Monthly Archives: August 2019

Paddle time

Over the last six weeks I have been taking part in a kayaking course called ‘ River to Sea’ in which have been revisiting skills I have long forgotten or never known previously. The group format with 6 students to one instructor works well with plenty of time in our two hour weekly sessions to coach individual improvements.

We have moved from the River Frome at Wareham, to Bramble Bay and Poole harbour and on Monday evening our final session will see our sea experience with a paddle from Studland bay to Old Harry Rocks.

My key draw to the course was the Old Harry Trip. Something I have avoided attempting alone as I have not been confident about my skills. Today however, that trip has been trumped after I took part in a paddle trip from Keyhaven, Hampshire across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and down to Alum bay with a view of the Needles.

Today we paddled about 10 miles,my previous best on Monday, about 4 miles on open water. Most of the journey was low key paddling wise but on the return journey I had two moments of unease: crossing the Hurst Castle tidal race where my hire kayak became swamped by a wave and later surfing a boat’s wash where I lost my balance. In both cases I retained my balance and felt a great sense of achievement.

Early on on river sessions – paddling on the river,then emergency stops.

Side draw strokes and brace turns.

Exploring in Poole harbour and learning to read Cardinal marker buoys.

A rough estimation of our second week to Pottery pier on Brownsea Island and back.

Today’s trip meant an early start:

Picked up at 6 a.m. and kayaks lined up ready to launch at Keyhaven for 9 a.m. with a great group from Imperial College, London investigating the route for their autonomous battery boat to follow.

Onto the water and along the river in Keyhaven behind Hurst Castle Spit and onto the Solent. A crossing of about one kilometre and we were along the shore of the Isle of Wight. A beach stop and we could see The Needles to the west of us.

Along the coast until we reached Alum bay. The Needles themselves would be too far for this trip, but that didn’t matter. Over half of the group went for a swim, plus lunch.

Then it was time to return, I took no photos on the return leg. A map showing our approximate route.

Many thanks to

Steve Malone of H2O adventures and Spartan paddlesports today.

June 2017, April 2018 and now tonight

This has been the worst post-teaching nightmare ever – I died in the school building, my SLT covered it up and I never got home to my family, most importantly to my wife.

At the moment I am meant to be distracting myself with some “silly games” but my mind won’t let go of my feeling of resentment that I taught until I broke, so the last time was definitely a “breakdown”.

People have said nice things and paid compliments and I can accept some of them but I am conscious that my professional relationship with senior managers unravelled in four schools in my career. The ones where I also suffered breakdowns as I tried to balance being a workaholic with being a parent of two young men and having a loving and very patient wife. I wasn’t there enough for my family.

I have shown myself that all the times I thought maybe teaching isn’t for me that I can and have done other things, not to a standard of supporting a family but I didn’t have to keep the label “teacher”.

I am left with many questions, questions I should ignore, blank as they don’t really need answers, or they can’t change anything.

The positive, in all of this I no longer feel the need to end my life, that is a huge difference to some of the lows since I left teaching.

For others, if you are in teaching, have had a breakdown, struggle with mental health please be careful. Self care first, family if you have one second and teaching third. I never got that order right.

Politicians and all your jibes at the teachers who are not in the Outstanding schools do not help. We now have a national education system rife with mental health issues for staff and students – that is not success.

Why blog? Because it is still cathartic for me, I know few people will see my posts, it doesn’t matter, it’s my blog and I can define success. Now for a hot drink and some point I will try to sleep again and hopefully this time I will wake up and live on.

Purbeck Valley Folk Festival 2019 up to drawing 1.

This is the biggest local folk festival to us, previously I have been working and we haven’t investigated it. However this year the Saturday headline act was the Afrocelt Sound System whose music I have been listening to since the 1980s from recordings by Real Music. Also we previously saw Moishe’s Bagel at an Artsreach concert in Corfe and members of the groups have been interchangeable previously.

Anne and I booked our day ticket for Saturday – luckily for us the poor weather was on Friday and we had a dry sunny day, the poor weather moved back in as soon as we got home last night.

We arrived and parked up and made our way down to the farm having collected our wristbands and a programme. A first point of gathering our bearings – there was a singing workshop in the Long barn which sounded great and a Morris dancing workshop in the Big barn. We sat, drank our first hot drink in our new bamboo reusable cups.

Long barn singing workshop

Big barn

Then we set off to explore the Market area and Fire Stage field. On the way we saw the hay bale caterpillar and various photo opportunity boards.

The second photo looks up the Purbeck Valley towards Kimmeridge with Kingston and home on the left and Corfe on the right.

We looked about the market area meeting local friends and drew on pebbles with the Milmer family. We also saw Jessamy Keily from the artisan yard. We then settled down and listened to The Fox and The Owl followed by Tashkezar, the latter more manic and resembled many tracks I have at home. While they were both playing I worked on my first sketch (drawing) of the day.