Category Archives: Education

Harvest Festival

Foodscape photograph by the wonderful Carl Warner

Aha!  I am back amongst you!

However, I am in such bad humour about so many things today, that it’s hard to know quite where to start.

I will begin with Harvest Festival because I attended the Harvest service at Boy the Younger’s school today.  As we went in, I said to my friend “what do you think the chances are of us singing ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ or ‘Come ye thankful people come’.? “Zero,” she said, laughing.

Well it was worse than zero.  I realise that in some aspects of life, I am an unspeakable old fuddy-duddy, but why does everything that involves children have to be turned into an entertainment?  In a moment of desperation, I fed my programme to the beaming baby in the pew in front so I am unable to delight you with the nauseating detail of the ‘service’.

The children sang several feeble pop songs with the word ‘Jesus’ in them, most of which had stupid actions with which the parents were encouraged to join in.  When we were asked to clap our hand to our heart, I’m sorry to tell you that I quietly intoned “I pledge allegiance to the United States of America…” followed by a hand-jive, which had the parents on the row behind dissolving into nervous giggles.

Then there was a really good bit where it all stopped and young and delightfully handsome young man from the nearby CARE village stood up and thanked us all for the donations of food which would be given to the residents.

After this, the Reverend Blodwyn stood up and began the ‘It’s behind you’ section of the service where all the children were encouraged to shout out stuff about vegetables, after which she delivered a lecture about the environment.  Just in case the children hadn’t worked out what rain was, she put up a handy Powerpoint presentation with a character from a ‘Peanuts’ cartoon in which the character gets rained on. Ha bloody ha.

There is absolutely no need for church to be boring.  A good minister can deliver a sermon which will not only uplift and encourage, but will leave the congregation with something to think about for the rest of the week.  Hymns can be joyful and spirit raising, a reading in the hands of a decent reader is a lovely thing to listen to.

But Church, among many other things, is one really good opportunity to teach your children that there are times in life when they have to be quiet and behave with decorum.  There is an unending stream of complaints about how children can never sit still, can’t concentrate, can’t keep quiet.

A large part of the problem is that children are not taught to be quiet and behave with decorum.  Everything they do has to be entertaining.  Well life isn’t always entertaining, in fact, quite large chunks of life can be a bit boring and require us to keep our gobs shut when we’d rather not.  Sometimes we have to be quiet for the comfort of others.

Children need to be taught that there are times to have fun and times to be quiet and still.  How can they learn to think and reason if their minds are being swamped with a constant and unrelenting cacophony of sounds and sights and ‘stimulation’?  How can they learn to appreciate the small and simple things with which they’re surrounded if they never have a moment’s peace in which to do it?

I love Harvest Festival; whatever one’s spiritual pathway, it is completely reasonable to be grateful that we have enough food and that we still have farmers out there producing it.  It is a gratifying experience to share some of that produce with those who have less than us. I personally thanked the farmers in the next pew for growing our milk.  They did the narrowed eyes thing and left.

When I was at school, the Harvest service was a beautiful thing.  The girls doing cookery baked fabulous loaves to look like sheaves of corn, flowers graced every windowsill and the joyful Harvest hymns rocked the rafters as the organ thundered and the choir sang descants that could have lifted the tiles off the roof.

The last ‘hymn’ was called ‘Harvest Hoe Down’ accompanied by a tinny recorded sound track and a bazooka solo from some invisible children – I don’t need to draw you a picture of how awful that was.  I left Boy the Younger’s service with my teeth ground down to powder.   I accosted a teacher in the playground and pleaded that, just once before I BTY leaves, could we sing ‘We plough the fields and scatter’? Just once. “Why?” she answered.

It all makes ‘Cauliflowers fluffy…’ seem positively Wesleyan.


Filed under Behaviour and Etiquette, Children, Education, Life in general, Religion

Today Boy the Elder starts at his new school

This morning we will be taking Boy the Elder for his first day at his new school.  This is the culmination of a year and a half of tutoring, swotting, entrance exams, begging, pleading, writing letters and finally getting a place at what I hope will be absolutely the right school.

Boy the Elder is a very natural mixture of excited and anxious; what if no-one likes him, what if they discover in the first week that he’s thick, what if he gets expelled?  None of this will happen but, as any other mother would be, I am anxious myself but naturally I don’t show it.   His uniform is all labeled and hanging up ready to go.  Two and a half thousand items of sports kits are bagged up and waiting to be launched by a skinny boy onto the rugby field.  Pencil cases are filled, his schoolbag is packed and we are ready to rock and roll.

Yesterday I knocked off work early and we went to Pizza Express for lunch and spent a couple of happy hours talking and laughing and eating too much pudding. Afterwards we wandered around the garden centre and chose some flowers for the hanging baskets, and then slid into Argos and bought a bumper pack of Nerf gun cartridges so that he and Boy the Younger could have a battle when we got home.

This is a new and significant phase in the life of the whole family; routines will change, expectations will change as Boy the Younger will go there as well and the goal posts have been well and truly shifted.  Phew.


Filed under Children, Education, Family and Friends, Life in general

Music and Murdoch

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play at the Glastonbury Extravaganza. Music, picnics, cocktails, fireworks, dancing fountains, a thrilled and enthusiastic audience... put THAT on an MP3

I think we can all agree that Rupert Murdoch is an arse, for so very many reasons.  At the moment there’s all the stuff with the ‘phone hacking and the media buy-outs.  All ghastly, no doubt about it.  But he is an arse for more reasons than that.

Technology is changing the consumption of music.  As a child or teenager, the sight of an undisguisable LP under the Christmas Tree was a beautiful moment and record collections were prized and protected.  Young people would gather to, genuinely, listen to records and music was shared and joyfully consumed.

CD’s then made one’s record collection more portable and less bulky, whilst remaining scrumptiously tangible and ‘on show’ as a testament to one’s taste and general grooviness.

But now there is the MP3 player.  I love my iPod with a big love, but I use it in the same way that I used to copy my LPs onto cassettes; it is a way of making my physical music collection portable.  I also download podcasts which is utterly marvellous because now I never have to miss my favourite programmes from my beloved Radio 4.  I then burn these podcasts to disc, catalogue them and place them on a shelf so they become REAL.  MP3 files don’t feel really real to me – they feel like a backup.  But before you say it, I am clearly an old git.

The one thing that seems to have evolved from the intangibility of downloads is that live music is more popular than ever.  The public spend on live concerts has rocketed in the last few years and, if that is a side-effect of digital music, then hooray to that.

There is nothing, but nothing, to compare to the joy of hearing live music performed in front of you.  I remember, as though it was yesterday, the night that Sister the First took me to the Albert Hall to hear the soprano, Margaret Marshall, perform.  I was twelve years old, we sat in a box to the right of the stage, and I had never heard anything so enrapturing and beautiful in my life.  I could feel the tears in my eyes as the combination of her voice, the orchestra and the company of others enveloped me and swamped my senses.

The point is that the people who make the music are playing the music, right there in front of you, and everybody present shares your enthusiasm and your desire to be there.  I have floated to Madame Butterfly, roared along with The Proclaimers, crooned (in harmony) with The Andrews Sisters and lost half a stone through excessive pogo-ing  to The Undertones.  Live music is brilliant beyond words.

Not according to Rupert Murdoch though.  According to Rupert Murdoch in The Times a couple of weeks ago, “If you love music, instead of paying £100 to go to a great concert, you pay 99 cents to get it on your iPod and you’ve got it for life, wherever you are.”  Not instead of, you tosser – as well as!

And while we’re on the subject of Murdoch, here’s another tossy thing he said to the poor beleaguered Times correspondent (and I paraphrase):  All children should have computer tablets and through such advances … the finest teachers in every course, in every subject, in every grade will be available to every child.

Now, children.  Can you guess who owns 90% of a $360 million company called Wireless Generation in Brooklyn, USA?  And can you guess what they sell?
Well, well, well.


Filed under Education, Poetry, Literature, Music and Art, Politics, Technology

The School Reunion

My School

Gosh, what a day.  As you know from my post back in March, I was rather apprehensive about going back, as one of the girls who bullied me was also going to be there.  I had arranged to meet my Naughty Friend, who I have not seen since we left school, as well as a couple of other girls, Orville and Vivienne Ferret, who I was really looking forward to seeing.  Also, to my delight, Denise Gnasher contacted me the night before to say she was going with her family and, although we’ve kept in touch, we’ve not actually met up for nigh on seven years.

One of the first people I saw as I approached the Old Girls’ Marquee was the bully.  I wouldn’t have recognised her and I said so and she appeared to be ill at ease.  I didn’t have a chance to speak to her alone, but as the conversation progressed among the group and I made the point that we had all been sent to the school in order to be safe, that many of us were bereaved or had very dysfunctional home lives.  Wasn’t it a pity, therefore that, because of the behaviour of other girls and certain members of staff, it turned out that we weren’t emotionally safe at school either.  I saw the look on her face and left it at that; she had been as troubled as the rest of us.

The rest of the day was spent touring the school, seeing all the wonderful changes that have been made, and exchanging histories and reminiscences with many other women who had come from all over the country to share the day.

We talked to lots of the girls who are still at the school, as well as one of the current House Mistresses and they listened wide-eyed to our tales of how the school used to be.  The girls were obviously very happy there and the whole feel of the place was one of nurture and contentment and it seemed impossible to them that we had lived in such a regimental and strictured environment and had never thought to complain.

It was a cathartic day.  The last time I went back I was very bitter that the school had changed and become such a comfortable place, too late for my generation to have had the benefit of it.  Now that my children are growing up, I am genuinely delighted that it has become such a healthy, happy school full of lively, well-adjusted girls.

Ghosts well and truly laid to rest.


Filed under Children, Education, Family and Friends, Life in general

More evidence that the world has gone mad

Boy the Elder came home from school today with the following information. There are nine hundred children at his school between the age of 11 and 14 and they have a large playing field with lovely country views … which they have not been allowed to use for recreation at lunch or break time.

They have now been told that they may use the field in groups of no more than twenty two children at a time and, if they do manage to get a go, they have to wear hi visibility tabards.

I have nothing more to say on the matter, mainly because I can’t speak properly with my fist in my mouth.

Boy the Elder has only three more weeks left, until  in September, he starts at a school where getting dirty, climbing trees and roaming the grounds is positively encouraged.  And hurrah to that.


Filed under Children, Education, Outdoor Activities

Ejukashunal success!

Many of you will have read my various articles regarding the education of Boy the Elder.

The first one explained the problems I was having at his state school

Then the joys of tutoring for the Common Entrance Exam

Followed by a comparison between the two shortlisted schools

And finally the difficulty of how to phrase letters to charities and trust funds and how he will feel if we fail

At some point, when I have gathered all my information together, I will write a post on how to approach the problem of finding funding as, hopefully, I have found out a great deal which may help other parents in the same situation.

But today, I have the wonderful news that Boy the Elder has been accepted into School A and will start in September.  We will have to move house to be a little nearer to the school, which is fine, as my current house is ghastly.  The whole process has taken nearly a year and a half and thankfully it has all been worth it.

I would also like to thank all of you who have shown me so much encouragement and sympathy – you have been a great support.



Filed under Children, Education, Family and Friends, Slider

Lunch at MacDonald’s so only myself to blame

Have a look at the artist, Andy Councils website, its amazing. Click on the link below

As Boy the Elder was spending the day with a friend, I allowed Boy the Younger to choose what he wanted for lunch.  ‘Can we go to MacDonald’s, please?’ he asked nicely.  We very rarely go (for so very many reasons) so off we trotted.

We sat down with our food, when in walked a giant group of people.  Two enormous women with two children who were so fat they couldn’t walk properly.  There was also a very thin woman and her thin daughter – I feared for them.

I have never seen so much food on a table, all mixed up with piles of wrappings and cardboard and tubs.  The children were running about, the women were getting crosser and crosser and the children got louder and louder.  Then they got up to get more food.

We all know the dangers of being severely overweight – heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes etc.  I’m a bit overweight myself, but I am an adult who is responsible for my own health and wellbeing. My children have hearty appetites and enjoy their food, but they also get plenty of exercise and, because they eat healthily, they can eat junk from time to time with a clear conscience.

Adults who allow their children to get that fat, and therefore expose them to lifelong health problems, to say nothing of the teasing they are likely to get at school, are guilty of neglect and consequently abuse.  There is no excuse.

Andy Council is the illustrator who made the above picture:

I downloaded his picture off Google without asking and his picture on this site does not indicate Andy’s endorsement of my article.  His work is fabulous so have a look at his site.


Filed under Children, Education, Food, Health and Fitness, Nutrition & Sensible Eating

Are you looking for a job? Here are a few useful tips

I recently sat in on a ‘back to work’ seminar run by the Job Centre.  I haven’t touted for work or gone to a job interview for a long time, since before the internet revolution really took hold in fact, and I was intrigued to see what they had to say.  We were fortunate to have a facilitator who adapted the information to suit his audience and who approached the subject with wit and a healthy degree of worldliness.  I have also spent a lot of time with various career advisors and life coaches and, actually, most of them come up with the same basic things.  Read on, MacDuff….


It can be very difficult to adjust to being unemployed.  Your financial circumstances will change, you may face the prospect of debt and, after the initial panic has worn off, you may be left wondering what to do with your day.

  • Sit down and work out how much money you have, how you can reduce your outgoings and what you may have to go without for a while.
  • Don’t do stupid things in order to keep up appearances with your peers.
  • Try to put your embarrassment and pride to one side and tell people that you’re looking for work.
  • Network constantly, communicate constantly


  • 33% of jobs are not advertised
  • Big chains do not need to advertise.  They have a high turnover of staff and have people knocking on their doors asking for work on a daily basis.
  • Read the papers, go to the Job Centre, keep your eyes and ears peeled and look on the internet.  Many companies only advertise on the internet these days.

Internet Job Searching:
This is a very different skill to letters, ‘phone calls and visits.

  • Websites search on key words.  Find out about the company and work out what the ‘buzz words’ are for your job type.  Make sure you put them into your CV.
  • Look at the key words in the advertisement and adjust your CV appropriately.
  • Upload your CV every week even if it’s for the same job, otherwise your information will be lost or lower down the list


Agencies can be very useful, especially if they are industry specific.  But remember:

  • They are in it to make money for themselves and not to make your life better
  • Keep in touch – they will remember the person they have seen/spoken to most recently. 


One message that came over loud and clear was that nowadays you have to be much more creative in your search for work. 

  • Only 1 in 3 jobs are found through the Job Centres – most people find jobs for themselves.
  • Start looking at the press and media, not just for job applications, but for articles about your area of work.  Which companies are visible? Are they expanding?  Are they diversifying?
  • Ring companies that interest you and try to get an appointment or at least some further information about the company to see if you would fit in.
  • Ask the Job Centre or your friends if they have, or know of, a Careers Advisor who could help if you need to change direction


Again you have to be creative and think a bit laterally.  Get some large pieces of paper and some highlighter pens.  If you’re not a list person, draw pictures

  • Write down all the things that you’re good at.  Not just at work, but at home as well.  What skills do you have that might be transferable?
  • Write a list of the things you think you’re capable of
  • Write a list of the things you’ve always wanted to do
  • Write a list of what you want in life
  • Write a list of what you need from your work; not just money or security, but also things like being respected, working with like-minded people, or the type of environment etc
  • Now highlight any items that correspond in any of the lists in the same colour.  You may be surprised at what shows up.
  • Then think about ways in which you could demonstrate those abilities or aptitudes to a prospective employer.  What evidence do you have that you can do those things?


It would be very unhealthy and unproductive to fill in application forms for 35 hours a week.  You need respite from that or you’ll go bonkers.  Apply yourself intelligently rather than firing off 200 applications that will get you nowhere. Use the time in between to:

  • Catch up on household and garden jobs that you’ve been putting off and that haunt you because you’re always at work
  • Take more exercise  and look at your diet, so you can start your new job feeling fit and ready for anything
  • Do some voluntary work – loads of organisations need volunteers and not only does it help them, it expands your skill base and experience and demonstrates to a prospective employer that you are self-motivated and haven’t been sitting on your fat arse all day counting your toenail clippings
  • If you have family, take the opportunity to spend a bit more time with them and engage in family life; this time, however short-lived, is precious
  • Do things that make you feel good about yourself as this will help you to stay positive and self-assured
  • If you find it difficult to operate without a routine, give yourself a daily timetable.  It doesn’t have to be a military operation, but giving yourself a framework for your activities can make you feel more in control. 

Good luck.


Filed under Education, Life in general

Freelance Unbound says useful things about online journalism

I know that quite a few of my readers host blog sites of their own, all excellent in their different subject matter and many of them are listed under the Useful and Interesting Blogs in the sidebar.

One of these is Freelance Unbound.  Freelance is a successful, working journalist and lecturer in Internet Journalism.  Without him, The Wartime Housewife would never have ventured into the ether and he is a constant help and inspiration to me.

He has recently written a couple of articles which would be extremely useful to anyone who writes on the internet or hosts a web or blog site.  Have a look at these:-

5 key skills for online journalism students


Leave a comment

Filed under Education, The Wartime Housewife Blog

Bad mannered children

Send them out to work

Just another quick rant about manners to start off February.  Yesterday morning, I was approaching the main entrance at Boy the Elder’s school, and was about to open the door when a 12-year old pushed straight past me, opened the door and let it slam in my face. I collared him, pointed out his error and acknowledged his mumbled “Sorry” and let him go.  Bugger me if, less than two minutes later, another child did exactly the same thing going in the other direction.

I’ve also noticed that on the rare occasions when the Head Teacher is standing at the school gates, I have never yet seen anyone say good morning to her as they walk past.  To be fair, I’ve never seen the hatched-faced cow greet any of the children either.  Disgraceful.  However, my increasingly low opinion of the school means that I’m not surprised that those at the top are not setting standards.

But I nearly reached boiling point in Sainsbury’s this afternoon when several children crashed into or pushed me with no apology.  Then a young girl of about 10 marched straight out of a side aisle and pushed me out of the way.  I instinctively said “Oh, I’m so sorry” and then turned on my heel and said very loudly to no-one in particular “Why the bloody hell am I apologising to exceptionally rude children for crashing into ME!”  The girl turned round, looking startled and I pointed at her and said “Yes You – you’re a very rude little girl”. 

She darted off into the crowd and there followed a general discussion with other shoppers about how lacking in deference many children are.  I’ve taught the boys that you always stand back for a grown-up, always hold the door open and let them go first, say good morning, treat them with deference, particularly much older people, offer to help, apologise if you bump into someone, smile and say thank you when someone gives you something or pays you a compliment, say ‘may I please’ not ‘can I ‘ave’.

I recognise that you can only teach what you know, but how can schools expect any level of order when basic courtesies and respect are neither encouraged nor demonstrated? Gggrrrrrrrrr…

Livid of Leicestershire


Filed under Behaviour and Etiquette, Children, Education

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 1: How to Make a Simple Barometer

Back in November I bought an (incomplete) pack of Wills Cigarette Cards, which I discovered to be from the 1930s.  They comprise 50 cards giving beautifully illustrated Household Hints – right up my street, but sadly many were missing.  I told you how to restore a crushed broom, but Rate My Sausage was disappointed in his efforts to make a handy rack for his (restored) brooms.

And then, miraculously, and generously, The Father of My Children presented me with a complete pack, which means that over time I will be able to offer practical and illustrated advice on making not only broom racks, but cycle brackets and dog kennels, I will show you how to lay linoleum and cement a path. You can be daring with distemper.

But for now, here is:

1.  How to Make a Simple Barometer


Filed under Education, Household Hints, Science and Technology, Wills Cigarette Cards

Learning by rote

A modern school

Last night, I attended evensong at Skeffington church in Leicestershire, where they still adhere to the 1662 Prayer Book.  I was ten minutes late and couldn’t find any prayer or hymn books, so I sidled into a back pew in order not to distract anyone.  I soon realised that I knew every word of the service off by heart, mainly because of eight years at boarding school, repeating the same words every Sunday in chapel.  As the words flowed through my brain, I was freed up to really think about their meaning, to enjoy the language and lyricism, to relish how the words of the Psalms lend themselves to the natural meter of singing voices.

Learning by rote is a system of learning by repetition in order to recall information quickly.  Detractors of this system argue that simply learning facts ‘off pat’ doesn’t give the student any deeper understanding of the subject in hand.   This is certainly true of topics where the content is subjective or requires a philosophical interpretation; there would be no merit in learning to recite the words ‘Jane Eyre’ without giving a second thought to the language, the plot or the meaning of the book.

However, there are many other areas where learning by rote is absolutely essential and, once the information is firmly embedded in the memory, one is then free to build upon this information and study in more detail.  Children need to acquire basic knowledge so they may continue to develop skills like critical thinking and creativity.  A child could not learn to read without learning, off by heart, the 26 abstract symbols which make up the alphabet and the English language itself has many word formations which can only be learned by rote as they break the rules of spelling. 

Arithmetic facts enable you to ascertain immediately if a problems is likely to be right.  A calculator is only as good as the information that has been tapped in and mistakes can be identified if you have an idea of what the answer should be. 

Last year, I discovered that my, then, 12 year old son didn’t know his multiplication tables.  Since I had never been asked to practice them at home with him, I had assumed that they were being taught at school.  It was only when he monumentally failed the maths element of an examination that I realised that he didn’t know them.  He was finding every aspect of maths incomprehensible because he didn’t have the firm foundation of immediate recall of simple tables.  We all now recite tables every morning on the journey into school.

The same is true of poetry; although it was a pain in the arse to have to learn poetry off by heart at school, I now wish that I had learned more of it, as well as quotes from plays and books.  There is something wonderful about hearing someone recite a poem out loud from memory, something spontaneous and personal, that brings the words to life and can illustrate a point so succinctly.

And don’t forget that we learn by rote subconsciously.  How many songs do we know simply because we’ve heard them so many times that we know the words without realising that we’ve learned them?  The learning of information can often be reinforced by the introduction of music or rhythm.  I remember trying to drum the chemical elements into my head by setting them to a simple tune and it worked.

Learning by rote has been out of fashion for some time, but by skipping this critical step, young people are denied the joy of owning facts.  The problem is not the facts, nor the time it takes to master the facts. The problem is in making the retention of the facts the ultimate aim, rather than a springboard for deep conversation, critical thinking and creativity.


Filed under Children, Education, Poetry, Literature, Music and Art

Excuses Excuses

Forgive my slight tardiness in writing articles so far this year but I do have good reasons. Honest Govs.

Excuse Number 1:
As you know, I have been involved in a battle with the insurance companies regarding the car accident I had on 27th October.  The girl who hit me who, at the time of the accident admitted liability, later claimed that we were both at fault, and is now claiming that it was not her fault at all, that she was stationary and I hit her.  This has involved many ‘phone calls and a lot of paperwork.

My courtesy car has been withdrawn because the insurance company are not certain that they’ll recoup their money (3rd Party you see) and I was left without a vehicle.  I have therefore been obliged to pay for the repairs myself while the insurance companies fight it out and decide whether or not to take it to court.  I am very fortunate that I have the best mechanics in the world (GA Autocare in Desborough) who have done a fantastic job at a very reasonable price.  However, it’s still money I didn’t have sitting around idle, so please all keep your fingers crossed for a speedy resolution.

Excuse Number 2:
Boy the Elder took the entrance exam for the second Grammar School, passed (hurrah) and was immediately  recalled for interview.  We were both very anxious about it and trying not to let it show.  The first part of the interview was the “Are you a decent sort of chap?” sort which wasn’t a problem.  The second part was completely unexpected as they started asking him difficult maths questions and asking in depth questions about ‘Macbeth’.  BTE realised there was a problem when they kept calling him ‘Tom’ and it transpired that they had been scrutinising him based on someone else’s paper.

Regarding Macbeth, he hadn’t covered any of the stuff they asked him and he was too embarrassed to explain to them that this was because his English classes are so frequently disrupted that no-one can keep track of what they’ve done.  He came out of the interview in tears because he felt he had done so badly, although he is a bit of an emotional sort and felt much better about it by the evening.

We are now waiting.  My friend told me that there are only three places available for Year 9 so I can’t imagine that they’d give one of those places to a non-fee payer but you never know.  Please keep another set of fingers crossed for this one too.

Excuse Number 3:
Due to changing circumstances, I have had to make a very big decision about whether to declare myself self employed.  This has involved a lot of soul-searching, lots of meetings with the appropriate organisations, many phone calls to the Inland Revenue and associated bodies etc and an enormous amount of help and support from my friend and mentor at Freelance Unbound.   

This is all extremely exciting and you will be the first to know when the change happens but it also feels as though I’m doing a parachute jump in the dark on the edge of a large city.  I might hit the ground running in a fragrant meadow with only a moderate amount of cow pats.  I might equally break both legs and sustain internal injuries on a trunk road at rush hour.  In Birmingham.  I would be grateful if you would start plaiting your toes.

This has all happened this week.  However, the good news is that today I bought myself a lovely wing-backed fireside chair to replace the oversized and urine-soaked sofa bed which Jeremiah ruined.  I spent the afternoon curled up in it, with chocolate and large mugs of tea, watching Stephen Poliakoff’s wonderful film ‘The Lost Prince’.

I also discovered a bottle of one of my favourite beers, The Langton Brewery’s Inclined Plane’ lurking in the back of the larder and I am enjoying it whilst writing this blog.  Feel much better now.


Filed under Education, Life in general

Basic First Aid Kit

My First Aid Kit - oversized but worth it. I always have a small kit in the car and always have one in a back pack when walking

It is important to have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home to deal with minor accidents and injuries. Everyone in the house should know where it is and I would strongly encourage you to teach your children some basic first aid skills or at least what to do in an emergency.  You could be the injured person. 

Personally I would suggest schools teach a little less ‘Citizenship’ and a bit more cookery, needlework and first aid.  But what do I know.


Your first aid kit should be locked and kept in a cool, dry place, out of reach of children.

Medicines should be checked regularly to make sure that they are reasonably within their use-by dates.

You should also keep a small first aid kit in the car for emergencies.


A basic first aid kit should contain:

  • Small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
  • At least two sterile eye dressings
  • Triangular bandages
  • Crêpe rolled bandages
  • Plasters in different shaps and sizes
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
  • Micropore tape.
  • Thermometer
  • Cream or spray to relieve insect bites and stings.
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Painkillers such as paracetamol (or infant paracetamol for children) or ibuprofen
  • Cough medicine
  • Antihistamine tablets
  • Eye bath
  • Steri strips or skin closures
  • A First Aid instruction leaflet
  • The name and telephone number of your doctor
  • The name and telephone number of some neighbours or relatives who may be able to offer assistance

Over time I will give you information about how to conduct some basic first aid techniques.


Filed under Education, Health and Fitness, Medical

Worn Out

The boys go back to school tomorrow for the Spring Term and, as usual the holidays have gone much too quickly. 

Boy the Elder took the entrance exam for one of the grammar schools for the second time yesterday.  I felt sick all morning although he came out feeling quite positive.  I have spent most of the last two days  intensively researching possible charitable trusts who might be able to offer financial help, and have been trying to draft a  letter to send to them detailing the circumstances.  

I revisited the ‘out of catchment’ school who refused our appeal last year, in case a place had come up and I even, as a last resort, approached a charitable boarding school in Sussex.  If I hear one more person tell me that, had I applied at the end of Year 6, he would almost certainly have got in, I’m going to scream.

I showed the first draft to four people and each one had a different viewpoint and I simply don’t know what the right course of action is.  I’m worn out with it all to be honest.  What if I’ve actually made things worse by getting his hopes up, only for nothing to change?  The worst case is that he doesn’t get into either school and I’m going to have to take up the slack for the rest of his school life and make sure that his life outside school compensates for the lack of stimulation inside it.  And I still have another child, although hopefully by the time it’s his turn, I’ll know what to do.

When this process is over, I’m going to write the Blog of All Blogs about my experiences and hopefully have some useful advice for people in the same boat.

Tomorrow I will undoubtedly feel better.


Filed under Education