Center Parcs: Our home away from home🍃🍂🏡

We have been visiting Center Parcs villages for several years, and we are never disappointed.

This trip marks my sister’s birthday and a final break before the reality of work and school kicks in.

We arrived on Friday to 35 Badger Woods: our address for the weekend. The lodges are practical with a homely feel. We love the open plan design which allows us to cook, eat and relax in the same space.

The past two days have been filled with swimming in the Tropical Pool area; Football-Pool in the Sports Plaza; long walks in the forest; heated games of Table Tennis. This is the first time I’ve not spent the equivalent to a monthly mortgage repayment on activities, and you know what? The boys haven’t complained about the lack of Field Archery, Paintball; Sedgeway experience one bit. In fact, it’s probably been a lot nicer an experience as we’ve not been rushing to get from one activity to another.

We’ve had late nights filled with home cooked meals and board games, followed by lazy mornings and bacon sarnies in bed.

It’s been perfect.

As I’m at work in the morning I’m getting ready to leave. The boys will stay here with my mum and sister, continuing the magic for another night, before returning to reality.

So, it’s with a very heavy heart that I load the car and get ready to travel home. Luckily the school year now consists of six week half terms, so not long until the next break with my loves.

I hope you are all enjoying every last minute of your Sunday. Squeeze the life out of it!

Rach x

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Another year: my round-up of 2018

My reflection of another year in my so-called life…

Where did 2018 go? Surely I am not the only one who is asking that?!

As we get older the years really do seem to speed up, as if on some steroid induced mission to really hammer home how precious and fleeting life really is. Well, I’ve got the message, loud and clear.

A round up of our year tells me that some days were wasted, some opportunities were missed and some regrets were regrettably had. However, there were also some fantastic adventures, great new experiences and chest bursting proud moments. It is these moments I will focus on in my round up of the year.

Shay and I took a mum and son trip to London. We saw the sights, took in a show and ate ice cream at Harrods.

I dyed my hair red, and whilst I loved it, I quickly realised that I am too low maintenance to keep up the vibrant colours!

I rowed a boat. Now this may not seem like much but I think it’s something!

We had snow days!

We visited theme parks.

Shay went to France with the school.

Dylan visited Durham University and became a Sports Ambassador for his school.

I took part in the Race for Life, joined by my work colleagues.

Dylan received and award for Outstanding Effort at school.

I applied for a promotion at work and was successful.

Shay finished Primary school and started Secondary school.

We went camping; once in Whitby and another time in the Lake District.

We went to an outdoor cinema!

I had not one, not two, not three, but four spa days!

We visited Stockeld Park for outdoor laser tag.

We watched my cousin marry his childhood sweetheart at Grinkle Hall.

I threw my best friend a baby shower at Acklam Hall before we introduced her third baby girl into the world.

I rekindled my love of writing via my blog. I’m still sporadic in terms of my posts, but I’m getting there.

We introduced Herb the jackapoo into our family (follow him on Instagram @a.dog.named.herb).

Rounding up the year like that makes the bad days seem not so bad☺️.

Today we have created a ‘2019 Bucket List’ filled with things we plan to do over the next year. I’d recommend this to anyone. Much better than resolutions! The three of us have talked about things we want to do and experience this year, and have captured it in a ‘bucket list’.

I hope that you reflect on your year with happiness, and have lots of wonderfulness planned for the year ahead.

Merry everything and a happy always to you all.

Rach x

 

It’s Christmas🎄

So, whilst the boys are busy with their presents (and by presents, I mainly mean our new addition!), I thought I’d take a moment to write.

Christmas is a time of year for thanks and reflection. Reflection on the year and what really matters.

It doesn’t matter what the presents cost; how well they were wrapped; or how many there were under the tree. What matters is the time and effort we each put in to telling and showing our loved ones how much they mean to us.

I hope you all have someone to say, ‘I love you’ to. And I wish for you all, that someone in your life shows you how much you mean to them.

Big, big loves.

Rach x

Growing up

Not me. I fell into that trap along time ago. No. I’m talking about the boys growing up.

Shay went to an under 18s nightclub event tonight; Dylan was in his own world, in the comfort of his bedroom; and I was…well…I was by myself.

As the boys are getting older and finding their own interests, I’m very much finding that outside of work and the boys my interests are well…not that interesting!

It’s always been a running joke with family and friends that I can be anti-social. I just always took that as a compliment. To me, it is because I’m selective about who I allow into my life and spend time with. I have a handful of fiercely loyal, protective and amazing friends. I have a small family, whom I can rely on for anything. I know I’m loved; I know I’m lucky. I’ve always enjoyed my own company, so spending nights on my own never hit me as a big issue. But for some reason, I’ve been bulldozed over by it, tonight!

Empy Nest Syndrome. I’ve heard of it and always wondered if I’d be that ‘boy mum’ who needed her little soldiers to come home as often as possible and tell me that my cooking was better than their wife’s, and that no one could iron their shirts they way I do. (Both impossible notions as I can’t cook to the point where Just Eat appears on my monthly statement more than any other store; and I’ve been known to iron my clothes whilst wearing them, and with the help of my straighteners.) Well, I think it’s safe to say that I am that mum, and that I’ve got ENS without them leaving the nest! I find myself longing for them to be little and dependant on me. Oh, what I’d have given to do the visit to Santa! (Believe me, I tried to bribe them into it!)

I guess that I need to embrace the teenage years of independence. Maybe I need a hobby? Or, maybe I should drink more wine and get into a Netflix series? I think the latter would be more fitting.

If you’ve got little ones, embrace it. Embrace the snot, the tears, the tantrums. Embrace the Saturday morning football or ballet. Embrace the, ‘just one more story’ before bed.

If you’ve got teens, send me your recommended wine list and Netflix series😉

Rach x

 

 

Our threesome is becoming a foursome!

No, I’m not expecting the pitter-patter of tiny feet, but tiny paws🐾

Today I met the most adorable little pup. He fit in the palm of my hand and snuggled into my chest whilst I cooed, and lost the power of intelligent speech, talking to him in that annoying coochy-coo way people do when presented with a new born baby (broody much?).

Before I knew it I was begging the lady to take my money!

His name is Herb. He is a jack-a-poo (looks more poo than jack) and I cannot wait for him to join our family!

Shay and Dylan have asked for a dog, consistently (incessantly) for the past two years. Shay has gone as far as to refuse to write a Christmas list this year, possibly forgoing any presents, in the vain attempt to ensure we get a dog.

This is a HUGE commitment. It’s another life that ultimately I have to look after. There’s the vaccinations, the insurance bills, the grooming, the daily walks, the poo! But after two years of umming and ahhing, and listening to every friend, relative, by-passer with a reason why we shouldn’t, I’ve decided that it is right for us.

Now, it’s a secret! I’m not going to let them know until Herb comes home, so keep mum🤫

I’ll keep you posted with pup-dates🐶 and appreciate any advice, tips, success stories around introducing a dog to my so-called life.

Rach x

Hello…again

Have you ever revisited a part of your life and thought, ‘what was I thinking?’

I started my blog in August 2017 and ended my blog in August 2017. How’s that for commitment?!

I’ll be honest: I felt foolish. Foolish to think that anyone actually read my blog. So I stopped. Just like that. I stopped writing. I stopped writing my blog, but I kept reading your blogs, and that is what has made me log back in almost 15 months later.

Your blogs have made me laugh; they have made my cry; but mostly they have made me want to comment; to connect; to just say, ‘Go you!’

So, here’s me. Back in action!

15 months. Well, my boys have grown at such a rate I am starting to wonder if scientist got it wrong about take out food. My two live off take-aways and poorly cooked ‘homemade’ meals, and yet they’re both a picture of health!

Dylan is now in third year. He’s around 6ft tall and is turning in to an amazingly considerate human. He’s a Sports Leader which is doing wonders for his confidence. I think back to how I was at that age and recoil in sheer horror of the attitude I had. Looking at Dylan makes me swell with pride. Not only have a kept a human alive for 13 years (am achievement considering my trouble with house plants), but I’ve produced a genuinely kind-hearted soon to be young man.

Shay has started senior school and has sailed through his first term with ease. He kept his friends from Primary, whilst making a whole host of new ones. He’s also managed to go 10 weeks without a detention. Good going in today’s climate of academies and military style behaviour policies. Plus, he’s got a ‘smart mouth’ and while I find him hilarious, I understand that as a teacher, ‘smart mouth’ can mean an instant dislike from adults in a position of authority.

We watched The Breakfast Club together at the weekend (I’m on a mission to ensure they’re well educated in the classic 80s film genres) and their reaction to the classic school stereotypes reassured me that they’ll be okay.

As for work, well I’m still teaching English, and leading on whole-school Teaching and Learning. For my sins, I managed to secure the position of Deputy headteacher, and Senior Leader of Education for my authority-go me!

The house is still a tumbling mess, with piles of washed clothes haunting my dining room table, dishes creeping up from the sink to form a tower of crockery over the work tops, and Halloween decorations that haven’t quite made it back in the loft…but it’s our home and we love it.

So for all I’ve have 15 months away from writing, not a lot has changed.

I hope to write regularly. I can’t guarantee it will be interesting or inspiring, but it will be something. And something is always better than nothing.

Rach x

 

 

Results Day…

Seventeen years ago, I collected my exam results. There was no big fuss; my parents didn’t come with me; there was no fanfare. It was just another day. I was more excited about my upcoming holiday than I was about the contents of that brown envelope!

Receiving my results wasn’t a momentous event, for me. Before I even opened that envelope I knew I’d not done as well as I could have done. But I wasn’t too worried. I knew that I’d be able to go to college and do something. I knew things would work out. I guess my mum hadn’t pressured me into thinking that this was the be all and end all. So, I picked my results up, thanked my teachers, and left. I had finally finished school and was excited to see what the next chapter of my life would hold. I don’t ever remember feeling that the contents of that envelope would ever define me.

Since then, I’ve been a part of my students’ experience on Results Day, and each year I think back to sixteen year old Rachel and I reflect. I didn’t achieve amazing (or even good) exam results, yet I still had hope that I could go on to have a successful life. Why is it then that year on year I find myself consoling students who didn’t achieve an A* (or as of this year, in English, a grade 9)?

Every child matters? Seems to me that our Government only want every child to matter, if they are headed for A Levels or university. Those who have not managed to crack the tougher grading do not seem to be given any hope.


After all, what is there to hope for? It seems that when students do achieve instead of their achievements being celebrated the goal posts are moved! Now, I’m all for progression, but I’m not sure this elitist attitude towards ensuring a clear distinction in what have been described as the ‘best’ learners is progress.

Who defines best? Who says that being able to write at length, and paraphrase quotes from 19th Century literature is best? Who says being able to work out simultaneous equations in a set amount of time, using a prescribed formulae in order to achieve the full three marks is best?

Where’s the exam that measures grit, determination and resilience?

I am an English teacher at a PRU (pupil referral unit). A school that provides education to students who for various reasons are unable to attend mainstream school. Now, not all my students put in the time and effort needed to achieve what the government consider a ‘good’ grade. That’s their choice. Some can blame family circumstances; some can blame disruption to education; but ultimately it was down to them.

But what about the kids who didn’t give up? I’ll give you an example. Student A was admitted into the Local Authority Care system at a young age. Student A was abused and passed from pillar to post as a results. Student A was deemed too disruptive for mainstream school and sent to our PRU at the start of their GCSE year. During the time of their GCSEs Student A was passed again through three different homes. Student A still attended school everyday and left with seven GCSEs plus other qualifications. Student A cried because they didn’t achieve an A* or a grade 9.

WTF???

Student A is one of many students who have a range of talents and who will achieve in life, but only if we stop measuring success by exam performances. Due to this I’m reflecting on my teaching. Some might think that I need to change my teaching style to ensure that all students achieve the grade 9. Well I’m not. I’m going to ensure that I plough bucket loads of grit, determination and resilience into my students, and reassure them that if they don’t get a perfect set of results it’s not the end of the world.

Rach x