Tag Archives: Northampton

How fast can you build hundreds of new homes? Pretty damn fast actually . . .

Just a quick update to my previous update on the old Cherry Orchard school site in Northampton, which backs onto my allotment. https://scarymotha.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/an-update-to-cherry-orchard-school/

There’s now a whole house just over the wall and people actually living in the ones facing Birchfield Road East. The ones at the Wellingborough Road end, predictably posher-looking, also look finished. Here’s a couple of views from the side…

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Seriously, do you let your parents call your university lecturer or employer? It’s time to break free

Courtesy OnlineCollege.org Hovering Parents in the Workplace Infographic

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An update to Cherry Orchard School

I wrote here about the demise of Cherry Orchard school in Northampton earlier this year.
Here’s what the Birchfield end looks like now, just six months later. Houses already for sale. Funny how fast things can happen…

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Not sure the people living around area appreciate the keen builders though, as work starts at 7am, even on Saturday. Ouch.

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The Girl has started school (and why half days should be abolished)

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The Girl has started school.
The last of my brood of four has been slung into the compulsory education system, which will dominate her life for the next 14 years.
Surprisingly, I didnt cry, but more surprisingly, she did.
Now I’m not by nature a sobber, but each time one of our three sons started school, I found myself having a sniffle once back in the privacy of the car. This time, as she was bouncing around with excitement and settling easily, I was almost punching the air. ‘That’s IT! She loves it, and no more childcare fees!’ No lump in the throat, no fizzy nose.

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The Boys and The Girl ready for school

She’s been in nursery at least a few days a week since she was three, and luckily for us the nursery is on the same site as the school, so she will continue to see the staff at the after- school club with her older brother, who is almost nine. (so I lied, there will actually still be some childcare fees, but not as much).
But because of this archaic and frankly annoying system of ‘transition’ in primary schools, where new kids only attend half days for the first few weeks, we are having to put her back in to nursery during the afternoons.
This completely threw her on the first day, and she sobbed, because she wanted ‘to be in school like Billy’. The next day she cried on the way in and wanted to stay home. All very out of character.
She fell asleep on the way home on the first two days and cried several times. This has thrown me, as the boys had to be dragged away from school and barely gave us a second look.
We have been asking her during bedtime chats why she cries but she doesn’t seem to know.
So, sticking to form, I’m trying bribery: a cry-free day might mean a nice surprise (she’s had her eye on that Lego for girls).
I think the half days are disruptive. It’s even worse for other parents. I know plenty who have had to take unpaid leave FOR A MONTH because the child needs collecting at 11.30, or 3, or dropping at lunchtime.
Plenty of reception teachers and nursery nurses think it’s unnecessary too.
Yes, there are four year olds who have been at home with a parent for four years, who might need time to adjust.
But most will have had some experience of nursery, and the routine of education. After all, free nursery halfdays start at age 3.
So why do so many schools insist on this ridiculous staggering of the reception intake?
There must be some evidence that it isn’t necessary or even in the interests of the children. I know at least two Northampton schools who have abandoned the half days and just start them full-time, all at the same time.
By all means admit them a day after the older kids if it helps, but please, just get them in and let them get on with it. Fewer tears, less confusion for them, less anxiety for us.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below . . .

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Short! Watch “Umbrella Fair Northampton 2012” on YouTube

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We went to the Olympics already, oh yes we did.

. . . and we’re in

LOTS of love for the Olympics eh? Us cynical old Brits might have been moaning about the fuss, the expense and the disastrous ticketing, but now the medals have started to come in for Team GB, we’re hooked.

We got back from a festival in Dorset in the early hours of Monday and on Tuesday were en-route to the Olympics in London. I’d tried to get tickets twice unsuccessfully but it was third time lucky as we booked four (the maximum allowed) to the first round of women’s hockey. Not so bad as our eldest son is hockey mad, taking himself off on the bus to Moulton each Saturday morning to start training at 9am.

Bloke had already offered to spend the day with our daughter Bonnie, 4, at his Mum’s in Letchworth, and our matches were in the evening session starting at 7pm.

So we got the train (pre-booked tickets, and a free London Travelcard came with the Olympic tickets)  at lunchtime and were surprised at how quiet the well-staffed King’s Cross Station was.

Then we walked around in a big circle trying to find the Javelin train which goes direct to the Olympic Park. It started to rain, and then we saw the sign saying the train was out-of-action.

A bloke on the gate told us there was already an hour’s wait for the next Javelin so we took the ‘normal’ tube to Liverpool Street and then Stratford. Then the wave of spectators hit us, just at the entrance to the Westfield Shopping Centre. It was heaving. I’d mistakenly thought it was wise to try and use the loos in the centre before queuing to get into the Olympic Park. Not so.

We were eventually funnelled into the park where there were few queues for the airport-style security checks. All the staff were very friendly with just the faintest and strangely welcoming hint of British sarcasm with each ‘have a nice day’. You can only take in a single rucksack per person, which gets put through a scanner along with your coat and pocket contents.

Once in the Olympic Park there’s an air of theme park impressiveness; you are actually there. The stadium is huge and while not yet open, you can see how fabulous it’s going to be when the athletics events start.

Being with three sons, their priority was to find ‘the world’s biggest MacDonalds. But on the way eight-year-old Billy, who is a little obsessed with ‘collecting stuff’ (football cards etc), temporarily distracted us into a Cola-branded ‘pin-swap shop’. Pins are enamel badges with (I didn’t realise) are sold and swapped at each Olympics. There are tonnes of them, and Billy wanted to spend his pocket money on a 2012 lanyard and two £5 badges. After a LONG time choosing we got to the till to find all the £5 and £6 pins were sold out. ON DAY THREE!

Getting in

He bought one for £7, a Cola branded one which barely mentions the games, and on the way out a kindly American ‘swap’ man, with hundreds of pins to trade, actually gave Billy a mascot pin from the 1996 Atlanta Games – FOR FREE! What a nice chap.

Our quest for the fast-food megastore was confusing. We found the huge burger bar but you couldn’t sit inside. Only on one of dozens of parasoled wooden picnic tables, all which were occupied. We perched on the end of one until the occupants got fed up and made room.

The architecture is amazing, and the telly doesn’t do it justice. The red ‘Orbit’ sculpture

The Orbit

cum lift tower thingy is stunning but you can’t go up it unless you booked tickets when you booked online for the event (which we couldn’t). The boys were most disgusted that I wanted to look at the gardens and plants around the park, which had once been home to allotments. For the gardeners among you, there’s a lot of meadow planting everywhere, mainly marigolds, daisies and cornflowers. I’m not sure they’ll look their best for long.

Riverside

The corporate branding everywhere is overwhelming. We dodged the EDF energy pimps trying to entice us into their cinema, and couldn’t be bothered to wait 40 minutes in the queue for the BP ‘free photo by the stadium’ when we could just take our own.

I couldn’t get the promised free Wi-Fi to work so Tweeted rather than blogged, and by the time we got to the Riverside Stadium, hosting the hockey, I was virtually out of phone battery.

The Riverside stadium is about a ten minute walk past lots of other landmarks, and there are food and drink stalls everywhere you turn, selling overpriced soft drinks plus beer and cider (almost £5 for a small bottle of beer). The boys rather liked the enormous ‘pretzels’ which were like big hunks of bread for £1.80. The loos were plentiful if basic, and I noticed that all the hundreds of hand dryers had white stickers placed to conceal the brand name. Ridiculous.

The Riverside is an enormous mass of scaffolding poles with seats that go rather high for those with vertigo. The pitch is a bright blue ‘water based’ one (my son had to explain) with pink borders and it worked very well with the yellow ball. It was an 80s-style dayglo extravaganza. We watched Argentina get beaten by the USA and the Aussies thrash the Germans. The atmosphere was fantastic. Everyone in the stadium seemed in a great mood and there were lots of Mexican waves. One bonkers Australian mum entertained the crowd with shouts of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie – oi, oi, oi!’

By the time the second match started it was dark, and the stadium and all the various landmarks were all lit up against the new London skyline with an almost full moon too. It was quite magical to be there.

Leaving was easy, and the Javelin train was working well (it took six minutes to get back to St Pancras International, just across the road from King’s Cross). Sadly the train back to Letchworth was dirty and dilapidated, and the cheaper-than-usual first class tickets I’d invested in were useless as the one carriage was full and the boys had to sit on the floor.

However, it was a great day and despite my reservations I’d highly recommend you make the effort to keep trying for tickets if you have none. It’s not cheap though. Our four tickets cost £20 each. The train was about £40. Food and drink (you can’t take liquids in but there are water points) cost another £60 quid or so. And the boys were given ‘extra’ pocket money on the day, which of course, they spent on sweets . . . in WH Smith on the way home.

 

 

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The Rescue Run 2012 – sign up now!

I’m a terrible runner, but I do have a ‘move your lardy arse’ app on my phone which occasionally pushes me around Northampton’s Racecourse for around two and bit miles.

A good friend of mine, Selena, takes the whole running thing to a new level and for the past ten years she’s helped raise thousands for our Air Ambulance via The Rescue Run, which takes place each September.

It’s not just for serious runners – although you could start training now to get a good time – it’s also for those starting out with a vaguely good intention of getting fitter or those who simply want to walk, hop, skip, jump or push a buggy around the 5K course. I opted for the walking with buggy method a couple of years ago while the rest of the family jogged.

You can raise sponsorship or just turn up on the day and pay an entry fee. You need to fill in an application form so Selena and the organisers have an idea of the numbers. The poster and forms are below:

Good luck!

2493 RESCUE RUN 2012

2493 RESCUE RUN 2012 Entry Form

 

 

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Oh, we’re going to the Olympics

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So far so slow. Signage very confusing at stations. 

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Direct train delays, doing tube to Liverpool street and Stratford.
Herding boys is like herding cats…

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Back from festival in Dorset, off to the Olympics

Not much posting recently; we’ve been on holiday at Camp Bestival in Dorset (review to follow).
And after catching up on sleep in real beds, having much needed showers and unpacking (sort of), we’re off again tomorrow to the Olympics. The boys and I, (Bloke has gleefully opted to spend the day dossing at his parents’ with our four year old daughter as we could only get four tickets) are off to watch women’s hockey at 7pm.
I’ve now got to work out what we can take and what we can leave behind. Only one small bag for the day which can fit under the seat. No liquids, no branding, enough clothing to cope with anticipated showers, blazing sunshine and evening chill (our match starts at 7pm).
So, much like packing for last week’s camping then.
I’ll try and blog during the day, phone signal permitting…

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Look, we’ve nearly got our wall back!

Just a quick post to show progress on the fallen wall this week, thanks to the fast work of Kev the builder and his boys.

From this last weekend . . .

 

To this by Thursday, and that’s before the sunshine moved things on even faster . . .

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