Sunday, 29 December 2013

Perran back from university

Before Christmas Nigel asked,
“Can we go out for the day on Saturday?”
“Not sure.  What if Perran arrives home from uni in the middle of the day and we’re not in?”
I rang him.
“I’ll be home at 7, maybe 9.”
“Yeah.  Evening. Then is it okay if I go out?  Everybody’ll be home and we’re all going out on the town.”

“Well,” I said to Nigel, “Although Perran is clearly missing us desperately, he feels that he can just about bear it if we go out for the day.”

Friday, 27 December 2013

Falling Standards

Much has changed chez nous.  The twins have been away for a term and probably, if they thought of home at all, they thought of it carrying on much as before.  However, as I am studying for my PGCE and commuting many miles each day, my focus has not been domestic. 
After a day or two back home Carenza said plaintively “All my friends said that when I got home you would make a fuss of me!”
By my standards, I had made a fuss of her: I had put sheets on her bed and cleared a path through her belongings so that she could get to it.  What more could she want? 
Apparently a cup of tea and a biscuit would have been nice. 
She has clearly become spoilt.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last Shout

My friend Diane said, “Christmas doesn’t seem as Christmassy this year.” 
Eventually we worked out that it was because we no longer had the usual school events marking the countdown to December 25th – the seasonal fair and concert and charity fancy dress day hadn’t happened for us.
But last week there was one last shout – the annual school prize-giving. Ex-students returned to pick up their A level /B-tech certificates.   Not all of them were there – not everybody had returned their reply; not everybody was back from university  (including Perran).
But Carenza took us along.  It was lovely to see both old friends and former teachers again.  Hard not to feel nostalgic for us, but for Carenza even more so.  Before we set off, she took a peek at her old head girl badge, then sighed and put it back in its box.  She wouldn’t be wearing it this year. 

“I’m going to have to ask the people on either side of me to hold me down so I don’t get up, grab a bunch of flowers and make a speech,” she said.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


It doesn’t seem five minutes since we got Perran sorted out with accommodation for this year, but already he is having to make plans for next year.  He seems to have found a group that he wants to be with, a good selection of different subjects, nationalities and sexes. 
Moving into a rented house will be an exciting time.  By one week in, Perran and his friends wil be beginning to realise the shortcomings of the plumbing.  By two weeks in, the shortcomings of each other.  Calls to the landlord and to us await.

Being Bristol, it will be much more expensive than Pascoe’s accommodation was in Norwich, but there is one thing that is true of both places  - almost before the ink is dry on the latest contract, it’ll be time to make arrangements for the next year.  

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Planning the Holidays

As my PGCE term finishes, I keep thinking about the holiday ahead.  I have three weeks, Nigel and the children at home too for longer or shorter periods, with timings overlapping to a greater or lesser extent.  I keep counting the days ahead like golden coins.  It looks right now as if the stack is tall, but I realise that, in my plans, I have already pre-spent them several times over. 
There are holiday trips to town, country walks, and of course the non-negotiable excursions to see grandparents at the farthest edges of the country.  There are hobbies and reading and watching old films.  There are friends to entertain.  And there’s Christmas cooking and gifts to buy and wrap.
Not to mention reading ahead for our academic courses.

I guess what I need to do most is to scale back my plans and enjoy each day as it comes.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas is where the Heart is.

One of the largest pieces of evidence that the twins have found new families at university is that Christmas at home is not enough for them.  Last Saturday, when we picked Carenza up from her college, there was a wreath on the college door and a Christmas tree in the foyer.  I had thought only shops and families with small children  got their decorations up this early.  But apparently, the students have been celebrating Oxmas, a sort of ersatz pre-Christmas, because it would just be too painful not to celebrate Christmas with your wonderful new friends. 
When we delivered Carenza to spend the weekend at Perran’s flat, later the same day, the kitchen looked festive – the flatmates had pooled resources to buy a fake tree. I was more impressed with what they had done with the multiplicity of advertising flyers which are constantly dumped in student accommodation – they had folded them, then cut them up to make “snowflakes”. 
After the excitement of Christmas with friends, how can we possibly compete at home? 

Perhaps just by being very quiet and very cosy. Does anybody know whether The Great Escape is on the telly this year?

Saturday, 7 December 2013


I have just finished my first PGCE placement.  It was at Buntingford in the distant north of Hertfordshire.  I had to set off at 7:30 each morning to allow an hour for the commute.  Sometimes that was plenty of time, sometimes, congestion around an accident meant it was a narrow squeak.
Both my favourite and my least favourite section of the journey was the single lane road between Baldock and Buntingford.  It could be magical with dawn’s rosy fingers filtering between autumn gold trees or it could be lethal with clinging fog.  The route felt as if it had been selected by somebody who craved more excitement in their life.  It was a complete switchback of ninety degree bends and blind rises.
I had three driver’s prayers – that I didn’t hit any of the local wildlife; that I didn’t end up with the point where I’d failed to negotiate the corner and slewed off the road marked by a dozen bunches of flowers; that it didn’t snow.
How did I do?

No snow, stayed on the road, even at corners, avoided the deer, avoided the farmer’s dog in the mioddle of the road… hit the pheasant, but it was pretty much a case of kami kazi.  Only regret – the road was too dangerous to stop and pick it up.