Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Today is public sector industrial action day here in the UK.  No good teacher ever takes the decision to miss a day teaching lightly however, for the sake of the future of education, which is far more important than our own (rapidly decreasing) pension  we have both chosen to support the strike action.

This article from the guardian online, written  by a  state secondary teacher in north London, says everything I want to say.

I'm going on strike to make you show teachers some respect, Mr Cameron

If the government wants to attract the best graduates to teaching, it must prove to them that they are valued

Unionists prepare placards for Wednesday's strike
Members of the University and College Union prepare placards for Wednesday's strike. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/AFP/Getty Images

As a teacher, I'm always a bit cagey when someone mentions time off. I have been doing my best to avoid any conversations about tomorrow's strike for the fear of the familiar retort: "Because that's what teachers need isn't it? Another day off!"
Teachers are constantly vilified as an inefficient and ineffective bunch, more interested in coasting to a comfortable retirement than unleashing the potential of the young talent of this country. But I firmly believe that this campaign is not just about how well-off I will be in my autumn years. It's about fostering respect for our profession, it's about ensuring that teachers are valued.
I doubt anyone would argue with the assertion that successful societies need successful education systems, and these need good teachers. But bright and dynamic people require some incentive to enter the profession: a bit more respect would help.
There's an awful lot of teacher-bashing about: it seems every ill in society has its roots in our "failing" state schools; even the August riots have been blamed, at least in part, on us.
Respect for teachers and teaching has dwindled in the last 20 years: not just in the media but in the minds of our peers, parents, students, even ourselves. I delayed entering the profession for fear that I might have "settled" for it.
One way for the government to attract talent to teaching is through good pay and conditions. It sends a signal that this profession is important, that the people we have slogging their guts out in our schools are worth investing in.
The new pension proposals will have a serious impact on the financial future of teachers: we are expected to pay more out of our salaries now to get less out of the pension pot in the end.
Remember, teachers do not operate in a market place. Terms and conditions are set by the government. Good teachers can't negotiate a better pension deal elsewhere. We are stuck with what the government offers us. So that offer needs to be attractive.
Yes, Mr Cameron, industrial action will be disruptive, but then that's the point. It's time you all sat up and took notice of us. We really are that important.
Posted by Kate Treacy Tuesday 29 November 2011 16.00 GMT 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cornish Farling Biscuits

The wind is howling and it feels very  November grey and miserable outside so I decided to entertain the little lady and make something delicious for the rest of the family after school.  

After making a yummy latte in my favourite Cath cup I was ready to begin cooking with a toddler...

This delicious and super quick and easy recipe was given  to me by my mum.  I have always called these little ginger biscuits "Cornish Farlings" because that is what she wrote at the top of the recipe, however I found out today (thank you google) they are actually known as "Cornish Fairings'.  Fairings being any item bought as a gift at a fair, edible or not.  Anyway history aside I decided to share it with all my lovely blog readers, and keep it as a handy reference to save me having to hunt for it in the future.

Find a helpful little girl and give her a bowl.

You will need these ingredients:

4oz Butter (but I always use marg)
1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
6oz Self Raising Flour 
Pinch of Bicarb of Soda
1 teaspoon of Ground Ginger
3 oz Caster Sugar 

(I always double or quadruple the amount but I  do have  lots of hungry children to feed!)

1. Heat marg and syrup in a pan over a low heat

Starts like this...

Looks like this very quickly

2.Stir in sieved (I never bother) flour, bicarb, ginger & sugar  - Mix well

It looks a bit like this
3. Make small or large balls of mixture (keep to the same for each otherwise they don't cook well) and place on a greased baking tray.

4. Bake for around 10 minutes (until golden in colour) at 200 C or gas mark 5

5. Leave on a tray for a few minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack 

Then return to your lovely cup of something delicious, feeling like a wonderful mother whilst trying not to eat them all!

Not forgetting the small child who needs a reward for all their 'help'.

What is your favourite biscuit recipe?  

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Twenty one months

Time is just flying by so fast and little lady is twenty one months today,

She shared the day with older siblings who had an inset day.  It was so nice to have a relaxing play in the garden after breakfast,  much of the morning was spent building dens and moving toys around the garden.

She thinks she can avoid her patch by sharing her new  trick with me,

and showing me the flower on her new dress,

Mummy will always win the patch war little girl!

Whilst we were having a photo shoot in the misty morning garden, little man was busy inside

he is loving school and "my phonics" and is so proud of being able to write a few words.

If time could only stand still for a moment so I can catch up!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Craft & Gift market

What's the use of having a big church building in the centre of town at the start of the busy Christmas season unless it is filled with lots of people having a happy time? This weekend is the opening of the Christmas market and ice rink in the Cathedral grounds and is also the first ever craft and gift market run by Winchester Family Church.

There are lots and lots of clever people selling fantastic handmade items, although sadly I had no time to join them this year.  Among them are the ever so talented Bethany Athill, who weaves and makes beautiful items. This lovely lady who makes lots of different handmade items and many of my talented friends including the maker of these gorgeous shoes, who really needs her own blog to share all her delightful creations!

There will be lots of other stalls selling cards, children's clothing and who knows what else.  I am sure you will be able to do lots of gift shopping as well as have a lovely cup of tea and a sit down.  There is also face painting for children, what a fun way to spend a Saturday!

It would be lovely to see you there!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Catching up..

I planned to post a photo of Ruby on the 22nd of every month this year to record how she was growing.  Work, grocery shopping and a thousand other things seem to have got in the way but here are the nineteen and twenty month photos.

Nineteen months:

Playing with the Cousin's toys.

A precious picture with a Grandad who has been very ill.

Twenty months:

Showing off those growing teeth!

Adventures in Patching!

A visit to the consultant last week led to us being told that unless we patch our little girl for most of the day, she will be blind in that eye by the time she is sixteen.  We have been patching (covering her good eye to force the poor eye to work) her for  a while now but she does not like it and has become very adept at removing it about thirty seconds!

We are now matching little Miss determined with our own determination as we know it is up to us to make her lazy eye work again and obviously we do not want her to lose the vision in that eye.  If I put the patch on as well as a hair clip, she is not sure which one to remove first and  if we then  focus all our efforts into entertaining her  after a while she seems to have forgotten about it.  We have been having much more success but it is a very time consuming process, very much worth it though.

Today we played in the garden and even patched up her baby.

However despite my best distraction efforts I noticed Ruby had pulled the corner of the patch up a tiny bit, after watching her I realised she was using it to see.  This is not the point of the patch, which is to force the poor eye to be used before the brain learns to see using only the good eye.

Just as well her determination is totally matched by mine; the opthalmologist suggested putting armbands around her elbows to stop her bending her arms, I will be searching for them  this afternoon.   I am also spending time doing craft and play doh with her in an effort to occupy her and take her mind off the patch. 

Has anyone got any tips or suggestions about how to keep an eye patch on a toddler?