I was reminded the other day of a time when I was 12, when a good friend said something to me that has since stuck in my head. She said that if she ever picked at her food at the dinner table because she didn’t have much of an appetite, then her mother always told her that she ‘ate like a bird’. For some reason I couldn’t get my head around what it had to do with birds because my friend didn’t look the least bit avian. In fact, I knew all too well that she had become a frequent visitor to a new takeaway that she passed daily on her way home from school. Her weakness was their specialty of deep fried sweet and sour pork which came swimming in a sticky sauce. She told me conspiringly that she was never hungry for dinner if she stopped for an afterschool snack but what her mother didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. But as I was reminiscing past times while looking out the window at the birds feeding in our garden, I also thought that maybe her mother wasn’t too far off the mark.Continue reading
It was World Mental Health Day recently and I couldn’t help thinking that there has never been a more apt time to be reminded of its importance. Here in the UK, it is difficult to describe what it has been like living through the past seven months of the Coronavirus pandemic and its effects without resorting to using too many swears. But it has been said more than once by far too many politicians that these times are ‘unprecedented’. Certainly, the stress of living through the Covid pandemic has been felt by most. Whether you are a healthcare worker caring for Covid patients while trying not to bring it home; a student returning to uni who is facing virtual classes and lockdown measures while taking the blame for Covid outbreaks; a worker who is trying to keep their job or their business afloat or still adjusting to months of isolation while working from home; or like most people, just trying to navigate themselves and their families through these strange times when changing government strategies seem to fail and only delay the return to normal life even further; it would be fair to say that most people’s mental health has been tested in some way.Continue reading
After an anxious and frustratingly long month of not training for a marathon the big day loomed straight ahead of me. In one week, the virtual 124th Boston Marathon and the Milton Keynes Marathon would take place but I still couldn’t run. However, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed…I was angry! A word of warning before we go any further…I realise that what I am about to share with you is a first world problem of the highest order but I am a runner. If you are also one then you will recognise that when it comes to running and injuries we can be more than a tad irrational and self-centred.Continue reading
It seems to have come around quickly but as soon as the cold breeze hit me, I knew it was true. Summer has ended. But with a final panicked shopping trip to buy the last pieces of missing school kit, we were ready for the new term. That is, at least, in theory. Because it is not easy adjusting to the long-forgotten routine of simply trying to get your child to school in the morning. Especially after enjoying a summer of being able to do several hours of work first thing in the morning without interruption. During the sunny mornings, I could get through mountains of work in utter silence, bar the load purrs of an attention-seeking cat. My noisy teenage children used to only emerge from their lairs when hunger finally forced them out of bed. But now with the clattering of dishes and blast of BBC Breakfast everybody is up early and our kitchen has become a feeding hub of activity in the early hours. And where I once prepared the coffee peacefully and slowly started the day, the daily breakfast battles for space are in full swing.
Of course, the return to school also means a return to school lunches and the controversial topic of whether your child packs a sarnie or buys their lunch from their school canteen. Many families have strong views on whichever option is better for their children and cost can also play a factor. Others may not have a choice as their child’s school provides meals and does not allow packed lunches. But no matter how your child is catered for at lunchtime there is one thing that all families have in common. Everything changes when your child enters the beginning of the last two years of secondary school, aka Sixth Form in the UK. Once your child hits Sixth Form, parents will have to contend with a much bigger problem: the temptation of the lunchtime takeaway.