Sunday, 8 September 2013

52 Weeks of Happy...8/52

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, 
they just make the best of everything."
Joining in with Jen at little birdy and Gillian at Tales From A Happy House

As you can imagine there's been little else on my mind this week.

Starting school 
I survived my first week as a teacher - hooray! 
Do you think I should have earned a sticker or certificate?

The feeling at the end of the week was rather odd as unlike my peers from my PGCE course I could not claim to have completed a first week of teaching. Although I felt tired this was more due to with setting up the Nursery classrooms (a huge job!) than any lengthy interaction with children. I suppose my time will come and I'll feel both relieved and exhausted as my friends have been this weekend.

I won't have a full class until 30th September when all the children will have started. We have a drop-in play day on 20th September when the children can come in to see the classroom with their parents and carers; then the following week I begin a phased start with 12 starting on the Monday, another 12 on the Wednesday and a final 12 the following Monday.

I've had a lovely start to my teaching career. The staff in my school have been so friendly and welcoming, everyone has been so approachable. From Wednesday I've been on Home Visits to meet the children and their parents. I always go with one other Nursery Practitioner (I have two colleagues in Nursery to support me) and we spend about 20 minutes with each family, getting to know the children and completing final paperwork with the parents. All the families have been so friendly and are keen for their children to get the best start to their school career but without being too pushy. I believe it's important at this age for the children to be happy and want to be at school before you can even start thinking about learning and so far most parents seem to agree with this ethos.

I've saved my photos of the classrooms for a big reveal later in the month when it looks complete and ready. Some days I look at it and think that it will never be right and on others I can see that it is starting to come together. I'm hoping I'll feel more of the latter this week as I'd like to get it completed by next Friday to avoid a last minute panic during the final week of home visits.

The school crossing plaque was photographed at the Beamish Living Museum back in August. I thought it was very appropriate and loved the 1950s styling. I don't think that children look quite so smart these days when they're rushing to/from school.

Kind words and gestures
I've been the recipient of so many kind words and gestures from friends and family this week (including the messages from you - thank you!). I have had lots of good luck cards and texts to make me feel excited and capable as so often I feel just nervous that I won't be able to do the job. It has been more than enough to keep me going and make me smile.

The personalised 'teacher pocket' was a first-day present from Mr P. I'd spotted it a while ago on Sew Sweet Violet's blog and after adding it to Pinterest, he sneakily purchased it from her Not On The High Street shop. Like all her pretty things, isn't it quite? When my classrooms are ready I'm looking forward to finding a nice spot to hang it up and keep all my must-haves (probably post-its and pens) handy.

Autumnal cake
Having read lots of lovely posts about people feeling autumnal, I don't think we've quite reached this point in London yet. It has mostly been a very warm and sunny week, even the rainy days that were promised for Friday and Saturday didn't fully materialise and the grey dampness did not last for long and this morning the sky is blue and full of sunshine.

Nonetheless, I really wanted to do some autumnal cooking and on Saturday afternoon I made this Blackberry Cake using a recipe given to me by a lovely friend. I've sampled the cake many times at birthday parties and special occasions and it is completely delicious and as I've discovered is very easy to make. I shall have to ask if I can share it with you because it's too nice to keep to oneself!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Liebster Love III

It doesn't feel like five minutes since I received my last Liebster Award and now I've been awarded another!

The lovely Annatha at Prattle and Froth nominated me for one on Thursday and it cheered me up greatly after spending the evening listening to Andy Murray's dismal match at the US Open. I was not a happy bunny until I crawled into bed, had a flick through Bloglovin on my phone and read her post. 

Thank you so much Annatha - it was very kind of you.
So here's my answers to her interesting and tricky questions...

1. Why did you start blogging?
I started reading blogs in the winter of 2009 - Attic 24 and Domesticali were two of the first I became  an avid reader of. I like that they were about the simple things that I were interested in rather than magazines that were full of material things to lust after. More and more I thought of things that I would write about and then I just decided to give it a go. Pink Cat, Custard and Cake was born over at Typepad in late February 2009.

2. What is the best thing about the place that you live?
Mum and Dad living nearby. I'm so lucky to have my parents living only five minutes walk away. I wouldn't want it any differently. My part of London is interesting: slowly becoming more affluent but still a real melting pot. I like that I can get to lots of different places in and out of London very quickly as the transport links are so good (starting to sound like an Estate Agent now).

3. Who/what inspires you?
Hard question - so many people but I've decided to go with The Queen. She turns up at everything still looking cheerful even when she would rather be doing something else, always says the right thing and never stops learning about the people and places she's meeting. I hope I'm just as 'with it' when I'm in my eighties.

4. What is your favourite thing about yourself?
My ability to retain information about people, places and dates - it helps with remembering faces, names, birthdays and other special occasions. It helped me be a successful PA, I'm hoping it will be a useful skill as a teacher and it certainly makes me happy to know that I rarely forget to send a card. (I love sending cards for any occasion!)

5. Do you have any unusual talents?
Ummmm. I'm good at playing along with Popmaster on Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show. I guess it goes along with the skill mentioned above but I seem to easily remember names and lyrics of songs and what year they were released in.

6. What is your favourite smell?
Cinnamon and mixed spices - mmm.

7. What is your favourite book?
'I Capture The Castle' by Dodie Smith - it is beautifully written and really captures the feeling of moving from teenager to young woman. I love the period and still long to be Cassandra. The film is also lovely and I felt it captured the atmosphere of the book very well.

8. What do you hope to achieve in the next ten years?
I'll be 41 then - eek! I'd love to have a couple of children and just be happy with Mr P. I also hope to be a successful Early Year's Teacher and because I know that finances will demand that I'm a working-mum, I hope to be able to balance both successfully.

9. What is your favourite time of the year and why?
I used to always say autumn and winter but I'm starting to think that each season is special for different reasons and worth making the most of, rather than longing for something several months away. I imagine the glorious summer we've had this year may have something to do with my thinking. But I do still love the freshness of autumn and the feeling of 'starting over' and getting back in routine. I always loved October half-term the best because of walks, baking and cosying down and I'm hoping I'll have that feeling this year.

10. Where is your favourite place in the world?
Another hard one! I love to be at home (when it's tidy) pottering, relaxing and doing my own thing. I like long walks in the country - Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire is a favourite place for a Sunday wander as it's easy to get to on the M40. I also love Fortnum and Mason's - it just feels special and decadent!

Wow - that was a challenge!

I'm opening this up to anyone who would like to join is as I am reading far too many lovely blogs at the moment to pick particular ones. I look forward to finding out more about you!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby

The first of my holiday posts and this has to be devoted to our beautiful home on wheels - otherwise known as Ruby.

Isn't she beautiful?

FYI - Ruby is a VW RHD Bay Window Campervan and she was constructed in 1976. 

She's been carefully restored by the lovely couple who run Big Van Adventures and has got a new engine, a glossy coat of pillar box red paint and all mod-cons. (Although I chose to live freely for a week and chose not to use my hair straighteners!)

Ruby was amazingly cosy and we were quickly able to get into a morning and evening routine. Mr P took care of the breakfast and I made the evening meal. It was just like playing house!

Do you like the lanterns? Mr P found them in a pound shop on the first day when we were out buying some food. We put them up in the van every evening as it started to get dark. It helped to make it feel even more homely as we sat drinking hot chocolate and listening to the radio (usually Radio 2).

We both soon adapted into the laid back VW life. It's a great way to make friends on a campsite - everyone wants to talk to you and have a peek inside. There's also a brilliant unwritten rule that VW drivers must wave to each other as their vans pass each other on the road. It's so cheery but it does mean you soon want to wave at everyone!

We're definitely converts and can't wait to do it all again. We've even bought a copy of a Campervan magazine just to look at all the different vans and get an idea of what could be hired or maybe even bought in the future!

And if you want to hire a campervan in the Yorkshire I highly recommend Big Van Adventures as they provided such a lovely personal service. Helen was friendly and helpful in communications before we picked Ruby up and then when we collected the van from a village near Thirsk, she gave a comprehensive rundown of everything we needed to know. She was even so kind to take a call from us on the first evening when we weren't sure if we were switching the fridge on correctly. Doh!

I know you've seen this photo already but this post provides the perfect excuse to use it again. My favourite holiday picture.

Just Ruby and the road ahead = bliss!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Sounds of Autumn

According to meteorologists, it is now autumn (or 'fall' if you're in North America).

It may still be warm and sunny but starting school gets me thinking about the changing seasons.

No more long, carefree days; back to routines and responsibilities. It certainly changes my mood pretty abruptly.

During the summer months I had a brilliant playlist on my iPod full of tunes that reminded me of hot, sunshiny days. They evoked memories of past summers and created memories of this summer. When I listen to the playlist in future years there will definitely be lots of songs that will remind me of jolly holidays in Ruby.

Here's a selection of what was playing throughout the brilliant summer of 2013...
Caravan of Love - The Housemartins
Somewhere In My Heart - Aztec Camera
Staying Out For The Summer - Dodgy
Mr Blue Sky - ELO
More Than This - Roxy Music
The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Run To You - Bryan Adams
Good Enough - Dodgy
Alright - Supergrass
Let Your Love Flow - Bellamy Brothers
Supersonic - Oasis
Fun, Fun, Fun - The Beachboys
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin

As you can see, it was quite extensive and quite diverse.

Now I'm stuck. Can you help?

I want an equally outstanding playlist for autumn and am struggling to come up with a good list of songs that will become the soundtrack to the season. The songs that evoke strong feelings of this time of year and that will always remind me of my first term as a teacher.

I have got three songs on my list...
Cello Song - Nick Drake 
(Mr P and I always seem to listen to lots of Nick Drake as we potter round the house in autumn)

Weather With You - Crowded House
(because it sounds like the perfect 'end of summer' song - chilled and relaxed)

Flowers In The Window - Travis
(another 'end of summer' happy ending song)

What will you add to the list? 

What song always makes you think of misty, chilly days,  bundling up in ever-increasing layers, long walks over crunchy leaves or cosying up at home?

I know that you're always so good at helping me out with these things. I can't wait to read your ideas! x

Sunday, 1 September 2013

52 Weeks of Happy...7/52

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, 
they just make the best of everything."
Joining in with Jen at little birdy and Gillian at Tales From A Happy House

So we've hit 1st September 2013 and that means that I'm actually in paid employment for the first term since last August. Hooray!

Last week was hectic week as I spent days tidying up my classrooms and preparing for 'starting school' tomorrow but there have also been some nice days out with Mr P and my parents.

School/teacher posts will happen soon enough so I'm going to focus on the nice stuff.

Dear Deer!
This was taken yesterday on our visit to Dyrham Park which is a National Trust property close to Bath and Bristol. I took the photo at the end of the day when most of the visitors had headed home, Mum and Dad were getting the shuttle bus back to the car park and Mr P and I were slowly dragging our feet back to the car. The deer seemed quite comfortable having visitors walking through their field. I was particularly pleased with this picture and the one on my Instagram page. This darling deer certainly liked the attention!

The Lamb National
For the second year running we visited the Edenbridge and Oxted Country Show in Surrey on the Bank Holiday Weekend. It really is a great day out, not too far from London and yet very countrified! The Lamb National is merely a border collie shepherding some sheep in colourful jackets across a jump course but it really is amusing. The commentary provided by the farmer and his son was great and whipped up lots of enthusiasm. Being the keen gambler that I am, I picked out one sheep and cheered it on. It even one two rounds! 

Summery Sunsets
I think it must be due to the gorgeous weather this summer but there have been some brilliant sunsets recently. The one on the left was taken at Virginia Water in Berkshire on Bank Holiday Monday. We had an early evening picnic by the lake and watched the sun starting to set. I love these bridges - they remind me of something out of a Jane Austen novel. I can just see Mr Darcy and his horse trotting across it. 

The sunset on the right was captured yesterday at Caen Hill Locks in Wiltshire after our visit to Dyrham Park. Once we found the locks (having had a picnic there when I was about 16, we tried to find it again and got a little lost en route!) it was starting to get a bit too dark and there were too many mozzies to picnic outside but we did take a stroll across the canal to see the view which was absolutely spectacular. In traditional English style, we then had our picnic in the car! 

A Bit Of Patriotism
On Bank Holiday Monday we visited Windsor Castle. As it is so close to our home and tickets allow you to make unlimited visits for a year, we didn't rush to see everything but had a tour of the Grand Kitchens (amazing - well worth seeing when they are open in August and September) and then took a stroll around the Moat Garden (open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during August) which is the private garden of the Governor of the Castle who is 'in charge' of the castle when the Queen is not in residency. I was amused to see that no-one, however important, is immune to a bit of cheerful patriotism!