Rush Hour

Stood in the middle of the road, in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors. It’s rush hour….

Who can spot the vital national security establishment which they haven’t really bothered hiding….. how did they get planning permission for that. Us mere mortals living in these parts struggle to get permission to build even a small coal bunker these days.

Coal bunkers, I remember them. As a child our outside toilet was built next to the coal bunker. The toilet always had a faint hit of black soot covering the seat, the floor, the walls and the toilet paper. Probably not the only things covered as well…

So Hawklad’s exams are fast approaching. In Maths, History and English Literature we have just about made it to the revision stage. For the other subjects sadly we are still scrambling about trying to complete as much of the syllabus as possible. Just need to keep reminding Hawklad that each day, more progress is made. Even if sometimes it just feels like one small step, it’s still helps, it’s still moving forward, it all adds up.

There is so much additional stress and anxiety that’s why it’s so important that Hawklad gets a chance to breathe, to enjoy some of each day. And that’s why we found ourselves stood on an empty Moors road . He fancied a trip out to somewhere quiet, miles from anywhere, miles from the EXAMS.

Job done…..

Swiss Sunday

Back to 2012, a very different time. As a fair chunk of the country went Olympics Mad, we headed to Switzerland. Our Games was an Olympic torch visiting Hawklad’s school and a quarter final football match featuring Brazil.

The train out of the country was so quiet for that time of year. A few returning french athletes who had completed their events. Such a different story on the trains heading into London, mobbed with athletes and spectators. Paris Gare de Nord was really chaotic but strangely fun.

Then it was time to breathe and have wonderful alpine adventures. Yes the Olympics are special but give us Switzerland every single time.

Farmer

The Farmer has been busy. The Farmer in a seriously thick jumper. The Farmer who was complaining to me about it being so cold for Spring. The village has an annual walk to the Bluebell Wood usually this last weekend in April. This year it is currently on hold as even the bluebells have decided it’s TOO COLD to make an appearance.

Don’t blame them….

The Farmer reckons the plants are at least a month behind where they should be. Hawklad with just a tad of irony, said that he’d would happily settle for just being a month behind schedule. I know what he means.

Hawklad is ploughing on with his exam revision, mostly sat by the fire. So much to do and not enough time. Probably only in one subject, History, will he fully complete the course before the exams. The other subjects he will be playing catch up right until the exams. But he’s still giving it a go, he is trying. So proud of him.

Swiss Sunday

We met so many wonderful characters on our family adventures to wonderful Switzerland. One Sunday afternoon we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant in Zermatt. We got speaking to an Italian waiter who was trying to learn English. He looked as weathered as the massive mountains surrounding the village. So he tried to have a conversation in English, bizarrely he would punctuate his sentences with random German words.

Anyway he mentioned that he had recently been skiing and he had bumped into a member of the UK Royal Family while waiting for a ski lift. The waiter found the Royal rather too arrogant for his liking. Apparently so unlike Roger Federar who was a very nice man. How he had met the tennis superstar was unfortunately lost in translation. The waiter then. The conversation went through a number of random turns. I remember Dr Who and the British Weather coming up. But one part of the conversation really struck home.

We asked if the waiter liked living in Zermatt. His stunning reply was

I spent my life wanting to see the world, now I live in Switzerland, I have found everything in one place. I am happy here. I work here, I take my holidays here.

Such a nice man and yes I so agree with him. I so wish I was in Switzerland right this very moment.

Butty

Do you think I would get away with this in my garden as a bit of a water feature. You don’t think that it might be a tad pretentious. My current water feature is me walking about with a watering can….. Imagine the fun Captain Chaos would have with this.

We were in the garden (without a water feature) playing table tennis and trying to lift Hawklad’s spirits after a demoralising couple of hours revising. He was frustrated and dispirited because we had picked up that he had been using the wrong method to calculate something in mathematics. He’d apparently been doing it the wrong way for a couple of years but as the teacher hasn’t been looking at his submitted maths work, it wasn’t picked up until we spotted it.

He had an Easter Egg, I had a coffee with a BUTTY.

I came from a family that survived on Butties… Dad would always say only POSH people called them sandwiches. Most items could be placed between two slabs of bread for a tasty meal. Family favourites included

Fish Finger butties

Chip butties (My favourite)

Crisp butties (Mum’s favourite)

Baked Beans butties (don’t wear a white shirt eating this one)

Sausage butties

Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy butties (a particularly messy one)

Mushy Peas and Vinegar butties

Fried Egg and Tomato Ketchup butties

Last nights Pizza butties

Pork Pie butties (Dad’s favourite)

At one stage I even started having Pot Noddle butties

All things butties. I even once remember a debate about whether a slice of bread sandwiched between two other slices of bread counted as a Bread Butty or just three Slices of Bread. Whatever the answer to this philosophical point, we had so many butties as a family for one good reason. Bread was cheap, it was a cheap way of padding out our meals.

Now a thought has crossed my mind. Sitting in our garden, it’s summer, after the exams, next to that giant water feature, having a butty. That works…

Proper weather

Welcome to Yorkshire, apparently it is SPRING.. That stream is the road.

And yes we still have a hosepipe ban in place.

Funnily enough Hawklad had just been revising the effects of flooding for his Geography exam. Geography is a bit of a issue at present. The first exam is 4 weeks away and we are still waiting clarification on what areas Hawklad needs to work on in terms of the field study trips that he didn’t go on. There will be a number of questions on the exams about these trips. Hawklad doesn’t even know where the trips went and what was looked at. Any time soon School would help…..

Apparently the teacher is away and we won’t get an answer until next week now.

Having said that, Hawklad has more than enough other subjects to keep him busy.

Shame one of the field trips wasn’t about flooding, we could no that one.

Swiss Sunday

It’s hard to believe now but there was a time when I wasn’t a muppet parent. A time when I was just a MUPPET. I don’t know why but I remembered back to that time this week. A time in a different century. A very different life.

The memory that had suddenly reappeared was a climbing trip to Scotland with two college friends. We found ourselves one evening encamped in a tent in Torridon. Safe inside away from the evening massed swarms of blood sucking vampire midges. We weren’t going to endure the previous nights exposed skin blood letting again. No evening pub meal this night. The tent gourmet evening meal was Pringle Crisps, Jam Sandwiches, Chocolate and a local firebrand Malt. We were highly tuned athletes…..

I can vividly remember one part of the nights festivities. The subject had bizarrely moved onto where we felt truly at home. I think I said something like that I was still looking for home. One friend aptly said that his home was either in a coffee or chocolate factory, yes that was definitely him…. My second friends answer was also so apt for her. She talked about a place where she moved to as a teenager when her Dad took a new lecturing position. She talked about having few friends and living for the weekends when her family would head into the mountains. A small cabin by a lake. A rowing boat, fishing, climbing and skiing in the winter. She felt alive for the first time in her life in that place. That was always going to be her home.

Her home was The Cabin, That Lake, The Swiss Alps.

If I could speak to those climbing buddies right now, I would definitely change my home answer. NOW Switzerland also feels like home to me. Ashes are scattered there. So many memories. And yes, when I’m there, in The Alps, I feel truly ALIVE as well.

Bath

Run that by me again…. WHY did I need a bath.

Rolling around in the MUD….

Barmy Brexit or down to a few inclement weather days in Spain. For whatever the reason, many of Britain’s supermarkets have quite a few gaps on the shelves these days and what products are there has become way more expensive.

This week I was plodding around our local store, a store that was looking even more barren than usual. Hardly any gluten free cereal, no cough medicine, hardly any fresh veg, no eggs, no ……

That kinda thing.

But I was ok, humming away to the store’s choice of music this fine day. Beatles, Rolling Stones, Al Stewart. If stuff isn’t there then chill out. We have soup. We have chocolate. We have crisps. We have sausages.

Then it all changed.

Mood darkened.

Then it was definitely NOT OK.

Remember The Simpsons Movie and what finally set off the urban powder keg.

We’re OUT OF COFFEE…..

I was stood in the coffee isle. It was an empty as my so called football teams trophy cabinet. The only pods they had for my coffee machine was Chocolate and Ovaltine…. Come on the secret is in the product name, it’s a COFFEE MACHINE. George Clooney certainly won’t be happy as well as his brand’s section was was completely empty. I heard one equally desperate shopper ask a manager who reassuringly informed him that there had been no coffee stock in the delivery lorries in over a week now. So even going caffeine old school isn’t looking good as well. A few jars of cheap decaf on the shelves and that was it. Definitely NO ESPRESSO. My Blood Caffeine levels are already dropping dangerously low.

We’re OUT OF COFFEE……

Suddenly the store blasting out the Beach Boys is seriously the last thing I want to hear. The only ‘good vibrations’ here is me rapidly entering cold coffee turkey.

I know coffee isn’t good for me. I felt much healthier when I gave the stuff up for 6 months. But currently it’s helping me keep going on not enough sleep. Let’s get Hawklad through his exams and the stress levels should subside. Maybe then I can come off the caffeine but NOT right now. So until Amazon delivers emergency supplies then it’s plan b. Shed loads of chocolate. Thankfully the store had plenty of Cadbury products to load up the trolley with.

Needs must….

Time

The Poor Daffs are taking a right weather pounding and yet they are still going strong. Definitely hardy souls. A varied learning/revision day for Hawklad.

Vectors,

UK River Landscapes,

Romeo and Juliet,

Cell Specialisation,

The 1846 Mormon Migration (Revision)

All in just over TWO HOURS…. If you read the blurb that school sends out, Hawklad should be doing a minimum 4 hours revision on every school day and a minimum 7 hours on a non school day.

****some parents might disagree with the next bit****

Learning and revision surely needs to be tailored around the individual needs and characteristics of the pupil. Some might suit the 7 hours of academia each day, others not so. The homeschooling of Hawklad over the last few years has revealed many things, one of which is…

Hawklad has a sweet spot for learning of up to 3 hours a day. Up to 3 hours and things go in, but quickly after that and his learning potential drops off a cliff. He gets rapidly tired and frustrated. His anxiety levels begin to spike. Connections aren’t made, facts don’t go in and they certainly don’t stay in. He even starts to struggle and get confused with the information he had earlier learnt so well.

7 hours of revision slog would just be counterproductive for him.

So we made a decision, Hawklad works for 3 hours max each day. Yes it limits what we can cover but surely quality is so much more important than quantity. Surely his well-being has to be paramount. Exams cannot be everything.

Exams

A few minutes later we got seriously wet….

Hawklad’s final school exams are fast approaching, they start in a months time. School are now providing a weekly one hour teaching assistant session to help with English. Another subject teacher is providing revision instructions which help. The rest is down to us now. The REST means revision and subject learning.

It’s a real mixed bag across the subjects. In History (his best subject) we have just about completed the course and can start to revise. This is the subject which has consistently provided teaching materials for Hawklad to work with and marked his submitted work. But in the other subjects we are still scrambling around trying to cover all the topics. It’s clear now that he has missed out significantly being at home. The school and the national education system isn’t setup for pupils who miss significant portions of classroom teaching on health grounds. On top of that teachers are having to cope with class sizes of up to 30 with increasing pressure from Government to stick to prescribed teaching methods. They just don’t have the time to teach outside the box now.

The end result is that Hawklad is having to learn new material when he is supposed to be revising old material. The dilemma now is do we try to cover all the missing topics which would effectively rule out any real revision in most of the subjects OR do we take a punt on just covering some topics and revising these. Cover everything thinly or cover some of it a little more in depth….

In Geography and Sciences we are going to try to cover the entire subject and see if we can squeeze in some crash revision over the last few days. In these subjects we are dumping all the school material as it is so incomplete. We have bought into an online science teaching site that was recommended by a fellow blogger ❤️. For Geography we are finding teaching videos on YouTube.

We have also largely dumped the school maths materials and I’m reteaching the entire subject. Again we hopefully will get a couple of days to crash revise at the end.

With English and Literature we will cover some of the course using the teaching assistant weekly sessions and by watching teaching videos we find on YouTube. Here we just can’t realistically cover all the required reading content in the time left, so we intend to cover and revise just part of the course (and hope we get reasonably lucky in the exam).

The other factor is the actual exams. School haven’t been able to organise a mock exam for Hawklad, so he won’t have sat any practice exams at all before these main ones. In addition, with the time constraints it’s unlikely we will be able to spend too much time practicing exam questions at home. That is just so not ideal. The knock on effect of no exam practice is that we haven’t been able to test whether Hawklad will be able to write his own answers, or whether he needs to type them or if he needs a scribe. All we can do is have a stab at guessing which way will suit him best and then see who it goes in the first exam. If it doesn’t work out then we will have to switch approach for the second exam.

As Hawklad says ….. what could possibly go wrong ……