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Showing posts from May, 2007

Italy 1 - England 0

Hurrah! AC Milan won the football. In the city where I used to live, I can imagine the scene. The thronging piazzas and bars, the hugging, the kissing, the jumping up and down, the beeping of the car horns, the grid-locked traffic now filling what, a few short hours ago, would have been empty streets - everyone glued to their TV screen. In my head that's where I want to be right now. In my sixth floor apartment in my handsome brownstone Rinascimento building, peering down on the rooves of cars, the tops of heads, seeing the lights, hearing the voices, feeling the energy and smelling the air. This is Italy. A land of optimism, passion and football mania. In England the same passions are more devisive, less endearing. I'll never forget when friends of ours visited. He was a dyed in the wool Chelsea fan. I took them to lunch on the Navigli (canals) - a little bar, some football memorabilia. We sat outside in a weak sun, me enjoying sharing with them these lesser known spots. Pau…

Village Schools - Superb or Superfluous?

I despair sometimes, I really do. Does excellence stand for nothing in this country? Is it really all about ‘the bottom line’? I have just received devastating news - for our little community at least. Our village infant school has been earmarked for closure.

This school is one of the key reasons I was prepared to unpick my life once again and move from the south to the north of the country. It is one of my strongest and most positive memories from when we first came to look at the house and the village. In the Autumn it was awarded the highest possible Ofsted inspection result and, as such, was put into the top 10 per cent of primary schools in the WHOLE country. This is a remarkable achievement for a school of 25 pupils. And it is all down to the dedication, vision and plain hard work of its Head and equally dedicated staff – one teacher, one assistant, one secretary – not to mention the strong parental input and board of governors. It featured in an article in the Primary Review jus…

The Day the Circus Came to Town

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I have posted the above picture just to remind us all what the weather HAS been like…it was taken on the way home last Thursday after a day out at Chatsworth (the school having been shut for polling day). Already, as I walked round a bedraggled, damp garden this afternoon, it seems a lifetime ago…

My better half is away at the moment and missing the fun. He has been on a short wind-swept and drizzly golf tour with the boys in the south-east of England and, after a swift change of clothes and a meal out with us on Saturday, jetted off to New York on Sunday morning. I received a text from him on Monday: he had enjoyed coffee in warm sunshine overlooking the Hudson river and the Statue of Liberty, lunch with a mate, a stroll in central park (with time to send me a pic), before heading off for drinks with other friends and supper and a baseball game. I was struggling to see where the work was being fitted in on this ‘work trip’. I, meanwhile, was sat in Wickes car park in the rain with fiv…

An Italian Sort of Day

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Wednesday 2nd May 2007

If this weather carries on I’m going to have to change the blurb under my blog title! Everything’s on its head. It’s usually us poor folk up here in the north west hills that have to watch the sun streaming down all over the country while we wallow in mud and mist and rain, whatever the month. I’ll always remember my days in Milan where I would snigger smugly at the Sky News weather reports which had this constant pulsating symbol over the UK which represented rain, storms and every other ghastly metereological happening while I wafted around in linens, gently fanning myself and improving my tan. Yet tonight, sweet revenge! As I watched the Big Football Match over in Milan between Manchester United and AC Milan I could barely see the players for the curtain of rain that was falling, or hear the commentary for the thunder and lightning going off in the background. I looked out of my window here onto a scene of bucolic perfection. Fields bathed in a soft evening li…

Growing Up, Reaching Out

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Tuesday 1st May


I helped out at school this morning as I often do on Tuesdays. Now I don’t have little L at home to stick and make with and do jigsaws and get messy with paint, I have been reduced to ‘volunteering’ to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in with her and her little friends in Reception. Our village school is an Infants School and currently has 25 pupils in it. It is a lovely place in which to pass the time. I pottered about filling paint pots and setting out number games. Today we were reinforcing their numeracy skills – counting in tens and units, more than, less than and all that jazz. I just love watching them all cross-legged and attentive on the mat, mainly drinking up the information but from time to time fiddling with shoes, taking their eyes off the teacher at their peril and being hastily and firmly drawn back to the matter in hand. I have flashbacks to myself at that age – just starting out on the long educational road, strewn with potholes and rusty nails on whi…

Just another Monday morning

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Monday 30th April 2007

I stood outside the school gates this morning and chatted to a friend. It was a beautiful blue sky day but with a chilly wind. I noticed the goose bumps on my friend’s throat (as Mrs Gaskill would say – well, chest sounds a little leery in the circumstances!) and it made me feel colder. I was glad I was wearing my vest or I’d have had goose bumps up to my ears. Henri passed with her dog, regular as clockwork. We said a cheery hello. I saw her again, later in the day, on her afternoon walk. She seemed a little depressed. Her friend Mary, whom I am also very fond of and who was the best friend of the woman we bought our house off, is really not well. She had a hip operation but has another mysterious incurable disease, dirkham’s I believe it is called, which means her legs are very swollen and tender and movement is increasingly difficult. In applying a soothing cream – she will not entertain having a live-in nurse – she managed to topple over and dislocate her ne…

Let’s Go for a Little Drive

On Thursdays I go to see the Yoga Ogre in Buxton. I had the most amazing drive over there last week. Amazing only in that it was perfect, until I reached the A6 at least. When I compare it to the sort of journeys I used to make in London…. well, there is no comparison. There I had to plan exactly when to leave the house to avoid the worst of the traffic jams. Driving to see a friend five minutes away could commute to 30 minutes of wheel-clenching, teeth-grinding frustration, magnified into urban hell by tired/hungry/irritable/bored babies in the back screaming blue murder. Give me a padded cell any day.

Here, it’s a rather different matter. I have to go, I get in the car and I drive. The only obstacles are horses, tractors, ageing LandRovers driven by stubborn farmers and equally stubborn sheep. Used to be a dairy herd issue too, but sadly, the last one was sold a year or two back. I used to love going in to school and saying ‘Oh, gosh, sorry I’m late, cattle, you know, milking. Got s…