22 Jul 2012

Gardening disaster

Well my optimism from the start of the year has been used up.  I'm just thankful we aren't relying on my garden goodies!

The weather has made it a tough year so far.  It's been very wet and cool and it took ages for any of my veggies to really get going.  The one warm week we had a few weeks ago saw things spring to life but  since then they have just been attacked.  I have had several beans have their stalks eaten through and one courgette plant has almost gone entirely.  The only thing really thriving are the slugs and snails.

The raspberries have battled on and the boys have been enjoying them.  The occasional strawberry has avoided going mouldy and today we enjoyed a few raw peas (although the smallest decided they weren't for him and spat them out).  The blueberries are doing ok but I am pinning all my hope on the potatoes and tomatoes, both in bags on the patio.

The most exciting things to happen are that I grew chillies from seed and my squash is still alive.  I am hoping the warm weather we are promised helps these to thrive.

I can only imagine how hard this year is being to farmers and market gardeners.


16 Jul 2012

How are you filling the school holidays?

I recently read on the BBC that many parents feel priced out of day trips with their children.  I have to admit the price of day trips can be very daunting and, with six weeks to fill in the summer, the costs can get out of hand.  I took my eldest to see Ice Age 4 last week and that was just over £15 for just two of us!

It's worth looking for free activities and using loyalty points to help towards cost.  We have had a couple of free days out thanks to Tesco Clubcard.  Reading Borough Council has an excellent range of activites for little or no cost.  Reading Museum is free and runs activities throughout the year, as does the Museum of English Rural Life and the libraries are great for things to do including the Summer Reading Challenge.  Silchester, or Calleva Atrebatum if you are a Roman, has open days in the summer while they are digging the ancient town and the ampitheatre is always impressive.  The dig blog is in my blog list on the left and is always a good read.

Reading Borough Council has announced the activities that are running this summer:

Schools Out and 'Summer in Da Boro' Starts.

16/07/2012
Reading Borough Council Press Release

11 Jul 2012

The sun shone on the Olympic Torch today!

Just got back from watching the Olympic Torch pass down Bath Road.  The children and I had a lovely time.  The atmosphere was great and people were cheering everything, even a builders lorry!  I counted at least three schools, one being Oxford Road Community School.

To make a change the, the sun was shining!  A lovely way to see the torch on it's way....



3 Jul 2012

Question to Council: School Places in Battle Ward


This evening, at full Council, I asked the following question to the Lead Councillor for Education & Children’s Services John Ennis:

'In recent weeks parents of children starting in Reception in September 2012 have been receiving their offer for school places.  As offers went out if became clear both at the school gate, and through parents contacting me, that a significant number of children in the Battle Ward, and surrounding area, were without a school place.  The pressure on school places this year was known, and ‘bulge’ classes arranged but there were not enough extra places identified in West Reading.  This has caused upset and uncertainty at what is already a stressful time for parents.

I ask the Lead Councillor for Education & Children’s Services to confirm:
  •  If all children due to start school in September 2012 now have a place?
  • Why so many children, especially in the Battle ward area, were not offered a school during the first wave of allocations?
  • What lessons have been learnt from this round of admissions?
  • What is being done to prevent this happening next year?
  • What are we doing to help parents travel to the schools they have been allocated out of their catchment particularly those with children already in a different school?'
I felt it important to ask these questions publicly.  I am a representative of the residents of Battle ward, and a parent, and understand how stressful the school admissions process can be.  I have been in contact with Cllr Ennis and the Leader of the Council Jo Lovelock since it became clear there was a problem in Battle and have been meeting with officers since April to discuss them, most recently to put in place help with travel.

I have also been supportive of Battle Primary School's parents and staff and made sure I attended the recent meetings regarding their Ofsted report that put them into Special Measures.  Battle Cllrs Chris Maskell and Gul Khan also attended to offer their support and listen to the concerns of parents about the forced academisation of their community school.

I am also governor of Oxford Road Community School and have also been supportive of the proposed expansion of the school and relocation of the nursery unit allowing for an in take of 30 extra children into reception in September.  I was at the exhibition on Monday, again to listen to parents.

It is important to me that, not only am I active in word, but also in action.

The answer to my question can be seen here:

1 Jul 2012

What a great weekend

Yesterdays Oxford Road Fun Day was an excellent event and so busy.  It has been estimated that 1500 people visited throughout the fours hours it was on.  There were loads of community groups which was great to see.  Battle Councillors were visited by lots of people, mainly for a chat but a couple of bits of casework were picked up.  We were also glad to be visited by some of our Labour Party members in Battle.

Today my family and I went to the Reading Buses Open Day.  We caught a vintage bus from town, my husband won a coconut from the shy, the eldest got his face painted and the youngest got a lolly.  I got to meet two Stormtroopers and an Imperial Officer and, for a lifelong Star Wars fan, it was exciting and a teeny bit weird/scary at the same time.