Category Archives: General

Schools should do….

Another day. Another person telling us what ‘schools should do’. Another time when I shout at the TV ‘What do you think we’ve been doing for years??’.  I get really fed up with people who know nothing about education telling schools what they should be doing. Every school I know has a bullying policy, an internet safety policy, a child protection policy. In fact, when I finally gave up teaching, our school had a policy for just about anything you could think of. These were not just pieces of paper paying lip-service to situations. They were working documents with standard procedures, obeyed by all staff. The only difference between teaching in 2008 and teaching in 1978 in my experience was that everything was committed to paper. Much of what is written on those bits of paper is common sense. If you witness bullying or a child tells you they have been bullied, you act on it. It’s a no-brainer. The difficulty lies in the child telling someone in the first place. Every child being bullied worries that by telling they will make things even worse.

Cyber-bullying is much harder. Schools often have divided opinions about nasty messages being received at home and how far their jurisdiction should extend. When does online bullying become ‘nothing to do with school’?

I remember a few years ago, a student told me that her friend was having an online relationship with a man and they planned to meet up. I was very concerned that this girl knew nothing about this person’s real identity. So, I rang her parents to discuss this and ask if they were aware. I got a torrent of abuse for ‘interfering’ in their daughter’s personal life. I still maintain that if it were my daughter, I’d have been very grateful for the concern of her teacher but we’re not all the same.

The key to getting things as good as they can be is an open and honest relationship between home and school. Each should view the other with respect and have the common goal of caring for and developing each child positively. It helps that parents can view the school’s policies but if they feel they are not being applied, they should feel comfortable about raising their worries directly with the school management. By the same token, whilst teachers don’t believe everything a child tells them happens at home, it should be important that the teacher feels they can ring to discuss any concerns which have arisen.

I get exasperated that schools seems to be responsible for all society’s ills. In many cases, school is the one constant in a child’s life. Teachers take that responsibility very seriously. So please, government, news companies, general public, before you tell us what we ‘should’ be doing, research what we actually ARE doing and have been doing for decades.

Answer to Amazon query

This is a photo of the plug connector, sitting on a ruler. As you can see, it is almost 1cm wide.

 

jack plug

Hopes and Fears

It is customary to think about the last twelve months at this time of year. Then, having swept away those cobwebs, set out our hopes for the next year.  I have been reading a lot of people’s blogs this weekend. Inspirational people. People who nurture our children on a daily basis. People who work so hard, with such commitment, yet get more and more heaped upon them. I am so glad to be out of that world.

It would be impossible to list my hopes and fears for 2014 (unless I decide to write a book again). But this is my chance to set myself some targets for the coming year.  To be fair, some of these are more easily achieved than others – especially those which focus on others in my life. But I’m a mother and grandmother so anything’s possible.

1.  I need to take better care of my body by eating more sensibly and taking more exercise. I hate exercise. I love eating. It’s a problem.

2. I need to cut myself some slack in my caring role. The world will not come to an end if I have an afternoon out at the shops.

3.  I must stop spoiling my two grandsons so much. No matter how many times I say it, I know I still fail because they are adorable and I just want to bury my face in them both and breathe them in day and night. How is it physically possible to love two little people so much?

4. I want my number one daughter to try and relax more and stop trying to be Mrs. Perfect at Everything.  I fear for her physical and mental health if she continues to burn at the current rate. Something’s got to give. At Christmas, I saw her relax and laugh more than she has in a while. It was good to see and I hope she takes more time to do so this year.

5. That brings me to daughter number two. My hopes for her are that she can finally find a gorgeous man (of whatever creed or colour) who will make her happy, respect her and her funny little ways, surround her with love and want to be with her as much as she wants to be with him. She deserves this so much.

6. I must remember to kiss my darling husband every day without fail. We have been together for 41 years now. Each day is better than the one before. He is my best friend and I don’t tell him this enough. I must also stop nagging him so much.

Lynda and Barry Christmas 2013

7.  I started my current blog last year. I also invented Ava Whinge and her daily whinge. This didn’t last long as I ran out of things to whinge about. However, I hope to get back to blogging more regularly.

8. I’m dreadful at starting new things with great gusto and then giving up. This is true of my first novel. I wrote madly for months and then couldn’t finish it. It is still lying there, taunting me. I must try to reread it and get it finished. I think it is a pretty good storyline and deserves an ending.

9. I have done things I regret. They are in the past but they still needle me from time to time. I need to either let them lie or try to put them right, where possible.

10. I need to stop worrying about the ‘what ifs’. I should live for today and let tomorrow take its course. It is hard to predict what the next year will bring. No doubt there will be joy and tears. But we are a strong family and as long as we have each other, we can get through good times and bad, all pulling together.

To make you smile

This joke hit my email inbox this morning. It made me smile so I thought I’d share it with you.

A group of chaps, all in their 40’s, discussed where they should meet for lunch.
Finally it was agreed that they would meet at Wetherspoons in Bridgnorth because the waitresses had big boobs & wore mini skirts.

Ten years later, all in their 50’s, the friends once again discussed where they should meet for lunch.
Finally it was agreed that they would meet at Wetherspoons in Bridgnorth because the food and service was good and the beer was excellent.

Ten years later, all in their 60’s, the friends again discussed where they should meet for lunch.
Finally it was agreed that they would meet at Wetherspoons in Bridgnorth because they could dine in peace and quiet and it was good value for money.

Ten years later, all in their 70’s, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch.
Finally it was agreed that they would meet at Wetherspoons in Bridgnorth because the restaurant was wheelchair accessible and had a lift for the disabled.

Ten years later, all in their 80’s, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch.
Finally it was agreed that they would meet at Wetherspoons in Bridgnorth because they had never been there before…

Big Prizes!

Oh dear. You were tricked. There are no big prizes but at least now I have your email address so I can send you even more rubbish.

I just love Twitter (in case you didn’t know already)

This morning, I started a conversation about the windy weather. This is what then happened:

Me: Today I have been chasing chairs, tables and bamboo plants around the deck.

SJB: @e_gran I know tables and chairs have legs but….

Me: It is wild up here!

SJB: @e_gran It was here last night, but much calmer today. Hopefully our calm is heading your way.

Me: Unfortunately it is coming from the north, but particularly down the east coast.

SJB: @e_gran 😦 Sorry to be selfish, but I hope it gives us a miss.

Me: If you see a pretend rattan sofa fly over your house will you nab it? It’s mine.

SJB: @e_gran I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.

SJB (later): @e_gran it didn’t come my way. Maybe it’s blown out to sea.

Me: Hazard to shipping, my pretend rattan sofa.

Me: I’ve given up chasing them now. I’ll just have to clear up the chaos tomorrow, when it dies down.

SJB: @e_gran well at least the men on the oil rigs will be able to make good use if it.

Me: LOL! Hope they send it back. The two chairs and table are missing it.

Then this evening, this appeared in my timeline:

The Oil Rig Men@TheOilRigMen are following you

Bio: We were busy drilling for oil when a pretend rattan sofa fell from the sky

The Oil Rig Men @e_gran Thanks for the pretend rattan sofa. It’s been just the thing for putting our feet up on when it was too windy to work today.
The Oil Rig Men @e_gran Any chance you could spare us a table and chairs to go with it??
I don’t know for sure but imagine that SJB is behind this?

@TheOilRigMen I have just spotted this. I am crying with laughter. Thank you for giving me the biggest laugh I’ve had in ages.

I just love twitter. It brings me laughter and tears, companionship and a soapbox opportunity. And today was just a fine example of the way it can change your day. Thank you SJB for making me laugh at what is a difficult time for you.

Grandchildren

 

Image

Today, my first ever grandchild is celebrating his fifth birthday. I was there at his birth, waiting anxiously for him to make his first cry for what seemed like ages and when they brought him over to us, all pink and beautiful, he stole my heart and has held it in the palm of his hand since. People tell you that there is no love like you feel for a grandchild and that is so true. When you have your children, they are your whole world but unfortunately they come at a time when you are juggling a career, keeping a home running and have limited finances. Time is at a premium and although the time you spend with them is precious it is still part of a pretty hectic lifestyle. You watch them grow and flourish and feel joy and sadness with them, just hoping that you have done your best to help them become happy, healthy and successful.

Having a grandchild is very different. We are lucky that we were able to retire from teaching early and consequently spend much more time with our grandchildren. Although looking after two little boys is VERY different to bringing up two girls, the love we feel for them is almost unbearable at times. Sometimes I feel like I could burst with it (usually when they are being good, or asleep!). Some grandparents make the decision to lead their own lives and say ‘I’ve told my son / daughter that we’re not looking after their children while they work!’  Everyone has the right to make that decision, of course, but my opinion is that they must be missing out on so much. When they slip their hand into yours, or tell you they love you, or, as S did on Friday, give you a little handwritten note saying ‘I luv you soooo much’ it is enough to make that love almost painful it gets so big! Just like your own children, they can bring tears of joy or tears of sadness, but being there with them, making the most of every day (as you will never get that day again) and watching them grow and flourish in what has become a pretty tough world is so very special.

So, happy 5th birthday little man. You make us very proud and we hope to be here for you for a long time to come.

Grandma

x

Lifestyle Change

A week ago I was invited to my local surgery for a health check and fasting blood test. Today I had to go back for my results. I knew what they would say before the nurse even pressed the mouse button…..

I am no fool. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I love food – especially sweet things – and I hate exercise of any kind. My husband tells everyone that I don’t like anything that involves taking clothes off and getting out of breath! So it came as no surprise to find out that my cholesterol level is too high and after a few more clicks of the computer, I was classified as ‘inactive’.  I was then given the options of lifestyle changes or tablets. 

I don’t want tablets. I take more than enough tablets keeping the old Rheumatoid Arthritis at bay. So I guess this leaves me with lifestyle change then. I was pretty glum when I returned home. I can only have a very rare glass of wine because of the medication I take for RA and now my only other pleasure was to be knocked on the head too. I opened the kitchen cupboard and saw the two family size chocolate bars that my husband bought me at the weekend and felt like crying. No more lavishly spread toast and butter. No more Bakewell Tarts. No more Highland Butter Shortbread.

Despite the fact that I am ‘busy’ looking after my father 24 hours a day 7 days a week and my active grandchildren two days a week, I would also have to look at taking some formal exercise several times a week. This almost feels worse than the food issue. I can’t think of a single thing I’d enjoy doing for thirty minutes a day that would get my heart racing. I don’t like being outside. I don’t own a bike or have any desire to ride one. I certainly wouldn’t want to be seen in a gym – even if I had the freedom to do so. I can’t really swim and my RA makes me not-so-brilliant at flexibility or balance. 

So, I sat down and ate some of the chocolate from the cupboard, telling myself that I just need to use it up and then I can start being good.

I have three months to get myself turned round before I have to go back for another blood test. During that time I’ll have to train myself to eat more healthily, drop a few pounds, take more exercise and give up chocolate, cake and biscuits.

Wish me luck.

Grandchildren

Grandchildren can bring such laughter. This week, in Sainsbury’s, S (who is very nearly 5) was telling me that the following day people would be giving up things they like. I asked him if this meant things like chocolate. He told me it did but that he wouldn’t be giving up chocolate. After a quiet moment of thought, he said ‘I think I am going to give up …….wine’. Cue everyone in that aisle bursting out laughing.

Then yesterday S  was in the car with mummy. He told her that he had now decided who he was going to marry. Naturally she was curious so asked him who the lucky girl might be.
‘I am going to marry X’ he told her. Mummy asked why he had chosen this particular girl.
‘Because she is so helpful’ replied S.
Mummy then asked what she was so helpful with. 
‘She helps take my clothes off’ was the reply.
Mummy was now feeling a sense of alarm so probed further.
‘When we do PE she helps me with my buttons and things. Then after PE, she helps me again. She folds all my clothes carefully and puts them back in my PE bag.’
Definitely ‘wife’ material then!

Incidentally, two weeks ago he told me he was going to marry Y and they were having one little boy who they would call ‘Mario’. Apparently she has now been ditched as ‘She is too bossy’.
Aren’t grandchildren brilliant?

Virtual Friends

Most of my friends and family know that I love twitter. This is really odd because in my early days of using a computer, I would run a mile from any form of communication with ‘strangers’. Well, twitter changed all that. I love the conciseness of it – if you can’t say something in 140 characters then don’t say it at all. But most of all, I love the fact that you can pick and choose who you interact with. My twitter friends are mostly teachers and even though I have now retired, I still maintain a healthy interest in education. In my last working years I was heavily involved with Enterprise Education and then set up my own business as an Enterprise Education ‘consultant’ (I hate that word!). The pressure on schools to jump through hoops added to the cuts in budget and loss of additional funding for Enterprise (thanks to you, coalition) mean that it was more than a struggle to make it a comfortable income. On top of this, I found it difficult to do the ‘business’ part as in ‘taking money from people’. My business still has one outstanding debt that I gave up on because I’m just too much of a softie to keep pestering. The joy of it now is that I can happily help people find solutions without charging them and I find this much more ‘me’.

So……twitter. I read a lovely post from one of my followers this week about friends. Read her blog – it’s really good. You’ll find it here: http://highheelsandhighnotes.wordpress.com/ and the entry I’m referring to is Day 31. She refers to ‘virtual friends’ meaning those who exist for us on the internet via social networking. A few years ago I would have laughed at this but twitter has taught me otherwise. I have built up the most amazing collection of people over the years. When you feel down they respond within seconds with just the right words. If you are happy about something, they pat you on the back and congratulate. Of course, it isn’t always positive. Last year brought an example of the dark side of social networking as referred to in my blog in August  2012 under the title ‘The Strangest Four Days’. I don’t want to go over the whole sad tale again as it still hurts but you can read it if you wish to know more.

Twitter has taught me that there are a lot of good people out there that we may never meet. I have met some of my twitter followers though and they turned out to be just as I’d hoped and expected. Who was it said ‘Facebook is for people who are friends but you wish they weren’t but twitter is for people who aren’t friends but you wish they were’? Well, something like that, anyway. I pick and choose my Facebook friends very carefully, so if you are on my list please don’t take that last statement as meaning you!

This week was a sad twitter week in some respects. A lady I follow has been counting down to retirement and finally retired at Christmas. However, her husband was admitted to hospital before Christmas and sadly died this week. At times like that, kind words and thoughts and prayers from twitter peeps can make a difference. I find her in my thoughts a lot over the last couple of days.  There has been a lot of good news this week too as many of my twitter friends were shortlisted for NAACE Awards. The shortlist read like a Who’s Who of my twitter ‘friends’.

I don’t follow celebrities really. I can’t see much point as there is little or no interaction. I do unfollow people who irritate me and have been known to block people too. (Blocking means they can’t see your tweets.) I don’t like bad language on twitter and sometimes have to fight the urge to correct people’s spellings (once a teacher, always a teacher). My other pet twitter hate is people posting using auto tweets, telling me how far they have run, walked or swum and how many calories they have burned. In fact, I hate auto tweets altogether. For me, twitter is about people. I also get a bit narked when people retweet praise that has come their way. I’m not really a ‘look at me!’ sort of person.

Here are some of my favourite twitter people. I wonder if you can spot yourself in this list:

The lady who is married to a Head Teacher and has a great sense of humour. I feel we would be great friends if we ever met.

The lady who  went through cancer treatment and is always there now for anyone having similar health issues – as well as the rest of us.

The lady who was a surrogate mum for her friend. She is one very special person to help a friend like that.

The lady who has to live far from home for work and is having a pretty tough time with her school at the moment.

The man who runs a careers information business and always makes me laugh with his tweets.

The lady who lives on an island and despite the loss of her husband at a young age, is always positive and lovely.

The retired Head who has become an amazing influence on so many schools via blogging.

The bubbly, crazy woman from Wales who is a brilliant artist and SEN specialist.

The lady from Yorkshire who works for an education company and had a lovely baby girl last year

There are many, many others – too numerous to mention. All special people and all appreciated very much. I may not meet any of you in the flesh, but will always think of you as my friends.

And that is the beauty of twitter!