Writing 101 – Size Matters

This challenge I found interesting, to describe where you lived at the age of twelve. Well I have started to write about this on the page St Trinians with a slash of Hogwarts
At the age of twelve my home was a boarding school, and I wanted to write about it because the experience effected me deeply. So this is the beginning of it….

I thought I would share with you my experience of secondary school because I think I’m safe to say that my adventure was different to most people. Just imagine a place that was a mixture of the fun and excitement of St Trinians, the mystery of Hogwarts, and the incarceration of prison, that was the place where I was sent. I say sent, I went willingly, but I think it was not ‘what it said on the tin’, or the picture that was sold to me. I went because I was told that I would have to give up my dancing when I go to secondary, bearing in mind I was dancing every single day, it was my life, so yes I would have done anything to continue. It sounded like heaven dancing, singing, music and drama all day and weekends, even better, all of this and with no parents. What more could a you want?

The process to get into the school was rigorous, even to get an interview at the school, photos, and letters needed to be completed before you set a toe on the grounds. The audition day was jam packed with, a singing, dancing, drama, and academic tests. There seemed to me that there was hundreds of hopefuls going for a place at this prestigious school, that I did not think there was a hope in hell that a young naive farmer girl like me would never be good enough for a place like this. The only thing that I thought had going for me was when the head teacher was interviewing me in front if a panel of five, and a room full of peers, worst than the x factor, was she asked what my father did for a living, I said a farmer, her eyes lit up. Maybe she thought oh this one will be alright because her dad owns land, he will be able to pay the fees.

And so that day came and went and we played the waiting game for the letter to arrive to give us the verdict, is she in or is she out? Well she was in and the excitement of this new adventure was just great at the time. I could boost to children of where I was going, which I relished in because up till now I had just been there in the background not really good at anything no one really noticing me, but oh they took noticed now, especially my dancing chums, because some of them had tried to get into a school like this and couldn’t or their parents could not afford the fees. I was in the local paper, which was not hard I suppose, because I would only have to sniff and mother put it in the newspapers. But all in all I was enjoying this new found celebrity statues. Just getting the uniform or should I say uniforms was an adventure in its self. The never ending list arrived for the paraphernalia we needed to have, there was five sets of different uniforms, daily wear, summer uniform, winter uniform, Sunday best uniform and dance uniform, all of this to be purchased from a huge department store in London. So with all this you can imagine my eagerness to get to this magical place was at fever pitch. Little did I know how quickly this would fizzle away.

First day had arrived and after travelling seven hours with large full red trunk in tow, we finally arrived and drove up the gravel driveway. The only way I can describe it is something out of ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Bearing in mind I was looking at this through the eyes of an eleven year old everything looked enormous, the building was majestic, an original Rothschild mansion. The main entrance was over towered by two stone pillars which looked like they were guarding the wooden doors and what was beyond. I was in ore and feeling apprehensive to even getting out of the car. There was what seemed like, hundreds of cars with little wide eyed faces peering out of their car windows, being guided were to park, I had arrived. Were to go now? Walking between the stone guards we went up the staircase and into the lobby area which was floor to ceiling covered in photos of people past, royalty, cups and certificates. Gave them my name and was pointed towards a door. When I walked through the door what I saw to me was just this mystical place, a grand stairway going up, doors, pillars, marble floor, and a huge glass window which the height of the hall looking into a room which was the first dance studio I saw, but this studio was no ordinary dance studio that I had seen before. It was panelled with oak, had gargoyles glaring down at you, two fire places that you could stand in, barres, mirrors, and a grand piano situated in the large bay windows. We were told to put my trunk in the ballet room, which was one of the doors off the hallway. Yet another studio, this one was decorated in pale blue, again had a fire place, barres, mirrors and another grand piano. The room was jammed with trunks all sizes and colours, in joined my red one. What next? We wondered around aimlessly taking in the surroundings found two more studios off the main hallway. One a red room which looked out to the back gardens, where there was tennis courts. A room, which was a ballroom, the grandest room yet. It had a fireplace that had two marble angels either side hovering, glaring over you. The scent of the whole place was dust. There were many clusters of parents with their offspring all doing the same as us, wondering around not quite know what was going to happen next. Then it was indicated that the parents had to leave their blossoms. Now as far as I can remember I could not wait for my parents to leave, not even watching them go it was kind of a ‘ya right then bye’, then they were gone. I wish in hindsight that I had savoured their leaving because this was the last time I was to see them or speak to them for seven weeks. A bit like the doors in ‘porridge’, bang our sentence began.

That was it I was on my own, a new everything. I don’t really remember how I got there but I was shown to my dormitory. It was in another building so walking to it gave me opportunity to get a glimpse at more of my new home. I was taken down a staircase beyond the hallway which brought us to a basement. This looked dark and grey, a contrast to the grandeur of upstairs, the walls concrete and tiled, a rabbit warren of corridors. This must have been where the servants lived and worked when the mansion was owned by the Rothschild’s. We went through and then out a back door into a courtyard. Across and beyond was a building they called the Clockhouse, probably because of the great big clock on top of the building. To the left of the Clockhouse was a conservatory kind of building, which inside has potters wheels, art work, benches, and sculptures. I was taken in through the front door of the Clockhouse and up a sweeping staircase, along a rickety corridor, with many doors along, to a door that was last but one to the end, numbered seven. Here we were my cell, or should I say room. I do not know what I was expecting, you have visions in your head of boarding school dormitories, don’t you, of these large long rooms, with rows of beds either side, a bit hospital like. Well this was not what I was thinking at all, I walked through the door and I saw four beds, four chairs, four chests of drawers and three hard looking pairs of eyes staring at me, in a room smaller than my lounge now. The other three beds had been taken there was one left, I guessed this must be mine then. It was in the corner, behind the door. Just as was just thinking what next, the strangest looking person flung the door open. She was, I would say in her seventies, but I bet she was younger than she looked. She had a humped back, dragon like features and the brightest purple hair I had ever seen. She introduced herself as Mrs Veal in her crackly voice and she was the matron, scary, this was my part time mother, help. She spoke about rules, regulations and I don’t know what. In time I was to learn her catch phrase, ‘I just don’t want to know’, she would say this after she had asked what you were doing, and before you had chance to get your sentence out she without fail would come out with her catch phase. Seriously why did she ask then?

April Music Challenge – Don’t Stop Me Now

Well it's only taken the last half hour to work out how to do this, but I think I have done it!

I've shared a daily photo, a daily dance video, so this month I shall be sharing my favourite music. It will be interesting how much interest this generates, because I still think photos get the most response. But it will be a nice way for me to have a record of my favourite tracks. Now baring in mind I was brought up around music, in rehearsal band rooms, concerts, pop, rock, classical, I do have a diverse choice in music, because of teaching I have had to keep up to date with modern music, and I teach music everyday, for example todays teaching has been filled with singing, ukuleles and drumming, everyday is music of some kind, so it is a big part of my life.

So for my first track I think one of my best uplifters, Queens, Don't Stop Me Now. You can't go wrong with this one! If ever I want cheering up I go onto YouTube and watch Freddie's performance at the Live Aid concert, he was just magical.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

This weeks weekly photo challenge

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The reason I chose this picture for this weeks challenge, is this picture was taken while on my last school trip with last years year six class. And I felt this picture was very poignant because these two boys had been best friends all the way from nursery, all the way though ups and downs of their primary life, both of them being sometimes a little challenging in their behaviour but just boys stuff, one of them having what I call ‘the swagger’ they where both lovely boys with great senses of humours, I loved them them to bits like they where my own. We had been though laughter, dressing up in dresses, hitting me accidentally with a cricket ball, cheeky comments and tears together.

I think this picture matches the theme ‘forward’ well, because here for just this moment they are both looking out to the lake, knowing that soon their lives will be changing and moving forward to separate secondary schools and this friendship will change. It does make me shed a tear.

Daily Prompt: Musical

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Picture credit, Piano dance Painting – Piano dance Fine Art Print – Greg Gierlowski

What role does music play in your life?

The Daily Post

Where do I start with this one? Because music has shaped my life and has got me to where I am today!

I grew up in a household of musicians, and surrounded by music. Both parents played instruments from piano to brass. They were the founders of the local brass band. I played my first instrument at the age of two, and spent my time in band room, practice room, in our music room, people coming to the house to play, concerts, my first appearance on stage was at two and a half to perform in front of a live band and audience. All my four brothers were musicians, one going on to play professionally (see him here) I was exposed to all forms of music from classical to rock, ‘Queen’ being my particulate favourite.

Then I went to ballet at the age of three, that was it, music played a big part of my life again, even my mother played the piano to my lessons. So through dancing I learnt to express, appreciate, and dissect music.

Because dancing was everything in my life, I spent my secondary school years at a ballet school, which I have started to write about here At school I sang, played piano, danced and even learnt the double bass but not very well! I performed, and performed and performed, like a little performing monkey.

So with this strong foundation in music and dance, fast forward to now, and that is exactly what I do every day, teaching dance and music throughout my school, and now even teaching teachers to teach music!

So you could say music has been the most important influence to me personally and professionally!

Thanks for dropping by! X

Daily Prompt: Ready, Set Go

Set a timer for ten minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the timer goes off, publish.

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I can do 10 mins!

I always need a visual prompt, (being a visual learner) so I thought I would chat about the subject that seems to be in everyone’s vocab at the moment, the snow!

This picture is the view yesterday from my classroom. Driving to school it was snowing and I knew it was going to be a mad day. Children are like cats, when the day is windy or snowy the children go bonkers, wild, up the wall. And I was right. I thought to get it out of their system a bit I would take them out first thing and let them skid, run, use me as a snow ball target, etc. And no the health and safety form probably didn’t cover all of that, but hey, kids need to have fun! But that was not the end of the madness, they then spent the rest of the day with attitudes, falling out and general horribleness.

Bugger 10 mins done already, that went quick!

Thanks for dropping by x

Who was she?

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Who is this little girl? I don’t recognise her, but I do remember.

Wow, what a sorting day we ended up having. You know if we had planned to do this job it would never had got it done, but we just started by looking for the old video player up in the attic and ended up having a major sort out, the first in the 12 years of being in this house! So as you can imagine we found all sorts of things!

I found all my baby pictures and growing up pictures that my witch of a mother gave to me, probably because she couldn’t be bothered with them any more! That’s the kinda kind and sensitive person she is! And it brings up all kind of different feelings. They say that photos tells no lies, but that is rubbish, that smile you see up there is hiding so much, in fact. I was a very smiley child, always cheerful, but the reality of it was I just learnt to become a good actress, the smile hiding everything, trying to please everyone.

The smile that hid the living in dirt and squaller,
the smile hiding emotional neglect,
the smile hiding hunger,
the smile hiding chaos,
the smile hiding unwanted attention,
but the smile hiding not being noticed,
even though that little girl you see had all the material things she could ever desire, it was all empty love.

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I look like a boy in this don’t I, nice and 70s. So after sorting out the attic we thought we may as well sort out ‘that’ photo draw, you know the one, the one that you have been shoving photos in for years! Well there were pictures from past holidays and the boys growing up, school pictures etc, bloody hell where did all that time go, yesterday they looked like this…

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And now all grown up and the eldest left home.

The thing that entertained my very bright A* child of mine was reading through my old school reports. I think he was surprised how stupid I was then. But he hasn’t got a clue what I had to contend with, all my effort and brain power was about getting through and coping! I left primary school not being able to read or write.

Here are the encouraging words my teachers had to say about me! This is from secondary school.

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Rather weak!… thanks! You certainly knew how to build a child’s confidence!

As you can tell they really thought a lot of me. What they didn’t know then was I wasn’t emotionally ready for learning. My god if we said things like that in school reports now the parents would have a field day! Not that I would want to mind!

All I can say I haven’t done bad for myself, have I, considering!

First day of school, teachers plea!

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A few of you were showing interest in knowing what would help your child be prepared for school, and give them a good start on their road of education. I work with Year one at the moment which is the 5/6 years olds, and there are definitely things you could be doing to help with the foundations of their education. So here is an insight of what we do at school with your blossoms and some things you could be doing at home to help them along a bit.

    Maths
  • A large proportion of children struggle with is counting the teen numbers. So when counting with them always go to at least 20. (oh just a little note, can it be thirteen instead of ferteen)
  • Seeing the numbers written down, so they recognize them
  • Knowing numbers out of context, for example, children learn to count up in ones by rote but ask them a number out of order, you then know if they really know what it really is and what it looks like.
  • For the bright ones counting up in tens would be helpful, because we teach them in year one their 10, 5, and 2 timetables.
  • The best way to help your child learn about counting and counting on, adding, is good old fashioned board games. Because the first thing we teach them is counting on, adding, and counting back, taking away. But we cannot do any of this until they have got the basic counting up and back in ones and recognising their numbers.
    • Literacy
  • We all know that reading every day with your child helps them with their writing and reading. It’s not only about reading to them but about asking them about the story, getting them to talk about what is happening in a picture. Making up imaginative stories getting them to finish stories off. The talking comes before the writing. If a child cannot explain it to you in words then there is no way they can put it down in writing.
  • It is so helpful that at this age they can write their name. They should have had a lot of practise with this in reception class.
  • If you are starting to practise writing at home, make sure that you are using lower case letters because many children for some reason write in capital letters. I think this is partly down to the computer keyboard they see the letters at an early age on the keyboard and of cause it is all in capitals.
  • Knowing the names of the letters as well as the sound of a letter is good too. We always ask for the name and the sound because they need to be able to sound out a word and be able to write those letters.
  • Last little plea…It would so help my day, because it takes up so much time if not, can…

    • all the jumpers have their names on
    • children can put their own socks on
    • use a knife and fork
    • practice putting their new coat on and off, doing the zip up!
    • and have manners

    I thought it might be a nice and helpful idea to offer any advice to parents who child is first starting school in September, just from a teacher’s point of view! Obviously all schools do things in different ways, but the worries are still the same!
    Maybe questions about the curriculum, homework, making friends, what’s helpful for children to know before starting school to help them along, reading books, general routine in schools, questions like that. I don’t promise to know everything but I will do my best!
    So go on fire away, what do you want to know?

    Peekaboo!

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    Well I thought I had better let you all know I am still alive, as I haven’t blog for a wee while. You know how it is what with school, home and children, well they are not kids anymore, I should say young adults. I don’t get a huge amount of time for the old blogging! But as it is half term and peeing down with rain, so here I am.

    I hate to tell you I haven’t got anything life changing or profound to say and this is unlike me blogging without anything interesting but I just felt like connecting with you!

    Since I last was here I have seen the Olympic torch on the Plymouth Hoe a couple weeks ago. I’m not normally a person that would go and watch something like that but I went down to support My other half and ended up really enjoying myself and I was quite moved when I saw the torch.

    My eldest is all loved up with his new girlfriend, so I have gained another teenager, she spends all her time here. I suppose I should class that as a complement.

    My other son has been taking his GSCEs, which I must say he has taken in his stride, better than I thought he would. He is setting himself up to go to medical school. It’s all a bit weird really and it makes you reflect on your role as a mum when your youngest leaves school, doesn’t it. Things are going to change I think, routines are going to be different. When your children are at school everyday it’s a comfort because you know where they are, it’s the same everyday, but when they leave life becomes less predictable. So I think this is going to be a new chapter to motherhood.

    Anyway, the little fella at the top by the way, is a fox from Dartmoor zoo. Foxes are such beautiful animals. Here’s a few more pictures for your pleasure, I always like blogs with lots of pictures to look at, probably because of my low concentration span!

    Have a good day, thanks for popping in, and don’t be afraid to say hello! X

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    Reflection!

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    I was just having a look through photos of a trip I took our year 6 children on last week, it was a great day in a beautiful place. Full of laughter, chatting, taking photos, filming and editing. It got me thinking of a few things, this picture I took kinda looks like they are looking forward to their future. What is going to be in store for them I wonder?

    They are going to be leaving soon the comfort and safety of primary school and moving towards their future. I always find this time of the year particularly hard for many reasons. First because of my own turbulent experience of school but mainly now because I have nurtured, taught, wiped their noses, found their jumpers, sorted arguments, hugged, been cross with, played games with, ran with, sat with, cried with and looked after these children like as if they are my own from the age of 3. They started in nursery with me on their very first day, and I have seen them through their journey up through school, I have taught them in every year. That’s the joy of my job, I am not tied to one year group I teach the whole school throughout my week. And this years year six are the first I have taught from day one and soon they will be flying away hopefully taking a part of me with them. The fun we have had, the bad days we have had, the dancing, singing, playing, learning, discovering and performances. There is always one teacher you remember from primary school because they have influenced your life in a positive way isn’t there and I always wanted to be that one to them.

    So I have done all I can, it will be soon time to let them go, we have a few things left to do though like SATS next term. So for all you parents out there, there are teachers that really care, we do look after your blossoms the best we can, when you wave them off at the gate in the morning, then pick them up again later they have had a full and interesting day, even though you ask ‘how was your day, what have you done today at school’ all you get in answer, ‘not much’.

    Starting School Surgery!

    I thought it might be a nice and helpful idea to offer any advice to parents who child is first starting school in September, just from a teacher’s point of view! Obviously all schools do things in different ways, but the worries are still the same!
    Maybe questions about the curriculum, homework, making friends, what’s helpful for children to know before starting school to help them along, reading books, general routine in schools, questions like that. I don’t promise to know everything but I will do my best!
    So go on fire away, what do you want to know?

    Always hungry….

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    This is another snippet of my weird and wonderful life. How my strained relationship with food started. This is carrying on the ‘St Trinians with a slash of Hogwarts’ page, so if you want to read the beginning part click on there! xx

    In all the million of things that were on the list to pack for this place, I remember the first and simplest thing that had been forgotten was a school bag. So for the first 2 weeks or so I went around with my new books, pens, pencils etc in a carrier bag. I was so embarrassed. It’s amazing how the simplest things, to us as adults don’t seem a big deal but to children are huge. I always think of that feeling when I am dealing with children at school now and how the smallest thing can really upset them and that I am to take that seriously.

    So my daily routine consisted of, a fire alarm screaming to wake us up at about 7, we had to be out of bed instantly or we would get screeched at by the purple dragon, (matron) take wash bag with us to bathroom, wash etc, dress for breakfast. Queue for breakfast….now food, well that’s a subject all of its own, me and my relationship with food. We go back a long way. Starting with the lack of it when I was a child, having to fight over food with five other grown men at the table, like hyenas at a kill, I was definitely on the bottom of that food chain, to the point where, I was so hungry that I ate the dog biscuits and cow cake on the farm just to ease my hunger pains. So that wasn’t a good start in the old food relationship and now I was in a situation where I was in a ballet school, we were weighed and measured every Saturday to make sure we were not putting on to much weight compared to our growth. I was always growing too tall for their liking and I was classed as over weight in their eyes. I was told weekly for five years that I was fat, you do begin to believe it. We were all on strict diets, our food intake was monitored, we were never allowed any sweets of any kind, so here I was again, hungry, I was a girl growing, changes in the body etc and I was starved, we all were. Food was our main subject at any part of the day, I think if this happened now the school would be shut down. I always remembered meeting up with a old nurse from the school, one of the nice ones, at a big reunion in London Covent Garden years after leaving and she said to me, she was always worried about us girls, she said we were starved and that she wanted to report the school, then she conveniently lost her job. It was quite comforting to hear someone say that, that it was noticed and wasn’t all in our heads.