Baby you can drive my car x 

There really is something quite bizarre about me writing a post about cars and driving.  I am not a petrol head and in fact I suffer badly with travel sickness so spending time in a car is something I try to avoid.  My travel sickness is better when I drive but as a passenger I can be poorly on the shortest of journeys.  My work, the shops and children’s school and clubs are all within a mile radius from home so my weekly mileage is very low, only bumped up by the occasional visit to big town (50 miles round journey) or a trip to my parents.  When I part exchanged my last car, I had done less than 15000 miles in 7 years. Whilst I am a competent driver now, it did take me 4 attempts to pass my test at 18; I passed it the day before I went to uni and then didn’t drive for another 4 years and had to do refresher lessons!  As you can see I’m not that well qualified to write a post on cars, however I felt that my cars actually tell a little of my life story so thought I’d write a post about my life in cars.

My first car was a second hand orange Metro.  It was BT orange as it was an old fleet car and as I started my first job it was what I could afford, I think it cost me about £1500 which was expensive at the time.  The prices of cars have definitely reduced over the years.  The Metro was the car of choice with me and my friends yet it seems so basic now, freezing in winter, boiling in summer, dodgy car radio and it even had a choke button.  We all knew how to do the simple tasks in our cars and could check tyres, water levels, change oil etc..  Sadly the Metro wasn’t the most reliable of cars, it blew a tyre on the M4 once and on a winter’s night broke down on the Second Severn Crossing, needless to say I’ve always been a member of roadside assistance.  Eventually it was stolen, dumped and written off and having been working for a couple of years I upgraded to a Citroen Saxo.

I loved my Citroen Saxo, it was my fun car, I had it between the ages of 25 and 31 and would drive in it to meet friends, have girlie weekends away and simply bop around town.  It was so reliable, I had it for 6 years and my Dad then had it for another 6 until he exchanged it in the government scrappage scheme.  In the pictures above its on the driveway of our first house, it was a great little car.

I only changed my Saxo car because Mr S bought me a KA for our first wedding anniversary.  This felt like such luxury, central locking, electric windows and it was so fun to drive.  In the years I had my KA I started doing some serious mileage as we had sold up in Bristol and moved to the seaside whilst I was still working in Bristol 4 days a week.  My friends were even more spread about the country now, so it was visits to Berkshire, Devon, Cardiff in school holidays.  It was about this time that Mr S persuaded me to drive a larger, safer car for all my miles and my KA was part exchanged for a new car for him whilst I kept his old car ( he always has v nice cars for work) I can’t even remember what it was but I hated it and soon had gone back to a smaller car.

My next car was a 3 door C1 and perfect for my life, small enough to zip around town and to park easily, comfortable with some great features and just lovely.  The thing we hadn’t considered was family life and when the children arrived it was impractical, it didn’t fit a pushchair in the boot which was squeezed onto the back floor and then one day leaning in to do the car seats I hurt my back and by the weekend it had been part exchanged for a C3.

My C3 was the practical, 2nd family car and to be honest I never had the buzz or excitement from driving it, I think that may have been the grey colour, it was functional and reliable but a bit boring.  Its also very difficult to keep a family car clean and tidy and its normally my car which is used for beach trips, muddy walks etc.. After 7 years, we felt it was coming near to its end and rather than investing money into it, Mr S offered to but me a new car for my birthday.

Upon this offer, I asked for a C1 which surprised Mr S.  However I loved my original C1 and now the children are older without the need for pushchairs etc..it was the practical option again, although we did ensure its the 5 door model.  As well as its features, I’m also impressed with its economy, it has no car tax and my insurance has reduced considerably.  My C1 is not our family car, Mr S has a large family car for family outings, its a small second car for local trips and it fits the bill perfectly.  Whilst its unlikely to be this car, I also think that in 8 years when Little Miss learns to drive it would be the perfect model for her to learn in.

In the years to come, I can’t imagine driving a car much different to what I have now.  I’m sure the features will develop but for speed and practicality, I’m really happy with what I have.  I’m not one for sporty and flashy cars and I suppose the one feature which will attract me is environmental considerations.

Reports, Anglo Saxon costumes and Playlists #litttleloves

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Okay it’s official this week, I am done with this school year, concerts, assemblies, reports, fairs have all featured in the diary this week and we’re all tired.  We need the summer holidays to be able to relax, potter around and play with no clock watching, it’s 5 more school days now and we are counting each one down.

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It’s my regret that the thing to be sacrificed in these busy days is reading, I have lots of recommendations to catch up with. Apart from reading my magazine lazing around on the beach on Sunday morning, the only thing I’ve read this week are school reports; I’ve proof read and commented on reports at work and read the children’s reports which came home yesterday. I was really proud of the children’s reports, I’m not motivated by the finer points of their curriculum knowledge I want to read about my child’s attitude to learning and the characteristics they show in school. The reports  highlighted the children’s curiosity, kindness and friendliness and this made me very happy.

On Monday I had the luxury of an hour to sit and watch Little Miss’ ballet class, it was a beautiful session, lovely music, graceful dancing and so much love for dance from the pupils and teachers.

I also watched Little Man and his class perform an assembly about castles. It was fascinating and so well rehearsed and presented. His class have had the best teacher this year whom they all adore so it was a nice way to finish off their year together.  He had been up since 5.45am as his teacher had told them all to be in bright and early for their assembly!

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I forgot to add my Anglo Saxon costume to last week’s #littleloves. Little Miss needed the costume for a history day at school. After a bit of research on the internet I popped into a charity shop for an old tshirt to adapt but found a lovely and stylish dark grey tunic and then matched it with a braided cord for a costume. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was with my find, a costume for £3 I was delighted and relieved!


I have a new Essie nail varnish, a metallic lilac colour, s’il vous play. It’s got a real summery feel and looks great with my flip flops.

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I collected my new car on Saturday and because I can now play music through my phone in the car. My personal dj, Little Miss has been creating a playlist for us on Spotify. I think the days of my music choices on the car radio are limited.


This weekend we have Little Man’s birthday celebrations. It’s not actually his birthday but it’s difficult to organise something in the holidays when his birthday falls as friends are often away. We’re taking two cars full of boys to Laserquest and for lunch, wish me luck.

Thank you Morgana for hosting #littleloves, sorry it’s a bit school and club themed this week it’s all that we’re doing at the moment. The weeks to come should be more interesting and varied.

June’s Joys

I do love a little alliteration in a title.  In June we were so busy that I didn’t get the opportunity to write #littleloves and yet it was one of our best months for family fun.  The result is this post just of our highlights so they’re not forgotten and celebrated.

Portsmouth Historic Docks

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During half term week we were able to  make the trip to Portsmouth old docks which we had postponed from February half term when Mr S was poorly with a bug.  On reflection I’m glad we waited until June and the sunnier weather because whilst it can be visited in the cooler months with so much of it outside and the opportunity to take a boat out on the water, a summer day made for a perfect visit.  I’ve visited Portsmouth as a child when it was simply HMS Victory and the wreck of the Mary Rose was being hosed down, now it is very different with the docks being open with museums, ships, restaurants etc..  We started our visit with a tour of the Victory, the children took the headphones and listened very carefully to the commentary and shared the exciting parts with us, they loved the technology and being able to swipe their device for the next chapter.  Next we moved to a quick visit of the Mary Rose, it was brief because Little Miss had been on a school trip to it a few weeks earlier in preparation for a forthcoming performance (see below)  I was impressed by the museum as I’ve never really seen anything like it, the wreck is behind glass against a silhouette of its full size and design.  The size itself is stunning. Onto the remains of the ship, photos and scenes are played out to show what life was like in Tudor England, it is so cleverly done and gives a really authentic feel of life on the Mary Rose.  Following these two ships we visited some smaller ships on the site and got to experience a 21 gun salute from the Navy working ships in the dock.  They were all decorated with flags as it was the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, a day of formal celebrations, our visit was just a coincidence on this day but it made it a little more special. After a picnic lunch in the beautiful gardens we took the boat across the harbour to the submarine museum and explored a submarine, I never cease to be amazed by these vessels and have the upmost respect for those who serve on them, I would be very claustrophobic and scared on a submarine in the ocean.  Following the return to the base by boat, the children explored Action Stations where they had physical challenges for children, a climbing wall, target practice and a Ninja style assault course.  Everything we tried is included in the entry price which I thought was very reasonable and can be used throughout the next 12 months.  I would like to return but as it was such a long day I think I might do a return visit as an overnight stay.

2. Ahoy The Mary Rose

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In June it was the local arts festival.  We visited the exhibition were the children had some art work on display alongside established artists and then attended a festival of music and dance in which Little Miss was part of the community choir.  I really like the idea behind the choir, children from the local schools were joined by local adults in their performance.  I liked it because all the performers were really appreciative of each others’ talents and appeared to genuinely enjoy participating in the event.  A lovely night out in a delightful setting.

3. Paultons Park

Paultons Park (aka Peppa Pig World) is my favourite theme park in the UK.  I love it, it is so friendly, has beautiful gardens, fun rides and is designed exceptionally well for a family visit.    This visit was different for us as the children no longer wanted to visit Peppa Pig world with its cartoon environment and Peppa theme tune on loop but explore the parts of the park designed for older children.  I was a little nostalgic at not seeing Peppa and friends, it brings back happy memories of our early years but happy to explore new areas.  The children loved the Lost World which houses lots of dinosaur rides, they were fun and I loved the Flying Pterandon, its the yellow ride in the picture above.  However my favourite rides remain the water rides and specifically the log flume, we had one of my favourite ever photos taken on this ride, its  a bit grainy as Mr S was the photographer but the body language just shows the fun the children and I had on the ride.  The children had reached the required height for some of the scarier rides, Magna, Cobra, another sign that they’re growing up so quickly, they loved these rides and pretended not to be scared at all.  We’ve visited Paultons Park on many occasions over the years, we often have a weekend here in the summer, but it was the best time we’ve ever had together at the park, everyone was just so happy and relaxed and I genuinely feel it was probably our best ever family day out, it was perfect.

4. Cricket

June has seen the junior cricket season in full swing and our matches have mainly been away.  In a small rural town in a big county this means a lot of travel to neighbouring towns (boo) but new towns to explore after the game (and a cheeky lunch out, yeah!) Some towns are very picturesque with some very nice little shops and cafes too.  I’ve been busy scoring at the games which means I do get the best seat at the match but do have to be fully focussed on every ball.  The children love their cricket and its been nice to see them learning how to be part of a team and support each other.

June is a special month and this year was even more so, every weekend was busy with events but we got to enjoy time together, all these events were done as our little family. We try to live life fully so we can create memories to last our lifetime.

 

Rebel Girls, Mummy wins and Audrey.

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Its been a while since I have written a #littleloves post.  I have a crazy six weeks in June and July when we have lots of birthdays, sports days, school trips, end of year treats in clubs, its a period micro-managed to ensure we’re all where we should be.  To add to this melee this year, I have had a very difficult time at work which I am unable to discuss.  All I can say is that it was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in a 22 year teaching career but I knew I was taking the correct action.  Sometimes the most difficult things are actually the simplest decisions, there is no alternative.  It was a very stressful and worrying time and then totally unrelated Ofsted arrived too ( well overdue )  The whole period is a blur now and after being so preoccupied with work for a few weeks I have really tried hard to be Mummy this week.  This attitude has led to some really lovely moments in the sunshine.

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Now we have finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at bedtime, Little Miss and I are reading Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.  This is so good and just the sort of book I want my daughter to read and be inspired by.

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So on the third attempt I watched Sports Day this week, it was postponed on the first two occasions due to poor weather.  Unfortunately Daddy and grandparents who were coming on the original dates were unable to make the new date so I was alone.  This made for a very active Sports day as the children are in different Key Stages and had events in different areas of the field. I think I did more running than they did as I tried to ensure that I was at each event they were participating in.  Luckily next year they’re back in the same Key Stage and it will be more relaxing for me.

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On Wednesday afternoon, after school we headed to the beach and I loved watching my two play in the sea, exploring, diving and splashing around.  A trip to the beach is such a simple pleasure and a delight.  For the children it is so normal and routine to go to the beach, its just their playground, less than 500 metres from home, they will never know how lucky they are to live in such a stunning location.

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The Beavers were on the beach this week and learnt how to make fires.  Little Man loved this and was of course very keen to show me his fire making skills on Tuesday afternoon.  I decided to use this positively and have an Independence Day barbie so he could help me make the barbecue and was allowed to light it under my very strict supervision, this seemed to satisfy his fire making desire.  I have never made s’mores so as a nice American theme we made them for our barbecue. They were delicious and a real treat. To finish the marshmallows we toasted them on the embers of the barbecue, listening to a Spotify US playlist and chatting, it was a lovely moment on a warm evening.

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I follow SketchInc on Instagram and have loved this metal pin badge for a while.  As a reward for Ofsted and to cheer me up after a few tough weeks I bought it for my vintage denim jacket, although I wore it on a black chiffon top this week. I admire Audrey Hepburn on so many different levels, her humanitarian and charity work, films and style and hope this pin will inspire all who see it to be a bit more like Audrey.

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On our Independence day barbie I played a Spotify list, there were some cracking tunes on it and found myself explaining American Pie to Little Miss.  I know there are several explanations but I go with it as a song to mourn Buddy Holly, the big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

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We have one final busy week of this term as it’s the last week of clubs and it features special events including class assemblies and summer fairs. This weekend I will collect my new car ready for summer road trips and days out. The summer holidays are in touching distance now. 

Thank you to Morgan’s for hosting this linkie and happy weekend to all. 

The General Election 2017

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I know the title of this blog post may not appeal to all, but I feel passionate that politics is something we should all value, its our decision making process and reflects the values and hopes of our communities.  This is not a party political post, I never share my vote with anyone, but simply my reflections on this year’s campaign.  I did a similar post in 2015 and have found it interesting to read back.

This has been a fragmented campaign and not followed the themes I had expected, it has not been an endorsement or rejection of Brexit whilst the domestic themes of health and education have not featured as highly as social care and policing.  There have been two terror attacks in the campaign which have disrupted and altered how campaigns have developed.  However I feel all campaigns have felt quite lacklustre and dull.  Labour under Corbyn have offered new, promising policies but there is nervousness about costings.  May has played a poor campaign, the longer it goes on the less she appears the strong and stable leader she  portrays herself as and the campaign lacks substance.  The Liberal Democrats were embroiled in a debate from the start about Farron’s religious views and have never recovered whilst UKIP are only a very small player now.

 As I try to do every election, I attended my constituency’s hustings, this is such a brilliant opportunity to witness politics and the questions were really thoughtful and relevant.  The hustings takes place in our town’s largest community building and is always full.  We are not a marginal seat, one of the safest conservative seats in the country but there is respectful and considered debate.  Interestingly, our mp who works hard for his constituency, disagreed with many conservative actions and policies because of their direct, negative impact on his constituency as a very large rural area.  On issues such as education funding, NHS cuts, public transport links, affordable housing there was a consensus among the panel representing conservatives, labour, liberal democrats and greens.   In fact there were few opposing views in the hustings except on Brexit, where our mp was a prominent leave campaigner and the Lib Dem candidate rejected the party line.  The standout star of the evening was the Green candidate, he wowed us all and gave us a glimpse of what politics could look like if we moved away from the two party alternation of power.  His ideas on health, housing,  education were superb and his performance has really had me reflecting on our political system and how we could develop a more collaborative approach to politics.  This collaboration was something highlighted by all the candidates to address the real issues facing our country, most notably social care.  I was impressed by the Labour candidate too, I think she may be a rising star in the party just not in our constituency.

So now a little prediction for fun!  I don’t think the political map will change significantly in this election.  The opinion polls have been varied and I think the conservatives will be the largest party but not with the landslide they were predicting at the start of the campaign.  I don’t see significant gains for the liberal democrats and think the labour party will actually be even more confused about its future, Corbyn has had a positive campaign and he does have a vision and philosophy which he has shared far more than May. He is a marmite leader but the Labour party needs a leader who unifies.  In my little opinion, we’ll have another conservative government but I also think there will be another election before the next scheduled in 2022.   I’ll update this post with the results after my all nighter on Thursday, I love election night (well not Brexit night!)

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Hustings 2017

Concorde, beach days and election hustings #littleloves

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I love half term and this has been a great week, brimming with sunshine, family and days out.  There’s been, by coincidence rather than deliberate, a military theme to our days out, we visited the Fleet Air Museum in Yeovil where the highlight was an original Concorde which you could go in and imagine yourself as a jet setter of the 70s and 80s and today we’ve been at the Historic Dock Yard in Portsmouth visiting the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, a submarine and so much more.  I hope to write up a post but both are really worth a trip.  In between our days out we also managed a couple of visits to the beach and my first sea swim of the year

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I have read a number of Andy Cope books for professional reasons (he writes a series on how to be A Brilliant Teacher/NQT/Middle Leader)  He is an amusing and engaging writer so I was keen to read his latest book on emotional intelligence written with Amy Bradley.  Its a very easy, witty and thoughtful read.  Andy is a brilliant follow on Twitter @beingbrilliant giving a little positivity with a touch of realism.

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On Wednesday evening I did not watch the political leaders debate on television but our constituency hustings in a local church hall.   I studied politics at university and still am a bit of a political geek.  Whilst I am disillusioned by our political system at present and the effect of the media in trying to caricature our politicians and polarise opinion, our local election hustings is the highlight of the campaign.  It is always so well attended by a true cross section of our town and allows a respectful, informed discussion of the important issues locally and nationally.  This year we have the conservative, labour, liberal democrats and green parties contesting the seat and all candidates attended the meeting.  For me the candidate who stood out the most was the green party candidate, he was superb, passionate about the NHS, education, housing all such key issues.  The candidates all agreed that there were certain issues that should not be partisan but need a collaborative approach if only that attitude could be repeated at Westminster.

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With trips out I’ve been making lots of picnics this week, rolls, salads, dips etc.. I’ve also been making fruity puddings, lots of soft fruits are in season ( and on offer) and our first home grown strawberries are ready.  Our family favourite is Eton Mess and I’ve made it this week with two willing helpers.

Whilst its not my make, we’ve stayed at my mum’s this week and she has made Little Miss a beautiful skirt and me and Little Miss matching shorts!  She’s taking dress making classes and we are reaping the rewards.

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Shorts and t-shirts – yeah!

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With visits to two military museums, I’ve been hearing and learning a lot about military history this week.  I think the submarine presentation was the most memorable with some really interesting facts and some quite gross toilet stories.  To access the submarine museum you have to make a short boat trip,where the skipper and his mate were so funny with their observations of Portsmouth.

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So now we are approaching the maddest half term of them all, school trips, club trips, sports day, special events and family celebrations, organisation is key but this is always my favourite time of the year and I’m looking forward to the madness.

Thank you to Morgana and all her contributors for their #littleloves

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9 Little Things … in Little Man’s bedroom

Little Man has the smallest bedroom in the house and the most toys too, so to solve this conundrum many of his toys especially his Lego City and Star Wars models are in the playroom.  Above is a flavour of what can be found in his bedroom, Little Man is happiest playing with his toys and I’ve never known a child so creative in playing, he finds a joy in every single toy he has.  It is never a problem deciding what gift to buy for him, he will love everything and just in case you’re stuck he always has a long list of things he would like, he studies the window in our local toy shop intently.

  1. Little Man has always loved our emergency services and has a wide variety of vehicles in his collection.  However the fire service has always been a favourite and he has always had many fire engines in his toy collection, he has grown out of Fireman Sam but still loves this engine, kindly donated by a neighbour.
  2. This is a picture of Little Man’s Zombling collection, he will collect anything, his current collections include Sainsburys’ Lego cards, Match Attax cards and Spy cards. He loves his collections and will behave so well on shopping trips to get a reward.
  3. These are Little Man’s favourite soft toys, Rainbow from the Skyline gang at Butlins and Colin the (Spanish ) Minion.  Both were bought with holiday pocket money and guard a sleeping Little Man in his bed.
  4. Little Man loves listening to his radio, he falls asleep listening to it and he switches it on as soon as he wakes up.  Interestingly his radio station of choice is Gold with all the music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.  He loves a little groove too.
  5. This is only a small selection of Little Man’s Star Wars toys, he reads his books avidly and studies all the vehicles and characters.  He has lots of Lego Star Wars models in the playroom but the instruction books are in his bedroom for him to look through at bedtime.
  6. Little Man has an impressive talent and interest in jigsaws, he has an eye for shapes and how they fit together and will happily do one with daddy ( jigsaws are one activity I delegate!)
  7. This is one of Little Man’s book boxes.  He and daddy are working their way through this Roald Dahl book set.  Little Man’s night routine of shower, teeth, pyjamas and reading is boy time with daddy and a special time for them both.
  8. Little Man only has this Lego box in his bedroom and figurines from Lego mini collections, however it is enough to create models and stories for the figurines. The other Lego is in the playroom where he and his sister have created an amazing Lego City, taking inspiration from the Lego shop’s stunning displays.
  9. The final picture is Little Man’s wooden castle and soldiers, another example of his wide and varied interests. We live near a castle which we often visit and where he has taken part in children’s activities, dressing up, learning moves with a sword and shield plenty to feed his imaginative play.

I love Little Man’s bedroom and how it reflects his interests and passions.  Its a small room with a cabin bed but the space underneath gives him a space which often becomes a den, he loves to play and have little adventures.