Archive | April 2013

Spring Comes to Primrose Primary School


This is chapter one of the sequel to ‘Murder in the School’, which is available in the Kindle Store as an e-book. You can buy it here:


Spring Comes to Primrose Primary School

Chapter 1

Saturday March 12th 1999.

“Take that, you bitch,” came a voice full of hate, and Ms Althea Gardner, the Head Teacher of Primrose Primary School, in the urban sprawl known as Langwitch, came crashing down in the shower cubicle in the corner of her newly appointed office. As she fell, she gashed her leg and hurt her back.   Her assailant used the same statuette, which Althea herself had used to despatch her friend and lover Alex during the Christmas holidays.  The attacker rendered a blow to the side of Althea’s head, which caused her to black out as she fell. She was left for dead.  However, the blow didn’t kill her and her attacker ran off before Althea came round.


Just before Christmas, Althea Gardner, Head teacher of Primrose Primary School in Langwitch,  discovered that her paramour, Alex, was cheating on her with a mystery lover. Althea became empowered with rage and struck out at Alex with a statuette, causing her to fall down dead at her feet in the Head teacher’s office.  It was a crime of passion.

To hide the body was a top priority and Althea achieved that by dragging it across the playground and into the boiler house, using a key she had stolen from the Caretaker’s keying.  Gerald, the caretaker, was the only person who went in to the boiler house as a rule and he couldn’t get in because he couldn’t find his key.

After Christmas, Gerald used a ladder to climb up and look through the little window into the boiler house and there he saw the body of an unidentifiable woman (Alex) in the gloom.  Gerald loved going into the boiler house to be on his own and wouldn’t accept that the body would rob him of his privacy so he made plans to get rid of it.  Painstakingly he chopped it up and burnt it in the furnace, then cleared up every trace, or so he thought, and pretended nothing had ever happened.  So far he had got away with it…but the Ka of Alex Simmons was still around causing mischief.

Althea Gardner had many enemies in the school.  She swept in with an electric broom in September 1998 and using modern management techniques, commenced the instigation of a total “shake-up” of the existing staff.  One by one she bullied the staff until they left, but there was another motive for Althea’s arrival at Primrose Primary School.  She was placed there to effect the total destruction of the school so that in January, when the school inspectors arrived, the school would be seen to fail and then be closed.  If the school was closed, the Local Education Authority would save a lot of money and if Althea was successful in closing the school, whilst appearing to make it succeed and improve, then she would be given a prestigious job in the office next door to her lover, Alex.

In the short while between September  and Christmas, Alex fell in love with her boss, the Officer in Charge of Governors, and together they were plotting to leave Langwitch together. When Althea discovered that Alex was being unfaithful, she lost all sense of reason and put an end to Alex.


Now – March 1999.

As Althea regained consciousness, she found herself, naked and very shaken, slumped awkwardly at the base of the cubicle with water running over her bruised body.  For a short while she wondered where she was, remembering an outdoor shower in Marrakech, where she had spent some happy times with Alex in years gone by.

“Where am I?  What the hell…Oh my God, I’m bleeding and my head, oh my head…”

She pulled her thoughts together and sat up painfully.  Her leg hurt and the gash on the front shin, was quite deep and bleeding.  She grabbed a towel and started mopping.  There is no doubt that Althea collected enemies like some people collect stamps in the short time since September, when she first arrived at Primrose Primary School. Any one of these enemies could have been responsible for the attack.

As she sat in a wet, feeble heap with the large white towel against her wounds, her eyes scanned her large office.  She could see her desk and on it she could see the mail.  Amongst the mail was the dreaded result of the Ofsted Inspection, which had taken place at the beginning of January.  The Ofsted inspectors had descended upon the school like an unkindness of ravens and caused stress and distress in every classroom of the school.  Althea clawed herself up into a standing position and made her way over to the desk.  She felt quite fizzy and dizzy.

“I must get some clothes on; where is my underwear, where did I put it?”

Althea was confused.

“Where is my dress, ah, there it is.  I wish my leg would stop bleeding.  It’s turned the towel red…”

She rambled on, shivering from shock and cold.

“Someone hit me, who would do that? I haven’t got any enemies.”

But she had, lots of them.

When she was dressed, Althea sat in her chair at the desk and tried to restore her composure.  She routed through the aggression of post on the desk, looking for the envelope containing the inspection results.

“Have we passed the inspection?  What good would that be, now that Alex is dead?  We had such plans, such wonderful plans for our future and now, whether the school passes or fails, and there is no future for Alex, no future for me. How I am undone! Why did I let my temper get the better of me? Alex, forgive me, darling Alex, I didn’t mean to kill you. Please Alex, please, please.”

Althea started sobbing. Tears washed through her fingers as finally, the enormity of the situation she found herself in, crashed into her thoughts.


The letter was at the bottom of the pile of mail. Althea picked it up but as she did so she felt her consciousness slipping before she could open it.  She slithered to the floor and lay still.  By the time she was found, the parents and protestors had all departed from the school field leaving a mountain of litter behind them.

The dignitaries had gone home and peace reigned once more at Primrose Primary School, or did it?  Hardly!  It was Mrs. Wales, the General Assistant, who discovered Althea in her office.

“Ms Gardner, the field is clear… oh hell, what has happened in here? Althea, what’s wrong?”

Mrs. Wales rushed across to the prone body of Althea Gardner and saw the blood on her head and her leg.  She was horrified.  It was obvious that Althea had been attacked.

“Somebody has hit her but who and what with?”

She looked around the room and saw the statuette lying on the floor by the shower cubicle.

“Better not touch it,” she thought.

She telephoned for an ambulance because she didn’t like the look of the Head Teacher.  She was concussed and needed expert attention.  Mrs. Wales stayed with her until the ambulance came and then accompanied her in the ambulance to the Accident and Emergency Department of Langwitch General Hospital.


The protest was over. Parents and protestors, campaigning to prevent the school field being sold off by the council, returned to their homes.

Mrs. Manipulator, the full time secretary, picked up the letters on Ms. Gardner’ desk and opened them.  She opened the letter with the Ofsted crest on it and spread out the report on the desk.  She scanned it quickly and said:

“Oh, oh, oh!”

She ran down the corridor to find Mrs. Phillips, the Deputy Headteacher.

“Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Phillips, it’s arrived, it’s here, the results.”

Her high-heeled shoes clip clopped on the highly polished floor of the school corridor as she ran to deliver the important letter.


Comment: So what will the letter say? Will the school pass it’s Ofsted Inspection? What do you think? and has Ms Gardner, the Headteacher got her comeuppence at last?

As in life, not everything is that simple, is it! Not every murderer is caught and sometimes one murder creates the perfect conditions for another.

Update to the Bee March


Following on from my last post, here is a link to the site report on the Bee March. I thought you might like to see it and hear what the representatives were saying. Please tell me if the link doesn’t work. I think you should be able to watch the short videos on the news over here in England but I would like to know if you can’t.

I hope that the march was successful. I’ll hear more in the future.

How are the bees doing in your neck of the woods?

ps: in the picture today, you can see a bee on a teasel plant. I grow these in my cottage garden mainly for the bees because they love it, but also for the greenfinches, chaffinches and goldfinches who come in the winter and love the seeds.


Save Our Bees


I don’t usually post on campaigns etc. I’m not a militant person, but this one is important. There are problems with our bees not only here in England, but in other parts of the world too. Without bees we are lost, it’s as simple as that. Lots of research has been done and I’m not going into that here, but I wanted to ask you to sign the petition as outlined in the following message from 38 degrees. It is going to be put into No. 10 Downing Street this week and it is asking the government to ban the use of pesticides, which are having a detrimental effect on our wildlife.

There is also a march on Friday, but I can’t go to that. I am looking after my grandson. I will be there in spirit. If you aren’t doing anything on Friday and you feel so inclined, please go for me and for the bees.

38 Degrees Logo
Dear Stella,With just 6 days to go before the big European vote on bee killer pesticides, there’s been some breaking news.

Bulgaria had been lining up alongside the UK to block a ban on these pesticides. But yesterday, after beekeepers from across the nation marched through the capital, Bulgaria’s minister for agriculture, Ivan Stankov, changed his mind. Bulgaria will now vote for a ban. [1]

We need Owen Paterson, our own environment minister, to follow suit.

So, this Friday 38 Degrees is teaming up with a whole host of other organisations to march on parliament and stage our very own March of the Beekeepers. [2]

Can you come along to the demonstration?

38 Degrees members will be meeting at:
10:30am this Friday 26th April
The statue of Churchill in Parliament Square, London.

You don’t have to be a beekeeper! You can come dressed as one, or as a bee or just come as yourself: bring fruit, flowers, friends and big smiles.

We’re joining forces with Avaaz, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, RSPB, and the Soil Association to show the environment minister how important the protection of our bees is to us.

Are you able to come along on Friday? Obviously not everyone will be able to make it. A small group of 38 Degrees members will be delivering the 250,000-strong petition – which includes your signature – direct to Owen Paterson tomorrow. So you will be there in spirit either way. Together we’ll keep up the pressure.

Thanks for being involved,

Megan, Robin, Maddy & the 38 Degrees team

PS: Sharing is caring:

PPS: Can you make it on Friday, or know others who might be able to? Join and share the event on Facebook: 

[1] Novinite: Bulgaria to back EU Moratorium on Bee-Harming Neonicotinoids: 
[2] Environmental Justice Foundation: March of the Beekeepers:

The Blossom is out – finally!


I took a short walk around the neighbourhood the other day and was so pleased to notice that the blossom is out – at last!

But wait a moment? What’s going on here? They’re digging up the playing field?


There are eight plots like this one, all dug up and ready for planting. Whatever is going on?


I walked a bit further and then I noticed the sign.  All is explained.


What a great idea! So I will be returning to see how they’re getting on and of course I’ll keep you fully informed…

and if you want to read more, you can visit the website, which is here


Dylan update – 18th April 2013


Here is my little grandson Dylan, on the couch with his two cousins. Trouble brewing for the future, don’t you think? They look like three mischievous amigos, don’t they! Dylan is the one in the middle. Archie is on the left and Alfie on the right.

Playing with friends and family is so important when you’re young, right? I am an only child so like Dylan, I played a lot with my cousins.  Only thing was, my cousins were nearly all in Holland. I had to wait for the school holidays before I could see them. I had one cousin in England. His name is John. I didn’t see him all that often, but when I did, I remember my little Nanna giving us both treacle sandwiches. John loved those.

Dylan is a good organiser. He likes to boss me around, when I let him! He is particularly fond of Peppa Pig fromage frais (it’s a sort of yoghurt in case you didn’t know). The other day when he came here for lunch, I had run out of those. The cupboard was bare. He looked at me, frowned and said ‘Oma, you go to Sainsbury’s and buy some more.’ I think he was expecting me to go straight away.

I replied: ‘I’ve got a better idea; you go on your car and get some yourself!’ He liked that idea and got on his car straight away. I gave him an old receipt to use as a parking ticket and off he went, trundling round the downstairs of the cottage as fast as he could go.

We have such fun together.

Here he is doing what most men do on Sundays – cleaning his car.


And after all that work – a nice hot bath with lots of bubbles… oooh


Clickety Click! My Needles Move Fast These Days…


With the birth of a new grandchild imminent (5 weeks), I’ve been busy knitting. Using the pattern sheet above, I have made three little cardigans and from a previous pattern sheet, a little dress. My daughter-in-law said she was having trouble finding plain cardigans for the baby, so I took matters in hand. Here are the white and the yellow ones…



Notice what a difference the yarn makes! The yarn for the white one was softer and more floppy, whereas the yellow held its shape better. Both will be comfortable, I’m sure.


I bought this pattern book some time ago. It is an Australian Family Circle book. Do any of you have the same one?


I rather like this pattern for a little boy, but I’d better wait and see what sex the baby is before I start because it is quite a complicated pattern by the looks of it.


It’s fun looking forward to a new grandchild and now the better weather is finally arriving, it all seems just right for the birth of a new baby.

Together again at last!


Last Wednesday I went down to Heathrow Airport to pick up Millie. She had travelled 4,500 miles to be with me here in England – all the way from Tennessee no less. It was lovely to see her again!

I was expecting to collect her from Airpets at Terminal 5, but in the event, she was waiting at the Animal Reception Centre, which is much nearer to Terminal 4.  The two terminals are a long way from each other so I caught the coach to the Central Bus Station near Terminals 1,2 and 3 and then got a bus from there.

It was rather exciting.  It felt a bit like Christmas! When I got to The Central Bus Station, it was lunch-time so I stopped there and bought some lunch and a newspaper. The paperwork said it could take up to five hours before Millie was checked and cleared for collection so I was prepared for a long wait.  After I’d eaten my sandwich and drunk my drink, I phoned the Reception Centre and they told me that Millie had arrived safely and that they would ring me when she was ready for collection.  I decided not to wait at the Bus Station.  It was very busy there. I thought I might be better waiting at the Reception Centre itself so I asked the lady on the Information Desk which bus I needed to catch to get to Terminal 4. She told me I needed the number 555 and that they ran every 30 minutes.

I caught the next one, at 12.25 and asked the driver if he would drop me off near the animal place. He said there was a bus-stop right outside so I didn’t have to walk very far. The Reception Centre itself was being filmed when I got there.  Who knows, I might be on T.V. at some point. There were people waiting in the conservatory waiting area, which was very comfortable.  Everyone was excited and nervous and longing to see their pet again.

While I was waiting, I phoned the taxi firm to arrange for transport home. Millie was in a larger than average cage because that’s the way they do it, so I needed a people carrier taxi to accommodate her.

I waited there for 30 minutes or so and then she was brought out to me. She looked a bit scared but I think she recognised me. I know she recognises my voice and all was soon well. A few soothing words goes a long way…

When I got home my son was here, working from home. I left Millie in the cage for half an hour and then let her out to explore the house. She was purring as she looked around. I expect she was glad to be free again although she had been let out 2 or 3 times during the long journey, which started with a 3 1/2 hour car ride from Knoxville to Atlanta.

So far so good, but she still had to meet my English cat, Patch and the neighbourhood terror – The Ghost. More of Millie’s adventures next time.

Millie looking out of my window.  “Where the …..! am I?  Oh well, at least I didn’t have to go into quarantine!”


Baking Day at the Cottage.


Tuesday was baking day at the cottage. I decided to make some bread.


Sadly, it was  the day after Mrs. Margaret Thatcher died. R.I.P Margaret. She was a strong leader, liked by some, hated by others. Me? I liked her very much.  I didn’t agree with everything she said or did but she never faltered. I feel safe with people who make up their minds and stick to it. Thanks to Mrs. Thatcher, my mother was able to buy her own council house (social housing dwelling) after paying rent for forty years. At the grand age of 62 my mother got a mortgage and actually owned her own house! She was so delighted with it and that finally she had something to leave to me (her only daughter) when she died.


Unfortunately, that was not to be because my mother got very sick and had to go into an old folk’s home. They took all her money except for a small amount which was left when she died a year later.


However, owning her own house gave my mother such pleasure and it was all because of Margaret Thatcher.



I cooked the loaf in my gas oven at Gas Mark 7 (very hot) for 30 minutes but the gas must have been high on Tuesday because it caught a little on the top. Next time I’ll move it down a rung.


It didn’t alter the flavour though and we are still enjoying it today (Friday). Almost gone now.


Would you like a slice?


My Memoirs – 2 – 1953

1953 - 2

This is the second part of My Memoirs. Here you see me at aged two years, on the beach in 1953. I think it is Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight.

If you missed the first part of My Memoirs, you can read it here.

From Wikipaedia: ‘The Isle of Wight pron.: is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 3–5 miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated from Great Britain by a strait called the Solent.
Population: 140,500, 2010

Isle of Wight

Of course I don’t remember the occasion, but I’ve heard enough stories about our visit to the Isle of Wight, over the years, that it is familiar to me, even in the telling.

We stayed in a caravan on a caravan park, which was nice because there were no doubt other families there, company for all of us. Apparently the bed that my dad slept in was too short for him and he had to put his feet in the small cupboard at the bottom.  Sounds uncomfortable, doesn’t it.

This time period was not long after World War II ended so it was a time when people could relax a bit and maybe let their guard down. It was still a time of food rationing, which didn’t end till 1954. You can read more about food rationing in the United Kingdom here.

In my youthful state, I knew nothing about wars, food rationing or other hardships which my parents had just endured. I was on the beach, probably for the first time! and I was having a good time. My parents must have scrimped and saved to afford that holiday because they only had rented rooms to live in with a shared bathroom and kitchen down the corridor.

1953 was notable for many things, some of which I list below in chronological order:

Ian Fleming had just published his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.

Winston Churchill received a Knighthood from the Queen.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth took place at Westminster Abbey and

Laura Ashley sold her first printed fabrics.

No doubt I ate my way through a fair few clouds of candy-floss and at least half a dozen ice-creams.

Hand-spinning with Blue Faced Leicester Tops


This beautifully coloured roving was one of my Christmas presents and I’ve just started spinning with it. It came from Miss Babs, via The Yarn Haven shop in Knoxville.


I have no idea if it was expensive. I’ve seen Tops at all different prices, more and less. I look in the Etsy shop usually. Perhaps one of you could give me a guide price as to what you would expect to pay?

The colours are varied in this lovely roving. There is everything from purple to brown and I couldn’t wait to get started. After the last three months spinning with a mixture of Alpaca/silk and prior to that Merino, I had to practise a little. This yarn is much more woolly and more difficult to draft. I spent a while practising until I felt comfortable with it and then I started.


Here is the spun yarn.  I’ll come back and show you later when I’ve done some plying.


As a contrast, this is the Alpaca/silk spun up.


and this is the Targhee:


All quite different.

I enjoy my spinning.  It’s a great way to relax.

What do you do to relax?