Education, Uncategorized

My first festival

Festivals are exciting! For some it’s an experience to look forward to and for others it’s a step outside of the comfort zone, for me it was somewhere in between. I was nervous due to the lack of communication from the organisers, I didn’t know what to expect other than a field, which was in a very windy part of the country, with people whom I did not know. What I do know, is that it was an amazing experience and one I’m keen to repeat… Next time will be different… Next time I will be prepared and here is how…

My first festival was a serious learning curve, for the most part I was huddled up trying to preserve heat, with large bulky layers leaving little room for manoeuvre and despite many comments from bemused festival goers I was far from warm… As this was a working weekend we knew that our equipment would be put to the ultimate test. End result one dead gazebo, frost bite *** (perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part), an abundance of truly wonderful people, willing to help the newbies out, hey it wasn’t that long ago that they were in our position and I now know what to take to help others like us, taking those first tentative steps into unmarked territory.

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It wasn’t all bad, for starters we got the tables right, we got the table cloths so right that they were complimented by veteran festival goers, our set up was eye catching, with different heights to give potential customers and browsers different area’s to focus on, we had small change, we had business cards and most importantly we had a smile, despite the cold, it was difficult not to smile. Here we were at a Beltane fire festival, going back to basics with like minded people, starting our days with mindfulness exercises, surrounded by bright hippie clothing, ukulele and guitar playing, singer songwriters all to keen to share their talent, which was amazing around the fire each night.

Our clothing needed some serious reconsideration, base layers and thermals are an absolute must, especially when your festival is in the UK and in April, we are off to Iceland next year and plan to build all of our kit around arctic conditions, the UK can’t beat us, next time we will be snug as a bug, so crack out the snoods, insulated boots, long johns, pixie hats and cloak (yes, serious cloak envy at this event, they have sooo many uses, amazing idea, pretty and warm, and let’s face it, who hasn’t on some level wished for a good excuse to own a cape, without having to keep it a secret for fear of being considered a weirdo).

Our gazebo is a story in it’s own right, it was clear we had made a rooky mistake as soon as we put it up, fortunately a more seasoned stallholder could see our mistake and kindly loaned us a couple of ratchet straps and dog tie out stakes to secure (a must have for all stalls) without these I am convinced that we would have lost said gazebo well before the final day. I’m sure that this delightful structure would be perfect in a back garden and a great choice for an afternoon tea party, however for coastal areas, prone to high winds, this is not the way to go. We decided to try and glean as much information and advice from the seasoned pros as possible and here is our top list of must have accessories.

Batteries… For when you’re all prepared with torches, only to find that the batteries are dead… Yes personal experience taught us this.

Head light… For going to the toilet at night, it’s difficult enough for us women to hover in such a small space, add in the bulky layers and feeling like the abominable snowman, whilst trying to hold a phone with a torch app in your mouth sounds entertaining but in reality a head torch would have made life that huge bit easier.

A workspace… I do not recommend a gazebo, options are vast and are dependent on finances. A day tent would certainly work for soft surfaces, as would a tunnel tent, which would give you the option of having your sleeping quarters in the same structure as your shop, meaning you don’t need to pack up each day. Gala tents are one of the more expensive options, however they are solid and with extra ratchets to secure it down, you can rest easily knowing nothing is going to get blown away., or collapse.

Here is a list of little odds and sods, that can really make the difference, sadly I didn’t have all of these, but I’ll be sure to take them next time.

  • Cable ties

  • Duct tape

  • Tarpaulin to throw over stock should the conditions change, or just a little added extra protection overnight.

  • Blankets

  • Capes… Capes are cool, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, they double up for extra bedding too, win win.

  • Loo roll

  • Lip balm

  • SPF for summer festivals

  • Thermal clothing / Thin layers

  • A woolly hat in case you didn’t go for a cape

  • Gloves

  • Snood / Scarf

  • Lighter / Matches

  • Folding chairs

  • Tin opener

  • Dining equipment for the luxury festival experience; pans, gas, cutlery, paper plates are awesome.

  • Water carrier

  • Bedding

  • Tent

  • Cash

  • Bin bags

  • Wet wipes

  • Ear plugs if you’re looking for some sleep, maybe push the boat out and grab an eye mask.

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There you have it, a list that may not be fully completed yet, but I sure wish I’d had some of these items, especially the cape, a nice lined one, with a hood to hide under whilst watching the flames of the fire dancing in the night sky.

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Education, Uncategorized

Is the education system failing our kids

I’m sitting here wondering how my beautiful children are doing on their SATS tests, I have explained to them that these tests are to measure schools performances and not their own, that yes they need to work hard at school and learn to the best of their abilities, but that all people, regardless of age, are individuals and we should be celebrating that rather than testing their academic abilities just to appease a governmental departments annual statistics.

I mean, what good is English literature to an athlete? Their focus will be on sports and maybe nutrition, what good is sports to a historian, science to a future entrepreneur, maths to an artist? The point is we are all different and perhaps our outdated school system needs to start reflecting this, rather than labelling all children as a statistic and teaching a curriculum, which is about as outdated as the dinosaurs.

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The current educational system covers one area, academia. What about life skills, how to run a household, how to deal with difficult situations, we have geography but aren’t taught to read a map, we have religious education but religions like paganism, “The old religion” are missed out entirely, clearly nothing came before Christianity.

If we wanted to test the effectiveness of heart surgeons, would we place the patients under inordinate amounts of stress to see if the surgeon was capable? No, we wouldn’t, because we would be risking lives. The surgeon would have undergone many years of education, training and observing prior to gaining their right to practice, this training although mandatory in this particular field and rightly so, isn’t for everyone, imagine if schools only taught us the skills to become a heart surgeon, how would this impact our kids mental health? My son, the future songwriter, my daughter, a future devoted teacher, who will be teaching the same curriculum that she learnt some 20 years ago. The world around us is fast paced yet our education is static and to add insult to injury, they test our kids, put them under huge pressure and for what? Figures, statistics!

How about teaching compassion? Nursery aged children are taught to share and to be kind to the other children, what lessons on compassion are taught to our children as they grow? A few posters dotted around, reminding one another to be kind to each other, is it enough, personally I don’t think it is. How about anger and emotional control? If you get angry you lash out and get punished, how about trying to find out why the child is angry, teach them how to take control of their emotions? Teach them to breath through it, teach them meditation and how to quiet their minds so they can be clear headed and focused, as this has more benefit than being punished time after time.

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A system update is well overdue, schools are the perfect platform to equip our kids with the tools they need as an adult, how to have a handle on life. Algebra and English literature, Romeo and Juliet still play a prominent part in the educational system, how exactly will this teach our kids? When they are 30 years old, will the lesson of Romeo and Juliet be more memorable than current politics and what opportunities politics can present when used with compassion, will it be more memorable than being taught how to breath through anger, to recognise when they are being taken advantage of, to know their self worth and the most important one, will it teach them that they are individuals and that their quirks define them as a person, that by being different to others is perfectly acceptable and there is no shame in that.

SATs have no place in our kids lives, they simply cause stress that children of this age shouldn’t have to encounter, not to mention the stress on the teachers who also have no faith and no say in the education system…. It’s time to coach and grow our youth, to teach them how to actually live a fulfilling life without the fear of being judged because someone is academically more advanced, measuring against statistics set out by politicians who have no respect for anyone, let alone our kids, after all it’s not like they are an important asset in our future, they’re just kids, how important could a child be?