My week … the last week of term

So we made it to the end of term, and a week full of Christmas sparkles. The highlight was our school Christmas concert, I just love the warm fuzziness of Christmas carols and readings. As a special needs school, our readings are not traditional oral presentations but imaginative and creative multi sensory presentations. My class’ combined verbal, signs and gesture alongside a photo montage of the staff and students favourite home Christmas memories, it really was gorgeous and gave all the feels. Another little Christmas activity we have been doing was the 12 books of Christmas, reading a book or excerpt each school day in December. This project introduced me to the Christmas Pine by Julia Donaldson, which has quickly become one of my favourite festive books. It is a poem she was asked to write at the lighting of the Trafalgar Square tree. Through the book, I discovered that it is a tradition that a poem is commissioned for children to recite at the ceremony and this was the poem from 2020 which has been made into a book. It inspired me to research this year’s too and enjoy a little bit more festive magic. Its been all about the festive outfits in school too, Christmas jumpers and festive skirts which twirl have brought a little happiness to each day.

This week was another full of late nights, including youth club and Mr S pre-op appointment which was at 5pm in the regional hospital, over an hour from home (even longer in late night shopping and rush hour traffic) Mr S asked me to attend with him, as it was predicted it could last up to 2 hours and blood would need to be taken. He has a real phobia of this so I came for moral and practical support. In the end the appointment, which was actually 3 different appointments took 40 minutes in total, no bloods were needed and all went incredibly smoothly and efficiently. I love our nhs. I have done a lot of driving this week and my commutes have been quite tough with freezing temperatures and dark, country lanes. I am looking forward to the later starts and lighter driving conditions next week, fortunately the weather is forecast to really warm up too, which is much anticipated after a very cold snap.

Despite the weather, our parkrun was able to go ahead today, Saturday. I wrapped up warm but had a sheltered marshalling spot so the cold didn’t affect me too much. I was able to catch up with a former colleague and old running friend at parkrun, nether of whom I had seen for years and it was just lovely to catch up. Following parkrun, we went to town for a fish and chip lunch. Now living at the seaside, you would think this would be quite a regular occurrence, but fish and chips and the arcades are actually something that we don’t do often, no idea why perhaps its just the familiarity that they are always there! We normally have fish and chips on Christmas market Saturday but on this day we were at the school fayre and didn’t arrive until later so missed out, so it only seemed right that we make up for this on a quieter Saturday. Following the lunch I also got to have my Christmas nails done, so I feel sparkly now.

I’m signing off quickly now as the Strictly final is just about to start (Go, Hamza) watching it under the twinkling Christmas tree lights is a perfect Saturday night.


My week … the one with sickness and a lot to do

This is one of those pinch weeks when your days and evenings are busy with a long to do list to be ticked off, both at home and work. And of course, the week when I ended up in bed with a bug, shivering and sleeping for a couple of days, which was not on the plans for this week. Also the snow and ice were not on my plans too!

Despite the illness, I am writing this on Sunday night, feeling pretty satisfied with my week, all my presents are wrapped, cards written and posted, decorations now all sorted, work deadlines so nearly met (my final job is for my students to record a couple of lines to finish off my work) and Christmas dinner enjoyed with my dad. Amazingly this was fitted into 5 days, as I really was incapable of anything on my sick days.

One of the highlights of my week was the school Christmas dinner which we hold in our classrooms, we made such an effort with the decoration, festive extras and all students and staff dressed up in Christmas jumpers. In starting a new school its nice to be able to shape how you do things and I loved the atmosphere we created.

The football world cup has been going on too and last night was the quarter final with England playing France. I was disappointed that England lost, I think it was a real opportunity to win the tournament but alas it was not meant to be. My son loves his football, so this defeat seemed even more crushing, not just my disappointment but his too.

My dad came to visit today but of all days, it wasn’t a great one to travel. The poor weather, heavy snow, freezing ice and fog were not expected and although he came he did leave early to get home safely before the light and temperatures dropped again. As it stands at the moment, I am a bit worried about tomorrow’s commute, but there is nothing more I can do until the morning and make a decision whether to go in at my normal time or a little late when it has warmed up a little.

It is the final week of term next week with what I feel is an early finish on the 16th. I am looking forward to the festive week in the classroom and then to relax and embrace the Christmas season at home.

My week … the one with a big traffic jam and the start of the Christmas countdown

When I moved job I knew that one of the biggest changes was a commute to work. In fairness up to this week it has worked very well, I take and collect my daughter to and from school and on the remainder of my drive, catch up on my podcasts, its pretty relaxing. However, I live in a rural location and with the ferry out there is currently only one way in and out so if there are any problems you are affected. On Tuesday, there sadly was a fatal accident on my route, and the diversion through a forest was so slow due to the very difficult right turn onto a very busy A road. My average commute is around 40 minutes, on Tuesday it was more than 2 hours. As I’ve got older I have become more relaxed about the things you can control and those you can’t, and traffic is not something I have any control of, so after phoning school it was simply about waiting it out. I had my daughter for company, we may have broken into our packed lunches and just chatted and waited.

This was a week of late nights and lots of driving, some weeks just end up like that, My daughter has started a new club and the timings make it futile to try and get home and come back again. Its much easier to go to the venue straight from school and use their cafĂ© for a quick tea. Whilst she was at the club, I enjoyed a drink and my book and finally got in around 8pm. Saturdays are normally a local day but it was my son’s school Christmas Fayre on Saturday morning so again another journey, a 45 minute drive. I really can’t complain for this one day, as he does the trip daily.

The Christmas fayre was so busy, it needed a little more room to make it more comfortable for everyone. There were some nice gifts for sale and we picked up a log reindeer and felt decorations. I won some kinetic sand, perfect for my class. Whilst I like the town the school is situated in and would normally have a little wander, I wanted to get back to our home town for the Christmas market which is a highlight of the season. It seems everyone is there and it is such a lovely social occasion, again it was incredibly busy despite the icy cold conditions but I do love to potter and chat, listen to the live music and enjoy the street food (Biscoff pancakes, what a treat)

Along with attending the town’s Christmas market, this is always the weekend we put up the Christmas tree and decorations. All was going well until I could not find my box of the main tree decorations. I have since remembered that I wanted to protect them and rather than put them in the garage with all the others, I decided to put them in the attic for ‘safe keeping’. I haven’t had time to retrieve them yet but look forward to finishing our tree soon. It does look a bit bare simply having the main tree decorated with its lights. Tommy the elf has been back this week, I did suggest his retirement but I think the children have twigged that he often leaves little extras and he was asked to return. I am keeping things simple this year, none of the elaborate hiding places and handwritten letters from previous years, just popping up over the house.

Christmas planning and events continue next week, its definitely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas..

My week .. the one with cosy nights in.

This week has been one of those in-between weeks, it’s not quite Christmas yet but it is tantalisingly close to festive celebrations.

The weather this week has been really grey, wet and miserable (but surprisingly warm at 14 degrees) so there has been lots of cosy nights in. It has also seen the start of the football World Cup in Qatar, so football is dominating the tv schedules. I do love my football but have such an uneasy feeling about this world cup, Qatar’s appalling human rights records are overshadowing the tournament and we are missing the buzz and excitement of a summer world cup. I didn’t watch the first England game which they won 6-2 as I was at work, and whilst some of my pupils had chosen to watch it, I took the others out for our normal shopping trip, with the bonus of a quiet supermarket. I did watch the goalless draw against the USA on Friday night which sadly wasn’t the most entertaining of games, and all eyes are now on the England Wales match on Tuesday. As well as the football, I’ve been busy reading every evening. I have really enjoyed The Girls who Disappeared. A thriller is not my normal genre of choice, but it was Kindle daily deal and as the blurb looked interesting, I took a chance. It is an excellent read and once started I couldn’t put it down. I appreciated the ending too which neatly tied up all the loose ends properly.

Despite the weather, there are times when you do need to get outside, so on Saturday morning, my daughter and I were off to volunteer at parkrun. I had a beautiful marshalling spot, sheltered from the wind with a view of the sea and woods, whilst my daughter who was giving out tokens was in a more exposed spot and definitely felt the cold more. After the parkrun, we met the boys and headed to a local village for a bracing walk. There is something mesmerising about watching the waves crash on onto the cliffs and there were caves to explore too. There was an ultra-marathon on the route we were walking, and those runners had my full respect, it was really muddy, and the hills were tough to ascend even with the help of a walking stick. Later in the afternoon, my son and I were back in our home town and saw the runners coming in to finish along the beach.

Fortunately, today has been a lazy Sunday, there were a few household jobs to do, bathrooms, washing the car, a trip to the dump etc… Once the chores had been done, my son and I practiced icing a cake, ready for Christmas and then we all settled to watch the first Christmas film of the year, No Sleep ’til Christmas. Our day finished with a proper roast with all the trimmings a perfect way to finish the day.

My week …the one with Christmas shopping

Initially, we hadn’t planned on Christmas shopping this weekend, having bought our train tickets for next weekend for the Black Friday offers. However, a train strike cancelled these plans and we went a week earlier as we have busy diaries in December and I didn’t wish to drive as an alternative. Fortunately, I don’t think we really missed any of the special offers, as the one thing I needed to purchase had a price match offer in John Lewis and I got it at the best price I have seen. More of the shopping trip later.

This time of year there does appear to be a lot of special events and this week was Children In Need. I didn’t watch the evening programme as I was prepping for a busy weekend but we did some special events in school. I was really pleased with my new Pudsey t-shirt, as a SEN teacher, the sign and braille letters were perfect for my role. We also had our son’s Annual Review on CIN day, so yes I did appear on screen wearing Pudsey ears and t-shirt. We were so proud of his progress and his confidence and happiness at school.

On Saturday morning, I was at parkrun with my daughter who is continuing with her DofE volunteering. I had run a flat route pre parkrun, and there is always a simple pleasure in running during sunrise, how the run starts in the dark and ends in the light, especially as it was a beautifully winter sunny day. I had chosen to run a flat route as my knee injury wouldn’t cope with the hilly parkrun. However, I discovered that it wouldn’t cope with the flat route either and I have to admit that I was on painkillers for a few days after too. There was a special guest at the parkrun, as the founder of parkrun, Paul Sinton Hewitt ran and my daughter was on time keeping duties with his lovely wife, Jo. He was kind enough to have a photo taken with my daughter, a lovely memento for her DofE portfolio.

Our shopping trip started early on Sunday, so no lie ins this weekend as I was up at 6am both mornings. We arrived before the shops opened so had a festive drink in Costa as we waited for them to open for browsing. Our main focus was John Lewis and as is tradition we started in the Christmas decorations department. It was all lovely and sparkling but something nagged at me about the plastic and glitter, I am definitely more focused on decorations made from natural materials and I do wish to use more fresh flowers this year. My daughter’s main present was a bottle of Chanel perfume, she saw and sampled the perfumes last Christmas and has had one on her wish list since. It was special to go to the Chanel counter and choose her perfume, not only did she get to choose her favourite, Chanel Mademoiselle but it was all wrapped up and presented to her in a Chanel bag. It felt like a rite of passage, and I feel she has excellent taste. We also picked up some clothes for her and although we browsed in a lot of shops, we didn’t buy a lot. I prefer using independent shops and local artisan and producers and there are a couple of local markets which I am looking forward to visiting in the next couple of weeks.

My week … the one with a mum and son day

Its lovely to spend a special day with our children individually and I have one planned with both children in the coming weeks (although the train strike may hamper my best laid plans) Today was the turn of my son and we really had a lovely day. Our thing is crazy golf and I had discovered that in a nearby town there was Mr Mulligans an indoor games centre with an 18-hole crazy golf. It was amazing, the first 9 holes were a futuristic neon inspired course and the second a post apocalypse nightmare, it sounds mad but it worked brilliantly. The design and detail were incredible, and the setting in a dark basement, pumping music gave it an edge too. The game ended a draw so the current score is 5.5 v 3.5. As we walked out of the club, we saw the Everton team getting on their coach in the hotel opposite. Sadly I’m not too knowledgeable on who was who, although I would have recognised their manager Frank Lampard but I didn’t see him. My son had actually been to see Everton in a cup match on Tuesday so was not so star truck as he might have been for a different team. The football ground is very small and where the boys were sitting, they were very close to all the players and managers.

After our game, we pottered along the seafront and pier and around the town. The weather was stunning, no coats needed, but actually so warm it brought climate concerns very much to the fore. To coincide with the COP27 conference taking place, there was an environment protest in the town centre and the sign giving today’s temperature of 17 degrees, when the average high should be 10 degrees was telling of the crisis. There was a real buzz around the town, the protest was bright, musical and strangely positive, the Christmas market, lights and ice rink were being finished off and it was just lovely.

I do like having a memorable day at the weekend as it gives the week a focus and something to look forward to. My evenings are very quiet, this week I’ve been reading Regretting You, a YA novel by Colleen Hoover, it’s an okay story but not one I would strongly recommend, however its still a nice, easy read. I have also succumbed to I’m a Celebrity, it’s been very interesting to see the response from camp mates and the audience to the former health secretary, Matt Hancock and his role in the pandemic, there is a lot of anger and resentment, and it will be very interesting if the show is his redemption or a final farewell to his public career. During my hours at the tv, I created a little emoji for my classroom. I never use my photo online, but I need something for some website pages and resources so am pleased to have something which looks like me.

I’m not sure what next week brings, it’s a strangely quiet one in my diary with just my son’s Annual Review pencilled in. Although, excitingly our new bed is finally arriving (it’s a story..) and we should get our new dishwasher as the other is beyond repair. Its the little things which make life rock!

My week … the one with fireworks

There always seems to be a flurry of special events this week, we have had my mum and Mr S’ birthdays, Halloween and Guy Fawkes. My organisation skills have been pretty mint to ensure all the plans were in order. The birthdays were quiet celebrations. My mum is in Spain so it was a Facetime call and a satisfaction that the early posting of her cards ensured she had some to open on her birthday. My family’s organisational skills don’t match mine, and although I am teased, I like how I work. Mr S’ birthday was a quiet weekday night in with his favourite tea and his traditional birthday cake, Christmas cake. My new workplace is less than a mile from a M&S food hall, so our special treats are all so much more accessible now. I still can’t get over the accessibility I have to shops and services working in a big town. There is a drive thru Starbucks minutes from school and this has blown my mind!

Halloween was a strange non-event this year, the boys were away at football training for most of the evening and the weather was so horrendous, that no one came trick or treating. I didn’t even dress the house properly for Halloween, I simply didn’t have time with our busy half term and trip away. I think sometimes it’s okay to take a pause, although whilst we didn’t celebrate at home, I did do spooky science at work and some of my students did dress up.

As Mr S’ birthday is very close to Bonfire night, we have always tended to use this celebration for Mr S’ treat. We were toying with a number of options and finally went for Friday night at the rugby club in the neighbouring town (our town has no organised event because we have lots of summer displays being a holiday town) The rugby club turned out to be an excellent choice as the weather was perfect and the following night, the weather cancelled a number of the displays we had been considering. Again, we needed to sort the logistics and my daughter and I didn’t go home after school and just met the boys in the pub for a few drinks before the display. Is there any better way to spend an early Friday evening than in a warm and cosy pub, anticipating the weekend ahead? The evening was lovely, a mild but bright night, with delicious food from local businesses (pizzas and pancakes) a little funfair, live entertainment, an Elvis impersonator and of course a stunning display, a wonderful evening.

Despite the late night, we were up early for parkrun on Saturday, but unusually as volunteers and not runners. My knee is playing up so I went to help my daughter who is volunteering as part of her DofE award. It was wild, wet and windy and we were the timekeepers on an exposed spot, but it was strangely life affirming, so friendly and good to be out and refreshed! It also felt totally justified to have a cosy rest of the day at home.

My week … the half term edition

Half term was fun, busy and the tonic required after a busy autumn term (so far) It was a mix of time at home, trips out and a little stay away.

Without wishing to make this entry sound like a what I did on holiday piece of homework, it does make more sense to detail the week in order! On Monday, we started the week with a trip to the Haynes car museum in Yeovil, for my car crazy son. We had been when he was much younger but this time, he was the perfect age to really appreciate the cars and exhibits. It is a fantastic, interactive museum, a real labour of love, with lots of really friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, keen to share their expertise and the enthusiasm of visitors. My son really was bursting with happiness when one of the volunteers offered for him to sit in his all-time favourite car, the Lamborghini. The museum is halfway between our home and my parents, so my dad came to spend the day with us too which was lovely, as we hadn’t seen each other since the summer. Despite it being half term, my son still had his football training in the county town on our way home from the museum, so I got to see him which was a treat for me as I can’t normally go. It was a quieter session but great to see him on the field and enjoying his football. It was a dream day for him, cars and football his twin passions.

After a busy Monday, I had planned a lazy day at home on Tuesday. My children were keen to make a gingerbread haunted house, and it became pretty much a whole day activity, baking the gingerbread in the morning, ‘gluing’ it together after lunch and finally decorating it in the afternoon. It was a brilliant activity, and the result was impressive. I liked how well the children worked together on it, and although I was in the kitchen it was very much their work and ideas. Tuesday became a bit of a kitchen day, with a delicious homemade red pepper and tomato soup for lunch and a double cheese tart for dinner, all made from scratch. My kitchen is my sanctuary and a day spent in my kitchen is a very well spent day.

Wednesday morning was heavy rain and strong winds, not the best conditions for my son’s football camp. However, after the first hour the conditions rapidly improved and he enjoyed the session run by the local football league team. We all went over to the ‘big’ town, but we escaped to the local shopping centre for a warm drink and to collect a few bits and pieces whilst he trained. The camp was only for the morning and we had a picnic in the park before we returned home to pack for our days away.

I was a bit worried about our trip away. It was postponed from our original date, as we all had Covid in July, and whilst we were able to rearrange the hotel and tickets, the trip had to be taken by the end of October. I was concerned about the weather and had visions of us all trudging around a wet and windy Longleat not having a lot of fun. However, we struck gold with the weather, on the day we visited Longleat, it was warm and bright and all that was needed was a long-sleeved top for the later afternoon. The blue skies in the pictures above illustrate what a beautiful day it was. We are familiar with Longleat so had planned our day accordingly. We started on the boat as it can be busy later and walked straight on to enjoy the little cruise and of course, to feed the sea lions. We then did the maze as this can be busy too, before heading off to the safari park. The park is getting ready for the light festival, and it was a bonus to see the display on the park. This year’s theme is Roald Dahl books and it is STUNNING. Although the purpose of our trip was to visit Longleat, we also enjoyed a little meander around Trowbridge where we were staying, a trip to see the film Black Adam (sadly not my type of film but the children enjoyed it lots) and a very nice meal out. We were also able to go and visit my father-in-law on Saturday before returning home, so a very successful trip.

We returned home late Saturday, just in time for the Strictly Halloween special and then had a lazy Sunday ready for the new half term. It really was a good half term, one where I felt refreshed and relaxed and looking forward to the Christmas countdown.

My week … the one with the end of a half term

So in my first half term in my new school, we have already had two Prime Ministers and are now awaiting our third. With two monarchs and two PMs, my classroom display has been more regularly updated than anticipated. I don’t actually think I can describe the farcical political situation this week, so much happened and Wednesday was genuinely so mental that the PM’s resignation was inevitable on Thursday. However even when we thought it couldn’t get any more diabolical, it appears that Boris may be running for PM again. As a politics graduate, part of me is loving this daily political feed, the intrigue and theatre and then I realise this is our government and our country and then it doesn’t feel so amusing. I dread the coming days and can only hope that we get a PM who can bring stability, security and gravity to the position.

We have needed light relief from the politics, and we have a new favourite streamed series, Welcome to Wrexham, which is on Disney. It is an unlikely true story, the takeover of the national league club by two Hollywood stars but is fascinating. As someone who has always supported teams in the lower leagues, it’s great to see the real life of a club, its players, supporter etc.. I think anyone who watches it, will become a Wrexham fan, it’s a great little series.

We continued our days out with a trip across the ferry and a sunny walk along some of the beautiful beaches which make up the coastal path. It is a great route for house spotting, with some of the most expensive and architecturally interesting properties situated on this beach. We went for the walk after parkrun rather than today as the weather forecast was awful (and proven to be correct with some amazing thunder and lightning today) After yesterday’s impressive number of steps, we have enjoyed a quiet, sorting day at home today. I love when the bad weather allows you to be cosy inside.

I am very much looking forward to this, my half term week and it’s the time when I turn my attention to proper Christmas planning. I use my holidays to plan and organise and always feel so much better for it. For example, this week it was my old school friend’s 50th birthday, the first of our year group and I was so relieved to have bought a lovely present in the summer which I sent off last week with the minimum of fuss. Being organised makes me so feel so much more relaxed and able to enjoy the now.

Our half term week starts tomorrow with a trip to Haynes Motor museum where we are meeting my dad (my mum is currently in Spain to develop her language skills) On Tuesday we have a home day and are baking a Halloween gingerbread house and carving our pumpkins, before a football camp and then our rearranged Longleat trip. I’m hoping this is a good mix of home and special trips to relax and rejuvenate us all.

My week … the one with an enchanting garden

This half term, we have made a real effort to have a family day each weekend and spend time with each other with no distraction. We have done lots of our family favourites in the past few weeks, so this weekend, we decided to explore somewhere new. It was a garden / sculpture park that we’ve read about many times and considered it, but never quite got there. However, we went this weekend and what an unexpected delight, we all loved it. There were lots of different themed areas and the views were stunning. The children loved the tropical plants and the different of textures and colours of the bark. There was also a fun rope bridge to cross the water. I really appreciated the sculptures and water features and simply breathing in the smells of all the different plants. It was an awe-inspiring visit, and we all want to return in a different season to see how it looks with different colours and flowers, it is a very special place.

Our weekend days out have helped to give the week a focus as I still am acclimatising to my new school and working full time for the first time in twelve years. The family day gives something to hook the week on and spend quality time together. All our days out this half term have been to outdoor venues, its been a mild and beautiful autumn and we’re keen to be outside whilst we can.

This week we finished the miniseries, This England about the first few months of the pandemic. Whilst I acknowledge it is a series and subject to dramatization for effect, it was also supported by factual information from the time and made uncomfortable watching on the conduct of ministers and ‘special advisers.’ Given the political chaos at present in the UK, it feels that our political system is an anachronism in modern society. Our current PM was voted in by Tory party members (81,000) rather than the general electorate (47 000 000) and was not even the first choice of the Conservative MPs. The only positive from the current state of affairs is that topical news comedies are very humorous. I am reading the third book in the Rotter Club series by Jonathon Coe, Middle England and there is a strong political theme in this book too, some of the writing is so pertinent to current events, it is quite spooky.

Next week is the final before half term, so I am busy finalising plans for our holiday week with a few treats, some lazy days at home and the Covid rearranged break to Longleat. I like to plan as I feel it makes the most of the break.