June’s Joys

I do love a little alliteration in a title.  In June we were so busy that I didn’t get the opportunity to write #littleloves and yet it was one of our best months for family fun.  The result is this post just of our highlights so they’re not forgotten and celebrated.

Portsmouth Historic Docks

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During half term week we were able to  make the trip to Portsmouth old docks which we had postponed from February half term when Mr S was poorly with a bug.  On reflection I’m glad we waited until June and the sunnier weather because whilst it can be visited in the cooler months with so much of it outside and the opportunity to take a boat out on the water, a summer day made for a perfect visit.  I’ve visited Portsmouth as a child when it was simply HMS Victory and the wreck of the Mary Rose was being hosed down, now it is very different with the docks being open with museums, ships, restaurants etc..  We started our visit with a tour of the Victory, the children took the headphones and listened very carefully to the commentary and shared the exciting parts with us, they loved the technology and being able to swipe their device for the next chapter.  Next we moved to a quick visit of the Mary Rose, it was brief because Little Miss had been on a school trip to it a few weeks earlier in preparation for a forthcoming performance (see below)  I was impressed by the museum as I’ve never really seen anything like it, the wreck is behind glass against a silhouette of its full size and design.  The size itself is stunning. Onto the remains of the ship, photos and scenes are played out to show what life was like in Tudor England, it is so cleverly done and gives a really authentic feel of life on the Mary Rose.  Following these two ships we visited some smaller ships on the site and got to experience a 21 gun salute from the Navy working ships in the dock.  They were all decorated with flags as it was the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, a day of formal celebrations, our visit was just a coincidence on this day but it made it a little more special. After a picnic lunch in the beautiful gardens we took the boat across the harbour to the submarine museum and explored a submarine, I never cease to be amazed by these vessels and have the upmost respect for those who serve on them, I would be very claustrophobic and scared on a submarine in the ocean.  Following the return to the base by boat, the children explored Action Stations where they had physical challenges for children, a climbing wall, target practice and a Ninja style assault course.  Everything we tried is included in the entry price which I thought was very reasonable and can be used throughout the next 12 months.  I would like to return but as it was such a long day I think I might do a return visit as an overnight stay.

2. Ahoy The Mary Rose

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In June it was the local arts festival.  We visited the exhibition were the children had some art work on display alongside established artists and then attended a festival of music and dance in which Little Miss was part of the community choir.  I really like the idea behind the choir, children from the local schools were joined by local adults in their performance.  I liked it because all the performers were really appreciative of each others’ talents and appeared to genuinely enjoy participating in the event.  A lovely night out in a delightful setting.

3. Paultons Park

Paultons Park (aka Peppa Pig World) is my favourite theme park in the UK.  I love it, it is so friendly, has beautiful gardens, fun rides and is designed exceptionally well for a family visit.    This visit was different for us as the children no longer wanted to visit Peppa Pig world with its cartoon environment and Peppa theme tune on loop but explore the parts of the park designed for older children.  I was a little nostalgic at not seeing Peppa and friends, it brings back happy memories of our early years but happy to explore new areas.  The children loved the Lost World which houses lots of dinosaur rides, they were fun and I loved the Flying Pterandon, its the yellow ride in the picture above.  However my favourite rides remain the water rides and specifically the log flume, we had one of my favourite ever photos taken on this ride, its  a bit grainy as Mr S was the photographer but the body language just shows the fun the children and I had on the ride.  The children had reached the required height for some of the scarier rides, Magna, Cobra, another sign that they’re growing up so quickly, they loved these rides and pretended not to be scared at all.  We’ve visited Paultons Park on many occasions over the years, we often have a weekend here in the summer, but it was the best time we’ve ever had together at the park, everyone was just so happy and relaxed and I genuinely feel it was probably our best ever family day out, it was perfect.

4. Cricket

June has seen the junior cricket season in full swing and our matches have mainly been away.  In a small rural town in a big county this means a lot of travel to neighbouring towns (boo) but new towns to explore after the game (and a cheeky lunch out, yeah!) Some towns are very picturesque with some very nice little shops and cafes too.  I’ve been busy scoring at the games which means I do get the best seat at the match but do have to be fully focussed on every ball.  The children love their cricket and its been nice to see them learning how to be part of a team and support each other.

June is a special month and this year was even more so, every weekend was busy with events but we got to enjoy time together, all these events were done as our little family. We try to live life fully so we can create memories to last our lifetime.

 

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. 

The General Election 2017

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I know the title of this blog post may not appeal to all, but I feel passionate that politics is something we should all value, its our decision making process and reflects the values and hopes of our communities.  This is not a party political post, I never share my vote with anyone, but simply my reflections on this year’s campaign.  I did a similar post in 2015 and have found it interesting to read back.

This has been a fragmented campaign and not followed the themes I had expected, it has not been an endorsement or rejection of Brexit whilst the domestic themes of health and education have not featured as highly as social care and policing.  There have been two terror attacks in the campaign which have disrupted and altered how campaigns have developed.  However I feel all campaigns have felt quite lacklustre and dull.  Labour under Corbyn have offered new, promising policies but there is nervousness about costings.  May has played a poor campaign, the longer it goes on the less she appears the strong and stable leader she  portrays herself as and the campaign lacks substance.  The Liberal Democrats were embroiled in a debate from the start about Farron’s religious views and have never recovered whilst UKIP are only a very small player now.

 As I try to do every election, I attended my constituency’s hustings, this is such a brilliant opportunity to witness politics and the questions were really thoughtful and relevant.  The hustings takes place in our town’s largest community building and is always full.  We are not a marginal seat, one of the safest conservative seats in the country but there is respectful and considered debate.  Interestingly, our mp who works hard for his constituency, disagreed with many conservative actions and policies because of their direct, negative impact on his constituency as a very large rural area.  On issues such as education funding, NHS cuts, public transport links, affordable housing there was a consensus among the panel representing conservatives, labour, liberal democrats and greens.   In fact there were few opposing views in the hustings except on Brexit, where our mp was a prominent leave campaigner and the Lib Dem candidate rejected the party line.  The standout star of the evening was the Green candidate, he wowed us all and gave us a glimpse of what politics could look like if we moved away from the two party alternation of power.  His ideas on health, housing,  education were superb and his performance has really had me reflecting on our political system and how we could develop a more collaborative approach to politics.  This collaboration was something highlighted by all the candidates to address the real issues facing our country, most notably social care.  I was impressed by the Labour candidate too, I think she may be a rising star in the party just not in our constituency.

So now a little prediction for fun!  I don’t think the political map will change significantly in this election.  The opinion polls have been varied and I think the conservatives will be the largest party but not with the landslide they were predicting at the start of the campaign.  I don’t see significant gains for the liberal democrats and think the labour party will actually be even more confused about its future, Corbyn has had a positive campaign and he does have a vision and philosophy which he has shared far more than May. He is a marmite leader but the Labour party needs a leader who unifies.  In my little opinion, we’ll have another conservative government but I also think there will be another election before the next scheduled in 2022.   I’ll update this post with the results after my all nighter on Thursday, I love election night (well not Brexit night!)

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Hustings 2017

Concorde, beach days and election hustings #littleloves

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I love half term and this has been a great week, brimming with sunshine, family and days out.  There’s been, by coincidence rather than deliberate, a military theme to our days out, we visited the Fleet Air Museum in Yeovil where the highlight was an original Concorde which you could go in and imagine yourself as a jet setter of the 70s and 80s and today we’ve been at the Historic Dock Yard in Portsmouth visiting the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, a submarine and so much more.  I hope to write up a post but both are really worth a trip.  In between our days out we also managed a couple of visits to the beach and my first sea swim of the year

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I have read a number of Andy Cope books for professional reasons (he writes a series on how to be A Brilliant Teacher/NQT/Middle Leader)  He is an amusing and engaging writer so I was keen to read his latest book on emotional intelligence written with Amy Bradley.  Its a very easy, witty and thoughtful read.  Andy is a brilliant follow on Twitter @beingbrilliant giving a little positivity with a touch of realism.

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On Wednesday evening I did not watch the political leaders debate on television but our constituency hustings in a local church hall.   I studied politics at university and still am a bit of a political geek.  Whilst I am disillusioned by our political system at present and the effect of the media in trying to caricature our politicians and polarise opinion, our local election hustings is the highlight of the campaign.  It is always so well attended by a true cross section of our town and allows a respectful, informed discussion of the important issues locally and nationally.  This year we have the conservative, labour, liberal democrats and green parties contesting the seat and all candidates attended the meeting.  For me the candidate who stood out the most was the green party candidate, he was superb, passionate about the NHS, education, housing all such key issues.  The candidates all agreed that there were certain issues that should not be partisan but need a collaborative approach if only that attitude could be repeated at Westminster.

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With trips out I’ve been making lots of picnics this week, rolls, salads, dips etc.. I’ve also been making fruity puddings, lots of soft fruits are in season ( and on offer) and our first home grown strawberries are ready.  Our family favourite is Eton Mess and I’ve made it this week with two willing helpers.

Whilst its not my make, we’ve stayed at my mum’s this week and she has made Little Miss a beautiful skirt and me and Little Miss matching shorts!  She’s taking dress making classes and we are reaping the rewards.

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Shorts and t-shirts – yeah!

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With visits to two military museums, I’ve been hearing and learning a lot about military history this week.  I think the submarine presentation was the most memorable with some really interesting facts and some quite gross toilet stories.  To access the submarine museum you have to make a short boat trip,where the skipper and his mate were so funny with their observations of Portsmouth.

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So now we are approaching the maddest half term of them all, school trips, club trips, sports day, special events and family celebrations, organisation is key but this is always my favourite time of the year and I’m looking forward to the madness.

Thank you to Morgana and all her contributors for their #littleloves

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9 Little Things … in Little Man’s bedroom

Little Man has the smallest bedroom in the house and the most toys too, so to solve this conundrum many of his toys especially his Lego City and Star Wars models are in the playroom.  Above is a flavour of what can be found in his bedroom, Little Man is happiest playing with his toys and I’ve never known a child so creative in playing, he finds a joy in every single toy he has.  It is never a problem deciding what gift to buy for him, he will love everything and just in case you’re stuck he always has a long list of things he would like, he studies the window in our local toy shop intently.

  1. Little Man has always loved our emergency services and has a wide variety of vehicles in his collection.  However the fire service has always been a favourite and he has always had many fire engines in his toy collection, he has grown out of Fireman Sam but still loves this engine, kindly donated by a neighbour.
  2. This is a picture of Little Man’s Zombling collection, he will collect anything, his current collections include Sainsburys’ Lego cards, Match Attax cards and Spy cards. He loves his collections and will behave so well on shopping trips to get a reward.
  3. These are Little Man’s favourite soft toys, Rainbow from the Skyline gang at Butlins and Colin the (Spanish ) Minion.  Both were bought with holiday pocket money and guard a sleeping Little Man in his bed.
  4. Little Man loves listening to his radio, he falls asleep listening to it and he switches it on as soon as he wakes up.  Interestingly his radio station of choice is Gold with all the music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.  He loves a little groove too.
  5. This is only a small selection of Little Man’s Star Wars toys, he reads his books avidly and studies all the vehicles and characters.  He has lots of Lego Star Wars models in the playroom but the instruction books are in his bedroom for him to look through at bedtime.
  6. Little Man has an impressive talent and interest in jigsaws, he has an eye for shapes and how they fit together and will happily do one with daddy ( jigsaws are one activity I delegate!)
  7. This is one of Little Man’s book boxes.  He and daddy are working their way through this Roald Dahl book set.  Little Man’s night routine of shower, teeth, pyjamas and reading is boy time with daddy and a special time for them both.
  8. Little Man only has this Lego box in his bedroom and figurines from Lego mini collections, however it is enough to create models and stories for the figurines. The other Lego is in the playroom where he and his sister have created an amazing Lego City, taking inspiration from the Lego shop’s stunning displays.
  9. The final picture is Little Man’s wooden castle and soldiers, another example of his wide and varied interests. We live near a castle which we often visit and where he has taken part in children’s activities, dressing up, learning moves with a sword and shield plenty to feed his imaginative play.

I love Little Man’s bedroom and how it reflects his interests and passions.  Its a small room with a cabin bed but the space underneath gives him a space which often becomes a den, he loves to play and have little adventures.

 

9 Little Things … in Little Miss’s Bedroom


Little Miss will be turning nine this year and she is caught in that tricky period between childhood and teenager. This is through her desire for independence yet her need for us to be close by, trying to be assertive but needing boundaries, experimenting with her look and her exasperation at our rules regarding crops tops and earrings, loving the company of  her older cousins and family friends but being brilliant with little friends too.  This week I did a bit of a spring clean in her room and noticed the different things she has in her room, I look at these and wonder if there are little clues to the young adult she will become, her hobbies, interests and possible career.

  1.  This delightful tin contains Little Miss’ craft projects. She prefers to personalise and interpret the projects herself rather than read and follow instructions!  Most are jewellery making tasks or simple sewing and she likes to make items for Doggy and baby Annabel.
  2. Here are Baby Annabel and Doggy, Little Miss’ favourite toys, wrapped up in the cot and bedding which Grandma and Granfer made for them.  Baby Annabel has been with Little Miss since her first Christmas, whilst Doggy is actually a pencil case I bought for her during introductions to hold her crayons.  He’s never been used for his original purpose but Little Miss loves to hide special things in him.  These are the two toys who always come with us on holiday and nights away and are inseparable from each other and Little Miss.
  3. The dolls house has been customised by Little Miss with fabric scraps used as curtains and carpets, she has dolls in the house but has also used small toy animals, so its full of kittens and puppies.  She still loves to act out little plays in the house.
  4. Music is big for Little Miss, her radio is tuned to Heart for the pop songs and she is always singing and dancing.  Her ipod is used for long journeys and I’ve made the playlists to avoid anything overtly sexy or adult themed.  Little Miss also plays guitar and music is very important to her, it helps her to relax and self regulate.
  5. Little Miss has the most beautiful natural rhythm and dance thanks to her ballet lessons, she loves to try all types of dance.  Her gymnastics also helps here.  She has her ballet medals and gymnastic awards proudly displayed in her room too.
  6. I’m not sure how we discovered this but Little Miss adores the Beano, we’re always in charity shops and second hand book stores looking for old annuals.  Each night we read a book together and then she settles with a Beano.  Little Miss is a very good reader but at home will never read at any other time of the day except bed time.
  7. Nail art console. Little Miss loves this nail art set and is always creating new nails and developing ideas, she is only allowed painted nails at weekends and holidays, never at school.  She is so alert and will always look at the style of older friends and pop / film / tv stars for inspiration.
  8. Make Up bag.  This bag is full of lip glosses, pale eye shadows etc..  I dislike children’s make up in its garish colours and artificial ingredients so we compromise by buying Little Miss quality products to be used sparingly.  She’s definitely become more skilled in her make up and does look sparkly with a little gloss and glitter.
  9. Little Miss has a strong interest in nature, we walk locally every week and she is always interested in the environment.  One of her favourite books is an encyclopaedia of animals and she is always telling us interesting facts.  Grandad is a keen bird watcher so she likes this poster to find out which birds are visiting the garden and then to tell him.

So these nine items from her bedroom are some which reflect Little Miss’ character and interests at present, she is a young girl who is creative, musical and curious. It’ll be interesting to see what items best reflect her lifestyle as she progresses to adolescence and adulthood.

 

Sunshine, friends and sundresses #littleloves

 

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After Monday’s events, this was our light box message in the kitchen.

 

This week has been dominated by the unspeakable horror of the Manchester terror attack and the sadness it has left. This is the first news event my children have had an understanding of and has led to some honest but difficult conversations. My message has been that sometimes bad, bad things happen but this is really rare and lets not look for the horrible things but all the amazing things humans do for each other.  We’ve also talked of showing everyone kindness, love and respect so they feel they belong and are a part of our community, at school, in our neighbourhood, at clubs etc..

I’ve joined in with #littleloves this week to show that even in the darkest of times there is always something to brighten a dark day.

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Its been very difficult to read much this week as much of my online reading has been around the terror attack.  Among all the reading was a piece by Alexis Petridis about the rites of passage of a teenage pop concert, in light of the attack it is a heart breaking but a beautiful read.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/23/manchester-heartbreak-never-grasped-what-big-pop-gigs-for-daughters-eyes

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I have watched my children intently this week, just taken by their innocence and how they find joy in simple things, playing with a friend, an ice cream after school, reading a book, planting a sunflower seed.  I’m sure we’ve all been giving our children more cuddles and kisses this week, thankful for all we have.

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With this week’s mini heatwave, I have made a variety of salads for tea.  Greek salad is my favourite salad but I experimented with lots other ingredients too, thanks to a visit to the local market for inspiration from the different stalls.

I also made lots of plans to meet with friends this week.  I work in a SEN school for children with complex needs and as a way of supporting families our holidays are slightly different during the year to make the long summer holiday a little shorter.  Thus I’m on a two week half term.  Lots of my friends work at the school too so we have met up this week and enjoyed such nice times together in the sunshine.

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Whilst this was a café terrace, there were pub gardens too this week!

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I have worn my sundresses this week and love my Boden sunglass print dress, it is so comfortable and has pockets too.  I wear sunglasses a lot to prevent migraines and have so many pairs that this print just seemed really me.

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I have also worn my new running leggings this week from Decathlon and I think they are the best I have ever had.  I normally wear Nike black capris, but spotted these new ones when shopping in Decathlon.  The colour and fit are brilliant but my favourite feature are the pockets.  There is a key pocket at the back but there are two good sized zip pockets on the legs, one perfect for an iPhone and the other for gels (if you’re a proper runner) or jelly babies (if you’re like me on long runs!) I cannot recommend them enough!

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Scary selfie –  leggings are never flattering but I will never photo shop me.

 

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I listened to the Manchester vigil on the radio as I tidied up after dinner on Tuesday and was so moved by the poem ‘ This is the place ..’ Sometimes poetry reaches parts other prose cannot.

I have also heard stories of such courage and commitment about our emergency services this week and wanted to share a story which happened in our little town.  On Wednesday morning around 2am, I was woken up by the sound of a helicopter.  I could hear that it was very close, low and hovering and it stayed in position for a considerable period of time.  The helicopter had located a missing woman in the sea and was providing a light and guide for the emergency services and RNLI who were all responding.  The woman was successfully rescued alive with some injuries but again it highlights the amazing work and bravery of our emergency services, in a difficult week its always worth remembering Rogers’ quote of always looking for the helpers.

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Its now half term for all of us, we normally go away this week but this year  we’ll be based at home with a few trips planned.  It is one of the busiest weekends of the year in town so we will stay very local to not get caught in bank holiday traffic jams.  As locals, we know the quieter beaches to enjoy and hope to spend some sunny days simply playing on the beach.

Have a happy week #littlelovers x

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