Tag Archives: family

December and Christmas

Hello mishmashlearning, not seen you for a while. I now blog more frequently about my art through http://www.andyknillart.com.

So December – last year I took part in an event in Swanage calls Artisans on the Beach for 7 weeks. By the end of it I was announced as Artisan of the Year and it was suggested I should be on the committee / working group for the proposed 2018 event.

It is now 2018, I am one of two artisans on the working group. This year the Artisans on the Beach event started on December 1 and finishes on January 2nd after about 5.5 weeks. I have also become named event organiser from the artisan aspect and taken on tasks including the social media marketing on Facebook and Instagram.

I have at last arrived at that old phrase transferable skills – organisation, spreadsheets, social media work etc , when someone praised my organisation skills I was at pains to point out the demands were less than those needed for a days teaching. I am enjoying my role and will be asked no to be considered to repeat the role for 2019 and possibly subsequent years.

My art is also found at the Purbeck Artisan Yard, Wareham. There I have found myself producing admin. Documents again for the same reasons and those skills again. My artwork is d finitely selling more in my second year. I have greatly increased the range of my work available and initiatives like Christmas cards started for December 2017 now account for a third of my card sales of over £2k.

I am back doing winter training with Swanage Sea Rowing and haven’t injured myself so far, so fitness is increasing gradually. I hope in 2019 to be out exercising much more.

Memories – December has been a difficult time for my family the last two years. Mum passed away in 2016 and last year at this time I sat by Dad’s side before he passed away on Christmas Day. I had a dip thinking about this last week while at the huts one day. I now feel in a better place but will miss the family gathering in Broadstairs even though I found them hard myself from a mental health perspective. Mum and Dad both believed in an afterlife, so I hope they can communicate with each other easily again and are happy with what they see their offspring up to these days. Clearing the family base as it is now sold (almost) turned up many memories and items from their lives and their families too.

My eldest has made changes in his life this year but is still difficult to communicate with, I wish him all the best and stay in contact when possible. My youngest took on a job this year and has shown much maturity about work and maturing in some ways. My mother in law at 96 continues to thrive but it would have been nice for where we live now for her to have retained more of her sight so that she could see the birds and wildlife more easily.

Finally Anne, my fab wife of 25 years now who I am getting to know again now that work is not a barrier that separates me from the family as it had a tendency to do when teaching.

So Christmas Day rest well washing up for me tomorrow. Then back to the hut but hopefully a focus on positive memories.

Seasons greetings to anyone that still follows this blog.



Mum’s  funeral (segue to Tomorrow I am…)

My last post was written the night before my mother’s funeral and how I would be there as many things that were more important than me as an individual.

Well it was a success. There was an outpouring of respect for Mum’s many achievements and also for Dad who after 58 years has lost his lifetime partner. Standing in /outside the church before the morning’s service I was able to recognise some people who I shared links with. There were many people I did not recognise as Mum’s life after I left home was busy and involved many.

As a family there was great fortitude, stoicism, support and generosity. Everyone looked out for the others, whether that was backing someone up who was doing a reading, lending a tissue, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on. We drew together but more than that we did as part of a wider “family” that Mum had embraced too.

At the crematorium the flower arrangement of a Brown Owl from the Brownies was beautiful and engaged all of us. The placing of individual roses allowed individual thoughts as we bid farewell. The departure music – a piece of Scottish dance music played at Mum and Dad’s wedding put a smile on all our faces and added a spring to our step.

It was a good day. It was Mum’s day and well deserved. 

Now our focus of support turns to Dad.

In this season where we are encouraged to consider others, please look out for each other whether it be family, neighbour, friend or even stranger. There are too many reasons given for distrust between peoples, please can we broker peace.

Christmas – true sharing

Today our eldest son is at home and we spent some time together this morning before the others woke up. It felt very special and I was able to share this post that I wrote in February and which individually had the most views and gave rise to a variety of comments:


Also this follow on piece:


I explained how proud we are to see how the last six months have picked up and how we hope that will continue. Each time I see him my reaction is to hug. This feels like a very special end to 2015 and is hopefully part of an ongoing period of stability.

Those of you who are parents may well have many periods with your children where you have felt a particular time marked a good point. Like we have, learn to enjoy these times and hopefully they may be repeated.

A week in the life – part Devon

A week in the …. has become a series of posts about my summer holidays 2013 and how I have done different things to relax and refresh for the new school year ahead. At the end of term we booked a cottage late in Devon. The first time just three of us would go as eldest elsewhere. We were torn between Appledore and Bideford in North Devon. We chose the latter and found Allsorts, a fisherman’s cottage in East the Water backing onto the River Torridge. We would be near the old bridge, a 2 minute walk into Bideford. At the end of the street a bike and kayak hire centre and within a minute, the Tarka Trail and a heritage railway centre and star of the James May model trains toy programme, oh and two model rail shops in Bideford (railways being a “specialist” subject for our youngest son.

So, as is the routine for our family holidays of recent years an early start to avoid some of the traffic and a chance to do some activity before we could get into the cottage. We were up and on the road just after 05:30am. M25, M3 and what has become a tradition – packed breakfast at Fleet services. Traffic had been light so far, onto the A303. Things slowed as we approached the ‘henge and the pad we had used on previous journeys was now no more, but some good pics from the car.


We headed further south – my choice to follow a nicer cross Devon route. However, SW traffic was building and the speed slowed. Our destination was Broomhill Art Hotel and sculpture garden that was a popular visit on a previous holiday in Croyde. Some food first then a wander around the gardens, some changes in the sculptures and position of some plus the National Sculpture Prize nominees and previous winners. These photos are representative of some of the work seen.


Welcoming us in the drive a new piece, that was very attractive to the insects,


The shoe welcomed us as it did on our previous visit.




Then the sculpture award area:

Our favourite and previous winner-






The last was our chosen vote for this year unanimously.

We then drove onto Bideford. The cottage is small but very welcoming and soon we were settled with a mug of tea and the door open to the garden.



Our first full day saw us walk to Appledore along the SW coast path. This is covered in a previous post. The views of the river were great and the sun kept us warm. We left Appledore before the afternoon’s carnival.



On an evening walk we saw the bridge lit up and took some pictures.





We drove to Rosemoor RHS gardens at Great Torridge. Our limit was to not drive far for visits. The gardens offered an orienteering trail which I followed as a keen geographer / big kid! All three of us enjoyed the visit with a variety of settings and many plants.


This shows the back of the education centre / open classroom.


A favourite, the formal hot garden.


The garden contained a wide variety of butterflies and insects.


A variety of water features.


Buildings favoured for weddings- a truly romantic setting.

The original gardens are reached through a rocky gorge.



Play areas included seating, musical instruments and structures for play.


Map reading geographer.

In the evening we ate out – returning to Mr Chippy, as most places were shut on a Monday evening. Not popular with Mrs K as it meant chips again.

We realised that we had walked for a further 2.5 hours today.


Full breakfast in Bideford and then some shopping time in town including model railways for one member of the family and a visit to the Pannier market.


Not a pannier in sight and a parade of craft and other shops.


PM when the weather was forecast to improve it was cycle hire time. It was raining again lightly so Mrs K changed her mind. Knill major and minor set off towards Barnstaple. A wobbly uncertain young cyclist who gradually gained more confidence. We made it first to Instow level crossing and eventually Fremington Quay both places that featured in the James May Toy story with model trains. A refreshing chocolate ice cream and we returned.




Fremington – as the picture says.


Bideford on our return.

Then as we left the hire shop a young man started to feel weary.


14 miles cycled, further than I thought we would do.


Rain forecast and rain it did. So I planned my own cycle adventure in the opposite direction. I went from Bideford to Petrockstowe station and back (26 miles in total). I stopped for cake and tea at Yarde Orchard with Yurts and an Eco-bunkhouse. On the way back the gradient was in my favour.

In the afternoon we drove to Appledore and visited the Maritime museum.


Kayaking day for Knilly males and shopping for Knilly female. We were photographed getting onto the water. We paddled about 5km in total, well I paddled about 8-9 km and my assistant joined in for the rest. We saw Cormorants, gulls and herons along the river banks. The nice part was high tide meant we couldn’t leave until 11.15 so a lazy morning.

We’re off slowly…


The afternoon saw us enjoying a cream tea or retrieving Mrs K’s cardigan left in cafe am- you decide.


Young Knilly is shattered! advised to have a lie in while Mum and Dad go for a cooked breakfast and then on our return, a walk on the Tarka Trail to the bridge we had kayaked beneath at Landcross yesterday. The sun was coming out and the weather warming up. I looked wistfully at the river and on arriving back at the cottage abandoned my rest day plans and went for a single kayak – 90 minutes and the same route covered (planned rest day abandoned). We had some refreshments in the garden where it was now very warm. Then we took part in eldest’s CPA meeting by conference call. The evening promises a meal at bistro at the other end of the street.


Driving home via #Bristoltweetup also know as an excuse to go Gromit hunting in Bristol.


Well I posted on the 23 April 4 days into my eldest being missing. He returned on the 29th. May was not a productive month overall as the after burn caught up with us at home. There were good things happening and still I haven’t posted and Twitter has had a much reduced dribble as opposed to the normal torrent of ideas. My meds that I mentioned previously were struggling to cope and this time I made a preemptive decision to boost my defence. A sensible decision, unfortunately my body was drained of resistance and I then went through over two weeks of side effects to what was meant to be helping. I learnt to appreciate the relative stability I had before, three days of work were lost to violent shaking and trembling and then seemingly knockout drops. Over half term the second remedy was started, this time dizziness and severe pounding headaches stopped everything else. I stopped taking them and on returning to school I have had no headaches for four work days.

Back to school with a sense of joy, calm relatively at home. Lots of projects happening and a great week ensued. This afternoon I had my return to work interview, part of a support structure that helps me as I update them on how things are and I feel supported. “How are things at home, are they calm again?” My reply “yes until the next time..

Yep, got home, this time o idea where he is, who he might be with, so local detective work with contacts and then the inevitability as there is no answer on his mobile and he can not take his meds- phone the police and report him missing.

Then wait for the follow up car to come around and take more details, that’s where the post started…that’s where it ends waiting…..

Caring is …

It’s 2am, I should be sleeping but it’s not happening. In less than 9 hours I will be back at my family home. Incidents in my personal life have made me reflect on what I see as a key aspect of being a human being. I try to show this in my personal and professional lives.

Caring is …. An emotional response to others.
Ok in your personal life, but are emotions allowed in our professional selves? I’ve previously been accused of being “too soft” and it’s true I can be a “softie” but at the risk of my emotions being hurt not those around me. As a teacher can you respond emotionally? I believe it is a key part of us that we can show in being true to ourselves. We are not immune to circumstances and / or events that may affect fellow staff or our students. If our reaction is seen as not responding does that make us less caring? As professionals we come across a wide range of issues, many outside our own experiences or possibly even comfort zone, is it not human to be seen to react and model how we might cope with issues that arise. Chris Waugh (@Edutronic) gave a very personal presentation at the recent PegdagooLondon Teachmeet. Chris matched experiences in his own life with how we have a responsibility as leaders of young people to show how it is ok to be different from each other and accept that society is full of differences, it does not make us less of a society for them.

For me Friday 8 March 2013 was a significant moment in my experience of caring. My siblings (3) and I ,along with our families, have been trying to support our parents as they have aged and been affected by a range of circumstances. We have tried to show our support by returning the care we were shown when younger. Growing up and growing older are rarely easy and flexibility in approach has proved a key factor in caring.
My parents faced a dual dilemma – my father had been kept in hospital after a checkup for an emergency operation. My mother was at home without her main carer. Support was needed. As my siblings and I are geographically spread, the nearest – I and family headed to Kent for a weekend of “caring” for “Granny” and maybe “Grandad”.
The weekend stretched out to 5 days of personal caring for my mother who is affected by at least two conditions that limit her physical capabilities and visiting my father in hospital until his release after the weekend. The “caring” was emotional as health issues rose to the fore; staying in contact across international boundaries by text, Skype and e mail to keep family in the loop; dealing with organisations; seeking professional guidance; seeking a place for my mother to stay for a period of respite at least. A tiring time ensued. “Caring” was physical in supporting my mother in every aspect of her daily routine – the most we had ever had to do. It was draining in seeking places to stay after some research for places offering suitable services; it was visiting my father resting in hospital glad that the phone call we often dread had heralded a new chance rather than a life extinguished.

“Caring is ….” Hard! After physically and emotionally draining days and a supportive workplace I returned to my classroom on Thursday. I taught but also accompanied classes to our Prayer week room run byy local church and youth workers. In this, it’s third year I find comfort in having the time to step back from the hourly burly of our daily lives. I am not a Christian but the time to reflect is valued. Every year I read anonymous notes that reveal the suffering many of our students have outside the classroom and I am always touched by it. My first visit was hard, the slowing down, the chance to think almost overwhelmed me, a distraction – recording the words used in the presentation to the class recorded in “CloudArt” a new wordle type app for iDevices – a display image for the RE department to use:


The second lesson was easier and this time I focused on two displays, the world wall and heart wall:



Did I need to care? Yes because one of the second class was affected by loss and I was able to support him outside the room so that he could bring his emotions to a calmer point. How did I feel afterwards – emotionally and physically drained. Luckily forms it is therapy where I have admin. Time which I was able. To get on with, thought a measured pace. Friday saw me teaching a lesson to explore student perceptions about poverty alongside the now traditional non uniform day for Comic relief and Red Nose Day. More personal significance as I vividly remember the first RND 25 years ago while I was studying my PGCE.

Now…? Well hopefully some more sleep before my trip this morning. This time to koi one of my siblings to check onDad, jobs around the house, visit Mum and some possible “minefields” of conversations about the future. Am I ready for it? Yes and no. I will return to home on Sunday afternoon and I must rest so that next week my caring can happen and I retain some energy for myself physically and emotionally.

Is this the post I thought I’d write about caring? Possibly I have to admit my mind is not fixed on what it would include. If it raises questions and reflective thoughts from some who read it then good but I admit it is a personal cathartic post as much as anything else.