Oban sunset

Back to school and a very special holiday


What a week or two – jeepers creepers, this going back to school malarkey is rather full on, isn’t it?!
Emotion, exhaustion, organisation…seriously, can I keep it up?

Let’s start from now and work backwards….

Joe's first school day!First day back at school!

So, the first day back arrives and off goes Master Joe, soon to be 12, in a matter of a month and suddenly looking more grown up.
Is it the ‘proper white shirt’,  the  ‘I don’t want to be told off for my hair touching my collar’ new haircut or the emblazoned blazer (not to be placed anywhere near heat sources as 100% polyester and Teflon coated to within an inch of its life….mental note to buy a supply of deodorant !)
Possibly, ALL of the above!

Anyway, he looked great and I for one was grateful that the day to start Secondary School had finally materialised as the anticipation was KILLING me.
So, off he went and all was well until a tearful phone call came through at the end of the day.
‘Mummy, they’ve all gone off without me, I’m all alone and I think I’m lost …’
Instinctively I went into efficient mode and talked him through it all, resulting in a safe arrival back at our local train station, eventually…he flew into my arms and held on soooo tightly.
He cried…Maddie cried and I did too.
What a tough first day for him, still, as we said the worst has now happened and things will only get better (though I’m still awaiting the phone call saying ‘Mummy I’ve missed my stop and I’m in London!’)

Maddie – busy as usual!

Maddie is as full-on as I am and relishing the Year 6 – top of the school title, with cries of ‘oh she’s so cuuuuute’ about all the teeny dots starting in nursery and reception…it hardly seems a moment ago that she WAS the ‘cuuuuuute’ dot herself!
Where oh where has that time gone?
The news of Distinction for her Grade 2 Ballet Exam came through today, along with the list of dates for Panto as she successfully auditioned for the Professional Pantomine near us. It means my diary is already getting full, and that always means a new diary purchase is imminent! So I can be in control (or pretend to be).

The Drama Club at school will perform Twelfth Night in October and it seems Miss Maddie has been given the part of Viola! Wowzer…I’d better find a children’s adaptation to help her understand her forsooths, prithees, and perchances!
Oh, and she is now the proud owner of a School Council badge, having prepared a speech full of great ideas and persuasive text! She delivered it to her class and she was voted in. She was thrilled!
I, on the other hand, must be cajoling/nagging Mummy to ensure she eats well, practises and sleeps enough to help her get through all these things alongside her schoolwork and other activities.
Do we predict a drama or two….?

The struggle continues

Tom seems delighted to be back amongst his friends, but not so having to get up earlier. He’s a boy who rather likes his routine, so the return of all the end-of-day activities is wonderful for him, not as much for Dan and I as we struggle more and more to split ourselves in three. I know the answer may indeed be to lessen their extra-curricular ‘stuff’, both physically and financially easing the problem, but in fact I want to up it for Tom’s sake..mad, I know, but I’ve been looking into The Special Olympics training, athletics and swimming plus he has told me he wants to drum! As you know he adores his Youth club and Scouts already.

….finally finally finally I managed to contact a group near us and for one of the first times the words ‘Yes Claire, we CAN and WILL help you’ were uttered. I was emotionally exhausted, fighting and banging my head against a brick wall, so to hear that along with a ‘well done for all you’ve achieved so far’ with Tom was all a bit much and once again …I cried!

It seems to me that Tom falls in between the devil and the deep blue sea as he achieves so much BUT realistically he isn’t able to access life in the same way you or I can…sadly, this means we are floating about somewhere in the ether with not a lot offered or indeed available to us.

The end result I hope for is that somehow I would like to be in a position to have someone (other than Dan and I ) take him to access these things ( as most, unsurprisingly are NOT on our doorstep ) plus this will begin with the development of Tom’s social life and independence….so terrifically important for his self esteem.
It’s funny how battles commence simultaneously as County’s decision still not to assist with Tom’s transport to and from school is also ramping up.

It’s appearing that I may have to go to Tribunal where I must fight that the NEAREST suitable school is in fact not relevant and it is the MOST suitable school that is the criteria that is important . It’s going to be tough…again, I hope the end result is that we can have some help to ensure Tom is safely escorted to and from school, allowing us all a breather from splitting ourselves in three, and the financial pressures that creates.
Please wish me luck on both accounts!

Dan and Tom on the sleeper trainAn unforgettable summer holiday

Summer holidays swept by and our week away to Scotland was fun and truly fabulous.
Here’s Tom and Dan hunkering down for their sleep on the overnight train to Edinburgh …brilliant to travel whilst you sleep and unbelievable that we were there at 7.30 am after a tap on the door, a cup of tea delivered and Bob’s your uncle it was time to disembark!
A fab day and night continued, where we experienced Edinburgh and were wowed by all the fun and frivolities.

Maddie was in heaven at the zoo and her enthusiasm for working in a zoo was not dampened, even when we saw the cages being cleaned!  ‘I can easily do that Mummy’ were her words.  A disappointing moment for her though when she realised it wasn’t possible to even SEE the panda, but the possibility there may be a baby panda next time soon cheered her up (luckily!)

The amazing campervan!

The meerkats and their promiscuity (sauce pots!) highly amused Dan and I, and the monkeys were incredibly funny and we had to tear the boys away as it was time to collect our….
The campervan!

I truly thought they had sign written especially (I think Tom still believes this to be the case so ssssshhhh!!! Let’s not ruin it for him!)!!
After a huge handover, it became clear why we couldn’t just grab the keys and hand over outside our hotel – every single nook and cranny had a secret within. Flick that lever and out popped a chair.  Lift that button and wowzer, a full-on table.  Peek under there and…fridge,  gas rings etc…behind there…coat hangers and shelves! You get the picture. Fan-flipping-tastic , and our new home for the week!

Just a little luggage!

Joe on holidayWe loved it so much (and it drove like a dream) that Dan has just traded his current sexy truck! For one, that way we can actually all fit in comfortably plus Gus AND our luggage! And my car’s mileage may stay as it should.
I hasten to add it is a normal, un-modified version Dan has found, thank goodness as a hundred grand – crikey- was the cost of the full on ‘done’ ones!



Oban sunsetSo, we eventually set off and as we headed to Oban, our first destination, this was our welcoming view…how utterly heavenly…sadly here it is the next morning:

Oban views

Sing along now… ‘What a difference a day makes’!

Adventures on the road
It was most amusing attempting to replicate the ‘how to attatch the awning/put the roof space up to find the bed/ pitch the tent’ etc etc, whilst beating the rain with the use of torches, once we found which flipping nook /cranny they were hidden in! Still nice to think we brought amusement to all the gang opposite us, enjoying their fire and wine…did I mention Dan parked on a SLANT?

We may have got the rain for our holiday, but heh oh it didn’t dampen our spirits nor our enjoyment of this beautiful part of our world.

St Andrews viewsKelpies in FalkirkAmazing whiskey









We took in all we could,  driving up and around the stunning Lochs sadly no sightings! We covered some 600 miles in just a couple of days and we will definitely be back to head further up the East coast, as we had to kind of zig zag to ensure we were at St Andrews for our ‘date ‘ with family and friends for the rest of our week.

What a wonderful break it was though, and I just love it when were all together, wherever we are! Not so this weekend as Dan is off challenging himself with the Brecon Beacons ride in Wales. Has he trained? Yes!
Is it enough? I’m not sure…
Will he manage it?
I have faith, besides he’s put away copious amounts of pasta this week, so he should have enough energy for all of his gang!
I’ve certainly been a cycle widow! Oh and did I mention the weekend starts with…GOLF!

Meanwhile, I shall be catching up with my lovely cousin , my sis in law and their children in between micro-managing the HOMEWORK. I shall save another blog for that!

This is just a quick ‘let you know what’s going on’ blog as I know the time has ticked away…better to say a quick hello than not to chat at all huh?

Monday is Day 2 of the phenomenon that is Beauty Day, so I shall be Laura Gellering and L’Occitaining with you at 11 and 12 , then off to film some more of the Technology Made Easy pieces ( can’t think why they’ve asked me!).

Tuesday and Wednesday I shall be with you on The Morning Show and onward, so I shall look forward to that.

Tootle-ooo  ( how on earth do you write that?!) for now, as I prepare to continue my battles re Tom….with the advice of a friend ringing in my ear: BREATHE!!

Good advice is worth passing on so…

Breathe well all of you!
All love,
Claire xxx


  1. Gwen Tugwell September 13, 2014 at 8:43 am -  Reply

    Hello Gorgeous Girl,
    Well what can I say to your latest blog except PHEW!!!! I got worn out just reading about all that you have been up to since we last heard from you. It was so entertaining and interesting, I know the children are such a source of pride to you and Dan and big congratulations for all that you both undertake with them. I wish you all the luck in the world with your fight for some help, I am sure that if anyone can do it you can.

    So lovely to hear from you and loads of love to you all.


  2. Karen Thompson September 14, 2014 at 12:53 am -  Reply

    Sounds tough regarding Tom’s needs. I really feel for you. Having to fight for something that should be open to him regardless of what anyone else thinks, you know him and his abilities, as well as the things that could be hard or maybe even dangerous for him.
    As a person with Autism(Asperger Syndrome), I can appreciate the difficulties you are facing, even though I am not a parent. Money is an issue to the powers that be but this cannot be the only consideration or the reason for a particular decision, when you look at the bigger picture of his safety and future, the right school is so important, so I hope things go well

  3. Rosemary Thompson September 15, 2014 at 8:29 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, I feel exhausted just reading your blog but somehow, whilst it must be very tiring, I really don’t think you would change this for the world. You seem to have an extremely well balanced family and high achievers, including Tom who as you say is doing things that are not expected of him. As far as Maddie is concerned :me thinks it like mother like daughter. Not a bad thing and she is very very lucky to have a role model like you. I hope she will learn to appreciate this in the future. Probably not now but it will come. My daughter is now 39 it really does show later in their lives. As far as Tom and your struggles. I have been down that route over 20 years ago. My son is severely dyslexic and we had to have him statemented in the end to get any help. He is so intelligent but needed the help. He was a very lucky boy and went to a fantastic school called Northease Manor near Lewes in Sussex. Again, this was a long time a go and they only take the children with most severe forms of dyslexia but I will for ever be grateful for their help and perseverance. With their help, my boy went on to Plumpton College and got an ND in amenity horticulture and landscape gardening. It is really tough to keep motivated sometimes but the love you feel for all your children will keep you going. Time goes so quickly. I know you want the best for Tom and my thoughts and hopes are with you through your struggles with the powers that be. Take care and keep smiling
    Rosie .

  4. Sian Domenchini-Cook September 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire, I so understand what you are going through with Tom. My son has ASD and it seems that you battle virtually from birth! We had a terrible time in mainstream school until he was 9 then finally got a place at a special school. It was an hour away and after some fight I got transport for him. As much as it was a very difficult decision to place him there, it has transformed his (and my) life. He has just moved into 6th form at a fairly school and the trauma to get him there, as they said they couldn’t help him, was monumental. Still as you get used to the fight I didn’t give in and even though he started school over a week late we got what we wanted. Keeping my fingers crossed that you get a satisfactory resolution soon. x

  5. maggie shankster September 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm -  Reply

    i think you are both marvelouse,unless you have a handicapped child its impossible to understand how hard it can be.i am carer to my brother so i know it can be hardto juggle.But oh the love they give is priceless,my Dad said they are gifts from heaven,well done and carry on

  6. Bernadette Brooks September 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm -  Reply

    Lovely blog as usual Claire, but I’m so sorry about the way you always have to fight to get the right things in place for Tom. I know you will always fight hard for him but it must feel sometimes as though you are bashing your head against a brick wall! Your lovely family are growing up fast. Keep smiling, as I know you will. Love Bernadette x

  7. MRy Lock September 26, 2014 at 11:59 pm -  Reply

    Wow what a busy time you have had. Good luck with the school transport I will be thinking of you.

  8. Steven September 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm -  Reply

    Loved the gardening show this morning Claire. Looked great too x

  9. Liz Dolan October 11, 2014 at 9:09 am -  Reply

    Hi Clare, just wanted to say how well you write, and I sympathise with you regarding Tom and school etc. we had a battle of sorts as my daughter who is severely autistic couldn’t ‘fit’ in the local schools. After a bit of a battle we managed to get her to a school an hour away, as a day pupil, with transport and an escort provided. There was another severely autistic pupil in the same vehicle. So keep going, you will get there. Hugs.. X

  10. Lisa January 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire i do understand about help my daughter has 60% hearing loss I had to battle with her school to get certain things for her it was simple things like sitting up front audio for exams teachers not turning around as my daughter had to lip read she also found sport hard as she couldn’t here instructions far away teachers thought she was just ignoring them I pushed and pushed for thease simple things now my son going throw similar things he has dyslexia I worked with people with learning difficulties for 18 years a lot of them had no parents so we were the parents we had to fight for them in certain things in this day of age help should be available I hope you get help with tom as you are such a lovely lady very bubbly good luck luv lisa x

  11. Christine Leggetter January 30, 2015 at 6:56 am -  Reply

    Hi Claire, I’ve only just come across presenters’ blog, so only just seen your comments about your holiday and the fact that your daughter wants to work at a zoo. Did you know that that you can be ‘a zookeeper for a day’? They offer this at several zoos, my grandchildren did it at Chessington ( we bought them vouchers for Christmas) and loved it. They got to go behind the scenes, prepare food and muck out and the rest of the family can wander round the zoo! X

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