Fond memories of my school days {and how it has all changed}

With end of term exams looming we have had lots of discussions about school this week. This sent me on a trip down memory lane as I reflected upon my own youth. I have such fond memories of my school days, especially the sixth form and hope for the same for my children. However, it strikes me how much things have changed and I doubt that they will get similar experiences. If the kinds of things occurred today that happened to us it would trigger an Ofsted inspection! Is that a change for the better or the worse? I’ll let you decide…

Memories of my school days;

Memories of my school days. A pile of books with a note pad

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

 

Teachers

One of our humanities teachers had prosthetic hands following a childhood accident. If we were too chatty or not paying attention we would get a swift knock on the head from his prosthetic. Also, consider what sound a metal hand dragged across a blackboard makes? It certainly gets your attention! It was all good natured and it was accepted that it served us right. How times have changed.

Another teacher had a second job as a bouncer in a local nightclub. As long as you were more or less old enough he would let you into the club. He made sure that you were okay and always stepped in if you had any trouble. I remember this fondly. However as a parent I cannot imagine being impressed with a teacher moonlighting in a nightclub!

On one occasion our school mini bus broke down on the motor way. A few of us girls needed the loo so the teacher sent us (alone) over the neighbouring fields and told us to “find a house”. The health and safety implications of this make my hair curl. Thankfully we came across a delightful old couple who let us use their facilities but honestly we could of ended up in a very tricky situation.

It is true that you remember a good teacher throughout your adult life. Sadly we also remember the not so good teachers too. One of our English teachers was known for ‘liking a tipple’. You could judge the state of his inebriation by his demeanour. He would be vibrant and over the top (still drunk) or make us spend the lesson reading out loud to each other (hungover). How we passed any exams in that subject is anyone’s guess.

PE problems

Today my children seem to do much less pe than we did. They don’t even do swimming past junior school unless the school has it’s own pool. With hindsight I can see a much greater movement towards safety and although it may not be as much fun for the pupils, as a parent I am glad that things have changed. We had children knocked unconscious by a discus, children with darts stuck in their arms and broken limbs and nobody batted an eyelid.

Swimming lessons as we progressed through the years seemed to be less about fetching bricks in our pyjamas and more of a free for all. I think once the teachers knew we could swim they stopped caring. Swimming for us was a highlight of the week. We invented our own hybrid water polo/rugby game and it basically turned into water wrestling! One of my friends broke her foot and the response was “Meh, stuff happens”. Can you imagine  you child breaking a limb at school and not batting an eyelid?

Shenanigans

Our sixth form was based out of two schools with a mini bus service running between. Some of our group ‘kidnapped’ another by blindfolding him, taking him on the bus and abandoning him at the other end. They thought it was hilarious until the next day when the head of year called a special assembly to inform us that the boy was missing and the police were searching for him. Oh the guilt. Turns out the joke was on us and the ‘missing’ pupil was lounging in the staff room as we squirmed.

Instead of a prom we had end of term discos in a local nightclub. Lets just say it got messy. This is the stuff of legends. On a personal level I am so glad that smart phones did not exist and my own embarrassing stories shall stay on the down low. I think social media can be a brilliant tool but once it’s out there it’s out there forever and the implications of that do worry me.

Of course these tales don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the fun that we had. We made such strong bonds and are still friends 20 (lets be honest nearing 30) years later. I have amazing memories of my school days and I want the same for my children. Will todays’ climate change things for them? Probably and that is both good and bad. I hope that a balance can be found between safety and fun that will allow them to flourish and to make their own memories of fantastic times with friends.

Do you think your children’s memories of school will be wildly different from your own?

 

The Reading Residence

Man’s best friend. My best friend

Man’s best friend is a phrase often used to reference the close bond we have with our pet dogs.  Never has a truer word been spoken! I adore my dog and after reading Claire Justine’s post about her lovely dog Mollie I felt I had to share my story.

My wonderful dog is called Bliss. If you follow me on Instagram you will probably be familiar with her wild fur and chocolate button eyes. I have an incredible bond with my four legged friend that amazes me every day. Cats were always my pet of choice so to have such a  strong bond with a dog surprised noone more than me!

Mans best friend. My wonderful dog Bliss lying on the bed.

Man’s best friend

I can’t remember how we decided to get a dog. I was quite content being a 4 children, 1 cat family. Nevertheless I was persuaded that we had a space in the family that needed filling. And fill it she did. Bliss is 5 years old now but I cannot remember when she wasn’t with us. She is a mixed breed. Part Labrador, part Golden Retriever and a bit of Poodle. A goldenlabradoodle perhaps? What ever you call her she is perfection itself.

Bliss is very protective of me and always finds a way to insert herself inbetween me and anyone she deems to be too close. This has led to some amusing moments when the children or Mr M try to hug me. Bliss soon separates us (but in the most gentle way). She also stays close at night. Preferring to sleep on my feet or next to me if at all possible. My very own shadow.

Bliss enjoying the sunshine. Man's best friend

My best friend

She is a gentle giant. Loving nothing more than an afternoon cup of tea and then a lie down. The cat adores her too and they are often found snuggling each other. She loves a good run in the forest and thankfully isn’t a dog who likes muddy puddles. It is a great sorrow that I am unwell at the moment and unable to walk her. We now pay a wonderful lady to walk her for me. So she has the bonus of a lovely bunch of doggy friends to run around with.

Bliss running in the bluebells. Mans best friend - My best friend

Don’t think that it’s all plan sailing though. She is lazy, greedy and hairy. Her fur moults like nothing I have ever seen. Hoovering is a full time occupation. This mutt loves nothing more than raiding our waste bin for scraps. Hose piping down a dog covered in pasta sauce is no picnic. Nor are the ensuing stomach upsets due to her ‘feasts’. She farts like a trooper and has no concept of personal space.

Do you know what though? This lazy, greedy, smelly dog is the light of my life. I cannot imagine her not being by my side. Once you welcome a dog into your life you will soon agree that they are man’s best friend (and woman’s too).

Do you have a dog? Or are you a cat person? Why not share your story too?

 

Debs Random Writings

Down but not out

It came as quite a shock to realise that I hadn’t updated for 2 months. I cannot say that I was absent because I was having a marvellous time. Unfortunately the opposite is true. Life has been very hard lately. As a family we have suffered a bereavement, life threatening illnesses and struggles with disability. It has not been an easy road and my mood has suffered. I have taken time to think, to wallow somewhat and to adjust to our changing landscape but also to slow down and really absorb and appreciate what we have. I’m down but not out. Things will pick up and starting to write again is a step towards a return to normality.

Silhouette of a woman raising her arms against a sunset. I'm down but not outPhoto by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Grief

It didn’t occur to me until recently that grief can take many forms and there are different things we grieve for. At the moment we are grieving in the traditional sense for a lost relative and I think in a strange way this is the easiest emotion to understand.

Grief when someone is seriously ill is a whole new ballgame and something I had not encountered before now. It doesn’t make sense and that makes it harder to deal with. You find yourself grieving for events that you assumed would happen. How can we grieve for something that hasn’t happened? For memories we just assumed our children would make? I don’t think I am explaining it well and that’s why it’s so hard to deal with if you cannot even voice it.

I am also grieving for the loss of my mobility. It sounds selfish and self indulgent but I am angry at my body. I long to be pain free. This isn’t the life I thought I would have and I resent the cards that I have been dealt. I want to be that person who accepts their situation with grace but I am not there yet. It is a work in progress.

Down but not out

Everything seems so very different from when I started the year full of plans for the months ahead. It would be easy to allow this sad turn of events define how we progress throughout the rest of the year. But we cannot. There is so much joy in life. When you are grieving you have to look a bit harder to find it but rest assured that it is still there.

I have been spending a lot of time doing things for myself to improve my mood. Some have been more successful than others. Sitting in the garden and simply watching the birds has given me an unexpected boost. I am scared of birds so how this helps is anyone’s guess but it goes to show that sometimes we have to take a leap to find our happy place.

Best foot forward

This subheading really appeals to my dark sense of humour.  I am literally struggling to put one foot in front of the other at the moment. I won’t let it stop me though. I will just get there at my own pace. I am definitely the tortoise rather than the hare  but perhaps that is a good thing? I have time to examine my surroundings and to savour the good things in our life. I may not be as quick as I want to be but every step forward that I take is a triumph. I can say with certainty that I may be down but I am definitely not out.

 What do you do to lift your mood when you are feeling low?

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Silhouette of a woman raising her fist

 

Debs Random Writings
PoCoLo

A little life update (March 2018)

Well hello there! Can you believe that after the longest January in the history of the entire universe and a seemingly never ending winter, it is almost April? After such a slow start to the year we are already a quarter of the way through. The passing of time never ceases to confuse me. So much is occurring in our lives at the moment that I can’t seem to catch a breath. I thought it would be a good idea to give a little life update to cover what has been happening lately.

A little life update;

Education

Education and learning has been a big theme for the last few weeks. Junior is busy finalising his gcse options. They have changed so much since I took them. Even the grading system is different now. However it is nice to see more diverse subjects available to study that cover different abilities and interests.

Although Peanut doesn’t have a formal diagnosis of dyslexia, Mr M and Junior do and she has very similar issues. School have given her a blue reading overlay to help process what she sees. This has been an immense help and she has progressed 3 reading levels in a month!

OJ has decided to go back to college. He wants to work with young teens who are struggling with autism and their place in society. He feels like he will be able to relate to them in a way that non of the support workers he had ever could. I am so proud of him. He has come such a long way. It’s like he is a different person to the teenager who was confused by his aspergers diagnosis and angry at the world.

I have also decided to learn something new. I have invested in an online course to learn how to use Lightroom properly. It seemed silly to be paying for an app when I was only using the very basic exposure adjustments. The course I am doing is broken down into bite sized chunks and is easy to absorb so I hope to see a great improvement in my photography post production!

Magnolia tree starting to bloom. A little life update (March 2018)

Blogging

I have been very sporadic blogger lately. Despite the best of intentions life inevitably gets in the way. I think that is the beauty of blogging for pleasure. You can pick it up and put it down as suits. This way of writing is never going to get massive page views but it works for me at the moment.

I have changed my website provider because my back end was super slow (not as rude as it sounds). It’s hard to feel inclined to write when the technical side is super slow. Hopefully my processing speed will translate into writing speed!

Health

Mr M has been home recovering from his hand surgery for 2 weeks and has not annoyed me half as much as expected! He is getting quite bored of being inactive so has tried mowing the lawn with 1 hand and various other one-handed diy pursuits. I’m letting him get on with it but woe betide him saying his hand hurts.

On Wednesday I am going back to the orthopedic hospital to see what my latest MRI results show up. It was apparently a super fancy pants extra advanced MRI. I hope it throws up some easier treatment options than the last one suggested.

Family

The biggest events are the things I want to write least about. Times of crisis show you who you can count on when the chips are down. Is it inevitable that it will not be who you expected? I have lots of questions swirling in my mind that are unanswered for now. Hopefully as emotions settle we will all be able to look at events with a more rational point of view.

 

So that’ all folks (for now). Mr M has just cooked my tea one handed so I’m off to sample his culinary delights!

Life is never simple is it? But at least it is never dull.

What have you been doing lately?

Debs Random Writings

Be careful what you wish for

I think we are all guilty at times of making wishes. Big wishes and small wishes. Unrealistic hopes for a lottery win and more realistic desires for good weather have all featured in my day dreams. Earlier this year I shared my hopes and plans for this year. My Mom’s wedding was planned for early March and I said I hoped for either a snow filled day or one with lots of sunshine. Nothing in between. I guess you could say that one of those came true. Snow. So much snow. It really is a case of be careful what you wish for!

 

Be careful what you wish for

Snow covered landscape. Be careful what you wish for. It may unexpectedly come true in ways you hadn't imagined

Snowmageddon. The beast from the east. Whatever you want to call it, it certainly put a dampener on my spirits last week. The children were all off school and I was frantically trying to find the time for last minute wedding prep and falling short. We had over a foot of snow and I was worried we would not be able to make the 90 mile trip to the venue. I worked myself into quite a panic, knowing I would not be able to forgive myself if we couldn’t attend.

Thankfully Mr M is good at driving in adverse weather conditions and we made it in one piece. Sadly it meant that we could not have any photos taken outside and no group photos taken at all. Never the less it was a beautiful day and despite lack of photographic evidence it will be a day we don’t forget (for more reasons than one)

The wished for snow had another unexpected side effect. Our boiler broke down due to a frozen pipe causing a leak. Our newly painted dining room ceiling now has a large water mark and we were without heating as it dried out. Thank goodness for the log burner, which saved our bacon!

Hoping for a bit of help

Mr M post surgery. Be careful what you wish for!I have been struggling physically with the school runs of late. My hip joint throbs and feels so heavy that it is a huge effort to put one foot on front of the other. How I wished for some help with the school run. On Wednesday I got that help. In a most unexpected way. Mr M had to have a minor surgery on his hand and is now off work for the next 6 weeks. So, I don’t have to do the school run until he is back to work.

I quite like my own space during the day so am not sure how this will pan out. It’s great that he will be able to do the school run but on the other hand I foresee 6 weeks of watching Storage Hunters sending me slowly insane!

 

So, that’s our week. My wishes came true. “Lucky you” you might think but it didn’t pan out as I had hoped. You really should be careful what you wish for!

Have you ever had a wish come true in an unexpected way?

Linking in with:

Word of the Week

PoCoLo

Welcome to the weekend

Random thoughts on the passing of time

It’s been a funny old week and my thoughts have often drifted to the subject of the passing of time. After the longest January in the history of the universe, February is passing in the blink of an eye. Time is such a funny concept. We spend years wishing it away, wanting to grow up and become an adult. Then when our wish comes true we want it to slow down, so we can savour every moment. It seems almost cruel that the best moments happen too quickly and the worst pass in slow motion. I wish we could have a life clock so we could rewind, pause or fast forward life as appropriate. Wouldn’t that be the best invention ever!

Hourglass in the sand. Thoughts on the passing of timePhoto by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Random thoughts on the passing of time

Peanut went on her first sleepover this week. At the grand old age of 7. None of her siblings have done this at such a young age but she is much more sensible than they were at this age. Time is passing to quickly for my littlest lady. In many respects she is old beyond her years and I wish time would slow down and let her be a little girl for just a bit longer.

I realised that I have lost a week somewhere along the lines. There are now only 9 days until my moms wedding. I planned to make a jacket to wear to the service, which is probably overly ambitious since I’ve never made one before. Cue me frantically spending the last 2 days making toiles out of old duvet covers and nearly losing my mind in the process. I am desperately hoping that my last minute fabric order arrives quickly and that I can complete it in time.

OJ announced he is going to Kosovo with his friends later in the year. How is he old enough to go abroad by himself? Would they notice if I stowed away in his suitcase to ensure he was safe? The passing of time is hardest to bear when it involves our children I think. OJ isn’t even a child anymore but to me he always will be. It’s bittersweet to watch them spread their wings when your every instinct wants to clip them and keep them close by.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back”                                                                 -Harvey McKay

Quick, quick, slow…

Whether time is passing too quickly or too slowly, there is one thing that is certain. It will pass. Things, events, people. We all change and move forward. Nothing and nobody stays the same forever. Nothing we do will halt the passage of time so maybe instead we should find a way to accept it?

How do you cope with the passage of time? Do you fight it or embrace it?

 

Linking in with:

Word of the Week

PoCoLo

Weekend blog hop

 

Where are the realistic middle aged role models for women?

I am 44 tomorrow. To mark it I decided to  write a post about middle aged role models. I started to write but drew a blank. I could not think of a single middle age women who inspired me or who I admired. Where are they? Who are they? Where are the realistic middle aged role models for women?

Middle aged woman. Where are all the realistic middle aged role models for women?Photo by Greg Raines

I thought of Helen Mirren. She is a strong, independent women. Not afraid to speak her mind and still enjoying a successful career. She is stylish and attractive. However she is also 72. She is perhaps the next step for us middle aged ladies. Someone to aspire to be as we age but not someone we can relate to at this precise moment in our lives.

At the other end of the spectrum you are spoilt for choice. The Kardashians of this world command a huge following. The cast of reality tv shows endorse products and lead trends. Beautiful, wealthy young women share their life on Instagram. However none of these women ‘speak’ to me. I want to mother them and tell them to put on a coat before they catch a chill.

Searching for an image to accompany this post was very telling. There were plenty of pictures of ladies who were obviously still in their 20s. There were lots of pictures of women with heavily lined faces, obviously well past the first flush of youth. There was nothing in between. It appears to be socially acceptable to be a bright young thing or a fantastic older lady but during your middle age you vanish from society. Where are these women?

Why realistic middle aged role models for women?

I ask for realistic role models because it would be false to say that there are no middle age women in Hollywood and in the media. There are plenty but they are either in denial about their age or are not taken seriously.

The first category have had extensive surgery to retain their youthful looks. They look amazing but they don’t look like any genuine 40 something I have ever seen. I can totally understand why they do this in a bid to level the playing field with younger actresses and to continue to get interesting roles. However this alienates them from their peers. I cannot relate to someone whose face is frozen in time in a bid to look 20 years younger.

The second group of ladies are usually more realistic looking and good for them. However they end up being cast as the slightly overweight, funny best friend or being the butt of all the jokes. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see an middle aged woman with all her lines, lumps and bumps cast as a romantic lead?

 

What do I want to see?

I want to see women like me.

I want to see women who juggle family life and commitments.

Women with older children who suddenly find themselves with time to invest in their own well being.

Women with fantastic non-media based careers to inspire my girls.

Academic women pushing the boundaries.

I want to see people who are honest about the difficulties of having it all.

Women in clothes I would actually want to wear.

Honesty about the health issues that sadly affect us as we age.

Active women endorsing a  lifestyle we can actually achieve

Mostly I want to see ladies who accept their age and embrace it.

 

I consider myself to still be in my prime but the media seems to have other ideas. Is it too much to ask that we should be allowed to be honest about our age. Have you noticed elderly people on tv who get a round of applause for saying their age? What is this limbo land between 40 and your 60s where we are expected to meekly blend into the background until you can finally admit your age and be celebrated for it?

Being over 40 is not a dirty little secret we have to hide away from. Let’s celebrate it.

Let’s share our stories and become each others role models.

 

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PoCoLo