Monday, 20 July 2015

End of Term

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The last two weeks of term before the schools brake up in the U.K for the summer holidays are very hectic times. This year especially as my daughter is leaving her Primary School for High School.

It started with two different sports days and the parents gathered on the sports pitch hoping the rain would stay away.

Sports Day

Then there was the end of year summer dance show for my daughter at the Hollywood in Norwich. Once again parents, their siblings and grand parents gathered, and waited eagerly, for the show to start.

Dance Show

Then it was back to the school for two end of year parent assemblies plus the leavers show. One event after the other and for the mothers a very competitive environment because everyone of them wanted to be on the front row. This then involved having to get to these events at least half an hour before they started, and like the title of my blog it felt I was just always-hanging-around.

School Assembly

Our mantle piece is covered with certificates galore and medals that were presented to the children for all their hard work, and commitment, throughout the year. For some mothers no matter how many awards their little darlings get it's never enough. They would chatter among themselves. 'Well why didn't my little Johnny get this award or my little girl get that medal?'

Scout and Beavers weekend Camp

The last awards were given out at the end of the local Scout/Beaver group weekend camping. All the parents gathered at 12 pm on Sunday lunch time to collect their little ones, but all there was to see were empty tents. The troop had gone off on a hike and were no where to be seen. So once again we were hanging around, but it was worth it. All the children loved it and plenty of badges were given out. With the ones my daughter got from her Guides Group their gran-mother is going to be kept busy sowing them all onto the children's uniforms.

So another school year is over and all for a lot of my readers from around the world, from the U.S.A to the U.K to Russia, India and Africa, millions of parents will be going through the same frenzied events, and hopefully like me you will have enjoyed every moment, and been truly grateful for having the chance to experience it.



Sunday, 12 July 2015

Emotional goodbyes

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The previous Sunday was the last service for Fr Barry the rector of the local parish church who is retiring. The building was packed with some people having to stand. The full choir were present including the juniors. 

A spread of food, cakes and drinks were ready at the back of the church for everyone to celebrate the event. This is what Fr Barry wanted, the whole event to be a celebration, but after being the parish priest for ten years it's very hard to say goodbye to someone you have got to know over that time, and not feel emotional about it. 

I can honestly say he is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and someone who truly believed in the message he wanted to pass onto others. With his wife Diane by his side they made a lovely couple that brought the community together with a warmth, and belief, that was infectious.

He will be missed. 

The previous day my son had been boating on the Norfolk Broads with his Beaver group. One of the volunteers of his group is Mrs King, although we share the same surname we are not related. She is also a server at the Church and also a teacher at my children's primary school where Fr Barry took a weekly assembly. The weather on the Saturday was just gorgeous although it rained on the Sunday. Fr Barry made a joke about it during his sermon because it was raining on the very first day he turned up. 

I took my swimmers along with me and a picnic for the family. During the breaks from boating my daughter and son swam with me in the broads while the wife took pictures on the side. I tried to entice her in, but she was quite happy to just soak up the sun. Mrs King was there with her usual enthusiasm alongside the other Beaver and Scout helpers. It was a busy weekend because on the Sunday my son's football team were playing in a major football tournament organised by Norwich City Football in the Community .

My Mother-in-Law had volunteered to take him in the morning, and we joined them afterwards when we had said our final emotional goodbyes  to Fr Barry and his wife after the service. Because of the heavy rain we had received a call requesting us to bring coats for the other men who voluntary run the football team.

That's what makes a great community, volunteers! People who give their own time and resources freely to others without asking, or expecting anything back in return. This is the simple message of friendship that shone from Fr Barry like a beacon in a dark world, and I give thanks that I have been lucky to experience this, and to Fr Barry.



Sunday, 5 July 2015

Jolly Boys day out

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It's been nearly three weeks since I posted my last comments on life. The only reason I haven't kept to my weekly format was because I couldn't make up my mind on what subject to write about. It wasn't a case of writers block, but the total opposite, it was a case of writers over load. There has been so much going on over the last three weeks every time I started to write I would change my mind, and start all over again.

First there was the Jolly Boys day out. 

The date had been set and the message went out. Jolly Boys day out. Meet at 10.30 for breakfast then a visit to the seaside for a day of drinking, reminiscing, laughing and more importantly friendship. Every year during the close season when there is no football my friends and I meet up for a day out during the weekend.

So on Saturday people started to gather at the Queen of the Iceni public house on Riverside in Norwich for a full English Breakfast, and a pint. That was a bit to early for me so I hopped on the bus and arrived at midday at the pub. By 12.30 we were on the train to Gt Yarmouth.

The weather was overcast and it was just warm enough to get away with wearing a light jacket, but rain had been forecast. I wasn't so bothered about the weather because one thing that does amuse me is how wrong the professionals are at predicting what the weather is going to be like in the U.K from one day to another. It costs millions upon millions of pounds to run the Met-office with even more spent on the latest computing power, and time and time again they get it wrong. Every Sunday evening you watch the seven day forecast and then every day there after it changes quicker than the weather itself. All you can guarantee is that what the weather professional-men say, and what happens in the real world are two totally different things. I just think it's pure fiction most of the time. 

I had planned to take some photo's on my phone of the day out at some of the various pubs we visited, but I enjoyed myself so much it slipped my mind. All week people who were there have posted pictures on Facebook.

After such a good time there were two events that brought me down to earth. The two terrible killings that took place in America and Tunisia. Both of these horrible acts were carried out in the name of race and religion, but in fact were carried out in the name of evil. The attack in Tunisia which resulted in the deaths of  thirty British people felt personal to me because last year I wrote a post here about our family holiday in the very same resort. There was a picture on the news with the gun man walking the very same beach that my family and I used to sit on.

The following Friday I went on a school trip with my son to the Tower of London and as we sat together on the coach I couldn't but help look at him, and think how lucky I was.


Although the trip wasn't as easy as I expected it to be. I thought it would be a good thing for daddy/son bonding, and by the amount of other fathers that were on the two coaches, they thought the same thing.  We left my children's primary school at 7.30 in the morning and as we drove down the A11 trunk road to London we suddenly pulled up just south of Thetford. After twenty minutes with both coaches parked up, and blocking one lane, we were informed the other coach had broken down and could go no further. Our coach carried on its course, but within ten minutes the boy sitting behind us had a terrible nose bleed which had stopped by the time we reached Birchhanger services near Stanstead Airport. But by then another boy had fallen ill with travel sickness, and had to be left at the services with his adult cousin while his family had to drive all the way there to pick him up.

Never mind I though went we got back on the road , at least we are moving! That was until we got into London. At the Blackwell tunnel the traffic came to a standstill and we were stuck for nearly an hour. With all the London pollution being pumped around the coach by its air-conditioning system children were being sick left, right and centre, and a bucket was passed from parent to parent. In the end with nearly a mile still to go it was decided that everyone would get off the coach and walk the rest of the way. By then it was midday and the sun had come out making it the hottest day of the year so far in the U.K. When everyone got to Tower Bridge we were all flagging.

What was most surprising about the whole adventure was when we arrived at the Tower of London. The other coach load of children and parents were there waiting for us. The teachers had been in contact and so took a different route into London after their replacement coach turned up. You can now get to London from Norwich in 90 minutes, but on this occasion it took five hours.

Never mind it was still a great day out. My son got to see the Crown Jewels and the White Tower which is very similar to Norwich Castle (Although ours is better.)

By four in the afternoon we all met up before heading back to the coach. Although we didn't spend too much time there it was was enough for both my son and I, especially in the heat. London is a great place to visit, but Norwich is an even better place to live. we have a history as rich as London, and a cultural scene that is as vibrant, but what we don't have in Norwich is children being sick because of the pollution.