memoir – green cabbage

Dear friends

There were so many things I thought to tell you about this past week: FISH!; the cull (redundancies); buildings that look like ships; the weather (very wet); winter coat – parka v. duffle. Finally I’ve settled for a childhood memoir, prompted by the fact that we’re having savoy cabbage this evening.


I was only sick (I mean actually vomit sick) once at school. In fact I only remember being sick twice as a child – the tale I’m going to tell now and an incident involving tinned burgers. (Imagine my horror at the nausea and vomiting accompanying all four of our beautiful children!)

So, I was about 7 or 8, in Mr Fairhall’s class – he had to be the tallest teacher ever, and one of the strictest in the school; we were addressed by surname only and never allowed to toilet during lesson time.  School dinners (lunch) included a healthy portion of green cabbage – I’ve always supposed it was cabbage! – it was green, watery and really did not look good. I’m fairly certain that I was in the habit of ducking out of the green stuff either by withdrawing my plate or discretely leaving it to the end and on my plate.  However, this lunchtime a dinner lady made certain I ate the green stuff.  Yukkk!!!

Later that afternoon, after play, sitting at my table I began to feel distinctly unwell.  Could I do it? Could I raise my hand and ask to go toiletdinnereven if I managed to ask would Mr Fairhall let me go?  I was desperately uncomfortable so asked.

You do look a little pale, Simmons. You can go.

Pale, I thought to myself, and since then. What hue had come across by brown skin?  What shade was I turning? And I headed down the corridor. I had just turned the corner, by the staff room, when I knew why I wasn’t feeling comfortable and why Mr Fairhall described my appearance as pale.

Once I was done, I sheepishly knocked on the staff room door where the school admin lady opened it, looked at the floor, then looked at me as if to say, “you could have made it another few doors to the toilets!!” All I could see was undigested green stuff.  And at home time, there remained a pile of sand, to mark the spot.  And I never ate green cabbage again, until a few years ago I began making stir fries for the family.

It’s cottage pie with savoy cabbage this evening – little bit of olive oil, yumm!!

I really don’t know how school dinner cabbage in the 70’s looked the way it did.  My theory.  I actually think it was spring greens. I think the dinner ladies told us it was cabbage. So spring greens – however cheap they are – will not land in my shopping trolley – they look too much like the green stuff.


Dear friends

I started to write about a week ago, from my phone, then my phone broke.. well not exactly,  I can’t get it to charge! To be honest it’s sort of a relief, no children asking to use it to watch something online, no pressure to remember it in case someone calls (which only my husband or mother ever do so this has been a little frustrating for them, but nothing tragic has happened to the family so it proves my point that we can survive), and no way for work colleagues to contact me when I’m on leave  (which I’m sure certain ones would try).  So….

So the last couple weeks have been full of those activities that remind you it’s the end of school term.  We’ve had :

Long summer days: grass all around is looking like hay, unless it’s manually watered; yellow rather than green; the yellow and black caterpillars have appeared in the garden again and neighbourhood cats are found lounging everywhere!

School reports: “very honest boy” “distraction” “needs to focus more” “pleasure to teach”

School productions: does anyone else find Tallulah in Bugsy Malone a little disturbing, particularly for pre-pubescent children – “lonely,  you don’t have to be lonely” is what Tallulah sings!

School call backs: Sound of Music – “I only auditioned with a friend for a joke and got 4 call backs!” Maybe they want a black Maria?

Summer graduation: marquees, signs in town, lots of cars, lots of families in best clothes, generally lots of busy-ness

School prom: why do the girls dress so OTT!? Girls, you do realise that there are more exciting things ahead in life – this is not your wedding day!!

Sports Days: (I couldn’t make it this year) but two firsts for the family; and an upset head teacher over the inappropriate language of some parents as they ‘supported’ their off spring…

Work: none,  2 weeks! yeah! 🙂 so happy to put on that out of office message. And the euro tunnel awaits, a long drive 🙂 it’s the summer holidays!!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

last week in summary

Dear friends,

Last week really revolved around the children. I’ll name them (for ease, in descending age order) Son1, Daur1, Daur2, Son2.

Son1 – finished his secondary school exams (GCSEs) with 3 last week – Maths (calculator), Chemistry and Physics; and yesterday I was on chauffeur duty to take him for the county athletics meeting – Son1 was called up to represent our town in the 100m; he came 3rd in his heat, and as I was filming the final, facing the sun, it looked like he came in one from last but then he was handed a letter… i knew that meant he made top 4 and then the town athletic coach is speaking with him and inviting him to the elite sprint training sessions… and that night I ordered a pair of spiked running shoes!!

Meanwhile, Daur1 and Daur2 were sick Monday overnight,  so stayed off school Tuesday.  Daur1 then had a relapse after returning to school on Wednesday and spent the rest of the week off school – Thursday with big brother Son1 and Friday with me (working from home).  I never quite know when to go to a doctor – we are, of course,  blessed to have a surgery and the NHS.  I decided if it continued into this week I would contact the doctor – but the rehydration solution and rest seems to have worked. And Daur2 landed the part of narrator in the school production = Bugsy Malone – remember that strange children’s movie!?

And Son2 had a scheduled trip to aural outpatients for microsuction – sucking the wax from his ears, which seems to have real problems finding its way out leaving Son2 a little hard of hearing, literally!  This is about the 4th visit, same specialist nurse; this time we left with one ear drum clear, the other partial… which reminds me, I must do the olive oil in the latter ear.

So, I’ve started writing a couple of times but get too tied up with things.  I’ll try to do better this week.  I  do love our little family – they are all very funny and individual 🙂

keeping busy

Dear friends
I am so sorry! It has been a busy week, but I hadn’t forgotten you 🙂

After the election result shocker, I’ve been recovering with like minded friends on FB. It’s surprising the solidarity that can be found. Even a client at work spoke of how she hadn’t recovered from the weekend results, and she was not referring to the football!

Since then, exam season has begun in earnest with no.1 and no. 3 child having an intense week. My dear husband gave them both a father’s blessing at the beginning of the week which was a comfort to them both.

Work has been busy too. The week began with a visit to a school… I didn’t know it was on a split site, then walking up to the other site to meet my colleague, we discovered they expected us Friday, not Monday!  The week continued with various mini crises – setting out coordinates 120mm too far south; structural engineers asking for everything; colleagues jumping into my taxi after a late meeting and 4 of us having to order and wait 20 mins for another taxi back into town; client deciding they want blue doors with blue frames rather than green doors with white frames agreed during design stage, it’s now construction stage – but then today came the ultimate.  An email sent at 1807h yesterday evening informing of an office move/ shuffle/ desk move today – sorry, but our IT guy is on leave next week.  That is just wrong!! As a label got stuck on my desk under the growing pile of architectural journals, the operations director appeared and said, “just checking the view!” His name was on the label. As for me – a window seat on the west side, overlooking the port – not too bad and in time for me to enjoy the solar gains of the summer months…

And back at home, we substituted cycling for running a couple of times, twice the distance in the same time, more achy legs and bottom 😉 and I’ve been deep into reading Dan Brown The Da Vinci Code.  I’ve read this before, about 10 years ago – I’ve not seen the film – but it’s good to read it again – feminine and masculine are equally sacred and that union is also sacred and should be kept within the bounds of a lawful/ recognised marriage union, as God intended.

A couple of things that I remind myself of during busy times lik

e this

, first the words of a prophet and king, Benjamin, from Mosiah chapter 4 verse 27


And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

And then, my dear children and I discovered this great funny song several years ago when my dear husband was away studying.  Our children felt it described their mother’s day perfectly if you throw in full time paid work. It’s Hilary Weeks with The Ultimate Mum To Do List Song – here on YouTube, channel Time Out For Women (TOFW).  Enjoy!!

a little trouble

Dear friends

His attitude to learning needs improvement

That was what the teacher said and, of course, she is totally correct. Our youngest didn’t want to go back to school after the Easter break and his actions last week showed it.  “He kept saying I can’t do it” Miss X told me and I mentioned how he struggled with the ‘man in the moon’ (language) work.  Miss X looked over her glasses at me and replied “this was maths!!”

I’ve always felt primary school, particularly here in UK, is so difficult for boys. It’s dominated by female teachers and girls often develop sooner the social skills which help learning. It seems the work place is so much more the reverse!

he made it!

Dear friends, he made it!! another half term and our youngest son has made it with his behaviour to earn an invitation to film afternoon at school 🙂 I’ll call our youngest Cam.
The first half term he did not earn this reward – Cam was distraught at being left out but he knew what he had done = deliberately tripping other children in the playground!! The second half term Cam made every effort – parents evening came and nothing was raised concerning behaviour; no warnings were given. But Cam did not receive an invite.  I knew how hard he’d been trying and how quickly his behaviour sticker chart filled up. It didn’t make sense. Why had our son been over looked? was the teacher unconsciously (or consciously) racist? Cam kept insisting he’d not done anything really bad; so I spoke with the deputy head (for whose own son I’d arranged work experience for a few years ago) – I simply said that if you want behaviour to change then the school needs to explain what Cam’s doing wrong to Cam, because right now he has no idea what he’s meant to be improving – in order to get the reward which Cam really wants!
So, third half term, one warning and he was invited!  Fourth half term, this one, a couple of warnings and Cam was very anxious all this week, waiting for today when they gave the invitations.  We’ve not pursued what happened previously – Cam’s older siblings thought it entirely possible that there was some discrimination going on!
I feel the school/ education system can be such a struggle for boys, especially black boys. Our girls have received model reports throughout primary school – despite being very different characters – extrovert and introvert.  Our boys started well but around 7 years things become, let’s say, challenging.  Our local school has now got more male teachers and I think that helps.  Cam has only had female teachers in his first few years – I’m hoping that will change over the next few before secondary school.  
I pray for our children that they may not be adversely affected by the ignorance, foolishness and mistakes of others. That they may grow to be wise, to know that we control our actions, no one else. And when things are not fair, pray for that other person – remember, they have the problem, not you!

Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Matthew 5 verse 44