We’ve been back in our High Wycombe flat for over three weeks now. The time has passed quickly, because we’ve been keeping busy as usual. The weather for the first two weeks was surprisingly mild for March, although Ian didn’t get to appreciate it much.
When we left Ghana, 18 months ago, there was a team of three trained to carry on the work that Ian had set up, analysing the mid-term tests and producing detailed feedback for teachers and school managers. Unfortunately, all three have since left, so Ian was asked to do the analysis from home. He estimated that this would take him a week, but this proved completely wrong. There are now 36 Omega schools (only ten when we were there) and the tests had been given to junior high as well as primary pupils. So there was an awful lot of data to analyse – and the data arrived piecemeal, in a very muddled state. Sorting and matching the data took longer than doing the analysis. The net result is that after working flat out for three weeks, Ian is still only half way there.
During this time we had a meeting with our ERA colleagues, and all of us contributed to a proposal being submitted to the ESRC by Newcastle University. If we receive the funding, it will be an interesting project, but we won’t know for some time yet. Ian has also had a meeting with Simon, who took over as Head of Statistics at NFER when Ian retired, about some support that his team may need in June.
It was great to see our children (two out of three, so far) and all of our grandchildren again. While we were away, Charlie joined Dragons, a junior martial arts group; he goes to sessions two or three times a week, and really enjoys it. On March 11 he was graded and proudly received his first belt. As promised, Claire then bought him a helmet – he looks quite terrifying in all the gear! He looked very different last Friday, when he took part in a ‘Mile of Madness’ at a playing field near his school. All of the Reception children had to wear silly costumes, and walk/run/hop/skip/jump a mile in aid of charity.
Last weekend, while Claire was away on a working trip, we borrowed her car and went down to Faversham to see Andrew, Ellie and the girls. The six of us had a Saturday afternoon excursion to Whitstable, where we did a tour of the charity shops and walked up to the picturesque castle, which has a popular playground in the grounds. Next day we went out for lunch, as a belated birthday celebration for Andrew.
After moving into our flat last June, we quickly got the place organised so that we could live there comfortably. The spare room was still full of junk, i.e. our possessions that had no other home, but this did not bother us as we don’t normally need two bedrooms. However, we do want to be able to have visitors occasionally. In April we have two sisters (home exchange people from the US) coming for a week, so both rooms will be needed. And the task of getting the spare room straight therefore acquired some urgency.
Lateral thinking was employed to work out where some things could go, in our already crowded flat. We acquired plastic moveable storage drawers, and a wardrobe (shorter than average, so we can get all our suitcases on top). We’ve ordered a futon, due to arrive on Saturday. We think it will fit. But…. While in Faversham, we sorted through the contents of two trunks, which had been in Andrew’s cellar for the past six years. A lot went to the tip, and some things had to be left, but we returned with boxes of glass paperweights, pewter figures etc etc. Sandie was proud that, in the reorganisation, she’d cleared three shelves to house these. But we’d forgotten just how many we have – so there are still boxes with nowhere to go.
We’ve been to our local cinema twice since we arrived home: first to see the film The Monuments Men, and then to see the NT-Live screening of War Horse. We went to the Marlow Folk Dance Club for the first time since October, and hope to go more regularly over the next few months. Our big day out was to be March 25, when Ian had an RSS meeting in London, and we decided to make a day of it, culminating in a West End theatre visit that evening. Unfortunately, although Ian attended the meeting, our day out had to be postponed. Sandie had an ear infection in both ears, which seriously handicapped her hearing. Not much point in going to see a play if you can’t hear what the actors are saying!