Questions for my teenagers. June 2017

My children are 17 and 15. One is in the sixth form studying for A’ Levels and the other is just finishing Year 10 and the first year of GCSE’s. I have a daughter and a son and they are both really great people.

They have agreed to help me with this blog post! I thought it would be a fun idea to get their views on certain things. I can be quite opinionated with some saying I have a “strong” character but I’d like to think that my children have their own voice and we encourage discussion and differing views in the Old House. I would also like to think that they can talk to me about anything as that is really important.

I asked the children separately to see what their opinions apart from each other.

1.  What is your greatest fear at the moment?

Daughter: Getting my mock English Literature result back! Terrorism could be something but honestly, if it’s my time it’s my time.I don’t want to stop doing the things I like because of stupid terrorists. It doesn’t worry me and nothing scares me except those scary mazes in you get in horror movies!

Son: Being alone. I don’t worry about anything really.

Me: I fear for my children in this ever turbulent and unsettled world. It’s interesting that they do not worry about that really. Then I think back and remember that when I was a child there was unrest and acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland. I didn’t even consider what this meant to me until I was an adult. Perhaps youth protects us from the harsh realities of the world around us or perhaps age opens our eyes to it? I don’t know.

2. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Daughter: Having a job, living alone with a cat. (My son thinks she will become a crazy cat woman from The Simpsons!! My daughter just really loves animals and thought she would grow up to be a cat until she was 3. She’s a very caring person.)

Son: Travelling.

Me: I hope to be travelling too but with Uni fees looming I expect I won’t be!

3. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Daughter: Socrates. He had such developed ideas about the world; he talked about such amazing ideas such as particles. He was killed because people were frightened of him. (My daughter is studying Classics A Level and is really enjoying it. I wonder if she will study this at University?)

Son: Joseph Goebbels because he was an interesting character. He was obviously crazy but he would be interesting to talk too I think and see how his mind works.

(My son is studying history GCSE and loves it. It will be interesting to see what he chooses for A Levels.)

Me: I’ve often pondered this question. I think it would have to be someone like Elizabeth the first who got me interested in history in the first place or Shakespeare. I would like to meet Elizabeth as she comes over as such a strong woman in a man’s world. Shakespeare, there is some thought that he didn’t write all of his plays, that perhaps a woman did, I would like to see and meet him.

4. What makes you angry and why?

Daughter: People who think they are better than others. Cruelty to animals.

Son: People who think that they know everything.

(They were very similar in their answers here)

Me: I have to agree with my children! Especially cruelty to animals. I would add environmental issues too but, as an adult, I’m more able to see that just “don’t cut down trees to save the orangutans” is too simplistic. It is a much wider and complex issue. That’s why I champion local environmental projects and ways of living. Help your local wildlife first.

5. Do you believe in having a soul mate and true love?

Daughter: Because of my parents! (Ahhhhhh…..x)

Son: No, I don’t think I do. (He didn’t know why….)

Me: yes I do. x

6. What is the best and worst part of being a teenager?

Daughter: The best bit is not having to pay any bills. The worst is having bad skin when I was about 14. I hated it but it cleared up with antibiotics.

Son: The best bit is having no worries. The worst but is some other teenagers who are annoying. (My son is quite mature for his age and gets cross with others that are “like little kids.”)

Me: When I was a teenager, the best bit was the freedom I had, especially with money. What I earned went straight into my pocket! The worst was friendships or boy issues although I can’t remember a specific issue interestingly.

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7. What would be your perfect day?

Daughter: Going to a festival or concert.

Son: Playing sport all day and then being with my friends in the evening.

(This sums both up pretty well! My daughter was upset at not going to Glastonbury this year but may go to Reading.)

Me: time with my family or in the garden.

8. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Daughter: I would put it in the bank so that it can earn interest. I would pay for my university fees and then buy a house. I would go on a brilliant holiday. I would give some to charity and share it with other family members.

Son: Spend it and not tell anyone!

(I can tell that my daughter is sooo like her dad when it comes to money and my son is very, very like me! I laughed so much at his response here!)

Me: Pay off the mortgage, put it in the bank. Pay off loved ones mortgages and spend some on Uni fees, holidays and lives pleasures! I wouldn’t go and spend loads on houses and cars. I would set up an Educational Foundation to support Special Needs in schools. I would also like to give money to various environmental charities such as Wiltshire Wildlife.

My son is very mature for his age but interestingly, he found answering some of the questions tricky and wanted to find out what his sister had said.

You may want to ask your teenagers questions too. It’s really interesting to record their answers. I wonder what they would think of these answers in a few years time!


Photos from Unsplash.

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After the Playground

How to survive teen driving lessons in 5 easy steps.

Driving home from school the other day and my 17-year-old tells me that I have my hands at the wrong position on the wheel! What?? In fact, after a few driving lessons she is often pointing out various things I’m doing that are technically “wrong.” I remember doing this exact thing with my mum. I feel officially old!

Both hands on  the wheel mum!

We are now at the stage where she wants to practise her driving with me in my car and I know that this is an important skill for her to have but it is very, very scary!

Firstly, this is my car! I have a cute, little, red Fiat 500 and I love it frankly! Also, it’s  very, very hard to be a passenger in a car with your CHILD driving!

So, here are 5 easy (tongue in cheek) tips to help fellow parents in the passenger seat.

1. Practise your “I am very calm” face. This is vitally important. Even the most patient person should know that the out of control feeling will transfer to your face thus totally annoying your teenager. Oh and do NOT grab the sides of your seat as this may also instill teen anger.

2. Do NOT take your teen’s sibling along for the ride. The moment when your children start fighting in the car when one of them is driving is not one I recommend. Or, the sibling starts to reach forward to plug in their phone so that they can play music. Just no.

3. Try not to make the braking action. You are not driving so this is useless. In fact, your teen will possibly start saying things such as “For God sake mum!” or “Will you stop!” or worse. Mime braking will be a thing but it doesn’t actually work.

4. Do NOT change gear for them. Stalling at junctions will happen and it will terribly embarrassing for your teen. They will be flustered, especially if there is a cute boy in the car behind them. Don’t touch the gear stick or hand brake for that matter. They may explode in rage or threaten to get out of the car. I recommend your calm face at this point.

5. Finally, do NOT let your child drive home from school. Friends watching your teen will encourage “cool” behaviour which, in turn will provoke stalling or the car bouncing. This will instill a fit of hysterical laughter in your teen (especially if the cute boy is passing by the window) or that teen anger that you want to avoid. Oh and don’t wave at anyone that you may know at this point as your teen may then refuse to leave the car and swap places until EVERYONE has left the school grounds. The calm face will not be as easy at this point.

Fiat 500 in red

On a more serious note, she is doing really well and picking up this driving malarkey quickly.  It’s just I don’t think I am! And I’m not letting my Fiat go either!



Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
After the Playground

My ovaries are hurting…..

I was chatting to my good friend, Marie. She is lovely and has children of a similar age to mine and she was asking if I was going to have any more children.

What!??! Urrrr noooooooo!!??

You get the picture!

She always thought that I would have more children you see -I have 2. In fact, I always thought I would have more children. It was just that there was never the right time. I even saved names for those children.

Hubbie didn’t want another when I did (when son was about 4). Then when I definitely could not see myself with another, he started to consider the thought! By then, the gap would have been 8 years between 2 and 3 and I just couldn’t imagine starting again. Anyway, I was working full time and I couldn’t imagine working, having 2 school aged children and a baby! I was only just managing with the routine I had. I remember a family member telling me that I didn’t want to get to 40 and regret it or that every baby was a blessing.

I reached 40 and decided that I did not want another baby. I was so happy and lucky to have the family I have.

But then my ovaries started hurting…..

I think it’s my bodies way of telling me this is my last chance. I mean, I’m 45 now so there is such a slim chance! This blogging malarky doesn’t help either as so many of you lovely people have such cute babies! And dont get me started on Instagram! OMG the cuteness!


I think my ovaries are hurting because I just miss my children being babies? Does that make sense? I miss me being a mummy of younger children I guess. I think that’s just part of my make-up; I’m a primary school teacher so enjoy this age group. That’s not to say I don’t love my teenagers….I just miss them as babies. Or, may be my ovaries are hurting because I’m perimenopausal?? Yeah, that’ll be it!

OH THE JOYS OF THE PERIMENOPAUSE (Yes! It’s a thing…….google it!)


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What I have learnt in (almost) 6 months of Blogging.

6 months of blogging! Whoop whoop!*

I have been blogging for almost 6 months now and I’ve learnt so much! Who knew that little old me could learn all the technical stuff?

I started this blog as a way of writing about the things we were doing to the old house but it’s evolved into a “parenting, lifestyle, things we are doing to the old house” type blog! Another blogger described it as “eclectic” and that’s what it is…..a rambling old house in the Shires!

So what have I learnt?

1. You become clearer about why you are blogging.

I started this blog to fill a void of not working full-time and having more time on my hands as my children are teenagers. We had also recently moved house so it seemed a good way to document things we did to the old house over time. After 6 months it’s become more of a hobby. A hobby which I had never considered before and one that is more time consuming that I could possibly have imagined!

2. There’s a whole community out there! Who knew??

There are so many lovely people out there who you chat to over the computer! I have a little group of blogging friends and that’s empowering. I like the fact that I could be chatting to someone on the other side of the world about their vegetables or about their teenagers slamming doors too! The other thing I’ve learnt is that people are kind and helpful. Generally if you ask another blogger for advice, they will give it to you. As someone who had never been on Twitter before, this was essential! (Apologies if I still haven’t learnt tweeting etiquette 😉). And as for the whole self hosting thang….yeez! Not for me…..yet.

3. I like to write. It may not be read by too many people yet but I enjoy it!

I’m always amazed at the posts that people like to read. It can be the posts that I have fretted over posting. Or, a post that I wrote in 5 minutes gets more views that’s a post that has taken me 3 days to write! I like to write and that is why I blog but it’s important to me that people enjoy reading them. I know that others do it for a job but I have a job so I’m happy with my teeny tiny corner of the internet.

Writing my blog is like therapy! *

4. It’s giving me something to fill the “mum” void that I am finding now I have teenagers.

Oh the mum void! There’s a post to write. I think nature is cruel because at the same time that our children are becoming more independent, we are becoming more hormonal. Crazy. Again, another post! It would be called, “My perimenopausal brain…..”

5. I’m getting out and about more due to My Glorious Gardens series!

This is bit I love the most! I know that next academic year I’m working more in school so this is pushing me out there more during this summer term! I’m going to Gardens that I have always wanted to visit but haven’t had the time to visit in the past. I love it! In fact, I’m off today…… must dash. My country boots (and rain coat by the looks of things) are calling me and Dottie is looking at me as if to say, “Come on mum!” Well, at least someone needs me…….😍🐶

So what are my blogging goals for the next 6 months?

Well I don’t really know where my blog is going but that’s ok! I’ve been a guest on Dippy Dotty girl’s amazing website but I would love to guest on a parenting blog.

I’m older with older children but I have loved every aspect of being a mummy and as a teacher, feel like I have a lot of advice to give.

I think I would like to make a Linky of my own but lack skills so we shall see!

*photos from (credit Lucy Heath, Jesus Kiteque & Andrew Neel)


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This Mum's Life

Our Awesome Adventures series: Malcesine and Lake Garda, Italy in July.

When one child wants to climb a mountain and the other wants to swim in the sea yet hubbie wants to relax and I want to see something beautiful, you know that your holiday plans are going to be tricky at best! This is what happened a few years ago and I decided to use the magic of the internet to organise an awesome road trip.


I knew that we could stop off with some friends near Lake Geneva and that we wanted to drive so I could look towards Italy as this is probably the furthest we could travel in 2/3 weeks. I came across a town called Malcesine on Lake Garda and bingo! It was at the foot of a mountain called Mount Baldo (tick child one!)

View of Malcesine from the cable car

Malcesine is a town in the North East shore of Lake Garda, Italy at the foot of Mount Baldo. It is a stunningly beautiful place with cobbled streets and Scaliger castle to explore. Imagine narrow cobbled streets with little shops and houses with orange tiled roofs clinging to the lake shore in the shadow of a mountain. That’s Malcesine!

Hotel Castello private lake beach

I found a perfect looking hotel called Hotel Castello which was small and right on the shore (ok so it’s not the sea but tick for child two!) so I booked it for a week. This gave us a few days to get there and then a further week to make the round trip through Bavaria and France to home. This is a lovely family run hotel with amazing service and in my opinion, good value for money. We booked 2 rooms with breakfast included.

View of Lake Garda from our bedroom

The weather was varied during our week but we don’t mind that. It was typical mountain weather with a storm one day and 30 degree heat the next. The children loved swimming and snorkelling in the Lake although they said it became deep very quickly and so was very dark in places. I liked lying on a lounger with a good book!

Ten paces to the water’s edge!
Snorkelling in Lake Garda
Swimming in the Lake during a storm!

The town itself is great for exploring and we ate out at different places most evenings although the hotel also served delicious food. There were some good shops selling vintage items, clothes and local produce such as Olive oil, Limoncello and huge fruit and vegetables.

Exploring the cobbled streets
One of the shops in Malcesine

There is a castle to explore and the views from the castle were glorious. Then there is Mount Baldo itself. This was a great day out after lounging at the hotel. My advice though is to go early during the summer months, as the queues for the cable car are awful after about 10am.

View over Lake Garda from Mount Baldo
Spectacular views over the Dolomites

The views at the top were worth the effort. There are a few places to eat and drink here so we grabbed a beer in the sunshine. In the Winter you can ski so if you visit at another time, you will definately need a coat. There are many treks from the top; a walkers paradise!


On another day we hired a speedboat for a spin around the Lake. This was the teens choice and quite an expensive one! This gave us better views of the castle and also allowed us to see a little of the coast. Lake Garda is huge so we also took a day trip to Limone on the other side of the lake. To be honest, we didn’t enjoy Limone as it was full to the brim of tourists and a battle to find anywhere to eat so Malcesine was perfect for us.

Enjoying the speedboat

Malcesine. A pretty little town on Lake Garda. What is there not to love!

Our next Awesome Adventure was in Bavaria……

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Our Awesome Adventures Series: Our trip to Venice, Burano, Murano, Verona and a working fruit farm near Siena.

I have been inspired to write about some of our amazing adventures we had enjoyed as a family by the blog of dippy dotty girl. I love her beautifully written blog about her travels and of course, she shares a name with my dog, Dottie! You can find her site here:

This is the post that inspired me! Do take a look…..

Last summer I found some great cheap flights from Bristol to Venice throughout Ryanair so I booked them! My children are now classed as adults on many airlines so cheap flights are hard to come by in the school holidays. This is often how our adventures have started… with cheap flights or a ferry crossing somewhere! I then search the internet for hotels or accommodation and off we go! We had 2 weeks to explore.

My children love exploring as much as hubbie and I do so we are never worried about going anywhere but Venice in August? Well, everyone told us to avoid it so we first settled on staying on Murano instead.

Murano at night.

Murano is where Murano glass is made and it gets very busy during the day with day trippers from Venice. At night though, we had the place to ourselves and lived like locals which is what we like. It was tricky to find places to eat at times as we had booked self catering accommodation but the Vaporetto (boats that are run like buses) run all through the night (this may be different out of the summer months). There is also a great supermarket in the centre as well as one main hotel called LaGare Hotel which has a superb restaurant.

We stayed for 4 days and 5 nights in Ca’ Mazzega Murano Grand Canal view apartments. This was perhaps 1 night too long but it gave us time to see Venice, Burano, Murano and the cemetery island (teens choice!)


View from Rialto bridge down the Grand Canal
Doge’s Palace
Beautiful buildings

Venice is like no other place in the world. It is beautiful and bonkers all at the same time! Hubbie and I went in April one year and I would not suggest going in August as it full of cruise ship tourists and it is very hot and smelly. This did not deter us but may not suit younger children. It is a small city so easy to explore and we felt very safe. Staying on Murano meant we had to catch the Vaporetto to get to Venice but that was all part of the experience!

View standing at the back of the vaporetto

Venice itself is compact so is really easy to get around on foot. We spent a great day looking for Pokemon around the city and searching for the Stone Island shop! Those with teenagers will know that is a typical teen experience! We went to St Marks square obviously but the queues to see some of the main sites such as the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica were horrendous so we didn’t see those. Some will say that’s a shame but the way we see it is if the children are happy, then so are we! We have seen these places and the children can always come back when they are older. We just want them to experience different places even if that means getting lost in a city looking for Pokemon! There is a lovely square called Campo Santa Margarita where the locals hang out and is great for a meal or aperitif!

The cemetery island (Cimitero) is between Murano and Venice and is worth a look if you have time. We stayed for a couple of hours and then hopped back on the Vaporetto to Venice. Its a very peaceful place after the chaos of the city but also very sobering. It is a working cemetery so you need to be respectful.

Burano is a gorgeous island off the coast of Venice and you can get there on the Vaporetto. It is famous for its lace making and there is lots to buy. In August it really wasn’t’ that busy.  The houses are all beautifully painted and it truly stunning. A photographers dream!

Burano and it’s beautiful coloured houses.
They all park their boats outside their houses!

After 5 days here, we hired a car to drive to a little place near Arezzo which is about 30 miles from Siena. This was a tricky, busy and long drive but we were heading to a working fruit farm which had been recommended to us by our friends. We were ready for a week of relaxation and fresh air so hired a converted barn on the farm which had a shared pool. We stayed at Foresteria Il Giardino di Fontarronco which was absolutely amazing! The other guests were mostly sightseeing so we had the pool mostly to ourselves. It was a blissful week of sleeping, eating, sunbathing, exploring the area on foot and swimming. We explored nearby Arezzo and also Cortona, both of which were so pretty and had amazing food!

View from Cortona hill side.
The fruit fields
The view from our apartment showing the pool.
Our apartment was up these stairs

After a slight change of plan and a realisation we had to go back North to get our flight home in just 2 days time, we booked 2 nights in near Verona for the last part of our trip. We literally booked this the day before we had to be there but managed to find the most amazing hotel ever for a very reasonable price! It didn’t have a restaurant but served breakfast with the room. We also had an upgrade so hubbie and I had the honeymoon suite with its own private balcony!

View from our private balcony!
Hotel Villa Giona

On the final day we explored Verona. Oh how I wish we had more time! What a beautiful city with so much to see. With only one day we went to Juliet’s balcony, ate pizza in the main Piazza, saw Dante’s statue and went in the Museo di Castelvecchio.

Walking in Verona
Juliet’s balcony

We had a great trip!

I wonder where we will go next? Let’s look to see if there are any cheap flights……..



Mother of Teenagers

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If I was a teen….

If I was a teen I wonder if how I would cope with my current life……


I would get to work at, like 11am and get, like a coffee first because I just could not do the early start. Usually I get to work at 7.30am but that’s just way too early so I just couldn’t make that. Sorry. Oh and btw, I can’t drive so have to rely on the bus. I know that it takes a full hour to get to work but I always forget to leave that long and will probably miss the bus. A teacher? Yes, I know that I’m a teacher but they are just kids right? So they could colour in or something and I’ll be there. I have a TA so he could just get on with whatever they usually do right? I don’t have proper work clothes soooo can I wear my black jeans? They are ripped at the knees…is that ok? Oh and I always show my midriff, it’s kinda my thing. I do have clean Converse so that’s good. Now, I can go home at 3pm right? Yeah, cos that’s when school ends. Cool, I can go into town after that and see my friends…..


Well chores are stupid so I just won’t do any basically. I suppose I could drag a wet cloth around the kitchen and push the crumbs on the floor and leave a wet trail all over the kitchen counter. That’s the kitchen cleaned! I can put my breakfast things in the dishwasher later anyway. I never make my bed so that’s cool. There are a few makeup stains on the carpet but I can just rub those in and they have kinda gone….that’s fine. The wet towels on the floor? I can reuse these tonight so they can stay there for now. I flushed the toilet earlier so that’s good but I could put some bleach in there and spill a little on the floor at the same time but that means the floor is clean doesn’t it? The sitting room is basically for sitting in so the cushions can be on the floor. I like sitting on the floor. The glass I used last night can stay there ‘cos it’s fine. I can also put apple cores down the back of the sofa as no one has really noticed. The T.V is on pause? Oh, I remember! I paused that last night when I watched “Ex on the Beach” and went to get snacks. I can leave the snacks there so that I can eat them later.

Shopping for groceries

So I can do this! So much money each week and it’s all for food? Well no! I need a new top and oh! there’s those gorgeous new shoes I want so….I can buy milk, bread, crisps, pizza and cereal. That’s enough cos that’s all I eat really. Everyone can eat that too because it’s sooo good although perhaps we need some apples? I need new make-up too as that’s a necessity. Oh…that’s all the money gone and it’s Tuesday. Mmmm. Ah well, I can always “borrow” money from Dad.


Now I know that the dog needs walking and I need to cook tea for everyone but I just need to take a photo for my Snapchat feed. I can’t muck up my streak you see so I’m just going to send that photo of the floor. There. Oh and now I need to upload that picture to my Instagram account of that brilliant picture I took earlier….Ok. Dog. Come on time for a walk. I think I’ll just pop around the block. It will only take 15 minutes. I know she wants a longer walk but that will do. I’ll just pop into the local shop and buy some chocolate on my way and then go to the park to see if my friends are there. We could get a burger on the way home actually. Oh it doesn’t matter about getting home to cook tea. I’ve eaten so….I’m sure they will all be fine…they could eat cereal or toast.

Actually….maybe not. 🙂



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