Last Day of School

Another major milestone. Today is Dani’s last day of school for this his first year of full time education.

A soon as I received my start date for returning to work I had to book the flights to be back in Spain for this day. I had taken him to school and collected him almost every day in this, his first year. I definitely did not want to miss his last day. For me it will be equally as emotional as the first day. For him probably exact opposites.

The Time has Flown…

It only seems a few weeks ago that he started and I can still recall the moment that reality set in. When he realised that he was going to be there for a very, very long time. A lot has changed since then. He settled in nicely and has turned into a typical little schoolboy experiencing all the fun and drama of being in a huge prisonlike environment – albeit a day release version of prison. Things like conformity, group activities, playtime and even bullying. Well sort of. I still don’t believe kids of that age are actually capable of bullying. Anyway, more on that one to come in a (near) future post.

Noticing the Difference…

For all its faults, the positives outweigh the negatives and I am proud of how he has taken to school. Last night when I arrived he proudly showed me his workbooks for the year. The school sent them home with their schoolwork yesterday as clearly the kids will be too excited today. There was a noticeable improvement in his pencil skills. Huge in fact. When he started back in September last year he held the pencil like you might carry the Olympic torch or stir something with a big stick. Now he holds it correctly using his fingers to guide it and makes every effort to be precise. OK not every effort but certainly more of an effort.

I will go and collect him later and witness the sheer joy on his face as he says his goodbyes to everyone. Then it will be 12 long weeks before he sees them again.

Long Hot Summers…

Twelve weeks of summer holidays. It’s a long time. Back in the UK the summer hols are much shorter (probably about 6 or 7 weeks?) and do not start until mid-July. They also have week-long “half term” holidays. In Spain they save up all the holidays and use them in the summer.

This year June has been unusually hot in both Spain and the UK. Normally in this part of Spain the temperatures do not go above 40 degrees until July. Already they have surpassed that figure in June. Here in Spain with temperatures over and above 40 degrees being in school is very tough on the kids. It is no wonder they take as much time as possible for school holidays in the summer time. Half terms offer a great break but having to stop in school here until mid-July would be nothing short of torture.

Schools Out… (but not Forever)

I can remember only a few of my primary school final days. One that really sticks in my mind is walking out of the gates with the kids singing that Alice Cooper song “School’s Out, for summer….” Etc… That song was released in 1972 but the year I am referring to is probably more likely to be 1975 – my final year of primary school. A classic old Rock n Roll number; they still play it on the radio occasionally.

Oddly enough I seem to remember all my school summer holidays being warm and sunny. Out playing football or cricket all day. Cycling, skateboarding, fishing and camping out (in the garden). Surely we would not have done that if it was raining all the time? – as it seems to most summers these days in the UK. Maybe that’s what they mean by “climate change”? Nah! Don’t get me going on that one….

Showing my age – again. Hey! I never tried to hide it.

First Bike – Another Landmark

Yesterday we bought Dani his first bike. Things have changed since my day. There is a new type of bike now – called a Training Bike. There are no pedals and no stabilisers. Yes, I know it sounds more like a roller skate than a bike eh? Actually I quite like the idea. You can add pedals later but initially it’s all about the kids getting their balance. The theory being that working pedals is much easier than learning to balance on two wheels. Early indications are good. Dani is getting used to scooting along and lifting his feet. The big first fall is yet to come. Probably just around the next corner so to speak.

The Training Bike

My first bike…

I remember having my first bike. Similar to Dani’s but with pedals and stabilisers. I left it in the front garden one day, not long after mastering riding it without the stabilisers. Back then we lived on the big council estate in the town. It was robbed. My dad took me to the police station where they had a room full of recovered bikes. It seemed back then a lot thieves just nicked a bike to get to their next destination – maybe home – then just ditched them. We reported the bike stolen and they let us look for it in their recovered swag room. It wasn’t there and I remember crying with disappointment. To make me feel better my dad bought me a jigsaw puzzle. Hardly the same as a bike eh? But back then I loved jigsaw puzzles so the buyoff worked well.

I hope I don’t have to do the same with Dani. Although he would easily be bought off. When we were in the shop and he was supposed to be trying out his new bike he kept stopping to check out all the other toys and games they had on offer. Easily distracted? Definitely.

                  

Opportunists….?

Oddly enough while out training on his bike earlier I saw a man get off his motorbike, go into a shop to buy bread while leaving the motorbike running. There were not many people about but it still caught me by surprise. My first reaction was; “I bet he wouldn’t do that with a car”. Then I wondered; how many opportunistic thieves can even ride a motorbike? I wonder what the chance would be if he tried that where I grew up?

What a Fortnight

An eventful couple of weeks has come to an end. Now it’s the weekend and a chance to catch my breath.

My days of not working had to come to an end at some point and this is the end of my first week back in the workplace after almost 18 months off.

Before that Dani was over visiting his UK family and we went to a wedding in Norfolk. Our friends Phil and Sarah had a fantastic day and lots of people turned up to celebrate. The groom is a fireman and arrived for the wedding on a fire engine. But this was no ordinary fire engine. It was a beautifully restored 1931 Leyland Cub. It goes without saying that a certain little lad loved it. We all did.

At the wedding party the little lad kept going till almost 1am in the morning. Then he collapsed into a deep sleep before we could even undress him.

On the way back we visited an old friend of mine from my college days. I lost touch with Gavin while he was working in Germany but now he is back in the UK. As it was (more or less) on the way back from the wedding location we called in to see him and his family. It’s at times like this that you realise how old we are getting and it is a time to reflect on a couple of things: Why do we leave it so long to get in touch? How the hell does time go so fast? Time. The great enemy.

Gavin’s kids are grown up now – at least compared to Dani – but they still had a big box of old toys he could play with. Needless to say, Dani really enjoyed himself and even demonstrated his “super gecko muscles”.

 As if all that wasn’t enough the UK just had another general election that surprised just about everyone. Blimey! it’s getting as bad as Spain!

I should probably update the About page. Where am I going to find the time to write now? I will just have to try harder.