Welcome February

I’m looking forward to February, the days are getting longer and there’s little glimpses of spring. It’s a busy month in the Sparkles household, with lots of visitors, Little Miss’ big school production and the half term holiday to look forward .

Later this month, my uni results for module 1 are due and I’m busy planning and starting my action research project. No doubt there will be developments in our quest to find Little Man a special school place. January saw us at mediation with the local authority but after their failure to resolve the issue then it’s on to tribunal which might be this month. When I started my uni course I never realised I was going to be living some of the legal aspects we’ve been taught. It’s been handy to have the full knowledge!

I need to up my running this month to meet the 100 mile winter challenge. I did this in the summer but the weather and dark mornings are making this very much a challenge. I’m also keen to do the parkrun on leap day as it’s a special with a theme!

It’s the month of love with Valentine’s Day, it’s a bittersweet day, a day to celebrate love in all its forms but there’s a personal sadness to the date. February also features pancake day, which is always fun as we all try to toss our pancakes and create lots of delicious fillings.

Happy February everyone x

This week I …

This was a tough week with Brexit on Friday so here’s some beautiful flowers to cheer me up. I got these in Aldi following a friend’s recommendation. I was really impressed by the quality and price of their flowers it’s just a shame that it’s over 25 miles to my nearest store.

I read …

This was my first 5 star read of 2020, it’s such a lovely read. It’s a tale of a couple from when they meet until their deaths and shows the different types of love shared throughout their lives. It’s incredibly moving and I sobbed at the ending.

I watched …

Something else that had me sobbing this week was the tv programme shown on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, The Windermere Children. It’s the true story of the children liberated from the camp and brought to England to be cared for and supported. It’s a drama based on real stories and the final scene is incredibly moving with the real people appearing with the actor playing their younger self.


I made …

Well this is the 3rd costume I’ve needed to create this month and we haven’t even come to World Book Day ( I’m thinking Stig of the Dump using some of the clothing above) So far I’ve done an 80s costume for Little Miss’ school production, a soldier for the cubs gang show and now a Viking for class assembly. I’m afraid that I didn’t have the time or creativity to make a helmet this week. Surprisingly we have a fancy dress shop in town so I popped in there for the helmet. It’s a v small town but with carnival, NYE, lots of local productions etc.. there’s a surprising need for fancy dress.

I listened …

With Me Now is my favourite podcast, it’s like listening to friends chatting, there are in jokes, gentle teasing and a shared love for running. It’s the only podcast for which I’ve gone back to the beginning and listened to every show. This week it was released too late for my Thursday run and I couldn’t wait until my car journey on Saturday so I cuddled up on the sofa on Friday night headphones on to listen. This podcast never disappoints.

I wore …

There were no new outfits this week but it was a week where sunglasses were definitely needed. It’s been so bright and sunny. This was a photo taken on Tuesday morning when I was out for a walk with a student. We both paused just to appreciate the sun on our faces.

Happy week everyone.

Je suis Européenne

Today the UK leaves the European Union. I thought I would feel angry but instead it’s a deep, deep sadness. I have grown up as a European citizen and appreciated being part of Europe. It felt that the EU was a community of nations who had learnt lessons of the previous century and created a new period of cooperation and collaboration. As with all large organisations it needed ‘fine tuning’ but it was a genuine force for good.

I embraced Europe, I loved languages at school and went on to study French and European politics at uni. I spent an amazing year living and working in France. As a young person I was a beneficiary of many grant and projects funded by the EU.

So many people have benefited from projects funded by the EU. As a teacher we were able to take some pupils from a very deprived area in Cardiff to Crete for a EU project. These children who had never left their town had the world opened up to them and as a consequence had new opportunities to pursue. There have been so many rejuvenation projects in communities, art projects financed by the EU of which we have all benefited, knowingly or unknowingly.

I fear for the UK being out of Europe, a policy of splendid isolation is never effective. We are not the grand nation some think we are and others will be in no rush to work collaboratively with us. I hate the right wing politics that is pervading our society on the back of Brexit, we are becoming intolerant and divisive. One of my proudest British moments was the 2012 Olympics which seemed to showcase the inclusive society we were. I was proud to hang my Union Jack flag outside the house and dress us all in Union Jack tshirts. I would never do that now, sadly the flag has become a symbol of the right wing of our society.

I hope this is a brief sejour from the EU, the younger generation are strongly in favour of the European Union and I feel that when the reality of Brexit affects ordinary people opinions will change further. Europe, thank you for your dignity and friendship in Brexit, please leave a light on for us.

This week I …


This post is back to a weekly entry.  Its been one of those ordinary January weeks of work, school, clubs and friends.  I appreciate these weeks as sometimes you need to pause and just be.   I think this may be a short post but that’s the way some weeks roll.

I read … 


This book, Running for my Life by Rachel Cullen was on my Kindle daily offer a few weeks ago and the runner in me couldn’t resist the title.  This is such a great book and it really isn’t about running.  Its about understanding who we are, our self identity. I would readily recommend it to runner and non runner alike as there is something for everyone to take from the book.

I listened …

Again don’t be put off by the podcast title, this is an inspiring and emotional podcast about a father and son doing the ultra marathon Comrades in South Africa.  Again, its not about running its about something so much bigger.  Its the story of the father’s exile from South Africa for his anti apartheid campaigning and the history of Comrades, the race he watched as a child.  Its an incredibly emotional half hour broadcast as father and son run Comrades, have your tissues ready.


I watched …

Apart from my favourites detailed last week, I’ve not really watched much television this week.  Its back to my studies, podcasts and reading in the evenings.

Although a tedious link, I have watched nature this week.  There have been some spooky sea mists this week, whilst one day the sea was so still and the most beautiful shade of blue you couldn’t help but just stop and stare.

I made …

There are no special recipes this week.  I’ve been enjoying some winter salads for lunches at work, with more pulses and grains as ingredients and made my favourite celeriac soup last weekend.  This week’s dinners have been a menu of warming, comforting foods.

I wore … 


There are no new or different outfits this week but Little Miss and I have spent time putting together her costume for her school’s upcoming show, set in the 1980s.  I did a trail around the charity shops for a few items and ordered a few bits online too. Little Miss is very busy with rehearsals and we’re all looking forward to seeing the show next month.




New Year 2020

Okay confession time, I really don’t like New Year’s Eve. I have celebrated NYE in the most amazing places but I just don’t get it, it feels a little superficial and fake. I now enjoy JOMO on NYE, the joy of missing out.

This year, I really enjoyed New Year by creating a special day of things we like to do. On NYE afternoon, Little Miss and I went to the cinema to see Little Women. The 1949 film version of the book is one of my favourite ever films so I was a little apprehensive about the new version. However it was amazing, I was a sobbing mess and felt it was really true to the book. The nice thing about going to the county town to the cinema was the buzz and busyness of the town centre, there was a pleasant vibe as we walked around before the film.

In the evening we enjoyed a family meal and relaxed before an early night and a good book.

I was up early on New Year’s day as it was parkrun day! Whilst I had contemplated the double, it was tight timing between the two venues so I decided to do my own double, volunteer and run. I’ve been wanting to volunteer for a while but other commitments have made it difficult. However as Little Miss didn’t want to run because it was earlier than normal, I was able to do the pre event set up and found myself out of the house by 6.50am to be on time. It was a great feeling to be able to volunteer and help my home parkrun. I was helping to put out the markers and walked the course as dawn was breaking, the quiet and stillness of the morning was a perfect opportunity to welcome the new year. The parkrun was wonderfully busy, a new attendance record was set and there was a life affirming atmosphere, everyone was happy to start the new year with a run (or two)

When I got home Mr S has taken the children to the skate park so I was able to have a leisurely shower and to use all my fancy lotions. We then took the Christmas decorations down and spent the day pottering around. Sometimes it is the simple things which bring the most contentment.

My #19for19 reviewed


1. Bake a meringue.  Done on a variety of occasions. Meringues, Baked Alaska etc..  The recipes were much easier than expected.

2. Have some nail art for the holidays.  Completed.  I have discovered a nail bar in town and now am having my nails down regularly, currently I have navy sparkles on my nails.

3. Prepare a cub camp blanket.  I did this in time for Little Man’s first camp of 2019 sewing on his old Beaver badges to his cub blanket.  He used it on all three camps this year.

4. Be competitive in a sport.  Oh wow, this was definitely my biggest accomplishment this year.  I got serious about my running and joined the park run community.  Initially I was planning one run a month to monitor time, but having started in May, I find my total is already standing at 17 and I’m planning new park run adventures.  Best of all, Little Miss has joined my running hobby and managed 12 park runs too.  I also did the 100 miles of summer challenge and am currently working on the 100 miles of winter.

5. Use more essential oils.  Yes to this one too.  I have a lovely new diffuser and have researched and used a variety of oils.

6. Oh this was difficult and not achieved.  I’ve read plenty this year, but I think at the start I chose the wrong classic books which took too much focus and commitment.  I decided I really wanted to read for fun.  It’s been a serious year and I need a little light relief in my reading.

7. I’m a tea drinker and this has been a great item to tick off.

8. This was great fun, I did so many playlists and discovered some new music and old favourites in my creations.

9. Another item ticked off, and I’m still wearing my Charlotte Tilbury make up.

10. Done.

11. So very proud of this achievement, I’m still two days away and will write a separate post but my annual average of today is 13100, well over my 12k target.

12. Sadly for the second year in a row I didn’t manage this, 3rd time lucky?  I did try to do this but dates got complicated.

13. I tried a few new perfumes but nothing was perfectly me, I’ll continue on my quest.

14. Completed.

15. I was thwarted by a migraine on my first planned visit and then by a refurbishment on my second try, definitely on my list for next year.

16. Completed.

17. This year our local Santa run became a Frosty 5k and Little Miss and I signed up for it in December.  Due to v bad weather it’s been postponed to January, so the intention is there and we’re looking forward to it next weekend.

18. I have loved this challenge.  I’ve bought more flowers and learnt bout more varieties. One to continue.

19. Completed.


So given that I will finish my year steps challenge and do the run next weekend, I think that this year I have achieved 15 of my #19.  I’m proud of this and love the distraction of the project.  Of course, I have drafted my 20 for 2020, I love challenge or two.