No More Videos on My BLOG Unless I Upgrade My iPhone

I am very saddened with the latest iPhone software upload. It has essentially killed my ability to write my diary and fully, graphically, illustrate it on my well regarded iPhone 6 Plus. I knew I couldn’t make any more videos on iMovie, the app is no longer available to me, but even uploading a non edited video of this afternoons antics at home, via the worldpress app has proved impossible on my iPhone 6 Plus. So NO visuals tonight – just more anger from me with ‘apple’ and their GREED for corporate profits! Shameful, simply shameful to try and force all of us to buy, buy and buy again, their products which are essentially the same, the same and the same again… Zero percent for innovation #applecorporationschmuks

This is Andi Webb signing off…

NAUGHTY SCHOOL

Morning sunshine spilled through a window as Aaliyah rolled over, too tired to open her eyes. She and her brothers, Thor and Caleb, had been up all night. Again. Dadda had told them over and over to be quiet and go to bed, but, as usual, Aaliyah snuck out of her bed, knocked on her brothers’ bedroom door, and they began to play.

This lasted until after Dadda fell asleep. This continued until long after the moon rose, and only when the birds started to cheep, cheep outside did Aliyah and her brothers run back to their beds and try to fall asleep. But an hour isn’t enough sleep, even for a young child.

And so, Aaliyah moaned and groaned as Dadda knocked on her door. ‘Rise and shine, Aaliyah’, said Dadda. ‘It’s time to get ready for school. I’m waking up your brothers too, and we’re going to eat breakfast in ten minutes. Get ready!’ Aaliyah said, ‘Yes, Dadda’, but she sniffed, snorted, and snored. Aaliyah wasn’t getting up anytime soon. Or so she thought.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes, and Dadda was looking down at her. ‘Wait a minute’! he said. ‘You have dark bags under your eyes. And look, your slippers are by the door and not your bed. And what’s this? A toy in the hallway. I think someone was playing with her brothers last night and is too tired to go to school today’.

Aaliyah moaned and groaned. ‘But, Dadda, we had to! We couldn’t fall asleep, and so we had to play for a while’. ‘All night’? said Dadda shaking his head. ‘Boys’! Now Thor and Caleb came stumbling into the room half-asleep. Both boys’ pajamas were wrinkled, their hair stuck up, and their tongues hung out like little puppies.

‘These boys didn’t get hardly a wink of sleep’! Dadda said. ‘All right enough is enough. I’m calling Mrs Snodgrass’. Aaliyah shook her head. ‘No, Dadda, you can’t’! ‘Oh yes’, said Dadda. ‘I can. And I will. I have no choice! Dadda marched out of the room, determined to fix the problem. ‘Mrs Snodgrass’? said Caleb. ‘Who is that’?

Aaliyah and Thor turned to him, both looking pale and wide-eyed. ‘Haven’t you heard of Naughty School, Caleb’? said Aaliyah. ‘Mrs Snodgrass runs it with an iron fist. She whips children, puts them in dungeons, and makes sure they’re never heard from again’. Caleb laughed. ‘That’s silly’.

Thor grabbed his brother’s arm and pulled him close. ‘Haven’t you heard of Mrs Snodgrass’s Thinking Chair’? Caleb shook his head. ‘Is it like Dadda’s thinking chair’? Thor sighed. ‘Oh no! It’s the worst thing you can imagine, that’s what! Once you’re in Mrs Snodgrass’s Thinking Chair, you’re done for’! Caleb swallowed hard.

‘And that’s not all’, said Aaliyah, ‘they’ll make us eat porridge at every meal’. Each of the siblings stuck out their tongues and held their tummies. ‘What a disgusting thought’! said Caleb.

‘Wait’! said Aaliyah. ‘Do you hear that? Dadda is on the phone. Hurry let’s listen’. Each of the children pushed their way forward, jostling to get close to the partly open door. ‘Can’t hear’, said Caleb, and he inched his way out into the hallway. ‘That’s better’. Aaliyah and Thor followed him.

‘That’s right’, said Dadda, speaking into his phone, ‘Mrs Snodgrass. I’ll hold. Yes, Mrs. Snodgrass? We met some time ago. That’s right. I think my children need to visit Naughty School. Oh, enroll? Well, maybe just… oh… yes, of course, I understand. Well, yes, you’re right, maybe it’s time I decide for their betterment. Of course, so true. I’ll enroll them in Naughty School today. Yes. Three children, their names are Aaliyah, Caleb, and Thor’.

And with that, he hung up the phone and sighed. Aaliyah frowned. ‘He did it! He actually did it’. Thor shook his head. ‘We’re done for now’. Caleb got on his knees and clasped his hands together. ‘No, Dadda, not Naughty School’!

And then Dadda stepped in front of them. He crossed his arms and said, ‘I’m sorry, children, but you’ve left me no choice. When you stay up all night, don’t listen, don’t do your homework, well, then there’s only one alternative’.

Caleb sniffled. ‘Mrs Snodgrass’? Dadda nodded. ‘Yes, Mrs Snodgrass… and her Naughty School. So, pack your bags, we leave right away’! Suddenly Aaliyah, Caleb, and Thor dropped to their knees and shook their heads. They held out their hands like they were praying. ‘Please, Dadda, not Naughty School’! they pleaded. ‘Not Mrs Snodgrass! And not the Thinking Chair’!

Dadda sighed. He put his hands on his hips and scratched his chin. ‘Enrollment is today, but you don’t start until Monday. So, I suppose we’ll see how your behavior changes from now until then’. ‘We’ll be better’! said Aaliyah. Caleb nodded. ‘Oh, we definitely will’! ‘Yes, Dadda, no naughty school for us’! said Thor brightly.

And so, the siblings tried their best to be good little children, just like their two bigger sisters Amritsar and Tara. Though, they needed a nap after such a long night. But, come the next day, there was a shout from downstairs. Dadda dropped what he was doing and darted down the stairs, nearly tripping and flying through the air. And there, Daddy was standing, speechless and pointing.

‘What is it’? asked Dadda, looking around for a lion or bear. ‘What’s wrong’? But there was no lion. No bear. Not even a small dragon with smoking nostrils.

But there was Caleb, holding a tub of sudocrem. ‘Caleb’! said Dadda. ‘What have you done’? Caleb had somehow smeared his bottom and back with sudocrem. He looked positively a mess! As if someone had dipped him in a vat of cream from the dairy, pulling him out and letting him drip all over.

Oh, but there was more. Dadda turned to see a long trail of sudocrem on the hardwood floor. Splotches here and there, running back as if a house painter had drunkenly stumbled into the house. White marks were on the sofa, on Caleb’s brother, Thor’s, face and arms, and even on the television! There were marks on the chairs and the dining room table. There were marks on framed photos of Granny Hazel and Grandma Jean, and also on the painting Dadda made for Daddy’s birthday two years ago. ‘Oh my’, said Dadda. ‘Caleb’!

‘It’s time we have a sit on the thinking chair, don’t you agree, Daddy’? Daddy nodded. Caleb said, ‘No, not the thinking chair! Mrs Snodgrass has one, and they say it eats children! Dadda shook his head. ‘Oh no, it doesn’t, but you’ll be thinking about things for a very long time, Caleb’!

Dadda lifted Caleb high into the air, carried him across the room, into the hall and placed him on an antique chair. ‘Now, think about what you’ve done and… oh my, think about Naughty School too would you’? Caleb swallowed hard. ‘And you, mister’, pointing at Thor, added Daddy, ‘You’re the one who gave the sudocrem to Caleb’! ‘Well, I, uh…’ Thor mumbled. Big sisters Amritsar and Tara were sniggering at this point. They realised that this was a serious situation so both headed for the living room for some screentime.

‘Off to the thinking chair as well’! said Dadda. And Thor marched off, sitting in another chair, on the opposite side of the sideboard, slightly out of view from his brother Caleb.

Dadda turned back to Daddy, who said, ‘And who do you think got the sudocrem down to begin with? Who is the tallest’? Now Dadda turned to Aaliyah, whose face was burning brightly. Whose eyes were cast down on the floor. ‘Go on’! said Dadda. ‘Off to bed’! Aaliyah ran up the stairs screaming, off to her bedroom.

‘I don’t want to say it’, said Daddy, ‘but I don’t think we have a choice’. ‘Well, I already made the call, but I was giving them a chance’ replied Dadda. ‘I think they’ve all had their chance. We have no choice. When little boys and girls are this naughty, when they stay awake all night, when they smear sudocrem all over the house and giggle…’ Dadda nodded. ‘Oh, yes, you don’t have to say it. It’s time for Naughty School, Daddy because we quite simply, have no other choice’. Tara and Amritsar looked a little sad ‘But we will be able to go and visit them – wont we Dadda’? ‘Of course’ replied Dadda, adding ‘And of course, they will be home for holidays’.

And so, it began. Aaliyah and her brothers would soon be off to Mrs Snodgrass’ Naughty School for Children.

Not too far away, on a hill overlooking the city, a dark, gloomy, prison-like fortress stood under dark clouds. Even on this, the sunny day our story begins, it looked as if it were an overcast day at Naughty School.

The Naughty School had been built, well, nobody remembered when it had been made. It seemed as if it had always been there. Overlooking the city with its dreary gray bricks, its tall fence that looked like a prison with barbed-wire and guards at the gate. The gate itself was wrought iron and several feet tall. It had the letters ‘N’ and ‘S’ emblazoned on it in a bold typeface.

At the front gate, there came marching down a thin, pale woman wearing a tight black dress. Her long dark hair was tied up in a bun. On her sharp nose were glasses that were far too big for her with lenses that made her eyes look wide like a fish’s.

This was Ms Bettina, who was Mrs Snodgrass’s loyal assistant. She carried a small leather satchel with her from which she withdrew a red book. It looked like a datebook, and when she arrived at the gate, in front of the uniformed officers in black shirts, pants, and boots, she opened the red book. ‘Aaliyah, Caleb, and… let’s see, yes, Thor’. The guards nodded. ‘They should be arriving any moment now. Look sharp, men’. The guards snapped to attention and saluted.

Another man came marching down the driveway to the gate. He was tall, skinny, and broad-shouldered. He had a long face with a square jaw. He was balding and he, too, wore glasses, but these were small, round, and wire framed. He wore a tweed jacket with patches on the shoulders and elbows and his pants were a few inches too short, revealing black socks with little red polka dots on them.

‘Ah, Mr Strickland’, said Ms Bettina. ‘I’m glad you made it. How was Baby Camp over the Summer’? Mr Strickland frowned at her. ‘Too many babies,’ he said flatly. The guards swallowed hard. Even they, along with the other teachers at Naughty School, were afraid of Mr Strickland, who also ran the Summer Baby Camp, quite, well, strictly.

‘As alwas, Ms Bettina, I am here to inform you that if you have any children acting like babies in this new school term, you are ordered to send them my way. This, of course, is a direct order from Mrs Snodgrass herself’. Ms Bettina scowled. She didn’t like Mr Strickland very much, but she knew she had to tolerate him. ‘Of course, Mr Strickland’, she bemoaned. ‘I’ll make sure to do that’.

Now she turned to the guards. ‘Remember, send them straight to my office for intake’. The guards nodded, and with that, Ms Bettina and Mr Strickland left the front gate, going in different directions.

After a few minutes, a silver Mitsubishi Shogun 4 x 4 arrived and stopped at the gate. Inside was Daddy, Aaliyah, Thor, and Caleb. ‘I’m here for…’ said Daddy, but he couldn’t get out the rest of his words. One of the guards held his hand up and said, ‘Enough! Aaliyah? Thor? Caleb?’ Daddy nodded. ‘That’s right’. ‘Drop them off here. We’ll send them to Ms Bettina’. ‘Oh, well, I… yes, okay’. Daddy opened the door and got out. He then opened the door for his children, and all three slowly, cautiously, ever-so-carefully crept out.

Aaliyah and the boys looked up at Daddy and said, ‘One more chance’? Daddy shook his head slowly. ‘Sorry, children, I love you and I am going to miss you, but off to Naughty School. Go on now’. Daddy said goodbye, gave them all hugs and said that he would see them in a couple of weeks.

They shuffled along slowly, and the wrought iron gates slowly creaked open. The guards looked down at the children. One of them said, ‘Go on now, that way. March! We’re off to see Ms Bettina’. Thor turned to wave at Daddy, but the car had gone. Thor looked up at the guard who said, ‘No more of that. March! Go on!’ And so, they did, all three, Aaliyah, Thor, and Caleb, too, hurried up the twisting driveway.

Ahead, they saw the prison, sorry, the school, that is. Naughty School. Its gray bricks were covered with moss. A mass of ivy clung to its walls. Stone gargoyles looked down with beady eyes and sharp horns. There were tall windows that were cloudy and caked with what could only be smoke stains, though one guard mentioned that it was ‘fog from the children’s breath as they complained from sitting in the Naughty Chairs too long’.

And in one window, high above, Aaliyah spotted two bright eyes watching. They almost looked like red eyes. ‘Mrs Snodgrass’! she muttered. ‘Hey now, none of that’! said the guard. ‘No talking! Off to Ms Bettina, you go’.

The front door of Naughty School was embossed with brass and was covered with etchings of what can only be described as monsters chasing little children. And, once more, there were the letters ‘N’ and ‘S’ in a bold typeface.

Inside, the hallways were long and empty. Aaliyah saw a little boy, dressed in a black uniform, peek out from a classroom. But just as quickly, someone yanked him back inside with a little ‘yelp’ and the door slammed shut, nearly breaking the glass window. A blind was drawn rapidly, blocking Aaliyah’s view of what was happening inside the room. ‘We’re doomed’! she said. ‘Quiet’! said the guard.

And soon, they climbed a high set of stairs. Onto a landing, and then up to another landing, and finally to the third floor and an office that had big blocky black letters declaring that it belonged to MS BETTINA, assistant to MRS SNODGRASS. The guard snapped to attention and knocked gently on the door. The children gasped and gulped as they heard the click-clack of Ms Bettina’s high heels.

And the door opened. There she stood, the dark-haired administrator with her overly large glasses. Her large, fisheyes stared down at the children, and her thin lips were snarling. ‘In here NOW’! she commanded. And to the guard: ‘Leave us’! The guard turned around and left, leaving Aaliyah and her brothers standing awkwardly outside of Ms Bettina’s doorway. ‘RIGHT’! Ms Bettina shouted.

The children hurried in and piled onto three small metal chairs in front of an unusually high oak desk. Ms Bettina crossed the room, her footfalls sounding like CLICK, CLACK, CLICK. She climbed a small footstool to get onto a high-backed chair, and from there, she looked down over her large glasses at the children.

‘Biters, pinchers, hair pullers, screamers, shouters, naughty, naughty children’, she murmured. ‘Mrs Snodgrass will not be happy at all. Oh no, she won’t. Do we have enough Thinking Chairs for the three of you’? Aaliyah raised her hand timidly as Caleb and Thor rattled their teeth and sat on their hands. ‘What is it’? snapped Ms Bettina. ‘Wha… what… what are you going to do’? replied Thor. ‘Oh, it’s not what I’m going to do, little boy’, said Ms Bettina.

Someone’s throat cleared, and Aaliyah and her brothers whipped around to see…

A woman in her late fifties, dressed in a green tweed two-piece suit. Perched on her nose were a pair of brown horn-rimmed glasses. She looked quite like a School Head Mistress from 1954 come to life in front of them. ‘I’ll be dealing with you three personally’! said the woman with a shrill voice. ‘Meet Mrs Snodgrass, children’, said Ms Bettina. ‘The Head Mistress who will do everything in her power to get every last ounce of naughtyness out of you’!

 

Another Hectic One

Thank you to Brighton duo Glen and Victoria and their clan (Lucy, Auden and Fi) for another great weekend. And not to forget Fenton, son of Remus. I took some great video but sadly I am not able to edit it due to the IOS software problem that has denied me iMovie in order to do the editing. That aside, we all got a bit nostalgic with ‘hey google’ and Spotify on Saturday night, once the smaller children were safely tucked up in bed, though they did keep re-emerging and running downstairs. To be honest, I don’t think that they got much sleep at all.

Once our guests had departed today, John got passionate with his lawnmower and the grass and fallen leaves are no more, well at least for a day or two. He also cut the hedge back and is now complaining about aching all over. I got stung by a wasp whilst pruning the last of the grape harvest. The dratted bugger got my thumb. I explained to Tara that it last happened when I was about her age – she is now a bit worried that it might just happen to her! Oops! Bath time is well past us now and they are all quiet. No doubt completely comatose due to the lack of sleep on both Friday and Saturday nights. My thumb is feeling a bit better at this point, but I am cursing this years grape crop. I boiled them to sterilise the juice and pounded the pulp with a potato masher before passing the pasteurised juice through a sieve and into bottles., destined for the freezer. I think that the juice will feature in Dadda Gets Jammin‘ at a slightly later date.

There were one or two altercations along the way. Just before our guests arrived Tara and Thor spent some time on the ‘Thinking Chair’ after being found out to having stolen 2 x 500g bags of smarties that had been squirrelled away in our wardrobe, awaiting our ‘Hallow-Fawkes’ party. Amritsar was completely innocent of any consumption, though Aaliyah and Caleb were willing participants to consuming a mass of the ill gotten booty.

A second moment of anxiety was Thor heading up the tall ladder and sitting on the 10 foot wall above the side gate, whilst daddy was pruning back the overgrown vine and crabapple tree. I should have taken a photograph come to think of it, but the adrenaline kicked in as you might imagine, in my attempt to lift him back down the ladder – quite a moment! The boy is certainly not afraid of heights!

I think that I’m almost ready to give you the introductory chapter of Mrs Snodgrass’s ‘Naughty School’ here on my blog, maybe tomorrow. My first attempts at children’s fication, well, any sort of fiction actually. Let’s get set for tomorrow as I might be a bit quiet over the next few days. So I’ll give you something to mull over until my next blog, come the weekend…

Off to bed now, so nite nite all xx

22.22 Late Night Shenanigans

Okay, so it’s 22 minutes past 10 at night. Four of our not so famous five have descended the stairs. Thor is like a red eyed Zombie, Tara too assertive by far and Caleb looking like a Halloween ghoul. Amritsar is not part of this rebellion. She is sleeping calmingly upstairs. Aaliyah has just run back up – a brownie point for that. Thor is now pretending to be asleep in the place that I was inhabiting besides the television. He is now giggling profusely – Caleb has just started screaming. Tara – the ring master looks like she has no remorse. She started being a ‘silly billy’ around 4pm this afternoon, just before Amritsar went off to the local village hall for her Friday stint at ‘Rainbows’, the pre brownie club. Tara has continued to provoke and rally the rest of them up until this point, no plans to sleep really. Daddy is now attempting to ascend the stairs with the three remaining children. Thor has just run into the kitchen to give me s hug and say that he loves me and Tara, I believe has just arrived on the top floor. Caleb is screaming and trying to sleep on the bottom stairs. Thor has now tripped over him and is shouting out loudly…

Daddy is finally on the top floor trying to talk them down in a vain attempt to finally get them to sleep. This certainly isn’t right as he’s now promising to make pancakes in the morning. Rewarding incorrect behaviour is something that should not be endorsed – but there you go!

It is late – almost time for daddy and Dadda to ascend the stairs – I hope this is an end to the late night shenanigans. So nite nite all – I hope your evenings are a little less vexing xx

After 2 Weeks of Solid Rain

Sat for a moment on the terrace, I can finally feel the warmth of the sun upon my face! It’s time for this years grape harvest. A late one this year, what with this dratted weather. It will have to be tomorrow however as I am preparing for the children’s arrival home from school. Homemade ‘Shire’ pasties for dinner made last week and quick frozen for an any day mid week treat! Obviously followed by Dadda’s ‘Baked’ well tart.

I think that we have a few days of sunshine forecast this week, so a little outdoor time is inevitable. I’m not so keen on Autumn as a season, due to the leaf fall, deadheading and general maintenance a garden requires. John will inevitably look after the lawn, but my designated area is the terrace. As stated, the vine will get a pruning tomorrow. And about time as I’ve noticed a few bunches going moldy! The Canadian Oak has a deepening hue of orange now. Yes, Autumn is here. A few more weeks grace before leaf fall of the shrubs assorted around the terrace. If I hark back to the early entries on my diary blog, this was the time of year I was describing. The scarlet leaves of the acer’s has begun, the wisteria is starting to yellow, ready to release its hefty weight of leaves and the hydrangea will soon be ready for it’s now blackened floral bouquets to be deadheaded and disposed of! The central heating is once again set to timer. We are preparing for the cold months ahead.

Today saw the invites going to school for our ‘Hallow-Fawkes’ party in the woods and our terrace! Yes, it has escalated from just the neighbours families attending! I will of course update you once people have r.s.v.p.’d. Something to look forward to, though we have the intrepid Victoria and Glen back this weekend with all three children. Lucy and Aiden were unable to come last month with Fi. Let’s hope the sunny weather extends itself to the weekend.

Projects in store

As you know, from 8.30am – 3.30pm, my time is now my own! It seems that I have been kept busy enough around the house, plus some writing and editing have also been had. Did I mention that ‘Thirteen Moons More’ was published over the weekend and today I got the obligatory email from Amazon stating that the paperback edition is now available to purchase via your Amazon app of account! I will say no more – it’s out there, if you choose to have a look in to see what our family has been up to over this last 12 month period.

Yesterday saw a final edit on the ‘Family Planner’ screenplay! This project I completed a couple of years ago now, though I put it aside in favour of telling the full, uncensored story of ‘Eighteen Moons’ in the form of a novel. Well, I gave ‘The Family Planner’ a dust off and re-browsed its contents. I have decided to send it into the BBC in December when they open applications for new writers (screenplays) and actually have a department that will read through each and every screenplay that they receive. Do you know the reason as to why I chose the self publishing way as opposed to the conventional route? Well, I felt that there would be more control over content and the spectrum of possible projects, plus I was not impressed with the established ‘Agent’ element within the publishing industry…

‘The Family Planner’ is really a super edited version of the time I spent in India. It is approximately a two hour screenplay with dialogue and direction all amassed! Screenplay writing is a step away from the traditional styles as you are considering the locations, the movements, the subtle nuances of each and every scene! Well, my copy editor, Bern is going to give it the once over on Monday – she is busy moving house this week! My heart goes out to her and her husband as I know moving home can be extremely stressful… I’ll keep you updated on that project. The screenplay that is – not Bern moving house! Lol

I am also starting to compile a format for Dadda Gets Jammin‘. It is really all about doing the research. You know the plan is to have a recipe book on ‘Jam and preserves’ that isn’t entirely a recipe book about ‘Jam and preserves’. It’s early days yet. But like my blog, I want it fully illustrated, family snapshots as well as Jam and a lot of banter, maybe some reminiscing as well as the jam making element!

And finally the fabled ‘Mrs Snodgrass’ and ‘Naughty School’. The plan is for a series of short stories, all based around the goings on at ‘Naughty School’. The introductory story is complete and ready to publish here on my blog! So look out for that sometime in the next week or so.

I will end with – ‘what’s on the menu today’! A large pan of puttanesca was made this morning – destination freezer. This was followed by wild boar sausages with green lentils, onion, finely chopped carrots and pork stock, all cooked down to an sumptuous mass of delight! Then followed a frangipane tart (bakewell), made with Dadda’s most recent, well set raspberry jam (no pips). This was kind of inspired by last nights ‘Mr Kipling’ offering to the children. We can do better than this, can’t we I said to myself. I’m looking forward to sampling this dessert tonight. Warmed slightly in the microwave and drizzled with double cream… Bliss!

Parents Evening

John came home early from work and we set off for school once the children were settled with Sindy, a chicken, ham salad wrap, a packet of hoola hoops and a cherry bakewell! Five children to cover, 2 teachers and an hour to converse! It was lovely to see a few friendly, fellow parents there with a handful of little ones, reminding us as to why we were all there.

I am happy to say that there are no real concerns regarding all five. They were all commended for being the unique individuals that they all in turn are. The little ones are surely settling into their new routine and the girls are both doing well.

Now, Thor is following both of his older siblings and loving the art element of the school day. He did in fact, Sunday evening, come up with, completely on his own, a picture of lemons! They had all been sucking on fresh lemon at the weekend – don’t ask! That’s what they asked for when we poured our guests a gin and tonic! I remember how, as babies, they all loved lemons. Anyhow, his artwork is photographed beneath. I am more impressed that he chose a tool / stencil, quite out of the blue, to create the repetitious lemon shape. It was a piece of cut card from a cardboard cupcake box. See what you think? He is only 5 after all.

Dinner was just had and I’m sure it will be a relatively early night. How does a roast pork dinner on a Tuesday sound? Not too much hassle as a lot of the prep was done alongside this weekends Sunday roast meal and I grabbed the cooked pork joint from the freezer this morning. No pork scratchings sadly, but a good dollop of Dadda’s homemade apple sauce! Hmmmmh…