Today we leave our summer home to begin a new season of learning, laughing and loving with a different set of friends in a different yet very familiar place.
We’ve all expanded in so many ways, making new friends, developing new skills, learning new things.
It’s been a glorious summer and I am filled to overflowing with appreciation for our home here, the magnificent beach, our friends and my lovely family for every single wonderful experience since we started coming down regularly in April.
Today marks the start of rugby season so C and Big J have already gone, and J, kittens Ellie & Fliss and I are packing up to leave soon. It helps that after a week of hot sun, today it’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale! There are still a couple more September weekends here to enjoy, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to jumping back into a new routine. I’m ready to go home.
Yay, the sun came back! Poor old Big J had to go into work today (bank holiday Monday) but the children and I enjoyed the welcome return of summer at the start of our last full week here before schools start back. As homeschoolers we can, in theory, stay down here at the coast for as long as we want, so you’ll know where to find us should we find ourselves basking in an Indian summer…
But as so much of the appeal down here lies in the community, it will probably suit us to head back inland this weekend and start our own “term” with the rest. (Not to mention Beavers, home ed group, swimming, drama classes, music, French… just typing that list makes me feel slightly anxious 😐 I’m sure I’ll embrace the change of pace once it’s upon me…!)
We had typical English bank holiday weather this weekend by the sea – super-windy, with spells of bright sunshine and more than a spot of rain. But of course, with true British spirit, we didn’t let it spoil our fun. We made the most of the shiny new car’s people-carrying properties and took my parents-in-law (visiting this weekend) to a nearby seaside town where we had fun at the fair and a bracing walk along the prom.
This evening my father-in-law (a cruise veteran) and I, armed with binoculars and my iPhone, invented a new pastime – cruise-ship spotting. We identified first the Queen Elizabeth and then the Crown Princess as they in turn sailed past our stretch of coast 🙂
I’ve been coming across the notion of workboxes on homeschooling blogs a fair bit lately. The idea is that you put each child’s work for the day in a dedicated box/crate/tray, so that everything’s there to efficiently work through during the day, variously with and without parental involvement. An optional extra seems to be little colour-coded laminated cards on treasury tags – I’m not totally sure where they fit in but it all seems to require a level of forward-planning and organisation I am neither capable of nor (fortunately) aspire to! Nothing against those for whom it is apparently a Godsend – I love the diversity among us weird and wonderful home-educating folk and I know from my therapist training that we all see and function in the world in different ways – but as I educate only two children in an eclectic Charlotte Mason style, we do many subjects altogether (the children working at their own levels when they do things like narration and creating notebook pages), so workboxes would probably take more time than they save.
However one nugget of gold from these workbox discussions has managed to work its way into my homeschooling routine. It sounds so blindingly obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to admit it … (drum roll please) … I now store all our current workbooks, manipulatives, living books etc in one box! One box I can bring over to the sofa in the evenings for the pleasant task of gathering resources and planning projects, one box I can pull up to the table after breakfast time – an easy aide-memoire and toolbox for fun days learning at home, and – best of all – one box I can pop in the back of the car when we leave for the coast, ready to be brought out on a Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday…) before, after (on?!) the beach. I love being a homeschooler! 🙂
This time a year ago as we wistfully left the beach on a Sunday afternoon, the sun still high in the sky, I looked forward to the time when C would be home educated alongside her brother and we would be free to stay and enjoy the beach for as long as we wanted, free of cares about Monday morning school runs.
I love it when a desire comes to fruition! Yesterday we played with our friends in the sunshine all day, had a leisurely supper on the balcony, and today enjoyed another beautiful day, the beach all to ourselves 🙂
Two summers ago my dear friend Sarah visited us at the coast. It was a windy summer and on that particular day the high tide sea was completely wild, but having made the journey from London, Sarah was keen to try the water. Once we’d mustered our courage and run down the steep slope through the point where the waves crashed mercilessly down on the beach, we found ourselves in deep, deep water, waves as tall as us hitting us every few seconds. Once we were in, I realised this was the roughest sea I’d ever “swum” in (I decided not to share that observation with Sarah until we were safely back on dry land!).
We spent an exhilarating 10 minutes making split second decisions as to whether it was safe to let ourselves be lifted up high by a still-rising wall of water, or whether an approaching wave had passed the point of being safe to float over and had to be dived through.
My experience of home-educating over the last few weeks has felt a bit like that day in the waves. Making a decision about whether C is to take up an offered place at a local (“outstanding”) junior school has put our homeschool under a magnifying glass, at a time when it’s probably not wise to look at it very closely at all! It’s been a very intense few weeks, with some highs – I’ve loved researching different homeschool styles and exploring some of the wealth of practical and inspiring home ed information out there – and some more, as we deliberate creators say, “contrasting” experiences!
Listening to an Abraham workshop CD in the car earlier (one that just happened to be still in my CD changer – my boot is so full (I’m not sure what of 😐 I don’t change the CDs often), I was reminded that “it’s all unfolding beautifully”. After over four years of school (including nursery), C has been at home for just five months. I’ve only been home-educating for a year, and the changes I’ve seen over that time have been profound and wonderful. The children are happy, bright and confident, they have plenty of friends, and they participate in a broad range of activities at home and within our community.
That day two summers ago the children played happily on the beach as we grown-ups were tossed around by the wild sea. I would probably never have gone in if I’d known quite how scary it would be, but it was also one of the most fun experiences of my life. And so is home-educating my children. It’s all unfolding beautifully.
My school friend S is half Iraqi. As a child I remember being intrigued and enchanted by her story of how, although her father celebrated his birthday in April, it was equally possible that he had actually been born in September. Born into a very large family in Iraq, it seems all anyone could remember as to the timing of Faruq’s birth was that it had either happened when his family were moving their beds up onto their building’s roof, where they slept during the hottest months, or when the beds were being moved back down once high summer had passed. No one could quite remember which! While there is, I am pleased to say, no such ambiguity surrounding my own son’s spring birthday, April and September do mark a significant change in our family’s lifestyle as between those months we spend almost all our weekends at our house on the south coast.
This is the third year we’ve had the house and the pleasure it’s brought us really has exceeded all our expectations. I grew up five minutes’ walk from the sea (in South Wales) and the house was the manifestation of a strong desire for my children to experience the joys of the beach as a part of their childhoods, too. Big J, meanwhile, grew up in a leafy London suburb, but he is the one who has taken to beach living most of all! Whatever the weather, barely a day goes by when he doesn’t go in the sea, whether it’s an hour on the kayak, body boarding with the children, or a sunset swim on a beautiful summer evening. The children, meanwhile, spends hours at a time on the beach with their friends, in and out of the water swimming, body boarding,
pushing each other jumping off giant inflatables, hitching a ride behind someone’s boat, digging for worms, building elaborate sand cities, or hunting crabs by the breakwaters (what a wonderful invention wetsuits are!). As for me, I was surprised and delighted to discover that it’s possible to surf on the south coast, and I’ve used my surf board for the first time since pre-children days in Devon, Cornwall and Australia. I’m also the family’s midnight swimmer – there’s something completely magical about having the whole sea to yourself, wrapped up in a giant dark blanket twinkling with stars!
It sounds unlikely, but being away from our main home really is like being on holiday every weekend. When we’re not on the beach, the children spend most of their time in the communal gardens with their friends, leaving me with acres of time to float between the balcony, gardens and beach indulging in book after book after book, rounding off the days with early evening drinks on friends’ balconies … ahh … introvert bliss! 🙂
I’m inspired to blog again! Driving home from dropping C and J off at the football course they’re doing this week, I put the Hannah Montana movie soundtrack on (loudly! I love the rare treat of being in the car on my own), and as I belted along with Miley I felt my mojo come back – yay!
Last weekend I came across a box of old CDs in the loft and I’ve been enjoying rediscovering old favourites – the Bluetones, Belle & Sebastian, Squeeze, REM – in my solo car time this week. I still love the old tunes, but I’m not always up for being pulled back into the old moods and feelings my unconscious mind associates with the time when those songs were the soundtrack of my life. Of course they were mostly happy times, but I love the wisdom and experience that comes with age and I wouldn’t go back to my 20s for a million pounds! So it is without apology that I write about my enjoyment of Miley Cyrus’s upbeat, well-produced songs, that evoke nothing but joyful memories of singing along with them in the car with my beloved children!
I don’t know where my mojo temporarily disappeared to. We had a lovely week at the beach last week, the children playing out with their friends from breakfast til bedtime. Perhaps I just had too much time to think 😉 I tried not to panic; I reminded myself that the sunshine of wellbeing was still shining brightly somewhere out there, even though clouds were temporarily obscuring it from my view. Yesterday I was ill and being forced into survival mode (no energy to do anything except relax in a sun lounger, yes it’s a hard life, I know) seems to have interrupted the over-thinking. Today, more relaxing in the garden; it’s good to enjoy the sunshine while it’s out 🙂
I love where we live. We’re close enough to London for the capital’s culture to be part of our lives, yet an eighty minute drive through some of England’s prettiest villages brings us to the beach. Best of all, my wonderful brother and sister-in-law and their scrumptious 10-week-old son live around the corner. (Though my brother and I were born five years apart, our lives have shared many synchronicities, one of which is that we moved to the same town – 150 miles from where we grew up – within weeks of eachother.)
We came to the coast today to look at a house we’d like to buy. It’s been a while since I’ve felt such strong desire for a material thing, but as with any desire, I know the key to its manifestation lies in feeling good. I spent the journey to the coast listening to Abraham-Hicks recordings and focusing on good feeling thoughts, and sure enough by the time we arrived I was less attached to the outcome of the house situation and looking forward to a nice family weekend by the sea.
The rest of the day unfolded beautifully. My brother spontaneously decided to come surfing, after which we had a delicious fish and chip supper with him and his family. As regards the house – a call this afternoon from a friend put us in touch with a cash buyer for our current property, leaving us in the perfect position to make an offer on the new one. And the children’s shoes are, once again, drying out on the radiator!