Poppies

Remembrance day is always a well respected event in our town but this year, being the century of the armistice something beautiful is happening.  Everywhere you look there are poppies, made by all members of the community.  Outside the Girl Guides hut is a display of poppies made from red bottles and buttons, a church has a huge cross of poppies displayed outside, whilst another church has 99 ceramic poppies in their gardens.  Members of the community have been invited to tie a ribbon to the large poppy on the pier made from chicken wire and wood, the effect is spectacular.  In addition, local businesses and shops have taken one of the 99 local men killed in World War 1 and are displaying posters with their name, rank and age in their windows, many have created a window display with added details from their personal research which only adds to the care and respect we have for ‘our’ soldiers. One restaurant has hung 99 poppies in their window, it is a haunting but superb display.  There are many events organised in the next few days to commemorate the end of World War 1 but I think the use of the poppy in so many creative ways is a fitting tribute.

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Fireworks and Sparkles

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My only picture from tonight, as sometimes you just need to watch life in real time and not behind a camera.

Tonight we have been to the Scouts’ firework evening, a blazing fire and camp songs followed by fireworks, in the deepest, dark countryside. I really love the multi sensory delights of Bonfire night. The warmth and cosiness of new hats, gloves and scarves, the crackle and dancing flames of a fire, the smell of hot dogs and soup before the main attraction of the sparkling, colourful fireworks all on a crisp, clear, dark night. This is my favourite autumn night’s entertainment.

#blogtober18 : Day 11 : Kick Ass Girls #internationaldayofthegirl

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There are so many ways in which I could take this post, misogyny appears a big theme in women’s lives these days.  I’ve quietly been a feminist since my teens, we genuinely believed at that time that whilst we were highlighting inequalities, things were improving.  Fast forward 30 years and I actually think we were in a stronger position in the fight for equal rights, opportunities in 1988 than we are now.  .

I refuse to make this a negative post, because there are some amazing women out there taking on the fight, every day.  I could use this post to show my admiration to some of my favourite brilliant kick ass women but their stories are well known.  Instead I want to thank women who fight back with grace, style and determination every day, who see prejudice and question it, who act on equality, who challenge and are being the change they want to see.  Through social media I see you and I am so thankful and hope that I too can do what you do.

This post isn’t about women doing big things, its about all of us doing little things to advance women’s rights and to promote a fairer and kinder society.

 

 

 

This was the summer …

Whilst its another day of bright sunshine, I think its nearly time to say good bye to the summer of 2018, the summer of sunshine, heatwaves, flip flops, sunglasses and so many happy memories.

This was the summer when

  1. We stopped needing to check the weather forecast, it was hot and sunny every day and we planned outdoor events weeks in advance knowing it would be ok.
  2. Sports day took place on its allocated day, unlike last year’s 3 attempts.
  3. The grass wasn’t lush and green but yellow and straw like, running took on unusual hazards such as minding the cracks in the dry ground.
  4. Every item in the summer wardrobe was worn, for months no long sleeves were needed.
  5. The school summer uniform was revised to simply an open topped shirt and shorts, no ties.
  6. Everything happened on the beach, Brownies, Beavers, school lessons.
  7. Ice cream became a temporary food group, even better if it was a fruity flavour, thus surely counting as one of your five a day!
  8. We decorated our house with a St George’s cross, wore England tops and even painted patriotic nails to cheer on the football team. England made us all proud at the World cup with their young, talented and eager team.  The cricket team played brilliantly too.
  9. Mum created the costumes for her little cat and dog in the school play, Little Miss shone on stage remembering all her lines and Little Man enjoyed singing.
  10. Mum, Grandma and Granfer enjoyed an alfresco lunch on a roof top with a stunning view to sea.
  11. The dance show rocked the town and sold out for 5 performances.
  12. Dabbing and flossing were key moves of the summer.
  13. Baby shark and 3 Lions were the ear worm songs of the season.
  14. We went to a festival in a field and listened to some amazing local talent.
  15. Mum learnt to kayak.
  16. We ate salad and vegetables grown in our garden by Mr S and his gardening squad.
  17. We screamed and shrieked on the rides at Paultons Park and Crealy.
  18. We splashed and squealed our way down lots of water slides at the water park.
  19. We rock and rolled at roller discos.
  20. Little Miss and Little Man went on adventures on school and Beaver camps.
  21. We swam at a retro inspired lido.
  22. Mum got a spa treat at Butlins and found the snow in a heatwave.
  23. We trained, played, watched and scored cricket.
  24. The girls sang and danced in their seats at Mamma Mia 2
  25. We celebrated lots of birthdays and anniversaries.
  26. Little Miss finally reached ear piercing age!
  27. Little Man and Little Miss learnt to drive Junior Segways and do the High ropes at Butlins, making a summer of thrills and spills.
  28. We loved exploring Cornwall, playing on the beach, walking through the dunes, swimming outdoors and enjoying ice cream sundaes and chip shop chips.
  29. Our hair became blonder, faces more freckled and our bodies a little browner

Summer 2018 you absolutely rocked!  

At what age?

When I was young, my friends and I liked to look up the ages we could certain things, the rites of passage which would lead to adulthood. Life seemed a bit freer and relaxed in the 80s, we were always out playing in the neighbourhood and would come back when we were hungry or thirsty. As my secondary school was a fair distance away, just weeks after my 11th birthday I was on a 2 bus journey to school changing buses in a busy town centre. It wasn’t a big deal and I felt able to deal with it. However times have changed and we are thinking more about at what age we’ll allow our children to do certain things.

Yesterday my daughter had her ears pierced. She is so delighted and happy as she has been desperate to have them done for years and we agreed that she could when she was ten. I don’t know why we chose ten, looking back on old photos I think I might have had mine done a little earlier, I suppose we chose an age where we hoped she would have the responsibility and care to look after herself.

As parents we are finding ourselves more and more questioning our decisions on what we allow our daughter to do, it’s a very fine line between allowing her some independence and knowing what is appropriate for her age. Last week on holiday, we allowed Little Miss to go to the mini market on site for any little bits we needed, she loved it and we were reassured as it was a car free 5 minute walk. However, I still wouldn’t let her walk to town to potter around, yet when we’re off shopping tomorrow, I will allow her to browse the girls clothes whilst I pick up a few pieces with her younger brother on the same floor.

In the final two years of our children’s primary school, the pupils are allowed to walk to and from school independently with parental permission. Whilst we have given permission, the reality is that because we walk her little brother to and from school it’s likely that we would have her in view for the journey as it’s basically one street she has to walk with a lollipop lady at the only road crossing. Little Miss also really likes the social aspect of the walk as we tend to walk with a few local families and she would miss this aspect on her own. However I would like her to have a bit of practice as she will need to walk to the local secondary school.

For Little Miss the biggie is the the age she can have a mobile phone. I think that since about Year 3, she has had peers who have had mobiles at school, this is a real big bug bear of mine, I don’t feel children need them and do not have the skills or maturity to use them properly. Some of her friends have Instagram accounts under false dates of birth, full internet access etc.. The stories I have heard at safeguarding conferences (I’m a DSL at work) only strengthen my beliefs that primary children should not have a phone. However I am also conscious that Little Miss wants to belong, feel like her peers. At present we have a compromise, where by she has my old iPhone without a SIM card at home. I control the Internet access and it is only me who downloads anything onto the phone, it is password protected at all other times, although it’s a password she is always trying to guess. She uses the phone for songs on a Spotify list we make together and a few games for car journeys etc.. It is a compromise and she is still desperate for a SIM card, she asked Santa for one last year but thankfully he was a very helpful Santa who read my cues well! Mr S and I both agree that Little Miss can have a mobile when she starts secondary school, but again there are problems here too, I would prefer her to have a simple call and text phone but there is that pressure to have a more modern version, eg camera and internet. Again with my attendance at safeguarding conferences I am only too aware of YPSI ( new term for sexting; peak age 13) and online bullying and the long term effects on a child. We have a year to make a decision.

Over the next few years I’m sure there will be more difficult questions over the age my daughter can do things. We then have our son to consider too. Our daughter is bright and savvy yet our son has some learning difficulties but is very close in age, how do we agree on an age for her and not have the same rule for him? It’s all so difficult to be fair, safe and consistent. I guess as parents we’ll analyse each situation and try to follow our instincts. Sometimes it’s not about an age but a feeling and confidence in your child to be sensible and appropriate in different situations.

Sunshine, shows and beach days – July’s #littleloves

Hello and welcome to July’s Little loves, it’s all about the sunshine and shows this month.

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This month, I have tried to give myself a few minutes every day to sit and relax and for me the simplest way to do this is to open my Kindle and read.  On these hot, sunny days its been a little treat to sit in the garden with a cooler breeze in the evenings.

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One of my favourite reading spots, the grown ups hideaway.

I don’t know where I found the time ( although I don’t watch Love Island) but I managed to read four books this month with my favourites being The Party by Elizabeth Day and Sheila O’Flanagan’s What happened that night.  It’s funny how a theme develops in the books you read, this month 3 books had a similar plot line related to a significant night in the characters lives.

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It seems so long ago but I really enjoyed watching the World Cup this month with Little Man who loves his football.  It felt like it was the dawning of a new era with England, a new team ethos, support for each other and a careful and thoughtful manager, it was great to be an England supporter and Little Man and I are looking forward to Euro 2020.

The children have been treading the boards at our local theatre this month.  Both appeared in their school’s play and were practicing their songs in the preceding weeks.  Little Miss had an acting role and has such stage prescence and confidence, Little Man as a younger pupil was in the chorus which suited him just fine and he loved his costume and painted face.

However the big event of the month has been the dance studio’s anniversary show.  The cast have been practicing since Christmas and July was an intense period for all, Little Miss as a dancer and myself as a matron.  I had guidelines to follow and cues to learn too! The show was stunning, it was hard to believe that it was an amateur performance with the quality of the dancing, set design, lighting etc… It was on at our local theatre for 5 performances and was sold out each evening.  Given the population of our town is 10k and around 2k people came to see it over the run, it gives you some idea of the well deserved excellent reputation the dance studio has in the community.  I saw the show on the opening night and it really was one of the most beautiful ballets I have seen.

img_5378Cooking has been limited due to the heat and number of show rehearsals this month.  However I have been making an effort every weekend to make something special and following a meal out at an amazing Thai restaurant with friends I experimented making curries with some new flavours and ingredients at home, all was received very well and I enjoy that little bit of creativity with food.

img_5384Sun hats, sun glasses, swimsuits, sundresses, shorts and t-shirts; Summer of 2018 thank you very much for this wonderful heatwave and the opportunity to wear my summer wardrobe in full.

Oh and I also gave myself a little England manicure in preparation for the semi final.

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img_5380One of the highlights this month was a night out at a festival.  Last year my friend held a mini festival in her garden and her son and his band played for us. This year, it was moved to a larger outdoor venue and gave the opportunity for more local, youth bands to play.  It was brilliant with some original songs but mixed in with Bowie, U2, Rolling Stones, Kinks covers etc..  The talent was unbelievable, the teenagers are so gifted and enthusiastic and just showed that nothing beats live music. The festival theme was fully embraced with wristbands as we entered and merchandise for sale which all produced a healthy donation to a local charity.

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The view from the festival, no neighbours to disturb here! As night fell the venue was decorated with fairy lights and it all looked magical. 

  img_5386I loved July but it was busy, in addition to the above we’ve been to Paultons Park, had visits from family and tried to squeeze in as much time as possible on the beach.  This year August is all about the R’s, rest, relax, recharge.

Thank you to Morgana for her monthly linkie and all those who join in

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Something is bothering me ..

Yesterday I saw a Twitter feed about the lack of diversity in ITV’s Love Island🌴. I’ve never seen the programme although I’ve seen the ads with the identikit 20 somethings. Whilst I can’t comment about the specifics it really got me thinking about diversity in our society. I grew up in a multi cultural part of Bristol and my school represented its community, reflecting on it now it was an inclusive and integrated school long before such things became political. However that multi cultural community in which I grew up seems less visible today. Last weekend we went to a party in a very ‘nice’ golf club on the outskirts of Bristol, same city, different area 30 years later and there was not one person of colour at the club, everyone was white. There are no COC at my children’s school although there are in the clubs they attend which cover a wider geographic area. I started to think about ITV and some of their programmes and struggled to think of a mainstream presenter of colour, yes there’s Alison Hammond from This Morning who I think is great but she’s cast as the big, bubbly black woman, another stereotype fulfilled and her career developed after Big Brother (probably the most inclusive reality show) rather than a more formal career path. Too many of our presenters are successful because of family ties, a certain look and networks, which is true of politicians, leading companies etc.. It’s all pretty depressing. Yesterday the BBC also announced that it had settled an equal pay case with one of its senior reporters and she donated the back pay to a women’s charity to help others achieve such equality. FFS this is 2018 and we still don’t have what me and my friends were demanding and protesting for 30 years ago, why as a society does it feel that we are promoting an image that seems less equal and inclusive? Great developments have taken place particularly with LGBT rights but prejudice still exists and there is still so much to do. It’s up to us to shout, to act, simple acts have an effect. My twitter feed is full of #loveisland comments, perhaps if everyone switched off then ITV would take action, it will give its audience what they want, we just need them to know that it’s a show which reflects our multi cultural society.