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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…
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…
Ever since I started teaching, I’ve always been involved in helping produce end of year shows. They are one of the major highlights of the job for me.
It’s amazing to watch young people you are working with lose their timidity and perform at their absolute maximum to the joy of the watching audience. To ensure this happens, I strive to make sure the show is as polished as possible.
It’s not a prerequisite to be involved though…I just love to get stuck in.
I’d done a weekend by myself before with the two children.
But this was different.
This was on location in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and hills.
Oh and Harry really wasn’t feeling well.
This oughta be interesting.
Our Austrian holiday “peaked” at 2600m on top of the Wetterkreutz.
Sophie and Harry’s first mountain was certainly a good ‘un.
I’ve always loved mountain walking but always on the condition we get to scale summits and tick them off on my mental list.
So when Andrew suggested we go on a longer walk I jumped at the chance to notch my first Alpine peak.
It was a real excitement to pull on my boots, pack up a chunky picnic and look up at the imposing rock face that stood ahead of us.
The only slight complication was the addition of two small children into the mix.
And there was no question of them staying at home.
We’d come prepared – my wife had a sling for Harry and I had a backpack to carry Sophie up. We were also to hugely benefit from a ski lift taking us 2000m of the way. From there though it was climbing steeply in the heat of the day with the children in tow.
It was hard work if I’m honest but we invented a guessing game to keep us entertained. It essentially involved me shouting animals and Sophie shouting colours. Plenty of blue penguins and yellow meerkats on offer.
Towards the top, a sheet of snow – more like compacted hail – made life even tougher. Andrew picked a way over it carefully and I followed suit. Sophie was hanging out of the backpack, shifting my centre of gravity really unhelpfully but I was able to navigate it.
Next came my wife with Harry and he’d decided to wake up by this point. As she tested the ground, his sling slumped forward putting pressure on the back of her neck and weighing her down. She did marvellously well though and made it across.
From there we could really see the distinctive cross which marked the top of the mountain. Just a short zigzag round the summit, a zip across some more snow and then we were there.
Views from the top were absolutely glorious and we even managed to get a classic shot of us looking like a Christian missionary family. (There would certainly be worse places to work).
For the way down I took Harry and Andrew carried Sophie. The temperature had sunk as we’d ascended but this swiftly changed and it was hot and uncomfortable by the time we made it back to the ski lift.
(Naturally my inner child kicked in as we approached the finish line and I raced away from the others so Harry and I secured a glorious victory. At least in my head we did anyway.)
We’d done it – first mountain for the littlies conquered. Many more to come I hope.