Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Picnic Etiquette

On occasion this blog becomes my soap box ... today is one of those days.

Recently some of my family and I went out for the day for a picnic and sightseeing. Our picnic got off to a leisurely start, we enjoyed watching the seagulls fly, and just spending the time together.
However, close to the end of out picnic, the tranquillity was rudely interrupted by a large extended family.

So here are my thoughts on picnic etiquette:

1. Choose your spot where there is quite a bit of space between you and the next family/group.

       This family stood less than a metre behind us loudly jabbering, then spread their picnic rug                  within 2 metres of ours even though there was a lot of space elsewhere throughout the park in              both sun and shade.

2. Walk well away from where others are sitting.

      The above mentioned group walked all around us with less than a metre to spare. They could               have walked a lot further away. Plus if anyone had tripped on the uneven ground, they would               have fallen on top of us. There was no reason to walk anywhere close to us as all amenities were         in the opposite direction.

3. Stop your children from doing an activity that could endanger others.

    Included in this family group were a number of preteen/early-teen boys. They opted to throw and       kick very heavy pine cones (these were more like bricks in density and weight) and sticks at each       other and at the shade trees, trying to knock down more pine cones. We were in the firing line and       very concerned that we would be injured. The parents/grandparents did nothing to stop the boys or     even get them to move away.

Needless to say, the rest of our picnic was not relaxed and we very quickly packed up and headed off. It really put a damper on what had been a lovely time.

Monday, 6 March 2017

ACRBA Tour - Chocolate Soldier by Hazel Barker

6 - 10 March 2017

is Introducing 
(By the Rhiza Press, 1 October 2016)

By Hazel Barker

About the Book:
London. 1940.
When World War II breaks out and men over eighteen are conscripted, Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector, refuses to go rather than compromise his principles.  Instead he joins the Friend's Ambulance Unit.  From the London Blitz to the far reaches of Asia the war tests Clarence in the crucible of suffering.  In the end, will he be able to hold his head up as proudly as the rest and say, to save lives I risked my own?
One man will stand as God's soldier, not the war's soldier.

About the Author:
Hazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Many of her short stories and book reviews have been published in magazines and anthologies.
Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier, and Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind, will be released in 2016. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter in Burma.
For more information, visit her blog on:

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading this book (not that war is ever enjoyable). I think it's because recently I have been researching my Grandfather's service in the Royal Navy during WW2 - where he served, what his role was and how he got there. Part of if he wrote in a book about his life (never published), and part research on the internet.

This book is what I would call biographical fiction. It's the story of a real person, but with fictional licence so that it reads well and is interesting to the average person picking it up. Life wasn't easy for Conscientious Objectors (or anyone during WW2), but when they were able to find a way to serve without picking up arms, I think they should be commended. Many Conchies did jobs that no one else wanted, and they did it under the ridicule of those around them.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Let Kids Be Kids

In my job as an After School Care Educator I see some children every day of the week. This year we have seen a large increase in the number of children doing homework, so much so that even though we set aside the largest table as our homework table we have also had to add another table specifically for homework and that is also always full and children are using whatever space they can for homework.

While I understand that homework can be important, these children aren't just doing their school homework. Most of them have homework from tutoring on top of their regular school homework. Then there are also ones who are preparing for scholarship testing, which adds yet another level and set of problems to work through or things to write. There are also some who are learning another language (also in addition to what they are learning at school) and they have homework for that as well.

Some of these children spend their entire time as OSHC doing homework. They finish their school homework, then straight away move on to their tutoring homework. The tutoring isn't to help them get better at something that they are struggling with, it's to get ahead of the pack. Even during the school holidays there were children doing tutoring homework when they came to Holiday Club.

I was talking with one of the children last week and they were complaining about how much they had to do and the fact that as soon as they left OSHC they would be going to tutoring class, then on to another activity. I asked this child if they have time to relax and they were told only when they were at Grandma's house.

Later in the week we had a parent asking us if we could make sure their children did their homework because when they got home they wanted to have fun with them and not have to worry about the homework.

So, my question is, when do these children actually have time to be children?

When I was growing up, we had reading to do for homework. Occasionally there was a project or class work that hadn't been finished. There was time to play, to use our imaginations, to run around, laugh and just have fun.
Tutoring was just to catch you up if you were having trouble, not to push you ahead of where it was expected you would be based on your year level.

And I haven't even mentioned music lessons, team sports and other sports or activities that children are being sent to on a daily basis. Even their weekends are filled to overflowing.

Play is an important part of children's development. And kids also need time to be quiet, not running from one thing to the next.

Please, please, please ... let your kids be kids while they can.