Lottoland

“If I won the lottery…” – that old one creeps into conversation time and time again, doesn’t it? EVERYONE has an idea of what they’d do with their winnings. I have even bargained with the amount I’d potentially win, £84million? £60 million, goodness, I’d be happy with just a couple of million! Of course – just for the record, in case the Universe is listening, I wouldn’t mind winning a dirty fat jackpot.

What would your spend list look like if you won the lottery? I have been indulging in the idea again (I know!)…

Home

If I won the jackpot (I wonder who invented that word?) I think my first spend would be on my home. You know, that new kitchen I’ve been banging on about since we moved in 8 years ago. The block paving out front which needs re-laying, the garden fence and patio area, new windows, new front door, re-plastered walls. That would take care of a good 30 – 40k, oh and the roof felt needs renewing too! Then it strikes me, I COULD BUY A NEW HOUSE and get ‘people in’ to decorate it to my specification. I’ve always longed for a house project to take on.

I could buy another property in Thanet, maybe in Margate, a town which is really on the rise. I could also buy a property on Lake Garda having just spent a fabulous 10 days there with Megan. Imagine, I could spend Christmases with her and summer holidays, it would be marvellous.

Family

Of course, I’d look after my family and hand out very generous amounts of cash. Debts would be paid off, houses bought and cash sums available for all. I’d really enjoy helping them out too.

Travel

If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t waste any time at all in booking up some fabulous dream holidays that I have been thinking about forever. One of my earliest posts on Mari’s World was a list of places I’d like to visit, I could start crossing them off my bucket list. Remember that cruise I nearly won? I’d book that. Take the twins and family (whoever wants to come) to Orlando Florida. I’d love to revisit New York, Barcelona, Paris and Italy. I’d revisit Venice, Florence, Rome, Puglia. I’d take the girls up Etna in Sicily and tour around Sardegna.

Beach holidays to Cyprus and Greece would be on the list and I would ‘do’ South America in style taking 90 days or maybe longer.

At this point, I’m most likely going to need a full-time tutor for the girls too!

Shopping

Oh. My. God! The thought of going shopping without any worry – can I afford it? Do I really need it? Can you imagine the fun? Shopping with a bottomless wallet, buying those things you’ve always wanted but could never afford. Theatre tickets, restaurants, a new car, oh which one? An electric car like the BMW we trialled for six weeks?

Charity

First off, I’d like to donate to our local school where I work. There are a few areas that could do with a cash injection and it would be a fun project to take on. I would support local charities for the old, for the young and the homeless. Some of the charities very close to my heart who would also receive donations are The Smile Train charity, The Miscarriage AssociationClic Sargent and The Princess Trust.

Win £50 at Lottoland

We have a fabulous prize to give away today – £50 credit at Lottoland to spend. You could try your luck at EuroMillionaire or have you ever wondered about entering the Irish lottery? A great alternative to the UK version. A lesser known lottery well worth having a go at is the American Powerball with huge jackpots up for grabs – a staggering $1.6 billion (£1 billion) was won in January 2016 and hundreds of millions worth jackpots won since.

How to enter

Leave a comment on this blog telling me what you would do if you won the lottery. Register your comment in the Rafflecopter widget below and you’ll then unlock some bonus entries. Do as many as you can to maximise your chances of winning.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Post in partnership with Lottoland. The competition will close at midnight on 10th September 2018. UK entrants and over 18s only. A winner will be chosen at random and notified within 7 days. You will have 30 days to claim your prize. No cash alternatives, prize as stated.

What does a TA do Display board

Good question. What does a TA do?

It just goes to show that life is one big adventure and you never know where it’s going to take you. I found myself searching online with those exact words at the end of last summer and a couple of months later I started at our local junior school as a TA. Having completed my first year as a TA in Year 4 and as I prepare to be a TA in Year 6 this year, I can now tell you, with confidence what I do as a Teaching Assistant.

What does a TA do?

Anything and everything really from making a cup of tea for yourself and your teacher to changing the display boards, helping with the learning in class and playground duty. I’ve certainly had to brush up on my football rules this year!

My day starts at 8.30am. I may have some photocopying to do or preparation of resources needed for the day’s lessons. The children enter class from 8.50 onwards and it’s surprising how quickly those first 20 minutes of the day fly by. Many a time I’ve thought, ‘What they’re coming in already?’ and rush to finish my prep.

The children leave their Reading Records on my desk and I check for a parent signature saying the child has read. I mark the register accordingly for the teacher as those children who read 5 times a week will be eligible for the end of term treat – normally a disco or a fun day to recognise their effort.

You can really see the difference between those children who read daily and those who don’t, it helps them so much at school.

The morning is split into Maths, Break, Guided Reading and English. The teacher will deliver the lessons and then asks me to sit with a group or work with individual children. Another option is to walk around the class and help those who put their hands up.

what does a Ta do - display board

Afternoon interventions

Another part of my job which I really enjoy is the afternoon interventions. I was asked to take on various reading and writing interventions and I worked with the small groups from each Year 4 class. They are 20-minute sessions with selected children designed to give them a boost in areas they need or to push them further.

PPA cover

One afternoon each week, the class teacher will go to the staffroom and use the time to plan for the following week. It’s quite normal that the TA will cover the teacher and deliver lessons. I cover on Monday afternoons and teach Spanish, RE and Music. All of the lessons were prepared with great outlines and resources all ready to use.

Other TA duties

Playground duty – I am on the playground 3 times a week and I love it. Apart from being in the fresh air, I get to see the children let off steam and frequently I am surrounded by a group of them asking questions. I also cover an entrance corridor one day a week and the playground at the end of school another day to make sure no one hangs around and plays on the equipment.

Display boards – I love this part as it taps into my creative side. Luckily to date, I have been given free reign around a set theme. It’s all about displaying the children’s work so they feel proud of it and visitors are able to see how well the children are doing.

After school clubs – I have been able to start up a school blog and hold a Monday after school club – Blog Club! I have between 10-20 children and we write about all sorts of things. The beauty is allowing them to take control of their writing and ideas, I help out at the end with editing and images.

Fundraising – Yep, I decided to put forward the idea of running a talent show for the children and we got the go ahead! Together with another two TAs (I couldn’t do this on my own) we auditioned about 75 kids and put on a show with 22 acts. Tickets and programmes were sold and the money went into the school voluntary fund.

Accompanying children – to swimming lessons or on school trips. I have been to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, Shorne Country Park and our local Gurdwara.

What’s needed to be a TA?

If you are thinking of applying for a TA position you’ll need to have a sound knowledge of Maths and English at GCSE level. You’ll need to know how to use a photocopier and a computer. Take a look at the school website and read through the school policies, you’ll have about 30 children in your care and you’ll need to know about safeguarding them, Health and Safety guidelines and policies and procedures in place.

You’ll need to be able to relate to children and get on with the other adult members of staff. You’ll be a team player and ready to try your hand at many tasks to ensure a good day of learning.

Good luck!

school uniform

With 6 years of school uniform now under our belt and 1 year working as a TA in our local primary school, I feel I can talk quite confidently about school lost property. I have been rifling through the lost property bins at school since they started. In Reception, all manner of their clothes and shoes went missing on a very regular basis and as the twins have moved up the school they have continued to forget cardigans on the back of chairs, misplace PE kits when getting changed in class, and one of them even managed to lose one trainer for about six months before it miraculously turned up!

First Day of school year 3

As a TA in Year 4, I was met daily by the lost property bin as it stood outside our classroom. It was overflowing all year around. There were shoes, plimsoles, COATS, ties and an ongoing stream of cardigans and jumpers. I decided to take action, being fully aware as a mother how frustrating it is to continually lose items. On one Open Classroom day just before Easter I asked for the four lost property bins to be brought into the hall and with the help of some of our wonderful students, we laid out all of the items on long tables and invited the parents to come and check for their lost clothes.

We had racks of coats, piles of swimming gear, even a towel! I can’t put a number on the amount of overflowing odd gloves and hats that there were.

school year 4

The most frustrating thing is, a good part of the lost property was NEW.

Fortunately, a fraction of the various garments had been labelled. The names were recognisable and even if we didn’t know the class, our lovely receptionist was able to direct us to the correct owner.

Label your school uniform

school uniform labels

That is the secret to being reunited with your school uniform and not having to go to the shops and pay out lots of money to replace it. Label your school uniform.

You have no idea how much lost property has no name on it!

It is impossible to get a garment back to its correct owner if there is no name inside.

There are many companies out there who produce labelling kits and Korbond has a great TAGIT range. They have iron-on labels for clothes that are washable and tumble dryer safe. They have stick-on labels for shoes that are heat resistant and durable and they have dishwasher safe labels for lunch boxes and water bottles. They also produce a handy laundry marker which has been developed to withstand continuous washing and is perfect for uniform and PE kits.

So, please – on behalf of the lost property bins up and down the country – label your child’s uniform before school starts!

Korbond has a wonderful #backtoschool competition on their Facebook page to win a family ticket for Diggerland UK, pop over and try your luck for a great family day out.

Disclosure: We were sent the TAGIT range for the purpose of this post.

11 + exam

Summer 2018 has been a fantastic school holiday so far but a toughie at the same time. The 11+ exam is set for our first week back to school and the girls decided that they want to have a go so, our summer has been a mixture of fun activities mixed with a lot of studying.

We’ve been going over English and maths, we’ve checked their comprehension skills and we’re taking a look at verbal and non-verbal reasoning, two areas that aren’t covered at school as they’re not part of the national curriculum.

We’ve had tears and tantrums along the way but I’ve got to hand it to them as they apply themselves and are very upset when they don’t get top marks. They have the school they want in mind and are afraid they might not get in. I can’t take the exam for them but I can help them as much as possible to try and make their dream come true.

Husband and I took the decision to not tutor the girls. The cost was a huge part of our choice along with the fact that we didn’t want to push them into doing something that was out of their reach. I couldn’t think of anything worse than gaining a place in a school only to find them struggling to keep up with the class. I certainly don’t want to set them up for failure but I do want the very best for them.

I bought a set of Bond books from Amazon aged 9 – 10. The girls were doing very well and getting 80% and over which was very encouraging. The advice at the back of the book is to go up to the next level if they are getting 80% +. So I did.

Uh-oh. I didn’t know that between the two levels there was such an enormous gap and the girls were coming across work they haven’t even covered yet at school. After a quick online discussion a friend, who is also a tutor, informed me that that level was intended for children in Year 6 who take the exam in January and therefore are slightly ahead. With this knowledge, we started to look at the girls scores in a different light and saw that actually, they were doing well. My friend also advised me to concentrate on the verbal and non verbal reasoning with continued exercise in English and Maths.

Fingers crossed. The twins will sit their exam on 6th September. If they don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world, there are plenty of other great schools out there but for the moment, we’re going for the dream.

Good luck to anyone else who’s going for it.

Puy du Fou falconry Academy

It’s more than a month ago that I visited the world’s best theme park in France – Puy du Fou but I still continue to think about how much I loved it and how I would like to return with the family one day.

A visit to this unique step back in history is more than discovering a fascinating world of long ago played out before you by top-class actors. Puy du Fou sends you home with a complete top to tail wellbeing that I have never encountered elsewhere. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that it is to do with the ethos of the park.

A world of nature

Puy du Fou forest

I remember clearly, as I was walking around the vast grounds, how every single factor of the park had been taken into consideration and tuned into the overall wellbeing feel. You cannot help but be in awe of the flowers, foliage and well-kept grounds. The land boasts a 100-year old forest with 150 different species of trees and that keeps the 45 gardeners and landscapers busy all year round.  In fact, they have developed ecosystems based on the natural food chain, such as ladybirds used to tackle the aphids on the rose bushes and using Ouessant sheep as an ecological lawnmower!

Puy du Fou lake

They take their consideration for guests one step further by choosing to maintain the gardens with silent and ecological electrical equipment. Nature and the control of nature is respected at all times and is an intrinsic principle of the Park.

Puy du Fou’s animals

Puy du Fou falconry

Then there is the question of all the animals used in the shows, they are full-time actors too and play a key role in the Puy du Fou excellence. The onsite Equestrian Academy has 206 trained horses in all disciplines from the trick stunt riders seen in Le Secret de la Lance to the finer dressage used in Mosquetaire de Richelieu. Great care is shown to these much-loved animals and their trainers ensure they have a healthy diet and strictly regulate their work levels.

I was very pleased to see the Animal Conservatory which offers a sanctuary for many age-old species like the Poitou donkey, the Des Fosses goat and the Poitou goose. Puy du Fou holds the record for the largest number of protected species in Western France.

Puy du Fou piglets

Everyone knows how much a dog lover I am and there are plenty of opportunities to see dogs taking part in the shows too. The Canine Academy operates on fun based and playful training methods. The 10 Czechs wolves were taken in from the age of 2 and a half months. The first six months were devoted to interacting with them before any form of training takes place. The training is very gentle and both their wellbeing and confidence is of primary importance.

Then there is the Falconry Academy which we were allowed to enter and visit. You can too – make sure you book in advance though.

We spent a lot of time with one of the falconers who introduced us to many of the 73 different species looked after at Puy du Fou. We even saw some newborns and it was explained that some are kept for training and used in the shows but another equal proportion are prepared to return to their natural habitat. For these birds, there is a bare minimum of human interaction so as not to confuse them.

Intrigued? If you are considering visiting take a look at my What to see and do at Puy du Fou post and start planning the best family trip ever.

You’re going to love it!