Monday, 24 September 2012

Blanket box

One blanket box completed, one set of curtains hung though not hemmed and six chairs given two coats of clear oil. Progress!

This week's task: to stay calm while helping Eldest to decide what to take to university.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Eldest and I painted her room in July. When we moved in she was 10 and I did a jolly yellow with patchwork curtains. As she’s grown her room has needed more and different furniture (extra bookshelves, not a high bed with a desk under it, and so on) and it was time to update the look. We’ve ordered a tiny sofa from Laura Ashley (her birthday present) to replace the single bed ‘sofa’ that was taking up too much floor space. She bought herself a blanket box which she has painted and I am now to recover the top. And make new curtains of course. Fabric is purchased: the pile awaits.

I have a blanket box of my own waiting to be recovered. And our kitchen chairs have been stripped of aged varnish after 35 years in my ownership (ex-Army quarter furniture bought for my student flat). They need oiling and the seats covering with newly purchased PVC. I’m a bit busy!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Wash day blues

I have failed in my motherly duties!

Eldest bakes like a professional most of the time although she rarely cooks savoury food; but she can follow a recipe: she’ll be fine. And it’s catered accommodation anyway. She’ll not starve.
Last week we purchased a collapsing laundry bin. She is going to accumulate her own washing from now and have a go at sorting and laundering for herself. Apparently this will be “more fun” than doing the families laundry… I feel guilty that she doesn’t know the first thing about sorting, choosing the right programme, pegging out on the line or programming the tumble dryer; but more so that she thinks this might be fun.
I am a passionate sorter and a user of all the varied programmes on my washing machine. I get an immense satisfaction from smoothing and folding clean clothes. (Regular readers may remember that I do not iron.) But: fun?
We’ll see.

The photo is of Eldest's 18th birthday cake, by special request because "It's not fair, I never had a pink castle."

Monday, 3 September 2012


Youngest had her first go at GCSEs in May. She took the first modules in the three sciences and the actual GCSEs in English Language and Spanish. She was somewhat surprised to achieve As in the Sciences (which she hates) but content with a B and an A respectively in the other two. Had she failed I expect we would have been encouraging her to repeat the exams, but she got what was predicted by her school, as did her big sister. But what of the current controversy?

Some children, who may have got Cs had they taken the English exam in January have scored Ds in June. Ofqual is saying that their investigations show that the papers were marked too generously in January and that anyone who’s unhappy can resit (possibly at no charge) in November… If the ‘new’ standard stays I’m not at all sure that I can see how this would help: presumably, even if the pupil is available to retake, they would be taking somewhat of a punt on doing better this time around? I don’t like the modular format of exams; it seems to me it lays itself open to this sort of problem. I suspect that the education world, who are shouting loudly about legal action, may find they’ve played into the hands of Michael Gove who believes that our exam system is all wrong and needs a complete overhaul.

I did OK in my O levels but poorly in my As so I hope you will allow me to say that, whatever a person’s results, they were awarded a grade that reflected where they stood in their year group (clearly I was in a very bright year…). The current view that passing time should show our schoolchildren improving misunderstands what the old system demonstrated. It was never about actual achievement but about relative achievement: it showed who the brightest students were in each year group. I’m not advocating that that was right, but we do need to know what these exams are actually for!

As a footnote you may be informed by a little incident when I told a small group that Eldest had a place at Oxford if she could get two A*s in Maths… One of the ladies present explained that since she went to a State school there wouldn’t be a problem as they pick the easiest exam boards with the simplest modules.

I was very restrained!