Sunday, 26 June 2016

And relax .........

Well, E's A2 exams are now all over - HURRAH! It all seems a bit unreal at the moment; I keep thinking that I should tell her to go and do some work and then realizing that I don't have to. She feels the same and it is taking her a while to remember how to switch off.

I don't know how many of you have children old enough to do important exams but L and E never believe me when I say that I think it's worse for the parents - I'd far rather sit the exam myself than watch my child suffer through them. One of the worst parts, I find, is waiting in the car to pick them up afterwards. They walk slowly to the car and you sit there, desperately trying to interpret their body language - is there a spring in their step? Does their expression look relieved, disappointed or tearful? Usually, E just looks exhausted and ink stained!

As far as I could tell this year, they weren't too bad apart from one particular biology paper. A2s are now modular with AS levels being taken at the end of the first year, before you move onto the second year's syllabus. Well, Edexel decided, in its wisdom, to make the first A2 paper practically all AS stuff. It was so bad that pupils were checking the front of the paper to make sure that they had been given the right one. Pupils who ,sadly, hadn't fared well in last year's AS and had had to resit that this month, were at a huge advantage. The others floundered. As E wasn't resitting the AS, she had had to return her AS textbook last summer, so didn't have a clue for most of it. To top it all, the paper was full of grammatical errors and some diagrams were unclear. Complaints have been made, a petition started and there was an article in The Times about it. It even made the news on TV.
It just seems so unfair that pupils who worked so hard last year were penalized in this way. Edexel's only comment was that some AS knowledge is assumed for the A2. Note some, not solely AS. These exams are vital to the pupils' future as their university places depend on them. So, all in all, I'm not looking forward to results day; we can only hope that grade boundaries will be very low!

Anyway, sorry; rant over. Moving swiftly on, here are some happy photos from the last week or two:

Hamish and E snuggled up in onesie and blanket. One revising, the other napping:
My lovely poppy. When L finished at Oxford last year, I sneaked a poppy seed head from the college garden and, to my delight, it grew.
I feel some lavender shortbread coming on:
More perfectly imperfect strawberries - just look at that one at the front!
Trying out a circular needle for my Owl socks. Usually I use DPNs but thought I'd give a circular one a whirl. So far, I'm not too impressed. It turns out that I'm a 'pusher', that is, I tend to use the tips of my index fingers to push the needles in and out of stitches. I hadn't realized this until I swapped to the much sharper circular needle and it became uncomfortable after a while. I also don't like having to push the stitches around the circle. I may get used to it but, at the moment, I'm favouring my DPNs.
We enjoyed a nice pub lunch to celebrate E's final exam. It was a bit drizzly but we sat outside under cover, relaxed and watched the ducks and geese with their goslings float by on the canal.

L made a quick, last minute lemon cake for her sister. As you can see, the icing was a little runny but it tastes delicious.
Now that the exams are over, I find I'm beginning to notice the little things again - shadows on the wall:
My sweet peas:
....... and hand feeding pheasants by the back door. This one, 'Carlos' (don't ask!), taps his beak on the glass to alert us to his presence. The first time he did it, I jumped, as it is so loud that it sounds just like a person knocking.
Anyway, that's all for this week. Next week, L is off to Oxford to tutor law at the summer school and E and I are off to Devon for a few days as a post exam treat. Poor old R will be holding the fort. The weather forecast doesn't look brilliant but there will be cream teas, cycling, walking on the beach and, more importantly, not a textbook in sight!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Toodle Pip for now. xx

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Thrifting, treats and new socks.

Gosh, it's been a while since I last posted. L and E have both had exams and life has been a little fraught. L has now finished and is currently on a walking/climbing holiday in Wales and E has 3 more exams to go over the next week and a half, then we can all breathe out. I haven't really got a lot to show you, but it has been so long that I thought I'd just pop in and say 'Hi'.

I have a few snaps of the garden. The weather has been very muggy recently and I'm desperate for a good thunderstorm to clear the air. Looking at the weather forecast, there seem to be plenty about but, unfortunately, they keep missing us. R spent last weekend feeding the lawn and it was supposed to be watered in ............ we're still waiting! Anyway, here are a few of the flowers that have made me smile this week:

Foxgloves, I have foxgloves people! I have tried growing them a few times in our garden but something always seems to eat them (evidently, they're not toxic to everything!). This year, I tried planting one in a tub on the patio and Ta-Dah!

I'm so thrilled with them and spend many a happy while peeping inside the flowers at the bees - I don't know who is happier, me or them.

My herb tub has filled out nicely and is in full use in the kitchen. I do have a herb bed further down the garden but it's so lovely to be able to just pad outside onto the patio and snip a few.
 My Californian poppies always make me smile; they are such a cheerful little flower:
..... and I'm in a very happy rose place at the moment. I love this one for its glorious fragrance. Sorry, I can't identify it, I'm hopeless with plant names. Anyone know?
I've had a visit to a car boot sale and a couple of charity shops and found a few bargains. I'd spent a merry afternoon cutting some stuff out for E and commented that it would be so much easier with a guillotine. Lo and behold, the following day at the local boot sale I found this. Of course, now she doesn't need anything else cutting, but when she does, I'm ready!
This little sewing table belonged to a lady's 90 year old grandmother who had recently died. There is a bit of watermarking on the top but for the sum of £2 I couldn't resist bringing it home. I think it was partly sentimentality as, apart from my grandfather's war medals, I have nothing that belonged to my grandparents. I was rather surprised that she was selling it but maybe she doesn't sew or has a lot of mementos already. My intention was to paint it - I'm longing to try some chalk paint but every time I have something in mind, I'm vetoed by the rest of the family. I do love the oak but there's only so much brown furniture you can have around the place and if I don't paint it, I shall have to sort out those water marks. Maybe I could just crochet a cover for the top. What does everyone think?
My final boot sale find was a couple of galvanised buckets that I'm using as planters. They have just got pots popped in there at the moment.
 My trawl round the charity shops yielded an earthenware jug (it's really heavy!) and a book.
Also this week, I finally finished my Blue Tit socks. Sorry I don't have a photo of a blue tit for comparison. I find them quite tricky to capture on film anyway and the leaves on the cherry tree are currently hiding the feeders. Anyway, here are my socks. These are my second pair and they are still not perfect but I'm slowly getting better.
I've already cast on a new pair using this yarn. It's another British bird yarn from the West Yorkshire Spinners. Can you guess the bird?
 This one is 'Owl' and this is as far as I've got:
Finally, I thought I'd give myself a little treat this week (well, it is a stressful time with all these exams!) and ordered myself a new project bag from the lovely Jooles at Sew Sweet Violet. It arrived yesterday and I am thrilled with it. Her sewing is so perfect and she adds lovely little details like rows of kisses. I do love her blog and adore her choice of fabric.

 It's currently holding my Patchwork on the Go tins and the finished stars:
 They just fit snugly inside and I find that I'm desperate to go on a train journey, so I can take it along.

Anyway, that's all for this week. I am still popping by to read about what you have all been up to, even if I don't have as much time to comment at the moment. It will get better, I promise.
Have a smashing week.

Toodle Pip for now. x