A day out at the beach

A couple of weeks ago, i decided that the best way for me to enjoy a Daddy day with Sophie and Harry would be to spend it on the beach.

Setting aside the fact the nearest beach was 60 miles away (ish), I packed lots of things, bundled the little ones into the car and headed off.

Looking out of the rain-spattered Windows as I joined the M56 out towards North Wales, I wondered if it was really such a good idea after all…

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Dear Bollin Primary

Dear Bollin Primary

Last year was tough.

We were dragged through the mud by the press, the school was almost torn in two, tears, sadness and anger were the dominant narratives. We were abandoned by the people who were meant to protect us and the authorities weighed in to crush us when we were down, providing the barometer by which the school is now judged by the outside world.

All the while, our remarkable children ploughed on through.

And now, as school returns after hopefully a refreshing summer’s break, I think there’s plenty of reasons for you to be fiercely optimistic about the future.

Here’s just a few.

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What I’ll miss about teaching

So, as my last post suggested, the world of education and teaching is littered with many trials and pitfalls and has been, at times, a tough place to work.

And yet, as I leave, there are so many memories, good times and aspects of teaching that will remain with me always.

In the name of balance, here’s just a few of the things I am going to miss.

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Why I left teaching

Today, I woke up for the first time in eight years as a former teacher.

My notice period officially ended on 31 August so technically now I’m a free agent.

Still, the usual leaving time is within the first five years so at least I’m above average.

In the first of a short series, I wanted to unpick the reasons why I left, partly as closure for me but also to see if anybody else could relate to my experiences.

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Imaginary friends

I think most children go through it – that time where your best friend exists in your head but you’re pretty sure they’re actually real.

I remember having one who was not very good at stopping my shots when we played football together – surprisingly – but any other details have long since faded.

As parents it’s important to go along with the pretence, encouraging your child’s social development and including the imaginary friend in everyday life until they get bored with them.

Which may have to be soon for us as with Sophie’s army of pretend pals we’re going to need to do some dramatic upsizing!

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The end of an era – Bolt and Farah finish in tears

Last night was right up there as one of the best sporting experiences ever. With Mo Farah and Usain Bolt on the ticket, second Saturday tickets had always looked promising.

Little did I anticipate just how bright the fireworks would be.

My athletics watching history dates back to 1993, Colin Jackson smashing the 110m hurdles world record, Linford Christie’s 100m gold and Sally Gunnell’s 400m hurdles triumph.

I was hooked.

I’ve waited 24 years to attend a global championships so wanted to do it properly. Ideally I’d have attended all session but, funnily enough, money prohibited such a crazy plan.

Instead we decided to go to just one session but go big.

That’s why we found ourselves sitting behind the main gathering of Jamaican fans, on the home straight, opposite the finish line. Amazing.

We were wowed by the 100m hurdles and our ladies in the high before the first of the main events.

Mo.

With a fearsome wall of sound and Mexican wave clattering of seats in support, he was set.

So often he’s imposed himself on the field. So often he’s held the lead, gritted his teeth and adopted a Gandalfesque ‘You shall not pass’ attitude.

Not this time.

It was shocking to watch his aura of invincibility shatter down the final back straight as the Ethiopians for once had got past him. The usual strained look was plastered on his face but now he was the hunter not the hunted.

It was a stark reminder of how quickly someone can become yesterday’s man.

The crowd roared him through and he pulled a heroic silver out of nowhere but with Edris doing the mobot across the line, his golden era was up.

The stadium fell into a stunned hush. What had happened? They showed a highlights reel of his best bits which was kind but only underlined the fact he’d just been beaten.

He still saw his family. He still did a lap of honour. He’s still a legend. But his legacy is diminished slightly.

he action continued apace. Stunningly high quality javelin competition – despite not quite reaching 90m – followed by the relays.

The British women were incredible. Flying round the track chasing the likes of Torrie Bowie and Allyson Felix and running them close to finish second. Wow.

Finally, we had the big man himself. Usain Bolt entered the stadium to a cacophony of noise and the Jamaicans in front of us went mental.

They’d had a poor championships but surely now was their time. Not if Justin Gatlin (booed again, very poor) and Christian Coleman had anything to do with it.

And, out of nowhere, not if the Brits had their say too. They were incredible. I found myself utterly hooked by their performance screaming at the top of my voice as the baton flew round.

In the blink of an eye, Bolt had the baton- could he claw it back? I was too busy yelling at Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake as he blazed towards the finish.

Three strides, two strides, line…GOLD!

I’d kept a brief glance on Bolt but to our shock he pulled up halfway to the finish, agony etched over athletics’ most famous face. Horror.

He crashed to the track and the Jamaicans in front of us held their breath in collective despair. Their hero, their figurehead, their idol. This was his career literally ending in tears.

We had the perfect view as the wheelchair came over and the doctors surrounded the prostrate Bolt – his teammates gathering round, devastated.


We saw him helped gingerly to his feet, Gatlin come over and wish him well, the Jamaicans in front of us mourn their defeat.

All the while the majority of the stadium were going mad to celebrate Britain’s confirmed victory. Unbelievable.

The dark sky was awash with stars as we left but two of the brightest stars ever of track and field had seen theirblights dimmer dramatically over 90 minutes.

Not a championships high on sentiment but definitely high on drama.

 

Bootcamp Babies – time off with Daddy is exhausting…!

So I’ve been a “retired” schoolteacher for almost two weeks now and the new lease of life is certainly taking its toll…on Sophie and Harry!

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Perhaps it was Justin Gatlin’s turn

I know this won’t be popular. Usain Bolt has, almost single-handedly, kept athletics relevant and spread the sport across the world to non sports fans.

His appeal, presence and popularity has been totally universal.

In his final 100m race last night, the stage was set for a fairytale golden ending.

Until, that is, the erstwhile ‘villain’ of the piece Justin Gatlin came along and sneaked the victory.

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Cheerful or churlish? – a season in League One awaits…

For the first time in my lifetime, Blackburn Rovers will kick off the new season on Saturday in the doldrums of League One with, all due respect, the likes of Rochdale, Plymouth and Fleetwood.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Sure, I’m imbued with the same old start-of-season optimism that all football fans have before the leaves start to fall and the grim reality of a season of struggle begins to set in. (Make that ten past 3 on Saturday then).

But, for all that following Rovers is both a delight and a nightmare, there is some cause for cautious optimism.

Here are my reasons to be cheerful/reasons to be churlish…

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Manchester: Five Years On

Five years ago, London 2012 exploded into our living rooms in a tidal wave of golden hysteria.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Tom Daley and Laura Trott led the charge as Team GB’s remarkable exploits captured the nation.

As for us, we were sat watching from our new Chorlton living room having made the switch from Lincolnshire’s Grantham to the suburbs of England’s most ambitious city.

And we’ve never looked back since…

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