Thursday 31 May 2012

A mystery solved ...

The prodigal son, aka Tom, has returned from Colorado. Mum, aka me,  killed the fatted calf and turned it into lasagne and ginger trifle (one of said Tom’s favourite suppers). Girl, aka Rhiannon, came to welcome Boy home and pick up her box of Lucky Charms. I've missed their conversation around the house.

Tom has spent some time this week looking through old photograph albums so I’ve decided to pick out a few featuring the fledgelings before they flew the nest. They aren’t fantastic pics because my technicians, aka Tim and Tom, are at a Taylor guitar roadshow in Birmingham. The scanner is on strike so I've photographed the photographs. Ingenious or what?

  21 years ago at Tom’s Christening.

 Domme, in the Dordogne.

Dressing up in the garden.

And the mystery? Not only does Tom get his favourite food, but also his favourite shower gel.

 Perhaps I’m trying too hard…

Friday 25 May 2012

Thursday 24 May 2012

A toast to the future ...

Tim’s away on business this week, so last night I had a night out with my good friends Sue, Barbara and Corrie. It was, as our evenings always are, really enjoyable. What made this evening so special is that after a long illness Sue is well on the way to recovery, and is looking SO much better. The transformation in the last month has been remarkable.

Barbara and Sue.

Sue had prepared a lovely supper and we toasted her recovery with some sparkles …

Sue and Dave visited us at Le Pre Vert last year. So much has happened since then so it was good to see them happy and relaxed.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Young people at their very best ...

The day of our House Music Festival has arrived! For the past few weeks pupils have been busy preparing their pieces and will be performing them in front of the whole school. I am the scorer and my colleague Janet will write the certificates. Believe you me this is an honour, and SO much better than being assigned to my usual job of ‘crowd control’!! I'm looking forward to a fantastic celebration of music and youth.

To get in the mood I thought I’d play you a clip of my favourite act on Britain's Got Talent. No, it’s not Pudsey the dog - although I did enjoy watching him perform, but this performance always brings a lump to my throat reminding me of my roots. It makes me proud to be Welsh!

Enjoy this celebration of the very best of young people - Only Boys Aloud….

Or this …

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Busy, busy....

Life at la petite presse is hectic at the moment, hence a lack of time to either blog or even keep up with the reading of my favourite blogs!

Tim and I are both really busy at work. For me it’s exam time, report time, visit time and generally a time where we try to fit ‘a quart into a pint pot’. There are also the external pressures of a possible OFSTED visit early in the next school year and an inspection in June for the award of Advanced Dyslexia Friendly status. Tim is also preparing for a work related trip to the US next week. Our internet connection has also nearly ground to a halt. Orange, in their usual customer friendly premium rate call way, are like chocolate teapots!

However the main thing keeping us busy are the preparations for the return of the prodigal son from his year studying in Colorado.

I’ve yet to kill the fatted calf, but we have completely redecorated and carpeted  upstairs and nearly finished installing Tom’s ‘junk’ in his new bedroom. In hindsight it was a mammoth task to empty the whole of the upstairs so that the carpet could be fitted, and an even more mammoth task to put it all back together again!!

Tim will meet up with Tom at Heathrow as they both return from the US on the same day, but to different terminals on different flights, Tom from Denver and Tim from Chicago. If all goes to plan it will be wonderful - and a miracle!

Meanwhile, a photograph taken from my bedroom window just before I set out for work this morning.

A brief moment of peace in a busy, busy day …

Thursday 3 May 2012

Yes, N.I.M.B.Y....

Common sense has prevailed and the planning application for the hostel has been withdrawn by the applicant. I just wish I’d known before I fronted up, together with about 50 other villagers, to the AGM of the Parish Council. I thought it was a bit odd that some of the gathering didn’t come into the hall – they were obviously in the know!

Now the Parish Council AGM, acknowledged by the Chair, usually  has only a small handful of ‘spectators’. I can see why!

When I left about an hour later (urgent phone call - The Apprentice!) they were having a post mortem about the procedures which should be put in place in case another application is made.

The latest contentious issue, and this will also be a biggie, is exactly what route the extension to HS2 will take. Robert says that it certainly can’t go through the Trent Valley near the village because there is already a road, a railway, a canal, a river and a field before you come to the gardens of the houses. I don’t think he has quite grasped the fact that if it does come through the Trent Valley the ONLY place is through the field and the gardens!!

In comparison the hostel might not have been so bad after all ….

Tuesday 1 May 2012


I’m shocked and distressed to realise that there is the possibility that I might be a N.I.M.B.Y sort of person.

We live in a small village of about 200 inhabitants, surrounded by farmland, woodland, a canal and a river. About half a mile from our house (as the crow flies) a planning permission application has been lodged to turn a luxury home into a therapy providing hostel for sex offenders and drug addicts. The house itself is surrounded by woodland criss crossed with public footpaths and bridleways, but fairly isolated. I know that I would feel vulnerable walking through the area alone in a way that I have never felt before.

Our house taken from in front of the woodland surrounding the proposed hostel.

Looking in the opposite direction towards the woodland surrounding the hostel.

Here is my quandary:

  • I believe that whatever the offence people need to have the opportunity to face up to their problems, seek help and become useful citizens.
  • If I believe that hostels such as this provide a useful service and would be content for such a hostel to be in the middle of someone else’s yard, then why not my own?
  • I do not want to be associated with any kind of genteel ‘lynch mob’ seeking to deride the work of a professional who is working hard with offenders in order to change their behaviour, for the benefit of us all.
  • I completely understand the feelings of my friends and neighbours in the community who are rightly very concerned about the impact such a place could have on their lives and homes.
  • I believe in rehabilitation. I do not believe that everyone who offends should be locked up and the key thrown away.
  • My daughter, who works for the probation service and has done counselling and rehabilitative programs with offenders, tells me that the sections of offence which will be dealt with at the hostel are serious ones.

There is a village meeting tonight and I shall go along to listen. I’m not convinced that the hostel will be represented in order to balance the argument.

I’ll let you know what happens and whether I really am a 'NOT IN MY BACK YARD' sort of person.

 Watch this space ...

UPDATE: The meeting is tonight rather than last night. I think I should make it clear that my friends and neighbours in the village are as far away from a 'lynch mob' as you could find. They are very tolerant, genuine and caring people. The age profile of the village means that most are either in or approaching retirement and really fear for the effects the proposed development will have on their lives.