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.

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. 

It was 20 years ago today..

Jane Merrick tweeted the above as it’s 20 years today since the general election of 1997 which gave new Labour its landslide victory.  Whilst I made a response I realised that there was so much more that I wanted to say to 24 year old me.  

Dear Me in 1997

Tonight watching the election results is one of the best times you’ll ever share with Dad, you’ll never feel this optimism and hope for our country’s political future again, so savour every moment. By coincidence you are in London at a conference next to Buckingham palace on the day Blair leaves office and Brown succeeds him, you will skip lunch and join the crowd to see the two PMs.  Twenty years later you are still as interested in politics just frustrated and angry with the political system.  

At present, your boss at work really is a horrible bitch, it’s your first teaching job and you’re not sure what to do. By Christmas you cannot cope with her and leave without a job to go to. It works out brilliantly you’ll end up at your old secondary school and have the best years of your career, your colleagues will be the best you ever work with and you will have many happy times. The boss bitch suffers a nervous breakdown and her husband walks out on her because of her unreasonable behaviour, you only feel pity for her.

You’re feeling lonely and just can’t seem to find anyone special. Later this month you go on a school exchange to Crete and meet theHeadmaster’s nephew, you enjoy a holiday romance for the next few months between the two countries and become so much happier and confident.  Next year you meet Mr S on a night out with friends, you’ll move in together a few months later and marry in Rome in the week of your 30th birthday.  As a couple there will be lots of amazing holidays including two Ashes tours of Australia and the Caribbean.  Having a family will be the most heart breaking journey, there will be lots of fertility treatments and these will be the darkest, saddest times of your life. Don’t give up, you will eventually adopt the two most amazing children, life will get its happily ever after. 

At the moment you live in Cardiff because of your job. When you leave it you return to Bristol for family and friends and this is where you live until 2004. In a surprising move you and Mr S decide to leave the city and to have a more relaxed, simpler life in a small rural seaside town. Its the best move you make and you’ll be your happiest in a small, friendly community.  The move leads your career in a new direction too, you become a special needs teacher and in 20 years time you’ll be balancing being mum with your part time job as Head of School! 

You will still have a few years left with your grandmothers, both live to an old age and see you happily settled with Mr S. It’s Nanny’s last Christmas when you and Mr S get engaged, a happy memory as you announce the engagement on Christmas Day, following the proposal at his mum’s memorial tree in the hospital garden. Grandma will develop dementia and she will no longer see you as her granddaughter but sister.  You will be proud to have had these two women in your life and will still miss them.  Your relationship with mum improves over the years and unbelievably she becomes a home making Grandma knitting clothes and quilting for her grandchildren.  Her and Dad are incredibly supportive with the adoption and show unconditional love to your children.  

Twenty years later you’re still in contact and see your old school friends although none of the trio live in Bristol anymore and visits are fewer. However when you do meet up it feels like no time since you were last together.  

You’re going to your cousin’s wedding later this year, the date doesn’t seem important but you will never forget it as it is the day when Princess Diana dies in an accident in Paris.  You’ll go to see the flowers at Kensington Palace with a friend and be moved by the scene.  The Olympics comes to London in 2012 and it’s amazing, you’re so proud to be British and decorate your house with union jacks and cheer in the streets when the Olympic flame is brought to your town. Sadly the pride at being British is seriously shaken by Brexit and the politics of 2016.  There are some brilliant tv series to be watched in these 20 years, This Life, Sex and the City, Friends, Cold Feet, Strictly Come Dancing  etc. There is also a series of children’s books published, Harry Potter, you will cry more at the end of the final book than for any book you have ever read.  You still follow Bristol City but despite coming so close in 2008, they haven’t made the premiership yet, on the positive they have been much better than the gas in these two decades!  England fail in every major football championship.  When you meet Mr S you start to share his interest in cricket, this leads to watching lots of cricket and the relief that sometimes the England cricket team is very good, 2005 is a vintage year.  Whilst you do the odd aerobics class now you’ll be amazed to hear that despite hating cross country at school you start running and do races, even half marathons for fun!  It’s your stress buster and all important me time! 

I’ll leave the rest of the future as a surprise but honestly it’s remarkably good, in 20 years time you will be happy.  You’ve never learnt how to walk in heels or been able to grow your hair long but you are you, a genuine person with family and friends you love dearly.

Enjoy the next 20 years, embrace it, love it and live it with passion.

Love Me in 2017

Big Little Lies, Girl Power for IWD and a dress code.

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I had something a little different this week to my normal Mum duties, a mystery invitation from work.   The event turned out to be a thank you and celebration at our local Hotel du Vin, it included afternoon tea (disappointing cakes but fabulous scones!) served with some bubbles, a work presentation and then a cocktail master class and wine tasting.  The cocktails were a lot of fun whilst the wine tasting was more sophisticated and earnest; all were done in a stunning venue and  a lovely gesture to recognise the work we are doing. Apart from this surprise it was a another happy week in the Sparkles household, life is ticking along nicely and I believe there’s a lot to be thankful for in these ordinary weeks.

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I read one of the best books I’ve read in ages this week, Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, it even made soft play nearly bearable.  The tv adaption is currently being advertised for Sky Atlantic and the casting looks perfect.  It is a brilliant story centred around the mums of a kindergarten class, you can identify the tribes but its got some very strong story lines too.  Its definitely one of those books you are either reading, working out when you can fit in your next chapter or thinking about the characters and trying to predict the end.
Little Miss and I have finally finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone too this week. We have read aloud every single word between us at bedtimes. Little Miss is mesmerised by the story and its been a delight and privilege to read it with her.  It was so special to rediscover JK’s magic and I feel that I learnt even more of the story rereading it.  there are parts which were so different for me now I am a Mum, the Mirror of Erised was heartbreaking.
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Its been a busy week so apart from the Replacement I’ve little tv to report on.  However this week I was preparing an assembly on International Womens’ Day and found a number of inspiring video clips.  The favourite was the reworking of the Spice Girls Wannabe video from 2016, its brilliant and a great way of highlighting girls rights around the world.
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No exceptional makes this week from me, on the cookery front it was a week of our family favourites in the kitchen with no new recipes and we didn’t really do anything crafty at the weekend.
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At last I finally have something to report for the wear section!  The mystery invitation to our work’s do gave no details of the venue or event, simply a time to be in Reception for transport and a dress code of semi-formal.  Needless to say this led to lots and lots of discussion on what we were all going to wear, suggestions, trying on different outfits, frantic texting it was just like back being back on the going out days of my twenties!  In the end I wore an embroidered satin skirt, a chiffon black blouse and sheer cardigan with some pretty black pumps.  I did feel confident in what I was wearing and enjoyed the evening.
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I’ve enjoyed the Classic Acoustic Playlist on Spotify, its something a little different and nice and chilled to relax to.
AND FINALLY
Whilst my diary is getting quite busy from April, this weekend is relatively quiet.  I think it could be a garage clearing weekend and perhaps a little trip to the garden centre to think about our spring plants.  Needless to say the garden centre has an amazing coffee shop, hence my enthusiasm to visit!
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I hope everyone in the #littleloves gang has a fantastic week and thank you to Morgana for hosting the linkie at http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com/

 

Spring Wish Lists, Dawn O’Porter and Sing #littleloves

A lovely little bonus this week was to finish for half term on Thursday courtesy of my part time hours and the children having an Inset day.  I’ve sneaked today, Friday into this week’s post as we used our bonus day to have a trip to the cinema.  It was a momentous weekend last weekend as Little Man went on his first night away from us on a Beaver camp. he loved it and came home tired and very muddy, the remainder of the week  has quietly progressed to the start of half term.

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The latest Boden and Cath Kidston catalogues fell onto my door mat this week and I have been busy browsing and circling a few items in both.  I’m hoping to pop into a Cath Kidston shop next week whilst we’re away on our travels. I really liked some of their new prints so may try a few things on and may make a purchase or two.  The book print skirt I bought last autumn has been such a good buy, so easy and fun to wear.

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Today I had to drive Mr S’ car to the garage in our county town for a recall so took the opportunity to take the children to the cinema whilst the repair was made.  We went to a stunning Art Deco independent cinema to see Sing.  I love the old fashioned cinemas, having been an usherette in one many years ago, its the fittings, history and original features which make the cinemas so special.  It was a full house today, I think it must be a county wide Inset day but it made for a great atmosphere.  I really liked the film, uplifting, full of fantastic songs and joyful.  The perfect antidote to the grey, cold day.

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I’ve made very little this week, I suppose my only meal of note this week was my pick’n’mix play date tea.  I wanted to try something a bit different and thinking how mine loved the pancakes on holiday when they could create different fillings, I did baked potatoes with lots of filling options so they could be chefs and create their own special recipes.  It went better than I has expected and they all ate a healthy tea too!

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Layers and layers, its freezing at the moment, when is Spring coming?

HEARD

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I’ve expanded my podcast list from Desert Island Discs and have subscribed to the Dawn O’Porter podcast.  Its a really easy listen and I would recommend it, the episodes are thoughtful, funny and honest.  I tend to listen to podcasts on the school run (the bit where I don’t have the children!) in the gym or in bed.  When I listen to music I tend to think a lot but the podcasts make me concentrate on the subject and in a busy, hectic world help me not to get too lost with my own thoughts.

AND FINALLY

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We have lots of plans for half term.  First, its a trip to my parents and then with the couple of days Mr S has off work, we’re going to Portsmouth to visit the Mary Rose, Victory and other attractions at the docks.  I remember watching the Mary Rose being lifted from the sea in the early 80s and I’m interested to learn how it has been restored.

I’m linking up with Morgana and her lovely contributors at http://www.coffeeworksleeprepeat.com

Thank you Morgana for hosting.

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Clothes Show memories, bathroom renovation and holiday plans.

A topsy turvy week in the Sparkles household as the work on the bathroom continued, thus lots of trades people popping in at different times and a slightly different working week for me as I attended a conference for 2 days.  With these 2 events, I tried to keep things simple elsewhere to maintain my own sanity.  My head was spinning with the logistics of school runs and clubs on the conference days, everyone had notes to follow!

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One article which caught my attention this week was in Simple Things magazine, an interview with Caryn Franklin.  If like me you’re of a certain age, you will remember her as the host of the Clothes Show tv programme, essential viewing late Sunday afternoons looking at all aspects of fashion.  This article was about fashion and her personal projects.  It really made me think that whilst there are many magazines to sell clothes, there is little written or discussed about fashion, history, materials, designs etc..  Its time to bring the Clothes Show back!

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On Saturday, Little Miss and I made a delicious celeriac soup. I make fresh soup weekly with whatever ingredients are in my fridge or cupboards but I had read a few recipes for celeriac soup and decided to have a go.  It was so good and definitely a flavour to try again.

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On Sunday, we also made some reservations for holidays and weekends away.  We have really enjoyed going abroad in the last few years but wanted to show some of our beautiful country to the children and this year we have booked a week in Cornwall for August.  We’re staying at St Ives, home to a Poppy Treffy shop (yeah!) and a perfect base for some beach days and trips to St Michael’s Mount and the Eden project.  I’m really looking forward to the Eden project, Mr S and I visited it just after it opened so it will be great to see how it has evolved.  We also booked in a few visits to visit friends throughout the year, there are those whom you always intend to visit but time runs out but this year is different with firm dates for visits confirmed.

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With my work conference, I was able to adopt a more stylish, less practical look and wear jewellery.  With the work I do, all we are allowed to wear for safety reasons is a wedding ring and watch so it was nice to wear a necklace, bracelet and pretty drop earrings.

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I know that I often choose it as my listen of the week, but Desert Island Discs with David Beckham was very sweet with some really surprising choices, Ella Fitzgerald, The Stone Roses, Stevie Wonder and some Spanish and French songs.  Each week when I listen to it, I try to choose my 8 songs but it is an impossible task.

AND FINALLY…

This weekend we’ll be staying local as Little Man goes to a neighbouring village for a beaver camp, his first night away from us.  We don’t want to be too far away from him, so it’ll give us time to catch up on jobs at home.

I’m linking up with Morgana at http://www.coffeeworksleeprepeat.com for her Little Loves.

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