VIP’s coming to visit!

I have some very exciting news! On Monday, Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver, Henry Dimbleby, John Dimbleby Leon and Prince Charles came to visit my lesson and observe me teach……
It was obviously the highlight of my career and quite possibly of my life!
Preparations and practice runs began about three weeks before hand, and there were lots is meetings and discussions about how the day would run. My class had trial cooking sessions and fine tuned their recipes in order to make them perfect for the day.
When the morning arrived, I was confident that we were prepared and ready for our guests. There was a strict timetable with our guests being given different slots, but we were on our best behaviour at all times just incase things didn’t go to plan!
Having met Matt Baker of One Show and Countryfile fame, we had already had a trial run…. It’s just that it happened to be in front of the TV cameras ( gulp!!!). Things went amazingly well, and to plan, and the crew were really impressed with the boys and their cooking so we were on the right track! It was a bit scary when Matt Baker interviewed me though and they stuck a camera in my face ( I’m not really one for pictures, let alone TV ).
Anyway….. In at the crack of dawn Monday morning, getting ingredients ready- I’d been in the day before to get everything else set up! All that was left for me to do was teach and cook with the boys. So off we went, making starters, main courses and desserts.


So, our first visitor of the morning was Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc. He was fantastic….so full of passion and such an inspiration. After lots of kisses on the cheeks, he was off tasting boys food and commenting, suggesting, helping and sharing advice. He was easy going and friendly and agreed to pose for photos too! He was saying how important Food education and cooking is, and commended me on the work that I was doing and the fantastic standard of cooking that was going on in the class.

The second group of visitors were also very important…. They included CEO’s and other “top dogs” from Food For Life, School Food Matters, Organic Society, top supermarkets….. We also had Henry Dimbleby Leon who has been appointed by the Government to review school dinners and John Dimbleby Leon too! It was surreal having more famous chefs in the room! Food was being presented at this stage, and to our surprise, Raymond Blanc returned. He had escaped from his group tour and found his way back to Food where he was handing out samples of the cooked food by the boys and encouraging everyone to try it! This was an honour…. for such an amazing chef to take the time to return and encourage the students and promote their cooking and learning was truly unbelievable.



By now, the classroom was really buzzing- the boys were on a high and cooking for their life! Not long now and Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver would be along…. As the time drew closer, the room turned quieter as the boys started to get a little nervous! I was getting that way too….. Remembering to address the Prince of Wales as your Royal Highness and then having him handed over to you is a big responsibility!!! Not to mention the film crew….
Well as time was drawing near, there was suddenly an onslaught of people into my room- all with long lens cameras and microphones, TV cameras etc. the paps had arrived…. And there was about 15 of them! We ushered them into the corner of the room and knew that HRH and Jamie would be following shortly- along came the butterflies in my tummy, the hot sweating feeling and a sudden urge to goto the loo! Deeeeeep breaths I told myself- in……. And…… Out! They’re here!
I welcomed HRH and Jamie Oliver and the next 15 minutes went past so quickly. I showed the future King of England ( how amazing is that!) around the room, and introduced him to the boys and let them explain what they were cooking. I had a chat with Jamie about Food Education and the importance of cooking as a life skill. I was directed(!) by the film crew and cameras were going twenty to the dozen- flash, flash, flash….. Over here please, Look this way! Wow….. A small insight into the world of celebrity and fame…… What a moment! Matt Baker also returned, so I was also being asked by the crew to talk to Matt in the background shots of HRH touring the classroom ( don’t mind if I do!)

Then after HRH had talked to the boys and viewed their food, it was all over. You could almost feel everyone relax as the VIP’s and film crews left the room. The buzz of excitement was replaced with relief and even disbelief of what we had just experienced. This was most certainly a once in a life time opportunity and one that neither the boys or I will ever forget!




This was such an amazing day, I cannot begin to describe the pride I felt, the excitement, the nerves, the enjoyment! I do know that I was exceptionally privileged to be part of such a momentous day, and I will have these memories, photos and of course, my blog as a reminder of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The coverage of this visit was in lots of local and indeed national papers- you may have seen the photos and articles yourself! Jamie Oliver also mentioned on This Morning saying that “every parent deserved a school like this”. And there is more to come. The film footage is going to be part of a Countryfile episode to be shown sometime in February next year, so watch this space… You may see me on TV!



On our best behaviour!

I haven’t blogged for a while because I have been so busy! I know that sounds like a poor excuse, but I have a very good reason- we have been preparing for some very important visitors.
On Thursday, Matt Baker of The One Show/Country file, came to visit our school. More importantly, he came along with his film crew to film my Year 11 Food lesson! How amazing is that…..the boys were cooking Masterchef style and were brilliant, creating some super dishes.



Matt and his team spent about an hour and a half talking to the students about their food and what they were cooking. They were so impressed that they stayed on longer to capture images of their dishes…..and they even interviewed me!!!! It was a great opportunity for me to promote our school blog and our Twitter account…. and @foodtectogo.
The crew were brilliant, moving around the classroom and capturing their shots without getting in the way, and Matt Baker was great fun- talking and joking with the boys and even tasting their food.



It was a once in a life time experience and great fun….. The boys were really impressed too!
And……. If that is not enough, I have more VIP’s visiting tomorrow- and yes that is plural, and no, you will never guess who they are! This is going to be THE most amazing experience EVER and I am quite possibly the luckiest person in the world!
I have spent most of the weekend preparing for the visit tomorrow, and I’m as ready as I will ever be….. Lets just hope the VIP’s appreciate my efforts- although I am sure they will!
Want to know who they are? You can take a guess if you like, but I will reveal all tomorrow!!!!!

Busy Day…. Lots of Cake!

I’ve had a really busy day today and I’m glad that Half Term is here! I have not stopped……
I finished off and published a blog post this morning, then dropped my daughter off at my friends (she takes her to school) only to come back again because I had forgotten it was mufti day!!!! So after a quick change we went back again and then I was on my way to work.
Due to my little oversight, I arrived at work just in time to walk into an important meeting…..I’d been up two and a half hours and not a single drop of coffee had passed my lips – it would be another two hours before I got my first coffee of the day. I can tell you, I was not the happiest person to be around during this time!
After teaching two lessons, both with boys cooking, it was time for coffee and cake and another meeting! I gulped down the coffee and scoffed my cake ( I didn’t talk much at the meeting…. I didn’t have time) and then I was off again with another twenty five boys cooking biscuits!!
After a full on day of teaching, I came home to pick my daughter up from school, only for her to be invited to tea at a friends house! Making the most of my free time, my son and I popped down to the shops. On my return, I finished off cake number 1……

Then it was onto cake number two. This was a tricky one, and I knew it was going to take some time to get it right. I had modelled the dolphin last week, but I had to put the filling in, ice and decorate the cake….. This was going to be the most difficult part! Anyway, half way through, I realised I needed more royal icing so I was off again to the shop to stock up on supplies. I eventually finished the cake at about quarter to ten, then had to clean up all the mess. Here is the finished cake:

This was the first time that I had used royal icing for anything apart from fine detail and writing, and I’m really quite pleased with the end result!
I am also totally and utterly knackered and cannot tell you how pleased I am that it is Half Term…… A whole week to relax and enjoy myself,mark three sets of books, and two kids to look after and my OH that has man flu….. And did I tell you we are looking after our neighbours puppie for seven days????? Oh well, looks like it is going to be another busy week….. I’m off to hibernate!

Working Mums and the problems it brings!

So I’m a working Mum…not by choice, but because financially we had no option!
I had my son in 2001 and had to return to work after three months because I couldn’t afford to stay off for any longer. I’m the main wage earner so there was never any question as to whether I would go back to work, it was a done deal although I did go back for four days a week instead of five!
It was difficult leaving my son after such a short time at home, but none of my friends had babies and it wasn’t easy meeting other Mums in such a short space of time so part of me was glad to go back so that I could enjoy the social aspect of work.
It was hard, especially in the early days. Although I was part time, I never left work on time, and as a teacher there was always planning and marking to be done. By the time I had been to the childminders, done the washing, cooked the dinners etc I was shattered……I was also very fortunate in that my OH was happy to help out when he got in from work which was a great help- he would do bath and bedtime while I cleaned up.
The worst days were when we had been up in the night- often several times, and you knew you had to goto work after only a few hours sleep……. You could hardly phone in sick because you we’re tired, although I know people who have!!!!!
Anyway, my kids are older now- they’re six and eleven, and although the process of going out to work is getting easier, the guilt that you have as a working parent doesn’t ease. There is rarely a school trip that I can accompany, I’m not able to take my kids to school and on two afternoons a week, I don’t even pick my children up ! I don’t know as many of the parents, and they don’t know me, which makes the whole having friends round for tea difficult. I don’t really get included in the social events either as only being there three afternoons a week isn’t really enough time for anyone to get to know you.
Now my son has started Secondary school, the guilt is even worse. I leave in the morning before he does, which means that he is responsible for locking up the house and getting himself off to school on time – a big responsibility when you are only eleven! He also comes home to an empty house twice a week too, which is something that I hate. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not on his own for more than half an hour, but even so, I would prefer to be there for him.
Then comes the other issues. Having to get the food shopping done at the weekends or trying to order it online when I know I will be home, getting the washing and ironing done, making time to help with homework, housework and on top of all that I have marking and planning to do most weekends! This makes it difficult to create valuable family time which I know is important…….
As my children are getting older and more independent, the guilt that I have as a working Mum isn’t as bad as it used to be. My MIL is great and helps with childcare, which has been brilliant as they now have a fantastic relationship with each other and get to spend quality time together every week. I also know that my children are understanding of our situation, and know that if we want to have nice things then I need to work. I’d like to think that this will teach them a valuable lesson for later on in life!
On the plus side, having the holidays off is great. The children and I count down the days until the holidays as we know we will get to spend lots of time together. We plan special time together and try to do something every day – whether that’s going to the park, bowling, a picnic, the cinema or whatever else takes our fancy. Sometimes we plan duvet days, knowing that we can sit around in our pj’s, watching television, eating junk food is just as much fun as going out for the day! We look forward to the holidays and they are our special time together as a family. I know that I will always be off at Christmas, Half Terms, the summer holidays and Easter and that’s when being a teacher is great advantage.
Although not ideal, I know that as a family we really value the time that we have together and make the most of it. We have games, stories and cuddles before bed, we talk about our day and nothing makes me prouder than when my son says ” Mum, how was day day at work?” He understands that although he might of had a boring day at school, Mums and Dads have bad days too. As for my daughter, she comes running up the hall when she hears the key in the lock, so I know she is always pleased to have me home! What more could I ask for?
I guess sometimes we just have to make the most of our situation, and I know that we certainly do……. Are you a working parent? How do you feel? Maybe you’re a Mum that couldn’t wait to get back to work and a bit of normality………..I know for me I can’t wait for Half Term – six more working days and we are all counting!