How to Live in Beyoncé’s Shadow..

bedroom

Hello Guys,

My stats tell me that I haven’t posted for the whole of September… As a teacher, this is no surprise.  But it’s not just the new academic year To Do lists that have kept me at bay from my blog.  I have also been busy building a brand new website with one of my closest friends and inspirations.

We wanted to build a platform for women to come together and inspire each other to improve our lives and community.. Otherwise known as

www.thesisterhoodsupperclub.com

I have just posted my first official post (hence the title of this post and it’s linked HERE) Please read and give me some honest feedback! Thank you 🙂

BHxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Food Week 2016

kitchen

So the Olympics are almost over (as is the Summer if today’s weather is anything to go by…)  but there are still plenty of reasons to smile this August in London.  Not only is it the Notting Hill Carnival next weekend – but on Friday 26th – Saturday 27th August, Grace Foods UK is holding its first ever Caribbean Food Week Food Festival at Windrush Square right here in Brixton!

Expect demonstrations, performances, and most importantly lots and lots of samples of delicious Caribbean cuisine.  Yup, taste dumplins, roti, jerk chicken et al til your heart’s content and then dance off all the calories during Europe’s biggest street party the next day.

What more could you ask for this Bank Holiday Weekend..

Okay besides good weather 😉

For more information visit:


 

www.gracefoods.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/caribbeanfoodweek

BH xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Cray Cray in Stockholm 

Travel

Ahhhhh what a difference a break makes! The bubba and I escaped to Sweden for a week.

Housed in a beautiful summer house just outside Stockholm, our hosts brought the warmth and quirky humour of the Swedes to life.  


Although not brave enough to take a full dip in the beautiful but very very cold lake, I took every moment to appreciate the beauty, tranquility and fresh air of our surroundings….

…the bubba literally discovered that food grew on trees and tried to appreciate (pronounced eat) every blue berry he could find! 

But of all the sights of Stockholm and peace of nature, my most cherished moment occurred after an arduous night time toddler tantrum.  My host sat me down and reassured  “We’ve all been there…” Then fed me Cray Fish and Cider. 

Life is good.  

Anyone in London in September should attend The London Crayfish party if you too need a little relief from daily life.  Be prepared for crayfish, vodka, and silly hats and Swedish drinking songs.  
And to get you in the mood…

3 quotes 3 days

bedroom, society, Wednesday writing prompt

On to lighten the mood a little.. I decided to accept the 3q3d challenge from the lovely Suze.  Full rules below X 

1.

img_2262

Once I understood this it changed my life and self perspective in ways I could never have imagined. 

 2.

img_2613

You have to be courageous to risk failure. This is something I realised only after failing and realising it wasn’t the end of the world, in fact it was just to the beginning. 

3.

Friendships. Relationships. Careers.  Whenever.  Thank you Nina xx

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3pscDRqkFro

 I nominate Voices Unsilenced

                        Broke Bella 

                        Dark Matters
                         

I look forward to reading yours! 
BH xx 
 

I just wanted to write a fun post….

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink, Wednesday writing prompt

…But the world at the moment is playing out like a bad 90s disaster movie…  I mean Boris for Foreign Secretary? As in Mr Brexit Break It Don’t know How to fix it?  

And then we have the Labour Party trying to destroy the first true Labour leader (pronounced decent human) that it’s had in decades.  Apparently, democracy is only allowed if it supports the people on power..

FTS

Time to switch off..

If you need me, I’ll be here…


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qRC4Vk6kisY

Land of the free

politics, society, Uncategorized

Our world feels unstable at the moment. Brexit. Trump. Backstabbing. Resignations. Scapegoats. Uturns. New Laws. Innocents murdered. Victims villianised. Cognitive dissonance.

I can’t keep watching the news and hearing people talk of not being racist then proceeding to find excuses for condoning the murder of a black person by an officer sworn to uphold the law.

IMG_2440

But I’m not racist…

… the KKK hood wearing, Confederate flag waving, violent thug who loves nothing more than to hang out with his/her mates burning crosses, and killing black people- type of racist.

The extremely overt type of racist that frees society from the guilt of ignoring and benefitting from the inequalities and discrimination in our society, whilst proudly proclaiming..

I’m not a racist!

But unless you are actively making a stand against racism – you are supporting the institutionally racist society in which we all live.

I know I’m not saying anything new (and many have said it far more eloquantly than I ever could) but I will not stand at the side quietly: We must not stand at the side quietly.  We must bring about the change, we are change.

IMG_2444

BH xx

Links to articles who have said this far better than I:

 

http://occupywallstreet.net/story/explaining-white-privilege-broke-white-person

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/11-things-white-people-can-do-be-real-anti-racist-allies

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/07/oscar-pistorius-sentence-an-homage-to-celebrity-and-white-privilege

http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

https://aeon.co/essays/unconscious-racism-is-pervasive-starts-early-and-can-be-deadly

https://www.buzzfeed.com/michaelblackmon/17-harrowing-examples-of-white-privilege-9hu9?utm_term=.trlEZvWzX#.hkM27NkwZ

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/06/alton-sterling-address-police-violence

 

http://jezebel.com/a-black-woman-police-officer-calls-out-racist-cops-in-h-1783271684

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15796700-americanah

https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/08/27/the-racial-empathy-gap/

Was there ever a time before Scapegoat Britain? Part 1

education, Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink, society, zerotohero

At first it seemed ridiculous to believe that people would believe that all of England’s problems were the result of the EU and of course those “terrible immigrants”.  

We laughed about it in the staff room.  The same staff room where for the past year, disgruntled colleagues have  viciously blamed and attacked the Head Teacher for staff cuts that are solely the result of Government cuts to education. 

I remember a boy at our school who was an amazing football player.  Even at the tender age of five he had incredible ball control.  
The problem was he was arrogant, rude and violent to children and adults alike.  But when reprimanded for his actions, it was never his fault.  Spurred on (particularly) by his mother, it was always another child’s fault or the teacher had a personal vendetta towards him. Rather than changing his behaviour, he changed schools.  

Unsurprisingly his misbehaviour continued.. So he moved back to our school, blaming the teachers and children at the previous school for the move back.  Of course, as soon as he got into trouble again he resumed into his usual routine of pin the blame.  


And that’s how it continued. 

One day he was scouted by one of the big UK premier league teams.  Such a life changing opportunity.  

But he was dropped.  

He wasn’t a team player, couldn’t handle feedback and didn’t respect authority or his team mates.   But, of course, it was the coaches/team mates fault, “they didn’t respect him” enough.  

Such a huge opportunity lost because he had failed to take responsibility or learn from his mistakes.  


I saw him the other day working in a local shop.

Just imagine what could have been.

#scapegoatBritain

Scapegoat Britain

politics, society, Urban Living, zerotohero

Utter disbelief.

The results of the London mayoral elections lulled me into a false sense of security.   A belief that the British could not be fooled by racial propaganda or scapegoating.

I was fooled by common consensus in social and wider circles and the general sense of bewilderment at the hypothetical nature of the Brexit “political” arguments…and well common sense.

“Only in America could Donald Trump be taken seriously”

Cue terribly British laugh, smug face and amused shake of the head.

donald-trump-30

Only now we are leaving the EU.

Nigel Farage has successfully convinced millions of ordinary people that it is best for Britain to leave the European Union.

nfarage

We were all  in total shock in the staff room this morning; but this isn’t reflective of the situation across England.  I live and work in London and London like most other major cities is cosmopolitan. Immigrants (pronounced average human beings) of all skin colours and origins call London their home, living and working side by side us true Brits.

It is impossible to convince me that my “immigrant” colleagues are the reason that this government is dismantling the NHS, selling off our school system or destroying the Unions.  But to that slim majority that voted #brexit, that shadowy figure of the “immigrant”, who they have never met, is the perfect scape goat. A voiceless devil who is the reason for any misery and discomfort in their lives.  No need to look within (figuratively and literally), it’s much easier to blame the illusive immigrant.

meme

Except

Now we have left the EU, who will have to blame? Maybe, just maybe #teambrexit will begin to see the bigger picture and start to ask questions like: Who really is at fault for the state of our economy and public sector?

(Maybe this is why Cameron resigned?)

Or

Once #teambrexit realise that the dream of returning to the Glory Days was a lie, (Or as Farage declared on morning television a simple printing error) they will have to accept that the true fault lies much closer to home.

Or perhaps

We will just find the next shadowy figure to blame..

Anyway

Welcome one and all to Scapegoat Britain!

What would you do if you had two homeless people living inside your gas cupboard?

bedroom

What would you do if you had two homeless people living in your gas cupboard? 

Stepping outside of my front door this morning, I was greeted by a shiny Maserati sparkling in the early morning light.  As I drifted off, wondering which “new Brixton” resident was trying to muscle in on parking this time, the stench of rotting food and sweat dragged me back to reality.

It was the two men in their early twenties who are living in the external gas cupboard infront of our house.  It sounds like fiction, but this isn’t Harry Potter. 

It’s the daily co-habiting extremes of New Brixton…  New Peckham – Wilesdon    -Walthamstow.  New London.  

Many articles talk of the social cleansing of London: but neglect to mention those left behind or over looked.   This is what the growing disparities between rich and poor looks and smells like when you live in it.  

Ignoring the mice, rotting food, urine filled plastic bottles and beer cans – the stench will tell you that the two men live in squalor.  A lifestyle a million miles away from the owner’s of the car worth in the region of £60,000 which is parked less than 1 metre away from the makeshift bed of the homeless men. 

Although I’ve never been inside the cupboard, I know that it mirrors that of the one inside our home.  Maximum, 150cm wide possibly 300cm long.  Not big enough for the discarded mattress that they managed to fit in there, let alone two grown men.  One person’s closet is another person’s home.  Literally.  Again the disparities of London.  

But if only it was just a financial disparity.  When researching how to help the two men,  I stumbled across a homeless forum.  Battling opinions greeted me.   A homeless person was either seen as a victim or villian.

 “I’d just call the police and your building management company. The doorway is almost certainly private property.”

“I wouldn’t even feel bad. If he is sleeping in a doorway (of all places) he is knowingly antagonising the building’s occupants. My guess is that he is hoping for someone to give him a big bag of charity beddings and food (like has been suggested in this thread many times now), in exchange for leaving. DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING. He will just move to another building. Contact a charity for him if you feel bad – but don’t enable what he is doing either.”

 The lack of empathy was astounding.   It seemed to contradict the public outcry condemning poor doors, homeless spikes and other designs aiming to segregate poor and wealthy residents in new housing developments across London.  I remember reading articles heralding “hipsters”* turning anti homeless spikes into libraries with comfy seating.

Hoorah for Hipsters!

But where did the “hipsters” involved actually live?  Would they have made such a stand on their own door step?

Have you ever walked into a “hipster” bar as a non-hipster? The inconvenience your presence causes stabs at your dignity almost as deeply as the bill for buzz word bar food hits your wallet.  But why does the presence of some make others feel so uncomfortable?  Because it is a reminder of the other side of London.

The side of London that is replaced every time a new luxury apartment development is built on hardcore made of the social housing which once stood on the same spot.  If you have purchased a new “luxury apartment” in inner London recently, it is very likely that your new pad displaced a low income family.   It is an uncomfortable truth.  A truth which taints the aspirational image sold with the luxury apartment purchase.  A truth preferably ignored and forgotten by wealthy residents and developers alike.

How would you feel if a homeless person slept in your door way?

BH xx

 

 

 *After researching the piece further I discovered the “hipsters” were actually a group of artists, who have also been priced out of housing in London.  So not actual “hipsters”but people who face and understand the financial pressures of housing in London.

Polite ways your friends tell you they think your baby is fat.

motherhood, parenting, pregnancy, zerotohero

How many times have you had to politely smile, nod your head or feign interest when the village (well meaning friends and family members) comment on your baby’s weight?   As I take him to get weighed regularly I know that he is perfectly within his “percentile”, tracking along nicely, but this of course is irrelevant, amateur expert opinions dominate conversation.

Annoying as it is at times, I have to admit hearing the creative multitude of euphemisms and round about ways villagers use to broach the tubby bubby topic makes me chuckle. (Very discreetly of course, as I nod my head and look concerned).  So being it’s a long weekend and I clearly have a lot of spare time on my hands today, I decided to order them on a scale of intensity from Mild Adoration to Severe Concern and share them and hopefully a giggle with you.

Do you have any to add to the list?

image

BHxx

 

photograph @Brixtonhousewife

The unapologetic mummy

motherhood, parenting, pregnancy, zerotohero

A tantrum in public is a WMD in a toddler’s arsenal in the battle of wills against mummy.  

The other day My Little Toddler (MLT) and I were meeting friends at the South Bank.  What is normally a jovial 15 minute bus ride became an arduous expedition:  a groundhog of a journey spent explaining and apologising.

MLT was exhausted but refusing to nap.  He had decided he wanted to walk to our destination.  Except he couldn’t decide between being adamant that he wanted to walk or inconsolable if he wasn’t being carried.  Oh and he didn’t want to walk-he wanted to run, especially across roads.  

So MLT had to go in his pushchair and as it was getting late, we took the bus. The two outcomes the tired toddler didn’t want.  You could almost hear him scanning through his weapons inventory and deciding to pull out the big guns.  

1:34pm  MLT put in the push chair and we get on to the bus.

1:34pm  The crying started. 

1:34pm and 3 seconds 

 “Why is your baby crying like that?”  

It was a mother who we knew from playgroup.  A mother of two toddlers. As I rolled off my explanation-“He hasn’t taken his nap and so he is exhausted but he has decided that he wants to walk to the river…”– I couldn’t help but wonder why a mother would ask such a stupid question.  What answer was she expecting? 

But it wasn’t the most ridiculous thing I heard.  I was informed by a concerned pensioner that my child was really upset.  As I rolled off my explanation-“He hasn’t taken his nap and so he is exhausted and he has decided that he wants to walk to the river…”– I couldn’t help but wonder if the kindly old gent really thought that I hadn’t realised that the child in my arms was in fits of (tantrum) tears.  

I appreciated the understanding nods of support, passing smiles and brief distractions that passengers offered MLT and they fuelled my continued need to apologise and explain. But when a women came and sat next to me and practically tried to take my child out of my arms- I became the unapologetic mummy.  I wonder, if I looked different (or even more similar to the her) would this complete stranger still have found it completely acceptable to infringe on my personal space uninvited?  

A couple of minutes more passed and MLT settled.  I had distracted him with a passing aeroplane and a remixed rendition of twinkle twinkle little star.  Interestingly the women’s (who previously was so desperately eager to help) expression had changed.  Rather than looking happy that MLT was now content she actually looked annoyed.  I had not needed her help.  

Toddlers throw tantrums over the most ridiculous things.  But it doesn’t sound like they are crying about not being allowed to wash their hands in the unflushed toilet or not being allowed to touch the naked flame on the hob or run in the road.   It sounds as if they are being maltreated by the evil overlord who is trying to soothe their cries… and I understand that.  But they are just having a tantrum because that’s how toddlers express themselves. So if there is a clearly concerned parent/carer trying calm the child you need not worry that the child is in serious danger.   

So please do not be offended if you see me and my toddler is throwing a tantrum and I don’t offer you an explanation as to why he is crying.  He is a toddler, he is throwing a tantrum that’s just what they do.

*rant over

*Supportive nod to all the parents of toddlers having tantrums in public places

BH xx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYQ48Kpd3AM 

Nude parsnip and pear soup

kitchen

It seems competition is the only way to get me to take pictures of my food and post them on the net.  This time it was the allure of my soup being made in bulk and delivered to my work place (a primary school) on the soup scooter.. oh the mayhem 🙂 !

A simple competition, create a soup using a Kallo stock cube then upload a picture on Instagram with the tag SoupScooter.

So here’s my entry!  Wish me luck and why not enter too!  BHxx

4 shallots

3 large organic shallots 

1 large garlic clove

400g borlotti beans

1 Kallo vegetable stock cube

1 pear for decoration

Slice the shallots into thin discs and then fry on a low heat until golden. Dice and add the garlic. Crumble in stock cube and stir.  

Rinse and drain beans then add to the pan.  Mix together and place lid on pan for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile wash and dice your parsnips.  Add the parsnips to the pan making sure they are covered in the stock and onions. Cook for a further two minutes then add 600ml of boiling water and allow to simmer until parsnips begin to soften. Remove from heat and garnish with a slice of pear, salt and pepper.

academy

That time I almost burst into tears on the treadmill..

education, politics

Music pumping in my ears, feet pounding away on the cross trainer, I gaze up from the flashing dashboard to the row of televisions hanging from the gym ceiling.  Ivory poachers in Gabon, a posh gardener in a tight squeeze, the usual random something or nothing on London Live all bid to grab my attention with alluring titbits of subtitled conversations. Gazing towards the last screen, fifteen little words grab my attention so violently that I catch my breath. Wrapping the enormity of their meaning around my throat, those little fifteen words stab me in my chest and make me gasp out loud “No!”

Government announced plans today to rush ahead with proposals to change all schools into academies..

If we were living in a time of reason and logic I would have laughed – How on Earth would the privatisation of the British education system make it through Parliament?  But we are living in bizarre times. A moment in history where junior doctors are being branded as greedy, while bankers and banks are bailed out.  Forests, parks, libraries and social housing  are being sold at a public loss for a private profit.  Workers rights are being dismantled, employment tribunal fees have risen whilst legal aid cut.  Zero hour contracts for our most vulnerable and tax breaks for the wealthy.

I have been a primary school teacher for nearly ten years. I have worked in both Local Authority schools and an academy chain.

If these proposals go ahead we are literally and figuratively selling our children’s futures for a private profit.  I entered teaching because I knew that a good education can change lives. It changed mine.  Every evening or weekend, when I’m marking, or planning or creating resources for my class, I’m motivated because I know I am helping to shape a child’s future.  It is a beautiful honour and I get to do it for a living.  Politics, business and money can not play part in that process.

The most obvious difference between the two types of school is that Local Authority schools are bound by the National Curriculum and the Teachers Work and Pay Conditions frameworks,  whereas academies are free to develop their own curriculum, HR practices and standards.  After working in an academy however, I felt the most dramatic difference was school culture, the academy felt like a business.

“There is no educational proposition behind them [academies], no philosophy of how or what children should learn, no model of what a school should be like. The point of academies is political, not educational.”

My time teaching in an academy was soul destroying.   A culture of blame, pressure and divide and conquer fuelled by financially driven leaders and impressionable inexperienced staff naturally led to high staff turnover and challenges in behaviour.  In my first year, only two classes out of the whole school lasted the academic year  without changing teachers at least once.  Children in desperate need of stability, received erratic teaching practice, at times by trainee teachers with no class based experience.

Perhaps this is why academy advisers swarmed the academy during the Ofsted inspection.  Failing teachers disappeared as experienced advisers appeared in their classrooms teaching lessons and being observed by inspectors. There was a lot riding on the inspection outcomes, principals bonus payments for starters.

This is what happens when children are not children but results.  The success of the “chain” relies heavily on  incredible test results.  Incredulous results.  During my time at the academy I saw staff meetings dedicated to the editing of children’s independent writing folders, teachers forced to raise grades and accusations of the principal changing test results. I heard the pressure for “results” being compared to that of the pressures on the trading floor.

By no means am I saying that all academies are terrible or that the teachers are all inexperienced or don’t care about the children.  Far from it, many of my friends are amazing and dedicated teachers working in academies.  There just isn’t enough consistency or evidence that the academy model is successful  for it to be rolled out to every state school in the UK.

“Current evidence does not prove that academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children,”

If you agree please support the campaign to stop the proposed plans to convert all state schools into academies by signing the petition below.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124702

If you don’t have time to follow all the links in the article, this link below nicely sums up the financial impact and profits of academies.

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/03/16/government-announces-decision-privatise-state-schools-england/

 

BH xx