Sunday, 17 January 2010

Last Week of Term - Hooray!

Finally the last week of term has arrived, hooray!

This week was parallel arrangements, which are one of my favourites and on the last day we had a mini party, we all took some food in, soft drinks and some music and had food and music whilst we worked. We had a different tutor to usual so the whole atmosphere was relaxed and chilled and an enjoyable day was had by all!

It has been an interesting, challenging and frustrating few weeks but at least the first term is done and now I know what to expect for the next two terms.

I have mentioned a lot of the frustrations and (just to say they are not solely me having a whinge) a letter has been composed by one of the other students which most of us have signed and has been sent to the Principal of the college, we will eagerly wait and see what the outcome of that will be, although I won't be holding my breath about it. Some of the issues are biggies really such as enrolment, communication, refund of funding, council tax letters, lifting and carrying tool boxes, parking, cleaning and tidying of the room etc really important issues.

This week I did finally receive my refund for the trip which was cancelled in October, so about 2 months for them to return the funds!! I have received my council tax refund as I sent off a different letter to the one the college gave us, those who have used the college's official letter have either not received the refund as yet or have been turned down. Not really helpful to anyone.

The frustrations have been basically:

  • information given at enrolment differed from student to student so we have all had differing bits of information, if we all put it together we have something approaching a whole (on things such as expectations, content, finance etc etc)

  • communication as a whole is poor, between the college and students, college and tutors and the tutor and ourselves, let alone other college support staff and students eg finance

  • Various monies have been paid, for key skills sections of courses (in excess of £400) which students did not need to take (I challenged it at enrolment and they took the money and course details off my enrolment) others didn't and a full term later are still awaiting a refund of over £400 (this is very poor)

  • The refund for the trip, it was impressed on us - you MUST pay the deposit or the trip will not go ahead, the trip was cancelled with no warning and no explanation and a refund too 2 months to find its way to us

  • Council tax letters which would not enable students to get the refund to which they are entitled but which are the college's standard letter - and there response tough, take it or leave it - supportive NOT

  • the appalling state of the room after it has been used by the Art Department, even though at enrolment we were told we were having a brand new purpose built room, with cool room (which has only just been fitted), our course time is taken up cleaning up the room so we are able to work in it

  • No access to lift when we have work boxes weighing in excess of 30kilos and we are on the second floor, and getting nagged at by the reception staff because we need them to open the lift for us

  • No parking facilities within 15- 20 minutes walking distance of the college when we have such a large amount of equipment to bring into the college - if I used the nearest parking it would take me 30 - 35 minutes longer a day when I only live 5 - 8 minutes drive away from the college

  • If we wish to bring additional items to enhance our work, well forget it as what we have to bring in doesn't allow any spare room for bringing in anything that would enhance our work and thus enable us to be able to get the distinctions in practical work, therefore our work suffers, because we are laden down with tools and equipment and books and folders before we add anything to that and then have to cart everything 15 - 25 minutes walk!

  • And that does not even take into account other frustrations within the classroom.




    Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

Christmas Flower Arranging

Whilst Jamie was safely off with the cubs having fun and Mike was doing his own thing at home (but more of that in the next blog but one!), I was having a wonderful day flower arranging at one of Sue Billington's day schools. And it was lovely, just for pleasure and free from the constraints that come with the Floristry Course.

Sue showed how to make 3 arrangements the first was a Christmas wreath, made on a wire frame with moss - but I am going to be a little catty here (sorry) it was so much nicer than the ones they made at college (which I missed out on gladly I think) as there wasn't a bauble or bit of tinsel in sight!! Sue's were totally natural and full of lovely natural Christmas materials, much more my style (but of course each to their own).

It has moss over a wire frame, which means you get very dirty and then blue spruce which means you get very sticky (rubber gloves are useful at that stage). I've got cinnamon, holly, ivy, bark, fir cones, dried orange slices, and Malus 'Red Sentinel' (apple) and ribbon that I made a lovely bow (how come I can make bows with Sue but not at college). Very traditional, very pretty and at the time of writing this several weeks later still going strong!)

Here it is in situ on the front door ready for Christmas and you can see the berries on the ivy too, I do love this type of ivy, the traditional English ivy (Hedera helix), the berries look great sprayed in gold and used in Christmas arrangements too.

Next was a 'False Garland', that is a garland in a dish, which in a home is much more practical as garlands can dry out very quickly, especially in a warm house and you aren't running the risk of water getting everywhere! Here is mine sat on top of our very old TV but why change it when it is hardly used these days!

A closer look at the central section, overall it looks quite nice, but I may have got a wee bit too much foliage, but I love the orange rather than the red, it gives a nice alternative. This lasted really well through Christmas and I changed the carnations and kept it going for about a month all together. Again fir cones and cinnamon, this time tied with orange raffia, tangerines with cloves, a little bit of bling, holly with a few berries, cupressus and blue spruce. My scissors and fingers where sticking together by this point with all the sap from the spruce!

The highlight of this arrangement was undoubtedly the orange/tangerine carnations which Sue had found, they were gorgeous and the picture in no way does them justice. They were the most amazing colour and set the arrangement off beautifully - I cannot remember the name of them but think they may be Carnation (Dianthus Caryophyllus 'Solar oro' or 'Solar') but whatever variety -truly stunning.

And finally we made this topiary tree which I think is just fantastic, a lovely idea and again, very natural. Cinnamon sticks are secured in oasis and then into an oasis pyramid. Cocculus leaves are rolled and attached to the foam, a bit fiddly but worth the effort and then hypericum berries and cranberries were placed in between, they were the baubles on the tree.

The cinnamon was brightened up with some raffia and the oasis covered with the spaghetti like Tillandsia usneoides and by this point it was nearly 6 pm - the class had over run by 2 hours but no-one is ever in a rush to get away! The weather by this point was getting very cold and very icy. As Mike and I had to get Jamie, Mike picked me up and then we went on from Newport Pagnell to Bedford to collect Jamie and then picked my car up on the way back!

I made a couple of finishing touches to this when I got home by adding some decorative wire around the tree, it was my tinsel and added some of it the bottom to bring the colour into that part of the design. I love the red pails Sue had found and I sat in on a red plate I already had which matched perfectly and it looked lovely in the corner all over Christmas, yes it dried out, but it still looked brilliant.

A very enjoyable day indeed, and what I really needed as it reminded me that I do really really enjoy working with flowers, something I was beginning to doubt!




Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

Christmas Preparations Have Started

This week was a busier week and started with Jamie at his Cub Christmas celebration which was held at Woburn Safari Park, in their play barn, a very good time was had and Jamie came home full of fun and very tired, he seems to be enjoying himself in these pictures!

Jamie was back at cubs again on Tuesday and they were planning for their space sleepover which I'll get to later. It did also involve us having to go out and buy one or two items for Jamie for his weekend, such as a sleeping bag, torch a couple of extra layers of clothes, plastic plate and bowl etc, but it was good fun and he was really looking forward to it. I have to say I was a little worried as I wasn't sure how he was going to take it, being away from home and not having us in contact was going to be a totally new experience for all of us.

It was a busy busy week for Jamie as on Thursday he had his guitar Grade 1 Exam, I went along with Mike and Jamie but had to go away as I was very nervous and didn't want to make Jamie nervous. I had a coffee in the cafe at the Church in CMK where his exam was being held. He was a trooper and seemed to take it all in his stride, and was really happy when it was over with. He knew which bits he wasn't happy with, but it was the first time he had done anything like this at all so we will see how he goes. We have been really lucky with Jamie's teacher and he is lovely and really knows how to work with and connect with his pupils, he is brilliant with Jamie and you can tell from his playing, his attitude and his enthusiasm now he is going to Ivan - they have all improved in leaps and bounds. (As I am writing this well behind now - the good, no fantastic news is that he has passed and passed well, so we are very very proud of him but I'll get to that one in a later post).

Then it was onto Friday and I took Jamie to his sleepover near Bedford and when I had finally found the place, in the ice and fog and cold (!) and left him I was a bit worried as the whole place looked a bit basic. Well it looked basic to me, and I needn't have worried, Jamie had a brilliant time and can't wait for the next one!! Here are some pictures ....

there was mud in plenty

Having fun being creative
More mud and lots of walking too

They seemed to have plenty to eat, in and out of each others rooms when they should have been in bed sleeping,

More food (you can see one of his plastic plates here!)

Jamie had a brilliant time, so all was good! And when he came home there was plenty of very very muddy clothes for the washing machine!!
As for me I had a busy day too on Saturday but check out the next post for what I was up to.




Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

College Week 11

Only 2 weeks left now before the first term is complete. This week was more of the same identification of materials, pricing up and some work with flowers! A new arrangement this week was the funeral sheaf which is a bit like a flat bouquet, a bit like a hand tied and a bit like an opera bouquet and here are a couple of pictures of my first attempt. This design is slightly different from a lot of others as it has what is called a ' return end' - that is where the leaves near the bow face the opposite direction to finish the design off.

That was really the highlight of the week, except getting another assignment back and I am quite happy with the mark, it was the same as last time so I am keeping the standard consistent, which is pleasing!




Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

December Is Here Already!

December seems to come around scarily fast these days and here we are again! It was time for Flower Club again and a Christmas theme this time, with wine and mince pies too. Lovely as ever to see everyone, I am so happy that to have found this group. Here are the amazing arrangements from this months demonstrator, fantastic, brilliant and stunning.

Lot of bling and lights on this feathery door wreath ...

I think these were my favourites, could you imagine a couple of these either side of the door to welcome guests, how lovely.

So perfect and the amazing lady who created them all in the background.

Who needs trees and baubles you could have this arrangement .....

or both of them!

I love this chap (but don't tell Mike and why will becomed evident next week!)

My photo lets this one down, badly, but it was stunning.

A stunning pedestal arrangement and I love all the bling too, and I don't usually like bling!

A quiet week other than that, Jamie was menu planning at cubs in preparation for their space sleepover, which will be good practice as we have decided he is going on his school residential which is 4 days and 3 nights away in March, how will I survive?

Mike headed off to see Simple Minds with his friend Martin, a jolly boys night out and I think a very good time was had indeed.

And that was about it!!




Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

College Week 10

This week at college ..... we always start the week doing something to help learn or reinforce our learning of flowers and foliages. We have to learn the common name, botanical name, stem structure (soft, sap, woody etc), number in a wrap (bunch), availability, poisionous or irritant and any special treatment they need. So not much then and there are 60 flowers and 25 foliages on the list. There is a assessment on them later in the course when about 30-40 have to be identified (!!!!!)

I have completed my folder on the flowers, although I have to keep adding to it as I learn something new and it is huge - here's an example with one of my favourite flowers, Molucella Laevis (Bells of Ireland), oh yes! - I have to learn how to spell them too (aargh!). Jamie is brilliant because he helps me a lot and goes through the flash cards that we made together to help me remember them (and when you get to my age, remembering stuff isn't what it used to be ha ha!). He's strict though and puts them into 3 piles, one correct, two nearly correct and 3 wrong but I have to say it totally correctly exactly as it is on the card - he's a toughie!!

I have my foliages to work on yet and then I hope to be ready for the assessment! As I am writing this so far behind now, the only other thing I can really remember doing is the Hand Tied Posy, a smaller version of a hand tied which can be made in a collar too. My spelling is totally shot at the moment as I am just rushing through trying to catch up, so please forgive!




Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

Monday, 11 January 2010

Oh What A Night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friars Again - China Crisis & Kid Creole

What a Night!

Was this the best show of the year?

Sorry it's a long one but not much chat in this one just lots of photos from a brilliant, brilliant night!!!!!! Starting with the posters ......

the balloons are ready to go (thankfully I wasn't around when they needed blowing up!)

loading in, almost ready for the soundchecks .....

China Crisis doing their soundcheck - you will find I am rather keen on China Crisis by the end of the evening. Which makes me ask - I liked their music in the 80's but they were never massive on my radar and I am really really wondering why now, perhaps because I was so into another Liverpool band at the time (well then and now) that they didn't get the attention they deserved. If you have them, dig the CD's out and give them another listen, I did and they are so worth it, love them to bits now.

I wasn't on the membership desk this time, which gave me loads more time to chat and soak in the atmosphere, which was good as we had some old friends along to the gig, as well as some new ones too. Joining us were a couple of old friends who I hadn't seen for some considerable time and it was lovely to have the chance to catch up, although I am still reeling from the fact that Gary is now married with children (I never thought that would happen!!) and I finally had the chance to tell him off for missing our wedding (shows you how long it is since we've seen him). It was lovely to meet his wife, to catch up with Vince and meet his friends Phil and Serena (who it turned out were mad China Crisis fans - so that was perfect). Andrew and Lynn joined us too but more of Andrew later!

China Crisis - I really enjoyed their set and yet again in 2009 was transported back to the 80's - it has really been a back to the 80's year for us with all the 80's bands we've seen. For all the set lists and better photos than mine check out the Aylesbury Friars website at - as you know this is the 3rd person in my marriage (only joking MB! don't panic!)

China Crisis appeared to be enjoying the set too .....

A wee bit closer on this one and the 80's were flooding back ....

and my favourite picture of the whole night, Eddie Lundon

They think they're finished, but look who I've spotted in the background .....

Oh no - he's got onto the microphone again, I'm worried!!

Eddie and Gary with their Friars Award, they were delighted to receive it, and thanks for a great set, I loved it!

Mike and I didn't see all of Kid Creole's set - that was because we spent quite a lot of time in China Crisis' dressing room. The guy from Bucks TV was there and was due to interview them, I joked with him that he should get Mike to do it as he knows all there is to know about 80's music (the Bucks TV guy probably wasn't born in the 80's!!) and he took me seriously!! So Mike ended up interviewing Eddie Lundon for the second time that week, his other interview with him is on the Friars site. You can catch all of Mike's interview and other footage from the night on the Bucks TV website at

So here is Mike interviewing Eddie .........

Look at that face, Paxman move over, O'Connor is on his way ........

despite the protests you can see that he is loving it, and it came as no surprise to me that he was brilliant at it, great questions. It was sometime around this point that I was chatting to Eddie about my deep and enduring passion for a certain Mr McNabb so Eddie (cos I can call him that!) pulled out his mobile and phoned Ian!! I said he probably wouldn't get through as Ian was gigging himself that night. Mike and I really do need to catch up with him soon, it has been far too long.

Me with Gary and Eddie, sadly I was driving so I was on soft drinks otherwise I really would have been joining in with all the fun. We spent ages in their dressing room, chatting away and the rest of the band were equally charming, I love Liverpool, the accent and all things Liverpool and was happy listening to all the craic and chatting away about the city, Albert Dock, Macca and LIPA and Gary's art, great fun.

Here is Mike with the heart of Friars, David Stopps, without whom none of this would ever happen. A very big thank you from me for 3 brilliant nights this year.

and Mike with the legendary Kris Needs and his wife, Michelle, out of focus behind him.

Here are a couple of pictures for Jamie, this is Simon Bettison, one of the Young Punx, Jamie loves them and so I had to get a picture of Simon for Jamie and a picture of me with him too for Jamie. The Young Punx also act as Dizzy Rascal's backing band and you may have seen them on Jools Holland's Hootenany on New Year's Eve (we were shouting at the TV when we spotted Simon - well ok I was!!)

And so onto Kid Creole and the Coconuts .....

He is looking good, and the suit is amazing, strangely enough friends of ours now have an iron which was used to iron this suit, how exciting is that - an iron was sent for and someone dispatched to bring one from home!! It's so rock'n'roll!!

A backstage view of The Coconuts!

Bongo Eddie

What I saw of the set was fantastic, lots of fun and some said better than previous times he has played Friars.

Oh dear! They've let him loose with the microphone again - SECURITY!! Seriously here Mike is presenting a Friars Award to the band! We are looking forward to seeing the video footage of this caught by the Radio London people (Mary and Chris).

Here is Mike with the man himself just after he came off stage, Oh What a Night!! Dig those shoes!

The only phrase I can use here is like a rats up a drainpipe!! To start here is our friend Andrew with the Coconuts in their dressing room .......

and here is the picture I just wanted to get Mike with the Coconuts - he's loving it!!!! Strange but they seemed to be spending an awfully long time having their photos taken with a constant stream of guys, I don't remember any girls having their photo taken!!!!

All in all just a totally brilliant night.




Reading challenge 10/16 - currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...