Lost in Translation

V - Espanol

I’m two weeks in to my intermediate Spanish course. So far I have been on time for each lesson, so well done me, it’s after I arrive that it goes downhill.  We’ve been spending a lot of our lessons talking about things that we did in the past to learn how to use the past tense in verbs. That’s all good if there were only one past tense to choose from, but there are two I can describe and another two that I am not sure of yet. That makes FOUR!! Don’t you think that’s just greedy?

I had to get this explanation from the internet (thanks to as I don’t want to give you the wrong information and lead you down the same rabbit hole I’m in.

“What’s past is past, but in Spanish what’s past may be either preterite or imperfect. Unlike English, Spanish has two simple past tenses, known as the preterite (often called the preterit) and the imperfect indicative. (As in English, they are known as simple tenses to distinguish them from verb forms that use an auxiliary verb, such as “has left” in English and ha salido in Spanish.)

Although the English simple past in a sentence such as “he ate” can be conveyed in Spanish using either the preterite (comió) or the imperfect indicative (comía), the two tenses are not interchangeable.”

I know this is true because of the amount of times I’ve managed to get it wrong in class and everyone else has sniggered at me. There are some very smart people in my group, which is not intimidating at all, no, no, really. No.

I’m also fairly certain now that even though the famous languages teacher, Michel Tomas, who up to now has been a bit of a hero in my house, is great for starting to speak a language you shouldn’t rely on him for. He teaches that you make sentences together by translating directly from one language to another, this just isn’t possible.

V Espanol Book

In Spanish, verb tenses are formed by changing the endings of verbs, a process known as conjugation. Present tense, imperfect, preterite, future, conditional, the present perfect, the pluperfect, the past perfect, the preterite perfect, future perfect and the conditional perfect conjugation. So, we should have that all under control by next week.

What I am learning from learning Spanish is how little I understand the English language. I must have missed out on the grammar lessons at my (don’t laugh) Grammar School because I don’t understand the terms, I am literally starting from scratch.

Anyone who has studied Spanish is aware of the troublesome relationship between the pretérito and imperfecto. The imperfecto (yo hablaba) translates to the English imperfect (I was talking) while the pretérito (yo hablé) literally translates to the English simple past (I talked) but can also be translated as the English present perfect (I have talked) or the emphatic past (I did talk). And when a person asks you in Spanish what you did before they will ask you using the present tense. (Example: “Desde cuando vives aqui ?” translates to “From when you live here?”) Confuso? Si. Thanks for asking.  

Of course I have been searching the internet for “easy ways to remember the different Spanish verb tenses”.  That brings up almost a million and a half results, so I guess there’s still some work to be done there. Hang on in there McLeod.

Have Lifepack, will travel.


What inspires an invention?  They say necessity is the mother of all invention. For Adrian Solgaard the tipping point for the creation of his new invention, a solar powered back pack, came when his friend was the victim of a crime. We met over Skype for a quick chat.

Vicki McLeod: How did this come to be? You’ve developed a solar powered, lockable back pack which can fit all of your day to day mobile office and work needs. That’s pretty amazing!

You can lock your bag up when you're out and about (1)

Adrian Solgaard: I first had the idea in 2005 when I was 18, I was travelling on a train and I needed to sleep. I was irritated by the idea that I had to wrap my luggage around me to prevent it from being stolen by thieves. But it wasn’t until 2015 when I was sitting with a friend having a drink, our bags where on the floor between our chairs and my friend’s bag was stolen, that it tipped me over the edge! I started to source and prototype ideas, contacted factories and worked on getting the product exactly right. When I had finished the prototype I started on “Real World Testing” and got a tonne of consumer feedback. Now we’re in the middle of our Kickstarter campaign.

VMC: Why a Kickstarter campaign? What is it?

AS: It’s a way to get pre-orders for the bag, it’s enabled us to gauge the reaction of the general public, and raise funds. It means that we will be in production this year with the bag as we have reached our initial goals.

VMC: Wow, that’s so exciting! So when can customers expect to have the bag in their hands?

AS: If you have pledged money on the Kickstarter campaign then you will have the bag in October.

VCM: How is the Kickstarter campaign going?

AS: Really well, we’ve met our targets, now we are doing what’s called “Stretch Goals” which means that we can unlock more options on the bag, by offering more colours for example. You can still order one.

VMC: What’s so special about the bag?

AS: We’re saying that we´ve reinvented the mobile office.

VMC: Big claim!

AS: Well, it’s got a solar power bank which can keep your phone alive via a USB charger, everyone’s phones run out of charge just at the crucial moment, but with this bag you won’t be stranded. You don’t have to worry about your smartphone battery dying, you can have it on charge in the bag. You can get up to 12 charges for an iPhone 6, but it’s compatible with any USB charging device.

You can charge your phone using the solar panels in the bag

It’s also got an integrated lock which means you can keep the bag locked up and keeps your stuff secure. The separate compartments inside the bag are for your work and life, so you can separate your work life from your underwear, nobody wants to get their socks out at a meeting do they?!

Lifepack, Cafe shot.

Then when you’re out at the beach you can use the Bluetooth speakers to play your music. The lock also has a bottle opener on it, which is helpful when you’re having a beer at the beach as well! The bag is weather resistant, and drop resistant (there are internal protective air cells to keep your laptop safe), and super organised. We’ve also designed it to have four hidden compartments so when you are travelling you can keep your important documents close to you and not worry about them being lost or stolen. The bag’s zippers are also lockable. And another feature is the RFID protected pockets which keeps your credit cards and passport safe from identity theft.

VMC: How much can you stuff in there then? I know I have to have at least three bags wherever I go! One for the gym, one for work and a handbag.

AS: Well I can pack two shirts, two pairs of underpants, two pairs of socks, a tie, a belt, shampoo and lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, cologne, a passport, sunglasses, swim shorts, goggles, the solar bank and speakers in the back, and a 15″ laptop, charger, mouse, two notebooks, three pens, headphones, my smart phone, glasses case, keys, wallet, loose change, USB charger and cables, loos papers, receipts, business cards and a banana in the front!

VMC: That more or less covers it! What about the kitchen sink? This isn’t the first time you’ve invented something useful is it?

AS: No, I’m also responsible for the Interlock which won four international design awards and has been distributed to twenty eight countries.  That experience has meant that I’ve been able to get the Lifepack to this stage much more efficiently. There are two other people in the team with me who are crucial as well, Ashley and Chris, so between the three of us we’ve done well.

VMC: What’s your connection to Majorca?

AS: I’ve lived on the island, right now I am travelling around a lot to get the Lifepack into production, but I hope I will be back soon. A lot of my friends who live in Majorca feature in the product promotional photos and we used Majorca as the location for the shoot.  Majorca’s the perfect place for a Lifepack, so many people blend work with life and are on the move, it makes perfect sense.

The bag has been designed to be part of an active, modern lifestyle

You can read more about Adrian and his invention at:

To read more articles about Majorca visit

International Women’s Day



Every year for the past five years I’ve organised an International Women’s Day celebration to mark the official day which is March 8th. This year it falls on a Tuesday. I want to invite businesses, organisations and individuals to come together to commemorate this important day. I also would love to see charities, associations and businesses run by women or for women. Would your organisation like to participate? We’ve had all sorts of different events, treats, speeches, workshops, lunches, emotional moments and flash mobs, what will happen this year?

The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation, like myself, may feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so each year the world inspires women and celebrates their achievements. IWD is an official holiday in many countries. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades and more. Many global corporations actively support IWD by running their own events and campaigns. For example, on 8 March Google often changes its Google Doodle on its global search pages to honour IWD. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally! Make everyday International Women’s Day.  Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. The theme this year is “Make It Happen”, can you help me make it happen this year? Please contact me at if you can.

Introducing Aimee…..

Introducing Aimee and Fashion Blog Wednesday, you can look forward to seeing some of Aimee and the FBW team’s work every Sunday in the Majorca Daily Bulletin from next week.


Vicki: What’s your background, where were you raised?

Aimee: I was raised in the countryside outside of Seattle, Washington and have many memories of the great outdoors – trees, rivers, lakes, country roads and the open sky were my playground. My grandparents owned several of the small businesses in our town and life was very simple – school, church, camping. I never had homework. At that time the area was so rural it took 5 towns that were scattered far apart from one another to make up an elementary school. From a very young age I yearned to travel, to see the world. When I read stories of distant cultures and faraway places or heard of other´s travels, I felt a pang of jealousy.

Vicki: How did you get into modelling?

Aimee: At the age of 15, and with the support of a school teacher, I began to pursue a modelling career. At 17 I left school and went to work as a model in New York City. At 173 cm, I was always considered the short model and my lack of height only toughened the competition.  Everyone in the industry said that I needed to go to Milano to start. A few months later the agency in New York connected me with an agency in Milano and I was on a plane within 3 weeks. I spent the next 6 months working as an editorial model there and also worked as a recording artist with Polygram records.

The next 5 years of my life involved a lot of travelling. Every city had its modelling market – Tokyo was smiling and happy girls, Milan was the interesting editorial types, Germany was the healthy granola eating type, Taiwan was the catalogues, Paris was the runway types and finally there was my market – Barcelona, for the TV commercial types. In Barcelona I found my niche and in 1989 it became home. I would leave for two month contracts when the cities were interesting and the agencies were good. My home was located in Sitges, half an hour south of Barcelona by train. I was also involved in music and sang in a band called GG Gabetta – we sung in Spanish and were fortunate to open for the Bee Gees at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium in Parc Montjuic and also in Madrid. It was during these days of living in Sitges that I began photography as a hobby. I was surrounded by beautiful and talented models who were the adventurous types open to new experiences. They were inspiring to photograph.  

My primary niche was in non-speaking TV spots and I could be seen during prime time drinking beer, driving a new car, eating doughnuts, in sailing boats or in the shower (Palmolive body wash). That market was far from the anorexic and cocaine-induced types that could be found in the bigger cities like Paris or Milan.  Except for the occasional comment about my height, body image wasn´t an issue.

Vicki: What’s your opinion about modelling now? Is it still important to be tall and skinny? What about the guys? Are they affected as well?

Aimee: The issue for the female models is largely about age and body size. The emphasis on women´s beauty being age-based has always dug deeper than the issues around body size.  Girls as young as 13 are working as women and by the time they are 22, they would be considered too old for the industry. Youth is what is valued in women for most of the huge, money-driven advertising campaigns that teach our children the definition of “beauty”. Male models work successfully into their 30´s.  The rough, rugged look, 3-day beard, strong brow and lined forehead (think Marlboro man) shows society values men at an older age.  With these societal values instilled so deeply, men grow older gracefully while women feel pressured to “preserve” themselves instead of embracing the womanly qualities that develop with age. There have been advances lately on the cat-walk as some designers are demanding to use “plus size” models.  Most women in the real world would love to be considered a “plus size” by runway standards because those women are not even mildly plump! Clothes do show well by hanging from the model instead of fitting the model but this can also be achieved by using real-life sized models in larger clothing sizes.

Vicki: So, what happened next?

Aimee: I left the modelling industry at 22 years of age with the feeling that I wanted roots and a base. I returned to Seattle and began studies. As I had dropped out of school, I had to take one year of science, English and maths to qualify to take the university entrance exams.  I spent the next 7 years pursuing a degree in Master´s of Nursing, Women´s Health Studies and graduated with marks in the top 10% of the country. This was followed by working in a large teaching hospital in the Maternity Ward.  In 2004, I moved to Hong Kong and worked for the Chinese University of Hong Kong´s Teaching and Educational Support Department.

Although I loved academia and could be creative in the writing aspects of the job, I found it to be dry. In 2008, I opened a kid´s talent agency called Peanut Butter ´n Jelly Models ( and this was where the photography career unintentionally found its roots. In order to get the website to look the streamline and clean, I bought studio lights and rented a studio space. For the next 6 months, I photographed hundreds of children for free – working to populate the agency database with gorgeous images of the children before opening for business. Peanut Butter ´n Jelly is a largely diversified agency with children from all ethnicities and sizes. We encourage only expressive children who are outgoing with a lean towards independence to register. It can be an empowering experience for these children on so many levels, for example – self expression, instilling responsibility and working cooperatively.

In 2010, I took a trip to Bodhgaya, India to work on a healthcare team helping 4000 Buddhist monks and nuns who were attending a retreat. There, I met my husband, Oliver Haak, a German Mallorca-based paediatrician. One year later, I moved to Majorca and fell in love with this beautiful island.  To me, Majorca is one of the most beautiful places in the world and every day I feel fortunate to live here and experience this island. Palma has a big city mentality in a big village ambience. The design and layout of the buildings, parks and streets along with the small family run businesses and lack of corporate presence makes it a quaint place with a quality environment.

Vicki: Tell me about photography career, how has it developed? How did Fashion Blog Wednesday start?

Aimee: In the first three years in Majorca I worked primarily with models, then my business grew into documentary-style wedding photography. At the end of the wedding season last year, I wanted to do something creative and teamed up with make-up artist Laura Gisbert and stylist Sara Linnea Lund to do a test shoot.  This meant that everyone worked at no cost but developed professionally, with the final images used for professional promotion. We found that it was so freeing to not have an end-client and that we had the space to offer each other constructive feedback.  The shoot was rewarding on personal and professional levels.  We decided together that we would keep it going. It was a Wednesday and that was the birth of Fashion Blog Wednesday (FBW). Since then, we´ve added behind-the-scenes videography of each shoot set to music. Fashion Blog Wednesday is a project with simple goals and no end-client – creativity, fun and professional development.

Vicki: What influences FBW?

Aimee: Each team member of FBW has their own inspiration depending on their role. Our work flow is largely based on the stylist´s inspiration board. We go for street-style shots, with natural lighting, vertical layout  and clean looking photography. We´ve grown our team to include some guest make-up artists and stylists who offer some fresh ideas and new perspectives.

Street style fashion photography has been around since 2005.  A street style blog photographer shoots snazzy dressers who happen by and then blogs about it. FBW uses clothing that is affordable and accessible with brand names from shops of medium price range and an occasional high-end item. We use textures, layers and styles from the current season and latest trends.  

Vicki: Are you interested to get applications from models?
Aimee: We´re always looking to collaborate with new talent. Female models of average sizes who wear the clothes well are welcome to send us their info and fashion designers who would like to do test shoots are more than welcome.  We´ve turned down models for being overly thin and don´t support that aspect of the fashion industry. We prefer to work on a community-level as Majorca has an abundance of talent!

You can contact Aimee at Check out the blog at

and view her commercial work at


Life’s lessons learnt for 2015

life's lessons.jpg    Logo-Nathalie-Sejean-2015-site-04-e1449960673226.jpg

I came across this list of “Lessons learned in 2015” written by (Please visit her website, it’s full of ideas for inspiring creativity).  I liked her list so much that I thought you might enjoy reading it as well.  

1)  It’s okay to say no.

2)  Your creative voice lies where you feel vulnerable

3)  If you stay fluid bruises will become lessons

4)  Find your own habits and stick to them

5) Always be in motion

6) Creativity is a muscle, not a gift

7) Quantity matters

8) Be kind to yourself

9) Know the intention behind your decisions

10) Virtual connections can be life changing, IRL (in-real-life) connections are vital

lifes lessons

What have I learnt this year? It’s been a big year for me and my family in terms of growth, we’ve all done things which we’ve not done before, and we’ve all struggled and eventually succeeded in the goals we set out to achieve. For La Gidg it was the improvement in her Catalan and Castillano grades at school. She’s gone up two grades in Spanish and one grade in Catalan. When we went to get her end of term marks two days before Christmas it was quite the proudest moment for us all to see how she has improved. For me it has been to find an achievable work life balance where I get to do things which I need to do for my health, and in particular my back (I have sittingdownitis which is apparently as bad for you as smoking used to be) whilst still also earning a living and keeping most of my clients happy most of the time. My other goal was for this to be the year when we would finally earn enough money to get our kitchen sorted out. We didn’t quite get that in this year but we have put the plan in progress for it to be done by next March, so “Good enough for rock and roll” as a friend of mine used to say.  But the thing that I think we have all learnt collectively is to believe and have confidence in ourselves and our dreams, they are achievable, we can do it, we are in the right place.

2015 has been a year of movement and change in the Mallorcan expat community, quite a few people have moved back to the UK or onwards to somewhere else, making room for new faces and new ideas. I’ve seen increased confidence in businesses in Mallorca to invest in themselves but not necessarily in the traditional tourism areas, we’re seeing diversification: more interest in cycling and other sport tourism, more interest in Mallorca’s natural treasures, as well as the continuing appeal that our island has for the more “upmarket” visitor, and a boom in the nautical industry and services. What will 2016 hold for us all? I hope continued recovery from our various financial dips, a healthy and happy new year for you all, and a continued belief in ourselves that we are truly living our dreams, and if you aren’t then make steps to change what you’re doing so you’re living the happiest and most fulfilling life you possibly can. Happy new year. See you in 2016 xxx


Not every apple is created equal


Fruit n Veg

I dislike the phrase “health kick”. It suggests that it will be over in a flash, probably after taking someone out at the knees and landing on their bottom. It’s not a good image. I prefer the phrase “lifestyle change” which is more appropriate, sounds more serious and more, you know, grown up. We’ve (I say we, I mean “I”) been reading a lot about different types of diets: low fat, low calorie, Paleo, 80/20, Cabbage Soup, the White Food Diet, you name it they’re out there. They all claim they are THE diet to make the difference. Following research from Israeli scientists it turns out that it’s not a “One Size Fits All” approach to diet that will work: your body may well respond differently to your partner’s because of different responses to a food’s Glycemic Index.  But measuring your responses to your food may be a step too far for most of us, you’d need to ask a scientist to move in for a start, but there are other things we can do to improve the healthiness of how and what we are eating. I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who buys her veggies with every good intention to “do something with them” and then at the end of the week have to throw them out to replace them with a new version of the same thing, what a waste. According to Mallorca’s own Mister Eco, Jerry Whitehouse, not every vegetable is created equal as with modern farming methods there are plenty of your five a day that are coming with added ingredients you probably didn’t want. Spinach, kale, lettuce and leafy greens have been found to be contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. Potatoes are the vegetable which has the most pesticides used on it by far but even the humble cucumber will have had 86 different pesticides used on it whilst celery will have seen 60 pesticides. 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue strawberries are covered in a fungicidal spray, and cherries (which I eat like sweets in the summer, you can imagine my dismay when I saw them on the list), pears and grapes (imported) are all fruits to give a serious swerve to as well. Apparently you should also be checking out your humble raisin as well, as just like the grapes they come from they can have traces of 15 different pesticides on them. And don’t even get me started on apples…. The good news is that you can source organic products in Mallorca very easily, and cost effectively, which supports both your health and the economic health of the island and you can even get them delivered to your door!  Check out for more information about organic food in Mallorca, we are the potato capital of Europe, but that’s a whole other story.

Dear Father Christmas

hand writing letter

It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote to you, I hope you can forgive me for my silence, I’ve been rather busy being a grown up, and I see now that I have been neglecting you. I’m writing to ask you if I could have a very special present this year: I’d like just one more Christmas with my daughter before she stops believing in you. She asked me last week if you really existed and I had to turn away from her to answer her. “Father Christmas is magical, and if you believe in magic then yes, he does exist”, is what I said. But it’s been hard to believe in magic recently with all of the terrible things that have been going on in the world.

I know most of your letters probably come from much younger correspondents, because as adults we’re supposed to be depending on reality rather than magic as a way of getting things done, but I think I need a bit of help with this. We often choose to be logical, rational, when really we should be allowing ourselves to dream and be carried away with the wonder and amazingness (it’s a word, I looked it up) of the world. And I don’t want my daughter to be drawn down into the adult world so quickly where things are so serious, so relentless and so mean. She’s only just ten, and being a grown up seems to be lasting for a very long time. I don’t want her to be in such a rush to get there.


So Father Christmas do you think you can help me? Children need magic, and to be honest, I could do with some magic too. I’d like my daughter to have more time being a kid, to have more time to play and have fun. And can you help all the other children as well? My daughter has a great life with so many privileges, but what about the children living in fear, or suffering illness, hunger or poverty? Can you help to light up their lives with a moment of joy, a sparkle of magic? I know that there are charities and organisations in Mallorca collecting frantically for presents for children for Christmas parties: The Allen Graham Charity for Kidz, The Salvation Army, The JoyRon Foundation, the local radio stations as well,  so there are lots of island based Father Christmases doing their best. I must remember to tell people that they can take their donations of gifts to drop off points such as the local charities, or Mood in Portals.              Hearts on Branch                   

Please Father Christmas, it would mean so much to me, and to her, and we’ve both tried very hard to be good this year.

Lots of love to you and Mrs Christmas

Vicki xxx

PS: I’ll leave a mince pie, carrot and wee dram out as usual. The chimney is quite narrow, so you might be better coming through the window.

Find your dream


Follow your dreams

Back in the day, my first ever career out of school (funny isn’t it how we all used to think we would have one career and have to stick to it for the rest of our lives) was in the theatre. I was a stage and company manager, working my way up from the humble position of Assistant Stage Manager (tea maker, stage sweeper, lunch fetcher, prop maker, et al) through many different short term contracts with a wide variety of styles of theatre and companies. You would get the job, work the job and then at the end of the contract you might be asked to do another show, or you would go and look in the back of The Stage newspaper and see what was happening, or perhaps you would hear about something on the grapevine, or better yet, you would receive a phone call from a production manager or director who had heard about you and wanted to meet you. I started from nothing at my local theatre doing work experience, they in turn (and this was my first encouragement to keep going) asked me to return to work on a show the following year as a part of the stage crew, then one thing led to another and I joined the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain as part of their Stage Management Team (returning a few years later to actually work for them is one of the proudest moments of my life). I worked in the West End, and toured nationally and internationally, all without ever having stepped inside of a drama school or university to train.

Now, I know that you can’t apply this method to some types of profession, the obvious one being doctor and you can’t just show up and learn on the job as a dentist either I would suggest. Sometimes you might even feel that you are not qualified or able to perform a task because you weren’t taught it in a classroom and then sat an exam on the subject, but really there’s a vast choice of jobs that you absolutely should learn from the bottom up that do not require three years in college. More importantly is the individual aptitude and personality: are you enthusiastic, ready to work and eager to improve? I think these qualifications are all you need. But the crunch comes when you may be desperate to do something new in your working life, but simply have no idea what. That’s something I have never suffered from and I think it’s because I’ve always kept an open mind about what I can and can’t do, and what interests me or not. Why do people get so stuck in jobs that they don’t like when the reality is that if you want to change your job, you can. Look around and find something that interests you, research it, go and introduce yourself to the people who can help you, and be enthusiastic, determined, and ready to learn. I’m living proof that it works.

Climb every mountain

Sa Foradada

“I’m not going. I’m NOT!” My daughter, La Gidg, has determinedly set out her stall over the last weeks  after we announced our plan to go for a walk en famille to the “hole in the rock restaurant” at Sa Foradada in Deia. Completely understandable really: last time she went on a big walk involving a steep hill climb and descent (January 2015, Sa Trapa) she slipped and fell, slicing her leg open. We ended up in hospital having her knee stitched up to the tune of fifteen external and god knows how many (official statistics were hard to come by) internal stitches. This incident was then followed by several weeks of outpatient appointments to the paediatric department and a as yet pending plastic surgery operation for this winter coming. She could get away with saying that a shark attacked her the scar is that big and scary. Accompanying the scar came a fear of repeating the incident and hurting herself again. She was extraordinarily brave when we made our way down after she fell, keeping going through extreme pain and in very difficult circumstances, but her courage seemed to have given way to what some might say was a sensible approach, but my husband and I thought was overly cautious to the point of avoidance. We’re not the most “outward bound” type of family, although we do try, so her new approach to going for a walk on a Sunday didn’t really go down that well. We tried a variety of arguments to get her to change her mind: rationalising that it was a fluke accident that was unlikely to repeat, playing it cool and waiting for her to change her mind through the sheer amount of time that had passed, and most recently, blackmail. That good old fashioned parenting tool which has to be got out of the box now and again. Really we needed to get her “back on the horse” and back on the trail as we knew that the fear could be overcome, and we knew that the fear had to be overcome. So, last Sunday, following a couple of quite difficult ultimatums, we finally got on the track. My husband went ahead of us and we were left to make our way down on our own, just as we had when we descended from Sa Trapa in January. Walking slowly down to the sea, and to lunch, my daughter and I had the time of our lives. We gossiped about boys, we talked about funny things that she had done when she was a baby, and we spoke about the future. We looked after each other going down the steep path, and then back up it again, and don’t be mistaken, it’s a tough hot, breathless climb back up. But that’s to be expected isn’t it, and facing your fears, whatever they are, has to be done, whatever age you are.

Back to School!


Blog Photo - Back to School.

As our children’s long holidays come to an end and summer winds down, it’s time to get ready for a new school year. Hooray!

As with any new or potentially unsettling situation — like starting school for the first time or entering a new year or new school — allow kids time to adjust. Remind them that everyone feels a little nervous about the first day of school and that it will all become an everyday routine in no time.

Emphasize the positive things about going back to school, such as playing with old friends, meeting new classmates, buying cool school supplies, and getting involved in sports and other activities.

It’s also important to talk to kids about what worries them and offer reassurance: Are they afraid they won’t make new friends or get along with their teachers? Is the thought of schoolwork stressing them out? Are they worried about the bully from last year?

Consider adjusting your own schedule to make the transition smoother. If possible, it’s especially beneficial for parents to be home at the end of the school day for the first week. But many working parents just don’t have that flexibility. Instead, try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those first few days.

To help ease back-to-school butterflies, try to transition kids into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Also make sure that they: get enough sleep (establish a reasonable bedtime so that they’ll be well-rested and ready to learn in the morning) eat a healthy breakfast (they’re more alert and do better in school if they eat a good breakfast every day) have them organize and set out what they need the night before (homework and books should be put intheir backpacks by the door and clothes should be laid out in their bedrooms)


Here’s some more ideas to make a smooth transition back into the school timetable and get you and your children ready for the new school  year. 

Happy School Children

  1. Take your kids shopping with you. Your kids will be more excited to use their back-to-school supplies if they picked them out. Doing so will help them feel prepared and will also provide an opportunity to talk about how the new supplies might be used in the coming year.
  1. Re-Establish School Routines

Use the last couple of weeks of summer to get into a school-day rhythm. Have your child practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning.  Start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your child will eat when school is in session.

It’s also important to get your child used to leaving the house in the morning, so plan morning activities outside the house in the week or two before school. When the school rush comes, hustling your child out the door will be less painful if she has broken summer habits like relaxing in her PJ’s after breakfast.Light Bulb 2.png

  1. Nurture Independence

Once the classroom door shuts, your child will need to manage a lot of things on his own. Get him ready for independence by talking ahead of time about responsibilities he’s old enough to shoulder. This might include organising his school materials, writing down assignments, and bringing home homework.

Even if your child is young, you can instill skills that will build confidence and independence at school. Have your young child practice writing her name and tying her own shoes. The transition to school will be easier for everyone if your child can manage basic needs without relying on an adult.

  1. backpack-309936_960_720Create a Launch Pad

At home, you can designate a spot where school things like backpacks and lunch boxes always go to avoid last-minute scrambles in the morning. You might also have your child make a list of things to bring to school and post it by the front door.

5. Set Up a Time and Place for Homework

Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child’s everyday routine. Establish a time and a place for studying at home. As much as possible, plan to make yourself available during homework time, especially with younger kids. You might be reading the paper or cooking dinner, but be around to check in on your child’s progress.

  1. Pay a visit before school restarts

Try to pass by with your child a few days before school starts to pick up books, check timetables, meet the teachers.

  1. Make it a Family Affair

Together, you and your child can plan for success in school. For instance, sit down with your child to create a routine chart. Ask your child what she wants to do first when she first gets home from school: play outside or do homework? Her answers go on the chart. The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it.

  1. Talk early and often. It’s never too early to start talking with and listening to your children about the first day of school. Ask them what they think school will be like and see if they have any specific concerns so that you’ll have time to address it over the next couple of weeks. It’s totally normal to have first day jitters.

Blog Photo - Back to School2

Of course, for many parents it’s also a time of celebration as the school routines herald the return of some structured time in the day, but try not to celebrate TOO loudly! Happy days!