Tag Archive | Brighton Fringe

Off for some ‘Blue Sky Thinking’

I’m taking a little mini-break in Brighton next week. This is because I want to enjoy some of the events in the Brighton Fringe. One in particular!

Who’d have thought that all those little ‘shows’ of Chelsea’s I watched when she was a little girl at home would eventually develop into a real live show in the Brighton Fringe, this year written by her talented partner Rich Foyster.

They’re producing it themselves, having set up their own little Indie company, Popheart Productions, and this time she’s one of the actors too. I can’t wait to see it. Last year’s show sold out and they’re taking that one to Edinburgh in August. Amazing stuff! How did that little girl become so brave and entrepreneurial?

So this is my little plug in support of them:

‘Blue Sky Thinking’ (trailer here) runs from 21st – 27th of May at 8pm and is hosted by The Sweet Dukebox, at The Southern Belle, Waterloo Street, Hove. BN3 1AQ

I’ll let you know how I got on, but being her mother I’m bound to be mesmerised and proud!




A little bit of championing!

It’s not often I champion the daughters. I’m just not into blowing trumpets in people’s faces – as much as I might secretly like to!

But the thing is I do get asked.

One from the archives from when we were making the iron age hut described in A Funny Kind of Education

People who’ve read about the little girls in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’, who’ve read about all those comical antics and Home Ed moments, not to mention the stories in ‘A Home Education Notebook’ (their pictures are on the back), ask me what they’re up to now.

And with current events I thought it might be a good time to mention those two adults I still think about as my two little lovelies.

For tonight is the opening of ‘Model Organisms‘.

Chelsea, the poster girl

It’s a one woman performance (yep – that’s Chelsea) of a play that is part of the Brighton Fringe.

How this daughter, of a woman who does her best to hide away from any performance whatsoever (not great for selling books), has grown into an actor with the guts to take the stage for an hour all by herself is beyond me.

As well as this performance she’s also the founder of a production company which, through a collaborated effort, are also putting on a piece during the Fringe. As if this wasn’t enough she also has a job to help keep the roof over her head – did I say? I feel exhausted thinking about all she does. And some people would suggest that home educating makes the children unable to mix and work shy?

Charley having a chuffed moment

Charley meanwhile has fought her way through a lot of dross in recent years. This has come in various forms consisting of a crap Uni course which she left in disgust, dickhead employers, and general disrespect of young people. And with much fight and staying power has finally landed herself an assistant manager’s job and is determined to give that her all for the time being. Consequently disproving another accusation aimed at home schooled kids that it’ll make them too dependent and not give them the life skills needed to get out in the real world. Since both live independently and have vibrant social lives I hardly think that stands up now does it!

Just thought I’d say, since many of you Home Ed freshers ask about those little girls and I thought it might be reassuring for you to know that they’re out in the world achieving the kind of stuff everyone else does – quite like normal people!

I said ‘quite’! 🙂


Amazing shows and guinea pigs!

Well, it was amazing!20150511_122251

Their production sold all tickets which is a pretty incredible achievement for a fist venture, says she with just a teeny bit of pride. I am choked!

I am also choked because the snag with visiting loved ones is you have to leave them again! Tears threaten and throats go constricted and the journey home is beset with gloom.

I console myself that the girl I leave behind not only has the most loving partner to cuddle her now, where once only mum would do, but she also has guinea pigs!

You wouldn’t think guinea pigs would make such a difference. But there’s something in the deep emotive caring part of our being that flourishes through a connection with an animal.

There have been studies done on it apparently.

Studies or not there was something in my grown up girl that made her feel the need for an animal in her life again. She’d always had them when little when I gritted my teeth and got over my aversion to cages and we had a variety of furry things over the years. And seeing the children calm themselves with caressing a pet, put their cheeks to furry bodies as I held my cheek to infant hair, I knew it was worth it. I watched them virtually dissolve into bliss.

Ironically I’ve just seen the same sensation in my twenty four year old. Pets bring something to life that calms stress and ignites that loving side when it gets buried in the business of life.

I recently read the most beautiful book ‘The Gentle Barn’ about a special centre offering animal therapy to lost and troubled children. The connection to, looking after, and physical proximity of warm loving beings connects children to a loving core that may have been imprisoned by traumatic life experiences.

I think putting on a production for the first time ever may almost have felt like a traumatic life experience for my eldest and her partner! But afterwards I watched some of it leech away whilst holding a guinea pig!

I might try it and maybe I can heal some of the trauma a mum inevitably feels at wrenching partings from grown up girls by cuddling the cat!

Climbing out the wellies

I’m doing quite well at the not-spending I was talking about in an earlier post.

Click on the picture for tickets…or just turn up at The Purple Playhouse Fri/Sat at 7.30!

I’ve not bought several things I’ve looked at and thought; ‘that’s nice, want it, need it’, only to rethink; ‘actually, I don’t!’ Then went off and got pleasure from  other nice things always available like wild flowers, sunshine on my face, a passing butterfly, friends and loved ones.

This has helped keep a nice bit by for my trip.

I’m climbing out my wellies and going city side to visit my eldest and see her production; Decade 20, in the Brighton Fringe.

When I go away money leeches out of my purse faster than water leaks into my wellies. But it’s so nice to be able to treat the girls to coffee, cake, food, frivolities they wouldn’t normally afford – it’s the best spending of all.

Is this when we get to be proper grown-ups – when we get more delight in spending on our offspring than on ourselves? Perhaps! Seems I have no hesitation in treating them to new shoes whilst I walk about with holes in my boots.

Might have to purchase some new clothes, (new to me, anyway – they could be from a charity shop), just so I don’t feel quite so decrepit visiting in the same old rags I’ve hung onto for years. On the other hand I could just get the sewing machine out and revamp them, as I taught them to do.

Both girls have that same skill of creative recycling we used through their home educating days when budget was tight but inventiveness was rich. (There’s a funny story in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ where they paint their wellies – and their dad’s – when I couldn’t afford coloured ones)!

But when education is in your own hands you tend to get inventive. This independent way of educating requires creative thinking which spills over into all aspects of life, developing intelligence, useful skills and resourcefulness. And there’s nothing better than resourcefulness for overcoming all the challenges you face in life.

So, being resourceful, maybe I’ll just look for something to patch my wellies instead when I get back and the purse is alarmingly empty!

Can I go now?

I’m looking forward to another little break! My writing mind needs refreshing.

derbyshire.bluebells 052Last bank holiday I walked round a bluebell wood with a friend – we know the places off the beaten track. I like to breathe in quiet, observe and wander and were spoiled with having the place nearly to ourselves.

The pale underwear of branches was covering itself in fresh new finery. The ground was covered in blue and the ceiling covered in birdsong. And the scent was of damp woodland floors warmed by flushes of sunshine and rejoicing flowers.

It was so deliciously quiet you could identify a bird singing in another part of the wood.

This time I’m doing a cultural reverse and joining the crowds down South, seeing some festival delights and the even nicer delight of my eldest in the play Gilead.

My ears and eyes might have to adjust a little but I revel in the change; the stimulation of other sights more gaudy than spring trees and bluebells, the clash of street music and performance and loud and happy people, the sun-kissed murmur of picnickers and the smell of hot dogs – the furry kind. There’ll be the rattle of pebbles in the waves and the hum of crowds in city lanes.

Then I’ll come back again even more confused about which feeds the soul the most.

But I know the answer to that already; it’s contrast.

It is both the crush of crowds and solitude, the clash of noise and silence, both the city and the spaces, and most important of all some loving company forever in the mix!

Back soon!

The challenge of Radio Ga Ga

I had to emerge from my hermitic comfort zone and talk about Home Education on the radio earlier this week. (It’s available for a short while here – around 2:12)

The reason I opted for writing as a medium was because I could remain generally reclusive. The dilemma I face is that in order to help families, which is why I write, I obviously have to be a bit more public! But the fear tends to make me gaga.

I find it about as easy as having teeth pulled, although after a recent visit to the dentist for massive drilling and filling maybe I’ll review that opinion.

‘I can’t decide which is worse; talking on the radio or my impending visit to the dentist’ I text to my eldest looking for sympathy.

‘The dentist’ she text back. ‘The radio has far more creative and exciting connotations. The dentist just one outcome’.

She’s right, of course, but what’s all this talk of outcomes? She was sounding like her mother, I told her.

‘No bad thing’ she text back with a smiley face!

She’s performing in Gilead during the Brighton Fringe next month. (Check it out here) and how she does that I have no idea – it’s not a gene she got from me who goes into traumatic stress syndrome just from a few seconds live. Any sort of performance is an excitement too far for me, whatever creative and exciting connotations!

Secretly I know she gets as anxious about it as I do. It’s just through our early life together she grew into someone who doesn’t stop just because it got a bit challenging. Maybe it was home educating which had something to do with that and the fact that we encouraged them to go forward with what they needed to do, challenging or not.

I am so proud of all the parents who visit here and contact me about Home Educating who also choose a path away from the norm despite it throwing up challenges. Life is challenging, having children is challenging, putting your child in school is challenging, home education is challenging. But we should never let a challenge stop us from going where we feel we need to go.

We obviously have to assess risks. We obviously need to research. And weigh things up. Make intelligent decisions. And it certainly is a challenge when you are the pioneers of change as Home Schooling parents are.

But pioneers are people who don’t balk at challenges. And there are now thousands and thousands of pioneers whose children were failing to thrive, were unhappy or unwell, who don’t believe in systemised schooling, who are willing to stand up and say to the education system; ‘just a minute – THIS WON’T DO!’

And if you’re one of those reading this feeling the same, check out the stories and other blogs round this site and see if they give you the courage you need to take up a different challenge.

Because although it is a challenge, home educating is one of the most rewarding and wonderful approaches to raising your children. It really works. It leads them towards successful lives. It creates intelligent and motivated people who make valid contributions to the world. So don’t be afraid to give it a go.

And I’ll try and confront my challenge in being a bit more public about it and continue to raise awareness of the fact that kids don’t necessarily need to go to school to become well educated.


You can read my emotional stories from last year’s Fringe here and here. And have your tissues ready!!

As well as wings…

From ‘Persuaded’ at the Brighton Fringe.
















All I ever wanted to do was hide in a cupboard. It took me ages to find the guts needed to publish.

Where then has this daughter come from?

The one who can pace across the stage as if she owns it. Who can publically perform despite demons from Drama School. Who can convince audiences to laugh or cry with the character she portrays and make us believe that’s who she really is, (I know different). Who has such courage and confidence to fight the inherent shyness so many actors and actresses have. And who has grown into someone who is not what her parents are, doing things her parents could never do.

We cannot ever own all our children need to be, even though you think that’s the way of it when they’re small. Or lead them to emulate what we were.

And the biggest thing we can give our youngsters as well as wings, is the confidence which provides the lift to fly them.

I’ve just been to see my eldest in one of the Brighton Fringe productions and she was terrific on the stage – something I could never ever do.

But the performance I’m really applauding along with that one, is the courage it takes not only to do it, but to live her independent life so different from ours.

And while I bruise my palms with clapping, my soul is blushed with pride!

Terror and tissues and emotional tornados

  “I feel sick!…” she said.

Well you wanted to do it, I thought, perhaps rather callously. She was only four at the time but I felt totally stressed at the thought of her performing live on stage.

“…And I want the toilet.”


She was nestled up against me in the dressing room looking small and strange in her Mickey Mouse Costume.

“Come on Chelsea, you’ll be fine,” said one of the grown up dancers in her rustly, sparkly outfit which Chelsea would rather be wearing.

She took Chelsea’s hand and walked from me towards the huge looming dark of the stage wings. One tall. One tiny. It was as much as I could do to stop myself from running after her and grabbing her back. Gut-wrenching doesn’t come near describing it. My organs were doing somersaults. Not sure who was more terrified.

I swore I was never, ever going to let her do this again however much she said she wanted to. I was her mum. I knew best, didn’t I?

I joined the others in the audience and dribbled my anxiety to Charles from behind a tissue.

“But it’s just in her,” he said. “It’s her who wants to perform, it’s not up to you. She’s just so into it.”

“I know. But she didn’t understand about shows and stuff, she’s too little.”

“She’ll be fine, you’ll see…” he broke off as the hush descended with a fanfare and the curtain rose.

Definitely me more terrified.

For my tiny little four-year-old stood totally alone and totally cool with it, centre stage, beaming in the spotlight as she waited patiently for silence to settle. Then single-handedly announced the forth coming show to hundreds watching with a voice that suggested she’d been doing it for years. And strutted confidently off to mounting applause and ‘Aws!’ from all around.

And I knew then that she had in her that something I had no concept of, that I completely underestimated, and really had no part in developing. Performing was part of who she was; I didn’t always know best.

It’s been like that all her life. A tornado of emotions as several times a year we watched her in every show and got through all the times she felt sick.

“You can stop whenever you want to,” I always said. I always got the disdainful glare. Even a ten year old could make me feel like an idiot for thinking that was an option.

It was only Drama school that nearly destroyed it. Making her so hung up about an ability she was sure about before, just like any institution hangs kids up about their abilities if they can’t be forced to fit. How I hate them for it. But with that indomitable courage she’s bounced back.

And this weekend I’m going away to see her in her first performance in the Brighton Fringe. 

And I know I will be filled up with love and pride. And will no doubt need those tissues more than ever!