Archive for the 'Electra' Category

Food and other sundry stuff

Asking my son last year where he thought various items of food came from and getting the half joking reply-’Tesco or Sainsburys !’ made me decide to make growing food a bigger part of our HE. We have only been HE for 14 months so fairly new still.

We had the usual conversation about packaging and how harmful that was to the enviroment. He seemed to know quite a bit about that already-don’t know where from. We discussed buying fruit and veg from the local market, as they supported local farms and the produce was more seasonal.

‘Apart from the bananas.’

‘What ?’

‘You can’t grow bananas in England, it’s too cold.’ he explained kindly to his dim witted mother.

‘No alright apart from bananas.;

‘Or oranges, or lemons, or melons either.’ he added gleefully.

We then had an in depth conversation on where the expression ’smart alec’ came from. You see how one thing leads to another with HE.

Apart from all the things you CAN’T grow in your back garden in England, we set about sewing what would grow. Only ever having done tomatos in pots and the odd cucumber before, I was a novice at this. So we stuck with the easy things, potatos, carrots, leeks and salad crops. It has been enormously satisfying watching things grow, healthy exercise in the fresh air. Food tech , science and ecology all in one. You never know I may ever get him to actually eat some of the veggies !

A also decided that he wanted to follow a World Cookery course that I had found. After all his friend’s at school were doing food tech and learning how to make fruit salad, soup and fairy cakes. The course was very good and each lesson themed around a different country. It was ‘proper’ meal time food as well so we could all eat in the evening.

However the theory and the practical do not always go hand-in-hand. The other evening we ate Morrocan. A having made a chicken tagine. I dished up and asked for the verdict. It had smelt lovely whilst cooking, a delicate infusion of herbs and spices and gently simmering fruit.

‘Mm’ said number one son thoughtfully, ‘I don’t like it-all those aprricots spoil the taste of the chicken.’

And my husband….’ Well doesn’t do anything me for dear.’ he said reaching across and liberally dousing his plate in soy sauce !!!

Well you can lead a horse to water…..

cats,crockery and circles

Some days you just know that you shouldn’t bother getting out of bed. The other day was a classic example.

One of our cats crawled through the cat flap and collapsed on the floor.Minutes before there had been an almighty crash and one of our fence panels almost caved in.Bearing in mind that our neighbours had buiders in, laying a new  patio I put it down to their usual cack-handed approach to the job.Until I spotted the builders jack russell terrier in our back garden, busily digging up my potato plants and cocking it’s leg on my garden bench !!

Roaring out into the garden ( not a pretty site as I was still in PJs andhubby’s cast off Heineken t-shirt) I despatched the dog which had chased our cat through the cat-hole in the fence between our gardens. I returned to the house to examine the cat which was yowling pitifully and unable to put ant weight on his back legs.He walks with a limp anyway due to an old injury.His claws were all scuffed from scrabbling over the fence. I carried the cat upstairs and laid him on the bed. Went back to the kitchen to make a reviving cup of tea in my largest mug.Picked up the milk bottle and it slipped, bounced off my mug and crashed to the kitchen floor.Shattering the mug and contents over most of the kitchen floor and the milk bottle was a full one(naturally)

Meanwhile the cat is howling like a banshee so I bundle it into the car and set off down the vets, convinced that it has a broken leg at the very least. Half an hour and many pounds lighter vet pronounces that the cat has ‘probably torn a ligament’.We troop home and the cat limps outside-on it’s front two paws and bottom and proceeds to haul itself up the trellis, onto the shed roof and curls up on the garage roof. It starts to rain-

A announces that he is stuck on his maths.Great just to add to a perfect day-maths is not my strong point but I figure that as it’s geometry I should be able to help. I look at what he is doing, work on circles.

‘Mum what does pie-r-squared mean?’ he inquired.Well it’s a number I begin and then trail off-what does it mean ? I didn’t get it when I was 12 and the intervening years have not changed the situation !

By now it is pouring in earnest and I suggest finishing the maths lesson and would A like to get the ladder out and climb up onto the garage roof, to retrieve the cat.Then I thought we would go out-and buy some more mugs !

pointless rules….

I had to chuckle the other day having a conversation with my godson over the ‘coat-wars’ which were taking place at his secondary school. Like many senior schools, the school blazer is compulsorary wear.Even to the point where the child has to keep it on ‘at all times’ and only remove it with the teacher’s permission-even if it is 30C in the classroom…

On no account must the child walk across the school gates unless they are wearing said item. During the winter many of the children wore coats to school and then changed into their blazers. During the snow some children tried to enter the school gates wearing their home coats and then change once inside the building. The school’s response to this ?   instigate the ‘coat-police’ who promptly confiscated any ‘home coat’ which was not zipped into a school bag the instant a child put a toe across the threshold-and wouldn’t allow the coat to be returned for a week !!

What point does this serve ? What does it usefully teach the children-apart from an example of facisim in action. The head teacher later issued a decree that although the children could wear summer uniform (ie polo shirts) during the summer term, they still had to wear their blazer and of course you may not wear a jumper and a blazer….

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.

One year in…

Over the Nut Clusters the other morning we reaslised that it was a Very Significant Day. It was exactly one year since we had begun Home Edding. I mentioned this to A who paused, mid mouthful and looked up-’ Oh yeah-cool ! Don’t come into the lounge for a while will you, as I’m making a movie’.

Right that told me. It’s been quite a year I mused whilst clearing the table. A had attended our local Catholic Primary school where I also worked. It was a small, one class per year, friendly school and we had no problems with it. Other than the usual battles over A’s behaviour and constant chatter and the school refusing to accept our suggestion that A was dyslexic. He was happy enough there until the final year and the business of choosing a secondary school.

As anyone who has been in the system will know, the final year of primary is all about the SATS. Yes the very same ones that the Government are now talking of scrapping. It is a very boring year for the children.  By now the SEN teacher had confirmed that A was indeed dyslexic- not that 20 mins one-to-one once a week was making any noticable difference. When I asked what extra help A would be entitled to during the SATS I was told extra time. When I pointed out that would make no difference, if you can’t read a word it makes no odds how long you stare at it. I was told that his reading ability was not sufficently bad enough to warrant a reader. Having been told that hs reading ability was that of a 9 year old, ( he was 11.5) I wondered how bad did you have to be ?

The thought of secondary school and all the homework and the travelling involved began to depress us more and more. He was never going to cope. Then some friends of ours invited us over for a visit to their place in the south of France, on the Spanish borders. As we had already made plans to visit Portugal we thought why not do both.Then why not travel in term time when it is both cheaper and quieter. A doesn’t actually need to do these SATS. I could teach him at home. It was a heady thought. !He already had a place at secondary school, we could always turn it down later on….

So I went to see my boss, the Headteacher and said that I would be resigning and leaving at the end of term and taking Alex with me. She welled up with tears and blew her nose loudly and then said- ‘have you thought about this-oh but of course you have ? !   What a marvellous opportunity to travel-A will love it !’ Needless to say not quite the reaction we had expected !!

So we spent the summer travelling around in Europe and had a fantastic time. The autumn came and A’s friends went off to various secondary schools and we decided to keep going down the Home Ed path.  Finally because he wasn’t being made to read -he would read. We have no reading scheme, no set book that the entire class is reading. A reads his science and maths books ( which doesn’t count as ‘real reading !) and pores over the Argos catalogue, the Guiness bookof World records, the mobile phone manual, computer games instructions or whatever else he is into.

The abject fear of words has gone. He is happy, well adjusted and several years ahead in subjects like maths and science which he has always enjoyed. Because he didn’t go to secondary school he has time to continue with after school activities like Film club and Trampolining. He doesn’t spend hours of an evening doing homework and neither do I anymore !

We have made lots of new friends over the past year and met many people on the same journey. I have had the chance to organise activities and trips ( something I never thought myself capable of ) and I have learnt how to negotiate for discounts too !

My mother in law, accusing me of being over- protective and not exposing A to the unpleasant side of life said’ We all have to experience bullying so that we  know how to deal with it.’ I didn’t deign to reply to such a purile remark. As the months passed I found myself less and less bothered by other people’s opinions of what we were doing. People’s reactions ranged from admiring to downright hostile to plain envious.

It’s been a huge learning curve for all of us and we are still only at the start of our journey. I think the Home Ed road is one which will become more travelled. I only wish I had known that I could have started our journey earlier.