Back to school, coconut bakes and new projects #littleloves

And so just like that, it’s back to school and the start of a new school year. With the turn in weather too, it feels that autumn has arrived. Whilst I love summer, its time to embrace the new season, so it’s been autumn inspired menus this week, cosy knits and tights.

img_5375

As we start a new school year, I love to read the children Dr Seuss’ The Places You Will Go. I only discovered Dr Seuss as a SEN teacher but his books are brilliant and well worth a read as an adult for their sage advice and humour. This book is inspiring and a smart message for the children going into their new classes to work hard, take opportunities and learn that whilst things get tricky with a good attitude and hard work you will succeed. I love this book so much that I’ll continue to read and quote it to the children until at least their college days!

img_7103

img_5379

The autumn schedules have started and I’m so looking forward to my favourite series Cold Feet later tonight. Continuing on the education theme I’ve been watching Education Manchester on Channel 4. Whilst I have worked in a special needs school for the last 12 years, the first half of my career was in inner city comprehensive schools so I can relate a lot to the schools in the series and have nothing but admiration for the amazing professionals. This series is introducing some tough themes and the mental health aspect was key in this week’s programme. Sadly, mental health is a huge issue in special needs ed too and so much more needs to be done to support our young people.

img_5378

Last weekend the children went blackberry picking so we used the fruit in a blackberry crumble with a few extra ingredients. I used some coconut in the topping with a bit of orange zest, delicious. As I still had coconut left I added it to a bread and butter pudding too, again it gave a nice touch. I also made our first vegetable casserole and dumplings of the season, simple but one of my favourite meals and the perfect tea on a cold and wet evening.

img_5384

Rain macs and winter knits, please can we have an Indian summer.

img_5380

As I’ve written before Little Miss is always on my Spotify account and adding music. This week she is loving 1000 years by Christina Perri, it is a beautiful song and it does give me a warm, fuzzy feeling when I hear her singing and humming it around the house.

img_5386

It’s nice to get the first week of school done, the children have had a really good week back and my working week has been positive too. At home the decorating has been finished and I’m now planning the final touches, cushions and throws and planning a possible furniture project too. It’s a new season and new plans….

Thank you to Morgana for hosting #littleloves

image

 

Advertisements

Beach days, school reading books and family visits #littleloves

img_6988

It’s been a wonderful final week of the holidays, the sun has (finally) shone brightly and our little seaside town has been packed with happy day trippers and holiday makers, especially on bank holiday weekend. Our town needs these busy weekends to thrive and survive so we’re grateful for sunny days! We have been on the beach most days this week, determined to eek out every bit of summer fun that we can. We’ve also had family down this week and having lunch al fresco in a delightful sea front cafe was just gorgeous. Somehow in between the beach visits, we’ve also managed to squeeze in school shoe shopping and school haircuts, so we’re ready to go back to school next week.

img_7019

I’m in the back to work groove this week and have been doing some professional reading. To counter this serious reading I’ve really appreciated ‘Spectacles’ by Sue Perkins, we’re a similar age so lots of the cultural references and experiences are similar to my own, whilst the family tales are ones we can all relate to. The memoir is written in an amusing style that keeps you reading and smiling.

I also read a lovely article about women in their 40s and 50s and how we’re now described as perennials. Once you’ve looked past the initial glossy photos of unbelievably glamorous, stylish and young looking women in their 40s it’s an excellent and inspiring read.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/women-40-50-new-ageless-generation/amp/

img_7025

6c5e03af-f2b3-458a-94f0-b456c24b074b-3659-000002c4b79bf856_

I’ve watched our living room and hallways being transformed this week as we are having them redecorated. We had hoped to move but in a quiet housing market, we’ve decided to improve our house, not for a future sale but for us. Whilst we’re in the middle of the project, there’s no new pictures yet but I’m excited with the progress. The decorators are the neatest I’ve ever known, I’m sure my house is tidier than when they began!

I’ve made lots of sand castles this week and helped the children create their seaside cafe with sand food sculptures. It’s amazing how imaginative the children can be with their games on the beach.

Shorts, swimming costumes, sunglasses and sun tan lotion yippee! It’s going to be a shock returning to work clothes next week. However on my lightning trip to big town (the journey was longer than our shopping trip) I did pick up this new dress for work from Fat Face to be styled with leggings and pumps, it’ll make me feel confident on our first day back. It’s also one of those dresses which looks a lot better on than in the photo below and best of all it has pockets, essential for pens, keys etc.. and all the other accessories a teacher carries around.

c457fad8-c831-47fb-a012-8df81aded88a-1

Town has been buzzing this week and there really has been that happy hum all around, the giggles on the beach, the sound of Punch and Judy, the call of the sea gulls, squeals as the first toes feel the water etc.. It’s such a lovely sound, happy people.

So that’s it now, the summer holidays are over. Whilst I like the fresh start and excitement of a new school year, I’ll miss the relaxed, family days we’ve shared this holiday. At this time of year, more than at any other, I feel the passing of time but try to see it positively and to look forward to new adventures.

Many thanks to Morgana for this lovely linkie and all those who write and inspire.

 

Diana

img_6996
This is a postcard I bought many years ago in the National Portrait Gallery, having seen the original photograph by Snowdon on display. Along with the Mario Testino photos, its one of my favourite images of Diana.

This week sees the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. It seems strange to write a post on the Royal family, I have respect for their role, but am not an ardent royalist, however Diana was different and was part of my growing up. It was the day after my 8th birthday when Diana married Prince Charles and I remember the excitement of the extra bank holiday, getting up early for the build up to the day, the anticipation of her dress, the ceremony, a tad boring for an 8 year old and then the street parties which followed in the afternoon. I was at the age of believing in a fairy tale princess and this continued when I got to see Diana at a polo match in Windsor Great park. As Girl Guides we were camping in the park and were allowed to attend the game. Charles was playing but memories of him are blurred, however I remember Diana so clearly, wearing a stunning black and white dress and smiling. She was all we had hoped for.

As the years progressed, the fairy tale princess became an anachronism, however Diana changed and away from the soap opera of her personal life exaggerated in tabloids, I respected the work she did with ‘unfashionable’ charities, landmines, AIDs, homeless charities. I also loved her style. When Diana died when I was 24, she was a woman whose values, grace and work I admired.

Diana’s death is the ‘where were you ..’ moment of my generation. I was in a large London hotel celebrating my cousin’s wedding. As we went to bed, following the reception, in the early hours of the morning we learnt that there had been a serious accident in Paris and when we awoke her death was confirmed. The morning at breakfast was one of the most surreal times, a huge, busy hotel stunned into silence, it felt like everyone was too shocked to talk. The radio was sombre with classical music playing, the tv was the news and reactions, it was the strangest and saddest day to be followed by a similar week. By chance, we were due to be away visiting family on the day of Diana’s funeral. My uncle had been in the army and Diana had been his regiment’s royal. We watched the funeral in their home with photos, signed notes and cards from Diana to my uncle on display, I remember everything about that period feeling so unreal. The funeral was highly emotional, her sons behind the coffin, Candle in the Wind being sung by Elton John and all the flowers being thrown at the car. Once it ended, like many in the country we all headed to the nearest pub for a much needed drink.

Following the funeral a friend asked me to visit London with her to see the flowers at the palaces and although I hadn’t really thought about doing it, it is something that I am so pleased I did. It was an amazing sight, the waves of flowers are unforgettable, beautiful in colour, smell and volume. We also signed the book of condolence and pottered along Kensington High Street for shopping and an Italian lunch, it was a memorable day.

As the anniversary of her death occurs, I still like Diana, yes she was flawed but she in her own way was a role model, she embraced her charity work and used her position to help others, she held strong family values and was determining what the life of a modern woman looked like. She took my generation from believing in fairy tale princesses to something a little more realistic.

img_6999
This is a photo I took on the day we visited Kensington Palace, it was an unforgettable and beautiful scene.

Postscript

Following the media coverage of the anniversary I’m a little perplexed that future generations will believe we were all emotional wrecks crying and mourning Diana’s death. It was a surreal time, questions were raised about the role of paparazzi and the need for privacy and respect and we all felt sad for her family. However we weren’t all crying but just trying to make sense of a terrible accident.

Hoodies, the Eden project and Dirty Dancing – #littleloves the Cornish edit!

img_6836

I’m now at the stage of the summer holidays when I’m trying to work out what day of the week it is, Mr S is at home too so there’s no work days at present and each day simply merges into another. Living in a holiday resort its holidays all round, so no real definer of time here either. In the period since my last #litteloves post we’ve been on our summer holiday to Cornwall. Normally we go abroad but this year we wanted to show the children how beautiful our country is and share some of the special places. We had a caravan on the beach near St Ives and explored Cornwall, the Eden project was the highlight but we all enjoyed the beaches and surf.

img_5375

Normally I read lots on holiday, especially around the swimming pool but this year I found myself in the pool as it was a bit nippy to be sat around it or watching the children in the sea from the beach, thus reducing reading opportunities. Therefore I’ve only been reading magazines, guidebooks or puzzle books, all fun and light but I’m looking forward to starting a book tonight and working my way through my to read list.

img_5379

img_6854

On holiday I watched the children carefully, the sea was more tidal than we’re used to and I always had them in my sight if Mr S or I weren’t in the sea with them. Our two are beach dudes and had their body boards in the sea and tried out aqua gliders and jets at the caravan park. On one afternoon, Lifeboat day in St Ives, we watched a mock rescue display by the lifeboat and coastguard in the sea, highly impressive and I have so much respect to those who volunteer to help others.

We had a wet and miserable morning on holiday and went to the cinema to see ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul’ I really liked this film despite some poor reviews, it’s exactly what you expect a funny, family film with lots of slapstick. I did think the dynamics of the family were so well observed and I could identify so much with mum, her part was superb.

img_5378

img_6994
Image BBC

 

In our little caravan, CBBC was a popular choice for viewing by the children. Little Miss and I were inspired by Tilly Ramsey’s cookery programme Matilda and the Ramsey bunch. This is a great programme, I loved it, Tilly is bright, funny and passionate about food and such a positive role model, whilst her family are just lovely. Since watching the programme, Little Miss has been helping me to make dinner each night, preparing vegetables, cooking some ingredients etc.. She’s not only been helping but learning too and has listened carefully to instructions and explanations. I let Little Miss make her first cake independently this week, simply being present in the kitchen ready to answer any questions and take the cake out of the oven. She made a lime and coconut loaf and it was amazing. I’m looking forward to tasting more of her cakes and bakes.

img_6947

img_5384

The weather was mixed on holiday, some stunning days but some damp and cooler days too. My most worn outfit was my swimming costume, I was in the water everyday either in the pool or sea and then spent most of my time in shorts and a hoodie or t-shirt depending on the temperature. I love the hoodie and shorts combie, it’s cosy and warm with a hint of summer.

img_5380-1

2f131a1c-badb-4415-99e9-44c4a228dbf6

I was surprised to hear that the film, Dirty Dancing was released 30 years ago this week, how can it be that old?  It was the coming of age film for me and my friends and is still one of my favourite films of all time. I downloaded the soundtrack onto Spotify this week and enjoyed listening to it on my runs. I also had a bit of a tidy up this week and found my original CD from 30 years ago, in the sleeve there are all the lyrics and I remember singing along as a teenager. I love the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and it still is as good as I remember.

img_5386

We have few plans for the bank holiday weekend, if its sunny it’ll be the beach or a walk or if its mixed we’ve a few house jobs on a list to be done.  Next week is school shoe shopping and the final bits of uniform, I’m already psyching myself up!  We will then finish the last holiday week with a visit from family, before its back to school.  The summer holiday seems to have gone so quickly and there are signs of autumn creeping through our days now.  I’m determined to enjoy these last days of summer.

Many thanks to Morgana and all her lovely contributors to #littleloves, I’ve missed the posts and inspirations.

image

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

img_5382

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.

img_6402
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!

img_6386
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.

img_5380-1
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.

IMG_5382
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.

IMG_5375

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.

img_6392-1
IMG_5379
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.

img_6382
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.

IMG_5378
img_6359
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.

IMG_5384

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.

IMG_5380
img_6362
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.

IMG_5386

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.