Last weekend saw a major first as Ruth went for her first ever sleepover. A centenary celebration for the brownies saw 80 brownies from different packs around Chester head off to a play barn for a sleepover.
Although Ruth was keen to go she had never actually slept away from us before even when one of us has been away she has always been with the other parent so I was pleased that she was enthusiastic and keen to join in.
After a full day at school and a ballet lesson she was finally home and ready to pack on the Friday night of the sleepover, sleeping bag, roll mat, pillow, pyjamas, torch, wash bag, the list went on… she was well prepared.
After a quick goodbye to Dad and Rosie we set off, only a short drive to the playbarn and we were soon there. Arriving the place was buzzing with excited brownies all looking much older and grown up than my little 7 year old stood wide eyed with her over large bundle for the one night stay.
We spotted a friend and joined them while we waited for the leaders to call some order to the chaos. Ruth stuck to me like glue and I could see she was feeling a little anxious, I wondered whether she was going to let me go or if there would be tears in the same way there were at nursery when she was a baby.
And then it was time to leave, tempted to just take her back home with me I wished her an upbeat goodbye and left the building heart thumping she quickly went off with her friend and brownie leaders.
Back at home and it was a very long night, I slept with my mobile, the house phone and my car keys on the bedside table just in case of a call out but none came and in the morning I returned to collect a happy smiley little girl who had just finished an enormous bacon sandwich and had the most amazing time. Driving home she seemed just a little bit more grown up somehow…
I’m a big fan of Pride and Prejudice so this novel by Jo Baker was on my must-read list, Jane Austen’s world famous love story, the world of the Bennett Family’s Longbourn but from a fresh, new perspective, that of the servants.
At the start of the novel we gain a taste of the harsh and real world the servants live in, Sarah is drained from starting work early in the morning and finishing late in the day, she has chilblains and aching limbs from physically demanding work serving the family. We also meet the other servants Mr and Mrs Hill and the youngest girl servant Polly who is but a child.
The plot follows the story of the original and starts as Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy have arrived at Netherfield. This is the cause of great joy for the family but extra work for those below stairs. Newcomers in the form of Mr Bingley’s footman Ptolemy Bingley and James, the mysterious yet hardworking man servant who joins the Bennett family add some interest to Sarah’s existence as each one of them journeys to make peace with their past and find hope for the future.
The characters of the Bennett family remain fairly true to form as in Austen’s orginal work but for Mary who in Baker’s story has a hidden lonely depth, a girl who has dreams and yet none of the charms of her sisters that can help her win her man. We also get an insight into the privilege of class and rank where even immorality can be dealt with and hidden by wealth contrasted against the harshness and suffering of the servant life, the abuse of power to protect reputation.
Although at times I found the story somewhat depressing the themes of Pride and Prejudice, marrying for love or marrying for money, security and stability remain, a woman’s lot in an unforgiving world is shown through the servant characters as it is in the families they serve. Ultimately Baker’s story is a love story, the triangle of Sarah, Ptolemy and James is eventually resolved and as we understand the complexities of the servant characters they become perhaps even more colourful and interesting to the reader being all the more human and real each one a triumph over adversity and despite all the hardship each one capable of loving and being loved.
This Easter has been a really lovely time, the weather has been great and we have enjoyed happy times with family and friends.
Although we’ve been on Easter holidays for a while the real Easter fun began on Good Friday. We attended an activity morning for children at Chester Cathedral followed by an Easter egg hunt in the gardens, Ruth and Rosie had a fabulous time with their friends and being creative.
Following that a number of friends came back to our house for lunch, the girls had made a traditional Simnel cake with their Godmother which they enjoyed presenting
Next up on Easter Saturday we headed into town to do a little bit of shopping which saw the girls choose new outfits for Easter Sunday and had lunch at one of our favourite cafes in Chester, Mad Hatters. Then, yet more baking in the afternoon, Easter nests with another local friend and finally off to Grandad’s for a BBQ where there was a chance to catch up with my brother and the girls had chance to play with one of their cousins.
Easter Sunday came and it was a special day, we attended the Cathedral service in the morning and despite all the difficulties we have had the past year I felt the sense of new beginnings of things starting to change and that we were indeed moving on. Easter is all about new life and restoration for Christians and it was good to be amongst so many friends celebrating. We received a tremendous welcome from so many of the congregation and they were all very taken with our Easter chicks in their new lemon dresses carefully selected the day before.
A visit from one of my best friends was the focus of the afternoon and a chance to meet brand new baby F, two weeks old, Ruth was delighted to get to hold her.
Finally our Easter day was rounded up with an ‘ultimate’ roast at our local.
The Bank Holiday saw some more family visiting and lots of chocolate eating and then it was time to get ready to go back to school and work. We’ve had a fabulous holiday and Easter Weekend but now it’s time to work hard again and start looking forward to the next holiday.
The days of waiting and wondering are over, it’s finally here… the day that school places 2014 are announced for starting Reception in September
And the best news of all we got our first choice for Rosie! She will start at a local Church of England Primary School in September. As soon as we told her the news she wanted to go shopping for her uniform, it’s great to see her so excited and enthusiastic about school but a tiny part of me can hardly believe that my baby is going to big school, time has passed so quickly with our second child that in the blink of an eye we are preparing for school.
Rosie is a bold and outgoing little girl she has an inner confidence for her age that at times I find quite astonishing, when we looked at the school where she now has a place those qualities that we see all the time at home were evident and she seemed, ‘at home’ there. It was for this reason that we chose the school as our first choice and we are hopeful that she will soon settle in and have a great time.
But for many families the news might not be so good today and I can’t help but spare a thought for those families where they have not got their first preference or indeed any of the choices, it is difficult to trust your child to others and if you feel even the admissions procedure hasn’t worked for you it must be doubly difficult to trust in the system at all.
Back to our happy news and the process of accepting the place seems to have been streamlined since Ruth started at school and it was easy to confirm our acceptance via the online system, so it really is all official Rosie will be going to school and time is ticking we will soon have two school age girls.
Did you get news of a school place today, let us know how it went in the comments section below?
Wednesday 16th April has been logged in my diary for some considerable time it’s the National Offer Day for Primary School Admissions 2014 and in Cheshire West and Chester the results will be available to those who have applied for Reception Primary School places at 12.30am. That means that tonight I will be staying up quite late to log in to the Cheshire West website and have a look where Rosie is going to school!!!
Many people when applying for a Primary School place for their second child meet one of the admissions criteria by having a sibling at their school of first choice which usually helps, unfortunately that is not the case with us so it’s been an anxious wait since December when we first made our application.
For the first time in 2014 councils have co-ordinated a national offer day so that all children receive their offer for Primary School admissions on the same day, this is designed to ease confusion but as it falls during the school holidays and shortly before a 4 day bank holiday weekend there are concerns that some parents will not be able to get prompt help and advice if they are dissatisfied or need support with the appeals process. Considering the bank holidays the deadline for accepting a place in Cheshire West is also very tight being only 10 working days, it doesn’t give families long to consider and look into all their options.
Nationally it is believed that around 12-13% of families will not get their first choice of school for Reception class Primary School admissions for a variety of reasons although in some areas this is higher. We will be happy if we get any of the three preferences we have expressed although Rosie has her heart set on our first choice. So watch this space, this is the news we have been waiting for and will be the family news the next few weeks, if you are waiting up tonight or finding out about a school place tomorrow leave us a comment below, and GOOD LUCK!!!