Monday, 27 August 2007

Nippley weather, a declaration of love and a new name

Date: Sat, 2 Oct 1999 18:22:46 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: Nippley weather, a declaration of love and a new name.

Today has been a gloriously sunny day and freezing cold. A freezing cold north wind is a bit of a new thing for me, and I keep getting dizzy trying to work out which way is which.

There is not much to report, I have an enormous blister from fixing the muckheap. There was straw and manure spread far and wide and I got in there and moved it all to the back of the long concrete bunker thingy. Open-air bunker thingy. Whatever.

It was very therapeutic anyway, just the blue sky, the song of the weird English birds and the repetitive shovelling of shit. The other thing is that under the top layer of stuff, muck heaps are really really warm. So once you get over the fact that you are standing up to your ankles in squelchy decomposing stuff, it is actually quite pleasant on a day like today. Except for the sound you make as you walk about over the muck, on a par with blowing Haydn’s nose, only not quite so disgusting.

I am hanging out for tomorrow because I am free until bed time, today I did stable duties in the morning then supervision all afternoon. I am not supposed to do supervision all afternoon, but the teachers kinda gang up on you until you feel obliged to do it. Nor was I supposed to be folding and putting away all the girls’ laundry nor should I be supervising the video this evening.

Never mind. There is a tape machine in the laundry and I got to listen to the one tape I brought over with me. The radio is always playing in the stable on some very awful station where they don’t play anything from after 1992 except Britny Speirs and Shania twain. For example, I have heard ‘Good Thing’ by Milli Vanilli twice this week, Milli Vanilli? Tonight, I am going to have a long hot bath. This will be a good thing. And tomorrow, I have planned a trip into Blandford Forum and a good bash on the computer writing to people.

The girls have to go down to the Durweston church for a teddy bears' service. It sounds kinda cute, because they all take their teddies down with them (one girl has 37 beanie babies here and another 64 at home, I think she plans on taking them all with her to the church).

I am definitely not going. Last time I went as one of the supervisors and spent the entire service taking kids in and out to go to the toilet. Then got into loads of trouble when on the way home they all all at once saw the blackberries on the other side of the road and went swarming across, almost under the front wheels of a van. No one got hit.

But that is all as time is a flying,

love you all lots

p.s. I had lunch with the nursery children yesterday and as I was cutting up Lauren's potato she said to me 'I love you, Ceiling.' and kissed my knuckle.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Life without Triple J (I’m a Barbie girl)

Date: Thu, 30 Sept 1999 22:24:11 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: Life without Triple J (I’m a Barbie girl).

Well, it’s Thursday and I seem to have five minutes to my self. Today has been a SHOCKER. To start with I have a fever and all the achy muscles and things that go along with it. Plus I have mucked out seven or eight stables today. And I also have an enormous bruise on my shin and thigh, a wrenched shoulder and a bung knee.

You see I went climbing trees. Yes, great galumphing super-klutz of the century ceels went climbing trees with the little girls. But they dared me, so I did. But any way.

Today. I worked from 7:10am this morning till 5:30pm, with no break, not even a little one. As usual at seven I went down to the main house to wake the girls and chivvy them down to breakfast, followed by breakfast duty and taking Matilda up to pre-prep. Matilda is a very bright little girl in the equivalent of grade one whose mother drops her off every morning at quarter to eight. We played snap with her new animal snap cards until eight thirty then I went off to ‘toe by toe’ the remedial reading.

Today is one of the days that the nursery is understaffed so I went straight there from toe by toe. I didn’t have to supervise morning break because they needed someone for swimming so I did that instead and missed my own break as well, getting back just in time to be late up to nursery.

After another hour in nursery (some of which time was actually spent watching Paddington bear) it was time for pre-prep lunch. Lunch was pretty good (for a boarding house) but none of my pre-preps wanted to eat it, so we had a little battle about that. This was followed by lunch duty for the main school, then straight down to the horses and mucking out.

I THOUGHT I had an hour break at four thirty and I collapsed into the staff room with some cake and biscuits, but I should have found somewhere better to hide. The brownies teacher is not coming in any more and they needed some one to supervise brownies for an hour.... mmmmm. We played ‘pip squeak Wilfred’, ‘heads down thumbs up’, ‘duck duck goose’ and other fun games.

Finally I made my way to sick bay and watched neighbours with Jen (the other aussie) and matron. Supper was lovely and I ate loads of bread, pasta and apple crumble. I had been quite reluctant to haul myself in to supervise supper, but supper turned out to be quite funny. To quote matron: "they’re little buggers, but you’ve got to laugh". Even supervising break wasn’t so bad, it is getting dark at around 7 now and next week they will only be allowed out until quarter past, but I did a couple of laps of the school then played 40-40 with Gregs Charlie Jess and Millie.

THEN!!! I went to the pub with Yasmin and drank badger ale and played pool. I am now feeling quite relaxed (if a little tipsy).

If you think a morning in nursery is not such hard work let me tell you otherwise. I haven’t stepped on anyone yet, but imagine eleven very small children all going in different directions at once. They never do what you say, and they are grotty and unhygienic. I constantly have nursery rhymes stuck in my head, and not even the good ones. Things like ‘head and shoulders and knees and toes’ or ‘1234567, 8, 9, 10’.

‘Take your hands out of your pants please Harry’.... ‘Harry I told you to take your hands out of your pants’.... ‘Serena leave your knickers alone’.... ‘Haydn, if you need a tissue ask for one, don’t just let it dribble’.... ‘Harry if you do that one more time, you’ll have to go and wash your hands’.... AAAITCHOO.... ‘Quick Celia get a tissue, no Haydn, not in your mouth’... 'Serena if you don’t get your hands out of your knickers I’ll be very cross’.... ‘Jordan, Jordan, take your fingers out of your mouth Jordan’.... ‘What’s the matter Molly, do you need to do a wee?’ and that is how it goes on, the entire time.

So, yes, it might sound pretty cushy, sitting around watching Paddington with a bunch of two year olds, but do not be fooled for a second. And with that long angsty whinge about my day, I’ll be off; if I don’t go to bed soon then I will be shirty ceels with the girls tomorrow. So I am sorry if I have not promptly replied to your email, but I am sure to have more time on the weekend to write to every body.
love you lots
ceels ____________________________________________________________

Saturday, 25 August 2007

And now here is a brief message from my brother

I decided, seeing as I have a copy of his email, my brother can do a guest post. He doesn't know. I might tell him.

From: "James "
To: ceels
Subject: what me worry?
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 19:30:08 EST

Greetings from your younger Australian blood relation. (james) finally I can write to you because I'm home and because RMIT has put a block on Hotmail.

Home is good and mum is here. I recently received a call from Aunt Annie requesting that I house our German cousin, Ben. No, I didn't know we had one either. I agreed and will meet him next Wednesday ... cwazy. and i also recieved a photo of our grandparents and I understand I have you to thank, thankyou. They're kindov young looking and not how I remember Margaret, but hey.

Essendon didn't make the finals....but hey I'm only home for 5 days and am making the most of it by going to Pt Fairy and that. I read all your messages and surmised that the time you are having is mostly a good one ... yay

Soon you will receive a package it will be a good package and you shall rejoice and smile and stuff.

As i believe you have little time to dally in you hectic pommy lifestyle I'll keep my words short.

enjoy life to its fullest
eat brown rice
always talk to strangers
floss behind your ears
pick daisys
ridicule others insecuritys
and if you meet tony blair poke him in the eye
with joy
James ____________________________________________________________

Step 4 in celia’s guide to healthy living: don’t feed the pigeons

Date: Sun, 26 Sept 1999 20:14:39 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: Step 4 in celia’s guide to healthy living: don’t feed the pigeons.

I have just arrived home from sunny Lyme Regis, which is on the coast of Dorset just before it turns into Devon.

I have had a lovely two days puddling about by myself. I found a fossil called a devil’s toenail, was asked out on a date and was invited to smoke pot with a palaeontologist. All in all a good weekend.

It has been a weekend of many firsts for me. I ate my first kipper, played on my first pebbly beach, ate my first whelk and stayed in my first B&B, and all by myself!! I also learned not to feed the pigeons.

I had a couple of stale scones and so I started crumbling bits of one around my feet to feed the sweet little pigeons there. Every pigeon from Lyme Regis to Portland Bill noticed what I was doing and decided they wanted a part of it.

Soon they decided that I was not doling out the grub fast enough and suddenly I was covered in pigeons. They were on my knees, my arms, my shoulders, my head and my boots, all pecking and carrying on. I am covered in scratches and will never again be able to watch the Alfred Hitchcock movie calmly.

There is not much else to report, I accidentally turned off the hot water in the cottage I stayed in. oops? And I think I broke her clock, although it may have already been broken. I stood on the end of the Cobb, where I am told the ‘French Lieutenant’s Woman’ was filmed. That meant nothing to me. Perhaps it is the same as talking about Warrnambool as being where ‘Quigley’ was filmed, only people in Warrnambool have any idea the film exists.

And I cut my nails yesterday, but that is of even less earth shattering significance. All the children were telling me how manky long nails were and I caved in to the peer (?) pressure and now have short, neat nails.

Ah, it is quarter to eight, I am going to go over to the main house and say goodnight to the girls

lots of love
ceels ____________________________________________________________

Friday, 24 August 2007

celia’s grand adventure

Date: Thu, 23 Sept 1999 20:20:35 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: celia’s grand adventure.

No major dramas today, except that we are copping the tail end of some hurricane that I know nothing about, having not watched the news. Oh, and a boy in pre-prep got a blood nose, one girl wet down the back of her skirt when she went to do wees and another fell in the toilet, (you see we were in the gym and there were only big people’s toilets. it wasn’t my fault. no, it really wasn’t. I didn’t know I’d have to hold her up. She didn’t ask if I could hold her up. anyway, it’s exeat tomorrow. yeah.)

I have a conker, I didn’t know it was a conker but apparently it is. The girls don’t play conkers with them; they just pick them up and put them in their pockets, and look at them and stuff. So I am none the wiser as to how to play conkers. There is an enormous horse-chestnut tree up behind the pet shed. When they first came back all the girls got sticks and knocked the lowest ones down. Today because of all the wind there are hundreds of them all over the ground.

The pet shed is an interesting place; there are many rodents of varying sizes. One gerbil, three guinea pigs, four (soon to be more) rabbits and at least 50 hamsters. All the girls get quite offended if you can’t identify their pet by name. But they are all called Fluffy or Biscuit or something, so you are fairly safe making a wild guess. And they are always at you: "kiss my rabbit’s paw, it’s lucky", "kiss between her ears, it’s so soft", "kiss my hamster or it will think you don’t love it", "kiss my guinea pig, she kisses back".

I made one joke about roast gerbil and was almost sent home to Australia.

I am off now to borrow a copy of the third Harry Potter book. There are only three Harry Potter books so far and all the girls are mad about them. Can’t say I blame them, they really are excellent. I would recommend them to anyone (even though they are written for the 9-11 year olds). They won’t give up the few precious copies during the day, so I have to sneak them out after bed time. Apparently they are making a Harry Potter movie, but it is going to be about an American schoolboy and stuff is going to be changed. So it won’t be the same.

love you lots
ceels ____________________________________________________________

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Other people’s snot

Date: Wed, 22 Sept 1999 16:07:30 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: Other people’s snot.

I am absolutely shattered. This is my first break since seven o'clock this morning and I have been in the nursery all day.

I have wiped so many noses. I have to tell you that I hate snot more than anything else in the whole world. I put up with my own because I have to, and the kids here are rolling in it. Some just let it drip down their face in two pale green wet lines. Some end up bubbling away like little pots as they breathe. Some stick their fingers up their nose and leave a big sticky trail of it on the way to their mouths. Some wipe and leave thick slimy tracks up their cheek and sleeve. Some employ the old tongue technique, where they don't bother with the finger in the process of getting the snot from nose to mouth. I hate snot. I hate squidgy tissues.

But, I am not in the nursery again until tomorrow morning. So I have a whole night to concentrate on not being sick. Speaking of which, there is a tummy bug going round the boarding house. Josie was sick last night. Repeatedly. The first time she was sick she leaned out of bed and managed to get vomit a metre and a half across the floor. It was full of carrots. There are always carrots. Even if you haven't eaten any.

Two more have gone down with it today. But I am sure my heaving tummy is related only to the snot.

There is a ghost in the main building. Her name is Ellen and she followed me down the corridor the other night. I was hoping it was just my imagination, but when I was joking about it yesterday another of the new teachers said that he'd had exactly the same sensation as he was walking down the same corridor.

Apparently she appears in the foyer and the bursary, laughing. And sometimes she has a little boy with her, Timmy.

Sensible old people have claimed to have seen this ghost. I wonder if I’m being wound up. I hope I am just being wound up.

Ahhhhhh, the joys of an over-active imagination, an old building and dark, dark nights.

Hope you are well
lots of love
ceels ____________________________________________________________

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Learning to take the English weather seriously

Date: Sat, 18 Sept 1999 11:47:01 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: Learning to take the English weather seriously.

I thought it looked a bit drizzly this morning so, when I was told I was going riding, I put on a woollen jumper to keep warm.

Now I am wet to the undies and freezing cold.

I just stopped into the computer room for a second, the jumping derby is going ahead in spite of weather that would have your average Australian evacuating the area due to severe flooding.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

When I first arrived I thought ‘Oh good, the toilet is conveniently near my bedroom’

Date: Fri, 17 Sept 1999 22:14:07 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: When I first arrived I thought ‘Oh good, the toilet is conveniently near my bedroom’.

As of Wednesday I was no longer an assistant for games and I cannot tell you how much happier that makes me.

I am now working in pre-prep and nursery [with all the snotty noses and pooey bums] and helping with remedial reading.

Tonight we had a fire drill.

I personally think that having a fire drill at night is really dumb. It takes us long enough to get the girls to bed in the first place without waking them up and scaring what little sense out of them they had to begin with.

One girl ended up hysterical because she is convinced that the school is going to burn down tonight, one girl is hysterical because her dad has just gone away for a month, another girl is hysterical because the first two are. Then there is the one who panicked and sprained her ankle on the way down. It never ends!!

I had hoped to have a shower tonight, but it might now be too late, what with fire drills and email. I live on the end above the old coach house with the alpha girls. The alpha girls are the oldest (12-13 year olds).

Each morning I wake up at quarter to seven and if I don't get in the shower straight away I miss out, because they are woken at ten to seven and I am not allowed in the shower after that. You would be surprised at the number of mornings I have bolted down the fire escape, past the kitchens and up in to the main house just in time to wake the girls there as their bell goes at ten past.

Today I worked in nursery for the first time. We made bread (and sneezed in it and coughed on it and wiped our snotty noses and went on kneading it) and counted things. My memory for playschool days also got a good work out when we sang nursery rhymes. It was all very soothing (except for the taking them to the toilet part, there are so many things I did not know you had to know about taking a very young child 'to do wees').

I think I have caught about eight diseases in the course of a day, dreadful germy creatures children. My immune system is proving just how tuff it is, given that I have not yet come down with anything.

Speaking of which, it is probably time for all good aussies to be in bed. The rotters go to school on a Saturday so they still have to be woken at ten past seven, but there is a jumping derby tomorrow, which makes it all worth it.

love you lots


Monday, 20 August 2007

Learning to like cold toast and showers

Date: Tue, 14 Sept 1999 09:50:45 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: Learning to like cold toast and showers.

I have arrived in my second week of term with all limbs attached and the vestiges of my sanity hanging in tatters around my knees.

No longer do I watch Ally McBeal, Dawson’s and Buffy, but have taken instead to watching Neighbours between seeing the day girls off and supervising supper.

The exeat is in two weeks.

This weekend the boarders went to Weymouth and I, in my trusting innocence, went with them. Actually, that was quite fun because it was very sunny and we went to the seaside (such as it was).

We also went to Brewers’ Quay and went around the 'time walk' there. The time walk was a bit scary with talking cats and a pretty graphic description of the Black Death. I went around with one terrified little girl attached to each arm. Towards the end all the girls stopped being scared and started being bored. This involved throwing pebbles at each other and the exhibits, chucking sand about, complaining in their little pommy voices and sticking their fingers up the noses of the models.

I have not done any riding yet, but I do get to take the girls swimming again this morning. I hope we won't have a repeat of yesterday when one little girl managed to leave her knickers behind at the pool.
love you all

Sunday, 19 August 2007

I've only killed 8 of the little rotters so far

Date: Mon, 6 Sept 1999 17:51:41 +0100 (BST)
From: Ceels
Subject: I've only killed 8 of the little rotters so far.

I regret to say that I have not had the time to read any of the emails anyone has sent.

I have just finished supervising prep for the day girls, and I am off now to supervise a table at supper... or something.

I don't really know what is going on yet, this is the first day. There are just thousands of little girls all wanting all the attention, (hmmmmmmm, it reminds me of some one I knew when I was little). The youngest ones in the boarding house can't say my name so they call me ‘Celie’, they agree that ‘Silly’ is not very dignified so they don't call me that. I had a very serious conversation with a little girl in B3 who likes this school better than her old school because in her old class there were only four girls and about twenty boys...

I start work at seven in the morning and finish at about nine in the evening, although that may change, I might not have to be on every night. The other Australian girl and I are trying to work something out. I hope every one is well, if I get more time later I will try and write to you with lots of love and many kisses.

ceels ____________________________________________________________