Monthly Archives: July 2016

Beatrix Potter – 150 Years Young



Today marks a special date in the literary world. It is the 150th birthday of the one and only Beatrix Potter. The legacy she leaves behind is remarkable. She was a keen writer, illustrator and sheep farmer. Her beautiful house is available to look around. It is as she left it, with her nick-nacks placed as she wished. The National Trust are looking after her property and grounds now. 

To celebrate, a few weeks ago I found this lovely looking book from a National Trust shop. I can’t wait to learn more about the books I loved growing up. There are some beautiful photos in this book too. 


There have already been special coins by Royal Mint released earlier this year to mark this occasion. I’ve been on the look out but I’m yet to find one! I’ll definitely keep trying though! (Images below from Google) 


Today, the Royal Mail have released new stamps as well to celebrate this amazing woman. They are so cute! I will have to get myself a set of these. (Image from Google) 


So, I’ve been thinking about how I can mark this birthday in my own way, in a way that’s special to me. I’d love to visit her house, but the chances of that are quite unlikely due to distance. Therefore, I’ve decided that this summer I am going to read my favourite Beatrix Potter stories, in the garden, in the sunshine. There’s no bigger tribute that I can give as one person. Without people reading her stories, her legacy would have died long ago. Let’s keep the magic alive. 


A hearty thanks to Beatrix. You’ve made many a childhood more exciting and adventurous. You’ve made children love the outdoors and animals. I have vast memories of reading these stories at my Grandma’s house as a youngster. 

Finally, it’s important to remember this:


Beatrix Potter lovers out there, what are you doing to mark such a special birthday? Have you been lucky enough to get one of the 50p coins yet? 

Big love all xx

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Filed under Beatrix Potter, Birthday, Children's Literature, Literature, National Trust

Educating Rita – Willy Russell


Hey guys! 

I’m on a massive countdown now until the summer. I just can’t wait. I’m so exhausted. I’m also a bit down about my reading. I either can’t get into books or I fall asleep. It’s frustrating me immensely! However, I have had a little treat recently, and that is to revisit Educating Rita. I’d kind of forgotten just how magical this play is. Then, my school for free trinkets to see this at Hull Truck which was equally awesome. (More on that later!) 

The play focuses on two characters, Rita, a working-class woman in her twenties from Liverpool and Frank, a late middle-aged professor at a university. The play begins with Rita arriving at Frank’s office. She’s there to be tutored after deciding to return to education to pass her exams. At the start, Frank is on the phone with Julia, his younger live in girlfriend. He claims he will be going to the pub on the way home. This becomes a prominent image in the play. 

“Life is such a rich and frantic whirl that I need the drink to help me step delicately through it.”

Like a whirlwind, Rita enters bold and brash but utterly charming. She focuses her attention onto a nude painting on the wall that Frank claims to never look at anymore. She jokes with him and gives her opinions on various matters without holding back. Frank is amused and intrigued by her. He offers her a drink, revealing numerous bottles as the play progresses behind a number of books. 

“But if you wanna change y’ have to do it from the inside, don’t y’? Know like I’m doin’…tryin’ to do. Do you think I will? Think I’ll be able to do it.”

Frank presses Rita to know why she is there. She wants to learn everything, much to Frank’s surprise. She is hungry to learn and tired of everyone around her. Her job as a hairdresser, where she has to listen to mundane chat every day is bringing her down. She teases Frank about needing a haircut, but he disagrees. 

Rita is naturally inquisitive. She starts to ask him questions like what assonance means. She tells him her real name is actually Susan, but she prefers to be known as Rita after the author of her favourite book, Rubyfruit Jungle, which she repeatedly presses him to read. 

Rita reveals how she wants to improve herself, but her husband Denny does not understand why she wants to do this. Frank agrees to teach her but informs her of how he is openly disillusioned with education. He tells her that once he is done telling her she should go and not come back. Eventually, he tries to get rid of her, but she pursues him as her tutor. 

Rita continues to come for her lessons and Frank has usually been drinking. Frank enquires about her experiences at school when she was younger. It is quite disheartening. People fought, argued and didn’t know any better. No one ever paid attention and anyone who wanted to learn was automatically an outsider. She went along with everyone else but started to wonder if she was missing something.  

“See if I’d started takin’ school seriously then I would have had to become different from my mates; an’ that’s not allowed.”

Attention then focuses onto a written response from Rita about her favourite book, Rubyfruit Jungle. Frank criticises her work for being too subjective with no literary criticism. Rita struggles with the concept of criticising something she likes. Discussion then moves onto a Forster book Frank had mentioned previously. She hated it! One thing she does learn though is that Frank wrote poetry. She pushes him to see some but he refuses. 

The more their conversations develop, the closer Rita and Frank become. Frank’s negativity towards the world is more and more apparently. He claims this would not be the case if Julia were more like Rita, but Rita just laughs these comments off. 

The tone seems to change in Act three because Rita rushes in, apologising for being late. It was because of a very talkative customer. Frank doesn’t seem annoyed about this, rather her answer on the staging of Peter Gynt seems to infuriate him. Rita admits it’s quite short and reveals to Frank a growing conflict at home regarding Denny and her education. Therefore, she has to write her essays at work. Discussion changes to culture, with Rita saying the working class has no culture. Frank tries to say they do, but Rita’s questioning making him realise that maybe she is right. 

Their next meeting is quite frosty as Frank is annoyed that Rita hasn’t got her essay. He eases when he realises that Denny has burnt all of her books and notes because he was mad at her for not taking the contraceptive pill and for going back to school. Rita explains his reasoning for it, how he feels betrayed and how they already have choices in their lives. Yet, Rita knows they don’t. Rita decides that they need to have fun and go to the theatre. Frank joins her, despite it being an amateur production. Rita’s love for the theatre grows as she boasts about seeing a Shakespeare play. 

“But it’s not takin’ the place of life, it’s providing’ me with life. He wants to take life away from me; he wants me to stop rockin’ the coffin, that’s all.”

Frank invites Rita to a dinner party Julia is giving; Rita agrees but she doesn’t turn up. She later reveals to Frank that Denny did not want her to go and she felt nervous and underdressed. She obsessed about bringing the wrong wine. Frank tries to explain how none of that matters and she just needed to be her charming self, but Rita is offended. She wasn’t going to provide the ‘banter’ for anyone. 

“…I don’t wanna spend the night takin’ the piss, comin’ on with the funnies because that’s the only way I can get into the conversation. I didn’t want to come to your house just to play the court jester.”

At the next meeting, Rita comes in upset with a bag of her belongings. She tells of how her and Denny have split up and she is going to live with her mother. She begs Frank to keep on teaching her, to change her. She refuses to give up, despite Frank telling her she is fine. He gives in and does as Rita asks. 

Over time, Rita becomes more and more like the other students. She gets herself a new flat mate, a new job at a bistro and makes new friends. She also starts to speak without her trademark Liverpudlian accent. On the other hand, Frank is drinking more, troubles with Julia remain and is saddened by the changes he sees in Rita. 

“I have merely decided to talk properly. As Trish says there is not a lot of point in discussing beautiful literature in an ugly voice.”

Things take a turn for the worst when Rita next arrives as Frank is frantically packing his books. He tells of how the university suggested he take a sabbatical because of his drinking. Rita tries to sympathise with him, but his attitude and negativity towards her exam paper make her angry. She yells at him saying he told her to be objective and to do her research, which she has done. She claims he does not want her to have her own thoughts. But, their fight fizzles out when he says he read and enjoyed Rubyfruit Jungle. 

Their meetings start to dwindle because of Rita’s busy schedule. Frank is drinking even more and seems somewhat jealous of Rita’s new friends, in particular a young student called Tyson. He and Rita are fighting more, but he does sign her up for her exam. After the exam Rita returns and tells him she wanted to write something sarcastic, but she ended up writing a thoughtful answer. She admits she is still learning about life, but that Frank was a good teacher. Frank doesn’t believe her. He is depressed and getting ready to go to Australia without Julia. 

There is a pause and Rita says she has something to give him. The play concludes with Rita sitting him down, taking out her scissors to give him a haircut. 

“I never thought there was anything’ I could give you. But there is. Come here, Frank…”

This play really is cracking. It showcases the beauty of education and what it can do to people. It also shows the power of friendship; Rita and Frank need each other. This play naturally appeals to the educator in me, but it works on other levels. Who doesn’t want to better themselves?! The production at Hull Truck Theatre was also brilliant. It is a play you have to see. 


Big love xx

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Filed under Book review, Drama, Theatre Review

Birthday! 

Hey guys! 

Hope you’re all having a great week. Just a little post because today is my birthday! I’m really excited, just like a child. But, who cares?!

It’s a strange birthday because it’s my first one without my family. I’ve always been lucky that since I’ve been away from home it’s fallen on a weekend. Last year, I was at home because my school has closed down. Nevertheless, we celebrated at the weekend though and that’s good enough for me. 

This years birthday is spent at school with classes all day and a chapel visit in between. I’m hopeful for a great day. 

So I’m wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday! You all deserve to feel as happy as I do right now. AND don’t forget this:


Big love to you all x

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Class of 2016

Hey guys! 

I’ve disappeared recently because everything is changing and that makes life very busy. I know it’s a fact of life, but I sometimes feel overwhelmed by lots of change at once. Also, I always feel slightly strange when Year 11s leave. It’s harder when they are an amazing group. I’ve been incredibly lucky, but again I’ve had an inspiration group. 

I feel genuinely honoured to work with young people. They are so unique and we need them; they are our future. 

Yet, the majority of us have demanding jobs with different pressures. I definitely have had times this year where I’ve felt tired/emotional/drained/overwhelmed/delighted all at once. It’s hard to ‘roll with it’ sometimes. 

I gave my Year 10s random images in a lesson and asked them to rank them. There was no criteria, I just wanted them to be able to justify their choices. The images were: a book, flowers, a clock digging a grave, numerous hands holding iPhones and a sign saying thank you. What fascinated me was the many hands with phones came out as most important. Yet, the discussion we had about the thank you sign was most poignant. 

Thank you’s seem to be ‘dying out’. In a world where everything changes on a daily basis, this appears to be left behind. The students seem to blame people’s attitudes. Some valued it as ‘less important’ than friendship. Some believed I was very ‘old school’ for believing in pleases and thank you’s. Hence why, when I received little thank you gifts, it hit home that actually, deep down, we all have moments of reciprocity. 

I was so touched this year to receive the following gifts. My boys clearly know me well! A giant cookie, a big box of chocolates, cards and a book I’ve never read with a personalised inscription. (All of which brought tears to my eyes.) I’ve had countless thank you emails and messages from my students. It makes everything worthwhile. Knowing you’ve made a difference, no matter how big or small. 

It all matters. A thank you can touch your heart in the deepest way. 


Prom was equally special. I don’t remember a time when I laughed so much. Again, the students were a credit to me. I just beamed the whole evening with pride. More thank you’s were given here too. (Maybe it’s not quite dying out just yet?!) 


So now I’ve got to focus on the next lot of students I need to help get through the next 12 months of school. Hopefully, I can help them as well. 

As I reflect now, feeling emotional whilst doing so, my lovely class of 2016 will have a special place in my heart, like the class of 2015 before it. (You can read about them Here) After all, if it didn’t matter, why would I even be doing this? 

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Big love xx

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Filed under Education