Category Archives: General

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Snakes! Get me out of here!!!

boomslang IMG_0085



Have I told you before how much I HATE snakes? Well if I haven’t, now you know. Would you like to know what the snake in the photo is called? Yes? It’s a Boomslang (direct translation is a Tree Snake and is one of the most poisonous snakes in South Africa).

Big deal – someone is holding this one you say…This is a very brave snake man as I like to call him. He comes to the call of help to remove snakes and relocate them to a place where they won’t cause harm to people or come to harm themselves.

The problem is…my parents have another very large and dangerous snake that has decided to live in their garden called a Black Mamba and it is 2.5m long. They are both on the top 10 most dangerous snakes in the world and the Black Mamba has not been caught…yet.

So – with having our 2 boys about who are not snake wise and me being completely petrified of any snakes is not helping. I haven’t really told the boys about either snake but I can tell you that I am relieved we are staying somewhere else near the beach where I don’t have to worry about sleeping at night in case a snake decides to make a visit!

I am really grateful to the snake man – there are a few of them in South Africa who risk their lives to relocate them and they are unsung heroes. Both these snakes are not legally allowed to be killed as they are protected species. To them I say THANK YOU!

Applied vs formal learning

A lovely log denFormal in the classroom learning versus applied hands on out and about learning…What has a log den got to with learning you ask?

I had a head teacher (many moons ago) who had a major impact on the children who went to his school. He was very much an out of the classroom learning kind of guy. Any chance he could find to get kids hands on to learn he took. Yes, there was formal learning taking place in our classroom, but very often this was reinforced by the activities he provided. We had little remote control boats that we could use on the swimming pool. Without realising, we were learning about rotation, angles, bouyancy (and gravity when they sank) etc. and having so much fun doing it.

He ensured that the playground had hand tennis squares painted on the tarmac, which meant as long as you had some type of a ball and one other player, you could be active at the same time as learning to count, plan game tactics etc.

He then moved schools at some point and took a lot of flack from the new school parents who thought the children were not in the classroom enough and frowned upon the idea that they were learning outside the classroom. I don’t know where he is now, but I do know that the pressure on him was too much and that school lost a font of knowledge who had a way with children that was the best I have ever encountered. It was a priviledge to have had him as a head teacher.

Formal classroom learning is clearly a requirement (a traditional requirement but a requirement none the less) for children to acquire new knowledge. But (yes I started my sentence with BUT), how will you truly know that the newly acquired knowlegde can be applied in real life situations if they are not provided.

Back to answering my log den question – we used the log den to re-enact ‘the Gruffalo’ story as well as ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ and whilst exploring the den that someone else had built we chatted about the little eco-system of bugs and animals that it provided. No, this was not on a school outing but is an example of learning outside. (It’s always the simple things that make life so much fun!)

I also remember another teacher always asking us how we think we will use whatever it was she was teaching us. We would sit there in silence and she would then say ‘Well it’s pointless learning something you think you are never going to use!’ and then launch into a number of every day tasks we were peforming without knowing we were putting her lesson into practice already.

The debate about learning outside of a formal classroom setting will always continue and I can see the benefits of applied and formal learning.

What kind of an eater do you have?


It’s taken me a while to realise that we have a son who will eat almost anything (except avocados but loves olives) and a son who has a sweet tooth and doesn’t require as much food in one sitting but many larger snacks throughout the day(apparently…unless it is sweets). Our youngest son can take over an hour to eat his breakfast some days and other days he is like an F1 racer and it’s gone within 10 minutes.

The usual meal time routine is :

  • Me : Come on – eat up
  • Him : I’m tired
  • Me : Oh dear – too tired for pudding then
  • Him : No! (and has another mouthful) – I need the toilet
  • Me : No you don’t – that’s just excuses
  • Me : thinks to myself – I wonder if he really does and then we have an accident to clean up ..argh
  • Me : Ok – go but be quick
  • Him : Takes his time on the loo and finally comes back
  • Me : Your brother may be excused as he finished 20 minutes ago and has patiently been waiting.
  • Finally we get to the end of the meal

Sound familiar? I try and use all the tactics but…sometimes think our youngest son is perhaps someone who prefers to graze and this would be more productive. He appears to have a fast metabolism as has no extra fat on him. I also know most of his tactics because I used to use them as a child on my own mum…

So, I have tried the more snacks during the day with no real time limit and it appears to work. I now do this on the odd occasion as I also can’t have a child who doesn’t have a ‘meal routine’ for when he is in school full time and there is only a certain amount of time to eat.

I’ll be interested to see how he gets on as he grows…Do you have a child/children like this?


Dear Orthoptist or eye lady to you and me eyetest


Today, I came to see you for an eye check up with our 4 year old.

He was a little worried before we left the house that he was going to have the burny eye drops, which I told you about when we said hello. You introduced yourself in a very child friendly voice and I kind of thought ‘ah! This one knows who the patient is.Good’.  I then told him that it would appear he wasn’t going to have the eye drops and saw his little body relax somewhat.

You could tell he was nervous in answering your questions as his voice was barely a whisper. You asked if there were any concerns and if he wore his glasses properly. At this point, I started to suss you out. It was your mechanical routine. I answered that there are no concerns that I know about and that he is learning his letters really well and he wears his glasses all the time.

You went straight into the sight test of tricky letters with his one eye patched and a massive glare of sun behind you which made it hard to focus for me as an adult, let alone a 4 year old with one eye patch. No helping him to relax and be confident with you chance I see. He was trying his best and you were obliging when I asked for you to draw the curtains. I spotted your half an eye roll like I was making excuses for his lack of concentration. There was another test going on behind you with a man moving about on his office chair.

Once that test was finished, you went into the more friendly test of looking at the lovely pictures on the wall. Asking him questions, without waiting for him to give you the answer you had asked for. Don’t worry though, I think you realised when I made a point of asking him his answer again, after you so rudely went onto the next item. Twice I did this as disappointingly you didn’t get it the first time I re-asked him your question.

I will give you credit, that you are newly qualified and want to come over as a professional. I will however like to point out, that as a parent I do not want to hear you declare that you will not lose any sleep over the fact that there may be a deterioration in his eyes. Yes, we will see you again in 2-3 months time and your hospital so badly wants to discharge him and you appear to show concern that you will not do this on this occasion (which doesn’t match your lack of sleep you won’t be having).

Well, I can tell you, that you won’t be discharging him on the next occasion either if I have any say over it. And should we see you again instead of one of the other ladies, your card is marked and I shall ensure he has the opportunity to respond in his time with the answer to your questions. You may see in my notes that I have previously requested not to see one of your colleagues again, who is no longer working there, as our son didn’t respond at all to her. In fact I have never seen him not even mumble a response EVER, and it took a long time for him to feel comfortable to interact with the tests after that.

I have also been going to paediatric eye clinics longer that you have been qualified for. On my previous visit, I was asked my opinion on whether I would like to attend a new orthoptic clinic which would not be based on the hospital site or whether I would be interested. Whilst I accept you may not have known about it, when I asked you about this today,  please do not react as though you know everything and I am asking a weird random question. A simple, I don’t know about that would have sufficed – which you finally gave me in the end.

What I suppose I am saying is, you are dealing with a person and a little person at that. They deserve the same respect anyone deserves. Yes, you have to get through your appointments, but today there was nobody after us and sometimes, taking that little bit longer will get better results than rushing through it. There are some fantastic colleagues in your department and for that I am grateful.


When will it be Spring? we come!
Waterfight…here we come!

Just when we thought we may be able to call March 2013 spring….nope – we get side swiped with below zero temperatures and some snow and wind thrown in there to boot!

I usually love the snow but am now so over it – I have decided to start focusing on what Summer may bring. A spot of evening picnics, perhaps a water fight or 2 (there is no way they can put a hosepipe ban on us after the summer and winter we have had!) oh and some lovely warm sunshine!

The lighter mornings are certainly making a difference, so I can be thankful for that! Today I ventured out in the wind and snow to meet a friend for a dog walk and it took hours to get warm.

So…bring on Summer I say!!!

Travelling long haul with kids – the preparation

We’re heading off to a land of sunshine to celebrate a milestone birthday for my mum. The boys have been so excited as apparently they love sleeping in the plane (although I think they forget just how long the flight it).

Sunny Climes

We’ll have the 3 hour wait at Heathrow for check in etc, a 12 hour overnight long haul followed by a 2 hour stop over for the last 1 hour short hop to our first destination. Thankfully we won’t have to deal with time zone differences as we are going due South.

This is the plan so far :

  1. Phoned the airline and connected supportive husband’s ticket to ours as he is flying out at a later date to meet us. This means when we check-in for the rest of our holiday and return home, that he will be seated with us and not on the opposite side of the plane. Before you ask, this almost happened once when we didn’t realise you needed to connect all tickets flying together.
  2. Booked kiddies meals for the long hauls. You would think this happened automatically when you select the ‘child age’ option. But no…that seems to just be for information purposes only and they don’t do much with it.  I discovered this on one of the long hauls with the boys and thought the mum behind me was super organised to have their Cottage Pie cooked before she got on the flight. I then asked her the next morning how she arranged for her children to get their breakfast before everyone else when I was complimenting her on the being so organised with cooking their dinner before hand. She very kindly informed me that she wished that was the case, but that she had booked children’s meals. So I made the mental note for the next time and sure enough – it is the case!
  3. Booked seats near the bulkhead where possible or available. I am never sure about these seats as they are usually close to the toilets but it means I won’t have to worry about the people in front potentially having their seat kicked. Our boys don’t usually do that but I am not going to tempt fate.
  4. Travel insurance – double check it is in place for all members of the family. We usually have one of us going down with a bug we have either caught on the plane or change in weather etc.
  5. Have sachets of Calpol and Nurofen to hand and loads of sucking sweets too. Our boys suffer terribly with their ears and so taking some 30 mins prior to take off and at the start of descent helps.
  6. Loads of little puzzles, travel games and easy craft type things for them to do. You never know when the tv’s don’t work. I once had an entire row that didn’t work for the whole journey.
  7. Travel antibac and wet wipes. They come in handy.
  8. 1 change of clothes for each of us in case our luggage gets lost. I also tend to put cool clothing in for when we land as to go from 1-9 degrees to 30 degrees is something their little bodies suffer with and of course I swap it to warm clothing for when we come back.
  9. Water (yes from duty free) in case there is a delay on the plane for take off.
  10. Snacks like breadsticks or crackers. They don’t contain much sugar but help to pass the time. If the flight is around or after their usual dinner time, make sure you have either fed them a snack or a full meal prior to boarding.

I hope this helps and there are loads more on my to do list – those (apart from passports) are the important ones.


The recent story of a baby who was attacked by a fox in Londonis just too awful to comprehend and one of the most frightening experiences that reminds us that wild animals do not follow a human protocol of what is right or wrong, they follow their instinct and whichever instinct led this fox to attack, be it hunger or fear,  will always be there. It also brought back the memory of a close encounter in our London home.

It was a warm summer’s evening and our baby son was asleep in his cot with the sash window open about 15 cm at the bottom (sorry I am no good at the inch conversion). I was in the lounge and I heard a comotion in our bathroom and a few seconds later saw a fox running past the lounge window. We had a small alley way between the fence and our house. I ran through to the bathroom and thankfully the bathroom door was closed but on opening the door, I saw the footprints in the bath and the toiletries had been knocked over. The bathroom window had been wide open to help get a breeze through the house and this must have in turn closed the bathroom door.

All sorts of thoughts ran through my head but the main one was ‘what would have happened if the fox had managed to get into our son’s room?’ and then had to stop myself from thinking this as it was not worth thinking about. I wasn’t surprised to hear that other people have had close encounters similar to ours but I did feel so for the baby and their family and hope that they have a speedy recovery. I didn’t allow the windows to be open at the bottom very much for fear of another unwanted visitor.


Procrastination 101

I really do think I am the world’s worst procrastinator and either took a course on it without realising or am supposed to write a book on it but keep putting it off!

Too late - conceptual alarm clock showing that you are too late

On reflection, I think you are either a ‘do things whilst you think of it’ kind of person or like me a ‘let me think about it and get back to you’ sort. The latter giving me more time to put things off or in some cases just forgetting.  When I do remember, the adrenalin kicks in and there is a mad rush to meet the deadline. Apparently I am not alone, I have spoken to quite a few people who say they like to work under pressure. It’s like knowing your tax return is due a year in advance, but only looking for the information on the due date and trying to submit it online. Why do we do it to ourselves? I don’t have the answer to that, but I do know that if I know I can put something off because the date is some point in the future then I will.

I have the same problem with being organised for presents or the like. Buying Christmas presents – I tried one year to start a couple of months ahead and felt like I had lost the excitement of being able to give the person their present fairly soon after buying/making it. It’s like Easter eggs – (well they don’t last in the house very long due to my chocolate addiction) – but I have bought some this week and finding it annoying that I am going to have to wait a few more weeks (near on 2 months!!!) before I can hand them - Deadline

When I worked in a ‘proper job’ – I was very organised and suppose I had to meet deadlines on an hourly basis at times and so doing something the moment it arrived on my desk was the only option. Now I kind of think there is more to life than deadlines but end up getting the ‘hooray! I made it’ but delaying things. Our house wakes up anywhere from 6:30am and we loaf about (knowing there is somewhere we have to be by 10.30am) and at 10am it’s like alarm bells go off and there is a mad rush to make sure everyone is dressed and out the door on time. What is with that?!?! We have had like 4 hours to do all that yet we still will only just be on time or a few minutes late.

I am sure I am not the only one that irritates themselves with this and have a feeling it is not going to change.

Meanest mum in the world?

I often see or hear things where it makes me stop and think ‘Would I have the guts to do that?’ or ‘that is a really good way to put it’. The mum below is certainly making a point and showing she means business and good on her too!

The advert below was in a local US paper sell section and reads “”Very mad mother selling 16 yr old son’s 1993 Ford Ranger. Drove 3 mos before  son forgot to use his brain and got caught driving drunk. $3500 OBO. Call  meanest mother in Wyoming ”

© Facebook / 107.9 The River

What are your thoughts? Do you think she is a mean mum or do you commend her?

source :


Thank you! to the gritters/emergency services

Griting lorry / Snow plough
Griting lorry / Snow plough

This gritter has had a snow plough attached to the front and so far I haven’t seen the plough being used but have seen this gritter going tirelessly up and down numerous times a day to try and keep the roads clear. They appear to have done a pretty good job as the road they are on is notorious for being undrivable (sp?) at the hint of snow.

Whilst we are easy to complain when things haven’t been done, I also think it’s worth saying THANK YOU to all the people who are trying to keep our roads clear and also helping whoever is in need of assistance. Their families will no doubt be worried about them or not seen them much since the start of the week when the snow first arrived.

Yes, the United Kingdom does appear to come to a standstill when the rest of the world can have 20 times more snow and life carries on without the bat of an eyelid. I can’t tell you why it is different but it is. What I can say is that I have witnessed people driving with exteme caution and still sliding across the road.