Monday, 18 July 2016

Holidays in Sorrento and a Birthday Outing

Arrived back on Saturday from a week in Sorrento.  Let Kate have a say in our choice of holiday this year as she's worked so hard on GCSEs and she chose Italy.  It was bit hot for us really so plans for sightseeing trips to Capri and Pompeii were abandoned. But it was lovely just lazing around, sitting in the shade reading, eating nice food and admiring the views.  One of my main inspirations for returning here after a previous trip Paul and I made in 1991 was this picture of me drinking a cocktail on the balcony of our hotel and watching the sun go down over the Bay of Naples.  So recreated the pose 25 years later. Pictures were taken by Kate on her phone - I love the sunset one.

Sorrento 1991

Sorrento 2016 - older but not much wiser

View of Vesuvius from our apartment

Sorrento at night
 We're back home now and though it's the school holidays, we'll be busy as house move is happening in early August.  But have taken today off - it's my birthday and the sun is shining.  We've been for a walk around the Great Orme in Llandudno (well a bit of it - too hot again as we seem to have brought the sun home with us).  Then we went to Bodysgallen Hall for afternoon tea and a walk round the gardens.  A lovely day out though feeling a little full now after all that cake.

Monday, 4 July 2016


It's a time of change for us here.  Our house moving plans are progressing and we hope to be in our new home by early August. And in the last couple of weeks both my daughter and husband have moved on too.

For the last five years Kate has attended the school where I teach.  I have enjoyed this as it has given me a window on her world and mostly she has too, though during her early adolescence I was forbidden to speak to her at school, as I was the most embarrassing parent ever, it seems. Recently she is happy to acknowledge me and sharing gossip about school has been fun.  It's also been good for me as a teacher to see things from the students' point of view.

In the last few weeks there have been several events to celebrate the end of year 11: the 'Leavers' Assembly' which involved her and some friends, two in drag, performing as the Spice Girls.  Then there was the 'Prom', a hateful American import all schools seem to do now, which has cost a great deal of money - full length dress, shoes with heels (for a girl who's happier in her Docs), make up by Urban Decay (which she didn't like anyway and redid herself) and 'prom hair'.  Much competition between the girls and lots of posed photos posted on Facebook which seems to be the point of the whole ridiculous business for some. And all this expensive gear worn for only a few hours in a hotel function room, an average meal and a disco, before the whole lot was taken off and she was back in her hoodie for the real fun at the 'after prom' party.

Then there's the tradition of the Leavers' Book, which I do approve of.   Students stick photos and mementos of their friends in a scrap book and then write pages in each other's books about their memories. They also ask teachers to write in their books so I've had a chance to look at a few. Some are real works of art and the things they have written about each other are often very moving.  Now all these events are over she's a bit sad but starting to think ahead - there's a taster day for sixth form college soon.

Last week my husband also left his workplace of the last 5 years, retiring early after many years in local government - he turned 55 on Friday.  Kate and I travelled to Shrewsbury where he works for his leaving do.  I'd not met his colleagues as he works so far away so it was interesting to put faces to the names (and unflattering nicknames) I'd heard him talk about.  There was a good turn out at the riverside pub where we spent the evening. Much consumption of Guinness and it was a good job we were with him on the train on the way back otherwise he may have ended up in Holyhead.  Among his leaving gifts are an apron which says 'Grumpy Old Git', a mug which refers to him as an 'Emmerdale Fan' and a coaster which describes him, among other things, as a 'Deirdre Barlow impersonator'.  We enjoyed the evening and I reckon it was good for Kate to see how people valued her dad when she often has a very low opinion of him.

And in the background of all this change at home, we've had the shock of the country's decision to leave the EU.  I've always seen myself as essentially European, being neither properly Irish and slightly uncomfortable about calling myself as British with all of the associations this has in NI.  I'm so sad about this vote, the chaos and the hate it seems to have unleashed. I hope when things settle down there will be a way forward which brings the country together again.