Tuesday, 28 May 2013

52 Weeks of Happy 4/52

Late for this week's list of happy moments, joining again with Jen at little birdie.

1. Saying goodbye to Year 11 - happy and sad. Their last day on Friday - fancy dress, water pistols and shaving foam but all good-humoured.  Wrote them goodbye poem and gave them remaining copies of World Book Night book 'Noughts and Crosses' to encourage them to keep reading.

2. Two sunny days at the weekend so got out in the garden.  Back to layering on the woollies again today.  Refusing to turn on the heating- it's nearly June.
3.  Have made Jen's Roasted Veg pasta recipe a few times now and it's a winner.  The addition of the feta cheese makes the difference.  Didn't have any fennel today but used aubergine and it worked well. A good way of getting veg down my brocolli hating teenager.  And I enjoyed it with a glass of red tonight as a reward for a day of more exam marking.

 4. Relaxed mornings with no rushing around as we are all off this week and staying at home until Friday.  I get up early and enjoy a cup of tea and some blog browsing before anyone else emerges. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Doris's Day: In the garden

It's taken me a long time to get to this, my 50th blog post.  This week was one of the busiest ever as my part-time teaching job this week was in fact full-time because of my colleague's absence. And it's exam season so extra revision sessions, the English Lit exam on Monday and the arrival of 350+ exam scripts to be marked yesterday morning.  Never mind - it'll pay for a holiday.

So to de-stress before the marking begins in earnest I spent the weekend in my garden.  For once the sun shone here in the north west and I did a big tidy up removing the big nettle patch behind the veg patch; transplanting seedlings and planting up bedding.  Really pleased with the results.  Our garden always looks its best at this time of year with the clematis in bloom. We had lunch in this spot above and then Kate did a bit of maths revision for exams coming after half term.  Maths not her thing so had to help - fractions and multiplying decimals.  Found it tricky despite my 'A' level many years ago.

Above: the results of my efforts - pots of veg seedlings - peas are my favourite as the ones you buy in the shop don't compare and I love eating them raw from the pod as we did as children.  And bedding plants - trailing geraniums.  I love the smell of geraniums - reminds me of my granny who always had pots of them in her porch.

Didn't remove all weeds though.  Like this one below so left it.  Anyone know the name of this wild flower?  Some sort of mallow?

And I love the way the clematis is growing through the Japanese maple at present, but this will have to be cut back after flowering in case it strangles the maple.

Wanted a photo of us this time to mark my 50th blog post but Kate not keen and I don't much like the one of me.  So it's the dog again. At least he's not camera shy.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

52 Weeks of Happy 4/52

Joining with Jen at little birdie again. My four simple happy things this week.  Mostly today actually.

1. Spring returned today and the clematis is in bloom. Bit of a surprise as so cold last night used the last of the coal to light a fire. This brute needs pruning ruthlessly but never fails to produce masses of pink blossom every year.

2. More pink. Glass of kir royale in the garden before dinner. Sparkling wine rather than champagne but still very good.

3. Harvested the first of my salad leaves today.  Delicious and far superior to nasty supermarket bags.

4. Trip to cinema with my daughter to see Gatsby.  She wasn't that keen but it's payback time for terrible things I sat through when she was younger like 'Bratz the Movie'.  She enjoyed it in the end.  I loved the spectacle, the music,the clothes and everything about it except Leonardo di Caprio.  Really didn't seem right for Gatsby for me. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Doris's week with Steinbeck

Not much blogging this week. Have spent my time immersed like many other English teachers around the country in Steinbeck.   It's the GCSE English Lit exam on Monday for our students and yet again I've been doing final revision sessions on  'Of Mice and Men'.   I am entirely fed up with George, Lennie, Curley's Wife etc. having taught it more times than I can count, but it's a winner with the kids.  The shooting of Candy's dog silences the most difficult of classes; it's perfectly structured and not too long.   Do worry about the message it conveys to impressionable  teenagers - that dreams are futile.  And no match for my preferred GCSE text 'To Kill a Mockingbird'  which ends in a more positive way.  Can't read the line 'Hey Boo' without tears in my eyes.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

52 weeks of Happy 3/52

Joining in with Jen at little birdie again with my simple happy things:

1. Cowslips and cow parsley.  Dog walk down the railway footpath today as it has eventually dried up enough to be passable.  Wild flowers of all varieties including cowslips, my favourite, and tiny violets and a pale lilac one which is according to my book a cuckoo flower.

2. My new reading corner in the lounge.  New bookcase arrived from M&S on Tuesday to replace wobbly IKEA Billy bookcases we'd chucked out.    Flat pack but the delivery men put it together.  Good job too as neither of us much good at this.  Wanted the Conran one but finances too tight. This one pretty good for less than £200 with 20 percent off.  Moved a lamp beside the armchair and got the books out from the boxes under the bed.  More recluttering - not advisable when we're trying to sell the house.  But can't see this lovely bookcase putting anyone off.

3. Reading my Happiness Project book.  Plan to finish it in this spot tonight.  Has been requested by someone else at the library and don't want to keep them waiting.  Great book - thanks to Clare at Just a little Less for recommending it.  Would love to try writing a novel, or in my case a memoir,  in a month as Gretchen Ruben, the author of The Happiness Project did. A project for the summer holiday.

4. Non-uniform day at school yesterday.   Kids paid £1 and it went to UNICEF.   Everyone happy, though it took my fashion conscious daughter even longer to get ready.  Her chosen outfit: a short denim flippy skirt worn with black tights, a cobalt blue top and her studded pumps.  She looked lovely.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Doris's Day: Bank Holiday Outing to Parkgate

Have just been reading other posts about outings on Bank Holiday Monday so thought I'd add my own. The sun being out, I announced in the morning that I'd like a walk on the beach.  But other things to be achieved first so it was mid-afternoon before we set off up the Wirral peninsula heading for the nearest beach at Thurstaston.  Traffic backed up a bit so we turned off the main road a little earlier and went instead to Parkgate, a very unusual village which used to be a thriving resort and port but is now totally silted up.  So it has a promenade but the sea, or the Dee estuary to be precise, is a silver line in the distance.  Not a beach but it would do.

I'm quite fond of Parkgate having once worked in the black and white building on the right which is Mostyn House School.  Sadly this has now closed down and the beautiful old building with its wood panelling and private (and freezing) chapel where we had assembly is now supported by scaffolding.  One day when I was teaching there the tide came in:  this happens a couple of times a year and it was quite a shock. Mostly though it looks like it does in the picture above.  Acres of marshland and sky.

We found a parking space eventually.  Kate and I went to buy ice creams, one of the main attractions of Parkgate.  Nichol's, the famous ice-cream shop,  had a very long queue so went to the less famous one next door.

Meanwhile Ronan the dog had been let loose on the marshland.  Bad move: he found something very unpleasant indeed to roll in and now stank to high heaven.  Stank so badly that grumpy husband refused point blank to walk with him in that state. So plans abandoned and we headed home to hose him down (the dog, not the husband).

Everybody grumpy by that stage so we went our separate ways: me to the garden to sit in the sun with a cup of tea and my journal; Kate to her room to phone a friend and moan about her dad and he to listen to music. Loudly.

The dog forgave him first and was soon chasing around the garden, tail wagging in pursuit of a ball. I relented when he transformed our M&S 'Dine In' gammon joint with plastic packet of parsley sauce into something more delicious with the addition of gingered carrots, caramelised red onions and roast tomatoes.  He knows how to get round me. Kate still throwing him looks like daggers two days later.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Introducing Doris's Day

Have decided to out myself as a Doris. When I started the blog that I was using a pen name, as I was worried about my ramblings being discovered by kids I teach.  Feel a bit more secure now in blogland and am weary of keeping up the Eleanor front.  Eleanor has a capsule wardrobe full of clothes from Boden and shoes from Russell and Bromley and an uncluttered home full of tastefully chosen items.   Doris doesn't, something regular readers may have realised by now.

There aren't many of us Dorises about.  I don't know any - do you?  My husband had an auntie but she's passed away now.  Most Dorises are in their eighties I reckon.  So I was very excited to discover a new mumsnet blogger on their newsletter recently called Lunch Lady Doris.  Left an enthusiastic comment about her name on her blog only to discover what you probably already know: that Lunch Lady Doris is a character from The Simpsons.  Mortified.

Yes my name is a bit of a joke and I've found myself apologising for it as I introduce myself to someone new to pre-empt the inevitable reactions: the smart-alec comment or the look of pity.  It's the pity I hate the most, as I can usually deal with the former.

Refuse to apologise any more or to hide behind Eleanor. I am who I am.  And so this blog will henceforth be subtitled Doris's Day. Que sera, sera....

Saturday, 4 May 2013

52 Weeks of Happy 2/52: Dandelions and Butterflies

So here's my second lot of 52 Weeks of Happy.  I'm in a bit of a muddle about this numbering business.  Last week I decided to go along with the numbering I'd seen on another blog assuming that everyone was doing the same thing and that it was the 30th week the idea had been going.  But have seen another one with a different number and so I'm doing my own. This is my second week on happies and so 2/52 it is.

1. Butterflies. Loads of them - more than I saw the whole of last year.  I've spent all week chasing them with my camera/phone.  They seem to be attracted to the dandelions and the purple dead nettles which line the edge of dog walk field  Failed to get a photo as every time I crept up to a glorious peacock settled on a dandelion it flew away.  Or the dog scared it off. So here's the picture of where they were before they moved!

2. Dandelions on the lawn: I have spent money on chemicals trying to zap them and last year on getting someone to physically remove them with a knife.  But they're back!  So this year have decided to live with them and enjoy their yellow beauty.  And they attract the butterflies.

3. My daughter singing loudly along to music as she gets ready in the morning.  Currently her favourite also features butterflies. It's by Paramore and she tells me it's called 'Still into You' and not 'Butterfly' as I called it.  I've heard it about 50 times this week...don't mind really.  Just love to see her happy.

 4. A reminder of why I love teaching.  A student, inspired by the poems we'd studied by Carol Ann Duffy, had bought a copy of her Love Poems and brought it to show me.  Asked me to read one.  Wasn't sure her classmates would want this -it was during a break,  but they did.  Read 'Valentine'.  Silence fell. Loved it.

Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife. 
(Perhaps not the best choice of poem on reflection - a rather jaded view of love)