Friday, 19 December 2008

What can I do about the economy?

Anyone who is alive in the developed world will know that there is a problem with the world economies at the moment. Most people feel powerless about what is happening here.
There are however certain things we can do to help the world at this time.
One good thing to do is to refuse to tap into the mass consciousness of fear. But how do we do that? Mantras are a good way to change our consciousness.

Here is a good mantra along with an interesting visualization.
The mantra calls on the name of God - I AM THAT I AM. This name was given to us when Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. He asked who shall I say sent me?

God replied "Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh." Exodus 3.14. The English translation of the Hebrew used is I AM THAT I AM.
So when we say "I AM...." we are really saying 'God in me is....."

This mantra also refers to the US economy. Of course you may wish to substitute the name of your country in that phrase or you may wish to say it as it is. In my opinion the US economy is so important to the world economy that it is wise to pray for it to be upheld.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Little School

I came across this video at homeschooling
It is about a School in Denmark where the children learn autonomously. It looks like it was filmed in the 1970s. It is black and white and crackly but well worth spending 35 minutes to watch it.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Do schools kill creativity?

Thank goodness I was never sent to school...Beatrix Potter quote at

This guy talks so much sense and he does it so entertainingly too! One of the stories he tells is of a successful and famous dancer/choreographer who couldn't sit still at school. Fortunately someone realised that she didn't have a learning disability but was in fact a dancer. She had to move to think. As he says, it is a good job she wasn't given medication and told to calm down!

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Monday, 8 December 2008


Here is an interesting film about the power of validation.
I'm sorry that the music is jazz, but it is worth watching nevertheless.

Friday, 5 December 2008


We have a small black cat called Sebastian. I must admit that I often refer to him as 'her'. This is probably because he is small and thin like a female. He is under two years old so I hope as he gets older he will fill out.

He was meowing at the back door this morning and so I picked him up for a cuddle before I put him outside. He immediately turned around and came back in the door. It is cold outside so I was not surprised he didn't want to go out. I picked him up again and he enjoyed another cuddle. (Apart from the rubbing around the legs when he is hungry this is the only contact he likes as he never comes on laps. When he is curled up he will bite a person who strokes him more than twice.)

When he wanted to go down I left him and he sat at the door meowing again. This time I opened the door and let him go out on his own. He sniffed the cold air and backed away from the door.

I picked him up and told him I could not change the weather, and if he wanted to go out he would have to brave the cold. The next time he meowed at the door, a few minutes later, I gently nudged him out with my foot. He hesitated then walked away.

About 5-10 minutes later I saw him being chased by another cat in the garden and a silent fight ensued. It was not vicious so I did not intervene.

I wonder now, that it may not have been the cold that caused him to not want to go out. If the other cat was already in the vicinity he would have smelled him.

Before Sebastian came to live with us there were several cats to be seen wandering about our garden so they probably think that Sebastian is intruding on their patch.

I did intervene once in a fight in the summer because it was vicious and noisy. I went out and shooed the other cat away but I'm not sure that was the correct thing to do for Sebastian's sake. Maybe he needs to establish his ownership of the space.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Fire Dance

Well, I couldn't show the videos of fire to the class (of 5-6 year olds) because not only was You Tube site blocked (as I suspected) but the blogger site was also blocked. There was no provision for teacher override so I checked on the BBC (which is not blocked) and found none there. We just had to talk about it, which was very unsatisfactory for the 2 children who are just learning English. I didn't even have a still picture of a fire because the picture searches are blocked too. And by the time I had found all this out it was time for the lesson.

However, these two unfortunate boys aside, the lesson went really well. All the children had had some experience of a fire. There was a lively discussion giving descriptions of fire and one girl said the flame of a candle acted totally differently to the flames in a bonfire.

We went to the hall and they showed me how their bodies could interpret flames. The children suggested that sparks and smoke acted differently to flames so we interpreted them too.

When they had all practiced their interpretations, I called out different groups for the rest to observe. One girl asked if they could comment on the children's performance that they thought good! So they did and came up with great comments.

They then modified their interpretations and that was the end of the first lesson. This was without any music.

At the beginning of the next week's lesson we listened to the music, Trisch Trasch Polka by Strauss ( 2.45 minutes) and freely interpreted the 3 elements of the fire - flames, sparks and smoke.

More watching groups and commenting on good interpretations.

They then talked about shaping the dance. Lots of good suggestions were incorporated into a beginning of an unlit bonfire, gradually catching fire, then sparks flying off around the room, then smoke, then the flames dying down.

It is wonderful to work with a class with good imagination and good communication skills. My planning for this series of lessons was minimal because I wanted the children to shape it. This has paid off and they have exceeded my expectations.

The next lesson will be refining the shaping, giving people 'roles' and talking about costumes.

My plan is to peform this at an assembly.

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Fireplace

I just love real fires and was so pleased to find a few on you Tube.
Actually the real reason why I am posting a fire on here is because I am doing PE with a Year 1/2 class on Tuesday and we are doing Dance this term. The teacher is doing the theme of fire all term and wants the children to do a fire dance.
I wanted to show the children a real fire in case they have never seen one. So this is the introduction to the lesson. The You Tube site may be blocked for classroom use and hopefully this blog site will be OK.
I have nearly decided to use the music Trisch Trasch Polka by Strauss as it is so lively and short. but we will not be using the music this week. Just introducing the movements and getting ideas from the children.

It is a shame that the one I liked best had the embedding information disabled. So this is the second best one.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Mens Brains, Womens Brains

Have you ever wondered why men and women sometimes have trouble communicating? In this hilarious video from, comedian Mark Gungor gives you one theory having to do with the differences between men’s brains and women’s brains.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Surrogate Tappping

Surrogate tapping is a very useful form of EFT. I have been able to help loved ones living in a different timezone to me. It was impossible to arrange a time to have a phone session.

Well, I was on the bus going to work the other day and a teenager was talking loudly in an angry way to her friends about an incident that had happened to her. I didn't hear her words because I was listening to my ipod. I turned it up to try and tune her out but I could still hear her tone and felt the agitated waves of energy she was spreading throughout the bus.

I wanted to ask her to stop but knew that would be futile. Then I realised what I really wanted to do was to help her so she didn't feel so angry. Then I thought of tapping for her surrogately. So I did. After doing the set up phrase silently whilst tapping the side of my hand I touched the different points on the face slowly whilst breathing at every touch. (It is called 'touch and breath' technique and does not look weird like tapping does, especially as my elbow was resting on the window, with my hand on my head.) Very soon I heard her laugh and her tone changed and she stopped dominating the conversation with her friends.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Our Inner Children

There are not many people who give their inner child the time and attention that he/she wants and deserves. Even those people who know about their inner child are often guilty of neglecting him/her.

I know I am and have done for years.

My daughter Claire and I write daily in our gratitude book. This is a ritual we have recently installed into the evening mealtime. We have a little book and each write about 10 things we have been grateful for that day. I instigated it but Claire is diligent and reminds me when I forget.

The other day we were talking about our neglected inner children after an EFT tapping session together, and so I suggested that we add something to our gratitude ritual. I'm very good at suggesting things. ;-) I wrote on the front of the book "Have I asked my inner child what she wants today?"

Well, neither of us have done this because we both thought that it would mean taking time out of our busy schedules to pander to them. However I think the fact that we have this question out in the open has helped us. Our inner children are actually talking to us and we are listening.

On Saturday I knew my inner child wanted to have lunch outside in the (rare this summer) sunshine. And again today. I realised that this did not actually take up extra time because I needed to eat anyway and the adult Patricia really enjoyed being in the sunshine too.

Claire's inner child wanted her to get a certain task 'off her back' today. This was a task that she had on her list for a few weeks and not completed and it was weighing her down. So again her inner child did not actually require extra time, but in fact suggested an activity that greatly benefited the adult Claire too.

So the lesson I have learned is that our inner child can greatly enhance our life if we let him/her and this dos not necessarily take up more time than we think we have available.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Choosing Wealth and Spirituality

In this video the talented Pamela Bruner teaches us how to create a musical positive affirmation. This is best done after the negative and limiting beliefs have been eliminated by EFT of course.

Celtic Harp guided meditation

Pamela Brunner is a talented harp player. Here she is at the end of an EFT seminar. I love the way she uses her musical talent to bring something extra to her EFT seminars.

Her husband makes celtic harps. She was a fan of, and playing his harps before she met him. I think it is wonderful that the two are now married and Pamela hand paints the decorations onto the custom made instruments.

Monday, 1 September 2008

It's not just me that my actions affect

I noticed last night during my nightly prayers that I have been asking forgiveness for the same actions (or rather in-actions) for a few days now. So I gave a heartfelt plea for help with being more self disciplined.

I had a dream that had a disaster feel to it and on waking I pondered the meaning of it. The answer that came to me was

It's not just me that my actions affect. I am in a chain of events, an interconnecting web of people.

Now I do know this of course, but this thought gave me the clue to helping with my self discipline. If what I do affects other people then I have a duty (out of love for God and for them - we are all one) to be more self disciplined. I am more motivated, as I know most people are, to help others than to help myself.

It is not just in the little things like, if I don't wash up promptly when it is my turn, then my daughter has to look at the mess.
If I don't have a good breakfast and my blood sugar plummets, and I'm feeling grouchy whilst shopping, it means I am not cheery to the miserable cashier. She will then not give a smile to the next customer who may have needed that desperately to lift his day.
Our life is such a chain of events. If we are not in the right place at the right time we can affect lots of people. Even affect our life plan and those of others.

Procrastination. I have been pondering this recently and come to the conclusion that it is a form of rebellion. My inner prompting tells me I need to do so-and-so, but my lesser self decides to ignore it because it wants to do such-and-such.

So to get to the core of procrastination we need to tackle rebellion. I believe it is a rebellion against God. Not wanting to do God's will.
So what can we do about it?
  • We can pray for the binding of the not-self, that part of us that is our human creation. Praying out loud is more powerful than praying silently. click here for more information on this
  • We can visualise and invoke the violet flame (the flame of the Holy Spirit) around the situation that we are procrastinating about. click for information on the violet flame
  • We can do EFT to remove the psychological block that is causing the rebellion. Think back to all the rebellious acts and thoughts you have had and tap whist thinking about them. 'Even though I have this rebellious thought I deeply and completely love and accept myself". By accepting yourself with the problem that you have you will be able to let it go. If you don't like yourself because you have the problem you will be stuck with the problem. click for more information regarding EFT
So why am I writing this when my inner prompting tells me to get that washing on the line outside so it can dry before the rain comes?
OK I'm off to do it now. ;-)

Friday, 29 August 2008

EFT group sessions

Are you feeling stressed?

Are you in pain?

Do you have painful memories?


Emotional Freedom Techniques has been described as acupuncture without the needles. It addresses both physical and emotional pain.

Try it out for just £10 at the Tapping Circle Group sessions.

Saturday mornings 9:30-11:00


Wednesday evenings 7:30-9:00

Email eft.with.patricia at or phone
Patricia Hope
0118 959 5675 to book your place.

White Gables 47 Parkside Road Reading RG30 2BT
near Prospect Park.

If you are not living near enough to attend these you may join by phone conference or skype. Contact me to find out how to do this.

Back home and back to work

I arrived in Heathrow about midday Tuesday having left Bozeman on Monday afternoon, and got home early afternoon. I opened the front door, pushed a pile of mail out of the way and stepped onto a very soggy hall carpet!

The ceiling, some of which was on the floor, was dripping. So I got a bucket and all the towels and trod on the towels to soak up the moisture. This procedure used up all the towels and turned them brown so before I could wash any of my clothes I had to wash the towels. It was not good drying weather but I need to get them dry quick so I could continue with the mopping up.
The ruined hallway was the only room I had decorated. The weather was dull, wet and cold and being tired I was feeling a little miserable as you can imagine. I had left all my friends and family in Montana attending a few days of seminars because I needed to get back to work.
The mail was wet but so was a box of books!

I was concerned that the carpet would get mouldy. I had a brainwave. I was now living in a place that had gas fired central heating and the radiators could be controlled separately. The weather was a little chilly but I would not have normally put the heating on however I made sure all the radiators in the house were off bar the hallway one an the one in the lounge that was by the hall door.

I decided that although I had no idea what had caused the leak, I needed to have a shower and brush my teeth. Next morning the dripping had stopped so there was not much for the guy to look at when he came to sort it out. Actually his job was just to report back to the owner. He said he would get the plumber to come and take a look. He left and I went to work having stamped on the now dry towels again. I still had not unpacked at all.

I was very fortunate that the class I had that day was the easiest class with the nicest children that I have on a regular basis. I was so pleased to have them for my first day back after a very tiring 10 day trip and stressful events either side of it. I still had dollars in my purse so I passed them round and we had a lesson on US currency and converting it to ££s.

Montana again

I usually have a shopping list when I go to the states because the exchange rate is so favourable and Walmart and Target have really affordable items. This trip was no exception. the problem was that I didn't have a car and the distances are so vast that walking is usually out of the question - and I have never seen a public bus in Bozeman . (Amazingly there is only one taxi company and that nearly folded. The new owner put up the fares to make it a viable concern. So a taxi fare from Bozeman to the airport trebled in a year.)

My friend runs a cleaning company and as she is a hands on boss she had a job on Sunday she needed to do so I offered to help her and her colleague do the job in return for her taking me to the shops - sorry... stores. In the USA a shop is a workshop like a car repair place. It was very hot and the house (a rental) we were cleaning had no air conditioning.

One of the things on my list was curtains for the house. There were actually curtains or blinds up in all the windows but some were awful. My lovely friend took me to several stores both before the conference and after it, but I only managed to get some lovely sunny yellow material to make a roman blind for bathroom.

I managed to arrange a lift, sorry... ride, down to the conference site which is 6 miles from an entrance to Yellowstone park.

The conference was a 50th anniversary of the founding of the Summit Lighthouse. An organisation dedicated to spreading the teachings of the Ascended Masters. I didn't actually get to attend much of the conference but I had a great time volunteering at the information booth and as a conference program assistant . I enjoyed the challenge of troubleshooting the last minute organisational stuff, like where do the few hundred conferees put their glad rags for the gala dinner when they brought them from their accommodations in the morning, and how to feed at least 100 people who wanted to climb a mountain on the day after the conference, and formulating notices and posters that needed to be translated into 4 languages.

Last year when the jubilee was being first talked about it became apparent that many Europeans who had never been to the States were planning on attending the conference this year. There is a conference every summer in this place, more or lass in the middle of nowhere, and accommodation is not always easy to find with so many tourists visiting Yellowstone Park and surrounding area. So I decided to rent a house or two and sublet it to any Europeans who wanted a cheap bed. The flights from Europe in the summer are so expensive especially as Bozeman is such an out of the way place, that a saving on accommodation is welcome by many.

I found a house on the Internet in the town of Gardiner at the entrance to the Park 6 miles from the conference site. the owner said the house was divided into two apartments - the attic and ground floor. I took both of them. The attic accommodated all the Austrians with some Swiss, about 15 women I think. This suited them 'cos they all spoke German and most could speak no English. Some people were on blow-up mattresses on the floor. They shared 2 bathrooms.

On the ground floor there was a bedroom for the 4 men and the other rooms accommodated 13 women. There were 2 bathrooms also. This American house was so enormous that even more people could have slept on floor mattresses if there had been more bathroom facilities. There were people from about 6 countries and all spoke English apart from one lady from Portugal.

I also rented a cabin accommodating 7 Portuguese ladies and a little boy by the river.

I found I was one of the last to bed and one of the first up so I was a little tired by the end of the 6 day conference. On the way home I didn't give a prayer about helping people and didn't meet anyone to help. But it was a definite overnight flight and I stayed in my seat more and actually slept quite well.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Journey

I had prayed before I went that I might help as many people on route as I could and I was very busy the whole journey. Most of the help was with EFT, teaching people how to do it and relieving them of little aches and pains. I spent at least 45 minutes with one broken footed lady in the gangway of the plane while she sat in her seat.

In the first hour of the of the journey I met an amazing mother of 3 small boys. Was changing her baby whilst her 2 older boys were sitting in their seat. I met her because I was going to use the lavatory (sorry, can't use the word toilet because it is considered a rude word in the USA and I don't want to use the euphemism 'rest room' 'cos it's not a room to rest in) and she had the door open so she could keep an eye on her boys. She said sometimes they all 4 pile into the tiny room! I kept on meeting her throughout the journey. I move a round a lot on plane journeys, especially those long ones. I think the long leg of this journey was 9 hours from Heathrow to Denver. I am either going on a walk, doing some exercises, going to the WC or getting a drink of water. This lady had an amazing calm manner with her boys and they were all as good as gold! The baby smiled the whole journey.

When we got to Denver I was in the queue near her and offered to help her juggle her stuff. We had to collect our belongings and re-check them in for our onward journey. It turned out she was going to the exact same town I was! Bozeman in Montana is not a large place by any means. The airport has 3 gates. She grew up there and was visiting her parents, having moved to Britain with her husband's job. I found it amazing that she worked full time because she was not at all stressed and her boys showed no neediness. She said that the lady who looked after the boys had gone with them to live in London because she was considered part of the family.

The middle boy, nearly 3 years old called me grandma for the first part of the journey and then changed it to Grandma Patricia when he was told I was not his grandma. She told me this was because I showed a striking resemblance to her mother in looks. So when we got to Bozeman airport and I came upon a lady who looked like me, I introduced myself. (I'm not a typical Bristisher. I do all sorts of things like that which is very out of character of someone from England.) Later, whilst waiting for our luggage I was officially introduced.

The plane from Denver to Bozeman was larger than the usual one that looks like a bus inside, and it was full. Many of those traveling were going to the same conference that I was going to.

At the airport I saw a Portuguese lady, going to the same conference. I had met her at a conference in Europe. Poor lady did not speak English and this was her first trip to the USA. She was relieved to see me and I managed to unite her with the bus that was taking people to the conference site 70 miles down the road.

I met up with my friend with whom I was staying for a few days and we eventually drove to her apartment in Bozeman well after 11pm. Amazingly it was still Saturday, but of course it was nearly time to get up on Sunday morning in Britain.

Moving house

I thought it was about time I posted about my summer. So, here is the first installment...

At the end of June I moved from a 2 bed furnished flat to a 4 bed unfurnished house with a large overgrown garden.

The house was being advertised as a shared accommodation for rent. It was designated thus by the renting agents because it was in a bit of a state really. It needed decorating throughout - grungy colours and dirty walls, with some carpets that have seen much better days. It also did not have an up-to-date kitchen and bathroom. The house was built in the 1960s and has the original solid wooden fitted cupboards in the kitchen and original bathroom furniture. Nothing really wrong with any of it, just not up-to-date.

The owner bought the property to build on and but in the meantime is renting it out until he can get permission etc. The rent is incredibly good value for the size of property. He said I can do what I like with the house. So I am decorating it. Every room. White.

I had to take it before I vacated my flat so I started the decorating before I moved in. I started with the entrance hall because that is the first impression. And the first impression was very depressing as it was. It was all done before our final moving day. (We had moved things from the garage and stuff we didn't use day-to-day a week before.)

So on Wednesday evening after work we moved the rest of our stuff with the help of a guy with a trailer and a van/car.

Claire had packed her bag before we moved and the next day she flew to Montana. I went to work Thursday and Friday, both days tutoring a child privately after work, and on Saturday I flew to Montana too. I had not packed my bag before I moved. I also had no time/energy to do much unpacking of household effects. Therefore on Saturday morning it was a little difficult to find things to pack in my bag. But I did it and caught my plane with no mishaps.

Something for your inner child

On another note here is a wonderful site that will give you a warm glow if you have a fast computer. (If you have a slow one, just take my word for it and move on to the next thing in your life.)

It is a potato parade and before you make one for your loved ones you can see a demonstration one. They choose a name at random for this and my demonstration had the name Trish! (This is a derivation of my name Patricia, one that I don't mind - not like Pat which I don't like being called... but that is another post.)

Anyway.... enjoy!
potato parade

Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes

This video is a gem. This guy has a wonderful philosophy on life. How many people can he influence who leave his presence with shining eyes?
He also plays the piano very well too.

Another great TED talk, it is well worth 20 minutes of your time. One of the commentators to this video wrote "I've seen 174 TEDs, this I'll remember as the one that made me clap without noticing! "
His last phrase is worth writing down and looking at everyday.

He quotes an Auschwitz survivor who as a result of a big regret in her life made a vow. She told him "I will never say anything that couldn't stand as the last thing I'll ever say."

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

..and EFT for a new day

Well, I hope you have a great sleep. And here is the Tap 'O the Mornin' video from Brad Yates to help you to get your day off to a good start.

Have a great day!

Monday, 25 August 2008

EFT at bedtime

I am posting two videos here from Brad Yates because I want to easily get to them. (I just click on the feed button on my toolbar and there I will find this post.) They are wonderful to tap along with before bed. However I didn't want to get distracted by the other videos on my YouTube favourites list.

But first, for those readers who are not familiar with the enormous scope of EFT here is an enjoyable video showing impressive results that can be achieved. I love that guy at the end doing jumping jacks after having been confined to a wheelchair for a few years.

Now here is "Tap of the Evenin'" with Brad Yates.

This is an interesting version of Ho'oponopono, which is from Hawaii. I'm glad I've found out how to pronounce it now.

I tapped with this Ho'oponopono video last night along with the Tap O' the Evening video and as I was getting ready for bed I found myself spontaneously being grateful for the tiny things - the layout of my stairs, the sink, my electric toothbrush and so on. And the first thought that I woke up with was "O God you are so magnificent". Mind you I often wake up with that thought.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


It has been a long time since I posted anything.
This is because so much has been happening in my life that I don't know where to begin, and I know that if I sat down and relayed even a little of it, I would be here for a long time. So I compose posts in my head when I am away from the computer and don't get to share them.
One day soon I will make it a priority to share my summer.

However in the meantime I wanted to share this video that I think is very important for everyone to know. It will impact your future happiness when you understand the message here.
It takes 20 minutes, so get a drink, watch while eating or when you need a break to maximize your time.

Enjoy and learn.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A Spot of Blood

9:15 pm and I wondered through a lovely walkway with interesting small houses on either side. Very middle class and neat and well kept. Coming towards me was a guy looking at the pathway. He stopped and said, "Have you seen any blood on Hollins Walk? I'm from the council and the police have just rung asking us to clean up some blood on Hollins Walk. Have you seen any?"
"I haven't seen any but then I haven't been looking at the ground. There are garages around the back on both sides so it might be round there." I replied.

Well, how peculiar! How did the blood get there? Surely if a crime had been committed there would be a cordoned-off-bit with police tape for forensic purposes. Had someone had a fall and broken flesh? Had someone brought a freshly killed animal carcass through from a car? Now that is a little far fetched isn't it? But I'm still wondering what the story is behind the blood spill on a peaceful residential walkway.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Wedding Anniversary

Oh, I've just noticed the date. June 3rd. My wedding anniversary. Not that I'm married anymore but it is the only wedding I've had. 29 years ago.

It was a scorching hot day. Too hot for suits and formal attire. I had a blinding headache the whole day from the stress of it all. We spent as little as we could - bought my dress from Miss Selfridge and the bridesmaids' from Top Shop. We were going to have everyone round to our 2-up 2-down terraced house and I was going to cater but Adrian's mum said we should not do this. I think she gave us some money to help hire the community centre for the reception and the local pub to cater. My parents gave us a casserole dish as a wedding present and told us it was very expensive and that we were very lucky. (Actually it is a very good dish, makes chicken taste wonderful and I still use it regularly)

My mouth muscles hurt from all the smiling but it was good to see all the friends who came to the do. I even got to see my granny for the first time in a very long time. We were never close. Shame that.

The next day, well the next week, was cold and wet. We drove down from Manchester to Cornwall to stay in my new sister-in-law's parents static caravan. I lost my watch on the way down there when we visited a tourist information place. We were the first ones at the caravan after the winter so had to clean it out. We had very little money after paying for the wedding so were hoping for picnics on the beach. Instead it was miserable weather so it was picnics in the car 'cos we couldn't afford restaurants. This was before fast food restaurants and pizza places. Cheap food was served in greasy cafes. Although we were very grateful for the free loan, the caravan was not a place we wanted to spend time in.

So we cut our honeymoon short and spent a few days at my parent's place! We didn't even like my parents but they lived in Taunton which was on the way home, and we weren't ready to go home quite yet. On the way back we called in at the tourist information place and asked about my watch and were gobsmacked that it was handed to us! An Australian family had found it.

We were best friends, my husband and I, I remember and I met him for the first time in many years at my eldest daughter's wedding last summer. It will be her first wedding anniversary soon. I hope they are still together 30 years later.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Chealsea Flower Show

It was my fifty second birthday last week and my daughters took me to Chelsea Flower Show because I had mentioned that I had aways wanted to go to it.

Helen came with me although Claire paid her share. We set off at 6:10am to get the bus to the railway station. It was surprisingly warm considering how early it was. Usually in Britain there is a nip in the air during early morning even if it turns out to be a warm day.

The sun shone on the station platform as we waited for the fast train to London.

I go to London quite a bit but when I go it is usually to Tottenham, which is a long journey to the north east of London. I use the underground because it is quicker and I am scared of getting the wrong bus and I never know what stop to get off. The underground is much simpler - a simple map to follow and I always know when to get off and where to change train lines. I was therefore resistant to Helen's plan to get the bus from Paddington station to Victoria station to meet up with the flower show shuttle bus.

She showed me on the Internet that it took the same amount of time to go by bus as underground. Also it would be obvious when we got to Victoria station so we would not miss the stop.

I'm so glad we went by bus because I rarely get to see the centre of London. The sun was shining and the streets were still very quiet. It was a pleasant journey viewing the beautiful buildings and parks from the top deck of the bus.

We arrived at the gates of the Flower Show grounds about 15 minutes before they opened at 8am. There was quite a queue, but as the day wore on we realised that we had made the right decision to go early. By 11 o'clock the crowds were very thick and it was difficult to get to see the garden displays.

We managed to see most of the gardens and all of the inside pavilion displays before then. The commercial stands, which we viewed in the afternoon, were very interesting too.

We had an early lunch. We were hungry by 11:00. We had taken breakfast to eat on the train but that was still early. Helen had read that it was recommended to go for lunch before 12 or after 2 due to the crowds of people. We noticed that most people had brought picnic lunches and were eating whilst sitting on walls or the grass, especially by the bandstand.

I love walking the streets looking at people's gardens so it was a real treat to see so many interesting layouts. I enjoyed the courtyard gardens best, the ones with a traditional theme. I'm not so keen on the 'modern' look with lots of concrete and no soul.

I particularly enjoyed sitting in all the swing seats for sale to see which was most comfortable. Of course that was the most expensive seat at a few thousand pounds. But it was also very good quality.

I also enjoyed the displays of plants in the pavilion. I didn't realise there were so many varieties of lavender or clematis or delphinium.

It was funny seeing people walking home with enormous plants in pots at the end of the day. We went on Saturday which was the last day so there was a big sell off. The shuttle bus was like a greenhouse with more plants that people. Regulars had come prepared with trolleys to wheel their acquisitions home.

My favourite flowers are the wild ones and I bought quite a few packets of seeds. Primrose and cowslips are the ones I snapped up first. I am looking forward to having a garden to sow these seeds in ...... but that is another post.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Freecycle and LETS

I've been having great fun 'shopping' using Freecycle just recently.

Freecycle is a wonderful organisation that makes marvelous use of the internet's capacity for networking.

People who live in the same geographical area join an email list and post offers and wants. When someone has an item they no longer want to keep they post an offer email describing the item and their postcode and people respond off list to them if they would like the item. If there are several people wanting the item, then the owner of the item gets to choose who they will give it to.

The fortunate person chosen then arranges a day/time to pick up the item and the original owner posts a 'taken' email to let everyone know it has gone.

If anyone wants a specific item they can post a 'wanted' email and people who can oblige let them know.

This system has two big advantages. It keeps items out of the rubbish dumps and helps those who are short of money.

I needed something to store books etc on a while ago and claimed a large and sturdy shelving unit. It is doing a marvelous job. As it would be impossible to transport it on my bike I 'employed' a driver to collect it for me.

The 'employing' of a driver is also a good story. I am a member of LETS. I think it stands for Local Exchange and Trading System. People in this organisation let other members know what they can/are willing to do for other people. This is collated in a directory. So when someone wants a service they look in the directory and asks a person who has listed that skill/service. So when I needed the shelf transporting I asked a guy who listed this service and he collected it for me. He charged me '5 Readies' and £2 for petrol.

The people of Reading call their LETS currency 'Readies' which is a play on the town name and a slang term for pounds. In the town of Wakefield the currency is 'Locks', which is a reference to the canal locks, of which there are quite a few in the area.

I remember when I was incapacitated with the 'flu for a few weeks when my girls were young. I could only drag myself downstairs to the sofa so I was around and aware of what they were doing. I could not cook for them, take them to school or shop for food. Fortunately a neighbour took my youngest, Claire to school with her daughter. And Helen was old enough and sensible enough to make beans of toast. I also wrote a note so she could get the child benefit money from the post office and buy a few items of food from the local shop.

My pride and independent spirit did not want to burden friends and neighbours with things that needed doing and I thought it would be great to have a system where you could ask people to do things and not feel obligated because you could in turn do things either for them or someone else. I had not got all the details worked out but knew some scheme like that would have been so useful to me then, and to others as well.

When I moved to Wakefield and discovered LETS I was relieved that someone had already thought through the idea and that I could slot into it without reinventing the wheel.

The main service I offer at the moment is EFT and earned a few Readies helping a certain lady over a series of weeks.

Everyone who joins is given some Readies to start them off trading. I remember in Wakefield several people would offer surplus vegetables from their garden. And I asked someone to help me clear my overgrown garden. Recently I have asked someone to come and mend a broken drawer, change a wheel on my bike and of course transport my Freecycle goods.

It is good that these two organisations work hand in hand so well.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Car registrations in North Carolina

Two driving instructor cars passed me yesterday. They both had signs on the roof displaying the name of their company.
One was 'Driving Ambition' and the other was '1st U learn'.

This reminded me of the car registration plates in North Carolina. Car owners there can make up their own registrations if they so want. If you didn't choose your own you got three letters followed by four numbers.
Here are some interesting ones that I wrote down as I saw them.
PAM'S RAM (a Dodge Ram)
JOY'S TOY (a red convertable)
WARP 9.9
IPORMUD (a very muddy truck)
YELLOBUG (on a VW beetle)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Seagulls and Pigeons

We look out over a huge playing field which is part of a park. Every morning during the winter months there has been a flock of seagulls eating worms.

I noticed the other day that they do not come anymore. We have had a warm, dry spell and the ground is hard.

I wonder if the seagulls have gone to the beach with all the holiday makers and day trippers? There would be lots of dropped food going there now.

We live nowhere near the sea. We are about 30 miles from the place which is the furthest away from the sea you can get in England.

We now have a flock of pigeons grazing on the area. I wonder what they are eating? They do not look as nice as the seagulls. I had to look twice to see what the grey things were on the grass. They looked a bit like rats with no tails.

The seagulls by contrast looked regal, especially when they all took off when a dog came into their vicinity.

I love watching the bounding, joyful dogs jumping around their owners as they take their exercise.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Instant karma

I read out a snippet from a website to my 21 year old daughter:

'A party boat filled with 60 men and women capsized in Texas after all the passengers rushed to one side as the boat passed a nude beach.'

I laughed and said "That was instant karma for them."

Her reaction was quite different to mine and it took me aback. She couldn't understand why they had all rushed to that side. She would have gone to the opposite side of the boat. "Who wants to see a load of nude people? That's gross!"

Hmm, Oh what a wonderful world it would be to have more people like her. I know that I would rather travel with her than the 60 on that boat.

The Newbury Bus

The bus to Newbury goes past the end of my road so I sometimes catch it when traveling home from Reading station. This bus is sometimes a little one, especially on Sundays.

Yesterday this bus came into the bus station, which is just outside the train station. We got on, and as we were waiting to leave another bus that we could have got came in and went out. I fleetingly thought that maybe we should have got that one.

Well, the little bus was just about to leave when a lady got on wanting to go to Newbury. She said the train to Newbury had been canceled. She presented her ticket which was not valid on the bus but the driver was in a good mood and let her on anyway.

Then a group of young people arrived attempting to get on the bus with a train ticket. The bus driver was hesitant about this but they were all deaf with no speech so he could not communicate the problem. They motioned to one of their group who was not yet on the bus. The deaf guy with speech came and started to talk, but by this time the driver was already late leaving, so he motioned them to get on.

So they got on followed by a train-load of people trying to get onto the tiny bus. They weren't all of the same deaf party and the driver, realising that this was getting out of hand told the people not to get on.

He hopped off to ascertain where their proper rail-replacement bus was.

Meanwhile I signed to some of the deaf party that they needed a different bus. This bus needed a different ticket. This bus needed money for the ticket. They understood and off they trooped.

The driver came back and directed all the train passengers to their rail replacement bus which was waiting at the rail-replacement stop.

I was pleased that we had got that bus after all. It was much more exiting than the other journey would have been. And felt good to be able to help the deaf group. It is rare that my sign language ability is needed in daily life.

Monday, 28 April 2008


I got an email the other day from my long lost sister. Except she didn't think she was lost!

I personally had not heard from her for a good few years - her email address no longer worked and I had moved house several times. My mum, who was the only person in the family that she conversed with had lost contact with her too. Mail was returned and she didn't have a phone number that worked. I did not try to trace her because she lived on a Spanish island and if she wasn't still there we didn't have a clue where to look.

My mum spent the first year worrying a little and the second year thinking that no news was good news. Then she resigned herself to the imagined fact that Caroline was happy with her mother-in-law as family and didn't need anyone else.

Then I found an email from her. It was in an old email address inbox that I don't use anymore but am reluctant to cancel for reasons such as this. It had been there for half a month. She wasn't writing to me really. She wanted to know mum's new email address. Well, mum had stopped using the Internet a few years ago.

I started to email her back but stopped because I felt a bit emotional and a little hurt and emails can be misinterpreted so easily.

She had a web address of her business at the bottom of her email. I checked it out. I felt quite proud that my little sister seemed to own a thriving business. I noticed a phone number on the site so phoned it. She answered. It seemed really odd to say 'This is Patricia - your sister'. Odd that she would not know who Patricia was or recognise my voice. We had not spoken to each other since my dad's funeral about 12 years ago. I had tried to email her a few times but she never replied.

We had a nice conversation, and that was when I realised that she didn't know she'd been lost or even missed. She just didn't feel the need for relationships other than her immediate family (even her mother-in-law). She told me that she thought of my mum each night and sent her love at that time.

Caroline has always held a special place in my heart since the day she was born when I was 7 years old. I didn't particularly like the rest of my family but felt that here was someone who I could love. I remember choosing her name. I don't know if I came up with the name or that I just agreed it was the name for her, but it was a family decision because she was a surprise late addition to the family. I remember thinking it was a lemon yellow name.

It saddened me that because I left home when she was 11 and did not have a good relationship with my parents at that time, I hardly had any contact with her.

I wonder if the separation all these years, which I have found painful, was the returning karma of not being there for her when she needed someone during her troubled teenage years? I was at college, and setting up home with my husband during that time. It did occur to me to consider if she could come up and live with us but I don't think it occurred to ask her to stay for a visit.

I remember her as a bridesmaid of mine. We didn't have the traditional dresses - no money for that - and we couldn't find a dress that would fit her top and bottom half so we settled for a smart t-shirt top and skirt, while her sister, the maid of honour, wore a summer cotton frock. Caroline felt awkward and unhappy the whole time.

She certainly seems a happier adult. It will be interesting to see how much contact we have now.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

It's Snowing

It's snowing in England right now. Big fluffy snowflakes gently drifting down. I love it.

Quite different to the snow in Montana. The snowflakes there are tiny due to the scarcity of water in the atmosphere. However they do have an abundance of it - for months. It doesn't snow everyday but several times a week. And it settles. There is a permanent blanket of snow from October to April in some places. And the snow is piled high along each road and sidewalk.

In England the snow rarely settles because the ground is too warm and wet. The snow usually melts on impact with the ground. It is a national pastime for people in England to moan about the weather. Every winter I hear complaints about how cold it is. the temperature is rarely below zero Centigrade (or Celsius as it is called now). Though, I must say the wind can be bitter and blow right through your coat making you feel very chilled.

But when I was in Montana a few winters ago the temperature was -7 Celsius on most days. On some days it was below zero Fahrenheit, and for two weeks it was about -34 Fahrenheit. When you get to those numbers it doesn't much matter if you are talking C or F 'cos they are about the same! It is not comfortable to go outside in those temperatures. The air feels like tiny needles are sticking into any exposed skin and the moist air inside your nose freezes. We laughed and thought that we could go back to England and say "You think this is cold?"

At the start of this very cold spell in the new year I drove 70 miles one evening to get my daughter from the airport. She had just spent New Year's in Texas so I took her a warm coat etc. (The Americans call the time around New Year - 'New Year's'. The British would say 'The New Year'.) My car's heating decided to fail during this time and so I had no heat inside the car for about one and a half hours. My feet, despite being in warm boots, were very painfully cold and I was torn between driving faster (over the speed limit) to make the journey shorter or driving safely in the freezing conditions. I was very glad of the relative warmth of the little airport when I got there. I didn't drive the 70 miles back because I actually lived about 6 miles from the airport!

The snow in North Carolina, in contrast to the snow in Montana, consists of enormous flakes. This is because there is such high humidity there. It only snows for a about three to six days there each winter and everything stops on those days. The schools have 'snow days' because the school busses are not designed to travel on icy roads. Also the snow has such a large volume that it quickly reaches knee height. Only the main roads are ploughed, leaving the side roads where most people live impassible by car. I heard pleas for divers of 4-wheeled vehicles to give lifts (English) or rides (American) to hospital workers so they could get to work. These snow days actually cut into the summer holiday time if there are a lot of them.

One snowy spell lasted for a few days and the Principal told the teachers they could go into school if they wanted. Even though it was physically possible to drive into school, I decided not to, because the roads were icy. They do not have gritting lorries there 'cos there is not much need of them. The funny thing is I had the same car with the same tyres driving in Montana to work and back on icy and snow compacted roads to and from work each day! The difference was I was told that my tyres were all-weather ones and that it was safe.

The snow has stopped falling here now, and sure enough there is not a trace of it to be seen. Just the usual wet ground of winter in England.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Testing times

I'm wondering if the government actually knows what happens in schools like ours. We serve an enormous council estate and many people living there are 3rd generation unemployed. The children have very limited vocabulary, understanding, imagination or ability to concentrate. Many have seriously disfunctional home-lives, are poorly nourished and present as very needy individuals. But they also have plasma screen TVs.

I have taught in hundreds of schools during my career and the staff here are the best I have come across. They are dedicated and talented. Every teacher is of a high calibre. The headteacher has a high respect for each one. She also loves and respects all the children. She is loved and respected by each in turn. Of course no-one is perfect but this is certainly a very good school in my opinion.

Last year a team of OFSTED inspectors came to inspect. They had in their heads the low attainment shown by the SATs results and put the school into 'Special Measures'. This means they failed the inspection. The staff were devestated and all the other professionals who knew the school were incredulous.

All the staff acknowledge that we can all improve and so have taken steps to implement the suggestions made by the team. We have had various professionals in to help us improve. All have agreed that this is not a failing school but nevertheless have helped to improve the teaching and learning. The staff are continually being monitored and have all been graded as good or outstanding in some lessons.

So here we go with the testing again. The results show little or no improvement. I observe children in my class not using the maths strategies I know that they understand and use in lessons. What they are not doing is applying their knowledge in different situations.

Some children are picked out and sat with a person individually to do the questions they missed out during the test. Amazing that they know the answers to them. They just could not concentrate on the test in a room full of other children.

I walk past the year 4 classrooms where the teachers have finished marking the tests at 5:45pm. They are in tears. They feel failures. What else can they do?

Go to France on the Fairy

Our topic is transport. We had discussed the definition and, after talking with their partners, the children each gave an example as I moved around the room. They were surprisingly imaginative and I was pleased with how the lesson was going.

"truck,"..... "hot air balloon,"...... "ferry,"......... "double decker bus,"....... "army truck,".......... "donkey,"....... "bike," .......
....."um, Beauty and the Beast"......
"What? Oh Asma, that is a story. We are talking about transport. Something that take us to places or take things to places. Have another think and I'll come back to you."
....... 'rowing boat,'........ "train,"..... "plane,".....

"The next activity is to design a transport sculpture. You need to draw 4 designs and then choose which one you want to actually create."
Asma's paper was interesting, she had a car, bus, hot air balloon and a ..... fairy. "Why have you drawn a fairy?"
"Well someone said fairy."
"Oh, no, it was ferry! A ferry is a boat that takes people and cars across the sea or a wide river."
I'm thinking that she must have got confused when she heard 'fairy' and started thinking along the lines of fairy stories or something, in order to come up with the Beauty and the Beast contribution. Some teachers call this behaviour as 'being away with the fairies'. She has an element of that, but she is also learning English as a second language and as she sounds fluent it is easy to forget that she will find some things confusing.

Monday, 28 January 2008

The Grommet

I walked into the classroom and a 7 year old boy placed a very tiny white plastic object in the palm of my hand. It was shaped like a cotton reel.
"Do you know what a tonsil looks like? I think this is my tonsil that just came out."
I looked at the tiny white plastic object and superimposed my idea of a tonsil over it. This object was too small. I thought if a tonsil, a blob of flesh, had recently come out it would be covered in blood but I didn't say that.
"This is plastic" I said, looking at him.
"Oh, maybe it's not called a tonsil. What's that thing that goes in your ear?"
"Grommet," I replied. "This is a grommet." I had never seen one before but it made sense that this was one. The cotton reel shape would be perfect for making sure it would not slip through the hole in the ear drum.
"I have those," says another boy. "They're always coming out, especially when I dive in the swimming pool."
I put it in the bin, suddenly not wanting to hold something that had been in his ear. 'Is that why he's a bit of a problem in class, having glue ear?' I thought, thinking back to the various recent incidents I had had with him. Would having glue ear make him continually burp out load and laugh about it? No, they didn't seem related, yet do I need to be a little more tolerant of his behaviour? Hmm.
"Tell your mum when you get home, that it came out," I told him.
"Right," I said looking up at the class, " We need handwriting books and pencils given out please."

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Classical Music

There is a Co-op food shop in a village near where I live that is open until late in the evening. It has a wide pavement outside and the local youths congregate there sheltering under the awning.

Unfortunately the behaviour of these youths caused a problem for shoppers. I expect the takings went down due to people shopping elsewhere. However if you go there of an evening now you will see no youths in the vicinity. This is because the manager has installed a cheap and ingenious 'youth deterrent.'

He installed a speaker outside the shop which plays classical music. This music is only on in the evening and it does not play inside the shop so i can only assume he is not a fan of this genre. It would seem also that the youths in the area are also not fans because this music has proved very effective in keeping them away.

I find it very sad that these young people do not like this type of music when it is often so uplifting.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


My first encounter with raw milk was when I was about eight years old. I had Godparents who had a farm. One of those traditional farms with a hayloft, duck pond, cowshed across the muddy cobbled farmyard, little hen houses (just for night time), a water pump and fields of cows and sheep.

I always enjoyed going there for holidays with my family. The house was built in the 13th century and the house had subsided over the years so climbing the stairs was an adventure. Each stair had sagged so they were all at different angles. Of course those living there would be so used to this that their bodies would compensate for this idiosyncrasy. But for a visiting eight year old it was like climbing a dark wooden mountain.

Once I got onto the first floor things continued to be interesting. I would have to walk uphill to the bathroom. (Of course the original house would not have had one of these, but Mr and Mrs Hope had converted a bedroom for this purpose.) I then had to walk downhill to the bedroom.

There was a double bed that I shared with my sister, surrounded by a sea of dark floorboards . The undulations of the floor were very apparent to anyone walking around the room. I remember waking up the first morning I was there and walking to the window. I was so delighted to be there. There was still a large bowl and jug for washing on the table under the window.

Downstairs in the stone flagged kitchen we sat at the large wooden table ready for our bowl of cornflakes. Auntie Ruth poured frothy milk in my bowl from a jug. IT WAS WARM! Ugh. I realised that it had come straight from a cow. Now, I would really appreciate that, as the adult that I am, but it seemed so gross to me at eight.

My next encounter with raw milk was when I was an adult. A young married woman just moved into my second home. I had read that calves fed on pasteurised milk died because the pasteurisation killed all the life-giving bacteria. In those days milkmen delivering the daily milk to the doorstep were still a common sight.

Our local milkman was really special. She was a woman. But that was not the wonderful part. She drove a horse and cart from the local farm! (Now, I'm not old enough that this was a common sight at all!) She said that this was a better way of delivering milk because the horse knew her route and as she was walking up one path and nipping through the garden to the next one, the horse was walking along the road to meet her.

This milk came from one farm and so they were allowed to sell unpasteurised milk. It came in glass bottles as did all the milk delivered then, and had a green foil top. It was lovely milk, but of course, being alive, it didn't have the same shelf life as the milk that had been killed bypasteurisation.

I would love to be able to buy raw milk now, especially raw cream, but have not found any near where I live.

If you don't know much about this subject or think that unpasteurised milk is bad for humans, then take a look at this short video. It is really enlightening. I learned something even though I already knew quite a bit about it. You might think that most cows spend their days in a field but that is not the case. Many cows spend their days inside large sheds eating 'feed' not grass.