Saturday, 31 December 2011

Spread a Little Happiness

I've pretty much given up making New Year's Resolutions. It's such a bad time of year to make changes and I've ususally failed by 10 Jan (ok, 2 Jan), but last year I made a sort of resolution to be more positive. I decided to resist the urge to moan or complain and, instead, to see the good in things, to make a concerted effort to be happier with my lot.

I do think you can get into a mindset of being unhappy and negative (I refer you to my MIL), therefore I think you can do the opposite and develop a more positive outlook on life instead.

To a certain extent it worked; I felt like I had a more pleasant time at home and at work and, if you ignore the little wobble in June when hubby crashed the car, I had a pretty good year.

Well, this year, I've decided that my sort of resolution will be to spread the happiness and try to do some random acts of kindness when I have the opportunity.

So here's to spreading a little happiness in 2012:

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Thursday, 29 December 2011

So that was Christmas .........

It passed by in a haze of trifle, turkey, strudel, champagne and chocolate!

Today is the first day I've managed to sit down and have a rest. I cleverly invited one of daughter's friends round today to play so they are busy amusing themselves by playing on the Wii with husband (husband occupied too - bonus!)

Looking back on the last week or so, it's been a pretty good Christmas. (Just ignoring the fact that some miserable scrooge cut the wire on our Christmas lights outside - hope Father Christmas didn't visit their house!)

I thoroughly enjoyed my Christmas Concerts, not having a cough or cold made a huge difference.

Christmas Day went well, with MIL only referring to the war, dead or dying people about every 15 mins at which point husband would say very loudly

"Talking about the war again, mother?"


"Would that be a dying or dead person then, mother?"

until it became such a joke, she nearly got the point and stopped.

I cooked a ready stuffed turkey breast for the first time and I'm never going back to a carcass again!

Daughter made and decorated the Christmas Cake:

(Victoria Sponge because she said she didn't want fruit cake)

and last night some friends came round with far too much champagne and tried to pursuade me to cook a meal for their daughter's in-laws on Friday for them, but I resisted. I've got my own guests to cook for tomorrow.

Now settling down with a good cup of tea and a big box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates.


Friday, 23 December 2011

Nearly there........

Two more sleeps!!

We're nearly ready.

Hubby has just popped off to the butchers to collect the turkey.

Today will be spent doing lots of Christmas baking.

I've one more concert on Christmas Eve at the Bridgewater Hall.

Then it's time to party!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

All I Want for Christmas

Finally made it to the end of term!

Last week consisted of work every day and rehearsals and concerts every night so I'm exhuasted.

Mind you, on Thursday I did a full day's work, drove daughter home, hopped on the tram to Manchester, sang in a concert in St Ann's, went to the Chorale Christmas meal on Deansgate, hopped back on a tram and was in bed by 10.30PM. Not bad!!

Now all is calm in the Working Mum house as we do the final preparations for the big day. Just two more concerts to do on Monday and Christmas Eve.

Yesterday consisted of tidying and DIYing to Michael Buble's Christmas album followed by the week's "It Takes Two" (I hadn't had chance to watch any) and then the Strictly final.

Looking back on the day of Michael Buble and Harry Judd I said to daughter "You know, there's something about a man who can sing, and a man who can dance............."

(Yes, I admit, I looked wistfully into space as I remembered when I was in sixth form and had boyfriends who could do both)

To which she replied:

"So, basically, daddy is the wrong man for you."

Ah, hadn't thought that through, had I?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

More Stuff to Keep Me Busy

And this week I got a cold!

Yes, I've been struggling on with a runny nose, sore throat and aching bones.

And I made it to the weekend!

Which is quite surprising given that I am dealing with this at home:

You try having conversation on the phone from work with the builder about how you want your patio, paths and driveway to look when you leave the house in the dark, return in the dark and can't see a thing he's done until the weekend!

I've also managed to get all my reports written and make two dozen cakes for the school Christmas Fair:

(Overcompensating working mum syndrome kicking in?)

Then yesterday we attended said Christmas Fair and bought our cakes back (no, only joking). Daughter and I tried our hand at ice skating at the fair, but it wasn't ice, it was plastic and ice blades are not meant to glide effortlessly sideways, that's how you are supposed to brake! Consequently, not a lot of skating took place, mostly clinging and falling.

Today I charged hubby with taking daughter to swimming and riding and sending her off on the Brownie Winterwonderland trip and stupidly decided to brave the Trafford Centre to do some shopping I couldn't do via t'internet.

"I'll go early" I thought, "I'll be in and out before the crowds"

How wrong I was.

Seems the crowds also decided to go an hour before the shops opened.

Then, at the first till my credit card was denied.

And the second.

"Odd" I thought.

Then I remembered that I had topped up my phone that morning and my credit card provider always stops my card when I top up as a security measure and I have to phone them and confirm my last week's transactions before they release it.


I'll be glad to get back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Getting close to the edge now

Things are piling up.

26 reports left to write by Monday, then form reports due.

Strike looming on Wednesday and things are getting very stressful at school.

Husband came home last night saying his car's engine management system light was on and he would be taking my car for the weekend (to various football things) while I try to sort his car out.

I'm not happy.

The stress is beginning to show.

I forgot to order any fruit this week in my Tesco shop.

I forgot to buy a present for the girl whose party daughter is attending this afternoon.

No Christmas shopping done yet.

I just want to go to bed until it's all over.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

November Nightmare

November is always the worst month of the year for me. In the last three weeks I've worked 50 - 60 hours a week, I've done a Sixth Form Open Evening, an UVI Parents' Evening, marked 100 tests and then written the corresponding reports (only 50 more to do this week) and then yesterday, I worked another Open Morning!

On top of that there's been extra parental duties with daughter attending a party last Saturday (I took my laptop and sat in a corner writing reports, very antisocial, but very necessary) and husband abandoning us to yet more football matches leaving me to do all the choir, piano, swimming, riding and Brownie runs. I even had to return to school after dropping daughter at choir to attend her Parents' Evening!

Talking of which, I was chatting to another mum before I went in to see daughter's teacher and I said I was going to raise the issue of the amount of homework that is set (about 3 hours a week; yes, she is in year 3) and the other mum said, quite earnestly, "Do you think they don't get enough?".


It seems I am lacking in the pushy mum gene because I don't make my daughter do an hour of homework a night! Apparently I am dooming my child to failure because I just rely on the 8 hours hard work my daughter and her teachers put in every day to educate her. Funny how she came top of her year in the creative writing test, then. Do you think that has anything to do with her playing imaginatively in her room and in the garden, reading lots of books on her own and writing her own stories in her myriad of notebooks? And do you think my playing those games of Uno, Set and Acuity with her might have something to do with her having a maths age 4 years above her actual age? And all those books she reads and tells me about with great enthusiasm, do they contribute to her having a reading age 4 years above her actual age? There are many more ways a child can develop than being chained to the kitchen table doing homework.

Okay, rant over.

Anyway, back to November. It's the Christmas Fair time of year as well and so far I've donated bottles and chocolate the the school fair, decorated a Christmas cake for a colleague to raffle, donated chocolate to the Brownie's stall at the church Christmas fair, made 10 sweet and toy filled jam jars for daughter's class stall at the school Christmas Fair and sold 20 raffle tickets for the PTA (okay, I wrote a cheque for £20 and wrote various people's names on the stubbs) and I've yet to bake the cakes to take in the day before for the Cake stall. Help?

On top of all that, I'm rehearsing for Christmas concerts in Manchester and at the Bridgewater Hall and also rehearsing a piece written to celebrate the Olympics which we are performing around the country next year.

And I think there is something happening next month that I should be getting ready for............

What is it now?...........

Oh, that's it!


Monday, 14 November 2011

Ghost of Christmas Present

Saturday night I was sitting on the sofa next to husband who was watching some programme about people who can't sing. I was playing with my i-touch.

"Oooo!" I said, "Michael Buble has a Christmas album out!"

(I love cheesy Christmas songs)

"Yes" said husband, "it was on the radio"

"I've got enough money on i-tunes" I said, "I'll have that!"

and proceeded to download it.

Fast forward to Sunday night - I am sitting on the sofa next to my husband who is watching some programme about people who don't like heights jumping out of helicopters.

Suddenly, husband says:

"What would you like for Christmas?"

"I don't know really, maybe Will Young's new CD?"

"Michael Buble has a Christmas album out, would you like that?"


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Another thing they never tell you about having children

While we were away I realised yet another thing that no one tells you before you have children. I hadn't realised until I was about to tuck in to my sea bream on a bed of samphire with broad beans:

In seven years I have yet to eat a hot meal in a restaurant.

I can order something hot, it arrives hot, but the minute the meal hits the table:

"Mummy, I need the toilet"

Not only that, she always wants the toilet a further three times during the meal thus rendering my food cold.

I have eaten cold pizza, cold pasta, cold chicken, cold soup, cold fish, etc, etc.

Perhaps I should just give in and order salad?

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Fortnight of Fun

Since my school changed to a two week October half term three years ago it has become a much more relaxed holiday. I still have a list of jobs to do, cars to MOT, garden to sort out and such, but at least I have another few days to relax. My enlightened headmaster said that this would reduce illness in the second half of term for both staff and pupils and he was right; it has made a huge difference to the second half of term.

So what have I been up to?

Well, I went to see Peter Kay in "The Tour that doesn't Tour Tour" at the MEN Arena and laughed until my face hurt.

I've made lots of pumpkin cake and thai pumpkin soup, but none of it survived long enough to be photographed.

I went out for meal with two girlfriends, which felt like having a pass out for the night because I never go out unless it's work or choir related.

And we spent a few days here:

Husband surprised us by booking a couple of nights at Albrighton Hall, near Shrewsbury. He found a great deal on a family room for dinner, bed and breakfast. Unfortunately we didn't find out until we got there that it must have stated in invisible small print somewhere (it certainly wasn't on our booking confirmation) that the dinner part of the family room deal only applies to the adults of the family. Huh? Don't children eat?

Anyway, we decided not to starve our daughter, so we all enjoyed lovely food in the restaurant, we swam in the pool and we had a couple of days out.

We spent a day in Shrewsbury visiting the Abbey ( where daughter was amazed to see the 1000 year old tomb of William the Conqueror's right hand man, Roger de Montgomery) , the castle and wandering around the amazing Tudor streets with higgledy piggledy buildings.

We also spent a day at Ironbridge where we walked over the first iron bridge in the world:

and then visited Blists Hill Victorian Town (use for the TV series "Victorian Pharmacy"):

Tonight daughter is at a sleepover, husband is out for the evening and I've got my bar of Green and Blacks and an episode of Downton Abbey to watch. Great way to end a great fortnight!

Monday, 24 October 2011

It's Wagner, but not as we know it!

As part of her musician's badge, daughter needs to talk to the tester about some music she enjoys. Now, over the last few months I have been trying to broaden her horizons and have been introducing her to some classical music. Mozart has featured heavily, but there have been other pieces which I thought would appeal to a child and I hoped she would choose something that I have played to her to talk about.

"I like that 'Raid of the Vikings' " she said.

"I don't know that one" I said, "Sing it to me"

She promptly did:

"Da da da daaaah dahhh, da da da daaaaah daaaaah"

"It's the "Ride of the Valkyries", sweetheart"

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Proper Little Imp

Quick update:

Daughter was enrolled into Brownies this evening and is now a proper Imp (it figures).

She has gone to bed reading her "How to Be a Brownie" book which she brought home this evening.

I now have the list of dates and contact numbers on my pinboard in the kitchen and I've just spent an hour sewing Pack, County and Six badges onto her sash.

All is well with my little Brownie!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Brownies, Badges and Bread

Well, I finally got round to phoning Brown Owl and all became clear.

I explained that I have a depsondent little Brownie who wants to be enrolled and did she know when that was likely to be? She said that they take a while to complete their book for enrolment, but she would dig out daughter's book and see where she is up to and test her tomorrow on her promise and law (she'd better relearn them!) At least I can now explain to daughter and she seems happier.

Brown Owl also said that she gave out a list of dates and events at the start of term, but I suspect my dizzy Izzy of a daughter walked right out of the hall without collecting one! She will give me another one tomorrow.

Brown Owl has now explained to me how they do their badges, some on Brownie nights and the others they do independently. She told me the sort of evidence we need to produce and we've already got people to sign for her Rider, Swimmer, Swimmer Advanced and Musician badges as she already fulfils the criteria. Izzy's also made invitations to invite her grandparents to dinner and fireworks on 5 November as the start of her Hostess badge.

She's now a happy Brownie!

And the bread?

Husband bought me this book for my birthday:

I've been trying out some recipes.

Who knew that cherries and chocolate would go so well in bread?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Concert, Curtains and Cake

It's another busy Saturday morning: I've done the Tesco shop, unpacked it whilst doing four lots of washing (all the while husband sat watching the rugby, don't go there) and I've got two minutes to check my e-mails before I have to get ready to go and do a concert tonight for which I haven't yet memorised three pieces of music (wonder if I can do that whilst driving to the venue?)

Whilst whizzing round the house tidying up I noticed our weeping fig had very aptly weeped sap all over the carpet, cabinet and curtains in the lounge and during the last six slobby weeks, in which I have only entered the lounge to open and close curtains, the sap has happily grown some lovely green fungus on the cabinet and curtains - aaaaaargh!!

Good job I've just broken up for half term and can now sort the house out.

And I will find time to phone Brown Owl, promise.

Oh the joys of being a working mum!

And the cake?

Well, I've bought a pumpkin to make Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes.

Watch this space!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

No Brownie Points for Brownies

Daughter started Brownies five months ago and apart from the initial "Welcome to Brownies" leaflet, I've had no information at all.

Five months on and every week daughter comes home upset that she hasn't done her promise yet, but I've no idea what she needs to do or how long it will take, so I can't placate her.

I haven't had any lists of dates of meetings (vital since daughter does not have local school holidays so I don't know whether Brownies are meeting or not) or of Church Parades, consequently we missed the first Church Parade of the year. Luckily my MIL told me when Harvest Festival was so we didn't miss that one and I assumed they would need a Harvest Box.

Last week, in sheer desparation, knowing that some sort of subs must be due, I sent a blank cheque with a note saying I didn't know how much it was or who to make it payable to!

The last straw came tonight:

Daughter said that this week was "Badge Night"

"What does that mean?" I asked her.

"Don't know"

I assumed that they would be doing some activities toward a badge.

When I picked her up I asked

"Did you get a badge?"

"No" came the dejected reply, "But loads of girls got two or three!"

"How?" I asked.

"Don't know"

I now have one very demoralised Brownie on my hands.

Now, I know there are some wonderful Brownie leaders out there who read my blog, so I want some advice:

I don't want to be the "mithery mum", but should I phone Brown Owl and ask what is going on, when daughter will do her promise, ask for a list of dates and what daughter needs to do to get badges? Or do I just let it run it's course and all will be revealed at some point?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Move over Freddie!

Another busy week in the Working Mum house.

Luckily, daughter's class teacher has been off ill this week. Well, not luckily for the teacher, I hope she is better soon, but it did mean a reduction in homework this week and we've done lots of other stuff instead.

The first thing I did was to become

"Best Mummy in the World, Ever!"


Well, my daughter loves Lauren Child books and has ambitions to be an author herself, so when I saw that a local bookshop was holding the launch of Lauren's latest book "Look into my eyes" (about Ruby Redfort; Clarice Bean's favourite character) with food, a talk from Lauren and a signed copy of the book, I got straight on the phone and booked daughter and me a place.

Daughter was so pleased she could hardly speak!

Then she said,

"Shoot me if I'm not already dead!"

I think that meant she was happy!

She also wants to enter the Ruby Redfort Code Creator Contest that accompanies the launch of the book so I've been teaching her about different types of ciphers and she's been leaving coded messages for me all over the house!

Music has figured highly this week as daughter passed her audition for a local choir and has continued to show enthusiasm for learning the piano. On Thursday she asked me could she play "Bohemian Rhapsody". No, not after two lesson sweetheart. But then I got the sheet music for Bohemian Rhapsody and I played the "bummmmm, dum, dum, dum" bit while daughter played the "tink, tink" bit. (You know what I mean, just hum the intro to yourself.) We could hardly play for falling about laughing!!

Then, this weekend I have been preparing for a cupcake demonstration I'm doing tomorrow for some Duke of Edinburgh Award pupils at school. I decided to go for a Halloween theme, so daughter and I have been busy making all kinds of cake decorations:

So now I think it's about time to sit down with a cup of tea and catch up on "Strictly", another favourite of daughter's and mine.

So much better than homework.......................

Friday, 23 September 2011

Rain Gauge Sends WM Over Egde!!

For the past three weeks I've been drowning in daughter's homework.

9 pieces the first week.

11 pieces the second week.

12 pieces this week.

Surely this is too much for a 7 year old?

I can't bear her sitting at the kitchen table with tears streaming down her face any more.

We can't do the internet based maths one on a Monday because daughter doesn't have access to a computer on Mondays (she does her homework in the car before going to choir, then it's milk and bed when she gets home).

The only way she can fit in all her homework on a Thursday before piano lesson and Brownies is for her to have a picnic tea in the car so she doesn't have to eat at home!

I don't think choir, piano and Brownies is an excessive amount of extra curricular activity during the week, but I'm starting to think something might have to go to accommodate the homework!

And now this weekend's homework has just sent me over the edge.

"Make a rain gauge and record the rainfall every day for a week from this Sunday"

Excuse me?

"All you need is a lemonade bottle and a measuring jug"

Well, we don't drink fizzy drinks in this house and if we did, what are the chances of us having an empty bottle or finishing one within the next 24 hours?

And who has time to measure rainfall every day?!!

I did consider making it up, but they want us to send in a photo of our rain gauge.

Anyone out there got a photo of a rain gauge I can pass off as ours?

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Mystery of the Repelling Cakes

Yesterday, as per the tradition in my department, I made cakes for my birthday to take into work for my colleagues. This year I decided to make two types - chocolate brownie cakes with chocolate cream topping and red velvet cakes with cream cheese topping.

Now, the chocolate brownie cakes I have made before and the chocolate cream topping I had made before, but I thought I would have a go at chocolate transfers. I perused a few designs and then saw the perfect one for a maths department - Curves of Pursuit!! (Yes, I know, only a mathematician would get excited over curve of pursuit transfers). I melted dark chocolate and spread it over the transfer, then, after it had cooled, I cut out circles with a cutter and peeled them off the transfer to reveal perfect decorations:

Then came the red velvet cakes which I hadn't made before. It seemed a standard recipe with buttermilk and white wine vinegar, but I used gluten-free flour since a member of my department is gluten intolerant.

Now here's the mystery.

They looked beautiful when they came out of the oven.

They tasted light, fluffy and velvety (well, I had to try one to make sure!).

But then, as they cooled, the cakes came away from the cake cases!

Now these were Squires Kitchen top quality cake cases which I always use because they never, ever lose their colour. So was it the buttermilk, the vinegar or the gluten free flour? If anyone can tell me why they came away from the cases, and how to avoid it in future, please let me know.

Luckily, I managed to salvage a few:

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Birthday Cake

Today is my birthday and, for the first time ever, husband said he would make me a cake. I gave him a foolproof recipe for a Victoria Sponge, I gave daughter my cake decorating stuff including ready roll icing and cutters and left them to it.

And here's the result:

Best Birthday Cake EVER!!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Is it half term yet?

Where did that week go?

I've been rushed off my feet with all the new term stuff, including settling daughter into year 3 and pursuading her to do her homework each night. (She's reluctant to read aloud after a summer of reading to herself and she said she couldn't write about "Autumn in my garden" because it isn't autumn yet, see? all the leaves are still green - sometimes she reminds me of that girl on "Outnumbered")

Here's a short version of the week:

Monday; INSET day. Discovered that my personal tolerance for listening to information is about a quarter of the time I had to sit and listen to stuff. Hope I didn't miss anything vital. Also discovered that my interactive whiteboard in my classroom was broken, have to teach without a board.

Tuesday: Pupils back in school and I went back to Chorale; consequently lost my voice half way through the first rehearsal. IT told me that my interactive whiteboard needed a new power thingy (technical term).

Wednesday: Dealt with all the parents' complaints from the first day. (Really, who complains that the lessons are too easy for their child after one day? Of course we start off gently, they can't remember anything after eight weeks' holiday! And, yes, the year 7 text books are used; at £15 a time we try to keep them a while before replacing them! ) IT said they didn't have a power thingy so they've ordered one.

Thursday: Introduced the sixth formers to the library; hoping they remember where it is. IT said power thingy should arrive tomorrow.

Friday: Year 7 Clubs Fair, Dinner Duty and Epipen Training to fit in around teaching lessons. Power thingy will arrive next week. Ready to hit the bottle!

This week is going to be even more hectic as I have an Information Evening to attend and daughter starts singing in a choir and piano lessons.

Oh the joys!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Back to School

Tomorrow I go back to work after my lovely, long summer holiday.

Half way through the summer holiday I started to worry about going back to work, about jumping on the hamster wheel, teaching 130 teenagers a day, suffering from stress and generally being exhuasted all the time.

However, now, I'm ready.

I'm more than ready, I need to go back to work.

How do I know?

Well, I've started watching daytime TV.

I'm addicted to "Come Dine with Me", I'm trying to think of answers on "Pointless" and I'm on the verge of watching "Loose Women".


I definitely need to use my brain again!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Back to School "Whys?"


Why does daughter need 8 pieces of uniform, but 15 pieces of PE kit?
(I've always had a theory about the megalomania of PE teachers)

Why do school insist on every child having the same PE bag?
(Thus ensuring pupils pick up wrong bag or can't find theirs that has been taken in error)

Why do Clarks not realise that we will all buy school shoes in the last week of August and thus they need to stock accordingly?
(At £40 per pair we won't buy them any earlier in case of growth spurts)

Why do sports shops not sell hockey shin pads in August?
(I know it's not the hockey season, but daughter needs them for PE next week!)

Why did I not realise until I bought her trainers that daughter can't tie shoelaces?

Why does daughter have to provide her own pens, pencils, felt tips, rubber, pencil sharpener, ruler and glue stick (?!) for school when she is only 7 years old?

Just, why??

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Give me strength!

Izzy is away at my parents' for a few days.

Husband is off work today so he asked what we should do.

"Well, I'm going shopping for school shoes" I replied.

(That's school shoes for me, not Izzy.)

"I'll come with you" he said, "I'll just nip to the barber's first. I'll go on my bike."

Off he disappears into the garage to get his bike out.

Five minutes later:

"My bike's got a flat tyre. I'll have to drive."


"I'll nip to the dry cleaners while I'm in the car and pick up my suits"

Half an hour later he returns:

"I'll just phone the bike shop"


"They've got an inner tube, I can drop the bike off on our way"

Will I ever get to the Trafford Centre?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Cease and Desist

It appears that a blogger has been copying and using content from several blogs and passing it off as her own, including content from this blog.

"Thinking" has now been found out and this evening she has made her blog invitation only. She should do the decent thing, shut her blog down and learn from her mistakes.

Having made her blog 'invitation only' I cannot contact her to tell her to cease and desist, thus I am publishing the following letter for "Thnking":

Dear Sir or Madam,

You are using a work that I own the copyright of. The name of the work involved is “Conversations with a four year old - the one about being late” and "Anything you can do............." from "". It appears on a site operated by you at I have reserved all rights to this work, which was first published on and in 2009.

Your copying and or use of my work, which appear at the link above, is unauthorized. You neither asked for nor received permission to use the piece nor to make or distribute copies of them in the manner you have. Furthermore, you have taken credit for my work and caused confusion as to whom the original author of the work is. Therefore, I believe you have willfully infringed my rights under 17 USC §101, et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $100,000. Further, such copyright infringement is a direct violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and International Copyright Law.

I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of the work and all copies of it, that you remove any further works you may have stolen and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future. Furthermore, I demand that you post an apology on the site clarifying who the real author is and that you inform others that might have been misled by your misuse of the works’ origins.

If I have not received proof of compliance from you within 72 hours, I shall consider taking the full legal remedies available to rectify this situation including contacting my lawyer and/or your site’s administrators.


Carol Foster

aka Working Mum on the Verge

Update, 29 Aug 2011: Both of "Thinking"'s blogs have now been removed. I would like to thank Yellow Gal for alerting me to the plagiarism and to Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers and Crystal Jigsaw for their invaluable help.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fun in the Yorkshire Dales

Having spent a week in the Yorkshire Dales last summer, we decided to go back and sample more of the delights of this Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty and we weren't disappointed. Not only that, a week in a cottage in Masham, food, petrol and all the following days out cost, in total, around a quarter of that of our week at Center Parcs. (Hmmmmmm ........... food for thought)

So here's what we did.

We had a lovely day walking at Aysgarth Falls, after buying up half of the stock of the Wensleydale Creamery ("Abbot's Bronze" is the best cheese ever!):

After a morning at Middleham admiring the racehorses and watching them train on the Gallops:

there was an amazing trip to The Forbidden Corner (even after two hours we hadn't managed to find all the items on the list in this weird and wonderful garden!):

We had a free day at Lightwater Valley Theme Park (TGFTesco Clubcard points):

We enjoyed climbing all over the rocks at Brimham Rocks:

Whilst walking the Masham Leaf Trail (a walk punctuated with sculptures of leaves symbolising things about the area) daughter was delighted to be joined on our walk by a few ponies who wandered across the stream to see her:

We had a super day at Fountain's Abbey......

.............. and Studley Royal:

There was dressing up both at the Ripon Museums and at Fountain's Hall:

and of course, a trip to the Black Sheep Brewery, fudge from Joneva and ice cream from the Brymor Ice Cream Farm.

Guess I'll be going back on the diet now........

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Back and Baking!

I'm back from the Yorkshire Dales.

I've done the washing and ironing.

I've done the weekly food shop.

And I've been baking.


......... ever so sophisticated Earl Grey Cupcakes:

Just the thing for a summer's afternoon tea!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

These Boots are Made for Walking

We're off on holiday again soon to the lovely Yorkshire Dales to eat lots of Wensleydale and do lots of walking.

Unfortunately, daughter had grown out of her old walking boots:

So we had a day trip to the Lake District and bought her some new ones:

Spot the difference!?

Monday, 8 August 2011

Landmark Post

Can you believe it?

This is my sexcentennial post.

Yes, 600 posts and I'm still no nearer to "having it all".

But I am having fun!

Here's to the next 600:

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Cheese Anniversary

Today is our 18th Wedding Anniversary and according to Working Mum's (not-too-traditional) Anniversary List that's the "Cheese Anniversary".


Well, hubby asked me if I'd like to go out for a meal for our anniversary, but we went out last week for his birthday so I fancied doing something different.

After thinking for a while I decided that he could go to the Cheese Hamlet in Didsbury and buy some lovely cheeses (he has to have permission to go there because he always goes mad and buys the entire shop!).

So we're having baked Camembert, Grana Padano, Sage Derby, Hereford Red and Duckett's Caerphilly with a baguette from the French bakery and Scottish oatcakes, a few grapes and a nice bottle of red.

Hence, it's our Cheese Anniversary!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Sing us a song, you're the piano man

I'm so excited.

I've bought a piano!

Daughter will be starting piano lessons in September but we don't actually have a piano. Small problem. So I've been looking and researching for over a year now - upright, digital, ebay, loot, music shops, etc, etc. I've been offered a second hand upright and a clavinova, but they were too expensive. I was beginning to despair of ever finding a decent one in our budget when my lovely parents surprised us with a cheque from my dad's retirement money. They didn't even know we were trying to buy a piano - how timely was that?!

After much research and umming and ahing I decided on a digital piano. The big plusses being no need to tune it and the ability to plug in headphones so she can practise without disturbing anyone else!

So today we took a trip to Harker and Howarth's in Bolton, drooled over the Steinways (at £23,000 I decided we didn't have the room for one!) and bought this one:

(click on the picture to find out more)

She'd better stick at the lessons now!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

As a mother I am a constant worrier about my daughter's health, weight, height, eating habits, fitness, etc, etc. I'm sure you know what I mean.

One thing I've noticed is that during term time my daughter puts on weight. Sitting in school all day and eating huge portions of unhealthy school puddings does her no good. (And yes, I know she does, because I work at the same school and sometimes I can catch her at lunchtime in the dining room feasting on a portion of syrup sponge and custard that would feed all three of us at home!) The school nurse has reassured me that children grow like Christmas trees, out then up, out then up, but I know that those puddings are a slippery slope!

So, at weekends and in the holidays I try to redress the balance. There is lots of healthy food and lots of exercise: games in the garden, walks, bike rides, trips to the park, swimming, etc.

Since I bought my new bike earlier this year I have been out cycling with her a lot as she seems to enjoy cycling more than anything else, but I fear I have overdone it.

Cycling to the shops, to the Water Park, along the Mersey, down the Bridgewater Canal, all over Center Parcs for a week and then Delamere Forest has been too much for her.

When I asked her to cycle to the Post Office with me this morning she said;

"Mummy, since you bought your bike I've had the tiredest legs in the world!"

Perhaps I should give the poor girl a break?

Friday, 29 July 2011

Delamere Forest

This week we took advantage of the weather and took our bikes down to Delamere Forest for one of our Family Fun Days.

Delamere Forest is a place close to my heart. My parents used to take me and my brother there for walks and picnics and we used to get our Christmas tree there.

My grandparents use to pile 5 or 6 of us grandkids in the back of their car (you could do that in the 70s) and take us for walks and picnics.

When daughter was born it was a place we could go for a nice long walk with the pram and she first met Father Christmas there.

My brother proposed to his wife there and, as a wedding present from daughter, we bought them a tree there to remind them.

Now we take daughter for walks, picnics and bike rides. There are even open air concerts and a "Go Ape" aerial ropes adventure course now; never had that in my day!!

It's easy to get there by train (Delamere Station) or car (plenty of car parks) and the station cafe sells the most gorgeous Snugbury's Ice Cream ("White Mountain" and "Turkish Delight" are my favourites, not that I've had lots of Snugbury's ice cream, honest, I haven't)

So, if you want a nice family day out, pack a picnic and head to Delamere.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Plum Harvest

It's plum picking time again!

So far my plum tree has yielded 12lb of lovely ripe Victorias.

In the past few days I have made 7 jars of jam, 6 jars of chutney, one plum and hazelnut cake, 72 bars of sticky plum flapjack and one delicious plum drizzle cake:

Next I'm going to try plum and almond crumble slice........

For recipes click on the links

Monday, 25 July 2011

The difference between men and women, again.

This weekend there was a good forecast for once so on Saturday morning husband I were sitting eating breakfast deciding what to do. Spot the difference.........

Him: We could go on a bike ride or a walk or visit the new maze at Speke Hall.

Me: It's not raining so we're doing the gardens, weeding the drive, mowing the lawns, washing all the bedding and cleaning the windows.

Well, you have to take the opportunity when it arises!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Back, but exhausted!

We're back from Center Parcs.

And I'm exhausted.

As predicted, husband filled every minute of every day with swimming, cycling, walking, aerial ropes course, canoeing, crazy golf, quadbiking, archery, driving range, horse riding, laser combat, etc, etc.

You get the picture!

Actually, it was great fun, and we had such a good time.

What surprised me was how quickly I changed from being a caring mum saying things like:

"Are you warm enough, Izzy? Do you want your fleece?"

to running through the woods shouting

"Die Izzy, die!"

He he he!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Beware flying slugs!

Daughter and I were enjoying a walk and a chat on the way home from Brownies on Thursday evening when, all of a sudden, a slug fell from the sky and landed right in front of us.

Followed by another.

And another!

Raining slugs!

Then I realised that this was not a natural phenomenon.

It was a neighbour in his garden launching slugs out into the road!


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Oh What a Glorious Thing to Be.....

It's been a busy couple of weeks since I went to the Good Food Show.

It's also been a hassly couple of weeks for various reasons.

There's been some good stuff and some irritating stuff, but I've finally made it to the end of term!

Yes, I've broken up today!

So what have I been up to?

Well, there was Sports Day where daughter gave it her all:

At work there was Speech Day, "Picnic in the Park" featuring a Take That Tribute Band, our Department End of Term Meal and millions of reports to write.

There was singing in a concert in Manchester.

There was the usual taking daughter to parties.

There was driving all over the Northwest before and after work due to problems with husband's car. Don't get me started on last night's quest to find him at Saddleworth Golf Club!

And there was husband's triumphant second place in his work's Masterchef competition:

You can see why we were happy for him to practise on us at home:

(I taught him everything he knows!)

And now, finally, I can relax.........

......... well, apart from the shopping and packing for our holidays!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Good Day at Good Food

I had a great time at the Good Food show yesterday with my old school friend. You know you are meant to be friends when you independently choose exactly the same three courses at lunch and you both pick the best sausages in the show!

(Thanks, H, for organising the trip when I was too stressed to think about it!)

I was overexcited watching John Torode and Gregg Wallace in full flow hosting a Masterchef cookoff between Dhruv Baker and Tim Anderson. I chose Tim's dish, but Dhruv won; I never pick the winner.

I watched a bread making masterclass by Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bakeoff:

Unfortunately, they sold out of his book at his booksigning, so I didn't mangage to get a signed copy, but I have his recipe for stilton and grape flatbread that I just have to make.

I had lunch at the Masterchef restaurant (courses inspired by those made by Masterchef winners) and enjoyed an hour of peace eating good food and drinking good wine with good company, before hitting the stands again.

I sampled lots of fabulous food and purchased a few, including this:

Well, how could I resisit cheese with chocolate?

(click on the picture to go to the website if you want to get some yourself)

Believe me, it is delicious; I sampled it four times, just to make sure. Just had to.

I got home just before bedtime and told husband and daughter all about it and they, being great Masterchef fans, are so jealous that they have insisted that we all have to go next year.

I think I could manage another visit!

Stuck in the 1950s?

Today is Fathers' Day and earlier in the week I asked husband what he would like for Sunday lunch.

"Pork chops, stuffing and those roast potatoes you do with goose fat"

No fruit, vegetables or anything vaguely light and healthy was mentioned.

Have his taste buds not entered the 21st century?

I'm surprised he didn't ask for Spotted Dick and custard for pudding!

(He's getting this)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Food, Glorious Food

Yes, well done to those who guessed Masterchef.

I'm going to the Good Food Show!
(with tickets to see Masterchef in the kitchen theatre)

Being an almost lifelong subscriber to Good Food Magazine I've always wanted to go, but the show was always in November which is the busiest time of year for me, so I've never managed to go.

Funnily enough, daughter has been. Our fabulous childminder took her. I was so jealous.

Now they have a Summer Good Food Show and a while back an old friend of mine,"old" as in I've known her since we were 10, not that she is old, asked me if I wanted to go.

I was super stressed out at the time and couldn't think about it, so I said "Yes, if you organise it" and organise it she did!

So I'm off to my mum and dad's tonight for a quiet night's sleep (no snoring) and she's picking me up in the morning.

We've got tickets to see John Torode and Gregg Wallace of Masterchef and I'm going to stuff myself with samples, buy lots of goodies and generally indulge my love of food!

I'll let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

In which I look for the silver lining

It's been a bit of a week.

Short story - slight car crash on Sunday (husband's fault, no one hurt, two cars a bit crumpled), lots of hassle, lots of driving hubby to work at 7am and many hundreds of pounds worse off (mainly due to finding out hubby had points on licence which I hadn't told insurance company, because I didn't know, so they've bumped up our premiums by £250, trebled the excess from £125 to £375 and charged two admin fees of £15!)

Well, at least I've got something to look forward to this weekend.

Guess where I'm going.......

Clue: I'm going to see John and Gregg

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Cupcake Consolations

Today was the school summer fair. Thankfully it only rained for a little while at the start and then the sun came out and a good time was had by all.

There were lots of stalls, games and demonstrations in the arena, but the item daughter was most looking forward to was the cupcake decorating competition.

Well, she would, wouldn't she?

She spent hours this week making flowers, leaves and butterflies and then, on Friday evening she assembled her creation:

Unfortunately, she didn't win.

(I think the judges couldn't believe that a 7 year old could make such a creation by herself!)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Let them bake cakes

So daughter had an idea re my pension or rather lack of pension problem. She said that we should move to the country and then I could bake cakes all day and sell them to people.

"Why do we have to move to the country to do that?" I asked.

"So that I can have a horse!" she replied.

I see, an ulterior motive!

Monday, 6 June 2011

With a heavy heart I fill in my ballot paper..........

I wasn't going to blog about the strike ballot that's going on at the moment, but, this is a blog about a working mum and my job is teaching, so I shall.

When I started teaching I joined a very moderate teaching union that never, ever strikes and has always dealt with issues in a calm, rational manner whilst keeping us informed of the facts. I never wanted to be faced with a decision about whether to strike or not. Unfortunately, the government have decided to making sweeping changes to our pensions without any consultation and are not prepared to even give the unions vital information to understand their plans, never mind consult us or negotiate with us, so I find myself in a position of being balloted to vote about strike action for the first time in my career.

I'm not going to go into all the complexities of the problem, and believe me, it is complex, but I'll give you a quick precis in case you don't know what's going on.

To start with there is the fact that I will have to find an extra £1000 a year to pay into my pension (why? when we had a review of teacher pensions that we accepted in 2006 to ensure the future viablility of the scheme) or leave the teacher pension scheme altogether, there is the changing of the way they calculate the pension we will receive and future pension increases that mean I am going to be far worse off than I had planned for. Not to mention the fact that the government say I may not be allowed a pension at all!!

This is a big moving of goal posts. When I chose a career in teaching I accepted that I would earn less than my friends in other graduate professions, but that I would get good holidays and a half decent pension at the end of 40 years of lower pay.

However, the big one that scares me to death is the increase in retirement age. I know very few teachers who manage to keep going beyond the age of about 57. Most change to part time in their fifties to cope with the workload, stress and exhaustion before retiring early (on an actuarily reduced pension). It just isn't a job you can physically do for forty years.

Now, I've been teaching for eighteen years and in that time, in amongst all the coughs and colds, I've had the following:

  • I've developed asthma from using chalk
  • I've suffered two bouts of tendonitis in my shoulder (from writing on a board) so severe that I threw up with the pain
  • after one cold I suffered Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome for almost a year and was unable to do anything but work and sleep
  • two years ago, following a cold, I suffered Chronic Bronchitis for six months
  • I suffered a bout of debilitating migraines that led to my being on medication that knocked me out for ten hours a night
  • after being forced to cover lessons for a sick colleague on top of my own timetable I suffered Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • I've currently got Plantar Fasciitis in my foot which can't heal because I'm on my feet all day
  • I've been rushed to hospital in an ambulance with chest pains and an irregular heartbeat
And I'm only 41.

Do you think I can teach until I'm 68?!!

I reckon it's the government's way of making sure that all teachers die before they retire and then they won't have to pay the pensions at all!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Nearly Perfect Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

My favourite dessert by far is Lemon Meringue, so it makes sense that I would want to make Lemon Meringue cupcakes. I've made a few using different recipes, but never quite been happy with them. I can't quite master the meringue part - too crunchy, too gooey, not cooked through, etc.

Well, yesterday daughter and I went to a friend's for a barbecue and I was asked to provide cupcakes as my contribution. Perfect excuse to try out lemon meringue cupcakes with what I thought may be the answer to my problem, Italian meringue.

Here are the results:

Almost perfect.

The meringue was fabulous, just what I wanted. However, to make them perfect I think I need to make my own tangy lemon curd. But in the meantime here is the recipe for the nearly perfect cakes:

WM's Nearly Perfect Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
(makes about 18)

For the cakes
6 0z butter (room temp)
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz SF flour
3 medium eggs (room temp)
zest of a lemon

For the filling
jar of good quality lemon curd

For the topping
3 egg whites
170g caster sugar
small silver balls

Heat oven to 160 deg C.
Put cupcake cases in muffin tins.
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time beating until combined.
Add flour and a little milk until a light batter consistency.
Fold in lemon zest.
Put 1 tbsp of batter in each cake case and bake for approx 45 mins.
Cool on wire tray.

When cool, scoop out a teaspoon of cake from each one and fill with a teaspoon of lemon curd.

To make the meringue:
Beat the egg whites until soft peak stage.
Put sugar in pan and cover with water.
Heat gently until boiling.
Boil until syrup reaches soft ball stage (a small amount on a teaspoon dipped in cold water will form a soft ball when rolled between your fingers).
Then slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites whilst whisking on medium speed.
Turn up to high speed and whisk until bowl is cool.

You can now pipe the meringue on to the cakes and decorate with small silver balls.

The meringue does not need cooking since the sugar syrup sets the eggwhite, but I flashed them under the grill for 30 secs to brown just for aesthetic purposes.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Shops are So Last Century

So, following on from the last post, we set about looking for a DS for daughter.

Being a savvy internet shopper, I searched and researched, price compared and decided on a pink DSi from Tesco Direct. All without leaving my sofa.

Husband, being an old fashioned kind of shopper, wanted to actually go and visit a shop with unhelpful staff, no stock and no interest in actually getting us what we want. So I indulged him and we set off for that temple to commercialism, the Trafford Centre.

After an hour of

"We don't have any in stock but we could order you one" (John Lewis)

"We only have a preowned one with no instructions" (Game)

"No, we don't have any pink left" (HMV)

"We don't sell pink ones" (Currys)

etc, etc, he admitted defeat and we returned home with a very disappointed seven year old.

So it was mummy to the rescue; I fired up the laptop, found Tesco Direct's pink DS, used their voucher for £10 off, used my Tesco Clubcard vouchers to pay for it and gained 240 extra points at the same time! (So basically they've paid me £2.40 to take a DS from them)


Her DS arrives tomorrow!

Husband has now learned the power of the internet vs the inadequacy of shops. Even my mecca, Hotel Chocolat, didn't have the whisky truffles I wanted for my dad - they told me to order them on-line!

Well, since they've sent me a 10% off voucher for entering their Easter Competition............

Hmmmm, must try their new Summer Desserts, Peach Melba Knickerbocker Glory, Cherry Pop Slab and Making Sandcastles Raspberry Puddles.

Oooooo, the Summer Collection comes with a bottle of Sparkling Rose and a bottle of Prosecco!

Ooops, think I've discovered a drawback with internet shopping - far too easy to add stuff to your basket!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

To DS or not to DS?

Unbeknown to me, husband told daughter that he would buy her a Nintendo DS when she got her 400m badge at swimming. Well, last Sunday she did just that and returned from swimming lessons shouting, "I get a DS, I get a DS!".

I was not happy.

I am not happy about my daughter plugging in and checking out.

We have a laptop and a Wii, both of which she can use under supervision and usually together with me or husband. Things like Wii Sports or the Horrible Histories Game on CBBC (love Horrible Histories!). Sociable technology.

As far as I'm concerned DS = antisocial.

Husband did admit that he thought it would take her longer to get her 400m badge, but a promise is a promise.

So we've compromised.

A DS she shall get, but it will live in the games cupboard in the lounge (that's proper games like Uno, Pictionary, Scrabble and my latest acquisition Acuity) and we will ration its use.

So that's another thing to create arguments, whinging and sulking.

Thanks, hubby.

Monday, 30 May 2011

How much dirty washing can you accumulate in fortnight?

Let me tell you:

School uniform, PE kit, work clothes, casual clothes, riding kit, swimming kits, Brownie uniform, four sets of bedding, two sets of towels, bedding from spare room, guest towels and several tea towels.

We are now drowning in dirty washing.

New machine comes tomorrow.

Just pray it doesn't rain so I can get it all dry!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Butlins for the Middle Classes

This year, as Chancellor of the Working Mum House Exchequer, I announced that we couldn't afford a holiday abroad as well as replacing my car. So we decided we'd give Centre Parcs a go. A few of my colleagues have been, enjoyed it and said it would be great for daughter.

"Butlins for the Middle Classes" one of my colleagues said.

Well, I enjoyed family holidays at Butlins when I was young and I've nearly reached the middle classes (I know what pesto and focaccia is and I love Boden, does that count?)

So we booked our lodge.

A nice one because this is our main holiday.

Then I saw the price of bike hire, so I bought myself a bike.

And a cycle carrier for the car.

Then I booked a few activities: archery, a riding lesson for daughter, a banquet night.

Then husband found the "Book Activities" button and booked Laser Quest, Quad Biking and Aerial Ropes Course.

As retaliation I booked a massage at the Spa.

And I'm not cooking on my summer holiday, so I booked some restaurants.

Just got the credit card bill.


(Should've gone abroad)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Not Fretting


Day of rest.

Well, thanks to a broken washing machine, it is.

No washing, drying, folding or ironing for me today!

Unfortunately, a broken washing machine also means that the Working Mum household are heading for slobsville. I've hand washed daughter's school dresses, but anything else will have to wait until I can get a new machine at half term. So no clean PE kit, towels or bedding.

See, that's a thing about working full time, you can't deal with stuff that goes wrong until the next time you are off work. Sure, I could order a new machine on t'internet, but when could I take delivery?

So, I'm not fretting about it.

Nor am I fretting about that toothache I've got, but can't get to the dentist until half term.

Nor am I fretting about the up and coming Speech Day at school where daughter has to attend school 11 am - 12 noon and I have attend from 1 pm - 6 pm and thus don't have enough time in between the two to deliver daughter somewhere that can look after her 'til 6.30pm.

Nor am I fretting about daughter's Sports Day, which this year is on the same afternoon as my school Sports Day (and it's the same school), so I am unlikely to be allowed time off to cheer her on even though she'll be on the next field!

No, I'm not fretting, honest!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Flying Solo

Finally, my exam classes have gone on study leave.

Over the last three weeks I have marked 194 past papers for them.

I've helped, cajoled, pushed and encouraged them for long enough.

They're on their own now.

(Apart from when they come back into school to ask me for help, of course)

Over the past year, every time I've taken cakes into school my year 11 pupils have asked if they were for them and I had to disappoint them.

So, this time, I baked cakes for them.

I made lemon and lilac butterflies to symbolise their growing wings and flying off on their own.

I think the symbolism was lost on them.

They did enjoy the cakes, though.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Pot of Gold

As Kelloggsville so rightly pointed out, daughter becoming seven also means the move from Rainbows to Brownies.

How did that happen?!

One minute I'm taking her to Rainbows for the first time, attending her Promise Party and sewing badges onto her tabard, now we're discarding the tabard in favour of a sash, jogging bottoms, t-shirt and hoodie!

She's talked about Brownies for the last few months and about how grown up it's going to be, the adventures she's going to have and going away to Brownie camp. She was so ready.

So last Monday was her last ever Rainbow meeting:

where she got her "Pot of Gold" badge (at the end of the Rainbows, get it?). I promptly sewed it onto her Brownie sash and on Thursday she started Brownies:

How grown up does she look in her Brownie uniform?

Another of life's little milestones.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Good time to ask for that Mini Cooper I want?

For the first time in my husband's lifetime:

How good a mood will he be in when he gets back from Wembley later?

Friday, 13 May 2011

About being seven

Yesterday daughter declared that it is no fun being seven and she wished she was six again.


Well, when daughter turned 7 last month we instigated some new rules:
  1. Use knife and fork properly
  2. Tigger to stay in bedroom (to prevent thumb sucking)
  3. No getting up again after being put to bed (it was starting to become a habit)
It seems that these rules are not acceptable to her.

I did point out that other things changed when she turned seven:

  1. Her pocket money went up to 70p per week (it's always ten times her age)
  2. Her bed time increased to 7.45pm
  3. She can choose her school snack (from a prescribed list)

She said she'd rather give up those three and not have to do the first three!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Time to bully off!

We've only been back at school for two weeks, okay seven working days, and I'm already drowning in a sea of marking. I have four exam classes who are all working through past exam papers at a great rate of knots and a quick turn around is necessary to give them useful feedback. Hence I have been busy every night at the kitchen table.

No TV, no computer, just exam papers, pots of tea and lots of chocolate.

Except on Thursday when I went back to school in the evening for information about daughter moving from infants to juniors in September.

Who knew she was going to need a dentist fitted mouthguard, fitted shin pads, long hockey socks, a gym skirt, cycling shorts, a micofibre suit and three, yes, three sports bags!!?

It seems the difference between year 2 and year 3 is the physical education. Dance, gymnastics, netball, hockey, swimming, athletics and tennis.

My worst nightmare!

Luckily my daughter has not yet realised her physical limitations (she hasn't cottoned on to the fact that she has inherited my sporting genes) and is quite looking forward to playing hockey.

Unfortunately she has now declared that she wants to play ice hockey and wants me to take her ice skating as well.