Monday, 17 October 2016

Memorandum Monday - the circus edition

It's been a bizarre old week.
If someone had told me that one day I would be helping distribute a memo to be read out to all students in our school that included the words

'can reassure you that no clowns have been seen on, or around, the school premises'

I would not have believed them.  In fact that is something new that I had to do since last meeting for Memorandum Monday (as organised by the lovely Sian over at From High in the Sky). 

It was also the first time that an email was sent to all parents which ended with a comment from the local police:

They recommend that if anyone sees any clowns they should call 999 immediately.
Out of context, and if you hadn't heard about this latest craze on the news, these communications seem very peculiar but oh yes, our town is - along with many others - plagued by rumour and speculation that we are about to be ... visited by clowns.  I hope they know that if they come in their tiny yellow and red cars with the doors that fall off they will have to arrive at our school after 10am because before then they won't be able to park in the road because of local parking restrictions. 

There was a false alarm at breaktime on Friday and about 150 girls ran screaming through reception and down the front path because someone 'thought they had seen a clown'.  150 over excited, high pitched screaming girls.  I can still hear it ringing in my ears!  Hence the memo.  Because some of the younger girls are genuinely scared.  Some honestly believe that something bad and scary is going to happen.  People I work with who have younger children are having to comfort and reassure them and calm them down as they wake from scary clown filled dreams.  We are living in strange times.

Now for my other 'first'  - and I know I'm late to the party with this one, but this weekend I

received my first new £5 note

It feels very weird, like it's made of plastic but I think I do prefer it to the scrumpled up, torn and tatty old ones that I've been getting in my change, and it does feel like it will survive a quick washing machine adventure without needing to be pieced back together as it dries out. 

You can almost sense Winston's disapproving 'I won't take any nonsense from people dressed up as clowns.' look.

So that's my firsts for this week, head on over to Sian's to see what everyone else has been doing.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Memorandum Monday

It's kind of appropriate that my subject for this week's Memorandum Monday is actually something I learnt about from Sian's own blog.

In fact sometimes I look upon Sian as my own personal search engine - far more appropriate than Google, she shares the same interests as me and knows exactly what I might find interesting.  In fact, Google only knows what I want to find out about when I mention it, Sian predicts what I might like to have a look at before I've even realised what it is I might need to know!

This week's discovery started a few weeks ago - from a casual,

 'how long ago did we last decorate the dining room?' enquiry

 - a little devious picking at a wallpaper seam -

'it must be a while, look it's starting to peel away from the wall' {ahem}. ' It's a bit old fashioned now, wouldn't it be nice to spruce it up a bit?'  After all, there are still so many Farrow and Ball paint colours we haven't used yet. 

Fast forward a few weeks, wallpaper is stripped, new lining paper put up, paint colour chosen for the 'feature wall' (Oval Office Blue - how appropriate given that the news is all about the forthcoming US elections) and talk turns to what we will put up on the wall to complete the new look.

I had already had my eye on, and had subsequently bought, a lovely carved wood panel from Nordic House, but before you click on the link, I must warn you that you will find a lot of totally irresistible things there, and I accept no responsibility for any on line purchases you may make ...
This is still nothing to do with what I did for the first time this week by the way.  Just laying the foundation for the story.  Apparently, I do this a lot.  Or so the family say.  'Just get on with the story Mum' is an expression often heard.
So anyway, as often happens when decorating takes places in one room of the house, it has a knock on effect on other things.  Whilst contemplating what to put on the blue wall, my husband said 'it would be nice to get a collage of lots of random photos that we could put in a simple frame, something reasonably priced that we could renew every now and again.'
A memory stirred, a light bulb went on in my mind - I've seen a link to somewhere that prints reasonably priced posters of collages of photos ... where would it be ... what was it called ... ???
I headed off to check the instagram/Facebook/blog pages of my fountain of knowledge - and sure enough, found a post from Sian about an app that is easy to use, easy to upload photos from your phone, not too expensive, post and packing free, and good quality.
May I introduce you to Sticky9  ...

(It only looks an odd shape as I've just taken it out of the cardboard tubing and it's still got a bit of a curl going on but once it's in a frame it's going to look fab!)
I love the fact that it's full of memories and informal shots and things that make our family who we are (No prizes for guess who the mojito, the sloe gin or the Portuguese custard tart refer to)  There's memories of two engagements and a baby, holidays and a certain furry person who owns us.  I love it and can't wait to get it in a frame and up in the Oval Office Dining Room.

Many thanks to Sian for the inspiration - now what next do you have in store for me?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Memorandum Monday - the 'it's too early' edition

Hands up anyone who is thinking about putting up their Christmas tree anytime soon.  Not many eh? 
So in joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday this week I'm sharing two firsts that I've experienced today -
The first Christmas department that I've seen this year - on, yes, the 3rd October.  Is it me or does that seem just a little bit too early?  And yet ... I did head over there to have a look (strictly in the interests of taking a photo for Memorandum Monday of course) and my walking speed definitely slowed as I passed the copper coloured baubles.  But my resolve did not weaken and I did not buy any.  Even though some of them were absolutely beautiful.  I wasn't tempted at all.  Not one little bit.  OK, yes I was, right up until the moment my husband found me and tutted about 'can't believe people can even think of buying Christmas decorations yet' ...
This was a first within a first, as it was also my first visit to see the new shopping centre that has opened up in Chelmsford.  I had a voucher from John Lewis offering me free tea and cake in their new store, and an invitation from White Stuff offering a discount and it seemed like the stars were aligning to say I needed to go and see what it was like.  So to make up for posting a totally unseasonable photo at the beginning of this, let me share the view from outside John Lewis, showing the River Chelmer on a gloriously sunny October afternoon.

It seems crazy that this morning some people I work with woke to a thin layer of frost on their car windscreens and this afternoon, people were sitting outside restaurants in the sunshine.  Only in England eh?

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Memorandum Monday

I have been joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday since she first thought of the idea and I love trying to think of things that I've learnt for the first time or tried for the first time over the weekend.  So how has it suddenly become Wednesday and I haven't posted anything this week?  When did life get so busy that I couldn't find a few minutes to sit at a computer and type a few observations?

Around about 29 August 2016. That's the exact date.

Now I'm not one to blame someone who is too small and too inarticulate to defend himself but that young man who arrived on that date has somehow not only managed to take over his mum and dad's days, but a whole lot of other peoples too.  Some aren't complaining at all; the smallest, furriest member of the family loves the fact that Leo is looking for someone to accompany him on an afternoon walk in the Autumn sunshine.  Every day. 

I could come up with all manner of new things that he's done every weekend, but this isn't his blog and I can't steal his ideas.

Last week I mentioned how chaotic my week started and how restorative a walk in the countryside can be.  This week I could tell you that at the weekend - for the first time ever - I was hit on the head whilst walking by a falling conker and we reminisced how this too was a sign of the times.  When the children were younger conkers didn't have time to mature enough to fall from a tree naturally, all manner of shaking branches and throwing of sticks would have meant that we would return home with a bag full of shiny brown conkers, ready to have a hole punched through them, a sturdy piece of string attached and conker matches be held.  Of course, nowadays, health and safety dictates that this is a dangerous sport, no taking your best, hardest, champion conker to school to prepare for battle in the playground at break time and that simple pleasure is now consigned to the memory.

The arrival of my favourite magazine this morning provided the subject for this week's post - I love The Simple Things magazine, and a cup of coffee and a seat in the sunshine in the conservatory are the perfect accompaniments to an hour or so of reading of the simple pleasures in life and the perfect antidote to a hectic week. 

So that's my lesson for the week, sometimes we need to take time out and enjoy the simple things that we take for granted.  Time to recharge those batteries, rest and regroup to get energy for the next adventure that life throws at us.

Monday, 19 September 2016


Monday, Monday, Monday.  How could one day pass so quickly?  Here I am, almost too late to join in Sian's Memorandum Monday.

I should have guessed it was going to be a frantic day when an epic SatNav fail affected my journey into work.  Not my mistaken turning, but one which caused a few problems.  You see, my very short journey to work takes me down a very narrow road which has the rather attractive name of 'Pig Lane'.  I always thought it might be because it is in the middle of farm land, maybe originally a pig farm?  Apparently during the war it was known as Pudding Lane.  There is a large manor set back from the road which was used as a maternity hospital, in particular single mother evacuees from London.  The girls would come to stay in a house in the centre of town, and then when the birth was imminent they would be moved to the manor house and the road which they travelled down got the nickname Pudding Lane as a play on the words 'in the pudding club'.  I digress.  This road is narrow, single track in some places and delays can be frequent when a large Range Rover comes head to head with another.  So imagine the chaos this morning when
 a Stansted airport park and ride double 'bendy' bus went down there.  It must have been a new driver who did not know the area and was following the 'shortest possible route' to Stansted on a sat nav.  How he ended up there, I have no idead.  For a start the park and ride is nowhere near Pig Lane, and it certainly isn't the main route through to the airport! 

So I sneaked into the office dead on 8.30 and tried to slip unnoticed into my chair.  'Aha, you're here' says the Head's PA, I know you've only just got here but could I have a word?'  As I searched my mind for anything dreadful I might have done, I couldn't find anything in my guilty conscience.  However it appeared that my plans for the morning were well and truly scuppered as our receptionist had resigned and left without working any notice.  Which naturally led to much speculation in the office for the rest of the morning.  Had anyone noticed she was unhappy?  Had she mentioned to anyone she was thinking about leaving?  No to all.  But it left us with a busy reception to man between us and consequently I got none of my own work done at all.   

So what have I learnt today?  After a morning of frustrating commutes and unexpected workloads, the perfect antidote is a family afternoon walk in the countryside with a dog on one side and a baby on the other.  And the first true signs of Autumn, fallen leaves and shiny conkers. 

I hope everyone else had a slightly better start to their day! 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Memorandum Monday -

Just sneaking in before the end of Monday so I can officially join in with Sian's Memo Makers.

There's a certain member of our family who's experienced a whole load of new things today and I've been lucky enough to share some of them with him.

Today was the first day that Leo's daddy wasn't there to spend all day with him.  The nasty people at Leo's dad's workplace said that his two weeks paternity leave was up and they wanted him back at work.  All day.  What a cheek!  How lucky then that I finished work at 12.30 and was able to pop round and spend the afternoon with him :-)

It was the first time that Leo's mum had taken him out in the car without his daddy.  Daddy normally does all the heavy lifting, getting the car seat into the car, folding up the pram frame and putting it in the boot of the car.  So it fell to me to try and 'help'  - at which point I realised that things have moved on somewhat since I last went out with a newborn.  26 years ago to be precise!  Baby seats are heavy.  REALLY heavy - and then you've got to fix it into the Isofix fitting, line it up properly and wait until the lights stop flashing to confirm it's in properly.  OK, I have to be honest, Leo's mum had to do that bit as there's quite a knack to it.  When I think back to bringing Rachel home 30 years ago, we simply put her in a carry cot, put that on the back seat and put a seat belt over it.  Looking back, it may not have been as safe as we thought it was then!
So whilst she was doing that, it fell to me to fold up the frame to put in the boot of the car.  Oh yes.  That sounds simple doesn't it?  My goodness I made a mess of that. But it was my first time after all.  Line this wheel up there, put on the brake, press that handle in, then push the handle down, pull on that strap, give it a shake, fold it up and voila! The 'voila' stage took a little while to accomplish.
So we set off for Leo and his mum to pop into the doctor's for a check over and then we headed out for the main event ...
Leo's first trip to a supermarket
Does a Monday get any more exciting than that?
So here's the photo to prove it.
If you see him, don't expect him to remember much about it, he slept through the whole thing.  And then we got home, he woke up, had his afternoon tea/milk and went straight back to sleep.  Which kind of makes me think that's he's used up his quota of being quiet and sleepy for the day, and that his mum and dad may be in for a disturbed evening!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Memorandum Monday - the 2 days late edition

 Belatedly joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday gang.  {hangs head in shame}  Could I call my entry 'What I learnt Wednesday'?  Whatever happened to Monday? What with going back to work and all those Grandmotherly emotions going on, the days are flying by. 

So what have I learnt since we last met?  Well, let me see ...

  • That after 6 weeks on school holiday I had managed to forget every log in password to every website/database/software programme that I needed to do my job.  Those combinations of upper case - lower case - numbers - exclamation marks - dollar signs that tripped so easily from my fingertips in July refused to come to mind in September.  Until I remembered that when I had been given my new academic planner at end of term, I had sensibly written them all down on a random page (top secret info you know, don't write it down, don't share it with anyone - don't tell anyone what I've done!)

  • I've learnt how to use a franking machine.  And whereas using a hand stamp to number and date every application form that comes in satisfies my inner librarian, the franking machine takes me back to happy days as a child playing with a toy post office, a plastic contraption which folded out to make a pretend counter, miniature envelopes and stamps ... (anyone else have one of them?) I'm sure the novelty will wear off long before the finance office have sorted out their back log of work and take the job back from the secretaries' office.

  • I've learnt that six weeks at home, with no holiday in the middle of it, plus the start of the Great British Bake Off, results in many new cake recipes being tried which in turn results in all my work trousers having 'shrunk' since I last wore them. 
Sorry to be late to the party this week - now off to play catch up and see what everyone else has been learning!