Thursday, 27 June 2013

From Russia with love ....

The Russian delegation, from St. Petersburg, at the S4S Finals came bearing a beautiful gift.

Does anyone know why only the largest doll has the painted smile?

I’ve seen these little dolls before, but never a set of seven. This set is so beautifully made and painted.

The team...

Their tools…

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Scalextric4Schools 2013

June has been busy.

It started with OFSTED, and although I’m not allowed to give our grading until the inspection findings have been ratified, suffice it to say that we are pleased with the outcomes.

Immediately after came the finals day for a competition whichTim organises called Scalextric4Schools. You may remember that I wrote about last years competition here. Again I was impressed by the quality of the entries from all over the UK, and some from further afield. Some travelled from Scotland, spending a couple of nights camping nearby. Others used hotel accommodation or set out really early this morning in order to arrive at the RAF Museum, Cosford by 9.30.

I must pay tribute to the commitment from students, their teachers and technicians, parents and minibus drivers which was tremendous. One teacher (Bob - his team won the overall even last year) had recently taken the tip off his finger in an accident at school, but still made the journey down from Scotland bearing a lovely gift of a box of shortbread. Without this hard work and dedication projects like this could not exist. And this is the tip of the iceberg and compared to the hours of preparation that has to take place in school prior to the event. It also has to be remembered that in the UK June 16th was Father’s Day, so it meant that many of the teachers and supporting adults were spending time away from their own families.

Great to see the involvement of girls, although it would be fantastic if the fact that girls taking part in a CAD/CAM engineering project was so commonplace that it isn't worthy of special mention!

Tim is supported by Hornby, the manufacturers of Scalextric, who supply a large track and timing system, as well as a couple of enthusiastic people who travelled up from Margate to supervise and judge the competition. They also provided thousands of pounds worth of prizes. The staff of the RAF Museum and the Station Commander were all very welcoming and supportive. Other sponsors are companies selling Tim’s PTC CREO software, who give their time, skills and money towards promoting and judging the project. Chris and David, a couple of retired teachers, came to help out. Without the input of all of these individuals such competitions could not take place.

Last, but by no means least, were the fantastic group of students who excelled at the finals. They were a credit to their parents and their schools. The judging was very close and it was very hard to choose the winners because you know that some will go home disappointed. I just hope this will inspire the students to come up with even better innovations next year! This showed in that there were mostly different schools winning this year.

The students ranged in age from 11-17, although the marks are weighted to recognise this. One group of Y7 pupils from Skelmersdale who were very enthsiastic and entertaining could talk the hind leg off a donkey - me!

The team from Physics and Mathematics Lyceum 30, St Petersberg, Russia were very hard to beat, winning in two categories - best innovation, and fastest car for the Bloodhound challenge.

Fastest car around a track and best presentation were won by teams from Westbury in Nottingham, and the best overall team for 2013 was from Birches Head High School in Stoke on Trent.

They won large Scalextric sets, and each student who came to the finals day was presented with a Bugatti Veyron.

This car was designed for Hornby by Tom Malloy. PTC provided a paid internship for Tom when he was studying at Loughborough University - Tim is an alumni.   

Now, don't you wish you'd entered...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

What a performance...

Blogger is playing up... again.
 I have absolutely no idea why this post is looking like this, and after over an hour trying to rectify it have decided that life is just far too short to even be bothered about it - except that I am!!!

 In the all of 34 years that I’ve known Tim, there have only ever been two people I would have considered swapping him for. One is David Beckham, and the other, Bruce Springsteen. It probably says a lot for Tim that it was only ever a consideration. However after Thursday’s concert (I'm told that I should use the word ‘gig’) at the Coventry Ricoh Arena, Tim could be just a fraction closer to freedom!

It had rained nearly all day, but the rain mostly held off as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Wrecking Ball tour date began. The gig was just amazing; everything I’d hoped it would be and more. I left ecstatic, and even sitting in a car park for well over an hour before we could even join the stationary queue to begin our journey home didn’t dampen our spirits. Tom and I loved it but we have a suspicion that Tim only really liked it. He gave us, a crowd of about 40,000 just what we wanted!

Me (with raging hayfever) Tim and Tom.

With such a magnificent back catalogue of work there will always be that one song you walk away saying "I wish he had performed that" but without any doubt this was a great set list.
It promised to be a good night from the minute The Boss took to the stage and gave an opening solo acoustic performance of Ghost of Tom Joad.

I first got to know The Boss in 1975 (when I was 19 and starting university), which coincided with the release of the Born to Run album. My delight was that he played the whole of the Born to Run which he dedicated to his friend James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) who died the previous evening.

For any Boss officianados out there the set was:
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Long Walk Home
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Two Hearts
Long Time Comin’
Wrecking Ball
Death to My Hometown
Hungry Heart
The River  - perhaps my favourite

Born To Run album
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Born to Run
She’s the One
Meeting Across the River

Pay Me My Money Down
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Lonesome Day

We Are Alive
Born in the U.S.A.
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
Raise Your Hand
American Land

Nearly three and a half hours later as the final chord of American Land was played, we knew we’d been a part of something special. We'd sung, we'd danced in the aisles, cheered, clapped and even played our air guitars!

I was surprised by this person's drink of choice!

To sum up, this was the best gig that either Tom or I have ever attended - and between us we've been to quite a few!

What can I say other than to quote:

"and the poets down there don't write nothing at all they just stand back and let it all be".

Anyone know where this quotation is from?

Thursday, 20 June 2013


It has been a very busy couple of weeks; exams, reports, OFSTED, Tim’s Scalextric4Schools finals day at RAF Cosford, more exams, more reports, the Wolverhampton Race for Life, more reports, etc.

However, today at 3.30… nay 3.28, my pupils will have their chairs up and be lined up at the door. When the bell goes at 3.30 I will be flying out of the front door.


I’m off to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, for this …

I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Big O...

OFSTED… The official body for inspecting state schools in the UK.

Courtesy of Google images

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

History of Le Petit-Pressigny

We’d seen notices about an exhibition of the history of Le Petit-Pressigny, to be held in the Salle Jules Ferry. We hadn’t known what to expect but we didn’t expect the superb choice of interesting material and attention to detail that was evident. It was mostly the painstaking work of one man but I'm ashamed to say we didn’t get his name. My efforts to find the name have, thus far, proved fruitless. We did ask his permission to take the pics. He’d grouped the work into categories and I’ll just show some snippets here.

There was lots of fascinating information and photographs depicting the 'then', and contrasting it with the 'now'.

Perhaps my favourite bits were a couple of large maps which looked to be hand coloured and annotated showing the village in 1813 and 2013. In 1813 the bridge was wooden and there appeared to be a ford. 

Schools always interest us. We live in an old school and my entire working life has been spent in school!

I can thoroughly recommend the exhibition. If you live close and are interested, today (Saturday) the exhibition will move to the Salle des Fetes, and at 11 am there will also be a ceremony to name a square in honour of Axel Kahn, the celebrated geneticist who was born in the village. M. Kahn will be there to see a new rose named in after him.

The square taken last summer.

I believe there is also to be a vin d'honneur...

Monday, 3 June 2013

A glut of rhubarb...

We have a large rhubarb patch at Le Pré Vert and the damp weather has meant plenty of growth. I’ve pulled some to take home, some for friends and 2kg to make some jam. There was punnet of strawberries in lurking in the fridge  so I found a recipe for rhubarb and strawberry jam. I discounted a Nigella recipe which sounded really interesting because it needed to be boiled for a short time each day for 4 days! Now although there's nothing I'd like more than to stay here for a few days longer, I doubt that my headteacher would accept essential jam making to be a reasonable excuse!
At the last minute I threw in a few blueberries, to use them up before we leave.

The recipe suggested that the fruit should be prepared, covered in layers with sugar and left overnight. This morning I was up bright and early to start the boiling and prepare my jars. I didn’t have any waxed circles so had to improvise – seemingly the story of my life. Tim produced the labels.

I'm not sure that the blueberries I used are myrtilles, as I think these are smaller and more akin to whinberries.

Voila. Ten pots of jam.
Any takers?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Better by design...

Not in this case!
I bought this washing-up liquid at M&S because I liked the shape of the bottle. The scent is pleasant, and it contains aloe vera - hands that do dishes, and all that! I thought it would look nice at the back of the sink and even had visions of refilling it with my normal brand, which comes in a less stylish bottle.

For a start it doesn’t fit behind the sink, but worse, the combination of the thick liquid, rigid plastic and conical shape makes it difficult to squeeze out the contents.
In my opinion it certainly does not come into the  ‘vorsprung durch technik’ fold…

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Dining in style...

Today has been a beautiful day. Well, as I type this it is actually pouring down with rain, but the sun is still shining!
We started the day with some gardening and a trip to the dechetterie. We then came back and decided to enjoy the sunshine and do some more gardening followed by a leisurely lunch - never let it be said that we don't know how to enjoy ourselves! The afternoon was earmarked for a walk. As we drove out of Le Petit-Pressigny we noticed these cars parked outside La Promenade.

I’ve written about La Promenade before, so if you haven’t read about the gastronomic experience on offer there you can read about it here, and here. If you live close enough a visit would be even better!
Well, this post is more about arriving in style to dine in style.  I can't think the owners of these cars were anywhere else but dining at La Promenade...

Whatever happened to the silver lady?