packed up and put in the loft.  They will be transported during each future house move and each time she will be quizzed 'Are you sure you want to keep this?' and she will reply 'Yes, I spent HOURS making that, I'm never throwing it away'.  For it does not only represent an exam project, it reminds her of the hours spent in the company of good friends, chatting, laughing, sometimes crying, discussing hopes and dreams for the future.  It holds such memories of two years of growing up from a school girl to a young woman.  And one day, someone will encourage her to bring down that toy and share it as part of Storytelling Sunday.