writing in a roadside inn

Sitting on the well worn bed,

She pens the song that one day wins

The Grammy and the praise that came

Upon her diamond sparkle dreams,

But now the trucks will thunder by,

The light from Starbucks blinds,

Denying her the sleep she wants

And so she scratches at the paper,

Fetid air pushed around the room

By the single fan, in a shady corner.

This is not her gold dust dream,

But on the wind that whisper’s there

Is word of penthouse rooms one day.

the campsite shower block

line of tents on outdoor camping in forest
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We shuffle across the dewy grass,

Flip flops sinking, lost in depth

Our toes so cold they crackle and burn.

Our towels are tucked with gawdy washbags

Underneath our youthful wings, we laugh

And shush each other as we slalom through

The tents and ropes and rounders bats.

We reach the block, the smell of bleach

Heavy in the strip lit air, flourescence

Lights our naked bodies locked in cubicles,

She sings next door to me

As soapy water swishes past, like rapids

That we ride in rubber dinghies.

Scrubbing at our reddened skin

We balance on one foot to dress,

Flamingoes in our native land,

But with our sodden socks we cut

A saddened, greyer version in the camping world.

I have things I like about camping, and things that I really hate. Last time I camped I had to sleep in my jeans every night because I was so cold. I must have slept for about three hours a night as I tossed and turned on that inflatable mattress that slowly deflated throughout the night.

However, I may be in the minority here, but I really love going over to the shower block each morning. I know that a lot of people probably find it a bit scummy, but having slummed it for a whole night, I love popping on my flip flops and trekking across the campsite with my towel under my arm.

I remember when I was a kid, loving putting the 20p into the timer and then racing to get washed before the water cut off.

And then there’s something so refreshing about walking back to your tent with your hair freshly washed and the coutryside air on your face. It feels very wholesome.

I was just taking a shower today and my ankles were really muddy from going on a run on the trails, and I just had this little memory bubble up, of being all mucky when camping, and enjoying scrubbing myself clean. It inspired me to write a little something and I kind of felt it necessary to explain why.

Much Love

Rachel xx

hot days and graduation photographs

newly graduated people wearing black academy gowns throwing hats up in the air
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She sits quietly, underneath the baking sun

Her gown heavy on her shoulders, as she scans

The stands for a face she knows, anyone friendly

To gently cheer her on, to make the weight

Of cap and gown so worth this agony.

They’re calling names as sweat begins to trickle

Down the slender line of her aged and curving spine,

These clothes that have been worn by hundreds,

Smelling musty, their history palpable,

She just wishes that the heat would die,

Its sting taken out of this enfless day,

That the photographs would be taken

So that she can shed these layers like

A butterfly, spreading its wings and taking flight,

A new world there, in the sepia images,

A fleeting moment, before she begins the fight.

I try to stay off Facebook as much as I can because it just makes me angry, but when I have taken the time to sneak a peak recently, I have noticed that there have been loads of graduation photos (please note, these do not make me angry).

I do love a good graduation and I wish that we did it for more than just finishing university. I know that in other countries kids have a graduation ceremony at the end of almost every stage of their school career.

Here, we do have the big shirt signing event that is normally done out on the school field at the end of secondary school. We wear uniform in this country, so it’s fun to get our school shirts signed by all our friends and teachers on the last day. As a teacher, I’m looking forward to having a Year 11 class so that I can do the whole shirt signing thing as a grown up.

I do feel sorry for some of the people who have had their graduation ceremonies over the past few weeks as I can imagine that it was incredibly hot. Wearing those caps and gowns must have been unbearable.

I do hope that despite the weather, that they all had fun. For my first graduation the moment felt so overwhelming as I’d studied with a baby in tow, and it felt like such an achievement to get to the end. It was also held at The Barbican in London which has had so many amazing people and orchestras perform there.

Much Love

Rachel xx

dancing queen, only seventeen

Oh to be that age again,

Getting drunk for the first time

And kissing boys in alleyways

As they hold your hair in one hand

And a can of cheap cider in the other.

It’s such a fun age too,

With school days ending and the summer nights

Drifting on like an endless hazy dream.

Oh to be seventeen again,

I wouldn’t change a thing…

Noah turned 17 today and it’s bringing back all kinds of nostalgia as I sit thinking about my life and his. On the one hand, I’m thinking about what it was like being seventeen myself; and on the other hand, I’m remembering the day that he was born.

It’s strange because he was born on a Saturday, so yesterday I was very aware that it was a Friday afternoon that I went into labour. And this morning, I was very aware that he would have only just been born, and this afternoon I’ve been thinking about the blood transfusion that I had in my arm as I sat and watched him squirming in his little plastic cot.

Just before I sat down to write this, I started thinking about myself at seventeen. I really discovered drinking when I was that age and I think that some of the alarm bells should have been going off in my head that I needed to be careful. But you live and you learn, don’t you?

I miss being seventeen, and I particularly miss the excitement of having your whole life stretching out in front of you. Nobody has stomped on your dreams and you really believe that you will sail through life and never get hurt.

I like getting older, and I like who I am now becoming, but there are definitely a few things I might do a little differently if I had the chance all over again.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the school production

group of people sitting on chair on stage
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Polka dot skirts ruffle in wings

As twenty Year 7’s excitedly group

Waiting to skip on and smile at parents,

Hair backcombed, and adorned with ribbons,

Wishing they had lines, but that day will come,

When they’re the oldest and the main parts are theirs,

The Sandy’s and Danny’s are just out of reach,

The beautiful solos bringing tears to the eyes

Of an audience brittle with pride for their kids.

As the orchestra hit the final note

And the leading lady kisses her man,

The lights will dip for the final time

And everyone rises to excitable feet,

Encore! Encore! They all did so well,

Say teachers who secretly wipe away tears.

I went to watch our school’s summer production last night and all I can say is Oh My God! It was absolutely amazing and the work that must have gone into making it that good must be immense.

If you couldn’t tell from the poem, the production was Grease and our Year 10’s were playing the main parts. That means that these kids are only fifteen and they were performing in a way that would impress West End casting directors (if I may say so myself).

I often go off on huge rants about how bad behaviour is and how little respect kids have and how their attitudes can leave a lot to be desired. And I know when I say these things, I’m only focusing on the half that couldn’t care less.

Today I want to shout about the ones that do give a damn, because they deserve some attention and they give me so much hope for the future. And I want to say how proud I am of the students who took part – several of the English teachers were crying, it was so brilliant.

The standing ovation was enough to set me off. Well done to those that take part (and to the music and drama departments that put in some serious hours to pull these events off). You are all bloody amazing and I wish that I had even a smidgen of your talent.

Much Love

Rachel xx

coffee shop on a hot day

coffee shop
Photo by Afta Putta Gunawan on Pexels.com

Crowds of shoppers willingly spill out

Onto a pavement that’s scorched and sticky,

Summertime outfits showing off skin

Slick with sweat, reflective eyes

As polarised sunglasses stare back at me.

The queue snakes in to baristas

Looking hassled, pen thrust in a ponytail

As she takes our order without looking up,

The coffee machine hisses in protest,

Standing as one with the tired employee,

‘Surely it’s too hot for lattes today?’

And so we order creamy drinks, filled to the brim

With ice cubes clunking against plastic cups,

We knock back iced teas and nibble at muffins,

Dreaming of drinking cocktails instead,

Away from this shopping mall, on a beach somewhere

Under a parasol and listening to waves

Crashing in rhythmically, onto the sand.

burning with anger

advertising alphabet blog close up
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That blue banner that spans

The top of my computer screen,

It’s such a calming colour

And yet it should be fiery red

For all the crap I read

That makes my stomach acid rise,

I wish it came with warnings that say,

‘Read below with caution,

It could well ruin your day.’

I hate social media, and yet I can’t help myself. I just about squeeze into the millenial category, so I’m allowed to be a little bit addicted to some of these things. I can quite happily leave my phone at home for days at a time, so I am still a bit of a technological rarity.

The reason that I love social media, is that it gives you access to everyone’s life and what they are doing. The reason I hate it is that it gives you access to everyone’s life and some of the idiotic things that rattle around their brains.

I need to step back from it because I can sometimes get so angry about some of the things people write, and it seems so at odds with the calming blues that characterize these sites.

Today, I made the mistake of flicking through Facebook and clicking on a post the had a ‘see more…’ at the end of it. You know these posts are going to be long and rambling so I always try to steer away from these, but I got sucked in.

This person had written a post about how unfair it was that naughty pupils were excluded from prom and how that meant that teachers were cruel and not trying to be inclusive. They went on to say how lovely their son was and how the rough ride he has had should excuse his behaviour.

I know that this is a personal belief and there are probably people reading this and fuming at my views, but is school not for learning and for appreciating that there are boundaries? If you constantly push those boundaries, waste the time of teachers and cost your classmates valuable learning time, shouldn’t that be punishable?

The comments made my blood boil even more, with people just bashing this one school and the teachers there. And almost every one started with ‘my son came home and said that he did nothing, the teacher just has it out for him…’

Believe it or not, teachers don’t go into a class and pick out kids that they just don’t like the look of. And the point of my post is that everyone I know in the profession wants to help kids, and that involves teaching them the behaviours and values that will later make them good citizens and human beings.

Help us to help your kids and stop telling them they can do what they want!

With Stern Love

Miss R (Teacher of English) xx

a hazy prom night memory

instant photo of three women drinking
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on Pexels.com

A hazy prom night memory

That drifts past on those June time winds

As sweet sixteens shuffle up for photographs

In front of limos, arms around a girlfriend who

Will be forgotten in two years, but now

This night is all we have. The music loud,

Thump-thumping as we enter jazzed up gyms,

Once filled with scents of sweat, instead

We are all blinded with the disco lights

And arches of balloons, the sneaked in vodka

Already warming up our youngster veins.

We will remember this for life, this love,

We’ll find the Polaroids in kitchen drawers

And reminisce in thirty years, when youth is gone,

But still that dress hangs in my room

A daughter will want to wear it soon.

Our school were having their leavers’ prom last night, and before I left I popped my head into the hall to see what it looked like. It was so beautiful it actually took my breath away.

Noah left school last year and the school decided not to hold the prom because of COVID. It made me so sad that he was missing out on something that feels like a rite of passage. I was desperate to be the proud mother, waving him off as he got into his limo in a smart tuxedo.

We are lucky in this country that we have sixth form college after school and this means that he will get another opportunity to attend a prom next summer (so I will also get my moment).

It also made me think back to my own prom. I left school 21 years ago so the idea of a prom was still pretty new in England. I remember it being very exciting that we got to dress up and dance the night away at the Hilton Hotel no less.

But it was probably the house party afterwards that was most memorable. About half the year were in attendance and everyone was drinking so it got pretty messy. I seem to remember someone being sick out of the upstairs window.

I hope that the kids at the prom last night had a blast and that they will have fond memories of dancing to Love Shack and being sick in their friend’s mum’s flower bed. It has to be done, doesn’t it?

Much Love

Rachel xx

the funny things they say

close up photo of cat with its eyes closed
Photo by Amir Ghoorchiani on Pexels.com

I’m thinking of starting a little series on my blog called ‘the funny things they say’ because there are times when students say things that just make my day that bit brighter. Normally it’s something silly they’ve said and I end up feeling really bad for laughing, but personally I think it’s one of the highlights of this very tricky profession.

Yesterday I was teaching a Year 8 class who are quite bright but a little bit too bubbly sometimes. I enjoy their energy but sometimes it can boil over and become a bit annoying.

Anyway, it was a warm day and I was still tired from my run so I was trying my very best to keep my energy up. I was teaching them about refugees and the difference between people smuggling and people trafficking.

We had established that traffickers make a lot of money out of their illegal activities and then we were trying to get to a working definition for the smugglers.

We started off by working out that trafficking might be worse because people become trapped when they get sucked into that world. However, I think I might have made them them think that smuggling was therefore an OK activity.

One girl tentatively raised her hand and said ‘So, trafficking is like a really bad business, and smuggling is more like a hobby?’.

I had to pause slightly because I wasn’t expecting anyone to describe people smuggling as a hobby. I knew the behaviour at my school isn’t perfect but I didn’t think that the kids believed that hobbies could include crochet, watercolours and people smuggling.

You might want to give it a go as apparently it’s fun…

Much Love

Rachel xx

to live life like a child

five assorted balloons
Photo by Padli Pradana on Pexels.com

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel

The excitement of seeing your first bird,

A balloon on a string, bobbing along,

Or a field of wild flowers waving at you?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel that magic

In all of the small things we take for granted?

Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place

If we weren’t all in need of the latest phone,

We didn’t need those clothes with expensive labels,

We just needed hugs and sweetness and kisses?

Wouldn’t that make for a lovely new life

Without dark jealousies weighing us down?