Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Adventures In Home Schooling - Castle Grey School

Oh my life, what can I say, except that’s my first “proper” week of Home Schooling done, yes,  I survived, with two certificates that really ought to be framed, to prove it!


Let’s just say it’s been quite a rollercoaster ride!

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On Wednesdays Iris and Bertie are able to come to me as our two households make up a support bubble, this helps give them a much needed change of scenery. Thank goodness for fresh air, walks along the river and a flask of hot chocolate drunk on a bench, in the park, just a few hundred yards away where they can run, climb and let off steam to their hearts content. Being at Nanny’s, for even a day, I hope, still feels a special and safe place for them to be, even if I have to come all over all Miss Trunchball when we have to get back to our lessons.


From Wednesday evening I stay at theirs until Friday teatime, I am now a dab hand at packing my My Little Pony case, with clothes etc. washed on a Friday night and a few essentials replenished, so that everything is repacked by Saturday evening. My laptop, camera, notebook, tablet and a couple of monkeys plus my can’t do without Chai Latte are then packed after “school” on Wednesday afternoon ready to go.


Last week was a steep learning curve, with each child having to log into two Zoom meetings per day, lasting between 20 and 30 minutes, where work is set for the morning and then, after lunch the afternoon.


All their timetables, worksheets and activities are then accessed via a programme called SeeSaw …….


…… where photos and videos are used to evidence completed work/activities via the same programme.  Thank goodness taking so many photos and uploading is second nature to me through blogging ……


…….. this should be done, preferably, by their next Zoom session for teacher comments where anything else that may need to be added or corrected can be done.


On top of that there are physical activities …………


…….. having to make a den in the middle of my dining area was a bit of a shock to the system on our very first morning but thank goodness we’d done it before ……..


…….. we’ve also done Cosmic Yoga, practiced riding our scooters and chalked complicated obstacle courses on the path outside their house as well as taken part in countless races of a running, hopping and jumping type nature!


And then ……… did I mention creative activities to fit in too?


On a Friday afternoon there is “Care Time” session for Bertie, where everyone can chill with someone special after a hard week. One of the suggestions is a spa treatment……. so I have already booked for Monsieur Bertie to give me a hand massage, as “other” Granny Denise has given me some very lovely pots of beeswax hand cream that will just fit the bill …… before ….. I get back on the treadmill again for some work on the Star of David with Iris.

Happy Days

Monday, 18 January 2021

Another Rainbow Jumper For Bertie …….

Tomorrow I have scheduled a post about my first week of Home Schooling, let's just say it's been quite an adventure and an extremely steep learning curve, but I am afraid that due to it's totally knackering nature any crafty posts for the next six weeks (at least) are going to be of  a meager and very simple nature, like today's ........ however, I will really try to make sure there is at least one post of "some sort" on a Monday, this flipping virus aint going to stop me blogging!

I knitted, for the first time in goodness knows how many years (20 plus?) when Bertie asked, in his most pitiful, plaintive way if I could make him a rainbow jumper, that was back in April 2020, a present for his 4th birthday and to be honest, it hasn’t been off his back much since ……

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Then, just before Christmas he told me that he had something very important to tell me ……. his beloved jumper was getting a bit small, could I make him another one, just the same but bigger.


Fortunately, I think I bought enough wool to knit at least another four jumpers, although I did buy another ball of a darker orange for even more rainbow effect (see on the sleeve cuffs) although it does look pink in a  couple of these pictures, so within about two weeks I’d got all the parts knitted.

Rainbow Jumper

I quite like the knitting part, but I HATE the sewing in of ends and all the seams. I used to be quite good at it once upon a time, but now I am just pants, it’s an art I’ve sadly lost!


Needless to say, just before Christmas old Bertie was thrilled to be wearing it, but, although I thought I was knitting it with plenty of wiggle room in the body, goodness only knows how, I found that I’d only added about an inch in the length ……. doh, I am sooooo cross with myself.


So it looks like yet another jumper is on the cards, but not before I start on a cardigan for Iris.  She wants a buttonless cardie in yellow with orange spots, but if I can’t do spots, stripes will do. She even drew it for me!


I am a little too far gone to knit spots again, but we’ve compromised, I will knit it as best I can, but with added crocheted flowers in yellows and oranges (eBay) that I will scatter all over it once it’s all put together.  I can see it in my minds eye ……. but you might have to wait a couple more weeks to see if I can pull it off  ……..

Monday, 11 January 2021

Festive Tut

Like so many other people this year our Christmas was quite different from other years, but I have to say I quite liked it. For the first time in years, other than seeing Iris and Bertie for a couple of hours on the big day in our three household bubble, for once we didn’t feel the usual pressure of spending time travelling to other places seeing other people during the rest of the holiday, so we really chilled.  However, as I said last week I didn’t feel quite so chilled when it came to putting all festive paraphernalia away when it was all over.


But I digress, to make Christmas Day last longer, Lu and decided not to open our presents until around seven o’clock, after our Christmas meal, a new tradition, I think, that is set to stay ……

……….. and we didn’t go mad on expensive stuff, instead we each filled a pillow case with charity shop tut and inexpensive bits and pieces that would make each other laugh and bring back memories, things that in turn we would use or add to the fun bits on our shelves or perhaps even return (when they are open again) to a new charity shop!


When Lu was little she loved the Care Bears, her face when she saw this mug (it was in new condition with the paper label still on the bottom) was priceless and now being lovingly used, finding the little dingle dangle in the same shop, at a different time, was just the icing on the Care Bear Cake. The same mug currently has a bid of £9.99 on eBay, I am keeping a watchful eye.


Lu also had an awful lot of baby Garfield’s when she was little, she was never without one or another, again she adored this perfect condition Garfield (£1.99 from Oxfam) all I added was the ribbon. The talking Lucy (Peanuts/Snoopy) toy cost me 10p and, I have since found out, was a 2015 McDonalds promotional toy. This is definitely now on Lucy’s shelf in her lockdown/working from home office/spare bedroom as her namesake. 


Lu in turn found me this set of bottled Christmas tree lights from the Compton Hospice shop in Wolverhampton, too late to put up this year, but I have a feeling that if Bertie clocks his little eyes on them, I’d better be careful not to lose them for next Christmas, as he is obsessed by little bottles.  


With having  to work from home and Wolverhampton being in Tier 3 before Christmas getting to a charity shop was hard for Lu, however, Flying Tiger was a most excellent source for inexpensive bits and bobs. The Christmas pickle (above) had me howling and then thinking, let’s just say I have already ordered several packs of little bottles from The Works as I am already planning on making tiny bottles with labels containing  equally tiny Fimo pickles along the same idea, sooooooo funny!


Also from Flying Tiger a Christmas planner, with my pickle jar idea already entered, along with a couple more mini bottle ideas and some dusting slippers as I am always obsessing about the state of my wooden floor!


On eBay she found this Diamond Art kit, to make up for our not being able to go to Greece last year (now rebooked for May 2021, but I am not so sure we’ll even be able to go then!) She said the frame cost more than the actual kit, it made me laugh, I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but most probably in my craft/spare bedroom, when I get it sorted.  I do love a bit of religious kitsch.


And a couple of other surprise and much loved/appreciated gifts …….  from my cousin Chris, goodness only knows where she found it, but the complete DVD set of the House of Elliott, my all time guilty pleasure.  There are 36 episodes, and I am already about half way through ……… pure bliss, but poor poor Jack! From my sister in law, nine tubs of Kruger Chai Latte, it’s generally all I drink now, I am seriously addicted.  This little lot will probably last me about two months then I will order some more from Amazon via Germany, as I have only found it once in the UK.


I also did a sack of tut each for Marc and Rick, but I seem to have been very remiss in not taking any pictures of some of the treasures they unwrapped on Christmas morning, including an totally over the top, multi frilled, Widow Twankeyesque type, floral apron that was soooooo Marc it was unbelievable, a skeleton print peg bag, a vintage My Little Pony Mug, tea lights and wax melts and pink Smarties. I have already started collecting for this year (above) starting with this metal work Brighton Pavilion, which will be perfect in their cottage garden, with perhaps some sort of small trailing plant inside. (£1.25 Salvation Army, Evesham)

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Marc asked me what I would like for Christmas and I told him a box of Thorntons Viennese Truffles, another guilty pleasure of mine, sadly, they were all sold out, the only way Marc could get any was by buying this Luxury Christmas Hamper instead ……. what is he like?  Let’s just say, it’s not been a struggle to work my way through its many delights …… the gingerbread fudge was a particularly gorgeous and the wicker hamper it all came in is so big that I fully intend on using it when I next stay with Marc, whenever that might be ………

Happy days and hopefully (although it’s looking pretty doubtful for the next few months) happy charity shop hunting for more treasure for coming birthdays and Christmas …….. fingers, toes and vaccines crossed.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Into Lockdown Number 3 We Go .........

Ahhhhhh .......... the best laid plans of mice and men eh?  All I can say is here we go "a' flipping gen", although, along with an awful lot of other people I sort of thought that something like this was going to happen, but thank goodness for all our "support bubbles" this time around.  

Fortunately Monday was a Teacher Training Day so Iris and Bertie weren't actually in school, thank heavens for small mercies with no chance of any bugs being passed on after a very "safe" Christmas break spent away from people other than those in their "Christmas bubble. So after Boris's announcement we quickly worked out our childcare plan. During the first and second lockdown Tom wasn't working and was able to take care of all the home schooling, but now he's back in the lab.  Laura, bless her, has studied all the rules on the Gov UK site and, in principle, what we have come up with should work.  Iris and Bertie will come to me on a Wednesday as they will undoubtedly be champing at the bit for a change of scene in familiar surroundings as lockdown drags on. I will  then go home with them at the end of the day until Friday evening, to save on any unnecessary to-ing and fro-ing ......... My My Little Pony case is packed, along with my chaii latte, coffee and a monkey or two.

I will return to the Towers for a long weekend to help catch my breath, especially as Tom says home schooling is pretty grueling. There will also be other things that I will need to get done like the odd e-mail, getting bills paid and attempting to get an online shopping order now and again.

I am bracing myself for a few tears, tantrums and a long hard slog, but this is an infinitely better situation than last time, when I didn't see/smell/cuddle those two rogues for twelve long weeks, apart from watching Bertie's birthday party through the kitchen window right at the very beginning and that broke my heart.

Soooooo, I am aiming to post on a Monday only, for a little while, because I am just not sure what or when I will be crafting or if I'll even be in the mood ...... Fiddle Fart might just turn, temporarily, into an account of home schooling exploits, but I'll be dammed if this virus stops me from doing  something that keeps me sane and in the case of  "those flipping monkeys" always looking for the funny, bright side of life ............. so it's upwards and onwards, to infinity and beyond ........

................................... see you next Monday!

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

School Run Biscuits – Jane Asher Edible Ink Marker Pens

I said before Christmas how impressed I was with  the Jane Asher edible ink marker pens I found in Home Bargains for just £1.69, just check out the prices they are selling them for elsewhere!


Soooooooo impressed, it would have been rude not to buy another pack for me, already thinking of Valentines Day and Easter, plus another pack for my lovely neighbour Kata across the hall who is known for her baking.

Christmas Biscuits

The school run is pretty slow and monotonous at the best of time, but especially so in the last couple of weeks before the school broke up…….


……… so these very basic designs on plain, oblong biscuits helped lift our flagging spirits when we would stop off at around the half way mark to sit on an old tree stump for a cup of hot chocolate.


I have to admit, the colour ran when dunked, occassionally giving Iris and Bertie mouths worthy of a Halloween Trick or Treat disguise, blue mouths are never that good a look ……..


……. but memories, I hope, were made, with plenty of other themes/ideas to follow.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Aghhhhhh, Undecking The Halls ............. A New Years Plan

This is a fill-in/bitty post while I try and get a New Year rhythm back to my crafting and posting. At the moment I am not really feeling it, so my apologies if it takes a while to bed in again, at the moment I am hoping to simply post on a Monday and Tuesday, perhaps a Wednesday  ......... we shall see.

Fiddle Fart of Yore

For the first time in years I didn't post any pictures of my festive shelves or sills, I'll be honest I cut back a bit, sadly remembering that I lost two of my vintage Empoli genie bottles in the "putting everything back" process this time last year, which I really kicked myself for.  However, despite this cull on festive tut, as I started to put everything away yesterday, (a job I hate with vengeance), I found that things just wouldn't fit back in my very limited cupboard space like they used to ............

Fiddle Fart of Yore

......... and I confess that in the end it all started to get on my nerves, I didn't look upon much of it fondly as I put everything away, I just realised that I had far too much stuff, most of it tat, simply because it was Christmasy and it had to go! So, for next year, to misquote George Michael, badly " ..... to save me from tears" I'm going to give the vast majority of it back from whence it came, i.e charity shops, although there might be a few bits that I will pass on to Marc and Rick for the cottage garden, like the lanterns and a few of the old "vintage" ceramic bits might go on eBay, but as nothing has any sentimental value I just feel overwhelming the urge to get rid.

Unfortunately, I will have to live with the boxes for a bit longer because said shops are either closed or not taking much new stuff in at the moment but hopefully by around Easter the cull will begin in earnest. 

The whole thing has always been part of my wanting to "make memories" for Iris and Bertie, but perhaps even for them it was all too much, I need to go back to my crafting mantra that "less really is more", rather than totally bombard and befuddle them and any other visitor with all that is Christmas. In the bedrooms the bedding is de rigueur, but there will be a strict limit of ten decorations per room on the shelves, with a curtain of lights at the window.

Then in lounge/kitchen/diner again just a few choice decorations in among my usual tranklements on one shelf only, with my two beloved bejewelled trees (Dunelm 2013) sitting on the drawers either side of my sofa. My twig tree has suited my Christmas's so far at The Towers, but I think perhaps I will replace it next year with a very small live tree that I can plant somewhere on the bank at the back afterwards, perhaps even bringing it in the following year to use again?  However, I plan to keep it for another year at least, as Halloween just wouldn't be Halloween without it.

It all sounds very pared down, but I am no spring chicken, I love Christmas, but on January 3rd 2022  I would just like to put away all that remains after this cutback in an hour at the most, without all the fuss .......... well, that's my New Years plan anyway and if it doesn't work, just think of all the fun I can have replenishing all the bits and pieces I gave away or sold!

Happy Days ........................... I hope!