Archive for October, 2009


October 14, 2009

When I was presented with the task of writing something on diets, I was daunted by the prospect, as many of my friends and family know I am ALWAYS ON A DIET! 

My dieting days commenced about 10 years ago when I entered my 30’s and had my 3 wonderful children.  I had my first son when I was 31, and after coming home and sticking to the exercises given to me by the midwife was back in my jeans in about 3 weeks.  Also decided to breast feed my son and was loving the fact could eat a lot more and feed and this also helped my stomach to reduce in size.  Was a win, win situation.  Then it all changed.  Yes the birth of my next two little miracles changed my body size and I found it very difficult getting back to my old weight.  Everyone would say your body changes after birth and just make the most of the change and get used to it.  Even my husband used to say to me you do not look bad considering you have had 3 children (which I always felt was not really a compliment).  So here is my tale.

Over the past 10 years I must admit I have tried anything and everything (well apart from diet tablets as refuse to take tablets as part of a diet as does not seem natural).  I went on weight watchers which I must admit was a success, but then as work and family life became busier ended up not attending meetings and back into my old ways.  I tried jogging as they say exercise is the answer to keeping weight down, this was not something I enjoyed and did find it was hard on my knees.  Then I turned to swimming as everyone states swimming exercises every muscle in your body.  Well during the summer it was easy and would swim so many lengths each time visited the pool and would feel refreshed, fitter and certainly was toning my body and helping me to keep trim.  Then the winter months arrived and I must admit could not motivate myself to go swimming a few times a week.  What next you ask – I got hooked on the mail order programmes and ended up purchasing 2 ABS exercise products, what a waste of time they were, even my husband laughed as told me I had been sucked in yet again.  Then I had a brilliant idea and decided to purchase one of these exercise balls with dvd, this was great and could really feel it working and toning up my body.  I would carry out my routine every saturday morning and was really feeling good.  Would always do this while everyone was asleep and out would come my ball and dvd in the player and off I went.  Then they started getting up earlier and watching my routine in fits of laughter.  So you have guessed it the programme stopped and now our cat has got to the ball and it is lying in our spare room totally deflated.  Now you ask was I also being careful about food intake.  Sure was and was cooking fresh meals every night, stopped buying biscuits, cakes, sweets and crisps and was eating freshly prepared meals, had lots of fruit available and cut out breakfast and would only have a very small lunch.  Still my weight was creeping up some months, or I was only loosing a pound and would all go back on the next week.  I got to the stage when I thought I am worrying about everything I was eating and also trying to frantically think of new exercises to do to keep me trim.  Always on a diet as everyone would say.  One day I remembered what my old granny used to say just eat everything in moderation and enjoy life.  Started me thinking.  Did I look that bad, was I that fat, was I that out of shape.  Not really.  I looked at myself and yes my shape had changed after having my 3 children, but I was a slightly fuller figure and in proportion.  One day it just hit me make the most of your body, dress to suit your shape and you will be amazed how much confidence it gives you and how great you feel.  So wardrobe changed and I am a different woman.  I also stopped drinking wine (well a few glasses at weekends).  I am a keen cook and would love to have a glass of wine while cooking and one with a meal.  I was amazed at how much weight I lost just cutting out the wine every night.  Never realised this could add on the pounds so much.  I also found a great drink pomegranate juice.  My husband went out one night with mates from work and was driving so could not drink and came home raving about  about  pomegranate juice.  It is a lovely refreshing drink and in tesco’s you can get their own 4 for £3.00 at the moment.  It also helps to cleanse your body and a lovely drink with your evening meal.  So the long and the short of this tale is I accepted who I am, made the most of my figure, carried on enjoying good food (in moderation) ensured I had a breakfast every morning, became a fan of pomegranate juice (or cranberry, raspberry juice just as good) and now I feel good, look trim and feel confident and fit.  Also walk the dog every day, and just generally go about my day as normal, but when you feel confident, wear clothes that suit your figure and accept who you are you will be amazed at the difference it makes.  Of course I try new exercise routines every so often, but I can now say diets and exercise do not rule my life.  Life is good especially in my 40’s!

Lizzy Pride


Sport In Schools – My view by James

October 9, 2009

I was asked to write a few lines regarding my view on sports activities in schools.  So drawing from my own personal experience this is my opinion.

Sports in schools is not like it used to be. Yes, there are many opportunities but considerably less than in previous years.

  During my time at school, P.E was once or twice a week. Now, I never enjoyed P.E because I didn’t like getting sweaty and then getting back into my uniform. Showers were optional but they were freezing cold and you only had 5mins until you were due at your next lesson. Back when my parents were younger you wouldn’t have had such an issue, everybody had a shower after P.E. But I guess nowadays, every middle aged man is classified a pedophile and it just wouldn’t go down too well!

  Legislation has crushed activities at school, especially P.E with all this ‘Health and Safety’ poppycock! Im 17 and even I understand that if I do something wrong and screw up my arm or something, its my fault, getting hurt is part of a humans learning process; how to do something and how not to do something. Of-course the safety element should be there and the right instructions should be given, but if a kid hurts themselves, why do most parents try and find something to blame against the school or organization?

  At school, my rugby coach lost his job after demonstrating a move on a kid. The lad fell on his arm wrong. I mean, thats just an accident is it not? My father was trained to be a rugby coach and one day he was called in a room with all the other coaches and sat down by two police officers. They were advised against comforting a child on the pitch if they are hurt, and to simply wait for the ambulance. My fathers colleague (another coach) saw a boy land on his head wrong after a scrum collapsed. The boy went into shock and felt tired, so this coach hugged him to keep him warm and kept speaking to him to make sure he didn’t pass out. If a child is in need of help, this is what should be provided, without accusations of the man being a pedophile! Soon after, the coach was advised to not repeat his actions, to which he replied ”what was I supposed to do? there was a boy in agony in-front of me and as his coach, I felt it my responsibility to help my team member! I couldn’t just leave him there.”

  Sport these days is caught up in so much red tape and legislation that I’m surprised we still have sports left in schools. Every field trip needs a letter, every injury needs a note, every training area needs to be approved. Truly ridiculous.

  To sum it all up, children need freedom, to learn from their mistakes. If we stop those mistakes happening, we may be stopping the school or organization from a law suite but we are depriving our children of vital knowledge! Lastly, coaches should be able to help children… not every man that comforts a child is a pedophile, some people are just nice!

Bullying – Something we thought would never happen to us!!!!!

October 7, 2009

Bullying is a very topical subject and sometimes it is hard to know what to do or where to turn. This is our personal story of how Bullying affected our children and our family. All we hope is that somewhere in our tale a small piece of information may help others to deal with the problem. We will start at the beginning as you can see from our experiences the bullying issue appeared a lot earlier than we realised. Then again always easy to look back and see how things have changed, but while you are dealing with the problem it does not seem so easy. Our boys were vibrant, fun loving children. They enjoyed infant school and always came back with so many things to tell us and were always laughing and joking and just being young boys and having fun. Looking back now, for our eldest the problem started at junior school, but we unfortunately did not realise this at the time. Our eldest was looking forward to starting junior school, going up with all his friends and also just round the corner from where we lived. First couple of years our eldest son was enjoying junior school, achieving good relusts, happy and had a few close friends. Then things changed. Not a dramatic change that you would relate to anything immediately. The first few incidents happened in the school, one was his concentration in class had been slacking, and the other was getting into trouble with one other boy and situation caused us to be called to the school to discuss his behavior. I suppose we expected this with a very active and intelligent son who had very strong opinions even at a young age. Nothing much else happened during the final years at junior school, but we did notice he had a passion for sweets, crisps, pop and all the wrong foods. I am a keen cook and always cook a fresh meal for all of us every night, and our tradition is to sit round the table and just chat about everything that has happened that day, so the food being served was healthy and good for our boys. Unfortunately the junior school had adopted the scheme to have outside caterers dealing with the school dinners, and much later we found out our eldest was just ordering chips, burgers and cakes every day. By the time our eldest was due to attend senior school he was withdrawn and also very large. He stopped talking to us so much, even though we tried to spend more time with him every day, he became moody and you just looked at him and saw a totally different person. We had no idea what was going on and even when talking to the teachers school work was good and he was doing well. The months rolled by until one day he woke up feeling sick. Not unusual you may say, but he was being sick every single day. He would have a meal with all of us and then within an hour he was throwing it up. We automatically thought it was an eating disorder and approached him about this. The response was aggressive and lead to him coming home from school each day and just shutting himself in his room. However the sickness was getting worse and he was wetting the bed occasionally, and he looked pale and was very lethargic. Many trips to the doctors, referrals to the hospital which went on for over 3 months (all this time away from school). Finally one of the doctors at the hospital asked us if he was being bullied at school!!!! We were shocked and outlined he was fine and school was OK. How wrong we were. The doctor suggested a few private meetings with our eldest son and it came to light he was being bullied at school. So now we had to find out what was happening and how to deal with it. After 3 long months of being away from school and finding out his sickness was stress related due to bullying we managed to get him back to good health and ready to attend school. The night before he was due to go back our son just broke down and poured his heart out and just cried, and cried, begging us not to send him back to school. We told him he would be fine, we would look after him and make the school aware of the situation and ensure he was taken to senior school every morning by one of us and picked up in the afternoon. How naïve we were! He went back to school, and we also got him involved in a sport outside school to help him broaden his group of friends. We also noticed his desperation to win friends as he so wanted to be liked by everyone, and tried so very hard to get new friends. Although he is a strong lad, and has a quick mind when people called him names or attacked him about his weight he would just crumble and over the years his confidence declined. We would talk to him every day about issues worrying him, telling him it will all be fine, but deep in our hearts my husband and I felt lost. We could support him at home but once he went into the school we had no control. We talked through the idea of transferring schools as each year he was getting into more trouble with being disruptive in class and not paying attention. Could we blame him he was going through a living hell every day. Another factor that went through our minds was if we transferred him to another school and with his self esteem so low, would we encounter the same problems and it would take us 3 times longer to get to him and help. A minefield and where do you turn, what do you do. We spent so much time at the school discussing the issue, being advised that they have ZERO tolerance where bullying was concerned and walking away knowing our child was not safe at school. Maybe not their fault totally as the schools and the teacher’s hands are tied. They cannot incorporate any kind of discipline, well the discipline me and my husband encountered at school. My Husbands sister is also a school teacher in Devon and she teaches senior school children, she has had a chair thrown at her, abuse hurled at her in class and one day after school a group of 15year olds surrounded her car when she was on her way home. This was a frightening experience for her and apart from reporting the boys to the school and sending a letter to the parents, there was not much she could do. I must admit we became regular visitors to the local senior school, attending to deal with issues they had with our son’s attitude in class, his aggression, dealing with expulsion for a few days here and there, being put into a class room on his own to complete work due to his attitude. The amount of times both I and my husband explained the cause of the problem, the fact he was being verbally abused, pushed, poked and made fun of each day did not really seem to sink in. They just would advise us the school has Zero tolerance with bullying and the culprits would be dealt with accordingly. We have to say dealing with culprits and suspending them from school for a few days or a week is not the answer. Every child loves to be told they cannot attend school. The situation just progressively got worse over the final years in senior school, more problems, trips to casualty, being threatened outside school by the local gang of bullies, fights in local parks during the summer break, and also our eldest would take his anger and aggression out on his younger brother. So home life was fraught, we were always spending time with our eldest to give him help and support at home and unwittingly did not realise our youngest son (who was confident, academically brilliant) felt left out. He felt we did not love him; he was not getting the attention he needed as all our attention was dealing with our eldest son’s problem. The reason we say this is one day our youngest son did something to gain not just our attention but the whole family, and it was not until he left school he sat down with us one night and told us the whole story and he did this to get our attention as felt we had forgotten him. The final few years for our eldest son in senior school were a nightmare. We even had to go to the school to protest his innocence and stop him from being expelled when he was badly injured by another boy at the same school. The whole situation was absolutely crazy and he was still gaining weight, self esteem low and we could not wait for him to leave senior school and start college. We both felt the school was living in another world, they did not know how to deal with the increase in bullying, and they have no policy as they do not have the respect from all their students or the discipline to deal with these issues effectively. As my husband once said to the deputy headmaster “Who is running this school you or the CHILDREN!” The day finally came when our son started college, but even though he had fought tooth and nail to get into his chosen course within a few months he just dropped out and spent the next 16 months at home not wishing to do anything. He had no motivation, no interest in his future and just basically slept, watched TV, played computer games and sometimes saw a few friends. For us this was a difficult time as we would try to get him interested in a career, talk to him about getting a job and this would lead to us all arguing as he was still suffering from the after effects of bullying and had no confidence in himself, did not feel he was worth anything and would never achieve in life. Eventually we decided to not push him into anything, just let him know every day we loved him and would always be there for him and we were proud of him. As a family we stuck together, we are always there for each other and our motto is whatever the problem as a family we will deal with it and pull through. We truly believe if you have a strong loving family around you anything can be achieved. Now to tell you all this tale has a happy ending. Our eldest son just suddenly decided he wanted a career in engineering, he applied and got himself back onto the original college course, passed and then went onto obtain a place on a superb engineering apprenticeship course. Before he was accepted he sent out over a 150 applications, and with each no he would send out another letter and we were all behind him. He has now slimmed down, is fit, healthy, loving life and very much a party animal. When he goes out at the weekends and meets people from his old senior school they are shocked and amazed and cannot believe it is the same person. He takes each day as it comes and makes the most of it. He is confident, vibrant, and gets on well with everyone. He has a great personality and is not shy to walk in a room and just spark up a conversation with people he has never met before. We know we made many mistakes, we now look back and realise we did not see the signs earlier. We have all learnt a hard lesson, but as a family it has bought us closer together. Both our sons are now best friends and are there for each other. They go out together, sit and talk for hours and would do anything for each other. A stark difference to the years with them both fighting each other every week. We have learnt a lot from both of them, they have helped us realise they have a voice and it is just as important as ours and we regular discuss anything and everything with each other. We have also learnt when to take a back seat and let them make their own decisions as it is their lives and they need to live them the best way they can. We do not have the answer on how to deal with bullying. We feel you do the best you can when you are going through these issues. However, we both believe that Respect and Discipline are 2 key factors. The teachers in schools need to have some form of authority; the Children need rules to follow. Teachers need to be given the authority to comfort or help a child in need, dinner ladies should be able to comfort children or protect them if they are being verbally abused in the playground. Things have changed so much. When we were young the discipline in our schools worked, bullies and disruption in class was dealt with immediately. Also you could talk to your teachers about a problem and in the playgourund when you knew you were vunerable you could stay with a teacher and be comforted or just talk to a dinner lady and feel safe with their arms around you. It was not as out of control as it is today. Another factor we both noticed was our teachers would always be about before and after school, sport was a major part of our curriculum which kept us active and did release aggression. We would have county championships whereby the whole school would attend, athletic meetings, swimming galas and for those of us who were members of the netball team, basketball etc we would have teachers organising weekend tournaments. This kept us active helped our confidence and we generally had a ball. Maybe one day the situation will improve or maybe as parents we need to be more involved with the schools and offer our support. Bullying is a minefield, but our story has a happy ending and if your saw both our sons today you would never believe the trials and tribulations they suffered in their younger years. They are both confident, full of life and have goals and want to achieve so much. They are adventurous, fun loving and want to live life to the full. One final comment we both love our sons with all our hearts and are just so proud of them both. By Christina & Charles.

Bullying – How it affected me and my Brother!

October 6, 2009

Bullying – Personal experience from Charlie Thompson

Bullying, a definite nightmare for all parents. But we see so many people offering advice on bullying, where can we start in terms of who’s advice we should take? Therefore, I think that advice should be given by those who have experienced bullying and its effects first hand. Assuming that most ‘victims’ are somewhat reclusive, I’m aware these can be rare, however I hope mine will account for something, should you read on.

 My name is Charlie, and I’m currently 16.  My brothers name is David, and he is currently 19. I’ll start with his story first…

David went into secondary school as the somewhat unpopular kid. He played for a rugby team and was overweight. A prime target you might say. Things started off slowly, primary school still brought some teasing, but nothing like secondary school. A particular group of people emerged as the obvious bullies, and the name calling began. David only ever had one good friend at a time, the unfortunate thing is, they were always swayed by the more popular kids and ended up selling David out, despite his loyalty, kindness and natural desire for a good friend. Name calling increased, fights began, and David being the big lad he was, was blamed BY THE TEACHERS THEMSELVES for bringing it upon himself due to his ‘aggressive nature’. He was subsequently excluded 1 or 2 times (for defending himself) and threatened with permanent expulsion. What is a boy to do? How can you blame a child for protecting themselves? This blame led David to think it was more his fault than it was. Things peaked after he was knocked out in the corridor. The school took no action at all and my family didn’t press charges as this would have led to more trouble for David at school. My mother and david stood in the school reception whilst the boys mother hurled abuse at them through the glass doors, banging her fists against the door in anger, that my family had actually reported her son. Her boy knocked my brother out for no reason, and she was angry that we reported him? people these days… Anyways, David then became sick, put on weight by drinking too much coke and other fizzy drinks and snacks, and fell into a sort of depression. Our family had to endure this and help him through it, all the while the bullies get off scot free!? It sickens me.

After the things my brother went through, me being the more confident and witty sibling, my family never expected me to go through anything remotely similar. I got on with alot more people and was slimmer, so what did I have to worry about right? Year 7 went ok for me, I got on with all the popular kids, had no worries. But as usual, the popular ones are always the most fickle. I had my own style, didn’t like the same music as everyone I was ‘mates’ with, this seemed to be reason enough to provoke a comment or two. The odd comment turned malicious after I fell out with them all. In year 8 I turned to music, learnt to play bass and guitar, and found a best friend as well as a girlfriend. I fell out of the wider social sphere and entered a new, smaller one, about 6 or 7 of us, and we all hung around the music room where Ide go in and play music with friends. My girlfriend split up with me during year 8 and my old friend got with her. That turned sour after me and ‘jessica’ (was her name) couldn’t stop texting, and still had feelings there. Jealousy reared its evil head and I made some enemies…to say the least. They split soon after and I got back with Jessica. Things were quiet for a while.. just name calling from the boy that used to be with Jessica. Then I got into a fight with him. The whole year basically turned against me and his friends got involved.  In year 9 I was ”jumped” on the field, one of this boys friends was making excuses for a fight saying I called him a prick when indeed I had never had a reason to call him such a name. He pushed me over and around 16 boys started laying into me and kicking me whilst I was on the floor trying to protect myself.  My friend then broke it all up. I was threatened with exclusion, as my brother was, and the attackers? well obviously they got off free. Things took a turn for the worse, my friend got threatened on his walk home one night, and dangerous people from the surrounding area got word of it all (they were friends with the bullies). The police couldn’t guarantee protection so I had to leave the town for a few days for it to cool down. to this day they still hold something against me.

I think, after looking at both scenario’s its obvious that a lack of respect in homes these days is a big culprit. Im not saying it will abolish bullying, because there will always be a degree of bullying, but parents these days let their kids do what they like, and employ no traditional values, manners or respect! Furthermore, the abolition of discipline in schools is a big contribution, the kids these days know that the worst repercussion is exclusion, at which point they find a new school and move on.. ITS TOO EASY! Kids have this power because of all these stupid laws, you can sue someone for anything these days, it is truly ridiculous! The best advice I can offer for parents dealing with their children being bullied is be strong, talk to them about it, make them feel loved, move hell and high water to ensure their safety and comfort! show moral integrity, and that will rub off on your children, as it has rubbed off on me and my brother from my parents! Also, get your child into something outside of school that they can focus on, a sport or hobby, that way it can form a sort of escape. I hope I have answered some questions, unfortunately most answers have to be found through experience, as each situation is different. but we know that all bullies are cowards, and if you are confident enough to deny them their dominant satisfaction, they will fall.


Charlie – My own personal experience with Bullying during my senior school years.

A Teenagers view on Drugs

October 6, 2009

Drugs, a parents worst nightmare or just a fact of life, a consequence of human curiosity?

A personal view from Bill Underwood – Age 17 Years

Drugs have always been around, whether it be incorporated into the fabric of tribal ceremonies, or just for a high.  However, throughout the last 200 years, we have seen drugs become more widely available to the ordinary citizen.  The 1800’s saw opium widely available, and widely abused. Throughout the 20th century we have seen advances in medicine and the creation of new drugs. Especially since the 60’s, the younger generation have become more knowledgeable about drugs and have therefore become more involved.  Today we see more drug use than ever before due to its wide availability.  Therefore teenagers are likely to be trying such substances!

 My parents have always taken a laid back approach to the whole ”trying drugs” issue. They have never condoned it, and are obviously against the idea, however they know Im going to try such things, so have just said be careful and try it once if u are going to, but don’t make it a habit. This method has worked well, I think its because they haven’t shielded me completely from the subject. I believe that if you don’t discuss drugs, and don’t make their effects known, then a teenager will only want to try them more.

My parents know what I’ve tried, and they know that I will discuss most things with them. This trust between parent and child is vital. If I thought my parents would be disgusted and angry with me I wouldn’t tell them. Thus I wouldn’t be as aware of the effects or side effects.

The majority of drug abuse amongst teenagers is down to lack of discipline in the home, lack of respect for people around them, or down to a broken home.  A stable family with moral values and respect is more likely to offer a better platform for a teenager who is going to try drugs.  A teenager from a broken family may turn to drugs as a resolution to their feelings. But of-course there is not much we can do about that apart from the parents teaching them the same morals and disciplines as any usual family would.

Teenagers will try drugs, how you deal with it is your decision, but I will say that a total ban only makes them more curious…

My own personal viewpoint by Bill Underwood – Aged 17