Archive for September, 2010

Humphrey’s PJ Week….

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

Today’s post is the latest Twitter suggestion blog. This one comes from @HumphreyCushion who suggested  I blog on another Twitter user @HumphreysPJWeek and asked if I could work something into the blog for the other Humphrey? I am happy to do so:)

Humphrey’s PJ Week (http://www.humphreyspjweek.co.uk/) is an annual event run by The Children’s Trust Organisation http://www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/. Humphrey’s Pyjama Week runs from the 11th to the 15th October 2010.

The premise for Humphrey’s Pyjama Week is really sweet; children at nursery school upwards donate £2 to wear their pyjamas to school. There are fun activities and a story about Humphrey’s friend who hurt their head. They can even make jam tarts as they are Humphrey’s favourite treat, yummy!

The story of Humphrey and his friend with the hurt head is a lovely way to introduce young children to the idea of disability and brain injury. It is a tough subject for a small child to understand and this is the way to introduce it with fun and delicacy. I am impressed that the Children’s Trust has come up with such a clever way to do this. Humphrey is a lovely character, see below:-

A sweet and gentle image linked to fun activities like a Treasure Hunt, what a super way for children to have fun learning about a difficult life-lesson.

Last year 10,000 children took part in Humphrey’s week, this year they are hoping to target 40,000 children into this initiative. They also have lots of support from my fellow bloggers. I sent a tweet out to say I was blogging on Humphrey’s PJ week and was contacted by Miss Lizzie (@MissieLizzieB) to let me know that there were a couple of blogposts already out there for this great event. I attach the links from Lizzie’s blog

http://missielizzie-meandmyshadow.blogspot.com/2010/09/hooray-for-humphreys-pj-week.html

and her guest post on Baby Born Free’s blog on the same subject

http://www.bornfreemumanddad.co.uk/2010/09/14/hooray-for-humphreys-pj-week/.

I also wanted to cover a little on the work that the Children’s Trust do as the monies raised from Humphrey’s PJ Week will go to this great organisation. The Children’s Trust is a national charity working with children who have multiple disabilities and complex health needs. They are based at a 24 acre site in Tadworth, Surrey but offer services to children from across the UK. They offer a unique combination of services, some of which include:-

  • Residential care with therapy, including those with an acquired brain injury
  • Community based care for those returning to home/school after a brain injury
  • Special education for children with profound and and multiple learning disabilities at The School for Profound Education
  • Hospice/palliative care

I do hope that you have learnt a little about The Children’s Trust and Humphrey’s PJ Week from this post. Please take the time to check out the websites and please also check them out on Twitter via @HumphreysPJWeek and @childrens_trust.

I hope that Humphrey’s PJ Week will be really successful and raise lots of funds for The Children’s Trust. I will also ask Humphrey and his pals to perhaps come back to the blog and let me know how much they were able to raise…….

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

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September 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm 4 comments

Charlotte’s Poem

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

Today’s post is a guest post of sorts and I am hugely impressed with the guest. Charlotte is 8 years old and wants to be a writer. Based on what you will read today, I think you will agree that Charlotte is a writer. I want to thank fellow tweeter and blogger Norman for bringing this to me. You will find Norman as @NoyoScotland on Twitter and via his blog http://www.noyo.eu/

Charlotte has given her permission for me to blog about a poem she wrote whilst out with her mother. The reason I asked to blog about Charlotte and bring her poem to you is very simple. This is what 8 year-olds should have the opportunity to do.

All 8 year-olds should be able to go on outings and let their imaginations go free. They should have the chance to enjoy childhood but at the same time develop their talents and grow their ambitions. In this case, Charlotte wrote a poem about Autumn.

This poem is tremendous! Please read it out loud and you will see how Charlotte has a real talent with words.

Charlotte's Poem

I don’t need to add anything more, Charlotte’s work stands out in it’s own right. I will just thank Charlotte for looking at this blog and understanding why I wanted to include her work here. My thanks to Charlotte. I am sure you will all appreciate her work as much as I do. Please read and enjoy:)

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

September 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm 2 comments

Star Wars, Unicorns and Platypus?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

This is my fourth post from Twitter suggestions. Today’s post is brought to you by the lovely @LittleFairyCult! She has given me an interesting theme, “StarWars, Unicorns and Platypus”. Wowser! This is going to challenge me but I do love a challenge. Thinking about it, I think this one needs to be a story from me to the 8 year-olds of this world. I do hope they like it……..

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, peace and tranquility reigned. One young boy left the Palace by a side gate, no-one noticed him leaving. He knew he shouldn’t do it, his parents would not be happy but he wanted to visit the market. Market day was the most exciting day of the month when the stallholders would set up their brightly coloured stalls filled with sweet things, toys and the travelling players would entertain the crowd. There were of course food and clothing stalls but they held no interest for the boy.

He was the Prince Lukas, son of Queen Leia and her consort The Honoured Han Solo. His life was too well organised for his liking and he itched for freedom. His every minute was run to a timetable that made his mind spin! From waking to sleeping he had people surrounding him to teach, tutor and nag. Even when he spent time with his parents there would be others who would be watching him, ready to correct him on the finer points of the Force and his lack of concentration.

Prince Lukas was aware of his position and duty. He was happy that he would do  his duty when the time came, he saw how his parents could rule but still be happy and spend time with him. However, did the tutors have to correct him all the time? He was learning but they spent so much time telling him where he was going wrong and never where he was going right. He was fed up and wanted freedom if only for a little while.

He had planned his escape well. One of his tutors was Yoda and he was now a very elderly Jedi Master. Although his senses were still very sharp he would occasionally doze off if he had a rich lunch. Lukas had requested his favourite stewed aspi-fruit with wakai cream for dessert. This dulled Yoda’s senses and Lukas was careful to keep thoughts of escape from his mind as Yoda scoffed down his pudding. Soon, Yoda’s eyes began to droop. Lukas knew that he and Yoda would not be disturbed as the Master was worshipped and trusted by everyone. All but Lukas knew that sessions with Yoda were the most important lessons of all.

Yoda snored gently, muttering under his breath ‘The Force is quiet here, where is The Force’, over and over again. Lukas was puzzled by this but he put it out of his mind, it was time to make a break for it. He had planned his route for many weeks and knew exactly what to do. Slowly he made his way from the room and down the corridors of the Palace, ducking into doorways every time he heard sounds or footsteps.

At last he was free! He ran down the hill towards the town and the market laughing all the way. At the back of his mind there was a small voice murmering ‘Where is the Force?’ but he paid no mind to that! He was dancing now, giddy with excitement at the thought of his own company for a few precious hours.

He reached the market and he head spun with the noise and the colours! There were jugglers and musicians and magicians galore. They sang and played and pulled brightly coloured balloons out of nowhere, red and blue and yellow and pink and green. Lukas’s eyes couldn’t get enough of this frenzy, he turned from scene to spectacle not knowing what to look at next. His mind danced with the joy of everything, his ears ringing and hands wanting to grab everything he could see.

Lukas knew he had to calm down so he would get the most from these few hours. He had heard the servants talking about the market before and had stored all of the information in his head. He had worked out what he wanted to see the most. There was the Kensian magician who could make you think that you were 10 feet tall, the Alysite juggler who could keep 25 flaming clubs in the air and the Bonne-Sweet stall that made Berkash toffees that lasted for a week. That would be worth the 15 credits he had saved over the last 3 months.

The best thing about this day? No-one knew he was the Prince Lukas, no-one would stop and ask if he had studied the ‘Manners of Yedi’ book that was 5000 pages long and he was only on Chapter 14. He could just be Lukas, not the heir to the throne with the expectations of all those people for him to carry on the wisdom of his parents. He wanted to be just like his parents; they were his heroes. They were the only ones who understood his worries about what lay ahead and they helped him want to fulfill his destiny. But he couldn’t talk to them about his need to escape the burden if only for a little while, it wasn’t worthy of a Prince to say these things. He felt guilty deceiving them but as long as he sneaked back into the castle in a couple of hours then no-one would know and he would  be able to continue his studies the next day without hurting anyone.

So, he watched the Kensian magician and ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ along with everyone else as he made the whole crowd grow in size so that they felt like giants and everyone else looked tiny. He wanted so much to stay tall, to be fully grown and have all the studies and lessons behind him. He moved to the Bonne-Sweet stall and looked at the Aryssian gobstoppers that tasted of marshmallow then liquorice then Devsian chocolate and then, finally and best of all, the sweetest Boorean Lushberry. There was also the Kallean Honeycomb that danced on your tongue for hours but Lukas already knew that the bag of Berkash toffees was what he wanted. He handed over his credits and lifted the bad before he could change his mind.

All that was left to see was the Alysite juggler. Lukas knew that they made him stay at the far side of the market as everyone worried that one of those fiery clubs would one day be dropped and the whole market would go up in flames. Lukas made his way through the crowds. He was very quiet so that he wouldn’t bring attention on himself. What he didn’t realise was that he was being watched.

Lukas thought he looked just like a normal boy, he didn’t realise that his clothing, the way he moved and talked had attracted all the wrong attention from the moment he arrived at the market. Although this was a time of great peace, there were always threats hiding where people would not notice. Queen Leia and Han Solo were aware of the shadows and worked very hard to ensure that diplomacy kept all threats at bay. They kept all this from Prince Lukas, he would learn of all these efforts when Yoda advised that he was ready for the full weight of his future duties. Thus, Lukas didn’t see how a few hours of freedom could threaten the stability of all they worked for. He was only a child and they wanted to protect him……..

So, Lukas never noticed the shadows, he only saw the colours and beauty of the market. As he worked his way towards the juggler he felt something nudge him and then sting  him. All that he could remember then was the slow drift into a dream, he didn’t even sense how he slowly crumpled to the ground.

The next Lukas knew he was in a very dark and damp room, it felt as if he was underground. How could this be? Wasn’t he back in the castle waiting to attend the next State Dinner with his parents? That was where he should be, he knew the Carasian representative was attending and that he was expected to attend. His head felt light, it was as if he had been spun in circles for hours. This wasn’t right, he had to concentrate, he had to focus on the Force.

He heard a noise. What was that? There was a rustling sound to his left. He wasn’t alone, there was someone else with him in this dark and dank place. Lukas had to think. He had to make his mind still to use the Force and see where he was and what was there. He breathed slowly as if he was still asleep and let his thoughts empty. There was someone with him but he wasn’t a person, Lukas couldn’t tell what or who he was. Lukas used his mind to keep looking when a voice entered his head. ‘Good evening, young Prince’, said the voice. Lukas said out loud ‘Who is this’ and a low chuckle echoed through the room. ‘Hello, young Prince’ said the strange and musical voice, ‘are you recovered?’. ‘Who are you?’, asked Lukas. ‘Ah, I am your watcher’, said the voice. ‘I am rarely seen but always there, I am your hidden protector’. ‘So, why are you with me now, isn’t this a prison?’ said Lukas. ‘Yes, but this is not a prison for me, I choose to be here so that you know you are not alone now when danger is greatest’ said the voice.

‘Who are you? Let me see you’, said Lukas. ‘Not yet, young prince, not yet’, said the beautiful voice. ‘Why not?’, asked Lukas. ‘If this is when danger is greatest then I need to know who you are’.

‘Do not panic, young Prince, when the time is right you will know who I am’, said the voice. ‘For now, be quiet, let them think you are still groggy  but think about the Force, you will need it very soon. Lie down, concentrate your mind, it will soon be time to act’. Lukas took this advice and lay down. It was difficult to free his mind from that voice but he knew he had to open up to the Force. This had always been hard for him, his biggest worry had always been that the Force had not come to him as it had come to others like his Uncle Luke. But he was determined this time, he had caused this mess and he knew he wanted to get out of it.

There was a noise outside the room. It was harsh and barked, an order. Someone answered the order and Lukas could hear a key forced into the lock and a grinding sound as the lock turned. The door opened and a dim light made Lukas blink. His new friend and protector was nowhere to be seen and there was only the sound of his own breathing.

He was pulled roughly to his feet. ‘The master will see you now’, barked the being who dragged him up. ‘Who is your master?’, asked Lukas, determined to show no fear to his captors. ‘You will see soon enough’. Lukas was shoved into the corridor. He treied to look around him, to see what could help him in this nightmare.

He was shoved into another room. Although it was underground, there were torches on the walls. The light fluttered around the room and Lukas could see shapes as the shadows cleared from his eyes. At first he thought they were voles but their mouths looked funny and they were too big? Then he realised, he was in a room full of platypuses! This was just weird, what were they doing and why on earth would they want him?

The crowd of platypuses became quiet and everything became still. Lukas sensed that someone important was making their way towards him as people moved out of the way. As they cleared Lukas could make out the leader, he moved up to Lukas and looked at him sternly. ‘I am Perna, King of the Platypus’, he said, ‘and you are our prisoner, our path to power! We have been watching you for some time and your actions today made our kidnap of you so much easier’. Lukas stood very still, he would not show fear nor ask any questions of this horrible creature.

Perna smiled, ‘Very good, young Prince, you hide your fear well. We have sent a message to your parents, they know now that you are taken. They will have to pay a ramsom worthy of their only child to see your ugly face again. We will be well paid for this little effort and will leave this hell-hole of a planet and go back victorious to our homeland. We miss Effica, our home is swampland, warm and wet, we miss it so’.

Lukas was puzzled, Perna looked so sad when he said this. ‘Why did you leave Effica then?’, Lukas asked. ‘If it is so wonderful and you all miss it, why are you here?’. Perna looked at him in surprise. ‘Do you not know your history at all, young Prince? Have you  not listened to the tales of the Wars of Efficanacia? It is only 10 years ago that we were cast out by invaders and took refuge here. Our land was taken from us by the Ellandi, the warrior otters! Your planet took us in and we were grateful. But we have no land of our own, only these dark tunnels and one small lake. How can your Jedi think that we can stay here? We have been abandoned by those who think they rescued us. We have made a pact to retake our planet, all we need is the money to purchase arms and ships. All is arranged and we will collect the ransom for you and leave immediately, soon Effica will be ours again.’

With that the crowd of platypuses cheered and shouted for their leader. ‘Perna, Perna, Perna’ rang out again and again until Lukas thought his ears would burst. He couldn’t understand how his wise parents wouldn’t understand the situation with the platypuses and try to do something about it. They always told him that diplomacy was the answer and that war should only ever be the last resort. How did they not know what was happening here? He didn’t think that his parens would abandon anyone, least of all a whole people that they had helped…..

Lukas knew he had to escape and talk to Queen Leia and Han Solo, he was too young to know the answer but was certain they would be able to sort this whole mess out. It was time to channel the Force, to see if he really had the power of the Jedi. He was scared now, he knew his parents would be frantic at his kidnap and he wanted to be able to fix the mess he had caused. But how could he do it, he was surrounded by platypuses and couldn’t see a way out. He needed to be alone to concentrate on the Force.

Luckily, the guard came towards him, grabbed him roughly and shoved him back down the corridor. Lukas knew he was going back to his cell and smiled to himself, this was just what he needed. As soon as he entered the cell, he sat quietly and tried to remember what Yoda had told him.

He slowed down his breathing and turned his mind to his centre where the Force was at it’s strongest. As he slowly inhaled and exhaled he could feel the heat at his heart and a light sparking within. He wanted to get a message to Yoda, this was the best option he had. Yoda was still the brightest of the Force, he was old but he was also wise. Lukas sat very still and the only thought he had was to Yoda. ‘I am a prisoner of the Platypuses, I don’t think they want to hurt me but we need to stop them as war will start if they succeed’. Lukas repeated this again and again, hoping all the time that Yoda would hear. How long he spent he didn’t know but he continued until he could do no more and slumped on the floor exhausted.

Lukas could only hope he had done his best. The thick walls of his cell meant that he had no idea what was going on outside, now was the time to wait and prepare himself for escape the next time the door opened. That was the only other option, to escape before the Platypuses got their hands on the ransom and went to war on Effica. He was so unhappy and had caused so much trouble. He knew he would not disobey his tutors again and could only hope that his parents and everyone else would forgive him.

Suddenly there was a noise in the corner of the cell. Of course, the creature from before! Lukas had forgotten all about him. ‘Hello’, said Lukas, ‘are you still here? Who are you and can you help me? I so want to stop this before anyone gets really hurt’.

The musical voice came back, ‘At last, young Prince, you see that your actions have consequences. You may not think that running away for a little while will cause any trouble but look at what happened to you today. I think you have learned your lesson, don’t you?. ‘Oh yes’, replied Lukas, ‘I never wanted this and I am so sorry’. A tear rolled down Lukas’ cheek but he was determined to be strong now, this was the time when he needed to be the bravest person he could. ‘All right then, young Prince, now is the time to sort this mess out’, the voice almost chuckled. Lukas was puzzled, how could anyone laugh at a time like this!

With that, a light grew in the corner of the room, brighter and brighter it became and Lukas was dazzled. He covered his eyes for a second but had to open them again quickly, he had to see what was happening. There was a unicorn in his cell, a beautiful white unicorn with a golden horn. Lukas could hardly believe his eyes but he slowly moved over to look in the eyes of his wonderful protector.

‘Now it is time to take you him, young Prince’, said the creature. ‘Climb up and we will leave here’. Lukas did as he was told, he had no idea how they would escape from the cell but he knew he could trust his protector. As soon as he was seated, the Unicorn seemed to glow even stronger and the walls of the cell disappeared. They flew into the air and Lukas could see the ground getting smaller as they flew over the fields and the market just closing for the day.

Before he knew it, Lukas and the Unicorn were landing in the middle of the castle. He could see his parents and Yoda waiting and his heart sank. The Unicorn knelt down to let him climb down and he stood very shamefacedly before three very stern faces. ‘I’m so sorry, I won’t do anything like that again, I promise I will be good’, the words tumbled out of his mouth as tears rolled down his cheeks. Queen Leia looked at him and smiled. ‘You will learn good lessons from this Lukas but just for now I will just be happy that my boy is home safe’. She hugged him close and hugged him again. And inside his head Lukas heard a voice. ‘The Force is strong with you, young Lukas’, said the voice of Yoda. Lukas peeked at his wise Jedi master and received a smile in return.

That was the last time Lukas disobeyed those who prepared him for his life ahead. He wasn’t always wise but he tried his very best not to be foolish again. He did learn from the day, he learned to listen to his teachers and to talk to his parents when he struggled.

As for the platypuses? Their King Perna was taken to the Palace but not as a prisoner. He met with Queen Leia and Han Solo for many hours. They were very angry that anyone would ever think of harming any child and most of all their child. However, they knew that talking was the way forward. Lukas was unharmed and they now understood the misery of the Platypuses. Negotiations began with the Ellandi Otters who had invaded Effica. They lasted many months but finally it was agreed that the Otters and the Platypuses could live in peace on the planet Effica.

And so it happened that peace came to Effica and the Platypuses went home…….

And there the story ends. I hope that you enjoy it, I have no idea if it is any good or not but this is my take on the theme of Star Wars, Unicorns and Platypus!

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

© Lesley Miller 2010

September 20, 2010 at 11:03 pm 8 comments

What Should Our Children Study?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

This is my third post from Twitter suggestions. Today’s post is brought to you by @UncleMarvo, blogger and tweeter wonder! Marvo has given me a tricky theme, “A crystal ball blog, suggesting what kids might be studying in about 8 years from now”. Phew!

The reason this is tricky for me is that I am truly torn between my innate practicality (yes, I am practical) and my belief that you need to study something meaningful to you. I am aware too of the reduction in course numbers and places….

I did a little research on this as it is a long time since I looked at courses. Apologies to all non-UK readers but I focused on UK institutions since this is the education system I went through. I looked at 2 local universities and Oxford to see what choices they had. I then looked at the City & Guilds website for vocational courses.

I won’t go into huge specifics on the courses, if you are interested you can look at the UCAS site or the City & Guilds site. Both are very informative and you can spend large amounts of time looking through the courses and the requirements for applying for same. I did have a good look at some of the financial details. The University fees for 2010/11 are £3,290 and City & Guilds seem to run at about £1500. All of this mounts up if you are taking a course that will last 2 or 3 years.

On top of this there are books, rent, living expenses. Day to day living costs money and with part-time jobs becoming harder to get you may be dependant on loans, savings, contributions from friends and family to keep your head above water.

I will contrast this with my student days. When I was a student many moons ago I didn’t have to pay fees. I even got a grant! It was a great time for me and I have some fantastic memories associated with my student days, especially of the people I met there. I did work throughout as well, the grant alone wasn’t enough to keep me solvent but I didn’t leave with large debts hanging over me.

My how times have changed. It won’t be uncommon for today’s students to complete their courses tens of thousands in debt. That really doesn’t start you off well, does it? It means that this will  be hanging over them as they look for employment. I know this is common in other countries but it is still a relatively new thing here and feels quite shocking when you stop to think about it…..

So, eight years from now? My crystal ball is rather dull but I have ruminated and will now speculate!

The number of courses will have decreased and perhaps dramatically. This will have come from the increases to fees and the reductions in funding. Funding reductions will have in turn led to a reduction in staff which will reduce the choices available. I think the focus will become extremely practical; courses that will lead to a ‘career’ will become the primary choice as practicality comes to the fore. This could include IT, Accountancy, Maths & Sciences, Business, etc. I am not sure how vocational courses will be impacted. I think nursing and teaching foundation courses will still be popular but I am not sure how the tourism/leisure and the traditional trades will fare unless we see an upturn in the overall economy.

I understand why students will base their choices on where they feel job opportunities will lie. That is natural, I had the same focus at that age; the late 70s was a time when you wanted to ensure you maximised your chance of employment post-education. The added pressure for our students eight years hence will be to have reliable and regular employment. The flip side will be those who see ‘no point’ in trying as it will be too difficult to start their grown-up life saddled by debt and an inability to fund the traditional mortgage, marriage, family choices that many of us have made.

The pain point for me in all this? Life is enriched and enhanced by art, culture and beautiful things. My fear is that the arts will suffer in a purely pragmatic and practical world. I worry that the courses available for the Arts will reduce and that they will be chosen less and thus diminish further. Ever the optimist, I hope that changes to funding and attitude will not so negatively impact our Colleges and Universities to the point that we endanger the protection and promotion of our cultural life. We need writers, artists and curators to keep this world alive too.

Lastly, I will say that I hope that I am wrong and that eight years hence all our young people will have the chance to achieve this:-

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

September 15, 2010 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

When They Don’t Leave Home?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

This is the second of my posts with a topic suggested by my lovely twitter pals. The subject today is how long do we expect children to live at home as suggested by the delightful @IainMonty!

For me, this topic is all about the need for independence versus the wherewithal to have it. The economy is such that many of our children who are finishing courses at university or apprentices in trades and vocations will struggle to find work. This is nothing to do with their talents but rather the lack of opportunity in the marketplace. We also have the situation that many 18 year-olds will find themselves without a place in further education as the cuts bite harder. Their choices are limited to gap year, part-time work/volunteering if possible or mooching around the house…..

Coupled with this, the housing market has been through turbulent times. There are those who would say that it is on an upward trend. However, the price for any kind of starter home/flat is still beyond the reach of most of our young people. So, their options can be few. I am delighted for those who do get a job and are able to start their ‘grown-up’ life during this time but it won’t happen for many.

I have direct experience of this topic as my eldest son left home to go to University in England for 4 years. He then wanted to attend a post-grad course in Belfast so, after complete independence for a long time, came home for 18 months…….

I did have a conversation with my son as soon as he came home. I wanted to warn him that I was certain he would feel constrained in some ways simply by living with his parents again. I also wanted to hint, not in a subtle way, that he would have to pitch in and help. All of this was agreed to, agreeing I find is easy.

At this time my son was 23 and I had no wish to put rules on a grown man. I have always welcomed my children’s friends and have discovered various sofas occupied many times; there tend to be beer cans strewn about at the same time. This is fine, it doesn’t take long to pick them up and make many slices of toast when required. However, when you have lived away and return home something has changed. You want to apply your way of living to a way of life you thought you had left behind. Readjusting to the pace of someone else’s lifestyle, even one you happily occupied for all your childhood, is hard. I could see the small irritiations passing across my son’s face even though he never said a word. For me it was wonderful to have him home again but I saw the changes in him too. He was a grown man and it was unnatural to be living in another adults space.

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t horrible for him and he was happy to be at home with his family but his world had changed as ours had stayed much the same. It was a happy time but I was glad for him when he did move back to England, he wanted to make his own way and this was and is the right thing to happen.

So, my angle on this theme of the kids staying at home? Talk about it, it is wonderful to have them there but everyone needs to understand that it can be difficult.

I haven’t even touched on the food bills, the laundry, the parents feelings that they are re-entering some kind of servitude. To be honest, I don’t want to. We all know that aspect of it before they leave home, you really don’t need me to tell you that returning children will expect hot dinners, clean clothes and absolute control of the tv……

Before I close with the normal message, you all know it, I don’t really need to say it but this is what it looks like when they return!

Oh, For Goodness Sake!

I love my children but sometimes I could cheerfully rant for a week! This is a picture from my house, I did not download this image. I do tidy and I do clean but it can take me time to get ready to face this. I do ask, nag, cajole and threaten and they do it but the effort it takes to nag, cajole and threaten can be more that if I do it myself. However, I persist as they do have to learn, don’t they?

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

September 11, 2010 at 10:50 am 8 comments

An Ode!

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I want people to make a donation then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

Tonight a post from me to you all out there but the words will not be mine!

A new comment was added to the blog today from the lovely @br007kbond on Twitter, real name Trevor. Trevor wrote a poem for the blog and it is wonderful. I wanted to make sure that everyone could see it so I thought it should become a blogpost.

Please read and enjoy……

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poem for Eight
When I was eight, my life was great! I would dance and sing and play.
Sleep in peace all night to wake to another great day.

I am older now and see the world from a different point of view,
So much horror and pain, not (possibly) for me and you.

I see kids of eight in a terrible state, both home and far away,
And remember when I was like them, but I could just laugh and play!

As we grow old we learn that life is for the living.
It can be cruel and hateful and very unforgiving.

If I were a child right now, a cruel place I would find,
For mother nature, whilst pure, can sometimes be unkind.

At home we sit and watch our screens, the pc or the tele
And often there are glimpses of places dark and dank and smelly.

In those sites young children sit with hope upon their faces
By giving on this blog we can rid them of those places!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Isn’t that wonderful! My humble thanks to Trevor for this and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I have:)

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

September 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

8 Year Olds and What they Shouldn’t Have to See…..

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I want people to make a donation then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I normally blog about ‘nice’ things because I like to (hopefully) amuse you all into donating to children’s charities. This is a blog meant for adults and adults know about the horrendous things in the world, they don’t need me to try to add more guilt into the mix.

However, sometimes an event occurs that means I take a very serious look at life. Today one of those events happened. I live in Northern Ireland, in a town where the news was focused today. A pipe bomb was left at a local primary school. This heinous device was lifted by an 8-year-old boy who took it to his teacher. The potential ramifications of this have left me both angry and shaken. I have an extended repertoire of words that I wouldn’t care to use here and pretty much all of them have been ringing round my head since I heard this news.

I state upfront that I consider myself to be Northern Irish and I am very proud of that. We have a beautiful country filled with wonderful people and some not so much. I don’t care which side they class themselves to be on, I have never cared. I have read about our history and there have been many injustices  in the past. However, when this country decided to vote ‘Yes’ 12 years ago I was full of hope that we could move forward. I am still full of hope as the vast majority of us do not want any more violence from any section of our people.

A pipe bomb is an improvised device, a tightly sealed section of pipe filled with an explosive material. The containment provided by the pipe means that simple low explosives can be used to produce a relatively large explosion, and the fragmentation of the pipe itself creates potentially lethal shrapnel. I have never seen one. However, I know that an 8-year-old child is very small. A child picking up a device like this and taking it to his teacher, I feel nauseous at the thought of what could have happened. So many innocent children could have been killed or injured, it is heartbreaking to consider. I move between great anger and such hurt that anyone would consider doing this and have such a sense of relief that the worst did not happen.

I know this is only one small example of potential and actual violence against children and we were fortunate that no children were hurt. This is not the case in so many news stories we read, children suffer all over the world through violence, deprivation, poverty, disease. This is the reason I do this blog, I want you all to think about the lives of children across this planet and consider them when you can donate time or money outside of all your other commitments. I don’t want to prescribe the charities you support, this should always be a personal decision. My aim is only to make you think and hopefully act.

Beyond that? I want people to be kind to each other; you may think this makes me idealistic and naive, perhaps I am. However, that doesn’t change my mind, I feel many of us think like this. I applaud those who do and can only hope that those who don’t will change their minds…..

As always I will close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

September 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm 2 comments

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