Monthly Archives: November 2015

Twelve Photos of my Cat, Custard

I have a cat called Custard. She is very affectionate and friendly. For my last post of National Blog Posting Month here are some photos of her.

In the shopping bag
cat 1
Chilling on the Sofa
cat 2
She likes high up places like the ironing board
cat 3
playing with toilet paper
cat dorito
She likes Doritos!
cat hippos
Playing Hungry Hippos
cat hot
Relaxing on the staits
cat ill
When I was ill in bed one day she watched over me in my sick bed.
cat long arms
Her arms look really long in this photo
cat pizza
Guarding the pizza
cat selfie
cat washing machine
in the washing machine


One Hundred and Twenty Reports to Write

i-love-mathsI have committed myself to writing a blog post a day for the whole of November for National Blog Posting Month. Today is my 29th blog of NaBloPoMo but I really have other things to do that need my time. I have to write a report for each of my 120 students.

I am  a maths teacher. I teach GCSE maths in a Further Education college to students who failed their GCSE maths when they were at school. I love mathematics and I love my students but I sometimes find my job disheartening because my students do not love mathematics, no matter what I do to share the love with them. I spend hours looking for new ways to teach maths that are different  from the ways they were taught at school, because the ways they were taught at school didn’t work for them. I enthuse about the beauty of mathematics. I show them awesome visualisations like this one.  I tie them to the table leg and make them walk round the table to teach them about loci.

But they moan and say that this won’t be on the exam paper. They just want to do past papers.

What they really want to do is go out on their horses or their tractors, or go and play rugby or football. They went to college to study agriculture, equine or sport, not maths. They already feel like failures because they failed their maths. Now they have to sit in a classroom and do maths while their friends who passed their GCSEs are out on the football pitch. They hate my subject and they are not too keen on me either since I am the one making them study it.

And now I have to write a report with a positive comment for each of my students. It’s going to take up a lot of my blogging time!

Here is an excellent article explaining why my job is so hard.




Six Interesting Facts about my Dad, Peter Currell Brown.

I am staying with my dad this weekend because he’s just come out of hospital after a hip replacement operation and I’m doing a few jobs for him that he can’t do for himself at the moment, so I thought that I would use the opportunity to blog about him. Here are some fact about his life.P1090204

  1. He was born in Colchester, Essex in 1936.
  2. He left school with no qualifications and went to work in a factory.
  3. He left home in a 16 foot kayak that he made himself and went to live on a commune in South Wales.
  4. His experiences of factory work was the inspiration behind his cult Kafkaesque novel Smallcreep’s Day, which later inspired Mike Rutherford to write his album of the same name.
  5. He spent many years working as a self-employed potter in Gloucestershire and was well known in pottery circles for his puzzle jugs and frog mugs.
  6. He now works as a professional re-enactor, travelling to schools and museums doing living history. His speciality is alchemy and he has appeared on TV shows such as the BBC documentary Tudor Monastery Farm .
One of his Puzzle Jugs




Seven Things I Have Learned from NaBloPoMo

November is drawing to a close which means that I will soon have completed the challenge I set myself of posting one blog post every day for National Blog Posting Month. It has been an exciting challenge that has taught me a few things.

  1. I love a challenge. Well I guess I already knew this as I often set myself challenges – a month without added sugar, the plank challenge (which I failed as I couldn’t make it past about 2 minutes without sticking my bottom up in the air), NaNoWriMo to name but a few. I get a great sense of achievement from completing challenges. And it’s been nice looking at my stats and seeing new followers and increased views.
  2. A challenge shared is more likely to be achieved. I have been posting my blog posts daily on facebook and twitter, and reading other bloggers’ posts on twitter with the hashtag #nablopomo. Sharing the challenge with others makes me more accountable so I am more likely to stick to it than if I kept it to myself.
  3. How Little Free Time I Have. I come home from work in the evenings and spend time with my kids until they go to bed. I switch off their light at about nine o’clock. Then there are all those little jobs that need doing – loading the dishwasher, making packed lunches, washing clothes, ironing clothes, sorting clothes. I like to watch the ten o’clock news, and at some point I have to go to bed. It’s not easy to fit in a blog post every single day.
  4. How much of that time I waste. Considering I have so little time, it’s surprising how much of it I manage to waste on unproductive things like reading pointless stuff on the Internet, or just sitting on the sofa trying to summon up the motivation to get up and do something.
  5. I can find time if I want to. Since I have managed to write a blog post a day, it means that I can find time to do the things that are important to me. Sometimes I manage to stop myself from wasting time, sometimes I multi-task, and sometimes I just don’t get as much sleep as I’d like to.
  6. It’s OK to let people read what I write. I have done NaNoWriMo a few times but I’ve never shown my novels to anyone. But a blog is a public thing. So I have been forced to allow people into my thoughts and to let them read my imperfect writing. And it’s OK.
  7. It’s OK to rush things sometimes. Right now I really want to go to bed. So this post will be rushed and I won’t have time to edit every word. It won’t be perfectly polished. But that’s OK.

The month is not over yet but the end is in sight.


Fifteen Cute Photos of Kittens

We have a cat called Custard. She has been neutered now but she had a few litters of kittens before we had her spayed. It was lovely for the boys to watch kittens being born and learn how to look after them. Here are some of the cutest photos of Custard’s kittens.

kittens 16
Two-headed kitten!
kittens 14
It’s a hard life when you’re feeding a toddler. been there, done that.
kittens 12
Where’s all the food gone?
kittens 15
More toddler feeding
kittens 13
tabby cuddles
kittens 10
kittens 7
This was Custard’s last kitten. The boys called him Ninja and they were so sad when he left.
kitten ad 2
Good morning!
kittens 9
Sleeping on his back.
kittens 2
Tabby brothers
kittens 11
My son looking very cute with a kitten
kittens 4
So cute!
kittens 8
Tiny babies
kittens 5
kitten 6



Seven Toys I WON’T be Buying for my Children this Christmas

It’s November and the toy manufacturers are vying for our money. There are so many advertisements on the television for all kinds of games and toys and this year there seems to be some kind of competition for the most disgusting toys. When I watch the adverts I can’t help wondering who thought up these ideas for toys that are so different from the Etch-a-sketch and Spirograph of my own childhood. Here are some toys I will not be buying this Christmas.

  1. Doggie Doo.  “The hilarious Doggie Doo action game! Feed the dog, throw the dice and take turns to pump the lead. If he poops on your turn, scoop the poop and it’s the first to three poops wins!” Yes, it’s a game about dog poo. Why would anyone want to play a game about dog poo? I don’t even want to think about what the poo is made of and what it looks (or smells) like.
  2.  Gooey Louie. “Take it in turns to stick your finger up poor Louie’s nose and pull out many stretch gooeys, eurgh! Be careful if you pull out the wrong gooey then his eyes will bulge and his brain will explode!” Oh, what joy – a game about bogeys! Why? Just why?
  3. Seagull Splat. “Seagull is flying happily around?. Splat! What is falling on the beach?” Oh great, another game about animal poo. Apparently it comes with “seagull foam solution”. Sounds delightful.
  4. Og on the Bog. “Og the Ogre has retired to his outhouse toilet and players must carefully steal his loo rolls to win! Trigger a noise and if he farts, you lift a loo roll or if he shouts, your turn is over. But if the toilet explodes, you lose all your loo rolls and have to start again!” No, there will be no exploding toilets in my house this Christmas.
  5. Gross Magic. Everybody loves magic tricks, don’t they? What could possibly be objectionable about a box of magic tricks? “Pull brown slimy poo from an empty toilet, clean a snotty rag with the flick of a wrist or magically fill an empty dustbin with rubbish.” OK so this one is off the Christmas list too.
  6. Pig Goes Pop. “Feed burgers to the pig and watch his tummy grow until he pops. His arms snap out and his jacket flies open!” OK so this game is all about force feeding a pig with burgers until he explodes from over-eating. What kind of relationship with food will my kids grow up with if they spend their childhood playing Pig Goes Pop?
  7. Pie Face. “Just put whipped cream or a wet sponge on the hand of the game unit and turn the handles. It could go off at any time, so keep your fingers crossed it’s not you.” Oh, what fun! You get to humiliate yourself and get whipped cream all over the living room! This game also comes with the warning: “Only for domestic use.” What does that mean? What other use would you use it for? Industrial use? Office use?

I might moan when my children just want electronic games for Christmas but at least they have not asked for any of the above. I’d rather get them a Wii than a game about poo.


Ten Vegetables in my Veg Box

I get an organic veg box delivered once a fortnight by Riverford. I really look forward to having fresh vegetables delivered to my door. I like to try new things that I haven’t tasted before and things that are not so easy to find in the supermarkets. Here’s what today’s delivery has brought.


Green Batavia lettuce. I am looking forward to taking a lovely fresh salad to work tomorrow. I will also add…


… vine tomatoes! These are delicious. I might also add to my salad …

P1090197… onions! Onions are a great addition to any dish, raw or cooked.


Black kale. My absolute favourite way of eating kale is kale crisps. Tear the leaves off the tough midrib. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in the oven, toss the leaves in the hot oil, sprinkle generously with salt and then put in the oven for about ten minutes. Give them a shake every so often. They should be crispy and just beginning to turn brown but not blackened to a crisp. Even my vegetable-phobic son will eat them.


Courgettes. I love courgettes in all sorts of recipes. Courgette frittata is a big favourite, or simply cooked in some butter as a side dish.


Crown Prince Squash. This will be made into pumpkin pie. There will be enough for some soup too (or maybe another pie!)


Avocadoes. My favourite way of eating avocadoes is to slice them in half, remove the stone and fill the hole with a dollop of mayonnaise. Then I just eat it with a spoon. Deliciously creamy!


Leeks.  Leeks are delicious in all sorts of recipes. I think my favourite has to be leek and potato soup, but they also go very well with mushrooms in a quiche.


Brussels sprouts. It must be nearly Christmas if I’ve got Brussels sprouts in my veg box! I love them as long as they are not over-cooked. My usual method of cooking them is to put them in a pan with just enough water so that it will all evaporate by the time they are cooked. You might want to keep an eye on them in case it all evaporates too soon and you ruin your pan as well as your sprouts. Cooked in this way, the sprouts keep all their nutrients and their flavour rather than throwing it all away with the water that you have boiled or steamed them in.


Cosmos potatoes. According to the bag, these potatoes are good for mashing or baking, so we might have jacket potatoes for dinner one day this week. Or I might team them up with those leeks and make some soup.

What is your favourite vegetable and how do you like to eat it?

Seven Reasons Why Dropping Bombs on Syria Would Be a Bad Thing

David Cameron wants to drop bombs on Syria. I think this would be a bad thing. Here’s why.

  1. Innocent civilians live there and they would be blown up. Blowing up innocent civilians is a bad thing to do, as everyone agreed after the Paris attacks. Or is the life of an innocent Syrian worth less than the life of an innocent Parisian?
  2. Lots of countries are already bombing Syria, and it hasn’t stopped ISIS yet. How would one more country joining in make it any more effective?
  3. More bombs on Syria would mean more refugees. We already have a lot of refugees coming to Europe from Syria. Most people would probably agree that more refugees would be a bad thing. Some people think that the refugee crisis helped the terrorists to come from Syria to Europe. More terrorists coming to Europe from Syria would be a bad thing.
  4. Trying to kill terrorists with bombs is going to make the terrorists want to blow us up. Being blown up by terrorists is a bad thing.
  5. Bombs cost rather a lot of money. According to the British government, we don’t have enough money for everyone in Britain to have a decent standard of living. Benefits are being cut and a lot of people are relying on food banks to feed their children. If we don’t have enough money to keep all the people in our country alive, how can we afford to kill people? Surely keeping people alive is a higher priority than killing people?
  6. Blowing people up does not defeat a society. It makes the society more determined to stay strong and not to be defeated. This was proved by the Paris attacks. Making ISIS stronger and more determined would be a bad thing.
  7. Part of the reason why we have ISIS terrorists is because we dropped bombs on Iraq. So dropping bombs on another country is going to make the situation worse, not better. This would be a bad thing.

As far as I can see, the only people who would benefit from Britain dropping bombs on Syria are people who manufacture bombs. So I guess those people must be friends of David Cameron.

Ten Things from Aldi that I Love

I was so pleased when a new Aldi opened recently near my house. I love Aldi because it is such good value and the food is good quality too. Although you don’t find as much selection as the bigger supermarkets, you do find some interesting continental items that you might not see at all in other shops. And who needs a whole aisle of shampoo anyway? Here are some of my favourite things from Aldi.

P10901891. This Solesta Extra Virgin Olive  is just as good as any branded extra virgin olive oil, in my opinion, and a fraction of the price. I can afford to slosh it about generously without worrying about the cost.


P10901882. I am the only member of the family who drinks alcohol, and I only tend to have a glass at weekends. This bottle of Merlot contains just 18.7cl which is the perfect quantity to drink alone. It’s a lovely Merlot too – perfect to drink with a meal or just on its own.


P1090187.JPG3. These thick ridged crisps are lovely. I like ridged crisps, and they have just the right amount of flavour. They are excellent value.


P10901854. Is it a biscuit? Is it a chocolate? These chocolate biscuits have got the ratio just right between biscuit and chocolate.


P10901845. Everyone in he family loves these onion and chive puff pastry twists. They are like posh cheese straws.


P10901866. These strawberry fruit bars are perfect for packed lunches or a snack for play time. I don’t eat them myself but the kids love them.



7. This stuff is great sprinkled on breakfast cereal or yoghurt for a bit of extra omega 3 which is always a good idea as I don’t eat fish.



8. This chocolate is fabulous! All the Moser Roth chocolates in Aldi are amazing but this is my favourite. Really good quality dark chocolate with little bits of crystallised ginger. And it is divided into mini bars so there is less temptation to eat the whole lot (although the temptation is still there!)



9. I love this peppermint and liquorice tea. It’s so tasty and luxurious that you can’t quite believe it has practically no calories.


P109017710. You have to have a crate of clementines in the house at Christmas time! These are sweet and juicy and delicious.

What are your favourite things from Aldi? Let me know in the comments.


Two Miles From Gloucester Cathedral to Robinswood Hill

Today we took part in an two mile walk organised by the Diocese of Gloucester and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. The purpose of the walk was to raise awareness of climate change ahead of the climate change talks taking place in Paris next month. On the way we stopped in Gloucester Park, St. James’ Park, and Finlay School, where there were biscuits, and craft activities involving fir cones and coloured ribbons. When we reached Robinswood Hill, a pear tree was planted.

The walk took a couple of hours, and although it was sunny, there was a cold wind, so we decided against walking to the top but went to the café at the bottom of the hill instead.

Here are some photos taken by my son and me.

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester park

Gloucester Cathedral seen from Robinswood Hill