Week twenty four: back to school

September has turned up already (anyone mentioning how many weeks it is till the C word will be met with short shrift – be warned!) and 2/3 of the Things are back at school. I am back at work three days a week for the next month, which will be putting a serious dent in my crafting time. Still, it was good to see the gang over the Teams app on Tuesday – less exciting were the 1000 emails lurking in the inbox after four months off. There’s exciting plans afoot, and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with our redevelopment project, making contact with my forum schools and perhaps even seeing colleagues in the flesh at some point.

School started for Things 2 and 3 on Thursday – first day of secondary for Thing 2 and Year 5 for Thing 3. Thing 3 is pretty pragmatic and when he heard which teacher he’d be having his response was ‘cool, he gives out sweets’. He loves learning and soaks up information like a sponge, so being back at school is going to be good for him.

Thing 2 was a bit worried about starting her new school. Only one person from her primary school was going to the same school, and although they were in the same form their teacher made the children sit alphabetically so they were separated. Her older sister doesn’t go back until this week so she didn’t even have the safety of knowing someone further up the school.

Diving straight in on day one was a challenge for her, too. From a very early age she has preferred to sit out and watch what’s happening around her, and to join in when she feels confident that she has the knowledge to navigate the activity. She doesn’t like to ask people for help as this would mean talking to unfamiliar adults. This has applied to school, to birthday parties, to new people – when she changed primary schools she was outraged on her first day as ‘people tried to play with [her], and they didn’t even introduce themselves!’ She was very quiet when we picked her up, and didn’t want to go in the next day at all. Luckily she had a better day on the Friday, and felt more confident.

The nice thing about working from home is that I can be around for the school run – better late than never! I rarely made it to school run when they were younger as I was always working. When Thing 1 was in Year 3 my beloved and I both went to pick them up from school and one of the other mums was very confused: “I hadn’t realised you two were together!”

School runs right now are a feat of almost military precision – all three of them now have different start and finish times, and the two schools are three miles apart. It’s going to be a juggling act over the next few weeks for sure. Still, both schools are doing an amazing job co-ordinating the return and making sure the children and parents are feeling confident about sending them back. The secondary school welcome was lovely, with the head and his team standing at the school gates.

40% crafty

As I said, this whole work thing has put a bit of a dent in my craft activity! I did whip up a new batch of face coverings this week as the edict came down that secondary school children were going to need to wear masks to move around school, if not during lessons.

I used the same pattern as last time but adapted it to be three layers rather than two – a quilting cotton weight outer layer and two finer cotton layers made from an upcycled curtain lining. The main curtain fabric was used as a quilt backing a few weeks ago, and the curtains themselves were from a local charity shop. (Full length ones and there’s still lots of fabric left! I paid about £5 for them so this fabric was an absolute bargain)

One of the outer fabrics (hot pink with added cats) was Thing 1’s primary prom dress that she wouldn’t fit any more and Thing 2 wouldn’t wear (she doesn’t do pink!), so more upcycling there – I’ll cut the rest of the dress into quilt patches. I was also quite lazy and overlocked the whole of the bottom edge rather than turning through a hole. The final alteration I made was to stitch the pleats down with two rows of stitching so they feel more secure.

On Friday and Saturday I worked on the Bento Box quilt I started a few weeks ago, using this tutorial. I ran out of the blender fabrics and had to wait for some more, so that held the project up. This week I pieced the final blocks together, ending up with a total of 33 although I may make some more. I have decided to do this one using the ‘quilt as you go’ method. I’ve never tried it before but it must be easier than wrestling six foot by five foot of three layered quilt sandwich through the machine, right? I’ve found a few tutorials on Pinterest, of course, so now I have a huge pile of blocks pinned to squares of batting and I’ve had a practice on one square so far. Stay tuned!

On a side note – I put this on my Instagram feed yesterday and tagged the fabric designer (Stuart Hillard – the fabric is his Rainbow Etchings range) and he commented on the pic. Did I fangirl? OF COURSE I DID.

I do like to be beside the seaside

We had a last summer holiday hurrah on Wednesday, packed our flip flops and towels and headed to Walton-on-the-Naze for the day as the kids have been desperate to go to the beach – so have I, to be fair. I hadn’t planned on going in the water as we usually go to Clacton and the water is brown and murky, but Walton – even though its only just round the coast – seemed much nicer. We got there just before high tide and the beach was underwater, so we wandered off in search of some lunch – this turned out to be some very good pizza which we ate on a bench in the shelter watching the seagulls. We did share our crusts with the seagulls, throwing them out over the sea where they caught them on the wing.

After lunch the beach was reappearing so we headed to the south of the pier and found a spot to colonise. The kids headed straight into the sea and demanded I joined them, so we had an hour or so bouncing through waves at neck height – the water was about the same temperature as the lake, so it was cool but bearable. The kids loved dodging the waves on the other side of the breakwater, and the adults enjoyed what was left of the sunshine.

Talking of lakes, I’ve had a couple of dips this week – the temperature is slowly falling and was 16.8 degrees this morning. On Monday Sue and I headed up with one of her children – it was chilly and rainy and we definitely earned the hot chocolate afterwards! On Saturday four of us went up together – slightly warmer at 17 degrees, but there was a general agreement to maybe think about getting some warmer gear. The hot drinks and brioches afterwards were most welcome.

This morning I did one lap in wetsuit and one in skins, much to the bemusement of my swim buddies. I have never been described as ‘hardcore’ before and I doubt I ever will be again!It wasn’t too cold but I definitely felt alive after – akin to the sensation of tea tree and mint shower gel, I’d say….

So that’s been my week! Thing 1 goes back to school on Tuesday to start the first year of her GCSEs. All three have decided they want packed lunches so that’s one more thing to remember. I have promised to make some flapjacks this afternoon for them to have as snacks, so I’d better get on with that. I also have an apple fudge cake on the list as we have a whole lot of apples that need using up and we’ve already had apple cake and apple and blackberry pie this week.

Teddy is taking everything in his stride…

See you for week 25!

Kirsty

What I’ve been reading:

Oranges and Lemons (Bryant and May series) – Christopher Fowler

Three Hands in the Fountain/Two for the Lions (Falco series) – Lindsey Davis (Audible)

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