Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cooped Up For 24 Hours A Week

I'm just back from spending a few days camping with some lovely Home Ed friends. I watched my son run around and play from pretty much the moment he woke up until the moment he went to sleep. He has so much energy!

He ran, he climbed, he slid, he bounced, he dug in the sand and he barely stopped all day long. It was wonderful to see, but it's really made me think. How did he use up all this energy when he was at school? For that matter, how does any child use up all their energy when they're at school?

I remember Thomas bouncing off the walls one evening after school. He couldn't sit still and getting him into bed was pretty much impossible. I ended up getting him dressed in the middle of the night and taking him for a run to try to burn off some energy. It turned out that his class had been kept in that lunchtime and so he hadn't been able to run around at all. I could really tell.

I did a bit of maths, with Thomas, based on the school day at his old school:

School day = 08:50 - 15:15 (6 hours and 25 minutes)
Morning break = 15 minutes
Lunch break (including sitting and eating lunch) = 1 hour
That's 5 hours and 10 minutes spent at desks in a classroom every day.

Over a 5-day week, that's 25 hours and 50 minutes cooped up - less two hours of PE.

So, 23 hours and 50 minutes in a classroom every week. And that's not adding in time spent sitting down whilst eating, or rainy play times spent indoors, or breakfast clubs, after school clubs, TV time at home, homework time etc.

That's a hell of a lot of sedentary time.

How do children burn off all the energy they have while they are indoors so much?

It seems to me that a lot of children find themselves diagnosed with conditions such as ADHD and I can't help wondering how many of those children are actually perfectly normal children who are just unable to burn off the natural energy they have when they are so stifled.

I'm not suggesting that all children with ADHD just need more exercise, and nor I am suggesting that ADHD doesn't really exist. Far from it. What I'm asking is 'how many children are wrongly diagnosed when the problem is not them, it's the system?'

I think it's far too easy to find fault with a child who is pretty powerless to fight back, and far too easy to label them and avoid looking at the wider picture. So many children seem to have labels slapped on them, with far too few questions asked about the environment in which they live or the level of care they receive at school.

To put this into some context, my son is a child who has had a ludicrous 'diagnosis' slapped on him. Not ADHD, but it's still a diagnosis that, as far as I can see, exists to protect the school from any repercussions for failing him. I doubt we're the only ones.

Nearly 24 hours a week in a classroom might well prepare a child for a life as a worker drone, but I can't imagine it does much to promote a healthy physical or emotional life style.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

I Hate Shoes!

There. I've said it. I know, I know... there must be something wrong with me. Every girl *must* love shoes, right? But I don't. I don't think I've ever liked them. I've often been told that, because I'm a short-arse, I should wear heels. Why!?!?! I'm 5ft nada without them and would still only be around 5ft 3 with them. I'd still be a short-arse ;)

I see women tottering around in little clippy shoes and I think they must be crippling themselves. I never think their shoes look cute or sexy. I don't have dozens of pairs of shoes in my wardrobe, although I do have a smart pair of shoes and a smart pair of boots just in case I'd be breaking some unwritten social rule if I didn't wear them on certain occasions.

Today was one of those days. Our family celebrated my Mum's birthday at the very posh Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon and so the smart shoes were forced to make an appearance. After a very lovely lunch - roast sirloin of beef with all the trimmings... mmmm.... roast beef..., we watched Thomas playing with some really lovely children and then we had a stroll around the very beautiful park. Awesome.

Even though I wasn't completely crippled by the smart shoes, I still couldn't wait to ditch them as soon as we were home.

Controversial it may be, but I prefer to be barefooted or in Fit Flops or similar. When it's cold - really cold - then I wear my Berghaus boots because they are comfortable.

Am I the only one?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Home Education - The Basics

I get a lot of people asking me what the rules are for home educating and so I thought it might be helpful to explain it here for anyone thinking about home schooling or for people who are just interested in it all.

Yes, It's Legal To Home Educate
The first thing to know is that, in Great Britain, it's perfectly legal to remove your child from school. If your child has been at school, you must write to the school to tell them you are going to home educate and you should get in touch with you local education authority (LEA) to inform them. If your child has never been to school, you don't need to contact the LEA.

The LEAs
I was really nervous about contacting my LEA (Surrey County Council) as I'd read so many negative things about LEAs - mostly from one page on Facebook. However, when I called my LEA I found them to be enthusiastic and extremely helpful. I've also seen a lot of people telling you not to let them into your house. Well, I let them in and they were great. I was given a list of useful websites and all sorts of things. I received a letter from them the following day saying they were very happy with what I planned to do and that they'd be happy for me to send them a letter each year instead of having a visit.

I have to say at this point too, that in the year that I have been home educating, I have met a lot of home educators and not a single one of them has had anything other than a positive experience of their local Elective Home Education teams.

The LEA is there to protect the children. I suspect that, if your family is already known to social services (or possibly if the school has raised concerns about the well-being of your child) or if your child has some fairly demanding special needs, then the LEA will want to be more involved in your home schooling.

My view, after first speaking to the LEA on the phone, was that the best plan of action would be for me to be welcoming and to make an effort to demonstrate to them that my son's educational and social needs would be met at home. I wrote a letter that detailed all the things I planned to do, ensuring that all the things I thought they would be looking for were covered. My letter is attached here. You are very welcome to read it and to use it, or parts of it, if you like.

I don't think it's helpful to set out to be antagonistic to the LEA (actually, I don't think it's helpful to be antagonistic to anyone, ever). That will just be a red flag to them that there might be a problem and you might create an unnecessary battle.

If you're concerned about letting your LEA into your home, why not call them first and have a chat? You can explain, calmly, why you feel you want/need to home educate and you can ask them what support they can give. This will get you off on the right foot with them.

That said, you don't have to let the LEA into your home. You can opt to meet them elsewhere - in a local library for instance - and you don't have to have your child present. It's your choice.

Your LEA is usually your county or borough council. A full list can be found here.

Educating At Home
Now for the fun part! Most home educators have no experience of teaching. However, all those that I have met have been very keen that their children should have an education that is fun and that meets the needs of the children. Teaching your child at home is very daunting to start with and it generally isn't a decision that any responsible parent will have taken lightly.

The law simply says that you have to provide your child with a suitable education. What does that mean? Well, it really means something different to everyone. I think that it's generally accepted that all children need to have the three Rs - reading, writing and arithmetic. Or, literacy and maths, as they call it in the 21st century ;)

Over and above that though, you can do whatever you like.

Some people like to have timetables and to follow a structured plan, whilst others prefer to be more autonomous. Both approaches, and everything else in between, are fine. You don't have to spend any set amount of time educating either.

The national curriculum is available to download here. It's quite a scary document, so you might prefer to look at a syllabus on a local school website. When I first took Thomas out of school, I went through his old school's curriculum so that I could map it and ensure that Thomas would be able to go back to school after a year if needed.

I started out with timetables and I'd run myself ragged trying to find good reference sources, but we don't do that now. We settled into a more autonomous way of doing things where I can leap on whatever might interest my son at that point in time, so what he's taught is always relevant to him. Here's one example, where we looked at the 'science of swimming' after a swimming lesson.

Reading and writing happens naturally as we research whatever interests us (him), and we cover a lot of maths by cooking, shopping etc.

My son is nine and I will probably do more formal maths with him once he's really nailed the basics. But there's the beauty of home education. I can observe my son and tailor the way I help him learn.

I like to facilitate learning, rather than teaching him. I think there's quite a big difference between these two things.

But this is my way of doing things. It might not suit you, and that's fine.

I will post a list of the most useful resources I have found here later.

Tests and Exams
Your child doesn't have to be tested. There are no SATs for home schoolers and I'd really advise that you observe your child and make sure you are happy with their learning and progression, but I wouldn't tie yourself in knots worrying about what levels they 'should' be at unless they are really struggling. Happy children will learn - and all children are different.

Happily, one of the things I really love about home educating is that you don't get the 'competitive mum' nonsense that you often get at schools. Other home ed parents will be supportive and, if you post to say that your child is struggling, people will offer suggestions, advice and support. So don't worry or panic alone.

As for formal exams like GCSEs and such, you can teach your child all of these at home and they can do a few at a time if you like rather than all in one go. However, you have to pay for them and you have to find a centre willing to invigilate. Lots of parents send their children back to school in order for them to sit their GCSEs and such.

I plan to writing to my MP about this.

Aside from 'how do you teach your child?', the other question every home educator gets asked is 'how does your child socialise?'

All I can tell you is that my son has a much better social life now than he ever had at school. There are lots of local groups and sooooooo many trips and outings that we could go on that we couldn't possibly do them all. We have trips in the next couple of weeks to the Poppy Factory, Chef School, camping at Wellington Country Park and a home ed camp in Yorkshire. All of these are home ed events and we know people at all of them. We also have play dates and we meet down at the local park too.

As a parent, you have to be ready to put some effort in to building up a good social life for yourself and your child, but it's easy to do and people are generally very friendly. I will gather together a list of local home ed groups to help you find other home ed families locally.

Special Needs
I haven't covered Special Needs here because I don't have first-hand experience of this. I would prefer to direct you to Fiona Nicholson at Ed Yourself who has a wealth of experience and information available in this area.

Messing About On The River... And On Land

We spent the weekend camping with my friends from school. We met aged 11 (so not *very* long ago) at Tiffin Girls' School, so it's pretty cool to be in touch with them and their children.

Happily for me, we were camping just 17 minutes from my home. Bliss! We set up on Friday... well, that was the plan. Lucy, Lucy's dad and I set up on Friday, but Karen didn't arrive in her newly-bought caravan. We started to get a bit worried about her at about 8pm and so we called her. She was having a mare. The electric socket on her tow bar didn't match the one on the caravan, so she couldn't wire up the driving lights and, therefore, couldn't drive the caravan. How annoying! So, she and her little girls drove over and stayed in the Happy Camper with Thomas and I.

We all crammed into to camper and went to sleep. Until we were all rudely awakened by a rain storm that could only be described as a monsoon. Honestly, if you'd aimed a pressure washer at us, the water couldn't have hit us any harder than this rain was.

Thank goodness I sprayed waterproofing gunk over the canvas a couple of weeks ago!

The rainy night was survived and the sun came out in the morning. Until Lucy's husband arrived and brought the rain along with him. Gah!

Still, Karen's caravan had been fixed and so she went back to collect it, and her husband. Then Petra and her daughter arrived too. Yippee! That was the the lot of us.

We then spent a lovely weekend chilling and laughing while the children played. Perfect.

On Sunday, Petra's husband brought their boat down to Runnymede and so Thomas and I went to see it. It was really good fun. We went up and down the Thames, through a lock and Thomas even got to drive - which he loved.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Home Ed On The Move

I often get asked how I educate my son and it's quite a tricky question really. We do some reading, writing and maths, but most of what we do is led by whatever we are doing at that moment. I thought I'd post about it today as Thomas asked me what a litre was at a petrol station today. He knew what it was, but he wanted to know how big it was. He wondered if I just put one litre into the car.

While we drove along, I asked him to look at his drinks bottle and I asked what it said on it. He said '0.75 litres'. So, I told him that this was the same as three quarters of a litre - ie: less than a litre. I told him that our milk comes in a 1 litre bottle too. Now he has a rough idea of what a litre looks like.

We then chatted about other units of measurement. I explained that everything has a special way of being measured. I asked him what units of measurement we use for distance. He said kilometres, miles, centimetres etc. We then thought about units of weight and he said kilograms and time in hours, minutes and seconds.

There we go. A brief lesson about measurement that put everything in context at exactly the time it was relevant to Thomas - while we were out and about in the car. Learning is everywhere.

Tomorrow, we will have a go at measuring things when Daisy's here.

Sunday - The Day Of Rest

I don't think so!

Up at 5am to update the World Quizzing Championships rankings. With an expected 2,000 participants, it's a huge job!

Then tidying the house, having a bath, heading to Tesco to get in the groceries for our picnic and heading over to the station to pick up Auntie Annabel and Thomas's cousin George. Home again, in time for Auntie Sammy and Lewis arriving.

Now to make the picnic - with the help of Annabel and Sam.

Off to Bushy Park, late, to meet up with my Mum and more friends for a picnic. Lovely. Weather is awesome and the park is full of happy families.

Then came the tears as my friend Karen's 7-year-old daughter fell into a stagnant, almost dried up ditch. Unfortunately, being nearly dried up just meant that it had a thick black sludge in it that stunk! The poor little girl was covered head to toe in it. Absolutely hilarious ;)

Right! That's enough of picnicking. Let's head home and get out the water slide thing Thomas got for his birthday. Awesome! Well, it will be once I have found the pump for it. I knocked on the doors of three neighbours, but no one could find a pump. Although, one did find my cat, Cosy Joe, asleep in her caravan when she went to check in the garden! He is the cosiest cat ever.

Luckily, I found my pump and so disaster was averted and three boys got to splash and slide around in the sunshine while I made a roast for dinner. We moved the dining table and chairs out on to the decking. Oh joy! Roast dinner in the evening sun. Heaven.

After everyone left and Thomas went to bed, I got back to work getting those scores up. We had over 1,800 at this point and I knew people would be itching to see how they'd done.

Bed for me at 1am. Long day, but a good day.

Monday will have to be my day of rest.

A Birthday & The World Quizzing Championships

So, on Saturday, I ran the English chapter of the World Quizzing Championships and co-ordinated the scores coming in from 123 venues across 42 countries. The WQC was sat by nearly 2,000 people, so it was quite a day!

Not one to do things by halves though, it was also my son's 9th birthday that day.

Epic scheduling fail. As I believe the 'kids' would say. In my defence, the WQC used to be held in July, but got moved to the first Saturday of June.

I got up early that morning, leapt into the shower, got dressed, packed the car up and then woke Thomas and gave him some of his presents, bundled him into the car and headed to my mum's house so she could take the birthday boy out for the day, while his mum belted down to Frimley for the World Quizzing Championships.

I have never felt more guilty than I did as I had to leave Thomas on his big day.

The WQC itself went very well. We had almost 100 people out in England with a further 40+ in Edinburgh. Excellent. Defending champion, Pat Gibson (BBC Egghead), scored 157 in Edinburgh, but he was beaten by fellow Egghead, Kevin Ashman who scored a whopping 171. I thought the Brits had won the event again, but no! An American called Steve Perry scored 174 and a guy in India scored 176. So, for the first time in the event's 12-year history, a non-Brit won. Congratulations to Vikram Joshi on his incredible performance!


Now to get home... 

I drove down to Kingston to pick up Thomas's present from John Lewis. They didn't have it there! Argh!!! I ran over to Bentalls. They did have the Lego Millennium Falcon. Phew! But, it was £25 more than John Lewis and Amazon. Fuming! Cursing JL for not having reserved it for me and cursing Bentalls for being such a rip-off. Note to self: don't go to Bentalls again and order more online.

So now to wrap the presents (I bought him more than one thing) using a shopping trolley as a table in the JL car park. Somehow, despite this, the presents looked quite nicely wrapped.

Off to mum's now to celebrate Thomas's birthday with him.

He loved his presents, especially the foam Minecraft diamond sword. Why did I bother with the Lego when I could have just bought him foam? Hey ho!

After dinner, presents and cake, we headed home. Thomas went to bed and I got on with inputting all the scores that were starting to come in. I continued with this when I got up at 5am the next morning to get the house ready for our friends coming to celebrate Thomas's birthday some more.

To be continued...

Friday, 6 June 2014

Massive Scheduling Meltdown

Tomorrow, I will mostly be juggling Thomas's 9th birthday with running the World Quizzing Championships - a small affair taking place in just the 123 venues in 41 countries.

Amazingly though, I am quite well organised. Presents with Thomas in the morning, drop him to my mum's for a day at Hobbledown Farm, whiz over to the Lakeside at Frimley to run the English leg of the event, belt back to mum's in time for cake, then work all night once Thomas is asleep to collate the scores as they start coming in from around the world.

It doesn't sound too bad when I write it down.

OK. It sounds like a mare.

Hey ho! Tomorrow, I will try to find time to tell you all about it.

Lucky you!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Home Education - Birds and Friends

How do I get myself into these situations? I really am an idiot at times. Not just a bit of an idiot, but a complete, total and utter idiot. Today, I managed to have five passengers, when my car can only accommodate four. D'uh. So, I had to drive to Bird World, drop off some of them and then drive all the way back to collect the rest and bring them to Bird World.


Bird World is nearly an hour from here, so it took about 3 hours to get everyone there.


Still, Bird World was excellent. The children really enjoyed meeting a cockatoo that says 'hello, stupid!' and they had a lovely guided tour where they were shown penguins and learned how they survive in the cold. They all really loved seeing a newly hatched chick in an incubator and they terrorised the ducklings as they tried to pick them up.

There was a water world there as well with some humongous fish and some very scary looking crocodiles.

Luckily for me, Tess was there with her grandson, Theo, and she took Thomas back to her house, so I could collect him after dropping everyone else home. Thus Tess saved me from another 3 hours of driving. Thank you!

Now, this brings me on to something really important about home education. It brings me on to the subject of all things social. Once they've got their heads around how I might be capable of educating my son, people always ask about how my son will have a social life. Today offered up the perfect explanation. When we arrived at Bird World, we were greeted by a number of people we knew. You see, there are a hell of a lot of people home educating, and mostly thanks to technology, we all communicate with each other. So, there are lots of meet-ups you can go to - we could probably go to two a day locally. And, because we all communicate, you very quickly start to know people. Even the people you don't know are very friendly and so you soon get to know even more people.

Thomas has made some lovely friends and so have I - just look at how Tess rescued me! And, don't forget that we were taking other home ed friends with us as well. We sometimes see them for play dates and the like and we sometimes see them at events like this. It's really great. The social side of things has not been a problem at all.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Home Educating: The Science Of Swimming

We dragged ourselves out of bed this morning feeling totally shattered after our awesome weekend at the Wychwood Festival and headed to Thomas's swimming lesson. Now, my son is terrified of the water. I have no idea why, but he really is. Anyway, he recently started one-to-one lessons with a lovely lady called Amanda who is very patient with him. As I watched him trying really hard to be brave and to follow instructions, I suddenly realised that there's a lot of science going on here, and so this afternoon's lesson was sorted.

The Science Of Swimming.
  • We looked at how a ball of plasticine sinks, but the same piece of plasticine will float (or sink more slowly) if it's flattened. We looked at why this might happen and discussed how lying flat in the water will make it easier to swim.
  • We pushed our hands into the water when they were flat and our fingers were together and felt a strong resistance that wasn't there when we put our hands in finger tips first. This will help us float and also shows us how we can propel ourselves through the water.
  • When we were doing this, we also noticed a 'skin' on the water and discovered this is called meniscus. 
  • Then we got a glass and put it on to the water upside down and pushed it down. We noticed that the glass didn't fill with water because there was air in the glass that couldn't escape at that angle. This will help prevent water from getting into your ears or nose when you are swimming - and blowing the air out through your nose will stop the water from getting in too.
  • Slightly off-topic, but Thomas also noticed that our fingers look bigger through the water and that water is displaced when you put something into it.
I love home educating. Learning is all around us and being able to leap on it at exactly the time it's relevant is great. Look at all that Thomas has learned today. Who'd have thought there was so much child-accessible science just in swimming?

10 Reasons Why You Should Choose The Wychwood Festival

While I was packing away the Happy Camper this morning, I was thinking about all the things Thomas and I had done that weekend. More specifically, I was reflecting on how impressed I'd been and how much I'd like you all to see it next year. So, I have compiled a list of 10 Reasons Why You Should Choose The Wychwood Festival.

  1. Children's literature
    This was a triumph and really makes Wychwood and Waterstones stand out. The quality of the authors and the illustrators was quite extraordinary, and the way they were all so generous with their time afterwards was fantastic. Thomas has so many books that were signed for him, and each author took the trouble to chat to him - all of them managing to remember something he'd said or done. Thomas has learned some drawing techniques from some of the country's best illustrators, and he's listened to some outstanding children's authors talking about how they write stories. Magical.

  2. Music
    There were so many bands! Amazing bands like the Boomtown Rats, The Stranglers, Newton Faulkner, Reef, Bad Manners, to name but a few, along with lots of other up-and-coming bands. There were three stages for the bands and there was a huge diversity of musical styles. It was really relaxed too and you could get ever so close to the stages too. Each of the acts I saw did a full 90-minute set, so it really was like going to lots of concerts.

  3. Family-friendly activities
    Where to start with these? There was just so much to do that we didn't get to do it all. We tried drumming (really loved this!), clay modelling, listening to stories at the Roald Dahl Museum tent and making a giant hand. We could have done a lot lot more though. There were activities that were suitable for tiny tots too, including the Book Trust tent that had rhyme time. All these activities were in one area that had the feel of an English village fete. It was just so much fun and so colourful.

  4. Food, Glorious Food
    Lots of really delicious food was available. Everything from curried fish to Lebanese food and from pizza to some spectacular puddings. Yum!
  5. Camping
    The camp site was really well-organised and was just a short walk to the festival with no muddy paths. There was a large shop selling all the basics, places selling breakfast and there was even somewhere for you to lock away your valuables that was available 24/7. And, they even have a service where they will set up a rented tent for you, so it's ready and waiting when you arrive.
    Look at the beautiful scenery around the camp site :D
  6. Showers
    Did I mention that they had showers there? Well they did! They even had hot water. What a revelation. I certainly didn't expect that at a festival. I thought I'd be going home on Monday with flies buzzing around my filthy hair.
  7. Toilets
    I'd heard a lot of very disgusting things about festival toilets. So much so, that I took my own Porta Potti. I needn't have worried though. The toilets were very good. They were clean and someone was working hard to keep them stocked with toilet paper. Much better than I expected - and there weren't great long queues either.
  8. Atmosphere
    Everyone was smiley. Everyone was happy. The place was buzzing with a very chilled out friendly atmosphere. It felt very safe. There were lots of stewards around all evening, so even as a woman travelling with a child, I could feel relaxed. One of the most astonishing things about the Wychwood Festival was that so many people had been going to it for years. It's been going for 10 years, and it has built up a very loyal following.
  9. Justin Fletcher
    I'm giving Mr Tumble a whole point here because he drew an enormous crowd, who he entertained. He then went on to sign autographs and was there for a good two hours. He chatted to every child and didn't stop smiling once. What a hero!
  10. Size is everything
    This is a smaller festival. I suppose there were 5k-10k people there. The biggies like Glasto scare the pants off me. I don't think I'd want to be somewhere with over 150k people. Wychwood has enough people for it to feel busy, but not enough for it to be scary.
  11. Value for money
    OK, this is point 11, but that's just because I gave Justin Fletcher his own point ;). At the moment, you can get early bird tickets for £99* (ticket for one adult, including camping - under 10s are free and over 10s are £40). You can even pay in instalments. I mean really, what are you waiting for? If you are paying £99, you will need £24-something deposit and then 9 x £8.25/month. You won't even feel it going. You could pay £99 just to see the Boomtown Rats, let alone all the other stuff here. I have no idea who will be there next year, but if the line-up is even half as good, you will be very glad you came along. 
We've already signed up for 2015. Click here for their booking form. or click here to pay in instalments.

I've set up a little Facebook group for anyone thinking of coming along with us. Whether you're an old friend, a new friend, or a friend I've yet to meet, I promise you won't regret it.**

Come and join us!

* No idea how long this offer is available for.
** Being my friend isn't obligatory ;). Come along anyway!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Diary Of A Couple Of Festival Virgins - Day 3

We were up at the crack of 9am today to make sure we got to the Waterstone's Kids' Literature Tent before 10am. Why would we want to be up so early of a Sunday? I'll tell you why... Tony de Saulles. That's why. Who? Only the man that illustrates all the Horrible Science books, that's all!

My drawing - attempting to copy Tony's one

Tony de Saulles was giving a masterclass in cartoon drawing for the children. So, off we went. We were the first there. Thomas sat on the floor and we were both given paper and pencils. The tent filled up with families and the Tony came in and showed us how to draw. Check out Thomas's masterpieces.

Learning about facial expressions

Shark eating piranha and getting eaten himself

Dinosaur eating dinosaur eating plant

How cool?

Very cool!

Where do you from here? Who on earth could follow this? There is only one man who could. The author of The Grunts, Philip Ardagh. He was absolutely hilarious, with a very impressive beard and a bottom that's so sexy, he was afraid to turn around ;). He gave a great talk and finished off by showing the children how to write a story by getting the children throw in ideas and act it all out. They were great and so was Philip.

What a morning!

The author/illustrator talks are worth coming to the festival for in their own right. Just look at the amazing experiences Thomas has had. He came out of school not wanting to read, and yet on Sunday morning, the first thing he asked for was a book to read. Nice work Wychwood and Waterstones.

My lovely friend Helen then came to the festival and asked which crafts and workshops we'd done. How embarrassing. We had been so busy with the music and the literature, that we'd not really been into any of the other tents.

What a mistake! There was so much to do and I quickly discovered that we had barely scratched the surface of it. So, we set to work making a giant hand while Helen made a really beautiful pair of enamel earrings. We also got to join the Drumming Circle. I really loved that. It was incredibly uplifting and a lot of fun. We didn't sound too bad either!

We headed into the BBC tent too and listened to some up and coming local bands. Great idea! Some really good bands too. Let's hope these sessions give them the breaks they need.

Then we listened to more bands, including Lee Thompson and Mark Bedford from Madness and then, finally Lord Saint Bob of Geldof hit the main stage. What a show! How on earth does a man in his 60s have so much energy? We were so close to where the Boomtown Rats were. Check out my pic of Sir Robert of Geldofshire!

The crowd was great too. People dancing with complete strangers and everyone having a ball.

A magnificent way to end the weekend.