Thursday, 14 July 2016

He's doing what?

I thought Ben was finally feeling motivated to clean his boots. No. He's cleaning his old ones so he can sell them. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

He's back and I didn't miss him - shock!

His shoes lay strewn near the front door. ACDC riffs belt out from the amp in the front room. My head throbs. Peace reigned for five days. Five long, lazy days. Now that peace is shattered. The boy is back. But - prepare yourself for the shock - I didn't miss him!

The school parents' Facebook chat page buzzed while they were away at their Year 5 residential. I started a thread asking if any other parents had received their postcard. We were asked to pack a stamped addressed card. I had but some other parents didn't, making them feel totally rejected! One mum forgot and felt awful. It was on this thread that it appeared I was the only parent who didn't miss their little bundle of joy! Other mums described tears at bedtime the night before. Tears when they were pulling away on the coach. And this was boys, actually, not girls. I jokingly said I was certainly going to win the Worst Parent Award for this half-term. One mum replied that I'd raised an independent boy rather than a clingy girl. Another mum said her boy had never been away from home for this long before. One quipped that by 7pm on the first day, she would've driven to pick her up. Whilst blogging this, a friend texted to ask if I was glad my boy was back. All of this was said non-judgmentally of course, and my comments here should be read as such too. I did explain that Ben is used to taking week long holidays with his grandparents from age 0. When driving away, he wouldn't give us a second look. We'd get the obligatory wave and that would be it. I remember taking another child camping when they were 5. His mum cried when she spoke to him on my mobile. Working in school is all well and good for childcare, but rubbish when you consider I don't get any time off without Ben!

I would like to add that I've been ill this week with a tooth/sinus infection. I wouldn't have been able to get the right amount of rest had I needed to get up at 3pm to go and fetch Ben. We also had a bit of a feisty weekend before he left and I told him, not jokingly, that I was glad he was going away for a week. He agreed, not jokingly.

When we picked him up today, a few of us mums nervously admitted we hadn't missed our children one bit! One couple had been abroad on a mini holiday and had a ball! I suddenly realised that those of us who didn't miss our kids and felt no guilt, were mums of onlies! I think that had the "missing their kids" parents had the silence and tranquillity that we've had, they'd feel the same. They probably do enjoy the time for different reasons - sibling dynamics change tremendously and they may get to spend precious time with a younger or older child.

But not having the daily dialogues around getting ready for school, coming down to eat, the decision of what to cook for the family, not having to share the TV time, not waiting until bedtime to watch Game of Thrones - this week has been bliss. And that's with my sinus infection!? When's the Year 6 trip?!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Axl, We Salute You!

ACDC Queen Elizabeth Park, London
4.6.16

Last December, I was quite hungover, the night before having fallen asleep in a curry house after a long school term. I booked ACDC tickets with trembling hands. My son has recently got into them and has started playing the electric guitar, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Take him to an ACDC gig for his first one. We booked with our friends, also having two boys well into ACDC and a dad who'd seen them before.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Duran Duran - 29.5.16 - Common People Festival, Southampton


(Photo taken from Duran Duran's official Facebook page)

Six months ago, my Durannie friend asks if I want to go to this festival in Southampton to see Duran Duran. It's just before my birthday, what a great idea. And let's upgrade to VIP tickets! Together, we've seen them three times. The first - no John sadly, but still good. The second - in Birmingham, fantastic to see JT at last (he's always been my fav, my friend preferring SLB). The third - extremely special in St Andrews football ground. We were so close and I was pregnant with Ben, dreaming JT was the father! 

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Adam Ant - Guild Hall, Portsmouth - 27.5.16 We weren't square, we were there!



Having heard about the Dirk Wears White Sox tour, we knew we had to buy tickets for the Kings of the Wild Frontier tour. Thirty five years since its release, it has remained a firm favourite in our house. We were 11. It was the first "proper" album that I got into. Glynn's parents wouldn't let him have a copy, instead buying him a Shakin' Stevens album - which he now can't jibe them about as they bought him an expensive watch to shut him up. I had a copy taped for me by one of my parents' friends.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Be careful what you wish for

We live on the edge of a busy town, but right by the shore and with lots of green space around us. There is a little park behind Ben's old infant school in a nice estate. I've been desperate to get Ben "playing out" for ages now. "Just go up the park after school, see who's there," I'd say.  Occasionally he would, but he said "I'm more of a homeboy!" No you're bloody well not, not if I have anything to do with it. You will not come home after school and fester in your bedroom playing the X Box.

So he did start to go up to the park. There are a few kids who are in his year (5) who live nearby. I don't know all of them. The first day he came back and said everyone rode off and left him after he "accidentally" kicked his mate in the bits n bobs whilst on the swing. They had an argument on Instagram about it afterwards, but made up the next day. Then someone else kicked his ball into the hedge and wouldn't get it out, so his dad had to go up and fish it out. Once while another friend was round, they played up the park and the park boys were picking on Ben's friend, who I was responsibel for. I was up there too, but not in earshot, but I took them home. Another day, he'd been punched in the face by his mate's older brother. Apparently he'd kicked the ball "too hard" at him. Then the last straw was a couple of 18 year olds who kicked his mate's bike and he hit his head when he fell. 

This was only over the last two weeks! And it's not including all of the girlfriend/boyfriend business that goes on in the park and on Instagram. When I say "goes on", I mean they play on their bikes and hit each other with sticks! 

Each day he came home with a different story, I felt more and more uneasy. What was I doing to him?  Had I pushed him too much to play out? Was he really a homeboy? Was I making him feel it's OK to be beaten up just so he can have mates at the park? Should I stop him going? Were they all bad news?

We've had two sessions at the park now where he's come home with no fights - and with the same girlfriend! This is what I call a result! I've sorted it in my head after talking to some friends of mine.

- He's still talking to me about it. The time to worry is when he won't share.
- He's not upset. 
- It's the pecking order thing. They have to work out who's who. (I'm a girl, we didn't do quite the same things when I was growing up!)
- Having a fight at the park is still better than festering in his room playing X Box!

We no longer have dinner altogether every night. It's kept warm for him and he fills up on snacks beforehand too. But this is OK. It's part of him growing up. I can accept that. For now...

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The passing of Prince



This started out as a post to Ben on my family blog but has ended up here. This year, the passing of some of our best celebrities has affected us all in different ways. On the one hand I'm fed up with the name dropping (David Walliams actually thanked Bryan Ferry for inviting him for dinner with Prince -yuck) but I'm more fed up with people telling me how I should feel! I'll feel how I bloody well like about it. "But you didn't know him!", "You value his life more than migrants dying on boats!" No and no. Of course I didn't know him, I know I didn't particularly want him to be tainted with the same kind of death as Michael Jackson (he's far better than that) but no, I don't know him. 

But I do know how I feel now when I hear his music. From 1982's 1999 album, through Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade, Sign 'o the Times, Lovesexy, to 1989's Batman soundtrack, then dipping back to 1980's Dirty Mind and the following year's Controversy (I must get For You!), he literally was the soundtrack to my 80s. Sheila E's Belle of St Mark, I love it. Most of those are either on vinyl or cassette. Hearing them is like putting on an old comfy jumper. I know every line of every song. I know which song follows every song. I can't say I listened to the lyrics like I did perhaps The Smiths, but musically Prince took me through my life from age 11 to, well, until today. Everyone loved him. We went to see him on his Lovesexy tour, one of the first times I'd been far away on my own (to Birmingham from Cornwall!). We had t shirts (wish I'd kept my Batman one). We giggled over Wendy and Lisa's Fruit Up Your Bottom, as we renamed it. We loved him. I can still feel that I'm sat on my top bunk in my bedroom, with the Around the World in a Day on cassette, marvellling at the simple tune of Pop Life. Feeling slightly risque years later hearing him talk about "trying horse" (I was 16...). During the 1990s, I bought Come and liked a few things he'd released. I loved some stuff recently about the same time as he worked with 3rdeyegirl and lazily thought I must get round to buying some of it. 

Prince, you soundtracked my childhood and to bastardise my friend's quote, I feel like an old school friend has gone. Not someone I'd kept in close contact with of recent, but someone who I loved at the time and helped me grow into the person I am today, musically and personally (not that there's much difference in that in my mind). 

So I will grieve. For a creativity that once produced so many fantastic songs and albums and will never do so again. But I often put on Controversy before a night out to get me in the mood. The only joy that can be taken from a musical death is to rediscover all that you once loved. 

Prince is dead, long live Prince.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

I KNOW I'm right!

Bringing up a child is hard enough, but when you realise they have their own minds, well ... How dare they! 

When Ben was at nursery, I remember the nursery manager saying "In life, there are leaders and there are followers. Let's just say Ben won't be a follower." To a parent, this is pleasing to hear, of course. He'll end up being head boy at school and fast forwarding twenty years, he'll be the president of some society or other, management at work etc etc. (But actually I don't think anyone is ever going to say "He'll be the follower" to a parent!)

We like to think we are cool as parents, as individuals, as a couple. We like indie music, we listen to 6Music and we don't watch the X-Factor or any broadcast TV for that matter. We shop in Waitrose and read The Guardian (well the free Saturday edition from Waitrose covers the guinea pig hutch nicely). We don't like popular chart music. We hope Ben will be as "rebellious" as us. 

Except he isn't. Well he is. He did rebel. Against us! He liked One Direction and Olly Murs. Imagine my shame! I used to tell people that he was rebelling against us to deflect the embarrassment. Thankfully that phase didn't last long before he discovered ACDC. With his electric guitar as a Christmas present, he's doing his first performance at school next week (band name Dread Zeppelin - tracks Back in Black and Sweet Child o'Mine). As indie kids, we totally accept his rock music. 

So then we get to agreeing and disagreeing. At football, Ben's always, how shall we say this, had his own idea of whether the coach or ref is right. From the initial walking off the pitch (years ago) to hands up in the air (more recently) via actually arguing with his own coach, we now think we've turned a corner. 

The message I got from my dad growing up was never to believe everything you are told. Something like "Believe half the people half the time, and take the rest with a pinch of salt". I question everything and although I wouldn't say I'm pessimistic or cynical, I trust nothing I read nor hear 100%. We have a funny (to us) family saying of "I know that" and I seriously dislike people saying to me "Yes, you're right you know". I KNOW I'm right, I didn't need you to confirm it! 

At school, Ben has a healthy respect for his teacher and would never argue with him (or her). He is too scared he'd be sent to the head! However at football, it's a different matter. He doesn't as a rule argue anymore with referees but he will argue with his coach. We've always said to him that he has to do what his coach has asked him during game time and if he didn't agree with it, or wanted to know why, his coach would always explain his reasoning afterwards, provided he asked in a calm manner. This has happened a couple of times.

But today, I think we finally turned that corner. Ben moaned at a teammate today for not passing to him when he thought he should've. His coached shouted over that he was right not to have passed to Ben and that Ben was wrong in this instance. Ben carried on playing and we were happy that he'd been told off correctly and even happier that he didn't react badly to it.

It was only on the way home that he said he still thought he was right, his coach was wrong, but he knew he just had to get on and play because his coach had spoken. Nothing would sway him, he KNEW he was right, but he didn't argue.

That's my boy!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Why read Ben Elton's Time and Time Again?



I should probably preface this by admitting I've never read a book by Ben Elton that I didn't love. And I have read them all, in case you're wondering if I only read one. From the magnificently soppy Inconceivable (and yes the film was as good as the book), to his behind-the-scenes of Chart Throb and the like, and his war books like The First Casualty. I love them.

Time and Time Again is, guess what, about time travel. A bereaved army officer and adventurer is forced to go back in time to stop the onset of the Great War. I'll tell you no more of this, as you can read the blurb anywhere. This was a real page-turner for me. I'm not snobbish about books, I don't particularly like chick-lit (but have read some by a hotel pool abroad) and I try to avoid any recommended by sofa-couple's book clubs ("Oh go on, you'll love it" usually puts me right off - The Life of Pi is a good example of that). I like a page-turner, and I will read Dan Brown's books as the storytelling is vivid and addictive. I tend to veer towards murder and dysfunctional, alcoholic, divorced detectives from either Scotland or somewhere Scandi. Brought up on Agatha Christie, I adore Rankin, Mankell, Nesbo, Peter May, Stuart Macbride ...

Having just finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, I found Time and Time Again was also a complete page-turner. Both books took me a few days to finish. (I do read every night, and I mean every single night, but I can sometimes only manage a chapter or two as I'm so tired at my age!) I stayed up past the witching hour, racing from chapter to chapter. Every chapter or so explained something in a different time zone and I found myself unable to stop glancing across, then having, just having, to continue. There are a few twists in this story and not being a history-lover as much as Ben Elton seems to be, he made it very real-life for me. When the first twist came, I wasn't expecting it at all. Like with The Girl on the Train, I was trying my hardest to "work it out" but I just didn't expect it at all. I did get the twist with The Girl on the Train, but that is a very different genre altogether.

I can thoroughly recommend Ben Elton's Time and Time Again; just watch out if you need to get up early in the mornings!

Friday, 29 January 2016

My weekly musings (AKA a load of twaddle)

This week has been a really odd one. The most awful thing was my cousin's funeral on Wednesday. She died aged 57 of cancer. Bloody unfair to her and her three daughters, all in their 20s, two of them with children, who also lost their dad a few years ago. Susan had just rekindled her relationship with her former husband and that in itself is unfair. It's all just wrong.

January is a hellish month for us; of course Ben's birthday in the middle of it is a joy, but why did he have to be born three weeks after Christmas? No sooner have we got the decorations down, eaten three chocolate oranges a week and broken weak Dry January resolves than it's time to celebrate our son and heir's special day. Now it's the end of the month and I feel like my year can finally start. I know this happens every year, but I just forget! I need to put in my diary reminders for next year. "Lost your marbles?" on January 12th would help. "Find them now" on 1st February. Maybe the plot might reapear around mid February?

I'm meeting some girls tonight for a takeaway curry. We've already been messaging about all of us either having had a meltdown, being on the verge of one or ignoring the fact that one is going on by not talking about it. I asked a leading question for tonight's discussion - How do you ask for help when you don't know what to ask for? Predictably no answers are forthcoming as I'm sure the others are the same as me. I just don't know how to ask for help because I usually don't know what I need help with. I've been overwhelmed with work this last month, not actual workload, just being on top of organising and covering for other people on courses or just away. I was scared stiff I'd not be in the classroom I was supposed to be in. I planned each week, kept my diary meticulously up to date and wrote lists of things to do. I did only miss one day - luckily I found out in advance - and it turns out, we don't think I was actually informed so it wasn't my fault! This, I find now by writing it, is more stressful than the thing I thought I'd be stressed out by. (Which was marking two sets of books for maths and English three times a week for the whole of the month, on top of what I do normally.) I don't know if anyone will have any answers for me, I guess we all struggle with asking for help. I'm fine asking physical things, like "Can Ben stay with you overnight as we are off to a funeral?" but I think saying "This is too much" is too hard. Or possibly only becomes apparently after it actually has been too much. I'm sure we will have fun discussing though!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The joys of getting ready for school

I realised last term that my stress point is leaving the morning to go to school and work. I work in school so being late is not an option. At all. I'm fine leaving for work, it's just Ben leaving for school that stresses me out. It's the "Mum, I need to take my footbal in today" comment five minutes before we leave. Or the "Where is your coat Ben?", "I don't know, I must've left it at school yesterday" etc. 

We are not the most organised, but we are certainly not disorganised. Organised chaos mabe. My idea  was always to get ready the night before. School bag was in the right area, school clothes out, and shoes and coat should be in the right place because surely Ben would've put them there the night before? Whilst searching at T-2 minutes, it becomes apparently that he didn't put them there at all. In fact he left them at his friend Max's. Great. 

I know this is not rocket science (I hate that phrase), but I really thought I was "getting ready the night before". I wasn't as organised as a fellow NCTer, who used to even get the breakfast out in the bowls on the table, covered over with cling film, granted, but I wasn't bad.

It had taken me nearly 45 years to realise that I don't like change. I am fine with my routine. I can get Ben and myself off to (different) school(s). It's just when he throws the curved football at me that I lose it. And I mean lose it. Sometimes when we leave the front door, we high five and Ben says to me 'Today was great Mum, we didn't argue!"

Nana suggested to me that I help him get ready. She advises in her usual non-accusing way, just something she'd noticed. It might help, you never know. It did at bit. We would spend about half an hour every evening getting ready, which meant me shouting three orders, Ben forgetting them and then us descending into another row. So it just moved the row from the morning to the night before!

Grandma, in her "have you considered" way, suggested me writing a list for Ben the night before, then removing myself from the situation, with a cup of tea, and giving him some time to do it. Guess what? A combination of the two grannies' suggestions works perfectly. I write a list on a whiteboard, carry on with my own jobs, he gets ready, rubs them off and has ultimate responsibility. Who knew!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

From clearing out to nights out

A tricky first week back for reasons too many to mention, none of which horrendous on their own, but when you have about five of them at the same time, it makes for a muddled Humdrum. I found that sorting out Ben's clothes really cleared my mind. It'd been on my to do list for ages, but like all lists, never actually being ticked off. All received by the British Heart Foundation. 
So from clearing out to actually going out. Ben had a sleepover at school on Friday, so we took the chance to go out for dinner. After last week's shenanigans, I'd sort of decided to do Dry January (affect voice a la Shaun Keaveny) but bumping in to Emma in Gun Wharf put paid to that! Actually I do her an injustice, I'd already ordered a bottle of Prosecco before I spotted her and her boyfriend. The last time we'd both been to that restaurant was together for a McCloskey Christmas meal. You know, the one where I took Ben to see Father Christmas the next day and was slighlty unwell. Yes, that one. We were much more mature this time, all grown up now, talking about schools and stuff. Plus ca change...

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Weapons of Mass Destruction located in south coast home

Do you think we should let Tony know?

Sunday, 12 July 2015

My own week in photos


Out with footie parents

Windy - we try to stay warm

Out out!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

My spiritual journey this half-term! (It's all about me)

Half-terms are for adults too you know, not just for children. Well perhaps only for adults working in schools. Each half-term, I have a mental list of all the things I'm going to "achieve". I never achieve them all. Where am I going wrong? Maybe in the idea that I have to "get things done", rather than just "do" things. This Whitsun week, spent with the in-laws in a cottage-complex near Frome in Somerset, I unintentionally changed the idea of my "to do list" in favour of a "creative do list". Here's what I did.
I swam every day in the massive pool, improving my front crawl which was a great achievement in itself for me. I also ran every other day, first thing, which set me off in a good mood for the whole day.
My m-i-l and I visited Stourhead House and Gardens. Whilst the house was a touch dry, the gardens were stunning. Taking an hour or so just to walk around idyllic meadows and rhododendron-lined pathways, investigate grottos and Gothic cottages, was good for the soul. Walking around the lake, a different vista appeared at every glance, such were the gardens designed. 
The gamesroom provided much fun. Replete with pool table, table football and table tennis, it was soon clear how much Ben had grown up since TableTennisGate last October in Centerparcs. (Our first game, I'm winning, Ben storms off and I go off in a huff too. Maybe we have both matured?) He was not only able to play better, but also to laugh at missed shots in good humour. Great fun. What wasn't such fun was having him tell me how to play pool as he'd been "taught by a pro" (Grandpa) for one lesson!
Tranquility. Whilst it was pleasant to do nothing, without trying to, I seemed to be creatively distracted. Psychologies magazine's Oliver Burkeman says that by fully occupying your mind on something else, you reduce the amount of attention which is otherwise used up by worrying. Hobbies requiring attention can be far more effective, he says, at reducing stress than traditionally relaxing activities. I fear this is true for me, so I've extrapolated that suggestion to include smaller-term projects, not just learning an instrument or a language, such as he recommends. 

Do I need to go back to all my "Busy?" posts and update them? This also links in with Happiness by Design, a book by Paul Dolan about finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life. Watch this space!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Yomping in the countryside


These days, I love a good yomp around the countryside. A coastal walk is the best, but country walks rock too. The problem is, Ben doesn't love them quite as much as me and Mr Humdrum. I was never a good walker when I was young. How I wish now that I'd done the Ten Tors, but I never saw the beauty in tackling rolling hills. I'd rather have been gothing in my bedroom or, earlier still, playing on the beach. So how to interest Ben? 

To be fair to Ben, at the end of a walk, he will usually say he's enjoyed it, but he'll just moan during it. And when you holiday in Cornwall each year, there aren't that many parts of the countryside which better it, so he's not really going to appreciate it as much as I do.

Yesterday we walked around the Devil's Punchbowl. Our new hobby, geocaching, provided a hook. We 'cached beforehand (tick) and gave Ben the choice of where to 'cache on the way home. He just had to endure a walk in the middle, where there were NO caches! 

I've discovered he's a stickler for sticking to the map. He hates the possibility of being 'lost' - ie, when we just don't know quite where we are going to end up. (I remember getting lost on the way to meet my parents in Poole for a week's holiday when he was 4. He cried his eyes out when I had to stop to ask someone the way!) So maybe next time, we ought to get him to look on the map beforehand so he can 'help' us find our way. (Although maybe from his ability to find some of the caches, we OUGHT to be getting him to mapread!) Maybe taking our old digital camera to record some of the sights along the way might help. 

What did help was us all guessing how many steps we climbed up at the last part of our walk! One hundred and ten! Ben and I lost, Mr Humdrum was the closest at 105.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Why I love my job

Where else would you get to take a selfie with a Gruffalo? Year 5 was the last place (apart from 2kool4skool Year 6s) I'd expect children to get excited about seeing this hirsute brown beast. But yes they did, and what a joy it was to see. The Gruffalo was at school to promote our Book Fair, walking up and down the corridor beforehand, funnily enough at the same time one teacher was "at a meeting". I found Gruff, as I call him, in the staff room having refreshments (a mouse smoothie) but he was willing to pose with me.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Things I have learned

1, After 43 years of not liking beer, I had my first pint (well a third of) in the Wave Maiden last Friday. Grand Cru (one of the 100 beers to try before you die apparently) with a champagne fizz on the tongue. Lovely. Converted? Not quite, but I'll return.

2. I can shop at any time. Even on a play date. Cal and I bought these unique bags at the Southsea Greenhouse, in Canoe Lake. We haven't been there for ages and we very surprised to see the Greenhouse and Greens Cafe!

3. Ben needs his independence. I jokingly invented a set of badges for Ben to earn over the Easter holidays; here he is earning his Go To The Shop To Buy Icecream And Return With The Correct Change. Nailed it. Badges also earned - Play Spies Out Of Sight On The Common and Walk To Football With R.

4. The power of old friends. I haven't seen the girsl in the first photo since we were 16. A funeral sadly brought us together, and one other not pictured, but good came out of it and we are meeting up in the summer with our kids.
This lot I do see once a year or so. Because I knew these girls before I met Mr Humdrum, whenever I spend time with them, I come away feeiling not only rejuvinated but full of confidence, like I probably was when I was 20. It's hard to explain.

5. How much I loved walking. Not having been a great walker for most of my life (my dad had to carry me up the cliffs when we left the beach, and mum had me in a pushchair for longer than most!), I do like a good ramble. Walking on Dartmoor over Easter reminded me of the power of the landscape. Using Map My Run to calculate calories burned was even better.

6. You can cook spag bol, well bol, in the slow cooker. I haven't got a photo of it unfortunately. The meat does look pinker than usual but it is definitely cooked! 

7. And last but by no means least, I have learned I can say no. No thank you, of course. But still no. Thank you for thinking of me and for the opportunites, but I'm happy as I am, thank you. How empowering. 

I have magpied this idea from another blogger but can't for the life of me remember which one! I will namecheck when my brain works.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Half-term Day 5 - Back to the Old Routine

U

Football again today. After a lazy start (a longer lie in was due after our Youtubing and TOTPing musical eduction last night), I dropped him off, not on the bike for I am bringing two other children home later. I went for a run, but struggled today. I only achieved 2/3 of the run, but hey. At least I did it. Then it was off to discuss options for a new car! It seems that, a test run notwithstanding, I will be getting a new bucket of new bolts very soon! Exciting times.

When I picked up Ben from football, his coach said he'd been fine today. When asked why, Ben said "Because I wanted to be good." I explained that he'd dropped himself in it now, as I know he can be! How many extra marbles shall I give him today? Three? He's currently out on the common playing football with R and S. As if he hasn't done enough today... Off out for dinner tonight. Glynn's treat, to make up for having to work all week.

Last day of the holiday.

MONEY £10 for football (already paid) and £2.50 for a hot dinner. Dinner tbc.

HEALTH AND FITNESS A run, 2/3 of normal route.

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT It will probably be enjoying a family dinner tonight. Oh and hearing Ben has been good today.

Half-term Day 4 - Party Time



A break from the team training today, as Ben was invited to a party by Charlie Up The Road. He came round to play in the morning, they invented two ball games for the alley, one of which was called Curly Wurly (I forget the other name, probably Kit Kat). Charlie's party was at Bowlplex, Ben should've been an expert as he'd been to Harry's party there a few weeks ago. He was the oldest there (Charlie is a year younger) and because he wasn't winning, he got into a right strop! I moved away from him to have a cup of tea in peace for 10 minutes; either that, or he was at risk of being bowled himself down the alley. When things were going his way, he was, funnily enough, in a much better mood. He did come second in the end, which satisfied him. On the car journey home, he dropped his iced cake and made a mess on the floor the car. Never mind, I'm getting a new one very soon.

MONEY Not included was the £4 parking and present money; £2 for a cup of tea in Bowlplex.

HEALTH AND FITNESS No riding today (after 20 miles in two days). In fact, no exercise today, only exercising control over unhealthy food!

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT The introduction, and good start, of the Marble Reward System. A jar into which marbles are placed for good behaviour, and which can be exchanged for 10 minutes of screen time. Screen time is reduced to one hour a day (after 9am meaning I can lie in bed for an extra hour!). We did this a few years ago, and I realised with the decline of his behaviour, and a chat with another mum, that we needed to do something. I have heard from two other mums that their kids are playing up at the moment, so I'm clearly not the only one! Phew!