Friday blues…

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

 

Well, Friday was quite fun. I had to do the late shift as my assistant needed to do something that night. To be honest I don’t mind its usually quiet on a Friday (relatively speaking that is!) Well, this Friday was no different.

I got in the requuisite half an hour early (I hate public transport), actually 33 minutes early this time. Then again I suppose its better than being late.

First I went to check to see if the food had arrived in the kitchen, it hadn’t so I toddled up to the library and thought I’d spend a quiet few minutes in the cupboard reading a book until my shift starts. I only get paid for working part-time hours and I tend to do more hours than that anyway so I get rebellious now and again and want to do the hours they pay me for. Foiled again, it’s locked.

So I trundle along to the desk and my assistant waves her keys at me asking if I want to borrow them. At this point my rebelliousness wears off and I decide it won’t kill me to give the school yet another 20 minutes of my time for free.

So the day goes pretty quickly, I’m still sorting out the careers section of the library. It’s been neglected for several years. It’s great if you want to find out what courses to study in Science in 1999 or what university was like in 1987 but some of the newer books are fewer and far between. Don’t get me wrong there was the Student book 2006 and The big guide 2007 and 2008. The previous Librarian had bought some new books, but just never weeded the old stock.

So this is the task I set myself for this month, try to sort out the mess known as the careers library. [I always said I liked a challenge.] I managed to catalogue about 6 books by 4pm when the first influx of kids trickle in. I’m really proud of myself at this point!

First I had to stop and settle them down as soon as they came in. The boys go to one side of the room and the girls the other. Mainly because I had to split up the boys as soon as they came in but we won’t go into that.

I was doing the usual, “Please girls shush, you need to work quietly now.” When one of the girls spots its me.

Each of us ‘Librarians’ has our favourites among the pupils and this girl is one of mine although we don’t like to show it. She’s cheeky but in a nice way. There’s no malice and she is usually really funny if a little random.

Today, she spots me and goes “oh Librarian, it’s you, High Five.” and she lifts her hand up.

I shrug and lift my hand and she smacks mine in a high five movement. ..and before I can go back to the desk she gives me a great big bear hug. I freeze. This was really embarrassing for me. I usually have a personal space boundary of about a foot. I’m shy and I like to keep my distance.

This time I didn’t have time to react so I just stood there with my arms to my side until she let go. I gave a quick nervous grin and scarpered back to the relative safety of my desk and shouted again at the boys who were chatting nearby.

At this point I’ll revise my former statement in another post. I don’t shout usually in the day time, but after school baby-sitting sessions are quite another matter.

A more cynical person could say this was a ploy. Now could it be that she gave me a hug so I would be nonplussed and wouldn’t tell her off for talking or is she just a sweet girl with a lovable nature? You decide!

Living Social: The case of the Devilled Egg

Regular readers of my blog might have noticed that I have been on a few Living Social Events during my time. I’ve taken to blogging a few of these, Fat Attack, CSI weekend and a Newquay weekend. These blog posts were noticed by the guys at Living Social and they offered me a free Bloggers Breakfast event to showcase one of there cookery deals they do.

The cookery event was run by the Devilled Egg Kitchen Academy. Don’t worry it wasn’t all about eggs but they did feature prominantly! Bear in mind that I am only a Foodie in that I like to eat food. I have been known to burn beans on toast although I can make a wicked fairy cake.

Location: Bristol. A quiet residential street where all you can hear when you arrive is birdsong!

Verdict: Brilliant. The course was basic enough for me with clear explanantions while detailed enough for my husband who has been on a residential cookery course before.

Value for Money: Great. well it was free. Seriously though, the price I think for what we had is £135 from the Devilled Kitchen website so if you take into account Living Social discounts I think you could keep your eye out for a bargain here.

The Course:

When we arrived we were shown into the dining room while the rest of the party arrived. The house was gorgeous with large chandeliers and high ceilings – I wouldn’t mind living there!

We had time to chat and find out a little about each other before we started. The lady in charge was Barbora Stiess. Normally she would have had an assistant but she had been in an accident that morning so she couldn’t make it, I hope she is better now! No offense to the assistant though but the course went wonderfully and I didn’t realise there was supposed to be help until the end!

We all had to wash our hands or use the gel in the little dispenser as shown in the picture. I was paranoid about spreading germs because I was suffering from hay fever so I used more than my fair share of the gel. We would all be eating each other’s food so I wanted to make sure that no one would be grossed out.

There were a number of recipes but I won’t put them on here out of respect for the owner although she said it would be alright … except for one. We adored the bread rolls we made so this is going on here so I can find it again later (I tend to lose bits of paper).

Bread Rolls

This was the first recipe we followed and when volunteers were asked for, my husband stepped up to the plate (well bowl actually) and started the measurements. Here’s what was needed:

  • 500g strong white flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  •  300ml water
  1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl
  2. Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water, and mix well
  3. If the dough seems a little stiff add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead.
  4. Once the dough is satin-smooth, place it in a lightly-oiled bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.
  5. When risen, gently mould the dough into small buns and fill with olives and feta
  6. Place the buns on a baking sheet to prove for a further hour until doubled in size (cover with a clean tea towel).
  7. Heat oven to 220C, glaze bread with egg wash (beaten egg with a pinch of salt) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped underneath.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

We ate these later with ham, poached egg and hollandaise sauce. I, of course, had non-dairy hollandaise sauce because of my allergy to milk. On its own it wasn’t very nice but mixed together with the egg, ham and bread – it was like heaven on a roll.

By the way if you are allergic to gluten or dairy products the Devilled Egg Kitchen Academy does do courses which cater for these. Cool huh?

Anyways, after this was the soda bread and guess who volnteered for this? Oi, it was me. Ironic really, the only person who couldn’t eat the soda bread was the person making it! She gave a great tip. If you don’t happen to have buttermilk in your fridge, but let’s face it who doesn’t these days, then all you need to do is put a bit of vinegar in milk and voila, homemade buttermilk.

I could go into great detail about all the amazing food we created but really you would need to go on the course to get the benefit, by which of course I mean you get to eat it!

Here’s a quick list of the things we made:

Blinis with beetroot and salmon
Soda Bread
Profiteroles
White Bread
Shortcrust pastry
Scrambled eggs
Eggs Benedict
Scotch Egg (the highlight of the course)

We got eat most of the things we made, the only proviso was that we were stuffed by the end so some people took their scotch eggs home.

Would I go again? I always ask this question at the end of a blog post and I would say yes. I learnt an awful lot and it wa a good laugh too. I highly recommend this course for novices and experienced cooks alike.

Here are a few pictures from the day to round this post off:

How to not advertise making homemade tea bags

 

The funniest things happen at work, especially when you are not expecting it.

I have a colleague, the nicest, friendliest person you could possibly meet, who is very active in her local community. She is in her fifties and is very into homemade products. In fact she was selling some very nice homemade jams the other day.

The lady was organising a ‘how to make homemade tea bags’ demonstration. Apparently you fold a bit of paper…. but I digress. In full voice she announced the date to a community meeting and made a very nice poster promising a wait for it …  teabagging demonstration!

Of course the next day there was a gasp in the office when she mentioned this. She was surprised, and even more surprised when one helpful colleague described with glee – in detail – another possible definition of a teabagging demonstration. The lady left work a little early that day, I would bet on her way to removing a certain poster in a local Community Centre?

…the moral of the tale? Always, I can’t stress this enough, ALWAYS have the Urban Dictionary on you – just in case.

I do have a slight confession. I didn’t at first know what it meant but knew it was rude. I was actually quite shocked when I looked it up. There are some things I would rather not know – but then knowing means I am unlikely to make my colleague’s mistake.

Betraying the people of the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands were settled around two centuries ago by British people. Argentina was invaded by other Europeans  in the sixteenth century. So both places were settled by Europeans. The people of the Falklands therefore have a long history of residency on the islands.

The Dutch were in the Falklands first, then the French followed by the English. The Spanish then took over by war and then left. The English then settled from then on. There was a permanent colony since 1840.

In the eighties, Argentina decided they wanted to EXTEND their territories by starting a war to claim it as their own.

It should be noted that the people want to be British, the Argentinians have no more right to the place than the British but the residents who have been there for generations shouldn’t lose their homes because new powers would like to try out being Imperialist. Just because the British, French and Spanish countries did it centuries ago does not make it right to do it now.

No country should extend their territory in the 21st century. Democracy should be the rule of thumb. No country should impose their rule on another by force. I don’t agree with Iraq either but if the people wanted it, then I don’t see how other countries should interfere. I don’t know enough to comment on that. If the people are British, have always been British and want to be British they should have that right.

One of the arguements for Argentina forcing itself on the Falkland Islands is its proximity to Argentina. Going by the distance that means that Canada should belong to the USA and France should own Britain. France would love that but I wouldn’t be so keen.

I’m not saying that oil has no bearing on why Britain would like to keep the Falkland Isles and if there was no oil then the people from the Falklands would probably be betrayed by the British government. I am saying that it doesn’t matter, it gives the people of the Falkland Isles the opportunity to get what they want. It is their country. They can’t go home. That is their home. They shouldn’t have to pay because another country is sabre rattling.

I’m for the little guy. I just want to point out that I am Welsh. We were one of the first countries to be colonised by the English Government. I have a weird perspective. There has been a call for independence for centuries in Wales but it would be a mistake to be independent. Then again if we really pushed for it now we would get it. The Scottish are getting a referendum. My point is the British Government for the most part listen to the people it governs. It gave back Hong Kong because the people wanted it. The people of the Falkland Islands want to to British so they shouldn’t have old movie stars telling them that their and their ancestor’s lives are irrelevant. By that logic, Sean Penn should go back to the country where his ancestors came from which was most definitely European and leave the country to the Native Americans. What, you don’t want to? I thought not.

Why can’t we all just get along?

Christmas Office Indulgence

I’m not sure if this happens in other organisations and businesses such as in the private sector (I’ve worked in two companies and it didn’t) but the public sector staff are just too generous to each other. I’m not talking public money because we’re far too conscientious for that. I’m talking biscuits and cakes, usually home-made brought in for the delectation of colleagues.

Why am I complaining you’re probably thinking. Free cakes? Are you mad? Go for it, you whining public sector worker you. Well, I’m just as guilty as the rest of my colleagues, a couple of weeks ago I brought in two trays of delicious chocolate and white iced doughnuts in, 24 in all, for our floor.

The trouble is two-fold, one is I’m on a permanent diet. I’m fluctuating from size 14-16 at the moment (going down I hope) and the other is I am allergic to anything that is remotely interesting, which translates to cakes, compounded with terrible willpower when doughnuts are in smell range.

I’m moaning because it is Christmas and everyone has gone slightly batty this year. Mince pies abound and I narrowly avoided a close encounter with chocolate crispy cakes yesterday.

As I’m writing this as some sort of cake therapy, a senior manager is wafting biscuit smells at me from across the desk with an evil glint in his eyes (probably making that last bit up about the eyes – I have a slightly over active imagination).

What to do? I am on what I call an eczema diet at the moment. This means nothing I am allergic to can pass my lips before Christmas Eve. This is great because it cuts out anything made with dairy products, (including butter and milk), lemon, oranges. citric acid,  all fattening stuff. It however leaves me with all meat, potatoes and most veg. I’m not eating parsnips, I don’t care if I am not allergic to it! I draw the line at that.

So enjoy your mince pies, lemon drizzle cake and biscuits, just stop offering me any – well, until after Christmas anyway!

Lessons to be learnt from sci-fi

I have enjoyed sci-fi ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper.  From Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Doctor Who to Star Trek, there are a lot of lessons one can learn from in these tales of derring-do. Today there are still classics being made from Moon to Minority Report.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 of the lessons that can be learnt from my (well spent?) years of watching science-fiction movies. What do you think? Please vote for your favourite lesson(s).

[poll id=”2″]

The horror of Halloween, Mwhahaha

Now, the problem with me is that although I like children big groups of them scare the living daylights out of me so with the best intentions of avoiding the usual hordes this halloween, i and my husband decided to head out for a curry tonight.

Before we could do this we needed to unpack the car as our road trip had exhausted us the night before. With military precision we opened the doors, did a brief reccy, and dropped off the DIY gear as if our house was on fire and the gear was water.

The problem with curry is that you can only draw out eating for so long. With heavy hearts and full stomachs we clambered back into our car and drove to and then past our home.

Disaster! There was a gang stood outside our garden on the corner. What to do?

We drove around the block and parked up on the opposite corner. Indecision racked our overfull bodies. Then a plan was formed. We would walk down our street and if the kids were still there carry on walking as if we were out on a normal stroll.

The night was warm and my hearing sharp. There were still a few trick-or-treaters at the far corner and I am ashamed to say I lost my nerve. I broke off before I reached the end of our road and dashed behind a hedge in our garden and ran down the grass verge to our front door. I was joined moments later by an out of breath husband, key already in hand. We tumbled through the door and stumbled our separate ways. I went upstairs, ahem, i did just have a curry, and hubby went to make a couple of drinks – in the dark.

So here we are sitting in the dark. I’m on my phone and hubby on his laptop, jumping at any noise at the front door.

We’re not in… honest…

The danger of going to the gym

I’m not the most active of people, I’m probably going to end up like the Mikon when I’m older. If you’ve ever read Dan Dare you’ll know what I mean. A couple of night’s ago I decided to go to the gym again.

I know what you are thinking. What again? Yes again. This time I had already stashed some gym clothes, shower stuff and towels so i knew if the notion took me I would have no excuses.

The notion grabbed me at around 4.15 Tuesday. I skipped (read shuffled) down to the changing rooms, opened my locker and took out my gym clothes. Bearing in mind these were stowed about 3 months ago it shouldn’t be any surprise when they were a tad tight. Oops.

Still I poured myself into my kit with a bit of wriggling and pushed my day clothes into the locker. Thermal t-shirt, check, normal t-shirt, long sleeved shirt and jumper check, trousers check etc etc. Disaster struck, while pushing the clothes I didn’t see that at the bottom of the locker there were two small holes which I believe were made in the construction of the locker (see picture).

As I shoved the jeans further in, I yelped as my thumb slid against the holes in the metal. Seconds later blood was streaming from the flap of skin that the metal sliced off – ow!

So there you have it, damaged before i even got into the gym proper.

Gyms are dangerous places!

My thumb hurts 🙁

I might stick to writing on the laptop. I might get RSI but at least there’s less blood.

My name is…

Not wanting to sound like an alcoholics anonymous meeting but I would like to introduce myself. My name is Ceri Clark and I adore writing.

Now the reason for this introduction is not just for self promotion because I’m rubbish at that but because I hung out with a few friends who I’ve never met in person in the hang out feature on Google Plus yesterday. These were the excellent writers Connie J Jasperson and Alison DeLuca who are published through Fantasy Island Book Publishing (books available at the publisher’s website http://fantasyislandbookpublishing.com/).

Why would that make me blog today you may ask. Well, I am proud of where I come from but it can cause a few problems with the way my name is pronounced. These are my friends and I love them to bits in a non-homicidal way but I kept being called Seri as I do around England and sometimes while travelling.

I’m just interjectimg a paragraph break while I process that. My name is pronounced Kerry. Now this is where my Welsh heritage is so annoying. My full first name is Ceridwen. I am named after the Welsh goddess of wisdom. It’s an old name and firmly embedded in Welsh culture. If you are wondering it’s pronounced Keridwen.

So why the weird spelling you may think. Well it’s not weird if you are Welsh. The Welsh language is completely separate from the English and one of the oldest in Europe. It has a few extra letters and crucially a few missing. Until recently it did not have the letter J but to my horror they added it since I was in school.

Now back to my point, there is no letter K in the welsh language but the sound is done always through a hard sounding C.

So  if you spot me wandering around like a lost sheep, shout out Kerry and I just might respond.

Hwyl!

Soldiers, War and Europe


This is going to be somewhat of a rambling post. I was between the state of dreaming and awake this morning and I started thinking about soldiers and the cost of having them.

I even thought, do we even need to have them in this day and age? Sure we need some sort of deterrent for foreign powers who may want to increase their land but really a European army would be better than just a British one.

I was thinking about the old wars in the past against France, Germany etc and if we are one big happy family there is no need to fight. It would be like Florida having a go at California.

We could institute a European ‘national’ service. Young people would mix with others which would give an insight into other cultures some might miss out on. Imagine spending a couple of years barracked with a mix of Italian, French and German soldiers in your late teens/early twenties. If it was ensured that there was an equal mix so no nationality was in the majority in a particular unit this could be a great way to foster good relations.

Europe is a lot bigger than just one  constituant country and a European army made out of all those countries would be larger but spread the cost out between the countries.

I believe Europe promotes stability with checks and balances meaning one Head of State couldn’t take unilateral action. If it wasn’t for the Euro, I would give total support for Europe. A European army I think is a better idea.

Rambling over. 🙂

Modern Slavery

Britain was shocked by slavery news we had thought/hoped confined to history. It came out of the blue and was the talk I suspect of offices and in homes up and down the country.

There are two types of modern day slavery as far as I can see in the UK. There is the type which was blasted across the news over the last couple of weeks, where travellers had enticed migrants and English men alike to live in their camp with promises to be looked after only to be forced to work for free and live in squalor, treated little better than animals.

The other appears to be run by gang masters and involves migrants enticed or abducted to this country on (again) false promises and used in various industries from the oldest profession to restaurants and agriculture. A lady from BBC news mentioned that young people were put into foster? homes after arriving in airports only to disappear the next day. Some of these are found working as slaves in other European countries

This is truly sickening and to be honest I can’t understand why this is still happening in the 21st century!