Monday, 25 November 2013

Routemasters and Other Things...

Things have been  'mid-term' chaotic here -
400 effort grades and levels to do...
130 Year 8 reports to write...
Endless coursework to mark (to the rigorous detail of a new specification)..
The final weeks before a school show (in which I'm playing the piano almost continuously for hours every evening)...
AND Ofsted are now 7 TERMS overdue..!!!
My Mother-in-Law came to stay for three days at the end of last week to celebrate her 70th Birthday..
and Mark's been really ill (but is fine now)
So it's the little things that are making me smile...
like my husband's deeply eccentric ways of showing affection.
At the end of last week I was moaning that our lunatic schedule of commitments was making it impossible to get any real exercise.
"If I keep on like this, " I moaned "I'll be like the back end of a bus!"
"Never mind," said my husband supportively "You're my cute little Routemaster!!!!!"
It's a good thing I share his sense of humour!!!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Out Takes

We decided to make a permanent record of my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary
by having some 'proper' professional photos taken at a studio..
There are loads of really nice 'serious' photos - but I'm rather taken with this group of 'out takes'..
All the girls (youngest niece, sister, Mum, me and eldest niece)..
A lovely one of H. and I.....

Sis and I in giggles....!

It's the first time that we've had some professional photographs taken since we got married.
Digital technology makes it all much more immediate and it was great fun.
Here's a more serious one of Mark and I..
..But I think my favourite is still the first photo...
What do you think...

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Two 'Ps' - Pray and Panic!

What do you do when your husband is having a car accident in your rear view mirror.... Yesterday I discovered that I pray and panic in a ratio of approximately 80% to 20%!  Mark, I hasten to add, is absolutely fine.  The car is written off but, as one of my very dear friends said as he hugged me yesterday, "Never mind Jan - it's only metal".

Basically we'd done the food shop yesterday morning then went to collect this car from Gloucester.  It's a powerful old Japanese car that Mark only really wants for the engine and gearbox (to modify one of sports cars that we have already).  Nevertheless, the car appeared really well looked after and has a full service history etc.  To be honest I was upset with Mark that he planned to pull it to pieces when people seemed to have cared for it for so long.  (I'm a bit of a sentimentalist when it comes to this sort of thing).

Anyway, either we picked up a slow puncture in the 16 miles that Mark followed me home OR the tyres on the rear of the car weren't quite as well-looked after as they should have been.  When Mark went for a slow over-take (no more than 40 mph) on the A38 south of Worcester, the back end of the car stepped out, spun him round and took him straight through a hedge.  He came to rest the right way up about 200 metres into a ploughed field.  I watched the whole accident happen in my rear-view mirror (because I was leading the way in our other car).

Fortunately there were no trees on this stretch of road, no fence posts or wire in the hedge and the hedge itself was old and rotten.  Mark is one of the luckiest men on the planet. 

As you can imagine, I immediately slowed down to look for somewhere to turn back.  The car behind me had seen the accident too and very kindly held back the rest of the traffic.  As I turned in a gateway I saw Mark get out of the car in the distance but it seemed like an eternity as I drove back to the point of the accident (praying and praying and praying!)  Mark appeared at the gap in the hedge pretty much at the same time as I parked my car and got out.

The next few hours really brought home to me how kind people are.  It took about three hours to get the wrecked car out of the field and home.  Complete strangers stopped to check that we were OK.  People that we only know very superficially offered tea and a place to warm up.  Two of our oldest friends abandoned their shopping trip and came to tow us out in their old Land Rover.  I feel very lucky to have such lovely people in my life.

Mark (being the car-obsessed man I love) was determined to get to the root causes of the accident.  He's discovered that pressure in the rear passenger-side tyre was approximately half what it should be.  We're just grateful that the accident happened at low speed and on a quiet road.  The 'what ifs' really don't bear thinking about...


Monday, 4 November 2013

Sunrise, Sunset....

Here are a small selection of my favourite photos from last week's break in the New Forest...
Boats on the Beaulieu River - in early morning stillness after the storms had passed..
The hotel's landing stage and reflections of a deep blue sky..

Reflections further up the river as we walked to the little village of Beaulieu..

Peaceful lanes..

Sunset over the marina by the hotel...
..And a seriously dramatic sky (taken a few moments later)
Stormy skies over the Isle of Wight and the Needles...

..And the last sunset of the holiday at Lymington Marina..

I really didn't enjoy the transition back to work this morning.
The pupils were fairly grumpy too - I think we all wanted to be at home under our respective duvets!
After school we had a staff meeting about the latest changes to our pay and conditions.
Pay.... deteriorating (in real terms against the cost of living)
I've popped a couple of shells from the coast near Lymington next to my computer in my classroom.
A little reminder of the beauty of things when everything gets a bit complicated...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Excuses for my blogging break...

We just about scrambled to the half-term break this year.
I felt dreadful in the week before the holiday - suffering with migraines and stuff - while Mark was completely submerged in some major changes at work too.
You know you really need a holiday when it feels like there's no time to have one!!!
Fortunately I'd spotted a great deal at one of our favourite hotels and booked it way back in July.
We packed our bags, walking boots and the camera - and took ourselves off to the New Forest.
After the storm cleared the weather was perfect for dramatic photographs.
This was the view at the beginning of our walk on Wednesday...
(The view up The Solent from Lymington Marina)
We stayed at The Master Builder's Hotel in the picturesque hamlet of Buckler's Hard.
The hotel is the last two cottages on the left (plus some extensions round the back that overlook the river).  I was constantly rushing down to the water's edge with my camera to try and catch the changing light.

The hamlet is just the two rows of cottages and a marina, so it was the perfect tranquil 'get away'..

A couple of years ago we got a great deal on a room in the attic of the main building.
This time we got a sweet room in the more modern block for a ridiculously good price.

The hotel describes itself as having 'quirky luxury'.
I think it's a bit like staying with an wealthy elderly relative..
(Sadly I don't have one of these in real life!)

Red wine and an open fire completed the relaxation process!

We've come 'back to earth with a bump' today....
(Paperwork for school for me and changing the gearbox on the Discovery for Mark)
Never mind - we can still feel the residual 'chilled-ness' of our break!