Posts Tagged ‘walks’

Saved until last


Eliza’s parents evening, attended by L, Eliza and me, was an evening of almost unremitting praise. The French teacher went into Gallic excess. More English, more restrained were history, English, music (although Eliza’s failure to go to strings group on Tuesday lunchtimes was mentioned) and science. Only maths, in the person of a very dull man, failed to join in the fun. But last was best, because the RE teacher, amongst her praise for Eliza, admitted that she always saved marking Eliza’s homework for last – to give her a boost at the end of a long marking session.


On a mild March evening, Robin joined L and I on a walk around the neighbourhood to get some air and steps on our health apps. A few minutes down the road and Robin announced that he was going to give us a quiz, on the subject of.. himself. For the next 20 minutes our knowledge of our younger son was tested: favourite music, tv programme, holiday and food preferences and much else. His mother, of course, won.


Gabe is nibbling away at the pile of GCSE assessments that fill year 11. Science practicals, music performances, French controlled assessment, cookery assessment and PE performances have all been ticked off, with the exams to come after Easter.  The most stressful for him was the food technology test. He had never completed a practical in the allotted time, but we persuaded him to practice at the weekend and prepare some of the ingredients at home. His savoury Chelsea bun with tomato sauce looked impressive. He prepared most thoroughly for the French assessment, drafting a sophisticated piece about his home town that he reproduced under controlled assessment conditions (dictionary + 40 words of notes). The interim results place him well to achieve an impressive set of GCSEs.

Shattered and blistered

The Easter holiday has involved copious amounts of physical activity. All three children have had six days at the cricket club multi-sports camp, playing through sun, wind, rain and hail.


For Robin, multi-sports has really meant hours and hours of football played with boys older than himself. ‘Mikey said I’m the best mini-kid at sports,’ Robin reported one of the teenage helpers telling him. At home, before and after camp hours, Robin has been in the garden with a football, practising keepy-uppies (personal best: 3) or playing with me and..


..Gabe in emotion-filled games. Usually laughter as they tackle and tangle trying to score against me; or Gabe trying to head crosses from me past Robin into the net. And then when Robin is too shattered to know when to stop, and Gabe too tired to know when not to tease him, an outburst of anger.

At the camp, Gabe has been putting in the hours in the cricket nets and lording it as one of the oldest there by winning tournaments.


More reluctantly, occasionally as the only girl, Eliza has been at multi-sports, too. She avoids the football and plays tennis, hockey, soft-ball cricket or rounders. Then after a day of outdoor activity, she has been going to gymnastics for two hours (twice per week), ending up exhilirated and exhausted. Her first experience of intense practice on the bar has blistered her hand – a mark of her serious intent.

Forced on top of this exercise was a walk near Wrexham. Eliza describes it in her holiday homework:

My holiday story

Monday 9th

On Monday of my Easter holidays I unfortunately me, my mum and dad and my two brothers went to Wales. This was only because my dad wanted to do a walk there. Well there was goats, lambs, alpacas that I really liked and pigs that I didn’t like so much. And thre was places to collect stones and pottery. But the best bit of it was deffinately walking across the 40m aquaduct which Gabe didn’t really want to go across. We had lunch there and went in the playground and altogether it proved me wrong about the unfortunately thing at the start.

Loch Tummel

A holiday by a loch had water as its theme.

We hired a kayak on Loch Tay and for an hour paddled about in choppy waters, staying close to the boat club, but getting a feel for a new activity. We all went commando for the rest of the day as our splashing had soaked the clothing we left on under our wetsuits.

Rain poured down for most of one day, a whole night and some of another. It beat on the roof of the caravan, exaggerating its strength, but the puddles, sodden grass, height of the loch and speed of the rivers were true measures of how wet it was. In the grass beside the caravan, Eliza found tiny black and brown frogs, the size of a fingernail.

We completed three walks and while the ground was muddy, and the flora dripping, we never got soaked. An hour-long woodland walk was extended over two hours as we played by a rushing stream, floating bark and, more successfully, pine cones, cheering when one evaded a log or branch and swept further downstream.

Eliza, Robin and I visited the campsite’s pool during its party time session. Eliza and Robin played like a pair of otter pups: twisting, diving, splashing, climbing and squealing with fun.

With so much water about, its absence was the feature that fascinated Gabe, Eliza and Robin when we found a ‘green toilet’ in a forest. It was a compost loo, with wood shavings provided to cover any deposits.

Is it a school day?


Most days, sometime between waking and lunchtime, Robin will ask, “Is it a school day?” He lives life so fully in the present that clues such as dressing in his uniform of grey shorts and white polo shirt or watching tv for an hour after breakfast, aren’t compelling enough to answer the question for him.


Walking with Gabe down the road, even in silence, is an insight into his personality. When he walks alongside you, he nudges and butts your side. His line veers into yours like a train track making repeated junctions. Ahead, he walks at a pace that leaves you shortening your stride to avoid his heels and ankles. And if behind, he bumps and clips your legs with his bag. There’s a need to have his presence acknowledged, to be reassured that you know he’s about.


The infant school’s Got Talent show returns. Eliza has had the idea that she could perform a solo gymnastics routine. But that is a challenge to her shyness. So, Eliza has written L a note before going to bed asking for help being brave enough to do gymnastics at the show. L provides the support and all is set for next week.