Just this and that


I suspect my brain is wired a little differently to a lot of other people’s, as I get cross about things that don’t matter to most of you and really don’t worry about things that upset other people.  This is not news to those of you who know me well!

Today’s irritation is hearing twice on the radio ‘not a lot of people know……..’ and later ‘well, who knew?’ leaving me with the feeling that half the country would say something like ‘well I never knew that’ while the other half of us are shouting ‘surely everyone knows that’!

I suspect it’s an age thing, although this is a very broad generalisation and I except those who take part in University Challenge!  I find that a lot of older people know the most odd things and have retained pieces of non-important trivia for donkey’s years while some younger people know very little that they haven’t been taught in school (and sometimes that’s a bit iffy too.  Why else would someone think that Henry VIII’s first wife came from Scotland?)   I growl when I am watching a quiz programme (which I often do) and the contestant doesn’t know the answer because ‘it was before I was born’ – although I did love it when the question master on one show said that anyone thinking that was an excuse deserved a red card!

I wonder why this is?  I am inclined to believe it’s because we were brought up to talk to each other over meals and in the evenings and, above all, we were encouraged to read everything and anything.  I may well be wrong so am open to other suggestions!

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While I’m on this semi-moan, semi-confused post, why have people starting using ‘two times’ instead of twice?  It sounds so odd and I don’t know when it started but a phrase like ‘he held the post of Minister two times’ on the six o’clock BBC News just sounds peculiar!  I was informed by the news this week that the word fortnight is now unknown to a lot of younger people who always refer to ‘two weeks’ – I suppose the words sennight or thrice is out of the question then?

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On Tuesday I experienced a lovely bit of serendipity.  I went for a routine blood test and as I know the usual phlebotomist, M, it’s usually quite fun as we catch up on the news.  This week I was greeted by a man – who I knew as a teenager but we recognised each other instantly.  We used to both be part of a crowd of young people – late teens/early twenties – attached to the local church who enjoyed each other’s company and had fun together.  As we hugged each other, we couldn’t stop laughing and the memories all came flooding back – ‘do you remember’ and ‘what happened to’?

T had been a member of St John’s Ambulance and tended to serve as our first aider on our more adventurous pursuits.  During one summer we had all gone camping in the New Forest, with two of the local clergy nominally in charge of us.  We went out one night on a night-hike and were dropped off by a visiting adult who had come in a mini bus (and we didn’t even think that was odd).  It transpired we were dropped on a disused air-field but we didn’t realise that, and were soon hopelessly lost.  After some time, T announced that he knew the way and it was over there……the last word vanishing as he dropped down a hole.

Fortunately, fairly quickly a troop of scouts came along, also on a hike, and stopped to offer help.  T was unconscious and the Scout leader demanded to know where our first aider was.  ‘In the ‘ole’ came the succinct reply.  Help appeared and we were eventually taken back to the camp site where T was found to be none the worse for wear and we all enjoyed the rest of the week.  Health and Safety would have had a field day!

Eventually M came along and joined us and, as we knew some of the same people, the story swapping continued.  Eventually we realised that it wasn’t meant to be a social outing, I had my blood taken and left – apologising profusely to the waiting queue!

What a joyful experience – and I was thrilled to learn that T had been awarded the OBE for Services to St. John’s Ambulance after serving 60 years with them!

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Days of rain, days of fog – but still things are starting to grow in the garden.  The hyacinths are up and smelling beautiful, the plants are in bud – everywhere there are signs of new growth.  I love this time of year despite the weather!

Stay well and enjoy your coming week.

A Day of Bus Incidents

I know I’ve had this conversation with you before – but what is there about me and bus journeys?  This week’s blog is about not one but four separate journeys on the same day – and the people I met!

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Like many women, I had become used to my Hairdresser who was the manageress of a nice salon in Chichester.  She left there and I thought that was the last I’d see of her.  However, there was an article in the local paper about a new salon opening, and there she was.  She and her oldest friend were opening up a new business – much smaller and not very luxurious, but at least I knew where she was.

Appointment secured, off I went on Monday in the absolutely pouring rain (perfect if you are having your hair sorted out).

I caught the usual bus to Havant Bus Station and, probably because of the weather, I was the only passenger.  A couple of stops later, a girl got on who looked about the Junior Girl’s age.  She was talking on her phone and tears were pouring down her face as she sniffed and snuffled.  Once the phone was put away, I went across and asked her if she was OK or was there anything I could do, thinking that it was probably a boyfriend problem.  She smiled at me and said they were happy tears because her sister had just given birth to a little girl and all was well.  The sister had given birth to a stillborn baby boy just over a year ago and they so wanted this one to be a girl – and all was wonderful.

We both got off together and she set off for Mothercare and left me smiling broadly at her as she left.  I then got on the, by now, famous 700 where I have had many interesting encounters.  As we drew away, again with very few passengers, the bus was unable to leave as the traffic lights were red and there was a queue of traffic, with a car blocking the exit road.

A man I guess to be in his 30s leapt to his feet and started yelling at the driver to get a move on as he had an appointment.  This did not bode well!  In vain did the driver try to show him that moving was impossible but the man was furious.  He started yelling to the car driver to move out of the *** way (many expletives here!) who appeared completely oblivious that the tirade was directed at her and, almost certainly,  couldn’t hear anyway over distance and through glass. I admit the lights did seem to take ages, but while the driver was telling the man to sit down and shut up, he missed them change and by the time he noticed the car had gone on its way and the lights were red again.  I had a vision of this continuing for the rest of the morning but in the end after much more shouting the driver opened the door and told the man to get off.  As you might expect he refused.  The driver told him that he had never thrown anyone off before but if the chap didn’t get off, then he would help him on his way.  He got off and we continued our journey with much tutting and so on.

I got off at Southbourne Church, taking evasive action as a hearse was unloading a coffin at the same time and crossed the road to a welcome cup of tea and catch up with my hairdresser.

A while later, and after a visit to the neighbouring farm shop as the rain had stopped, I caught the next 700 back to Havant.  Again, a mostly empty bus (this is really unusual occurrence and made me wonder if there was some sort of underground organisation reporting my movements so people don’t find themselves on my blog).  Just a couple of stops further along and a woman got on, carrying a largish rucksack.  ‘Want the Funfair’ she said as she proffered her Bus Pass.  The driver explained he didn’t go there, but she could get off in Portsmouth and get another bus to take her there. ‘Not Portsmouth, idiot, Hayling Funfair’.  The driver tried to explain that he went nowhere near there either, but she could get off in Havant and get on the Hayling Bus from there.  Nope.  She announced she wasn’t getting off until she got to the funfair and the driver told her she was in for a long wait as they were going to Gunwharf (Portsmouth) and then back to Bognor!

After much huffing and puffing, she sat in front of me muttering to herself, with her arms folded.  Eventually we arrived at the Bus Station.  The driver turned to her and told her that the Hayling Bus was already in, waiting at the next bay across and she could get that one.  She refused and said she wanted him to take her to Hayling right now!  He sighed, looked at the rest of us and said in a loud voice, ‘Right folks, we are off to Gunwharf now then returning to Bognor with no diversions’.  Some tittering and I got off, only to be closely followed by the woman who did eventually get on the right bus.  I was a bit disappointed, truth be told, as I expected her to be going backwards and forwards to Bognor for the rest of the day!

I needed to visit the bank so wandered into town instead of catching my bus.  Outside a coffee shop I almost bumped into an elderly lady (by this I mean much older than me – I am still middle aged!).  As I apologised, I noticed tears running down her cheeks, so did as anyone would and asked if I could help her.  She shook her head and looked so very sad.  I led her to a handily placed table outside the shop and sat her down, holding her hand.  She told me her husband had been dead a month and she had no other close family.  They used to shop together and she suddenly missed him very much and she kept apologising for crying.  We talked for while until she felt able to carry on with her day, and I headed off for my bus home – totally forgetting to go to the bank on my travels!  What a disappointment – nothing happened on this journey except a smiling driver, very few people and I got off at the right stop.

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What an interesting day – life and death, elements of madness, bad temper and good humour.  It seemed to have its own sense of balance – and I had a decent hair cut to show for it all!

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Have a good week, and try to stay dry and warm.

Civil Partnerships

I have been much exercised this week over the issue of same-sex civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.  I suspect you will have all seen or heard in the news about a couple who took their case to court to get permission for this which was refused.

At this point I should perhaps make it clear that I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with same-sex civil partnerships – if a couple want to make a public declaration of their love for each other, then this is fine by me.  I do however have problems with same-sex marriage, which I find, after much soul searching and thought, that I cannot accept believing, as I do, that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.

In this day and age a man and a woman can marry almost anywhere, they can shape their ceremony to suit themselves, make what vows they like, have whatever music they like and so on, and it becomes a very personal event.  Long gone now are the days when a marriage had to take place in Church.

It is also now generally accepted that a woman can keep her own surname after getting married or sometimes link their surname with the man, so that you end up with a double-barrelled name.  Miss Smith married Mr. Jones and they end up being Mr and Mrs Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith.

Given all of this, I just cannot understand why a man and a woman would want a civil partnership, which grants them no additional benefits and also takes nothing away from them.  I know that I am obviously missing something here – but what, I just don’t know.

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Yesterday we received a letter each in a rather nice envelope from the House of Commons.  It was a letter from our MP with a survey about how he is doing!

There is no space for comments, just tick boxes, so I am also busy concocting a letter to accompany my reply.  This is the man who assured me face-to-face that the armed forces would be safe under his watch.  He told us all that he was voting ‘Out’ in the Brexit referendum – only to change his mind at the last moment and vote ‘Remain’, unlike the majority of his constituents(62.3%).  He voted No to having an investigation into the contrast between public statements and private actions in the run up to the Iraq war, and tragically he voted No to the Dubs amendment.

It might be quite a long letter.

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Half Term is now over and life will return to normal  – but I do love it when the schools are on holiday.  Roll on Easter.

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Have a good week everyone and stay safe.

Old Fashioned and Happy

I am under no illusions – I know I am old-fashioned in so many ways!  But, to me, that seems inevitable given that I am knocking on a bit and my standards and so on were inculcated when I was a youngster, at home and at school!

I make no apologies for not keeping up with what music/groups/singers etc. are popular – they are just not played on the music stations I listen to and I don’t go out of my way to find them.  I never know who TV ‘celebrities’ are because I don’t watch the programmes they ‘star’ in, and I am even losing interest in world news now – as I have grown to realise that I am absolutely powerless to change what is happening overseas.  I try to keep up with news relevant to this country, but then someone lets Blair out to tell us what to do – and I feel instinctively that I must do just the opposite for no rational reason!  I wonder if that is why so many people voted for Trump – purely because they couldn’t abide another Clinton?

I don’t want to be lectured by ‘pop stars’ and actors about the grievous wrongs in the world unless they have a solution and are leading by example.  I don’t want them leading pointless marches and shouting at everyone to prove how many swear words they know, before they return to their gilded cages.

Now where on earth has all this come from this morning – not what I was going to write about at all, and I haven’t read the news today so it must have been just lurking there in my mind somewhere.  Sorry!

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What I intended to mention was a picture on the front page of our local paper.  It was a mother kissing her son, who she hasn’t seen for 14 months – because she is a sailor and had been away on her ship.  This nearly made me cry – not for her, but for that poor little five year old.  He had missed her on his first day at school, his first Nativity play, Christmas.  He was cared for by his Father – who is also in the Navy!

I don’t doubt there is a supportive family there, with probably Grandparents ready to step in and help and possibly aunts and uncles too.  But not a Mummy!  At this most crucial time of his life – no Mummy.  I wonder if she will regret putting her career first later?

I know some children are sadly without their Mums through bereavement or other reasons and their life has to change, but this particular separation was through choice – career over being a mother.  I know men in the Navy have always gone to sea for long periods, but, no matter what the modern school of thought is, I think there is a world of difference between a Mum and a Dad, and I truly believe that unless there is some real reason why this cannot be, a Mum should be able to be with a child, especially when he/she is so very young.

I have absolutely nothing against a woman wanting a career or wanting to be a mother – but timing is everything and when you choose motherhood then, while the child is young, it has to come first always in my book.

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Bit of a rant this morning, for which I apologise.  Probably need more tea, and to stop coughing!

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In the week a man knocked the door and identified himself as a representative from our local paper (for whom the name ‘The News’ is a bit of a misnomer) and asked if I could spare a moment to give him my opinion of the paper.  Well he asked – and I told him!  He wasn’t at all put out, and said he had heard so many of the same complaints that day, and I hadn’t mentioned the spelling – did I want to comment on that?  So I did – at length – with examples!  Oh dear – I finally stopped and he went on his way.  However, he left behind an old duck feeling very satisfied with herself!

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To end on a lovely note: If you are one of my regular readers (and I love it if you are!) you might remember that last summer I told you about an old chap on the bus, who received a phone call to tell him that his friend had ‘topped himself’ and how upset he was?

I was shopping recently, when an elderly man approached me.  He apologised and said I wouldn’t remember him (although he looked slightly familiar) but I had been on the bus when he had received some dreadful news.  Of course, it all fell into place and I told him that I did indeed remember him.  He said he just wanted to thank me for my kindness and for doing my best to comfort him.  He said he always kept an eye out for me on the bus and when he was shopping because he had wanted to thank me.  We exchanged pleasantries and said goodbye with a warm hug.  That hug lasted me for the rest of the day and I suppose I realised how saying something as simple as ‘thank you’ can really change someone’s day.

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Half term coming up – and the promise of good weather.  Have a lovely week, take care and stay well.

No Snow – or Celebrities Either

Cold, rain, high winds – but, so far, no snow so life could be worse!  I have a dear friend who loves the snow so much that if it doesn’t arrive she and her family performs a special ritual of wearing their pyjamas inside out, putting spoons in the fridge and doing a snow dance.  Their weather forecaster assured his listeners that you should also flush ice cubes down the toilet to guarantee a heavy fall.  Sometimes this works,  but other times ……..

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With my television package I am able to record programmes as and when I choose.  Sometimes they just sit there for months because I forget about them, sometimes I delete them after a few weeks because I’ve lost interest, and sometimes they provide me with something I really want to watch on an evening when, despite having hundreds of channels, there is just nothing on that I am bothered about!

A few evenings ago we watched a programme I had recorded at Christmas – An Evening With Billy Connolly.  It was recorded live in front of a celebrity audience in the late 70s/early 80s – and the audience was packed full of people I recognised, although they looked very young.  Julie Walters, Roy Kinnear, Ronnie Wood (much younger then), Tony Hart, Wincey Willis (remember her?), countless famous faces.  The Main Man and I kept having to stop the programme to discuss who someone was and if he/she was dead or not so the programme took us ages to watch – but it was worth it.

How different when I watched a ‘Celebrity’ edition of a quiz programme on two separate evenings – one had eight contestants – absolutely none of whom I recognised and whose names meant nothing to me, and the other with four contestants – again all completely unknown to me!

It made me ponder on the whole notion of ‘celebrity’ – what makes a person one?  It seems to be simply appearing in a TV soap opera is one way, especially if you are female and wear the minimum of clothing.  You seem to also qualify if you are a sports person, or even a ‘vlogger’.  It also seems that it is possible to become a celebrity for no reason at all but I am none too sure how that works (although I am happy to give it a try!).

For a me, a celebrity is someone who would have something interesting to talk about, a brain larger than a peanut, and, most importantly, it must be someone who not only have I heard of and recognise, but I am confident that my friends would have heard of too.  OK Tom Hanks – feel free to turn up for tea!

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Recently I had to go to the Doctor.  I had some tests, then had to sit in the waiting room for twenty minutes before going back for some medication.  Anyway – I quite like being able to sit among strangers and read quietly so the thought of twenty minutes of peace was not without its appeal!  Sadly, I had forgotten to bring a book or my kindle (idiot!) so looked around for a magazine to read.  Nope – no magazines – just information leaflets.  Now I am not going mad – I know that doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries always had a pile of magazines, usually old copies of Women’s Realm and out of date Reader’s Digests.  But no – not in this surgery.

I asked the friendly receptionist where they were – she didn’t know but her colleague was able to answer.  They hadn’t had them since the Swine Fever scare of years ago, and now the Care Quality Commission has issued an edict stopping surgeries displaying magazines left or donated by patients.  Why?  To reduce the risk of transmitting infection!  It was a Doctor’s Surgery for goodness sake – I was due to spend twenty minutes sitting there, and not forgetting the thirty minutes I’d already been there, next to a collection of sick people, coughing and spluttering and generally spreading their germs about.  But a magazine might infect me? *sigh*

Another ‘what is the world coming to?’ moment.

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Please do keep warm while this weather lasts.  I am frequently checked on by the Senior Girl who will come in and announce ‘chuffin’ cold in here Mother’ on her way to the kitchen to switch the boiler on.

Stay well and happy – and be grateful if you are lucky enough to have someone who loves you enough to just drop by to say hello.

All Things Considered – A Good Week

I hope you’ve all had a good week – because I’ve had a good one, despite the rain!

On Monday I met up with a lovely friend for the evening and we talked the hours away catching up on each other’s news (mine being all good I’m pleased to say!).  I know her children (now adults) well and love to hear about what they are up to as well as the not so happy things that have happened.  We had so much to say and we ran out of time, so we are doing it all over again at the end of the month.

Tuesday saw the birth of my newest great nephew with much joy for us all but I can’t give you any details yet – at Mum’s request.

On Wednesday I caught the bus, using a route I’ve not used before, to visit my oldest friend – and what a joy that was.  She has decorated her kitchen and living room and bought some new furniture which she put together herself.  It’s all in shades of blue and white so looks really calm and peaceful.  I’m sad I missed the excitement of getting the two previous sofas out of the house.  She has had a new double glazed door installed and it has made the space a couple of inches narrower – which proved crucial.  However, by co-opting half the street they managed in the end!  We had a lovely lunch and her daughter popped in to share it and to say ‘hello’ to Auntie.  So special to just sit (or recline in my case) and catch up.

Thursday was Imbolc or Candlemas depending on your persuasion.   A friend of mine posted the following ‘old wives’ rhyme on Facebook:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain
Winter be gone and not come again.

We live in hope, because I think we’ve all had enough rain now.

As we do, we went out for lunch then to the cinema to see The Girl on the Train and I can’t say it is a film I would see again.  To start with I couldn’t make head nor tail of it, and then was confused between two of the women and kept losing track of who was doing what!  However, for £3 with tea and biscuits I can’t complain!

You may well think this is typical of me – but I’ll tell you anyway!  Knowing it was coming up, I thought I’d read the book first and, by chance, it came up on offer for my Kindle so I bought it and read and quite enjoyed it.  I thought I could clearly see it would make a good film so started to watch full of hope.

I was instantly confused by the girl being on an American train instead of an English one – but within the first few minutes I realised there had been no suspicious movements on the train, no crowds and, crucially, no secret code.  Hmmm – when I got home, I had another look at the book – only to find I’d read the wrong one!  My book was ‘The Girl on A Train’ not ‘The Girl on The Train’.  Teach me to be more careful with my bargain buys.

Friday found us back at the QA (local hospital) for a change, not having been for anything for a couple of weeks now!  Nothing serious – the Main Man had to have an ultrasound and biopsy repeat as the last one hadn’t had enough cells.  We hope this one will have!  I have become really interested in watching Ultra Sound scans, having now ‘enjoyed’ seeing spinal ones, chest ones and now neck ones!  The nurses always invite me in so perhaps my interest shows.

Bit of a full week, one way and the other!

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Do you knit?  This is not as random as it sounds!  We had been for a cup of tea in an old fashioned tea shop that had hand knitted tea cosies on the pot.  I vaguely thought they were quite fun, then, that afternoon, I noticed some wool etc. in the market so, on a whim, bought a ball and a pair of needles and am having a go – but it is so many years since I last knitted I am struggling to remember things!  I can remember how to cast on and off and do plain and purl so we shall see how this pans out.

Perhaps if I can do it properly, I could take it with me to the hospital on my next visit (there is always a next visit) and be the medical equivalent of Madame Defarge at the Guillotine?  Instead of names of people perhaps I could knit the names of the body parts being examined?

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I have not enough time or patience to list what I think about the Trump except to say I think he is quite dangerously bonkers!  Why he is allowed to be President is quite beyond me!  Surely he will be impeached fairly soon?  And what has happened to his wife – not been seen since the Inauguration?  To me she looks scared witless of him.  I do worry about the millions who want his State Visit cancelled without thinking about the immediate repercussions that could follow from what he would see as a slight.  No trade between our countries, no visitors from the UK, no UK passport holders allowed to stay in the US – who knows? He is a small minded man who will seek revenge for anything that he feels is a personal insult.

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I hope you all have a lovely week, and stay warm and well.

A January Christmas

So today is Boxing Day then?  Not in your world perhaps but it is in mine!

The Main Man came out of hospital after his spinal surgery on the day before Christmas Eve, so Christmas rather passed us by as he wasn’t up to doing much and didn’t want to eat.  Rather than make him feel he was spoiling it for the rest of us, we decided to cancel Christmas and re-run it at the end of January, which is exactly what we did.

Yesterday we went to the Senior Girl’s for Christmas Dinner – roast turkey with all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding.  We wore Christmas Jumpers and socks, had crackers, paper hats, stupid jokes and so on, with the laughter that invariably accompanies this every year.  There was a Christmas Tree in the corner, a ‘tree present’ for everyone, silly games, chocolate and plentiful drinks.

So today is Boxing Day – Cold Turkey and Mash!  Huge, huge thanks to the Senior Girl, Cyclist and Junior Girl for organising everything so beautifully – we had an absolutely brilliant time!

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I think I may have mentioned this before at some time – if you’ve seen it, just scroll on down!

I have loved our last few visits to the Mary Rose Museum but there is one thing that I don’t like (although every child seems to love!) and that is the skeletons.  It’s not that I’m bothered by bones or anything and had they been exact replicas in plastic or something, like the reconstructions on display, I wouldn’t be at all bothered – but there is something I can’t cope with in staring at a real person’s bones.  These were real people, who died doing their job – their bones should be buried somewhere or have been left in the sea in their watery grave, not stuck in a glass case for everyone to gawp at!

In this day and age when replicas are so easy to produce I can’t think of a good reason for showing the actual skeletons.

It makes me wonder how long has to elapse to make this acceptable to people?  Would my grandparents, for example, be deemed to be long enough ago?  Or over 100 years?  Or 200?  I don’t know the answer – I only know that, for me, the answer is never!  Not even if they are found in an archaeological excavation or something.  Yes, photograph them, make a replica but then bury the original with dignity.

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 Do you have, or have you had, young children living at home?  If so, did they have chores to complete?

This strange question came to mind when two things happened on the same day.  I was in the queue in a shop when a child (about 10 or so I would guess) asked if he could go to play with his friend and his mother said he could if all his homework and chores were done.  Later that evening I was looking on Pinterest (a worthwhile exercise if you don’t know it – whatever your interest you’ll find something to catch your eye) when I came across a list of appropriate chores for children from age 2-18.

I don’t have a problem with this, I think all children should learn that being part of a family involves taking a share in the smooth running of the home and that their chores should be age appropriate but as much a requirement as anything else.

I wonder how many families still do this though?  Or can some parents just not be bothered with the organisation and implementation of it?  Or is it no longer seen as part of growing up – as you get older so your responsibilities increase?

I’d be interested to know what you feel!

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I hope you all have a good week and manage to stay well – this damp plays havoc with my arthritis so I shall be glad to see the cold but sunny days back please!

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