Sunday, 13 November 2011


We had brilliant weather for the sailing session yesterday afternoon, the only dry sunny day sandwiched between damp and foggy days.  Unfortunately, my camera battery died after the first photo, but as soon there are others in the group that managed to get some too.

Jonathan had a brilliant time, and would love to do some more.  Poor Daniel was away, so will have to wait until the spring to have a go.  In the meantime, I am sure Jonathan will be flashing his certificate around, just to rub salt into the wound!

Thank you to Pauline for spotting it and arranging such a fabulous day

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Markham Grange

 Give Daniel a camera and you're never quite sure what you'll get, but here are some of the pictures he took from the visit to Markham Grange

 Bucket that never overflows
Not the real answer

Silo for munching mdf etc to feed the boiler

Food for the boiler

pipes along which the wood chippings go to the boiler, blown by a fan


inside the boiler

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Fort Paull

A very early start, and a long journey, but the weather was wonderful and the sighting of a woodpecker made the effort worthwhile

Not many photos taken as a lot was underground in the dark or directly into sunlight.   The outside exhibits, definitely more interesting for boys.

 Aircraft Carrier
Inside aircraft carrier

 butterfly bomb
 crushed under fallen masonry
Hull lift for lifting heavy debris

 house martin nest
 Signs on wall in barber/dentist

In other news, Jonathan has completed his first week at college, tired, but enjoying it which is the main thing.

Friday, 2 September 2011

College Registration and Gardening

Wednesday saw us back at the college for registration day.  There were a couple of tense moments as those dealing with the registration didn't know why someone at fourteen, with none of the relevant qualifications were trying to register for the courses.  However, these were little glitches, and on the whole, the process was quite smooth.

Jonathan's weeks are going to be very full for this year-Monday am, English GCSE, Wednesday and Thursday, Bricklaying, and Friday am Maths GCSE.

There is a test after five weeks in Maths, and if the students don't pass this test, they are off the course.

English is a whole new curriculum with all class based assignments and four exams during the year.  The book they will be studying is "Of Mice and Men".  We are out today to get a copy so Jonathan can get some advanced reading done.

While this is all going on, Daniel and I have been busy in the garden.  Onion seeds have been planted, and spring cabbages planted out.  We're just waiting for the spinach plants to arrive and they'll go out to crop all over the winter.

Next thing on our list, will be induction day at college next Wednesday.  College for real starts the following Monday.  Once all that is done, I have to start the whole process for Daniel.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

France 2011

East Midlands Airport to Dinard

First trip abroad for the boys, first flight
Terror? Nerves

Hysteria, relief, excitement

the view-"Cool!"





Love the clock-Sun Dial

Beach near Carnac

Near Carnac

Swinging through the trees

My other monkey


How do I get this out?  Do I really want to eat these?

In it goes

Savouring the taste

Where Daniel's best holiday friend lives- Toad hole.  Daniel fed him crickets

Sunset on the sea as the boys came home on the ferry

lights at Portsmouth

Both boys thoroughly enjoyed the experience, Daniel especially enjoyed trying the different food, both boys asked for things in shops in French and spent time with French families, playing games.  Language definitely wasn't a barrier.  Both boys would love to go back and are adding different places to their travel list.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

College Open Day

We received a phone call on Monday asking if we could take Jonathan to the open day Wednesday for the bricklaying course, so before half ten yesterday, we were ready and waiting for the session to start.

We met the team of tutors, a couple of the extra support team and went through an overview of the requirements.  Puntuality is a key requirement, and is strictly enforced.  Breaks are exactly the same as if they were in work, fifteen minutes morning and afternoon, with forty five minutes for lunch.

Thirty percent of the course is done in the classroom, over seven units.  There is a test at the end of each unit, and then an online exam at the end of the year.  City and Guilds is the examining board.

The workshop area is divided into numbered sections, one allocated to each pair working together.  There will be a number of tasks.  You build them, get your mark, take them down, and begin the next one.

We will need to get Jonathan sorted with steel toe capped boots, working jeans, pen, pencil, ruler, calculator, tape measure and safety goggles.

While there, Jonathan did an assessment for maths and english.  He came out level 2 for English (brilliant), and level 1 for maths, (not quite so brilliant.)  At the same time as the bricklaying course, he will be doing his maths and english GCSE, and they will provide him with extra support for the maths.  No doubt, with the extra help, his maths will soon be at the same level as his english.

We now have to wait for his official letter with the offer for the place, and then there will be an induction day on the 8th September.  The course will then start the following week.

It's going to be a very busy year for him, but I am sure he will enjoy it, and it will be well worth it come this time next year.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

College Interview

Well, what a day it was yesterday.  A long, hot day, but a great result for Jonathan after his college interview.

It looks now as if he will be able to start a full time college in September to do a bricklaying course, Maths and English GCSE's.  This seems to be a better route, and quicker, to getting the relevant qualifications he wants

I need to phone the college today to confirm with them what Jonathan wants to do, as it was a completely different route to what we had been expecting, and then we need to wait.  Hopefully, it won't be too long before we get a definite answer.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Construction Design Centre Visit

Prompt at ten o'clock yesterday morning, Malcolm and Rachel from the LA came as promised to take Jonathan and I to have a look at the CDC centre where the BTEC Construction course is done.

It was a lovely building with great facilities for the course.  The standard of work from previous students is outstanding, some competing in national awards.  I was excited with what I saw, and I wasn't the one doing the course.

The course is exactly what he wanted, giving him a hands on chance to try bricklaying, painting and decorating, joinery, block paving and drainage. He will also have the opportunity to go out and do on the job training, which is exactly what he wanted to do.  As he was happy with what he saw, the process begins to enrol him on the course, and we now wait for a date for the induction day.

We are also waiting for confirmation of an appointment with the college on 27th June to sort out GCSE courses.  Hopefully, that won't be too difficult to sort out either.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A lesson in proportion and athletics

Daniel was able to spend an hour or so with Jonny on Thursday.  Jonny is the tutor that ran the art workshops he attended.

Daniel expressed a desire to be able to sketch with more detail, in the manner of Ruskin.  In order to help him. Jonny gave Daniel an exercise in proportion.  His subject was a tiny marigold leaf, and he had to fill the page.  
He didn't have long to work on it, but he managed to get the proportions of the leaves to match.  Since coming home, he has begun a sketch of a pitcher , so hopefully, he can put the lesson he learned to good use.

Now to a different form of exercise, yesterday was the start of a seven week athletics course.  All the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Yesterday was lots of sprinting exercises and races.  Unfortunately, the boys are going to be away and will miss the long jump.  Maybe they can practise on the beach while they are away.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Florence Nightingale and William Shaw

Monday, we had a fantastic day out at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. We spent the day with Florence Nightingale and her grandfather, William Shaw. It was a very informative session, both for the children and adults. It wasn't until Monday that I realised that there was a connection with Florence Nightingale and Sheffield. Her grandfather, William Shaw lived at Tapton Hall, and at the age of six, Florence came to live with him.

Grandfather William Shaw-(absolutely fantastic)

Florence Nightingale-(scary)

Reenacting the Crimean War

Complete with amputated leg.  Young nurses to clean up the hospital building and to provide clean dressings for the wounded

Trying to write with ink pens

Quite often, being left handed, Jonathan struggles with the ink pens, but this time, it was a very successful attempt

Nose to the grindstone

Daniel in Mr Shaws coat and top hat

Florence Nightingale

The afternoon session was with William Shaw talking about Victorian remedies, those that worked, and more often, those that didn't.  The children made lavender water and then went to "cure" a baby with cholera.  This was the hardest part for the mothers in the group, to think of what was inflicted on babies in the belief it was making them better!

All in all, a wonderful day, and a great stepping stone to go back and do some more research.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Felt Making Workshop

Yesterday, I took Daniel to a felt workshop with Shelly Hughes.  This was one I really wanted to do with him, but a little accident on the way, prevented me from taking part.

They were making animals out of needlefelt.
This was Daniel's creation.  It was fascinating to see a ball of fluff turning into recognisable animals and birds.

This is the first time Daniel has tried needlefelting and he enjoyed it, though he did find the continual stabbing monotonous at times.

Shelly is such a patient teacher, she is the one that did the drawing masterclass we attended a month or so ago.  I'm hoping we will be able to attend more of her workshops in the future.