Bricks in Motion.

Lego was always my favourite toy as child. Freddie enjoys his sister’s old Duplo, but still finds even the junior Lego a bit too fiddly. Hoping to encourage his interest, we took him to the ‘Bricks in Motion’ Lego exhibition at Chester Cathedral.

A Cathedral within a Cathedral: I do think a ‘You Are Here’ arrow would have been a courtesy to the visitor.

The display is arranged in a boarded off area of the South Transept, so, provided we kept our eyes on him at all times, we were able to let him walk around freely by himself, choosing what look at, and what to return to again and again. 

Freddie with his head in the clouds. I think this one was his favourite.

I followed him around, taking photos, talking to him about the models, and about what we might have a go at making with the Lego we gave at home. Trees and clouds I think we settled on. 

They’ve even made waves, and bubbles out of plastic bricks …

I still love Lego. I’m tempted to buy some for myself – they do make it for age 16+!

Two things notorious for sinking …

Freddie ran backwards and forwards happily, visiting some of the models several times. He really seemed to be getting something out of it, even if it was only enjoyment. 

Afterwards we went for a walk on the walls. To coax Freddie out of a minor moment if obstreporousness, I let him take photo of the clock (with a bit of help to hold the phone steady and pointing in the right direction).

The clock by Freddie.

He also took this one of mosaic in the Roman Gardens (again with a bit of help). I think he appreciated the chance to ‘have a go’:

The ‘Big Circle’.

With both of us there to act as ‘spotters’ we felt able to let him scamper around without having to be on the wrist strap or holding hands all the time. He didn’t always stop when we told him to, but he didn’t make a serious attempt to run off, though we know we still always have to watch him closely and keep him within reach. We need tonsil on getting his attention in those situations. I’m thinking of getting a whistle. That might look a bit odd, blowing an Acme Thunderer at your child in public, but if it works I don’t really care what other people think . I’m sure he enjoyed being able to ‘explore’ a little under his own steam.

‘Exploring’ the Roman Gardens.

We thought it best to put him in his buggy while we walked beside the river, but by then he was tired, and ready to eat his packed Lunch. He did try to throw his raisins off the bridge – but I think he might have been attempting to feed them to the ducks – he likes pelting ducks with food. 

After his winsome smile had scored us some extra gingerbread men in the Ginger Cafe, we spent a happy fifteen minutes wandering around trying to find the car park. And it only cost us four quid in parking fees!

All in all, a successful day out (with no major tantrums from either the child or the grown-ups).


Results Day

It’s GCSE results day in schools across the UK today, and I’d like to say a big congratulations and well done to Lucy. But after all that hard work and worry over the summer, now that she has opened the envelope and confirmed with the school that she will be returning to study for ‘A’ levels in Srptember, the results become irrelevant. They are nothing more than a paper stepping-stone to the next stage of the education system.

As her mum, they have always been largely irrelevant to me, which is why you will find no mention here of what grades she got, nor will I be posting a picture of her results slip on my Facebook wall, tacitly inviting comparison, as I have seen some of the more ‘pushy’ or competitive Alpha mummies of my acquaintance do (the sort who brought their daughters to First Communion in half-size celebrity wedding dresses, and full slap so obvious that they looked like penitent pole-dancers). I do not need a piece of paper with letters and numbers on it to prove to myself, or anyone else, that my child is someone I can be proud of. Besides there are many excellent personal qualities that school never measures. For the same reason, I never share those pre-made ‘share if you love your daughter’ memes. I can just walk into her bedroom and tell her, face to face. I don’t try to be her best friend either: she has girls her own age to fulfil that role. The Mother-daughter bond is unique: why cheapen it?

At the end of the day, a set of exam results proves very little about a person except a few specific details within narrow parameters. I have always been proud of Lucy for the person she is, for the way she approaches the world and other people, and for the efforts she makes to achieve the things she does.  

Three years ago, Big Brother Harry collected his GCSE results. To be honest, if you were to ask me now what he got, I wouldn’t be able to tell you off the top of my head. Far more impressive than the grades on the paper were the struggles he made each and every day just to cope with the social environment of school. His dogged determination not to let a piece of paper bearing a diagnosis define him or his life, but to try to meet the world on its own terms no matter how exhausting that was, will never appear on any league table, but it saw him join the Air Cadets, and win the Commanding Officer’s Award. I will treasure the citation forever, because of what it says about him. Already his ‘A’level results are obsolete, and he has gained more from his membership of University social societies than from the course itself. All this with the absolute minimum amount of support. When he needed help and none was available to us, he found the way himself. He is not yet 20.

What fabulous examples Freddie has to follow. Of course, I cannot know what the future holds for him, but whatever comes I couldn’t be more proud of anything than I am of his can-do attitude, and his caring nature and lovely manners. Result!

Cafe Culture.

Thank God for Trunki.

Thank God for Trunki, because the Major buggy is a complete pain in the arse at airport security, so this time I checked it with the bags. We had a few bitter tears when Trunki had to go off to be X-rayed, especially when the iPad had to be taken out. But they soon dried up once Trunki came back and Freddie could see the iPad was back inside.

This is the first, and will be the last, time we organise a holiday without using a travel agent. It’s been a complete ball ache; just getting here was more stressful than many major life events! But the apartment is very nice (that’s the only detail that I was responsible for booking, of course). And being in the heart of the old town has its advantages.

After going 12 hours without a coffee I had to be rushed to the Churrerria next door for an emergency caffeine infusion.

So, the Churrerria doesn’t ‘do’ orange juice. No matter, Freddie thoughtfully arranged, in retrospect, for peach juice to be his new favourite drink.

Sadly, the freshly prepared Churros did not get the Freddie seal of approval. But I can live with that. 

There’s no shortage of things to do (mummy) / ways to be relieved of your cash (daddy).

Is it a bird? Is it a hand? Is it a ‘bird in the hand’? Which is worth two in the bush (and I don’t want to see that sculpture).

Because if the age difference between Freddie and his big sister, I often wonder if people assume Lucy is our au pair. Perhaps that’s why no one questions it when she orders a drink which she thinks is a lemon squash drink…

It doesn’t taste like lemon

That turns out to be…


It buzzing here in the evening, but in a family-friendly way. 

Trying to photobomb the couple taking a selfie at the next table.

I don’t think Freddie’s ever seen 10pm in the UK, but he held up very well, especially considering we got him up at 5am to go to the airport. In fact, I think he enjoyed every minute, he was as good as gold (and better).

10pm! You dirty little stop-out …

And We’re Off …

Today we’re off to Malaga, for a week of sunshine and R&R. Malaga is, coincidentally, the home of Spanish actor Pablo Pineda, who was the first student with Down’s Syndrome in Europe to gain a university degree. He has a BA in Educational Psychology, and a diploma in teaching. He also won the Silver Shell award in 2009 at the San Sebasti├ín International Film Festival. 

I’m not sure if we’ll have wifi where we’re staying, so if you don’t see us through the week, you’ll see us through the window … Just joking, you’ll see lots of pictures when we get back. 

Freddie is VERY excited about going to the beach!