Evidence that Fran knows she should start on her 'holiday marking' load but is procrastinating

There's a rucksack in my hall stuffed to perdition with sixth formers' coursework essays. Somehow I need to find time over Christmas to mark them all. I got up this morning at eight and decided that before I did anything else I would sort them all out into piles so that I could devise a 'timetable' for the holiday and get some done each day.

Instead, I've done other things. And now I'm writing this blog post.  And it's eleven o'clock.

1. I wrote some Christmas cards, then went to the local postbox with them. I only noticed just in time that I was about to post one whose envelope bore the helpful message 'Kate and Tom', meant for some neighbours. I feel sorry for the postal workers at Christmas, coping with all the parcels and extra post, as well as with plonkers like me. It puts my Christmas marking load into perspective anyway.

2. I've also been looking at Christmas hampers in a fit of seasonal nostalgia. When I was a child, my grandparents used to get one every year, filled with a tub of biscuits, boxes of mince pies, jars of chutney and packets of cheesy crackers ... that kind of thing.  Now, you can empty your bank account to pay for a hamper with the same types of ingredients, but with tiddly-posh names.  This one cost £132.00 but is now down to ONLY £100.  I won't say which store it's from as it wouldn't be fair. They're all as expensive as each other.  

I have translated the product names for you in italics. 

Deluxe Hamper - £100

Farmhouse Cranberry Biscuits 125g - A few biscuits
Moyallon Cranberry Chutney 110g - A small jar of pickle
Moyallon Strawberry Preserve 110g - Some jam
New English Teas English Breakfast Tea 20g - Not very much tea
Loison Panettone 100g - A middle-class bun but not much of it
Sierra Creek Merlot 75cl - Cheapish red plonk
Sierra Creek Chardonnay - Cheapish white plonk
Robe d'Or Brut Vin Mousseux 75cl - cheapish white fizz
Yorkshire Tomato, Basil & Mozarella Crisps 50g - crisps, but with mozzarella spelled funny
Beech's Chocolate Brazil Nuts 90g - chocolate nuts, not many
Beech's Dark Chocolate Bar 60g - dark chocolate, not much
Belgian Raspberry Delights 200g - who knows? but Belgian makes it okay
The Dormen Chilli & Lime Cashews 50g - some nuts
Cherry & Almond Cake - cake, weight suspiciously unspecified - one cherry & one almond?
Walkers Mini Fingers 125g - biscuits, unashamedly small ones
Walkers Mince Pies 225g - mince pies
Walkers Luxury Mincemeat Tarts 372g - slightly better mince pies
Cole's Brandy Christmas Pudding 227g - small pudding but the brandy makes it okay
Perthshire Chilli Oatcakes 150g - tasteless dry biscuits hotted up

3. Talking of Christmas food, we have a bush outside with red berries on it which the birds love. Normally they sit within the bush and peck away contentedly at one berry after another. But today a blackbird sat on our shed roof, then flew over to the bush for a berry, then back to the shed roof with it in its mouth, then it ate it. Then it went back for another one, back to the shed roof ..... etc etc. My husband commented on it and I said I thought the bird just wanted to see what it was like to have takeaway food like humans do, and why shouldn't it, at Christmas? 

In fact, maybe the supermarkets are missing an opportunity here ...

Crimson Juicy Delights, freshly-plucked from a rural Warwickshire garden - berries

This blackbird is learning that overdosing on red berries can have unfortunate side effects


  1. Brilliant! Bet he's embarrassed being a redbird now. That'll taught him ;) Your random thoughts never cease to amuse and entertain :)

    1. If he IS embarrassed, how would we know?

  2. Ah, the rucksack. Thank you for reminding me of the true meaning of a retired teacher's Christmas - no pile of essays waiting in the corner like the guest that won't go away.

    1. Indeed. I love your guest simile. I counted the essays in the end. Thirty five. And that's just coursework essays. I also have A level homework to mark. I am tempted to head for an airport and just GO somewhere a long way away.

  3. Have Christmas off, Fran. Stick the rucksack in a cupboard and get it out on the 2nd of Jan. Give yourself a week off.
    There. You have my permission. Have another mince pie and put your feet up. x

    1. I would love to. I fear the consequences of leaving it all that late! I might advertise in the local paper. 'Markers wanted. Discretion essential.'

  4. I've never received a Christmas hamper, but I imagine it's like a Christmas basket, only bigger?

    1. I imagine it's the same. I think you'd probably have to pay quite a lot more to get an actual 'basket' with your goodies in and not just a poshed-up cardboard box ...

  5. "The Dormen Chilli & Lime Cashews"... I'm sure they played a gig at my local last week and got a mixed reception.

    1. Ha ha! People weren't nuts about them, then?

  6. Yorkshire Tomato , Basil and Mozzarella crisps ? Perthshire chillis ?
    So , climate change is real , then .

    1. It's real, and it's in our hampers. Scary.

  7. Give a "C" to all the students, and be done with it.


    1. I have printed off your comment and stuck it underneath each C grade, just to show it wasn't my idea.

  8. "mince pies"
    "slightly better mince pies"
    ha ha
    I spent yesterday making 7 dozen mince pies for family and friends and I'll bet they are much nicer than anything mass produced for supermarket hampers. There's no love in those prepacked bites of stodge.

    1. I'm just about to make some and I put ground almonds in the pastry. That makes them yummy. Happy Christmas!


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