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:
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!
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.
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).
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.
Jesus points out they can read basic signs in the skies to predict weather but refuse to recognise obvious signs such as the many miracles He has already accomplished. He declares He will not give them any sign but that of Jonah (Jonah 1:17), who was swallowed by the whale and restored on the third day (Matthew 16:1–4).
Now you know!
So, the colour of the sky has harboured a great number of folklore and sayings, and these are often correct, and scientifically proven. For example:
Similarly, ‘Rain Before Seven, Fine by Eleven’ is often correct because when there is rain, there are also strong winds and this usually means that early morning rain, will be blown away by midday.
Plants and wildlife can be observed to react to weather conditions too, for example:
There are plenty of sayings or proverbs pertaining to plants as well, such as
Onion-skins very thin
Mild winter coming in;
Onion-skins thick and tough,
Coming winter cold and rough.
When dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass: Dew forms when grass gets colder than the dew-point temperature (the temp at which dew forms). At night, grass cools when heat from the ground radiates upward. In a clear, dry atmosphere, this heat escapes the atmosphere and rises into outer space. In a moist and humid atmosphere, water vapour absorbs some of that heat and can redirect it back down to the ground, warming up the grass, and thus keeping it dew free. Dew on the grass is therefore a sign of a high-pressure system, and good weather.
April showers bring May flowers:
Cool, wet weather in spring helps grass prepare for strong growth later in May.
The ash before the oak, choke, choke, choke.
The oak before the ash, splash, splash, splash:
This refers to which tree breaks bud first in the spring; If ash trees break bud before oak trees, this foretells a wet summer.
Pinecones open up when good weather is coming:
Scientifically based – as during dry weather, pinecones dry out, which causes their scales to stand out and appear more "open", whereas in wet weather, the scales curl up and the cones return to a more closed shape.
So - now you know [even more!].
Planting in pots / containers:
On the windowsill or in the greenhouse:
Some November plants but I am not currently bothered with include horseradish, mushrooms and oyster plant. The latter is also known as sea mertensia or sea bluebells and generally grows in coastal areas but also does well in rockeries – and is increasing in popularity as a gourmet accompaniment, either raw or cooked, to fish dishes. I might try it if I have room in the greenhouse!
Normally (whatever that might be) the weather in the UK during November (less than a week away) ranges from “poor to unpleasant” depending on the destination. Average temperatures in London are a daytime maximum of 12°C (53°F), and a minimum night-time temperature of around 6°C (42°F) and moderate monthly rainfall. Edinburgh is colder with maximum daytime temperatures around 10°C (49°F) and minimum night-time temperatures around 4°C (39°F) and again moderate rainfall. So – generally unpleasant.
However, my cosmos (annuals), nasturtiums, feverfew, geraniums, hollyhocks, sweet peas (perennials) are all flourishing. Don’t get me wrong – I like that it is still attractive, and the bees are buzzing, and the birds are happily foraging – BUT it is of some concern when it is probably an indicator of global warming.
Should these (below) all be flowering so profusely at the end of October??
I have heard that the injection can be a real game-changer. It has been so weird, and I have been feeling like a wrinkled-up and deflated birthday balloon. Having said that, I have had a good day or two – probably helped by the fact that it has been bright and sunny!
Paul has been setting up / working at the Cheltenham Literature Festival (which is quite a big thing over here) as well as doing the odd shift at The Everyman Theatre too. After this Cheltenham work he will be employed until into January on various winter and Christmas “festivals” including running the Cotswold farm Park Enchanted Light Trail again. However, the past few days have been somewhat miserable as he has been unwell – and yesterday recorded a very definitely positive Covid test result. SIGH!
We were meant to be having a few days away at Marco Pierre White’s hotel near Bath – a dinner, bed and breakfast deal that I got months ago. Fortunately, the hotel was incredibly kind and allowed me to postpone the break-away. They certainly weren’t obliged to as the terms and conditions were quite clear about 48 hours’ notice and no amendments and all that jazz but having sweet-talked the receptionists, they have re-allocated us over the weekend of Halloween. PHEW!
I have been (am) feeling a bit fed-up recently. So, I don’t know if this was the right thing to do or not, but whilst I still juggle numerous part-time jobs (seven roles currently), I handed my notice in at one of my schools – where I am a part-time Administrator in the school office as well as being their Clerk to the Governors. Anyway, with all the combined job roles in all employment having a certain amount of micro-management and lots of bureaucracy I weighed up the odds and this particular employment got the chop. It is a shame as the team is great and the children enjoy a fabulously run school environment, but that’s the way it goes. My last official day in school is tomorrow (19th).
My various other jobs seem to be under control – the past month has been a bit of a nightmare, but I am feeling more relaxed about everything now that I made the decision to make some changes. However, there is the possibility of a second interview with an organisation called the Cheltenham Trust (p/t flexible/work from home role) and, funnily enough, amongst other things, they run the Cheltenham Festivals...!! see: Homepage | Cheltenham Festivals
So... what else? Nothing very exciting I'm afraid. I have spent some time sorting things out at home, including planting up some Penstemons which I bought as plug plants – because they were a bargain on-line offer – and the window box. I’ve also wielded the secateurs with a vengeance and enthusiastically prune anything that I come across [everything then!] and have moved some shrubs and plants. I am avoiding any real work – like weeding and digging and heavier stuff – just haven’t got the energy. However, I do think being out in the garden and the greenhouses is of so much benefit. Especially when the sun is shining!
Garlic needs a long growing season to do well, and therefore planting in autumn is perfect timing so that plants develop roots and shoots before the heavy frosts. When sown in October they should be ready to lift and dry by June or July next year.
Fortunately, garlic needs little care – only needing regular watering in spring and early summer, and when the foliage turns yellow this is a sign that the bulbs are reaching maturity. Then the bulbs can be lifted from the soil and left to dry out for a couple of days, in full sun. Easy as!
It has been such a beautiful weekend that I have spent a lot of time pottering about, tidying-up and prepping - optimistically - for the winter. Check out my progress (below) - I've even moved shrubs and perennials as instructed by the magazines and books and planted up pots and containers with winter flowers. Super organised!
“Food to dine for…
I am very anxious that tomorrow is a real turning point in my pathetic and weak-and-watery stakes because we are [meant to be] attending a wedding on Saturday. We have been looking forward to this event for a l-o-n-g time. To be honest, I am sure we will go, come hell or high-water and if I hit a downward slide then I can secrete myself away somewhere quiet at the very plush venue. Keep your fingers crossed that this isn't necessary please!