Visit Flamborough

Flamborough is one of my favourite local (ish) places to visit. An hour up the coast it is a small village 4 miles north-east of Bridlington.

Flamborough is amazing for outdoor adventure lovers with its interesting rock formations, caves, rock pools to explore, and lots more. It is also home to one of the uk’s most famous RSPB reserves – Bempton Cliffs, where around half a million seabirds, including puffins, gather to breed and raise their chicks between March and October on the colossal chalk cliffs.

We’ve yet to explore so much of Flamborough but here are some of the highlights of our trips to hopefully entice you to visit and show this beautiful area some love.

Flamborough Head

Flamborough Head

Simply beautiful wherever you look with stunning views over the vast chalk cliffs and rocky ground, you can’t fail to have your breath taken. You can follow the coastal path along which will bring you on a visit here, or as we did, picked up the coastal path for a short walk to see this little beauty – The Drinking Dinosaur – an amazing natural rock formation caused by years of erosion by the sea. From the right angle it resembles a sauropod drinking from the sea.

The Drinking Dinosaur

We have visited this next section of Flamborough head twice now, accessible by some pretty steep steps it isn’t for everyone. Getting down is much easier than getting back up. But it is sure to bring out the explorer in you. Kids (and adults alike) will love the rock pools that appear when the tide goes out, seals are also a frequent visitor, and there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to explore.

There are so many interesting rocks to find too, these captivate Toby, my 5 year old mini explorer every time. You’ll see in some of the later pics above that his hoodie is stretched from the weight of his favourite rocks that he smuggled up the sheer steps.

Flamborough Lighthouse

This working lighthouse is a magnificent display acting as a waypoint for passing deep sea vessels and coastal traffic. Currently closed due to covid and we have only seen it from the outside but were fascinated nonetheless. We live opposite a lighthouse ourselves but it is no longer active so this was such a novelty. This lighthouse was built in 1806 replacing the previous lighthouse built in 1669 (which still stands down the road).

Danes Dyke

I absolutely love Danes Dyke, a beautiful nature reserve with lots of scientific and natural importance. It’s earthworks are believed to date back to the dark ages.

We love to park up in the car park and walk through the woods to the stunning coastal vista that greets you at the end but in the past we have walked for some time around the woods, discovering tree swings left behind by others. It’s one of my favourite places in Flamborough and Toby’s too as we don’t have woods like this near us for him to explore.

The pebble beach at Danes Dyke is made up of so many weird and wonderful rocks, the bigger the better when you’re 5, and you can also join the coastal path to admire the entire Flamborough coastline from the cliff top.

Thornwick Bay

Thornwick Bay

Our latest visit to Flamborough saw us investigating the natural arches and hideaways on Thornwick Bay. The first time we visited we arrived at high tide so couldn’t explore like we would have liked but yesterday the tide was out and we immediately set out to see as much as we could before the tide turned and started coming for us.

The rocky beach is accessed by steps and the view that greets you as you descend is sure to get everyone excited.

Descending the steppy path to Thornwick Bay

There are no dog restrictions on Thornwick Bay and you can swim and bathe here also. Sea shoes are a must for the rocky ground underneath.

We started by exploring a beautiful natural arch to the right before venturing under another arch at the other side of the beach round into a whole new beach. It’s a good work out scrambling across the uneven rocks and climbing the rocky steps that take you along the beach. If you do get caught out here by the tide, or just don’t want to walk back there is a precarious staircase that we ascended to take us back to the Thornwick Bay cafe. This path could be dangerous in anything other than dry conditions I think as it appears there’s been some shift in the steps and some are missing, but it was dry yesterday and we managed it easily enough with a 5 year old in tow.

If you are confident you have time on your side you can continue around the coast to discover further. We probably had plenty of time but chose to go back up to visit the cafe for a drink and ice cream.

Parking is £1.50 for the day and there is a caravan park nearby yet the place wasn’t packed with people which is perfect for us.

I’d love to know if you’ve been inspired to visit Flamborough by my post or if you already love the area where is your favourite place to visit? Any secret hotspots for us to discover?

Easy Vegan Honey

I’ve not posted in my blog for a few months. We’ve had a difficult start to the year and it’s been difficult to find words for anything. Then along came corona virus and lockdown. Schools are shut and we’re all forced into home educating our children. I don’t know about your house but mine is chaos. Kids aren’t doing nearly as much work as I’d like them to but I’m not in the best place to chow at them to make them do it right now.

As a result we’re still learning but just not always the stuff on the curriculum. It’s fun and impulsive and right now it’s exactly what we need.

We had a garden full of dandelions which led to some discussion with Toby (4) about the flowers and bees. He asked if people could eat them and that’s how we came to try dandelion honey!

Dandelions are really nutritious and versatile. They contain lots of vitamins and minerals. It is thought that they can help reduce inflammation and aid blood sugar control. It is also suggested that it could reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. There are lots of studies that have shown many positives of dandelion consumption but I’m not here to tell you they will or won’t help fight one disease or another.

Back to the honey, it’s delicious. It has a slight floral flavour but it’s not overpowering. It tastes surprisingly like regular honey.

The littlies love picking the flowers, it’s even better because we know where they’ve grown and that we’ve never exposed them to any chemicals so they’re completely chemical free. Toby is currently in foundation so we use activities like these to practise counting and to discuss the importance of flowers, nectar, bees etc.

Toby had great fun stirring the mixture and weighing out the many different items in the kitchen that he could find.

After we had made it (it took around 14 hours as you start it in the evening and then leave it to infuse overnight. But there’s nothing overly tricky. Toby had some honey on bread for his lunch and enjoyed every bite.

I didn’t realise how dry his bread looked but that’s how he likes it 🤣

I’ve added a recipe card that can be saved if you are interested in trying this recipe too.

Quick Easter/Spring Corner Bookmarks

We’re self isolating at the moment and also home educating all 3 school age children due to the schools closing down. I work in school and I’m now not rota’d in until June which gives me 12 weeks at home to stay away as far away from the rest of the world as I can.

We’re trying to keep it inexpensive, I’m fully aware that so many people are being completely financially destroyed by this virus and it’s made me appreciate even more what we have at the moment.

I like these bookmarks because they’re quick and easy, and hopefully will encourage the kids to read so they can use them.

Here’s how we made them!
Start with squares of paper – your main piece should be around 15cm squared!
Fold the first piece of paper in half bringing two corner points together.
Fold the top corner down to meet the bottom point.
Repeat with the other side.
Open the folds back out.
Fold the top piece of the bottom points up along the creases.
This is what you should have now.
Bring one of your sides back down and tuck inside the fold you just made.
Like this. I
Repeat with the other side. It should look like this.
This is the completed basic corner bookmark. Now you need to turn it into your chosen character, theme, etc.
This one is going to be a chick. We cut and rounded the edges.
Next we drew on the eyes and cut out the basic shapes to stick on to our chick.
Voila! Our finished chick!
A bit of a clearer picture since we made a yellow chick and have a yellow tablecloth 🤣

There are so many different things you could possibly make with yours. We spent about half an hour on this craft and made these.

Toby (4y) started out making a sunflower one. This turned into a monster sunflower. He is very proud and so am I! Of course some help/supervision is required for cutting out but he enjoyed letting his imagination run free.
Kaesey made an Easter bunny which was really simple..
And a spring flower. (Might be better on the other side but will still work this way too).

Bullet journaling and home education

Last week we didn’t get much done. I had so many ideas swimming around in my head that I overwhelmed myself with them and I decided that if our home education journey was to be a success then we needed a plan going forward. So I decided to return to bullet journaling. It’s a hobby I previously had and enjoyed and I hope that I will use it going forward now I have a real purpose for it. Bullet journaling is basically a DIY journal with no limits whatsoever. You can have anything in it that helps you, just unleash your creative side! Some popular pages in a bullet journal are weekly/monthly spreads, to do lists, mood trackers, exercise trackers and so much more.

I bought the Leuchtturm 1917 Slim which is an A4 journal and perfect for what I need it for. I previously had the same but in A5 instead.

November 2019

My journal is obviously a work in progress but will be used to show our home education plan to officials, it will be used to organise ourselves and every aspect of our busy lives. It is a source of self-motivation.

I chose a double page monthly layout for my main plans, as you can see we don’t have a particularly busy November planned so far although it’s not complete. This style offers me plenty of room to add in plans for our family of 6. The little dragon in the bottom was added at the insistence of my daughter who was desperate for me to try draw one! I feel he ruins the page in one respect but then when I see him I think of her so he actually makes me smile :).

This is my plan for this week, in no particular order. The beauty of home education is there is no set timetable, if he wants to look at energy today that’s fine, if he doesn’t that’s also ok, as long as he does it this week. Monday we did some work on algebra, and the history of Christmas with History.com. His life revolves around coding so it’s a bit of a given that he’ll do that daily.

I found a great Christmas stocking pattern and tutorial at Bags of Love which we have printed off. The material is on order and we’ll make a start soon. The objectives for this will be to see that he can read and follow the pattern, use a number of different stitches (perhaps not on the sticking but certainly some practise pieces first), safely use a sewing machine, complete the stocking, and finally write up about the project.

We have lots of sources and resources for the other subjects, books, websites and materials. Home education doesn’t have to cost much, in fact many of ours were free or very cheap second hand!

Our First Week Of Officially Home Educating

Well what a week it has been! It has been a bumpy start and not the best first week, I had an interview to prepare for, dad was on days all week, the boys broke my brand new laptop screen and I’ve had horrendous pain from what I think is a pinched nerve in my shoulder, but nevertheless we have started.

I was sort of expecting a phone call from High School this week to see if they could work with us to encourage the boy to stay in school rather than take him out, and help with suggestions to help him want to be there. I got absolutely nothing. Not even an email. No acknowledgement at all. This to me shows how much they care about him attending their school. I feel like it was a relief to them that we took him out. I’ve never really complained about support before from them but this has made me wonder if we should probably have done this sooner!? Could this attitude have been picked up by him earlier and he just hasn’t realised? Is this why he would not go? I’ll never know but I will forever wonder, and when the time comes for him to (hopefully) return to mainstream education I’m not sure I’ll feel comfortable sending him back there!

How we’ve started!

We have started slowly, investigating helpful websites that we can use, resources available, and I’ve been reading up on the curriculum which should be getting delivered to a child of his age. We’ve also rejoined the library.

He’s 12 and would be in Year 8, exceptionally clever with an amazing ability to learn and retain information when a subject is delivered to him in a way which grabs his attention, or even just if it’s something that interests him. He’s pretty closed minded unfortunately when it comes to learning, he doesn’t understand why he should have to learn geography and history for example, his interests lie purely in computing. I want him to realise that everything about our lives relates back to history and the world around us. I want to teach him to experience a taster of everything so he can see that it’s all a part of our bigger picture, and I don’t want him to be bored of it. I also think it’s important that he has some input into what he learns about! I don’t have any complaints whatsoever with his primary school but I do feel that he hasn’t learnt to love learning and that is a tragedy! This is most important to me.

So with all that in mind we have registered on Khan Academy, he’s currently working his way, slowly, through Algebra and coding. It’s a brilliant website, a non-profit organisation with the aims of delivering world class education for free to anyone, anywhere! I mean how amazing is that! We haven’t done much of it but what we have looked at is brilliant! We’ve got a number of workbooks and a bonus for me is I also work in a school so I also have access to Twinkl for supplies.

We used to read lots when he was little, his reading books after school and we would read a story before bed, every single night. It’s precious time and very very important. As he’s got older and been introduced to technology however his love for reading has ebbed away. Rather than jump straight into an English course we are trying to encourage a love of books again. It’s taken two visits to the library before one caught his eye and he’s still to start it, but he will I’m sure. He has a very strong vocabulary, often choosing words that you might expect to hear from someone very highly educated. He always uses them in the correct context and it amazes me that someone who has fallen out of love with learning can pick up and use language like that!

He’s always been interested in science, we’ve seen a number of websites offering science experiment kits containing everything you need to do them at home. This was an area I worried about as I thought, and school also reinforced previously, that he would never have the same hands-on science experience that he could get at school. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I’ve seen a number of places that offer scientific workshops to children who are home educated too. Whilst I probably won’t be able to make these with him his dad almost definitely will due to his 4 on 4 off working shift pattern.

I am currently looking into the sports opportunities for him. He hated PE and his high school agreed it was best not to push it in Y7, and dropped it from his timetable. However they insisted he do something in Y8 and he often got in trouble for not having his kit or for not joining in. They kindly offered for him to go to the gym instead which he was keen on, but unfortunately as we couldn’t get him to school that never materialised. As he’s not very active at all it’s going to be a priority of ours. He loves swimming and he also loves ice skating, although he doesn’t have a natural ability for it, so these are two potential areas we’ll look to utilise. Once he turns 14 we can register him at our local gym but that’s a way off yet.

We were told he wouldn’t get the same social opportunities if we took him out of school. I agree, he won’t be forced to sit in classes full of people he doesn’t really know or like, and he won’t walk around on his own anymore amongst hundreds of other children. Instead he’ll take advantage of the social opportunities that come from everyday life. Speaking to people he doesn’t know. He’ll join groups of other home educated children and make new friendships. We’re still in contact with friends he’s had for years who do go to his school but who he didn’t share lessons with, and they are wonderful families who won’t stop inviting us to events just because we’ve chosen a different path. I have no doubts that this will help his social skills in the long term.

We still have a million other things to think about but I believe whilst we haven’t done much in our first week, we’ve made a bloody good start! So far his sister (Y7) hasn’t played the “it’s not fair” card. It would simply be too much to get my head around home edding two, but I can honestly say that in the future if I still feel as positive as I do now it wouldn’t be out of the question to consider taking her out as an option too!

Our next big job is to begin to write our education philosophy for the education welfare dept as they’ll be writing to ask for it soon. I’ll be using this blog to catalogue the work we do – the exciting and the boring.

The Start Of A New Journey

We did it! We sent in the deregistration letter for our school refusing 12 year old this afternoon. After months/years of deliberations we’ve finally bitten the bullet and took him out of school.

Do I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders? No! Do I feel like I have definitely made the right choice? Yes and No! Are we going to give it a bloody good go? Yes!

School Refusal

As you may have read on my previous post we have gone through years of school refusal, it’s not just behavioural which is how I always imagined these children, he has Asperger’s syndrome and just isn’t coping with the school environment. Our hope is that in the future we can get him back to school to complete his education but for now we need to get him to a place where this is a possibility.

So Much To Consider

I currently have around a gazillion questions and thoughts floating around my head. Will the education authority agree to give us funding from his EHCP towards the costs of tutoring and materials? Will we even be able to get him to learn at home? What if it doesn’t work out and he has to return to school but has fallen behind? I’m reassured that these are normal feelings and that they’ll soon fade away. I hope so!

Family & Friends

I’m lucky that all our family and friends have been supportive of our decision so far. It would’ve been so much harder without their approval, which seems ridiculous as I’m a grown woman with 4 children, but I think everyone wants others to get it! And they just do.

What Next

I’ve yet to hear from school regarding our decision, I was a little sneaky in that I sent the de-registration in at the end of the day, the last day of this half term. I doubt I’ll hear anything now until they return. This suits me nicely as I’m not ready for the conversation with them just yet. I don’t know how we’ll begin our journey but for sure we’ll find our feet and I intend to make this a journey to remember.

It may end up not working out and I am okay with that, but it may be the answer to our prayers too, and we would never know till we try!

I have everything crossed now for our future and I will be sharing our journey on my blog!

Our Story Of School Refusal

If you’d asked me ten years ago about my opinions on school-refusal I’d have been quite frank and said it was something done by feral kids as a result of poor parenting. Nowadays however I find myself in this very position, I am the parent of a school refuser. I’m not the sort of parent I pictured 10 years ago, I gave up work to stay home and raise my children, we were fortunate enough to be able to give them what they needed and wanted, they had holidays and technology but most importantly they had my time.  School refusal wouldn’t have happened to parents like us in my mind 10 years ago. I guess I was narrow-minded, I had no experience of raising children who were old enough to really refuse school, I thought of school refusal as a bad homes issue. It isn’t, not by any means, and I’ve seen lots of parents in a similar position who are blamed and persecuted for their kids not being okay at school.

Looking back our son never loved school. We would often drag him in upset and leave him crying because we’re almost conditioned to believe that school is the only way for kids to succeed in life so we push them to go, and for most kids they do love it, and that’s great.   Once at school it’s the teacher’s job to keep them there and try settle them down for a day of learning and socialising. They don’t do this out of malice, but I do believe it sets in motion a chain of negative experiences – upset, feeling out of control and restraint for example that eventually causes the child to become disengaged from the education system.

Our son was diagnosed with Aspergers in school, it was clear from nursery that he was very different from his peers, choosing to sit with his back to people than join in, watching the class circles from the other side of the classroom, and generally having a really hard time. I knew nothing at all about the Autism spectrum when it was first suggested to us by his school, we were already struggling to cope with the problems he had at home and every healthcare professional he saw must have been able to see he was Autistic but chose to do nothing about it, it really was scarily obvious when I look back. School we felt was our respite from him. It gave us 6 hours to recharge our batteries and be able to leave the house without constant meltdowns. We could go shopping and not have to leave because the sight of the stores toilet doors caused him to lose the plot completely.

He would come home every day and his emotions would be everywhere, he would stim, he would play with water and flood our house, he would be angry and he didn’t sleep. I guess looking back they were all warning signs that he wasn’t coping with the demands of school life. We needed the break whilst he was at school though to help deal with the emotions when he got back. It was a vicious cycle and at that point home-education was most definitely not an option for us.

We got a lot of support from primary, by year 2 they had applied for a statement of special educational needs. He was granted 30.75 hours just in time for him going into year 3 and from then until the end of his time there he had 1:1 all day every day with the same person. They put in place social skills groups, friendship groups and other interventions to help him succeed. He was always encouraged to try things outside his comfort zone such as swimming lessons and even a 2 night school trip. He really blossomed and had many friends, but he still hated going to school. His refusal looked behavioural, he would kick, punch and bite as I tried to drag him up the drive, it got worse with the arrival of his baby brother in 2015.  

The time came for him to go to high school. This was a very difficult time for us as we weren’t convinced this was the right school for him, but we live on the coast and there isn’t another high school for 11 miles. He wanted to go with his friends and we felt he deserved to give it a try. We tried to iron out any issues before he started, make sure everything would be perfect and in place by the time he started. They were aware of his refusal issues with school but we were reassured that  they understood and could help. Quickly he began to refuse, he missed his second week completely and he was put on a reduced time-table. This was great and only meant to be supportive, but he takes things very literally, so when school said “Monday you only need to come in and do the one lesson, more if you want” in his head that meant “Monday do one lesson then leave”. That was fine and we worked with it and soon got him back to going, now and again. They put things in place so if he felt he couldn’t be in class he could go elsewhere. I felt positive that they really wanted to help.

Not even 6 months in we were informed that the ‘Parent Support Advisor’ in school had took it upon herself to refer us to the educational welfare department. Now I could understand if I wasn’t in school every week trying to find a solution, if I wasn’t dragging him in only for them to mark him as not there because none of us could get him to go past the reception area. The woman had never so much as spoken to us. We were now on the path for prosecution if things didn’t improve. I honestly felt betrayed. We sat in numerous meetings with overpaid EWO’s (Education Welfare Officers) who were being paid a decent amount of money to sit and tell us what we already knew. Their favourite phrase was “you could be prosecuted”. As if their constant reminder was somehow going to be the answer to our years of problems. We listened to them quoting false laws to us, telling us how we should punish our sons refusal by giving him nothing until he decided school was for him (we tried, it doesn’t work). They admitted there was nothing they could offer to help, but yet we were expected to be “working with them” to resolve his attendance issues. I can see why some parents struggle with their own mental health issues when forced into a corner like this. Some parents have to leave their jobs over it. I work in school myself (his old primary) and the fear of prosecution weighed heavily on me. I know only too well how capable he is and I want only the best for him. Unfortunately as of now, part way through year 8, his attendance is currently sat at 67%. I’m waiting for the inevitable letter reminding us of our responsibilities as his parents and demanding we go and explain ourselves at more pointless meetings. I am looking into the chances of having EOTAS named on his EHC Plan rather than his current school because it just isn’t working, but realistically we’re going to end up de-registering and taking responsibility for educating him ourselves, I just know it. I actually like the idea of home-educating him, but I don’t want to feel pushed into it.

I am thankful we have an education system, free to all, and I have one child who has gone all the way through, one in her first year of high school and one in reception year. Its become clear though that it is not the right system for everyone. This high school just cannot meet our needs for our son, but the only alternative is special school which he is not severe enough to go to. There are no options for children in the middle.  The system needs reworking to become a fairer system for all, we need schools for everyone because mainstream simply does not suit every child. We’re lucky to be in a position to provide him with education at home, not everybody forced to take the same route is as lucky as us. It would not be the easy option for us to take, but I honestly don’t know where else we can go.