Anniversary - 18th
Sculptural works are in a range of media, including stone, wood, metal, glass, bronze, resin, ceramic and reclaimed materials. The pieces are exhibited within a 1½ acre garden of a traditional English style, on a domestic scale with ‘interconnecting rooms’.
Seeds to Sow Now!
CHARINGWORTH COURT, Winchcombe
Prescott Hill Climb is the home of the Bugatti Owners Club and was established in 1938 –“the Bugatti Owner’s Club was already running hill climbs on various dusty loose-surfaced courses in the south of England since 1931. It was about 1936 when it was agreed that the Club really needed to have its own course.” Prescott was the first purpose-built speed event venue to come on stream since the sport on public roads was outlawed some fourteen years before.
Classics at Prescott, Sun, 15 May: Classic Car enthusiasts displayed their vehicles in ”the Orchard” and “Paddocks” and, in addition, there was also the opportunity for these drivers to take part in a “gentle Cavalcade …. up the Hill allowing the public to see the display of Classic Cars in motion”.
Wild Gardening (1)
That 's Buckingham Palace he is referring to - because one of 'my' governors is Clerk to the Privy Council and is a big-cheese with all of the comings and goings of royalty and parliamentary protocol. He is the person who officially announced, to the world, the new King when Queen Elizabeth passed away - before Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt read the official wording.
Have a look at: Cabinet Office
He is the most unassuming man and must find my questions and enthusiasm quite irritating! However, I did find out that today he has to be part of the proceedings from 7.30am and cannot leave until 1.30pm and "that's a long time to wait if you need to go for a wee". He only has to wear a morning suit and not all the regalia (cloaks and funny hats and suchlike) but does have to wear his gong" (the Order or Medal of CVO - Commander of the Victoria Order).
Suffice to say, I think I was more excited about it than he was!
Magical Harry Potter
In real life, the National Motor Museum reports: "Ford’s new Anglia model was overshadowed by the Mini when it was launched at the 1959 Motor Show but went on to be a sales success with over a million of the 105E and more powerful 123E being built before production ended in 1967. In 1963 the production line was moved from Dagenham to a new factory at Halewood on Merseyside.
This Anglia was used during the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was stolen in 2005 but was later recovered after being dumped by the thieves probably due to the media interest surrounding the car."
Capability Brown on the Door-Step
Check out the history of Croome and particularly that of the 6th Earl of Coventry; he was a flamboyant and forward-thinking character - "an 18th century trend setter and big spender” - for example, the equivalent of £35 million was spent transforming Croome!
SEE: Overview of Croome | Worcestershire | National Trust
So, in 1751, George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, inherited the Croome estate and commissioned Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, to redesign the house and its parkland. Croome was ‘Capability’ Brown’s first large-scale commission and is often described as his 'first and favourite child'.
Brown remodelled Croome Court into the fashionable Palladian style, and the formal gardens were dug up and, in their place, the creation of a natural looking parkland. “Brown created elaborate illusions in his new landscape – the river was designed to appear as if it drifted off into the distance around a corner, but in fact abruptly came to an end behind some cleverly planted trees and shrubs”.
Capability Brown and the Earl became firm friends and there is a memorial to Brown after his death in 1793 which reads: “To the Memory of Lancelot Brown - Who by the powers of his inimitable and creative genius formed this garden scene out of a morass”.
Visit to Germany
Other than eating and drinking and chatting we did manage one ‘touristy’ visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes, specifically Kastell Saalburg (translated as Castle Saalburg). Kastell Saalburg is considered the best-researched and most completely reconstructed fort of the Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes and defines part of the “frontiers of the Roman Empire”.
The Upper German-Raetian Limes extends to a length of 550km between the Rhine in the north-west and the Danube in the south-east. It consisted of about 900 watchtowers, numerous small forts and over 60 large forts. More a guarded border line than a military defence system, the Limes enabled traffic to be managed, movement of people to be controlled and goods to be traded and taxed”.
Green apparently contributes to feeling of rest and security. Apparently, the name attributed to the “green room” within theatres is because a green shade would help performers relax before going on stage. According to colour psychology, green’s calming effects may be due to its associations with natural world. Mint is a crisp, cool hue – a bright, cheerful colour that evokes creativity, freshness, and lightness. Just like me!
Below - boxes of books brought down from the greenhouse to be sorted.... so, eventually, we ended up with two boxes destined for the charity shop, one box to my Mum, two boxes back to the garden for storage and a selection of books for the shelving in greenhouse No.1. The rest have made it into the new book 'cubes' in the newly carpeted and decorated bedroom. Very grown-up for us!
We enjoyed a family and friends surprise lunch to celebrate Dad's 80th birthday yesterday. Our deviousness of the past two months paid off as it truly was a surprise for him!
We were handsomely looked after by the restaurant Lambs (Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon) and they were in on the subterfuge and, as they said in an email, "don't worry, we know Dr Green very well indeed". I'm not sure of that is a good thing or bad?*!
A web-search brought up a few quotes about older birthdays which are probably good to absorb into our psyche:
and one especially for Dad as he continues to teach his Shakespeare classes every term:
Garden Shed Working
Remember I said that the new job role was busy and full-on with trying to get on top of stuff that has tail-spun out of control for a few months, as well as the day-to-day tasks? Like the 22,388 emails in the Inbox? Or the financial filing that was stuffed in boxes and carrier bags for months? Well, focus on that, plus the normal rigours of a new term and then add into the equation a "new build" = NIGHTMARE!
Thought for Today - and 2023
All that is gold does not glitter
Soil is a bit easier to work with when it’s damp and the weeds that will be invariably prolific will also be shallow rooted and therefore easier to remove. The wind, rain and frost will damage the top layer of soil and it will lose nutrients and structure and start to erode. Therefore, January is also a good time (if you’re so inclined and industrious) to add garden compost, rotted manure, and other green waste and maybe add seaweed solution and fish emulsion (which is a mild fertilizer) to strengthen plant roots. Seaweed is a soil conditioner and root tonic which helps to improve the balance of soil bacteria, support root growth and strengthen plant stems. Also, cover areas of the veg patch and/or flower beds with old rugs or carpet as this will help maintain a steady level of moisture in the beds, reduce the chances of the soil becoming compacted during the winter months and ultimately keep the soil warmer for when seeds and plants can be sown outside. Admittedly, it doesn’t look particularly attractive but as you’re unlikely to be lounging in the garden much, and it’s dark late and early in the day, what you can’t see can’t offend you!
Check out: Soil Association: Winter
Other jobs that can be attacked if you’re really bored…
Protect terracotta pots from cracking in freezing weather by bringing them indoors or wrapping in bubble polythene. Move plants in pots to a sheltered spot if conditions turn very cold, as their roots are more exposed to the elements. Plant fragrant winter shrubs in pots and place near to the house or paths, such as chimonanthus, sarcococca and Daphne odora.
LEAVES – conflicting advice!
Plant bare-root roses and other deciduous shrubs, plus ornamental trees; hang bird feeders near roses to attract hungry birds that will also pick off any overwintering pests. Prune climbing roses between now and February.
FRUIT and NUT HEDGES
If you have space, plant fruit and nut hedges like hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel as these provide fruit and nuts through the winter and can support wildlife.
Pile straw or bracken around the base of tender shrubs and climbers to protect them from falling temperatures. Hard prune overgrown shrubs and hedges while they're dormant.
Check stored bulbs and corms regularly for any signs of rot. Summer-flowering bulbs and tubers that are being stored over winter should be checked for any signs of mould or rot, and those that might be affected should be removed to prevent it spreading. Any forced bulbs can be brought into a warm room to encourage flowering. January is the last chance to plant tulip bulbs provided that the ground is not frozen.
Sudeley Castle - Spectacle of Light
Christmas Eve Greetings!
Back at home, every winter certain rooms in the cottage (well, there are only four / five rooms as it is) develop an irritating blush of mould on the corner walls and the stone lintels. This is the result of a combination of the cold temperatures outside, central heating inside and condensation. So, we will move some furniture and treat the walls and then wander into town for a coffee, because the treatment smells absolutely noxious and is best to be avoided. So a very glamorous Christmas Eve morning – not!
Despite being fairly prudent why is it that all the basic goods run out at the same time? So, stocking up with sauces, condiments, oils and baking ingredients was added to the mix, but I’m hoping that a “big shop” won’t be necessary for a number of weeks! I hate shopping.
Well, the kettle’s on for another cuppa before the onslaught of practical activity...
Righty-Oh-Ho-Ho…. I will finish off by wishing you a fabulous Christmas and even better 2023!
So, if that is what the digital records are like in Outlook, can you imagine what the networks files are like? And, don’t even mention the hardcopy paperwork…. The majority of which is years out of date!! On top of all that, the school has just signed a building project and contracts and the timings are very tight: School finishes on 16th December and demolition of the office and Class2 building starts on the 19th December. Obviously because of statutory requirements the office function has to be up-and-running by the beginning of term (3rd January 2023) so we have ordered a garden office-building (aka a shed!) which is where the Head and I will be based for the foreseeable future!! As well as the shed itself being erected we also have to organise / re-site all the normal furniture and associated filing, and the IT cabling, WiFi and servers, the photocopier / printer (used by everyone in the school), the fire and security alarms, telephone lines, etc, etc, blah blah blah. Hmm… and it’s Christmas break in between-time and a lot of companies /tradies are on holiday (obviously and understandable). As you can imagine it is a juggling act and a lot of this has to take a back seat to the normal day-to-day running of a school office – which is even worse in the run-up to Christmas…. Panto trips, concerts, church services, Nativity Plays and associated families in-fighting for tickets, Christmas lunch (regular? Vegetarian? Gluten free? Any other kind of allergic reaction – made-up or real!?), Christmas Jumpers and Shoe Boxes for charity, School Disco, cold, vomiting, snotty noses and exhaustion, and, more seriously, one confirmed case of Strep A… and so on and so forth.
As many of you are aware, I have been mulling over things for a little while as I have been feeling so tired and out-of-sorts, and “not myself”. So, in light of all of the above, I have come to a few decisions this week – and acted upon them! I wrote to my doctor and subsequently have a face-to-face appointment this week; I booked and managed to get a cancellation booking with my chiropractor (and that immediately ironed out a niggling irritation in my shoulder/neck); I have cancelled my gym membership – until I can summon up energy to go and benefit from it. On the ‘wider’ scale I have also informed all the local associations / people (e.g. Christmas Festival, Winchcombe Together, Open Gardens) that I have done volunteer work with that whilst I am happy to help out, I am not doing organisational roles during the upcoming year. Basically it was just like a continuation of being at work – emails and spreadsheets and dealing with [stupid] questions from people who couldn’t be bothered to think for themselves or take any initiative.
I am also considering the remaining “portfolio” of job roles [paid employment] that I hold and whilst they are under control and do not necessarily require too much deep-thought, they are there, an additional commitment and often create a spiralling sub-conscious “to-do” list.
Which brings me to the crunch…. All of these decisions are fuelled by the need to step away from the “real world” as much as possible and look after myself. I have so little patience with "the general public" and social media that I think it is probably best to keep a low profile. It has been a difficult few years (for everyone, I know) and I think a little quiet time would be of great benefit (for everyone, I would suggest!).
So – that’s what I am doing!
Yes – I hear across the ether - so shut-up Rosie! ?*!
Right – I’m off! Speak soon(ish).
Running to Keep Up
So, since then I have been providing “emergency cover” for one of my rural primary schools. This is the tiny village up in the hills which has terrible phone reception, is in the middle of nowhere and is falling apart (the buildings etc).
It’s a l-o-n-g story so I won’t go into it too much. but suffice to say it is taking up a lot more of my life than originally thought. There is a great deal to sort out. The previous office manager had been unwell and has now resigned so it looks like I will be in situ for a few months yet. In actual fact, the Headteacher and I are currently wrangling with the HR department about contracts - rates of pay, grade-scales, hours of work etc etc blah blah blah. I have already clocked up over 120 hours of extra cover time – so I am keen to get this clarified as soon as possible. Since being treated so shoddily by DCS I am even more cynical than ever and am actually being a bit of a “toughie” and being assertive (it’s a bit scary and I’m out of my comfort zone for sure).
However, as part of my ‘argument’ the school administration is in complete dire straits! It seems that some BIG things have been out-of-control for a number of months, and this has just come to light - particularly issues with finances / accounts and, more worryingly, with a number of concerns about the SCR too. For those that do not know, the SCR is “Single Central Register” and is a statutory requirement in every UK school – all to do with safeguarding and HR records, like references, employment, qualifications etc. Basically, if the SCR is not up-to-date or following appropriate procedures then a school is in BIG TROUBLE and can fail inspections and so on and so forth. GULP!
So, I’m doing A LOT of school office “fire-fighting” and am attempting to get as much as possible under control – although nothing to do with figures because, well, I’m not interested in finances!!! And I am USELESS.
On the other side of general administrative things, I keep finding jobs that are half-done or not even started and whilst some are not particularly difficult these tasks generally take a lot of time and fiddling about to organise…. For example, liaising with the NHS vaccination team to get 88 children their nasal flu vaccinations, and various school trips including 25 Reception and Year 1 children (average 5 years old) to the Black Country Museum …. Including coach hire, emergency contacts, parent helpers with (or without) DBS clearance because of Child Protection rules and so on and so forth. On the horizon there is also the whole-school trip to see the Dick Whittington Panto at Chipping Norton Theatre, various concerts and vocal workshops, the Nativity Play, church services and so on, and so on, It has been a case of “panic stations” in all honesty – from the teaching staff – and of course, I am trying to come up with the goods whilst maintaining a cheerful, calm and positive image (ha! ha!).
And, of course, there is all the normal day-to-day stuff to deal with, and that can be bad enough sometimes… registers (statutory requirement, obviously), lunches, parents’ queries and observations [groan], lost jumpers / t-shirts / hats, gloves and scarves, delivery guys, tearful fallings-out with best-friends in the playground and a variety of snotty noses and bloody knees – and that’s just the teachers?*!
So – that’s me. Paul is also busy. He has been up at The Cotswold Farm Park this week for the beginning of setting up the Light Trail for the Christmas thing. He also has done a little studio cover at The Everyman and working at Malvern Showground doing a set-up for their Christmas Show. To date, he hasn’t had a day off in nearly three weeks – and most days start at 8am and he doesn’t get to leave until 6pm at the earliest. As you can imagine he is shattered – and completely over all the additional problems that come with heavy rain and electrics!!
This excerpt is from a weekly update I receive from a church-based charity called Wayside Chapel in a suburb called King's Cross in Sydney. They do a lot for homeless people - but much, much more. I never visited the chapel, and neither am I a religious person, but I like the sentiments of the 'pastor and CEO'. He talks a lot of sense, has a great sense of humour, is down to earth and appears to genuinely care.
I took these photos at least a week ago when there seemed to be sunshine and not the absolute deluge we have been experiencing recently. Also, I haven't made it up into the garden for days because it's been either too dark, too wet or I've just not been here (mainly the latter!).
I think the Rudloe Arms is owned by MPW but is also part of a franchise (developed 2013) called Black And White Hospitality. The business operates a franchise model which allows property owners to open one of the eight Marco Pierre White branded restaurants within their property – names including, for example, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Wheeler's of St James’s Oyster Bar & Grill Room, Wheeler’s Fish & Chips, Bardolino Pizzeria Bellini & Espresso Bar and Marconi Coffee & Juice Bar.