when the silence speaks,

the echoes shatter glass into splintered shards

against that mask  

hiding just beneath the surface of my skin.

The cracks and smears

are oblique,


until the mask is pierced

with an antiseptic sting.

And my medicated voice,


a muted thing

bleeds and trickles through my consciousness.

It is crawling free, 

this silence now,

leaking through my pores

and begging to be heard,

or understood,

or maybe, maybe, even just to be

a spoken word.


The faint flickering of a distant drum

Comes drifting into my horizon,

Into my consciousness,

Into my line of vision,


with the clattering stampede of a thousand 


Persistent rhythm throbs

with the crick of my neck


towards the noise.



into the panorama of my confusion where

the blurred white hum is


Into the pathos of my complacency,

and, waiting with the hues of grey and

dirty, mottled beige

is that nettle.

That nettle, whose cathartic sting,

That nettle, whose cathartic sting

with piercing, penetrating clarity,

That nettle, whose cathartic sting

with piercing, penetrating clarity,

sings the truth of my thousand dreams.


I offer my thoughts into the night,

Into the shadowy, hazy corner, 

Into half-light,

Where they are beckoned to dance.


A flickering of words that tap, 

A repetition,



A moment of clarity,

A moment of rhythm.  

I sing my thoughts into the breeze,

And they are swept with the rush of petals,


scooped with leaves,

are floating.

My words billow with summers transience.



A moment of tranquility,

A moment of innocence.

I whisper my thoughts into the sea,

Into the quiet of sand beneath,

And, bleached with salt,

they are comfortably 


Into their resting,

and into their ashes, 

they quietly wait.

A moment of cleansing, 

A moment of testing.


At a closed window,

looking down onto a Street.

She sits.

A life within mirrors 

and reflections that stare back at her

through finger prints 

and dust.

The soft cascade of sand 

in Time’s tired hour-glass, 

and the Street rushing past her 

both drip,

arrogantly busy

to recede into their new partition.

And the Street doesn’t notice, 

and neither does Time,

that the tremor in her hand 

is shaking her cup.

Or that the tea, 

spilling into her lap,

is already 


A Gift

Tissue paper in neat folds ,

ornately tied with perfect bows 

around a golden papered box;

excitement builds,

its promise mocks.

I wonder what’s inside that box,

my fingers twitch on ribboned locks;

I tease the corner, 

ease the tape;

untie the knots,

unleash the cape

that’s binding what is hidden there;

anticipation and a share 

of wonderment, excitement, chance;

to peel back, secretly to glance

and peek within the treasures glove;

then open what’s been wrapped in love.

Car Wash

Most ‘lessons’ within the EYFS rarely contain a finite ‘ending’. In fact, beginnings and middles are often also absent. The definition of ‘lesson’, in the traditional sense, also needs redefining with ‘experiences’ becoming the trade term. We ‘offer’ or provide ‘experiences’ and engage/teach/learn with the child as they interact with them.

My approach, and the approach of most EYFS professionals would be to plan a continuous provision that stimulates a response to particular strands of the curriculum; to meet the children at their point of engagement, and interact with their learning to enable ‘critical learning’ to take place. The overarching pedagogical principal of this is that the learning is unanimously child centered, child led and personal; that planning takes place ‘in the moment’ and that the process is ‘learning driven’ rather than ‘outcome driven’. You become quickly used to plans being ditched and thinking on the spot. This process requires that you are able to develop an environment that stimulates every unique way of learning and it becomes self differentiating. Lesson endings are never linear and are invariably never predictable or the same. There often isn’t ‘closure’ because very young childrens learning is cyclical and they will need to return to a concept again and again within different contexts before the schema becomes learned and established.

The easiest way to illustrate this is to provide an example.

Teacher-Planned Activity: mark making with cars and paint
Child Initiated Outcome: a role play car wash.
The children’s dialogue…..
-I have a blue track,

-My car has blue paint.

-Mine is green it’s going round,

-It’s going over here.

-My car is going round and round.

-It’s made a big splodge.

-Look at my hands they are so messy,

-Look at my hands they are so messy too.

-Let’s paint our hands,

-Let’s make hand prints.

-We are all making hand prints, our hands are all painty.

-Our hands are so yucky.

-It’s squishy.
-I am going to paint the cars,
-Are you painting cars?
-We are all painting cars.
-Look, the cars are all painty,
-They are covered in paint.
-Oh no, they are all really messy now
-They need to be cleaned.
-We need to wash the cars,
-We need to wash our hands as well.
-How can we make the cars clean?
-We need a car wash!”

(They had a car wash!)

What could have been, had I chosen to intervene with the child initiated enquiry, a very closed ended activity with a fixed outcome, became an explosion of assessment opportunity throughout the whole of the EYFS framework. The learning outcome for each child was unique and their personal engagement was age and developmentally appropriate. There was no fixed ‘end point’- there was different engagement with it over a whole day. Children aged 3 and 4 years old spotted an opportunity and led it themselves. I stepped back, observed, facilitated and engaged.
What a buzz!

Making A River #THISislearning

So it had been raining all week; that awful, hyperthermic, very wet rain that forces you to turn Cbeebies onto the Smartboard every playtime so the teachers can make a mad dash to the toilet and the kettle. Everyone was crabby, bored and twitchy. So what did we do the minute the rain stopped and the sun shone? Obviously we donned our wellingtons and our waterproofs, filled up the watering cans, grabbed some washing up liquid and headed outside to make some puddles to splash in.

Puddle jumping isn’t an unfamiliar activity. We regularly venture outside to jump and splash. We fill puddles with soap and food colouring so the children can have physical access to the science involved. They comment on the effect jumping has to the volume of bubbles, observe colour mixing, create different effects with footprints, brooms and large paint brushes. More to the point, they absolutely love the exuberant experience of running and jumping and testing their physical limits and risk taking with outdoor water play. This time was no different and we had to return the watering cans to the taps time and time again; until one child carried a large heavy watering can to a part of the playground with a slope.

As this child poured the water onto the slope, some other children gathered around. They spent a very long time observing the flow of the water as it meandered in a snaking pathway down the playground and under the gate at the bottom and into the road. They were completely fascinated and lots of discussion ensued. They filled and re-filled the watering can to repeat the process time and time again. The children walked the pathway of the water as it flowed, they observed that it was ‘running’ down ‘a hill’; they were fascinated that it could escape under the gate when they could not. One child suddenly announced, “look it’s a river”- cue a quick dash to the classroom to collect boats, ducks, fish and nets. The children collectively then played ‘rivers’, were fishermen and pirates and mermaids. They sang ‘6 little Ducks’ and ‘Row Your Boat’.

The outcomes from this unprepared (desperate bid for fresh air) activity were enormous. The children took back into the classroom a whole host of questions about rivers, the traveling of water and inclines. This was then developed within further investigations using cars and marbles down tubes. We measured speed and distance and the children observed the difference in their own bodies by walking up and down hills and stairs.

Planning in the moment within the EYFS during ‘incidental’ activities often generates the best outcomes. 

And illustrated fantastically by Maddy


Knock, Knock.

The black hooded grip of a creeper is skulking,

whispering venom, 

Sneaking and stalking .

And into your stomach it’s pincers are 


twisting and


devouring and 


From pockets of hope 

it claims what it’s stealing; 

declaring it’s master of all you are feeling;

to pillage your dreams,

and pick-pocket pleasure;

while smearing the sparkle 

of unexplored treasure. 

It crawls uninvited;

while you are sleeping;

skilfully looting,

and craftily creeping;

and into your slumber it’s wilfully catching; 

whilst you are dreaming;

calm breathing snatching.

And into your waking thoughts, 

clarity blurred;

memory becomes tangled and 

thoughts become slurred.

Sucking out smiles then it feeds off your fear;

and injecting it’s poison

in what you hold dear;

it holds you its captive;

you’re trapped in its bind;

it’s gained all your trust 

and infected your mind.

So when it comes knocking 

then lock that door fast;

don’t let it in,

don’t let it past.

It’s a guest uninvited and not welcome here;

that Grim Reaper called Doubt 

and it’s friend we call Fear.


For Sale

We outgrew our house two children ago, it is a lovely house but it’s been time to move on for at least the last five years. We have dithered and we haven’t dithered particularly pragmatically- I have been focused entirely on the shortcomings in our home; my husband, more sensibly, on the practical things we needed to achieve with it before we could move. It has been a bit of a sporadically unsettling experience. But now, finally, we are ready; it’s time to move!




For sixteen years we have lived here; our entire relationship spent within these walls. We planned our wedding from the kitchen table and came home here from our honeymoon and into our marriage. Into this house we have bought home four newborn babies and watched them grow. We have renovated, decorated, re-decorated, extended and painted. We have lived, laughed and loved; planned each new adventure, argued and cried. This house; a haven of both celebration- and occasional grief, has been where we have battened down the hatches and weathered all the emotional storms of family living; every inch of every wall contains a memory or an anecdote; our children have known no other home, our family has lived in no other house. 

As we, very slowly, wade through the mammoth task that is ‘the big sort out’; inevitably this is unleashing an enormous stock of whimsical nostalgia- memories that will always be part of the bricks and mortar of this house. We are the only family to have ever lived in it; it’s memory is entirely about the life it has seen us live together- I cannot imagine another family sleeping in our bedrooms and watching TV in our lounge. How many different children will learn to walk on these floors in years to come? Will they ride their bikes in the field next to our house like our children do, buy their milk at the shop at the end of the road? Will they fill the loft with outgrown memories over the years just as we have done? It’s a very strange thought that this house, our HOME, will one day,  in the near future,  have that same symbolic resonance for strangers that we are yet to meet. I can’t quite get my head round it.

But for now,


it is still where we live.

And the walls will always keep our memories protected; the sound of my babies crying and their feet thumping on the stairs; the countless happy birthdays sung and all the noisy Christmases; they aren’t quite echoes yet.

It will always have been our home first, 

it will always have been our first home!

I love this house.