Politically, 2016 was a terrible year, what with Brexit and Trump. I didn’t want to write a depressing, negative round up of the year so I am writing a more personal post about some of the high points for me – things I’ve done and places I’ve been.
- Summer holiday in Majorca. We went on our usual all inclusive week in the sun, where the children can eat as much ice-cream as they like, and I can drink as many watered down cocktails in plastic cups, and nobody has to do any cooking or housework. The highlight of the week was a visit to the Caves of Drach which was memorable and spectacular and included a concert in a cave with the musicians floating on a boat. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
- My mum’s 80th birthday. It’s not every day you turn 80 and my mum threw a great party for family and friends featuring a drumming workshop. My mum really knows how to live! I made a giant birthday cake which was intended to be covered with raspberries until I realised how much raspberries cost in October.
- I asked a question on Question Time! This has to be my absolute highlight of the year. I was very lucky to be selected to be in the audience because about a thousand people applied and they only chose 150. Then I was even luckier to have my question selected as everyone submitted a question but only about four were used on the show. It was so exciting and for a long time afterwards people came up to me and said they saw me on the show. You can watch me ask my question here. Please do watch the whole of the clip as the ensuing discussion is very good, especially Ken Loach’s contribution.
- Christmas in Italy. I managed to find cheap flights with Ryanair so that all four of us could fly to Italy for a week over Christmas for less than £200. We stayed with my husband’s sister in Merano which is a pretty town near the Austrian border. We were hoping for snow but sadly we were disappointed. The boys got to spend time with their cousins and I got to drink plenty of the local vin brulé. The best bit of the week was a visit to the thermal pools at the Hotel Terme. We sat in a hot, bubbly pool watching the sun set behind a mountain. A fantastic way to end the week.
- Getting a grade one in my teaching observation. Just about every time I’ve had a graded observation, the observer awards me a grade 2 with aspects of grade one. I am always told that my lesson would have been a grade one if it hadn’t been for one little thing that they made up that means I am merely good and not outstanding. But in my latest observation I finally achieved that elusive grade 1 which I guess means I am officially an outstanding teacher.
- One of the most memorable family outings of the year has to be our trip to Birdland at Bourton on the Water. This is where my 9-year-old’s obsession with penguins began.
- Association of Teachers and Lecturers Annual Conference. This is a fantastic event held every year in Liverpool. This year I was chosen to be on a panel of ten people to meet Nick Gibb, the minister for schools and ask him questions. We gave him a good grilling.
- Last week I was lucky enough to be picked to be in the audience of BBC Question Time when it came to Gloucester. I even had my question selected which meant that I got to read it out. This was quite an accomplishment as 1000 people had applied to be in the audience, 150 were chosen and all of those 150 submitted at least one question.
This was my question:
I asked this question because Ken Loach himself was on the panel. He was brilliant; I recommend looking up the episode on iplayer or YouTube just to listen to Ken Loach .
Here is a video of my fifteen minutes of fame: http://linkis.com/www.youtube.com/EfscJ
It was an amazing experience finding out about the show and being part of it. Here are six interesting facts about the programme that I learned .
- It is not broadcast live but it is filmed all in one go and broadcast exactly as filmed with no editing. They didn’t even bleep out the four letter word that one audience member used. We finished filming about an hour before it went on the air, giving me enough time to get home, pour myself a glass of wine and go on Facebook to tell all my friends to watch .
- You get tea, coffee and biscuits when you arrive.
- David Dimbleby is a lovely gentleman . He spoke to us all in a room before we started filming about what we should and shouldn’t do. (Do boo if you disagree with what someone is saying; don’t say hi to your mum.) He chatted and joked with us in a very natural and genuine way so you would never guess, if you didn’t know, that he must make the same jokes to a different audience every week .
- They have a practice run with members of the audience sitting in for the panel in order to test the cameras and the sound. This is when someone reads all the questions and selects the ones to be used in the show.
- You only get to know just beforehand if your question has been picked. They interrupt the practice run to read out the names of the successful people who are then taken outside the room for a quick talk on how to read your question which is handed back to you printed on a piece of paper. Even then you can’t be sure that your question will be used because they have to pick more questions than they need just in case the debate dries up on one particular topic.
- The panel don’t know what the questions are going to be so they have to think on their feet which some of them do better than others.
OK, so I’m a year late seeing this film as it came out last Christmas. That’s because I never go and see family films until Cineworld show them in their cheap Saturday morning “movies for Juniors” showings. It has been slated by reviewers but I took my boys to see it last weekend and we all loved it; I think I enjoyed it even more than they did. Here’s why.
- It has some great British comic actors in it such as martin Clunes and Catherine Tate. Anything with Martin Clunes in it has got to be worth watching.
- It was filmed in some fantastic locations such as London and the charming model village at Bourton-on-the-Water in my own county of Gloucestershire.
- It will make you cry. I’m not usually one for sobbing in the cinema but there is something so sad about a little girl who has not only lost her mother, but now her father has lost his memory and doesn’t recognise her, and can’t even remember her late mother.
- It will make you laugh. As a teacher, the idea of an Ofsted inspector turning up in a school where a live donkey is wandering around pooing all over the floor, appealed to my sense of humour. There are lots of humorous moments all through the film.
- There are some great, original Christmas songs that will have you singing along.
- The film tells the timeless, heart-warming story of a woman who is just about to marry the wrong man when suddenly the right man turns up just in time. Been there, done that.