In or Out?

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As I have written before, I am a bit of a political geek although its something only those really close to me know.  Politics does seem to be one of those topics you simply don’t discuss so I explore it through Radio 4, broadsheets and social media.  Social media is wonderful for allowing me to engage with other like minded individuals and I love the wit, remarks and reflection of Twitter.

There was never any doubt how I would vote in tomorrow’s referendum.  I was born in the year we joined the EU, studied languages and European politics at university, lived in Europe for a year, have seen the value of EU grants in some very deprived areas and schools in which I have worked and believe that we are more successful when we work together to achieve our goals.  This doesn’t mean that I am naïve to the weaknesses of the European government and there are significant issues to be addressed on  how the institution works, but I believe that change must come from within rather than outside.

I was looking forward to the Europe debate but to someone so passionate about politics it has sickened me with its vitriol, hatred and scare mongering.  It has not been an arena of political discussion but has encouraged extremism and fear.  Immigration should not have been the prime focus of the campaign, the EU is about so many more important themes, trade, rights, etc.. yet the Leave campaign and its spiteful rhetoric has put this at the heart of everything.

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At the weekend, when we ventured across the country, I was genuinely shocked when I  saw posters stating we want our country back.  I am a proud Brit and appreciate the culture, spirit and innovation of our modern society, our country has evolved and I don’t want the Great Britain of last century, I want the multicultural, quirky, respectful GB of today.   I don’t think the Leave campaigners understand the modern, digital world, we cannot survive with a policy of splendid isolation, countries have a lesser role in a world where some multi national corporations have bigger budgets than states, where the Internet has made borders irrelevant, we are not the great power they want to believe we once were or could be again, its a different world.  I  am worried about the future leadership of our country if leave is successful as I don’t think the leaders of the Leave campaign have the integrity, intelligence or innovation to lead our country as inevitably they will in time. This has been another of the failings of their campaign, there is no one that I believe could lead a strong, powerful, inclusive nation.

This referendum is being defined by generations and a high turn out from either young or older voters could swing the polls either way, with the young supporting the in campaign heavily.  Our mock referendum at school reflected the result among other schools across the country, a resounding victory for remain. Perhaps there is hope for our future generation of politicians and decision makers!

I will vote tomorrow and I have no doubt that I will then be awake all through the night for the result, I only hope its a sweet dream and not a nightmare result.

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David Walliams, School concerts and the most inspiring listen #littleloves

In a truly horrific week when I have despaired at the cruelty, ignorance and hatred in the world, I did question writing Little Loves. I’m writing it because my listen of the week is the most inspiring podcast you will probably ever hear, a bold assertion but I promise  a listen will remind you of the best in humanity.  However before I get to it here are my other loves of the week.

READ

I did start reading Lisa Jewell’s The Girls. I’ve really enjoyed  Jewell’s previous work but the subject matter is just a bit too dark and sinister to read at present and I’ve put it back on the shelf. When life is so brutal, I need my reading to be something different.

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I’ve also been reading David Walliams’ Worlds Worst Children at bedtime.  Its a beautiful hardback book with wonderful illustrations, quirky font and quality paper. I rarely buy hardbacks but got it at a very good price and the quality does show.  The children are loving the book and are not just reading it at bedtime but are looking through it during the day, choosing a tale for the night.  Walliams is a fantastic storyteller with a definite nod to Roald Dahl.

WATCHED

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I love football and have watched it since a child.  For years I had a season ticket at my local league club so the Euros are a big treat, so much football on all day and I’ve watched lots of the matches. However I haven’t had the joyous feeling I normally do watching the football as there have been ugly scenes of violence and intimidation. This is not football and after recovering from the dark days of hooliganism I only hope that its not returning.

On a more positive note, on Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of watching the local primary schools present a concert of their musical talents.  The children were incredibly gifted and it was delightful to watch.  Little Miss was in the recorder group and also sang in the choir. The choirs sang such uplifting songs that you left happy and refreshed.

MADE

Tomorrow we’re off to Longleat for the weekend, we have two day tickets as there is so much to do on the estate. We’re taking a picnic for Saturday so my make this week is making a menu.  Such a special venue merits a special picnic so I’ve planned salads, mini Scotch eggs and sausage rolls, dips, fruit slices, fancy drinks. It’s the little things which help life sparkle.

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Cardigans, come on Summer you tease us with a few nice days and then disappear again, please can we start summer now.

LISTEN

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http://bbc.in/25rHHEA

The purpose of this post is to highlight the amazing Desert Island Discs broadcast from David Nott, a surgeon who works in three London hospitals and then takes sabbaticals to work in war zones.  It is remarkable, do a Twitter search for David Nott Desert Island Discs and read the comments, the programme really is that good and for someone who listens every week, it’s my favourite ever DID. I normally listen to the Desert Island discs on my Saturday run as it helps a gentle start to the day. This programme stopped me in my tracks and I cried at several times.  Even if you don’t listen to all the podcast, the story of the little girl at 23 mins had me sobbing so hard that I couldn’t stop thinking about her and the bravery and kindness David Nott had shown.  I never do anything like this but when I got home, I found the details of his charity and made a donation. In such an awful, despairing week I promise that this listen will leave you crying but full of admiration for such a humble, inspiring and courageous man. He is my beacon of light in a dark, dark week.

AND LASTLY

Words fail me this week, the attack on a gay nightclub which killed 50, the far right ultra hooligans at Euro16 and then the murder of the mp, Jo Cox.  What has become of us?  I have been doing lots of thinking and don’t have the answers but the events make me determined not to be scared by such evil acts but to do all I can to stand up for my values and show there is lots of love and respect in our society.

I’m linking up with Morgana and her lovely contributors for this week’s Litle Loves http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com

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The Simple life, Charlotte’s Web and the Spirit of Cricket #littleloves

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Wow, that was a week which just zoomed past, I’m not sure how we are at Friday evening already.  As the sun has been out for most of the week, it has been a week spent in the garden.  We’ve had dinners al fresco, a barbecue, lots of swing ball and cricket and lazy evenings on the swings and making daisy chains.

READ

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There’s been too much going on to start a new book this week so I’ve been reading my favourite magazine The Simple Life. I like the feel of the articles celebrating simple sensory pleasures of seasonal life.  Perfect garden reading.

WATCHED

With the beautiful summer evenings, we’ve hardly had the television on this week.  The one film I watched with the children on a drizzly Saturday lunchtime was Charlotte’s Web, I really enjoyed it and it inspired further activities.

I have been very lucky this week to have watched children having simple, good fun. I was on the parent rota for Beavers this week and loved seeing the boys explore their tent and to work out how to put it up together in the local park. I also had a great time at Paultons Park where the Rotary Club had very generously paid for our students to have a day out, all the local special needs schools are invited and it is so well organised to meet the needs of the children, it is an inspiring, humbling day.  Paultons Park (aka Peppa Pig world) is a wonderful theme park and well worth a visit.

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MADE

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On Saturday afternoon, Little Miss went with our neighbour to tend her horses so Little Man and I did some crafting.  Inspired by Charlotte’s Web we made a scene from the film, searching our box for materials. I was so impressed by Little Man’s creativity and interest in the activity which really developed from my original idea of a spider and web.

This period is crazy in our family for special events so I spent some time this week making cards online from Funky Pigeon. I find the website reasonable and there are nice designs.  I use them too as the cards are made in the UK, I love quality cards but got really fed up with shops like M&S sourcing their pretty cards from China.

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It was a shorts and tshirts type of week, my favourite!

HEARD

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03xsv58

The latest cricket test match started this week so I have my favourite TMS on the radio throughout the day.  In the lunch break I listened to the Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture by Brendan McCullum. It was one of those speeches which stops you in your tracks and you cannot do anything else but listen.  Obviously the theme was about cricket, but it was so much more, it was about leadership, moral responsibility, being a team and recognising the important things in life.  Brilliant.

AND LASTLY

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I do like my sport and I am very excited by the start of the Euros today. This is the first tournament that Little Man is old enough to appreciate so he has been collecting stickers for his Panini album and we have a football wall chart on the play room wall.  Fingers crossed for a strong England performance.

I’m linking up with Morgana at http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com and all the other fantastic bloggers for this week’s #LittleLoves.

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Why I love Butlins

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Butlins will always have a very special place in my heart as the first holiday we took as a family.  For legal reasons we were unable to get passports for the children until the adoption was finalised 8 months after the children came to live with us,  so despite Mr S and I loving our sunny holidays abroad we went to Butlins for our first holiday. It really was special and since then we have  returned many times.  Butlins is one of my happy places, as soon as we arrive I feel relaxed, reassured and safe, everything is thought of and our time together is fun filled.  The children adore Butlins too and have been counting down the days until this break.  On our early visits, we stayed in the chalets but then discovered the hotels and have stayed there since. This year we moved from the Shoreline hotel to the Wave hotel, another sign we’re all growing up.  The hotel was superb, so many clever touches, the children loved the very well equipped games room with Wii u, Play stations, DS lite, computers etc.. The accommodation is spacious and with a fridge, kettle, iron and multi media set up it has all you need.  The children were very impressed by their room and individual televisions were well received, although they rarely watched them as we were so busy doing things.  There is an action packed timetable at Butlins and we enjoyed lots of swimming and slides (at least once a day) activities such as circus skills, a wide variety of shows, soft play, outdoor play, fairground rides, etc..  Whilst the Skyline pavilion can at times seem a little loud and bright there are plenty of quieter places you can go to, the hotel lounge area was lovely and the gardens looked great too, sadly it was a little too cold to sit outside in the evenings. We had the dining package and the food was excellent, with lots of fresh, healthy food on offer too.  Whilst Butlins is fantastic with all the activities and shows, it is the attention to detail which impresses me most, it is designed for families and everything has been thought of.  The staff are amazing and nothing seems too much trouble.  Butlins really is my very special place and I know that just the mention of the name will make me smile and remember happy, family times.

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  • These are all my personal opinions, we paid for this holiday and this is not a sponsored post.  I just like to celebrate Great British companies.

Caitlin Moran, Dick and Dom and Maxi Skirts #Littleloves

This has been half term week and we’ve enjoyed a lovely family break to Butlins in Bognor Regis.  I will write a post soon on our stay as I love Butlins, but as soon as we arrived I felt a sense of contentment and excitement that stayed with me throughout our week.  There have been many loves this week but here are a few favourites….

READ

Caitlin Moran’s column in the Saturday Times was a brilliant article on nurturing and supporting teenage girls.  It was stunning and is a must read.  It is the second article of hers I have torn from the magazine and kept for Little Miss in her teenage years, she so eloquently puts into words the things teenage girls need to understand and embrace.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/caitlin-moran-compliments-are-good-for-you-vk95lbjg9

As its been holiday week I’ve also found the time to read two books (does a little reading dance!!)  The first was a fun, unputdownable read, Jane Fallon’s Strictly Between Us.  As the producer of two of my favourite programmes, This Life and Teachers, her pedigree is top class and the book didn’t disappoint. As you can guess from the picture I read this in the garden and at the park whilst the children played. I thought photographing the books mainly where I read them might be fun and quite revealing of my habits. The second photo is taken on a bench by the soft play area at Butlins which was a favourite haunt this week. Whilst The Last Act of Love doesn’t have the frivolity of my first read it is an incredible story about a family’s love of their son and brother who is in a permanent vegetative state following a hit and run accident. Whilst this might not sound the most appealing storyline, it is a very powerful true story of love which leads the reader to develop such respect and care for the family and despite its theme it is a life affirming and uplifting read.

WATCHED

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Butlins does fantastic shows and this week we have watched a variety.  The children love the Skyline Gang, Butlins gang of characters so we watched their shows, full of songs, dances and laughter.  We also saw a few shows with well known children’s characters although I noticed that the children are growing out of some of their childhood heroes now, the passing of time can be a little sad. In the Discovery Animals show, Little Miss got to go on stage and stroke a skunk, she loved it and the show with its 4 d effects was great too.  However, my favourite was Dick and Dom, a live show full of mad cap games, dancing, mayhem and foam pies, what’s not to love?  I have a terrific photo of Little Miss covered in foam at the finale with such a huge grin, priceless.

MADE

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As we have been away, there are no culinary makes.  However we have been getting creative with @jenniemaizels Half Term list, a great quiet activity to put some calm and peace into the day.  We have been making a collage of tickets, postcards etc.. and have also drawn the view from our hotel room which was a beautiful array of trees.

WORE

 

I am quite small and for years have been searching for a maxi skirt to fit, this year I have found two, a dress from Next and a skirt from Fat Face.  I love them, the material in both is so comfy and I have been able to dress them up and down this week and also layer them in the mixed weather.  Its really nice to be wearing something different from my usual ‘uniform’ of leggings with tunics and mini skirts.

HEARD

As detailed in this post from last year,

https://seasidesparkles.net/2015/05/19/mix-tape/

I do love a play list, so this week we’ve been singing and dancing to our Butlins playlist including Fight Song, Love Yourself, I Really Like You, Born this Way, Can we Dance, Shake it Off etc..  There is something special leaving in the car and putting your chosen music on, it all helps build up the excitement and then playing the music in the evenings as you dress up just adds to the occasion. Music is a big part of my life and I like to create the soundtrack of my life.

AND LASTLY

So the half term holiday is nearly finished but we have so much to look forward to this summer.  I’m really excited by our plans for the next few months and all the fun and surprises to spring on the children. To ensure all goes smoothly there is a lot of organising to do this week, but I like planning and list making so will be in my element.

I’m linking up with Morgana at http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com and all the other fantastic bloggers for this week’s #LittleLoves.

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