Archive for September, 2018

Out of the door and back to school


On school days, Eliza is first to leave, before 8am, each morning; and last to return; and first to go out again. Her social life involves up to four different groups of friends. She goes to gym, coaches gym and helps run gym parties. She does dance. And she goes to some gigs and wants to go to a lot more. When she’s at home, there’s a soft strumming from her bedroom as she continues to learn to play the acoustic guitar.


On school days, Gabe is last to leave and often the first back home. In year 13, school hours seem less rigid. He is working hard but regularly needs help with composing his thoughts into writing. This was felt most acutely when up against a fictitious deadline for his University application personal statement. Both L and I were implored to give him ideas, help him word them and over again. Eventually, it was done, but with great dollops of self-doubt.


On school days, Robin heads out the door after one and before the other of his siblings. So far, it appears as though this year he is more settled at school. It may be because his classes have been streamed. It could be because he’s no longer in the most junior year. It might also be a change of attitude on his part – an openness to his fellow pupils, in place of his prior tendency to dismiss almost allĀ as ‘annoying’, ‘weird’ or ‘idiots’.

A gallery, water-park and a Tudor house

The children’s interests have diverged, but I was even more conscious of the lack of pleasure they take in each other’s company. For the sake of harmony, I took three successive Fridays off work – each to spend with one of the kids at a place of their choice.


Eliza was first and didn’t have strong views about what we should do. I suggested, with her GCSE art course looming, a visit to a gallery. We settled on Liverpool and my research took us to the Walker. Although she loves doing her own art, Eliza acknowledged she didn’t know much about the subject, or even what she liked. We wandered through the 20th Century gallery, pointing out what appealed to us (for me, a Freud portrait). Then we found some paper and pencils to take on the challenge of sketching jugs selected from a painting of a dozens of jugs in a loft.

The older paintings, other than the Impressionists, held less interest, so we went to the 2018 Moores Painting Prize Gallery. We looked really hard to find something we liked, but failed.

Eliza chose Nando’s for lunch, where she chattered and bubbled like the little girl she used to be.


I took Robin and his friend A, to a water-park. We lunched on Subways – 12 inches allowed – before entering the indoor park which by early afternoon was heaving with holiday children. We toured the pool, tried the lively lazy river, the simplest of slides and braved the outside pool, before dashing back inside.

After an hour, the boys decided to queue for one of the major slides. For the next two hours, they moved from queue to slide to queue, before returning for a waffle by which time we were almost the last to leave as the centre was being tidied up and closed. In the car on the way home, Robin dropped off to sleep.


Gabe wanted to go somewhere historical, so complete has been his evolution into a serious student of history. I offered a couple of options, but then settled on Little Moreton Hall, the archetype of a Tudor mansion.

We walked the public areas of this odd, rambling but beautiful building. Gabe, unlike every other visit to somewhere of cultural interest, showed no impatience, content to wander, read and discuss. We took the guided tour, which answered our questions about who, when and how this hall had come about. I had expected Gabe to be unkind about the guide’s laboured jokes, but I was wrong. We had lunch in the tight, little restaurant with a curious menu – Gabe finding only a scone appealing.