Good news!

I have good news for those of you who actually read this drivel. My school finishes for Easter tomorrow and we are off to Skye for Jen’s wedding. So far, I know, the good news is currently restricted to C and I. But, what it does mean is that instead of my recent splurge of nonsense about not a great deal, at least those of you heading to The Wanderlings should get some decent photos with a back story that’s more fun than me moaning about how tough my life is trying to teach 12 year-old. (It is tough, BTW.)

What’s happened since Sunday? Well, not a lot. Oh, yes, we smashed up our sofa. That is we smashed up Jen’s old sofa. We had previously ordered a new sofa and foot stool from Next. It was a painful process: C choosing the one we wanted (I pick my words carefully) and then me signing away an appropriately large wodge of cash. Actually we went for their interest-free credit option, but as we’ve been homeless for 3.5 years we weren’t allowed on the scheme. We used to have the same problem when I was serving in the Army. It’s all about living in a home that you own for long enough. And, apparently, killing the Queen’s enemy is not a good enough reason on its own for someone to give you credit.

Anyhow, with the new sofa due to be delivered on return from Skye we had the old one to get rid off. British Heart Foundation (who will collect furniture for free) will not pick up a tatty old sofa that’s had one corner ripped to shreds by a cat. And the council charge £25 to pick one up – which is not an issue and a mere trifle in comparison to the Next bill, but it would mean leaving the sofa either in the garage (no thanks – we’ve just emptied a whole load of stuff), or stick it round the back and cover it with a tarp – like it had been fly-tipped. Option 3, C’s idea, was to break it into bits, stick it in the car and take it down the dump.


now, whose neck am I assuming this is?

Two hours later and with 2 terms of latent ‘teaching young student’ frustration exhausted by hitting things with a large hammer and chopping things with a saw, we were sofaless. Hurrah!

Anyhow, the next small hurdle is packing Doris whilst remembering not to forget any wedding paraphernalia. Oh, that’s C’s job. I’m still teaching the blighters tomorrow.

I think that’s enough from me. I look forward to penning something from Scotland on Sunday. Hurrah!



First I’d like to apologise to all visitors over the past couple of weeks. Not only have my ramblings been pretty dull, but the spelling (especially in Wednesday’s edition) has been rubish. I am now on the case on the latter issue. The problem is my spelling is rubbish (I know, I’ve now spelt it correctly – it was a joke), but thankfully the spelling bees in the machine are not. However, WordPress’s bees stay in their hives unless you ask them to buzz about. And, alas, I’ve been too preoccupied with life to remember such an important detail. Ho hum.

Her Majesty’s inspectors (yes, they introduce themselves with that title) came and went. The boss knows the result, but will not be letting us know until Monday what the score is. Personally I think the school is great. It’s not perfect, but round and about I see a lot of hard-working staff doing their best – certainly in the maths department. Teaching remains a minefield of opportunity and distraction. The poorly behaved kids (and I get the impression I have my fair share – lower school; lower sets) can steal 25% of your teaching time, and knock you off course for the whole lesson. I know, I know. ‘But you’re an ex-Army bloke. Big and scary!’ Unfortunately, nobody has told that to the Jimmys and Charlottes of western Bristol.

On a more positive note on Friday I had another great session with the Deputy I’m mentoring down near Farnham. I’ve seen him three times this year and that looks set to continue into the mid-term. As I step back out of teaching I will look to reramp the Compassionate Leadership business up a touch. Our ambition is to make at least half of my current school salary (which, may I tell you, is not a great deal of money) without the need for me to cycle 12 miles a day and then face little Uma Thurman in my own version of Pulp Fiction. If Jen’s business takes off there may also be some opportunity there.

And, do you know what?, books are still selling. In my mind I have ring-fenced half of the money that Amazon are going to pay me to put Fuelling the Fire on their library shelves (Prime Lending) for some decent marketing. My aim would be to earn what I spend – but we’ll see. That may happen in the next couple of months. And there has been a little bit of movement on Unsuspecting Hero’s screenplay. I don’t want to add much more as I am superstitious in that way, but it’s safe to say that a big company are looking at the script (along with a good number of others). It will likely come to nought.


a professional and well respected author, editing in bed. A hat is optional

I have finished bed-time reading The Innocence of Trust. Come on, if you’ve not read it, give it a go. I love it. Last night I started edit 5 of For Good Men To Do Nothing. The ambition is still to have that ready for you lot to read it over your summer break.

That’s all from me. Oh, C wanted me to tell you that I used the Jeremy Clarkson ‘find’ of how to open your car remotely when you’re too far away, or there are obstructions blocking the line-of-sight between you and your car. Let me elucidate. Doris parks with her back to us. That makes her front a very long way away. Last night I wanted to put the alarm on without stepping outside into the cold. I stretched this way and ‘pressed’, and reached the other and ‘pressed’. Nope. The alarm wouldn’t go on. So I placed the fob on my head – pointing the IR beam into my brain. And ‘pressed’. Tee-dah!

Whatever next…


Blooming typical. I’m doing a short-term temporary teaching post and I just happen to be there when their royal highnesses the inspectors of schools decide to descend upon my school at a half day’s notice. This is on top of having my lesson observed last Friday and my Year 9 books inspected yesterday. So I was home late tonight (actually 6.15, which, considering some of the lates I’ve done is wholly insignificant) and with Year 7 parents’ evening tomorrow night (last one-to-one at 6.40), it’s been quite a week. Oh well. It’s a nice environment to work in – that is the staff and most of the kids – and I will finish in mid-July, so I will survive. Honest.


Ahh, the future…

I’d like to write something about US politics which continues to disproportionately interest me. Every 40 minutes the Trump White House does something which on its own in any other era would have created such a storm as to be close to bringing down the whole regime. But now, with the ‘new normal’, he could, as Trump famously said last year. ‘shoot someone in New York and would still have been elected’. That’s where US politics is at the moment. It is a scream! However, I’m washed out after a hard day at the office, so I’ll leave that for a later date.

Finally (and sorry it’s short), I have eventually sorted Doris’s solar panel thing set-up. I now have 250W of solar panels charging the main leisure batteries: 200W on the roof and now 50W which is hand-held, so I can point it wherever I want. The trickle charge for the vehicle battery is now working well and so I think that is now sorted. Hurrah!.

More from me at the weekend, as we start to plan post-school, including a trip to Spain and Portugal, hopefully for 8 weeks in late autumn. Soooooo excited by that thought.





Come on, no more boxes…

When I stopped working in the summer of 2014 and C and I jumped in Doris (Mk 1) and pushed off to the edges of Europe we had amassed so much stuff (over 25 years of marriage and 2 kids) it fitted into an articulated lorry. Stuff. Lots of it. Some of it sentimental. A lot of it just accumulated. Unlike the latest generations, we come from an era where the words of our war-surviving grandfolk rang out with, ‘don’t get rid of that, you might need it one day’, and ‘make do an mend’.

Well that may be the case, but as we packed Doris we realised we didn’t need enough stuff for three families so we got rid of two-thirds of it. We went to 4 carboots, held a garage sale and sold other stuff on ebay. I don’t remember the principles we used, but a lot of it disppeared.


The rest of it went into a single garage next to the house we own – and now live in. It filled the garage from floor to roof, and back to front. Furniture, crockery, clothes etc, etc. And we stuck some stuff in the roof, as our daughter Jen moved into the property. And we also lent some furniture to a friend of Bex’s, in Birmingham. We still had a lot of stuff…

Anyhow, today (Mothering Sunday and C’s choice), we emptied the last 8 boxes from the garage. It has not been without effort. We have identified some furniture for British Heart Foundation, filled every spare space in the house and the roof (which, if I say so myself is now beautifully organised) has a lot of stuff in it. But we are done. There are no more boxes – what we have in the house, is all we own in the world. Well, apart from the furniture in Birmingham and some more precious things that we have kept at C’s sister’s house. We must arrange to pick those up.

For the record I also cleaned the outside of Doris and the car, and yesterday we bought a new sofa from Next. The sitting room is the next job (kitchen, bathroom and spare bedroom – tick), but that will have to wait until after we come back from 2 weeks in Scotland. It is, as we keep reminding ourselves, a perfect bolt-hole. She’s warm, convenient and modern. And the decorating is making a big difference.

Finally, on Friday night we popped to see Jen and James to talk about her business. She’s still getting orders, but they have slowed as she’s no longer advertising. This is to give her a break between now and the wedding. We spent a couple of hours talking about new products, marketing and a timeline. I will put that together in a business plan with some targets (I’m not sure what she’s expecting, but from small businesses grow conglomerates…)

Oh, and school and books are both OK. I had my lesson observed on Friday. I have no idea how it went, but doubtless I’ll get the gen next week. And I’m selling a few books here and there. I will crack on with some marketing once the house is sorted. And, once I’ve finished The Innocence of Trust, I’ll sit down with For Good Men To Do Nothing and give it a further edit. That should set it up nicely for a summer publication.

So, all’s well here. Have a great week.

Work, work, work

Sorry, but this is going to be short. I lost my phone today (I dropped it out of my pocket as I was cycling home from school). It was found by a young girl who was out and about. She took it home, and between them, the family broke my ridiculously simple Android password and phoned Jen. Who then phoned me. Anyhow, I spoke to Dad and drove to Southmead to collect it with a box of Quality Streets. They were a lovely family – I have to say at the lower end of the financial spectrum. But such generosity of spirit. Well done them!

Apart from that it has been work, work, work. I was shattered when I got home today (a day where I didn’t have to exclude a kid from one of my classes – not a bad result), but decided to go for a run. I can’t tell you how very disinterested my body was with the experience. I am getting old!

A random photo from when we were away in France in 2015.

That’s it from me. We are going up to Jen and James’s tomorrow to discuss her business (Cubbly’s) over supper. I intend to change the oil in Doris on Saturday – it can’t be that difficult, can it? And Sunday is Mothering Sunday. We think we’re going for a long walk in the country and then have a night off. It’s then just 2 weeks before Easter hols. We are driving straight to Scotland (in Doris) as Jen and James’s wedding is in Skye on Easter Saturday. What fun!

A fuller report due on Sunday. Enjoy the rest of the week.

Roland (and C) 1 – Kitchen 0

I’ve got a few things to get through, some of it uber-techy, so I’d watch CountryFile if I were you.

First, as well as a new kitchen floor and changing all the plug sockets for ‘brushed chrome’, today I fitted a new kitchen tap. Without swearing. Honest. It took me an hour and a half, where a plumber with all the tools would have taken 20 minutes. But I was free – no charge. And that felt good. We have under-the-unit LEDs to buy and fit, plus a few odds and ends, but the kitchen is pretty much done. And after a trip to the Swedish shop the second bedroom now has a mattress and it all looks good. So come and stay! You’re all v welcome.


We popped into Ikea having had lunch with Jen and her hens. It’s her hen-weekend (she gets married on Skye at the end of this month) and as a number of the chickens pulled out due to the weather I was invited to make up numbers for the lunch. And I’m glad I did. I sat next to a young doctor and another NHS admin chap. Well, let me tell you that they should be running the NHS. Such energy and so many sensible ideas. I’ll give your man Hunt a call.

And, with the weather on the turn and Mrs Sun out and warming (only just) my knees, I had a look at Doris’ battery issues. It’s been a struggle since the beginning with the vehicle battery discharging slowly, but surely. She’s never failed to start, but you just know that you’re only a day or so from that being the case. Anyhow, the 2 x 100W solar panels work a treat for the leisure batteries – the second one I fitted last year. But even with a small panel plumbed directly into the vehicle battery, it’s still not right. (The drain is down to the super-dooper tracker alarm, which we are very pleased with.) Anyhow, after some research and lots of fun in the battery compartment and under the footwell in the van today, I think I might be closer to solving the problem.

Warning – tech bit coming. The van is fitted with a battery master which uses the leisure batteries to top up the vehicle battery whenever there’s a differential of 0.7V between the two. This works – perfectly. However, it’s also fitted with a Sterling battery-to-battery (B2B) charger which, when it senses that the vehicle battery is running at over 13V fast-charges the leisure batteries. It’s v sophisticated and v expensive and is designed to work when the alternator is spinning. But … when we’re sat still and the leisure batteries are being charged by the solar panels, they are up at 14V, as a result the battery master kicks in and starts charging the vehicle battery. Tick. But, at that point the B2B sees that the vehicle battery is over 13V and starts to draw charge back to the leisure battery. Doh! There’s current flowing around Doris from one set of batteries to the next and back again for no useful reason. I think. And the poor old vehicle battery is not getting properly charged.

Anyway, I’m on it like a mad-dog-poo.

Books? Well, nothing yet, although  I am winding myself up to prepare For Good Men To Do Nothing for the shelves by the summer. I know I said this last time, but I’m really enjoying Sam in The Innocence of Trust. It’s a great bed-time read. And that has inspired me to work harder here.

And I’ve been running. Twice. Yesterday and today (I worked hard over 5 kms today). I’ll see what the lungs do tomorrow. I’m on new antibiotics from the doc for my constant sinusitis. Doubtless the old bones will now throw a track as I’ve abused my body too much. We’ll see.

Off to Jen’s tomorrow to help with her business. And then teaching on Tuesday. [BTW I got my pay packet yesterday. After tax, NI and pension contribution I’m not taking home a great deal. I’m pretty sure I could earn a similar amount without the associated angst. It’s all in the mixing pot.]


Kitchen floor vanquished

A day late. Sorry. I’ve just surfaced above a tide of school, still not feeling my best and the cold weather. But, and it’s a big but, today – with school closed a day early because of the snow – I managed to lay the kitchen floor. It’s one of those laminated click affairs which, no matter what anyone says, are not a breeze to lay. Each ‘plank’ is heavy and inflexible, so cutting to fit round the bits of the kitchen that poke out here and there, is not without a bit of ‘measure twice, cut once’. And fitting them together, which requires contortion in three-dimensions when the planks are seriously two-dimensional beasts, is a struggle.

Four hours later, and without too much cussing, the job was done. And, I’ll quote Claire in case you think I’m being boastful, ‘it looks great’. A couple of weeks ago we priced putting down a £35 a square metre laminate floor. 10 square metres = £350. But, wait! The cost of laying was …  a whopping £40 per square metre. If I said that we chose a decent ‘on-offer’ floor from B&Q for £10 a square metre and my labour was free, that might give you an idea of what we have saved. Hurrah. And, it’s not a bad job. Claire says so.


(The photo is the PGCE students  at the school. We dressed up today as robbers as part of World book day.)

Nothingbook front, accept Kindle Press have offered to put Fuelling the Fire on Prime Lending for 6 months for a half-decent offer. As FtF is not selling at the moment it’s an offer I can’t not take. They pay me wodge of $s and advertise FtF for 6 months. Generally these things attract a couple of readers a day – which hopefully will send them to Unsuspecting Hero and The Innocence of Trust. We’ll see.

Of note I gave up on I am Pilgrim a couple of days ago, apparently the only thriller to read in 2016. Sorry, but it was just too rambling for me. So I’ve picked up The Innocence of Trust and am loving it. If you haven’t given it a try, why don’t you? Or start with Unsuspecting Hero and work your way through.

Advert over.

As for school, well, it’s a curate’s egg – good in parts. The successes with kids really making progress and the kind comments from the odd parent and student has to be balanced by the angst of a few kids still not coming to order. On Wednesday I had to exclude 4 students. Two from one lesson and two from a second. I don’t enjoy doing it, but they leave me no choice. I find that it drains me – I’m not a naturally confrontational person, and whilst I have no problem with facing these kids down it does sap my energy levels. I’d be better with a cattle prod. Yes, that would work. Or a taser? Maybe I should mention that to Donald?

That’s all from me. Till Sunday!