Saturday, 31 May 2014

Diary Of A Couple Of Festival Virgins - Day 2

Thomas was so exhausted last night that he slept for a full 11 hours. He didn't seem to hear any of the noise of people wandering around and chatting, or the campers near us playing music at full volume. Mind you, I managed to sleep through all that too.

I woke up, made up the other bed for my friend Helen to sleep in when she gets here tomorrow, and tidied up. It's incredible how quickly this small space turns into a tip. Then I boiled some eggs. You have no idea how excited I am that the gas in here works. Even the fridge seems to be doing its stuff. Yippee! This little £400 odd-looking camper represents so much freedom.

First up today, after getting dressed, is to go and check out the children's literature events at the Wychwood Festival. I really don't want to miss Korky Paul or Tony de Saulles!

(Chuckling at the man in the caravan behind us teaching his kids to sing 'Lip Up Fatty'.)


Right! We've popped back - it's 3.45pm and we haven't stopped. We've not even found time to eat. There is sooooooooooooo much to do. Thomas really loved meeting Korky Paul (illustrator of Winnie The Witch books), who put on a really great show. We also went and saw another children's author called John Dougherty who was also great. He asked the children if they had any questions and Thomas's hand shot up. Thomas asked what time of day the children in his story had met the mean badgers, only badgers are nocturnal. Hahaha! Busted! The audience all clapped and laughed as John fessed up to having to use some artistic licence there.

Thomas absolutely enthralled by Korky Paul

Then we went to hear Roald Dahl stories being read and Thomas went to the clay workshop where he made a Wither Boss. Apparently. That's now drying on the work top in the camper.

Yes, I know it looks like a turd, but I'm assured it's a Wither Boss.

So, now we're off out again to catch King Charles (to annoy Petra to take photos of him for Petra) and then for some Bad Manners followed by Reef and some Newton Faulkner.


And we still haven't done the drumming circle that looks, and sounds, acers!


This evening, we mostly spent singing and dancing along to Bad Manners. Class! Bizarrely, they were followed by Newton Faulkner who was also ace, but a very different kind of ace.

Somehow, I managed to squeeze in a shower because I was completely minging. Showers here are clean and hot. I didn't expect that. Come to think of it, I didn't expect there to be showers here at all.

Then off I went, complete with dripping wet hair, to see Reef. I first saw these guys on what was probably their first commerical gig. Never seen a lead singer look so scared. Not so now, he's very cool and very handsome too. 'Put Your Hands On, Put Your Hands On...' OK. Don't mind if I do :D

Which brings me on to the next incident of the day. I bumped into King Charles. No, not the one that was executed. This one's a singer. Looks v like Prince. Now, my friend Petra loves this chap, so she will be livid that I chatted to him. Mind you, he didn't seem all that impressed that I wanted him to have his picture taken with my nearly-nine-year old. And, he was even less impressed when my f***ing phone decided that it didn't really fancy taking his picture and so wouldn't switch itself on. Still, it got us an invitation to see him after his show.

I hate technology.

On balance, I'd say today has shown me that by day I'm a bit of a hippy and by night I'm still quite a rock chick.

So it's off to bed, mostly because I'm here with a child, and partly because I want to get up in time to see Tony de Saulles tomorrow. Another illustrator of children's books.

Rock and very roll.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Diary Of A Couple Of Festival Virgins - Day 1

I would have blogged earlier, but we've been having too much fun. Festival cherry well and truly popped :D

We arrived at the Wychwood Festival and set up our Happy Camper and then headed along the short walk to the festival. What a cool place. Fabulous sounding food from all over the world. 'Oooh, look! They've even got food for drunk people!' said Thomas pointing at the doner kebab. Think we'll give that one a miss. I've got my eye on the chicken pot pie stall. Well, it would be rude not to - they serve it with cheesy mash.

After fully acquainting ourselves with the venue and making notes about the kids' literature events tomorrow, we wandered down to hear The Stranglers at the main stage where we were immediately adopted by some very friendly drunk people from Swindon. Awesomely awesome.

The crowd's numbers swelled as we all waited for the band and the atmosphere just got better and better. There are people here of all ages and there's a fantastically chilled out feel to the place.

Then the lights blazed on the stage and The Stranglers started up. What a brilliant concert. All the obvious crowd pleasers - Heroes, Golden Brown, Peaches... - and a few covers too. All great! Even better was that no one came and stood in front of us. Hurrah! We could actually see the whole thing.

We've only been here a few hours, but we really can't wait for tomorrow when Justin Fletcher (Mr Tumble) hits the stage and then the kids' literature events. From 4.45pm though, you'll mostly find me at the main stage watching Bad Manners, Newton Faulkner, Reef and the Levellers. I might wander over the the Big Top to watch King Charles too, just to annoy my friend Petra ;)

Now, where do I go to get a shower here?

Night night all! Thomas is already asleep. Another gold star for Wychwood :D

Thursday, 29 May 2014

What Do You Pack For A Festival?

What on earth do you pack for a festival? We're heading off to the Wychwood Festival tomorrow and I have no idea what to take. Check it out, it looks fab!!

I have opened up the Happy Camper, cleaned it, and stocked up on toilet roll and water. OK, I've also got six pillows, two king sized duvets, tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, eggs, baked beans, lots of toiletries and a first aid box. Plus lots of clothes and towels. Oh yes, and a portable toilet.

I obviously think I'm going away for months ;)

Mind you, I've heard lots of bad things about toilets at festivals, so I reckon I might be able to rent mine out. Form an orderly queue. Only those with a good aim need apply.

Maybe not.

Now to go and re-read all about the things that we'll be doing there. Stand by for all the photos tomorrow :D

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

What On Earth Can I Buy For A Boy Who Has Everything?

So, it's Thomas's 9th birthday in just over a week and I have absolutely no idea what to get him. I usually have a list that's a mile long, but not this time - probably because I've filled so many mile-long lists for him in the past!

I asked him what he'd like and he replied: 'I have everything I need.'

True, but not helpful.

Or is it? Perhaps he is absolutely right and has more than enough. He has eight crates that are full to bursting with Lego. He has dozens of games. He has a whole childhood's worth of art materials. Then there are the computer games...

Have I spoilt him? Maybe. He doesn't seem like a spoilt kid though. He's happy to share and he's not sulky, prone to showing off or being demanding.

In truth, I've always felt terrible that he doesn't have his dad around and so I have always worked hard to ensure that he doesn't miss out on anything. I've bought two parents' worth of stuff at every birthday and Christmas. Well, I have when I've had the money to do it, but I've also got things from Freecycle and charity shops when I've been brassic. I also have incredibly generous family and friends who always buy lovely things for Thomas and who always blow me away with the amount of thought and care they put into their gifts.

So now I am faced with his bedroom that is packed full of toys and I am at a bit of a loss about what to get Thomas this year. I don't feel like I can get him nothing. He's 9 and should have some fun gifts to open I think. Besides, he and I have such a close relationship that I look forward to snuggling up with him on birthday morning and watching him opening his presents from me.

I think perhaps that I'll go for some science experiment-type games that he can learn from, and some days out. Not all from me, you understand, but from friends and family too.

Anyone else out there got any better ideas?

Wychwood Festival

I am so excited about this weekend that I could pop! Some how I have made it to the ripe old age of 43 this far without ever having been to a festival. But that will all change this weekend :D

Thomas and I are heading to the Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. The line up looks fantastic: The Boomtown Rats, Newton Faulkner, Reef, Bad Manners, The Stranglers... even a couple of members of Madness have got a band there. I've practically died and gone to heaven!

As if all this isn't enough, this is a *family* festival and so there are lots and lots of things for children. In fact, there are so many things for Thomas to do that I can't see how we will squeeze them all in to a weekend. I have a feeling that we will be spending a LOT of our time in the Kids' Literate Festival area. Check it out!

Two of our favourite illustrators will be there - Korky Paul and Tony de Saulles - along with numerous children's authors and the Roald Dahl Museum. We loved our visit to the Roald Dahl Museum, so we can't wait to see what they will be doing at Wychwood. I really could pop, you know!

Then there's The Book Trust. They are running rhyme time and story telling with Cerrie Burnell from CBeebies. Speaking of CBeebies, for parents with younger children, Justin Fletcher will be there too!!!

Pop! Pop! Poppety Pop!

We're there for the whole weekend, but it's also possible to come along for just one of the days and the prices are pretty reasonable.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Home Education - Pros and Cons

I'm sitting, watching The Wright Stuff discussing Home Education and it got me thinking that I should write up the pros and cons of doing it for our little family now that we've been doing it for 9 months.


  1. We have found home educating to be a much gentler way of learning. Although we started out with timetables and a curriculum, we have found our natural equilibrium and learn much more autonomously now. This means that we learn as we go along, which in turn means that we learn things at precisely the moment they are relevant to Thomas. 
  2. I try to facilitate Thomas's curiosity. He asks all sorts of things, all the time. I love it and I try very hard to go with whatever he's interested in. I had a bit of an epiphany moment about this when we went to Rome. We were in Pompeii and I was eulogising about the sewage systems and heating they had created, but Thomas just looked at Vesuvius and wanted to know about the volcano. I suddenly asked myself why I was trying to teach him about what interested me when there was something that was clearly interesting my son. 
  3. No streaming. Thomas had stopped reading at school and constantly told me he was stupid. Much of this was down to the streaming in school and bullying. I gave Thomas his pen licence when he came out of school and I gave him a certificate that put him into the top group for maths too. Suddenly, he was excited and his confidence grew from that moment. (When he left school, Thomas's reading age was 5-6 years - not much higher than when I sent him to school in the first place. He can now happily and confidently read Roald Dahl books and the like. He's only been out of school for 9 months.)
  4. There are some fantastic FREE resources. Khan Academy is brilliant and places like English Heritage offer free entry to home educating families.
  5. I can ensure my son is equipped for modern life. School was obsessed with handwriting, but did little more than a hat-tip to computing. The world our children will grow up in is so different to the one we grew up in, and school doesn't seem to have kept up with developments. Our kids will grow up in a very digital world and one where a lot of people work from home and for themselves. I want to encourage my son to be able to think out-of-the-box, and to be creative. I want him to be able to program because I think that this will be the most useful, transferable skill he can have. I don't want him to be a worker drone - unless he chooses to be.
  6. We have no set homework. I see my friends posting with alarming regularity about how homework is causing arguments and stress. We have none of that.
  7. We have also rid ourselves of the other major stress of the school day - getting to school on time. I know Thomas has had exactly the right amount of sleep and I don't find myself screeching at him to get ready. We can even sit together and have a lovely, calm breakfast.
  8. Our learning trips (and fun trips) are done when the other kids are in school, so there aren't crowds. And, we can take advantage of everything being cheaper outside of the school holidays.
  9. Caring and sharing. There is no 'competitive mum' nonsense going on. Parents are very supportive of each other and they share resources and ideas in a way that I have never seen before.
  10. My son has a far better social life now that he ever did at school. On Monday, he went to a Home Ed meet at Bushy Park with a load of other children. On Wednesday one of those children came here to play. Yesterday, Thursday, we looked after a pre-school child and had another home school child to play. Then they were joined by two schooled children. Today, we're off to the park to meet a little boy who has just left Thomas's infant school. Thomas plays happily with children of all sorts of ages and has shown himself to be very kind towards younger children.
Most importantly for me: I get to spend quality time with my son and I am learning about him. I see what makes him laugh and what interests him and feel very privileged to spend this time with him.

  1. I have to juggle work and teaching my son, which can be very tough, but I have figured this out I think and I have lots of support with this.
  2. I honestly can't think of anything else.

I'm not suggesting that Home Education is right for everyone, but then nor is school. For us, it's working fantastically well. I wish I'd known years ago that it was possible to remove a child from school.

The Wright Stuff asked if it was arrogant to take your child out of school and to assume you could do a teacher's job. I'm afraid that my experience of teachers has been that they have been woefully inexperienced - none of Thomas's teachers had children and I don't think any at his infant school had more than two year's teaching experience. I looked at the state of the letters sent home and cringed at the dreadful grammar and spelling. All of the things the children were taught seemed to be downloaded from somewhere. This term the children in Thomas's old class are learning about a village in India - it's the same village they learned about two years ago. The world's an enormous place. Why are they learning about the same village again? The answer is that it's a downloaded pack.

I certainly don't think teaching him at primary school age will be a problem, and I suspect I could manage to teach him at GCSE level too. Actually, I don't really teach him anyway, I help him learn and discover.

Before people complain that I'm doing down the teachers, I really don't mean to. It's the system that stinks. Teachers have been emasculated and are thrown to the wolves with very little on-the-job training. Schools are all about cramming in as many children as possible and ticking boxes for Ofsted. It's not about a journey of learning. Well, it hasn't been in my experience anyway. I know there are some excellent teachers out there, but Thomas was never taught by them.

I'm very pleased with how things are going. I want Thomas to look back on his childhood and remember the fun he had. I want him to feel cherished. And, I want him to know that there's a huge world out there that's his for the taking.

I watch my son playing. I see him being happy. I know he's safe (emotionally and physically, which he definitely hadn't been at his infant school), and I witness him learning at one hell of a rate. My son has gone from being a child who experienced emotional distress disorder at his infant school to being a happy,carefree boy who is growing in confidence every day. I feel that I have given him back his childhood.

Here is The Wright Stuff's piece on Home Ed. It starts just after the fourth ad break.

Ticking My Boxes

I went to vote this evening. The Euro election ballot paper was about a mile long. Well, at least 18 inches long. It was essentially a list of terrifying racist, bigoted parties that I'd never even heard of before. Very scary. I've never struggled more to decide who should get my vote, although who shouldn't get my vote was easy. All the major parties seem to be so similar these days and all are equally unappealing.

I'd even taken a test on t'interweb to see who to vote for where the policies of the parties were listed, without telling you whose policies they were. I might have to tone down my views on policing. Apparently I side with the BNP on that one. Oops!

Education and the economy (particularly with regard to small businesses) are very important to me and none of the major parties even come close to ticking my boxes. Fnar fnar.

We also had our local elections where 'Monkey the Drummer' was the Monster Raving Loony candidate. If he'd be running for the Euros, I might well have voted for him. At least he'd have been honest and he'd have been some fun. Oh, and he'd probably be the sanest person in the European Parliament on the ballot sheet.

I made my marks on the papers and then had to faff around folding the Euro ballot to get it small enough to fit into the box. A man with a giant shoe horn came over to help poke it into the box. What a waste of paper.

Now I'm watching some of the election coverage on the Beeb. Tomorrow I will get a life. What I'm seeing is the most archaic waste of money ever. People. Hundreds of people. All sitting in leisure centres and the like manually unfolding mile-long bits of paper and counting - by hand - the votes. What a hopelessly inaccurate, inefficient way of doing things. I'm sure it's very exciting to sit up all night waiting for the results to come in, but really - aren't we a digital society now? Surely a lot of the voting could be done electronically.

Bed time! Sleep tight voters! xxx

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

One Step Closer To The Good Life

Thomas wanted to learn to do some things in the kitchen today. He's decided that he wants to be able to make his Grandma a cup of tea next time she's here. So, first up, was teaching him to do that. I would have taught him ages ago, but I don't really drink tea or coffee, so it hadn't occurred to me to show him. Anyway, today he asked and so we made one. As well as making the tea, we learned where tea comes from and we also observed that steam is water. Geography and science in action.

Then Thomas decided that he'd like to make butter - all by himself. So he did. We're going to make scones with the butter milk tomorrow.

Afterwards, we decided to have a go at making yoghurt in our new yoghurt maker. It's easy to do, but takes ages for the bacteria to do its stuff. It was very yummy and completely organic, so worth the wait. I reckon we spent about £1.20 on the ingredients to make 7 x 200g of yoghurt. It'll be 50p cheaper next time as I'll be able to use some of the yoghurt to start it off instead of having to buy one. So, 70p for all that yoghurt is less than half what I'd pay in Tesco and I'll be getting much better quality yoghurt. The yoghurt maker could pay for itself after around 14 uses. Great!

Finally, we made bread.

So, bread, butter, (jam we made in the autumn), yoghurt, scones (tomorrow) and a cup of tea. We're zipping down the fast lane towards the Good Life, baybee!

And, look at all the learning Thomas has done too. Weighing, measuring, geography, science, literacy (reading instructions) and maths (working out the best value products in the super market). All explained at a point in time when it's relevant to Thomas.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Messing Around On The River

OK, it was a stream, but it was a beautiful stream. In fact, it's one of my favourite spots on Earth.

Today, we spent the afternoon in Bushy Park. More precisely, we were at the stream in the Woodland Gardens part of Bushy Park. It's a wonderful, magical place. We sat in a shady clearing on the banks of the stream and watched the children splashing about, building dams and climbing in trees. What a perfect way to spend a hot and sunny day.

One of the first questions I'm asked when someone discovers that my son is home educated is 'how will he make friends?' It's a fair question from anyone not involved in 'HE'. Indeed, it was the first question I asked myself before I took Thomas out of school. But here's the thing: there are about 2,000 children being home educated in Surrey alone - five children that I know of are being home educated in our little town of Molesey. There are many HE groups on Facebook and other networks with lots of great ideas, activities and meet-ups. As a result, Thomas has had a better social life since leaving school than he ever had while he was at school.

Today was a fine example of this. We met up with four other HE families today and Thomas had a ball. He made a lovely new friend, and two existing friends came along too. He also played with two younger boys and demonstrated how kind he is with them. Wonderful.

To see Thomas playing happily with children of various ages, and children he doesn't always know is amazing. He is perfectly happy to play with anyone who comes along - especially if they happen to like playing Minecraft. It's like the children's equivalent of being in the Masons. 'Do you play Minecraft?' 'Yes!' 'Then you may come and play.' They don't roll up their trouser legs, but they certainly start talking in an unfamiliar language and they instantly have a connection.

I feel a lot less isolated than I did when Thomas was at school too. As well as it being very distressing to see my son being excluded from parties and such, his isolation became my isolation too. I always felt that we were looked down on and that we didn't fit in. But I have never felt like this with the HE families. All those we have met have been supportive and kind. It was a real joy to see Carly and her boys today. We met them on our Winchelsea trip and today they came all the way from Maidstone to join us. I feel like both Thomas and I have made some lovely genuine friends.

The second question I'm asked about HE is 'how do I teach Thomas?'. I'll talk about that later...

Today, I definitely feel one step closer to the Good Life :D

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Happy Camper :D

A couple of months ago, I bought a very odd-looking contraption called a folding camper. I blame it on my friends Karen and Lucy. Oh, and on my being somewhat impulsive! I spotted it on eBay, hit 'Buy Now' and then panicked because I didn't have a tow bar and I'd never actually towed anything before. Oops!

I called the lady I'd bought it from and explained that I needed to get a towbar, but she kindly said she'd drive it over for me. So, the Happy Camper was on my drive 1.5 hours after I'd bought it. Double oops!

I'd never actually seen one in the flesh and was a bit nervous about what I'd landed myself with. The bottom half is essentially a caravan, with a top that's canvas like a tent. It's quite a masterpiece of engineering and it is huuuuge. It has two double bedrooms with pretty decent mattresses and it even has a hob and a fridge. I am far too old for sleeping on the floor in a sodding tent. I need some home comforts!

Amazingly, when we opened it up, it was in excellent condition. Better than that even. It had everything in it... a three-man tent, crockery, cutlery, brand new sleeping bags... it even had a little container with tampons in. Handy. It was like Christmas, opening cupboards up to see what goodies lurked inside.

We've taken the Happy Camper away three times now, but I've not used the gas or anything just in case. The camper is 19 years old, so I was worried in case the gas isn't safe. So today, a very lovely man came over and serviced the Happy Camper. He got everything working and says it's all in mint condition and is perfectly safe. Yippee! Now to take on some camping adventures...

I can't wait to see where we end up and to regale you all with tales of our exploits :D

But now, it's time for Gogglebox. Best thing on TV by a country mile. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sunshine On A Rainy Day

The sun shone brightly today and Thomas and I went over to our allotment twice to whiz the strimmer round and to remove the vast quantities of Mare's Tail that seems to have sprung up. The allotment itself is shaping up quite nicely. We have lots of gooseberries, the strawberries are thriving, and the other soft fruit seems to be doing well too. We also have potatoes. Lots and lots of them even though we didn't actually plant any. Mind you, of the things we did plant precisely ONE pea has grown.

Things I have learnt about myself today: I definitely do not have green fingers.

But then the rain set in. Not real rain. Metaphorical rain. First came the news that Stephen Sutton had died. Amazing young man, who I am delighted to have known about and who I will endeavour to think of if ever I become self-absorbed and whingey.

Then came the news that Linzi Geddes had lost her fight against a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Linzi was Thomas's first child minder. She was amazing with him. She was fun and kind and she involved him in all aspects of her family life. This was really important to me. I've been on my own since before Thomas was even born and so he has never been a part of a standard family unit. I loved that he got to eat with a family and was a part of all the hustle and bustle of family life.

Linzi's family were all lovely to Thomas and my faith has been restored in men as I've watched Linzi's husband doing everything imaginable to try to help her. There's a man who is a true hero. He's devoted to his wife and he's now facing bringing up their three children alone.

So, someone up there seems to have taken two amazing people in just one day.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Winchelsea Week


We are just back from a week on the Sussex coast. It was amazing - or amazeballs, if you must embarrass yourself by attempting to look like you're down-with-the-kids ;)

Firstly, we met some lovely people. All home ed families with lovely children and fab parents. It was such a joy to watch children, who had never met before, playing happily and like they'd known each other forever. I have some cracking photos of them all running across the Battle of Hastings battlefield and searching for dinosaur footprints on Winchelsea beach. I'll post these when I've had chance to catch my breath.

Much learning and much laughter. Excellent.

Secondly, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed being out and about with everyone, especially in the evening. As a single mum, I very rarely get to go out in the evening and so it was a real treat for me to come out to play :D

We stayed at a holiday park. The very thought of this would have sent a shiver down my spine a few years ago, but actually it was perfect. We paid £59 for four nights accommodation in a 2-bedroomed static caravan. The children loved it. The caravans were spotless and well-equipped. The staff at the site couldn't do enough for us. The pool was warm. The club house served good food and had excellent entertainers. All for so little money. Amazeballs! Ugh. Did I really just say that?

I genuinely can't wait to go again and to this end, I have created a group called 'Hedders On Tour'. As well as educating our children and having fun, we are on a mission to find the best cream tea in the land. A challenge we will all rise to.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

New Friends

We are having the best week. We might be staying in a little static caravan on the windswept south coast, but we are having a ball!

The children, all 13 of them, are playing beautifully. There's a great mix of ages and all the children are really great. Thomas has never had more fun. We've been to Rye (beautiful!), we've been to see the petrified forest at the Winchelsea beach (didn't find the dinosaur footprints, but not for lack of looking!), the kids have all been swimming in the heated pool here, and we ventured to the magnificent beach at Camber, but were thwarted by the wind whipping the sand at us. I'm still finding it in my ears!

In the evenings, we've been heading to the little club house on the site and it's be fantastic. Music, quizzes, dancing and BINGO. I haven't laughed so much in ages. So, not only has Thomas made some lovely new friends, but so have I. The ladies here are all awesome!

I'm definitely going to organise another trip like this. It's proving to be a great adventure for us all and it's so nice not to be doing it all alone.

Here's to new friends!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Rocking The Home Ed Thing

A few weeks ago, I spotted a really good deal. Four nights at a holiday park on the south coast for just £59. So, I posted about it on one of the Home Ed forums to see if anyone else fancied joining us. Whaddya know? Five other families said 'yes!'.

So here we are. We've met up with three of the other families this evening, and tomorrow we are all meeting up to take the children to the beach. Not just any beach though. This beach has a petrified forest on it and dinosaur footprints on some of the rocks too. Very cool!

A day of fun, sun (?), sea and learning.

Can't wait!

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Why is it that, when you need a piece of technology to work, it fails spectacularly? Yesterday, I printed off some question papers for a quiz I was running today. I was feeling very pleased with myself because I'm usually hideously disorganised. Then I checked the numbers of attendees and noticed that I had a couple more coming than I'd realised. Never mind! I'll print a few more. What do you mean, 'toner empty'? Why didn't I get any sort of warning about this?

Right! We'll have to get up early and hit PC World. Their website says they hold stocks of the toner I need.

So, up we get at the very crack of dawn and head over to Weybridge. No sign of the toner I needed. Not in PC World, Argos or Tesco. My quiz was starting in just over an hour, so I ended up having to buy a new printer!!!


What a waste of money.

Anyway, papers printed and quiz went well. Phew!

Back to my mum's to collect Thomas (thank you, mum!) and for a yummy roast dinner (thank you, mum!)

Quiz Corner
The answers to the questions from yesterday are ENRIQUE TIRABOCCHI and GENERAL SHERMAN..

Today's two to tackle are from the quiz I ran today...
1. How many 'Dimes' are there in a US Dollar?
2. From the Latin, via French for “to fly’; what term is used in tennis to describe a return shot made by the player before the ball bounces on their side of the court?

Answers tomorrow :D

Livid Thought Of The Day
Shops that sell printers but not the consumables. Absolutely fuming!

Friday, 2 May 2014

I'm Thinking FESTIVALS!

One of the first things I thought when I bought my little folding camper two months ago was that it'd be fun to take Thomas to a festival. I figured it'll be quite an experience. Now, I've had a look around at family-friendly festivals and the one that's standing out on both price and content is the Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse at the end of the month.

What say you?

Headline acts are The Boomtown Rats, The Stranglers, Newton Faulkner, Bad Manners... and the kids' stuff includes Justin Fletcher, Korky Paul - illustrator of 'Winnie the Witch' (my son's favourite books), the Roald Dahl Museum....

Oooh! I've just noticed the Lee Thompson's Ska Orchestra will be there too. As a HUGE Madness fan when I was a kid, I think I might actually pop! Mark Bedford also looks like he's playing.

Honestly, I am literally BURSTING with excitement now!

Only one thing... I have NEVER been to a festival before and have absolutely no idea what to expect. Have you been to this one (or any one)? What do I need to take? What do I need to know? Will you be at this one? Does this sound suitable for a mum and an 8-year-old?


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Up With The Lark

Up early this morning. Not with the lark really, more with the pigeon. There are lots of those here, but I don't think I've ever seen a lark. Perhaps I don't get up early enough.

Anyway, I was so cross with myself for not getting our walk in yesterday, that I decided to get my lazy backside out of bed so I can get some work done before Thomas wakes up. This is how my life often works. Single mum working for myself from home whilst educating my son at home = getting up early to do my work and going to bed late for the same reason. I don't want to be 'back-of-head-mum', sat at a computer all day while my son has to entertain himself. So, the only way to ensure this doesn't happen is to get a couple of hours in first thing and then around six hours in during the evening after he's gone to bed. Bishety boshety, full day's work while my son sleeps. (I check emails periodically throughout the day and I take phone calls.)

Yes, it's hard work, but it's worth it. I think I have a fairly good work:life balance.

Thomas is ready for the walk. Today, we are taking our nature book, a crayon, a notebook and a pair of binoculars with a compass on them. I have also written a list of 'Missions' for Thomas to complete while we're out. My experience is that children rarely fancy going for a walk. They like having a goal. Well, mine does anyway.

The missions are just handwritten on to a piece of paper:

1. Jump in five puddles.
2. Do bark rubbings of three different types of tree.
3. Take photos of six different tree leaves.
4. Spot one thing for every colour of the rainbow. (Obviously we're talking about the seven colours Newton identified, not the whole spectrum <g>)

Off we go! Talk amongst yourselves :D

Tick Tock Tick Tock

OK, we're back now. Went to beautiful Bushy Park. We're very lucky to have this place right on our doorstep. The weather wasn't terribly kind, so we had to abandon the bark rubbings, but on the plus side, the puddles were bigger and more plentiful. To every downside, there's always an up :D

Thomas asked me how squirrels can run up trees so easily. Do they have sticky feet? I love the questions he asks. Children's questions give you an amazing insight into how their minds are working. Thomas is always asking questions and wanting to investigate things. Today, we came home and looked up oldest trees and largest trees.

All that learning, and a lot of walking too. Today's tally is 9102 steps and it's only 5pm, so I think I'll get to 10k today :D

Jane x

Quiz Corner
The answers to the questions from yesterday are LEGO and 14 MARCH (Pi is expressed as 3.14 - so third month, fourteenth day).

Today's two to tackle...
1. Our first question is one Thomas asked the great Kevin Ashman. We went on holiday a few years ago with Kevin (an awesome tour guide!). When we were in Dieppe, Thomas proudly told him that Captain Webb was the first man to swim across the Channel. Then he turned to Kevin and asked: 'Who was the first person to swim the Channel from France to England?'. Kevin didn't know. Do you?
2. Again, inspired by Thomas: 'Which is the largest known living tree in the world by volume?'

Answers tomorrow :D

Livid Thought Of The Day
Self-service tills. No, there isn't an unexpected item in the chuffing bagging area! Livid!

Broadcasting Live To The Nation

Today, I have mostly been broadcasting live to the nation. Well, OK, I was a guest on Simon Mayo's BBC Radio 2 show. They were talking about what makes a good quiz question and so they came and asked me - obviously :D

It was quite cool really because it gave me the opportunity to speak to the producer about something else I'm planning, so hopefully I'll be on the show again soon.

I have to say though, that I really hate doing anything like this. I get very stressed about it. I'm naturally a back room girl. I don't like speaking publicly and so I always feel proud of myself when I get up the nerve to do these things. Go me ;)

Enough about me though, today has also been about ensuring Thomas is familiar with the important things in life. To this end, I have introduced him to Knight Rider and, today, to the A-Team. What 8-year-old boy's education would be complete without a talking car and men who can armour a van, but who can't manage to shoot anyone?

He also learnt to play the harmonica and we read up on the trees we saw yesterday. He's rediscovered his dressing up box as well, and keeps appearing dressed as a knight or a pirate. Love it! Creative play at its finest. We even had a sword fight. Avast me hearties!

Did we do our walk? Erm....

So, how did you do with those questions from yesterday then?

Quiz Corner
The answers to the questions from yesterday are DR SEUSS and WIKILEAKS

Today's two to tackle from the Simon Mayo Show...
1. Which Danish company makes more tyres than any other company in the world?
2. On which date in March do mathematicians celebrate Pi Day?

Answers tomorrow :D

Livid Thought Of The Day
Why is it that, when you have a baby, everyone knows why it's crying except you? Livid!