Exam fever hits in the Olley house


Hi everyone,

I wrote this blog in a rare moment of peace early last Sunday morning…

The house is quiet, and I'm sitting at the window in the back room, looking out across our garden (with the lawn freshly mown by Billy yesterday – his first time and he did a great job, bless him!) and the low morning sun is winking at me through the trees with their newly acquired full coat of leaves.

I was up early to wave Charlie off to Derbyshire for a day of training with the England U16 hockey squad. I now have 2 whole hours before I need to wake Billy for his cricket match, and I'm going to make the most of it!

Exam time

Our household is pretty fraught at the moment, along, I'm sure, with many others. Charlie is revising hard for his GCSEs – his art exam was last week, French oral on Tuesday and then they start in earnest. Bex, at 17, is facing her A Levels, with physics, chemistry and biology on her plate. She needs 2 A grades and a B to follow her desired path to becoming a doctor.
They are coping really well, but there's an underlying atmosphere of tension which gives me the feeling that we're on the edge of a precipice and one wrong step would put us over that edge!

Busy lives

They are both people who have always crammed a lot into their lives, and their enjoyment of sport helps them now by giving a physical release to all the mental cramming they're doing.

But it also leaves them struggling to find the time for their revision, which can add to their stress – it's all about finding the balance. I'm trying to help with that, but sometimes a sensitive teenager can interpret a well-meaning word of advice from Mum as interfering and accusing, so I have to be careful!!

Lots of revision = little housework

One thing I've noticed is that there is always a vital piece of information that needs to be checked just as I open my mouth to ask for help with the washing up. It's funny, because I remember exactly that all those years ago when my brothers and I were going through the same situation. Revision for exams always takes precedence over household chores, we assured my Mum!

Looking forward to the summer

One thing that keeps both Bex and Charlie going is the thought of a long hot summer once exams are over. That's what we've been promised isn't it? Let's hope it arrives – I think we deserve it after the last couple of wet excuses.

They both have some travel plans to look forward to and they know that a few weeks of hard work will soon be over and then they can relax and get down to some serious enjoyment of life. Except they'll be back on washing-up duties, of course.

Until then, I'm happy to be elbow deep in hot soapy water as my part in the family effort. After all, as Winston Churchill once said, 'If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.'

Let me know if your home is suffering from exam fever at the moment – any hints on how to relieve the pressure gratefully received!!

Take care – and good luck!



  1. SuziQ May 13, 2009 at 7:56 pm -  Reply

    Kathy I am sure your children will be fine-good luck to them! I went through A’levels with my daughter last year and she was lucky enough to get straights A’s,she is now at Uni studying English and Spanish Law!
    I am really posting to say that I think you are looking fab at the moment. You always look nice but the longer hair really suits you-and you always have such a great smile!

  2. Samantha Allen May 13, 2009 at 11:34 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy,this is the first time I have written to a presenter,but you seem to say how I feel at the moment.
    I have two sons, twenty and fourteen, my oldest son William is disabled,and has been for the past four years, he is amazing though,he has such a strong character and his attitude towards how his life has panned out over the last few years is unbelievable,it makes me cry to think how far he has come and how much he has achieved being disabled,it is not about how much he has not done – that is his way of thinking,he calls being disabled “it” and “it” lives with him,not him living with “it”. He is now in the closing stages of his A’ Levels,he has done two,IT and Biology,as three would have been too much for him,but he is going to college next year to do Chemistry A’ level,and he is very much looking forward to it.
    My other son Alex is in the beginning of his O’ Levels, but he too has an amazing attitude,as he is severely dyslexic,and life does get very frustrating for him a lot of the time I would say,but we do try and get round these times, as it can all get you really down if you choose to let it.
    So I say “WELL DONE” to all those going through the same moments as your children and mine are at the moment,but also to all us “MUMS AND DADS” and maybe “GRANDPARENTS” too, we all need each other, to put our arms around them and give them a great big hug, they really do deserve it,and need it.
    Love and best wishes to you and your family,and to all the other presenters at QVC,
    Samantha Allen.

  3. Kathy Tayler May 15, 2009 at 11:19 am -  Reply

    Hi SuziQ!
    WOW! Your daughter did so well – congrats to her. It’s a time of great opportunity for our teenagers but the changes aren’t always as easy as we hope, so I hope she’s happy at uni.
    And thanks for your comments – glad you like the hair!
    Kathy x

  4. Kathy Tayler May 15, 2009 at 11:45 am -  Reply

    Samantha, what a moving way you write about your sons. You are obviously very proud of them both, and justifyably so. William sounds an inspiration to us all – he’s done so well. Good luck to him this summer and beyond.
    My nephew was disabled four years ago too – he’s now 15 years old. You’re right – it’s so much better to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you can’t.
    And I identify with Alex as well. Our Billy doesn’t find the academic world as comfortable as his older siblings – he is also dyslexic, although not severely, and has to work really hard for his results. But he has so many other wonderful qualities that may not win him medals or A grades, but will certainly help him through his life and enrich that of others too. His smile always makes me feel better.
    All our children have so much to offer – best of luck to both your two!
    Take care
    Kathy x

  5. Marie Stein May 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy
    I don’t have any children but my sister has her 2 youngest (out of 4) going through A Levels and GCSEs at the moment so is going through the same situation. She is a full time nurse (also called Kathy!) and I’m overawed by how much she manages to cram into her life, she loves her job, her family, runs the house. It wears me out just listening to how much she gets done most days!
    Anyway I hope all of your children do well in their exams and good luck to the mums and dads and grandparents who are treading on eggshells until the exams are over.
    And you ALL deserve a great holiday afterwards, so I hope we get that lovely summer we’ve been promised by Richard Jackson!
    Kind regards

  6. Debbie May 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy
    Deb here. You poor thing!
    I don’t know what I am going to do next year when Annalie has all her GCSEs to contend with.
    She is doing her Maths a year early and had her first paper on Monday – I felt physically sick for her! I went to pick her up from school and she was so relieved to have got through it!
    I have my Portuguese papers at the end of the week too.
    See you next week
    Debbie Greenwood x

  7. Helen June 2, 2009 at 12:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy
    I’m going through the same thing here – my son is doing the second year of A levels and it’s horrible! Housework is being put to one side until everything is over and done with – I don’t want to be blamed for disturbing revision with the hoover! Comfort food is all we can cope with at the moment – that means endless supplies of chocolate, biscuits and toffee popcorn! Will need to get back on the pilates after this! Hope your nerves hold up – I’m with you all the way!

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