Pick Your Own


Originally we had planned a day at the beach for today but with a mixed forecast we spent a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon at the beach freeing us up for today.  We had a few plans but decided on the Pick Your Own farm  where the strawberries and gooseberries were in season and ready to pick.  It was a lovely activity and the children loved picking the fruit and nibbling a few samples as they progressed along the rows!  Little Man was delighted to find the biggest strawberry!  Thanks to our trip we were treated to sweet and juicy strawberries and cream at lunch and Little Miss and I worked together to make a delicious gooseberry crumble as pudding with our Sunday Roast this evening.  Delicious!


When is a toy not a toy?


After a period of horrific gun crime with the murder of black worshippers in a church in America and tourists sunbathing on a beach in Tunisia I really found it difficult when Little Man wanted to play with his gun this afternoon. I never wanted him to have the gun but he got it at Disney in Frontierland, as a surprise treat from Daddy to go with his cowboy hat. Daddy thinks its harmless fun, it is brightly coloured with no caps or bullets but to me it still is a gun and I feel very uncomfortable that my son plays with a weapon. Mr S did sense my discomfort today and the gun has been hidden away but how do I resolve my anxiety? His other toys have weapons, his current obsession is Star Wars, the Storm Troopers have gun like weapons and a light sabre can be used to maim yet the fantasy nature of the characters make this seem less realistic than a gun. As much as we try to protect our children they see and hear bits of the news and ask questions which can be very difficult to answer. I truthfully explained to Little Man today that I did not want him to play with his gun because bad people have hurt people with their guns recently and that has made me sad. I only hope is interest is taken by other toys and that the toy gun can remain hidden.

Little Sparkles

Years ago when I was a student, I used to have a page from Cosmopolitan magazine taped to my bedroom wall.  This page was stuck on the wall of my student digs, my first shared house and was key bits of advice for a Cosmo woman and was full of brilliant counsel.  One I have always remembered is that sometimes you need to do extra than the 9 -5 at work.  Whilst I only work part time and try to maintain a healthy work life balance there are some weeks when you just have to do that extra (as there are weeks when you get to do that little bit less) This week I’ve needed to do extra work to make my working life just a little easier.  Each evening this week I’ve been busy report writing, completing assessments and inputting data as well as preparing for a peer observation activity.  I have finally completed them and feel a great sense of relief and calm, I can enjoy the final weeks of term now.  This week’s edition of Little Sparkles is quite limited as a consequence, can reading assessment criteria and level descriptors count as my reading?



I haven’t stopped reading letters home from the children’s school this week, its been a little ridiculous I think there’s been ten in total!  A 2 page newsletter, a school trip permission letter, lunch menus, Sports Day information, School fayre flyer and raffle tickets, head lice letter, PTA bulletin, leaflets from the local Sports Centre, a health pamphlet and a letter requesting recycled trays for a Science project!  The Summer term is always very busy with Sports day, trips, fayres, proms and parties so as well as remembering the above for the children I have also read numerous emails on similar topics for my school too!



I’ve not had the time to listen to much music this week but managed to catch a few episodes of the Archers, one of my guilty pleasures.  I have been puzzling over it though as I’m sure the actress who plays Pip has changed.  I may have to do an Internet search to discover the truth. (Postscript, I was right there has been a change I do prefer the old voice!)


Nothing on the tv this week but I did love this video which was linked via a tweet about life without the invention of the Internet, its witty and though provoking and I love the cameos.


In writing this post, I am realising that work has definitely dominated my life this week, no new recipes, no crafts.  Instead my best suggestion for makes are the resources I made for a lesson observation.  There is something therapeutic about cutting, sticking and laminating, perhaps its the monotony and repetition which relaxes!



My final tedious category, as all my work has been computer based this week I’ve been wearing my glasses to ward off any migraines given the extended hours I’ve been looking at a screen.  Fingers crossed its worked.

Lets Go Fly A Kite …


Our family time today was a treat for Father’s day with a meal at a pub.  As it was a country pub, we decided to make an activity of it too and stopped off en route to fly a kite.  The kites were presents from my sister in law,  as at our last visit we had been talking about simple pleasures and kite flying.  A few weeks later some lovely kites arrived for the children courtesy of her, a generous and thoughtful gesture.  Although bright it was a breezy day, so perfect conditions to fly a kite.  Little Miss got the hang of it very quickly and ran around the field flying her kite.  Little man was more frustrated and cross with his kite until we realised one of the sticks had been put in incorrectly and when rectified he too ran and laughed at his kite.  As a very unexpected bonus as we looking in the sky at our kites the Red Arrows flew over in formation, I’ve no idea where they were performing but it was a real treat to see them.  Lunch at the pub was lovely, a simple but very happy Father’s day.


The homemade cards for Father’s day

Little Sparkles

There is the danger each week of writing of what a busy week it’s been, detailing the diary demands and summarising the to do list. It probably gets a little tedious to read, I’m a working Mum juggling life and family and despite the odd stresses, I wouldn’t wish my life to be much different. I’m sure in my twilight years, my days will be too quiet and I’ll finally have time to read all the books I want to and watch all the films I’ve missed.


This week has been the usual mix of work and family. Unusually we had a family shopping trip to our county town for shopping on Saturday, the girls had their shopping list and the boys went car shopping, we all had successful trips and the girls spent less than the boys!


I was really looking forward to the 20th anniversary of TFI Friday and it didn’t disappoint. I loved this when I was younger, just hearing the music by Ocean Colour Scene again gave me goose bumps. It was a good mix of old and new and did illustrate what a ground breaking programme it had been in its hey day. There are rumours that it will be brought back but I think the special edition was best as a one off, one night of nostalgia is just enough and best to finish on a high.



It was also Little Man’s class assembly this week, the theme was Minibeasts. It was full of fun songs and rhymes and Little Man was a highly enthusiastic participant!



I love Twitter and the hashtag devastatingly sexy has been an excellent riposte to the misogynist scientist who argued that female scientists are distracting in labs and cry too much and fall in love. Cue a witty and powerful reaction from female scientists showing them at work not crying or falling in love.   As one commentator wrote the images and descriptions they posted of their roles did more to raise the profile of women in science than any worthy government campaign.

As I’ve been to the hairdressers this week, I’ve read some of the glossy magazines they have for customers. I used to love relaxing and reading magazines but with children and Pinterest it’s rare for me to buy one now and so my monthly trip is my chance to catch up.


TFI provided the direction of my music this week with Brit Pop featuring heavily and a little added Lenny Kravitz. Moseley Shoals and Are You Gonna Go My Way were favourite CDs in my early twenties and their quality still shines through.

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Inspired by my Godmother’s legendary marble cake I attempted a chocolate and orange cake this week and was proud of my effort. I think I would perhaps use less of the chocolate mix as it seemed to overwhelm the orange mix but generally it was a lovely cake.



I do love my bags and I used (wore) my new Orla Kiely bag on our shopping trip on Saturday. It was the perfect size for our trip able to hold a few little purchases as well as the essentials.


Fairy Dust

fairy doors

At this time of year, life gets crazy busy with family celebrations, end of school year events and Summer fun. Amidst all this mayhem we do have a family rule that on Sundays we all do something together, a trip to a local attraction, a walk or simply time on the beach. Today we took a picnic and visited a local beauty spot, the Blue Pool. It’s a beautiful place and one that inspires and calms with its beauty, tranquillity and peacefulness. We had a lovely surprise when we arrived and discovered a new attraction this year, a fairy door trail. You follow one of the trails and find the hidden fairy doors, all of which have numbers on. At the end of the trail you add the numbers and then go into the café which homes a beautiful fairy house and open the door to see if your answer matches the number. As well as our pride at getting the correct answer the children were delighted with their fairy certificates. The activity just added a little sparkle to our walk, we imagined what the fairies might do in the forest, where they would play and how they might use the different plants, Little Miss decided the ferns would be great for the fairies to float on in the Blue Pool and we shared some lovely ideas and stories. The trail was an unexpected delightful addition to a trip which has always been a family favourite.

Little Sparkles

Summer is slowly creeping up on us and our town is beginning to get busier until reaching the crescendo which is the school Summer holidays. This week has seen the inaugural Fish festival in town and the improving weather has meant more visits to the beach and playing outside.



This week I am finishing off the All Day Long book I’ve been dipping in and out of for the last few weeks. A life in the day of a research scientist amused me this week, Monday to Friday is for the serious work and then Friday night is experiment night when members of the department work on their own projects. I liked the passion showed by the scientists in their work, it seemed they were a group who loved their work and had creativity and interest, characteristics which do seem to have been lacking in many of the work days described in the book. It also mentioned the importance of the afternoon tea break when the department came together to discuss their work, share ideas, offer advice etc.. I love this idea.

I have also read text messages between Little Miss and her Grandma on my phone. Little Miss is a mischief with my phone but these messages were so cute and I was impressed by the content, I think predictive text helps with the spellings and encourages her to be more adventurous in her words.



Alerted by Twitter, I listened to an excellent Desert Island Discs on Sunday with the indomitable (you’ll need to listen to the programme) Professor Lisa Jardine. She was bright, intelligent and witty and made some brilliant comments.  I was truly inspired and impressed by her.

“I only do things I love, and I love everything I do …”



Sunday evening is ironing night and strangely I love it, I like to iron and watch a guilty pleasure programme, Cake Boss, The Little Couple, Say Yes to the Dress (all TLC favourites) Friends, SATC.  This week none of my usual favourite were on and I ended up watching the film The Wedding Date from 2005.  It was all so predictable and cheesy but strangely addictive helped by a good soundtrack and some of my favourite actors popping up, Jack Davenport will always be Miles from This Life, a favourite from the 90s and still the best ever final scene to a series and Sarah Parrish was great in her role.



Inspired by the gorgeous Greek food we had on holiday I made stuffed tomatoes this week, which were delicious with a crisp, fresh salad.



In the departures lounge at the airport, I popped into Accessorize and purchased a necklace which has been a great addition to my wardrobe, its colours and style mean that it complements most of my clothes and has been worn lots.  I did used to wear a lot of funky necklaces but a lot seemed to get broken by Little Man grabbing at them when he was little and I didn’t replace them at the time.   I’m safe to wear them again now and enjoying the additional sparkle they bring to an outfit.

Kids Day Out



Today, was one of my favourite days of the school year, our annual day out courtesy of the charity, the Rotary Club. It is an initiative which pays for under privileged and special needs children to have a day out. It seems such a simple concept but for some of our children with complex needs, a trip to a busy, noisy and different environment is difficult. Fortunately on Kids Day Out, special needs children are in the majority at the park and there is an atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance and respect.

The Rotary Club organise different venues all over the country and our nearest is Paultons Park, aka Peppa Pig World. They always are amazing in making us feel welcome and there always seems staff everywhere to help the children enjoy the day out. Coupled with the Rotary volunteers they create a very special atmosphere. Sunglasses are essential on Kids Day Out to hide a few happy tears, it is one of those days which reinforces your faith in humanity and the kindness and care shown to the children is over whelming.

Today has been no different to previous Days Out, the pleasure and happiness on our students’ faces is heart-warming. Some of our most challenging and anxious students have been enjoying the rides and we have seen smiles and giggles. It’s an exhausting day (2nd highest ever Fitbit step score) but its one of the most important and rewarding days of the year. Our staffroom was buzzing with excitement at the start of the day as we all met up, it means so much to us too.

I cannot thank the Rotary Club enough for the pleasure they give to our students and staff in organising Kids Day Out. I’m not sure that they appreciate the amazing experiences they offer to our students, they are a stunning group of volunteers who make a powerful difference to our students’ lives.


I love this picture of a glass fountain in the garden.  Paultons Park is one of the most beautiful theme parks.

Little Sparkles

After the excitement and joy of a holiday, the week after is always getting back to routines and ‘real life.’ However I had been so focused on the holiday and the plans I had forgotten what a mad old week I was returning to, it’s been a real topsy turvy week with Mr S and I both having different work commitments to normal and various school events for the children happening too. Mr S and I have both had work conferences this week and they have shown the difference in the sectors we work in. Mine was a day event, bring your own lunch and sit in a school theatre on an uncomfortable bench. Mr S got to stay in a 4 star hotel, and after the seminars he enjoyed a drinks reception, river cruise and dinner and dance with a free bar!! The conferences meant I had a different working week and its completely thrown me, normally by lunch on Wednesday I’m nearly done for the week, this week it felt like I was just starting my working week. Fortunately, everything returns to normal next week, I do like my routines.


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With Mr S absence I have been on bed time reading duty this week with Little Man. This is a privilege as my boys have a very fine tuned night time routine which they have developed and its definitely boy time. Although a little sad that I don’t get to read the night time story my heart swells with pride and joy that my son has a Daddy who always reads to him. I have read so much about the importance of a positive male role model and Mr S really is wonderful. Anyway this week it was Mummy’s turn to read and Little Man and I learnt lots about tractors! Normally whilst the boys are reading, little Miss and I sit on the sofa to read and listen to her books. This week this has been done a bit later but we’ve both loved her book, she has been reading Anna Hibiscus, this is a story full of beautiful language which really evokes the atmosphere of Anna’s life in Africa. I chose this book for Little Miss as I do find some of the school reading scheme books a little dull and I try to complement her library, it’s been a brilliant choice.

Personally, I am continuing the book on jobs which I started before the holiday, there were some interesting tales this week, and the call centre certainly brought back the memories of a part time job I had in my early twenties, well paid but pretty soul destroying.

Sadly, I have also read some of the obituaries of the Liberal Democrat politician Charles Kennedy who I have always admired and respected. I thought Gordon Brown described him perfectly as

“One of the greatest debaters, orators and communicators, who brought humour to politics, he was a man who effortlessly combined rock-like conviction with an openness to argument and a readiness to listen”



Despite the general discomfort of the seating and limited hospitality, I did enjoy listening to the speaker at my conference. She spoke on a specific program, TEACCH which helps to organise and structure the ASD classroom and one that has shaped my practice. Whilst I did not ‘learn’ anything new it helped to refresh some of the principles and to reflect on developing the program into the digital classroom.


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With sunny weather and Mr S away, the television has hardly been on this week. Unlike Mr S, I don’t need to watch every possible game of cricket available on tv! The only programme I have watched this week was Long Lost Family, reuniting families. A strange choice as the premise really riles me as it tends to focus on adoption. The generation being reunited now are generally young mothers from the 1960s who had little option but to give up their children and for whom I have lots of sympathy. However, the generation of children being adopted now, don’t have a simple, sympathetic history and are likely to have suffered abuse or neglect. Despite what some media portray, children are not easily put up for adoption and the thought of such televised reunions in the years to come fills me with horror and dread. Despite this, I like the current reunions and it does give me an insight into the feelings of both the adoptees and their birth families.



In the evenings, I have been pottering on my computer and I have made Little Miss some stationery this week. The theme is mermaids and I think it’s a rather cute design.


Inspiration is sadly lacking in this category this week, as I’ve worn nothing notable or different to my normal casual look. I did a sort out of my wardrobe so there’s some clothes I won’t be wearing again, but that’s more worn out leggings, old gym tops and greying underwear! Must make more of an effort next week.

So who is Seaside Sparkles?


I am a private and quiet person yet I have decided to write a blog and publish it on the Web making it accessible to an unimaginable audience. This may seem an unusual decision but in this post I wanted to explain why I have done this and why my blog will always remain anonymous.

At home, I am quiet and shy, preferring the company of close family and good friends. This is rather at odds from the personality I display at work, where I am assertive (ok possibly bossy), positive and confident. Professionally I can take a leading role, comfortably leading whole school assemblies or delivering training to a group of a hundred staff without fear or anxiety. However home is my haven and where I feel most relaxed and creative. My relationships are developed by being with my family and friends and I use little social media, it may be hard to believe in these days but I do not have a Facebook account!

At present, my blog remains a secret from my family, for no other reason than because I’m a bit shy even with those closest to me! This blog is simply a personal project, my opportunity to record my memories. I’ve written diaries throughout my life, so this is just a digital diary.

My blog is anonymous firstly because I don’t like to court attention and I feel more comfortable under a pseudonym but also to protect the identity of my two children who are adopted. This means that birthday posts will be published randomly so as not to reveal birth dates, there will never be a picture of the children on my site and they will only be ever referred to as Little Miss and Little Man. This can be hard as I am such a proud mum but it is essential to ensure that the children are not found by their birth family until the legally permitted age of eighteen. I do think this will become more difficult as the children get older, the web has made it far easier to find people but I hope all parties will respect the rules created to support everyone. I do send a letter and photos every year to the birth family so I hope this is suffice until the children are young adults and able to make their own decisions on their relationship with their birth family. Mr S and I will always respect and support them in whatever decision they make.

I’ve been writing this blog for nine months now and am loving this project, it’s a perfect creative release for me and its really rather lovely to read back on the things we have been doing. To answer the question who is Seaside Sparkles, I am a Mum, wife, daughter and friend who loves to be creative and add the little sparkles to the lives of all those I love x