Planning a summer holiday as a singleton living in London. I could leave it till the last minute get a good deal and go anywhere in Europe. Things have changed.
Post covid we were instructed to take a booster vaccine in order to go to Spain. We both caught Covid just before Christmas we didn’t want to have anymore injections especially my husband who I felt had long covid. So we went for the riskier option PCR test 72 hours before our flight. This option was expensive £83 each. The results would arrive the next day.
First thing Thursday morning, I checked the results mine first you’re fit to fly negative – good news the gamble paid off. Next my husband’s test – opened the email – weak positive I nearly dropped the phone. Who do I ring first? Called my husband out of a deep sleep – his lame response ‘oh no!’ Then back to sleep.
We had 1 more opportunity to get the all clear- the antigen test much cheaper than PCR immediate results. We had to wait 3 hours before the chemist opened. Test secured frantic reading of instructions – painful 15 minute wait – fit to fly certificate secured. Next time I think I’ll get the the booster.
The airport was another worry weeks of reports of long queues at the airport, sleeping on airport floors and lost luggage. We checked in online or should I say we thought we did. No boarding passes issued so we couldn’t use the self check in. Despite this small hiccup check in was quick and smooth.
The flight was slightly delayed but nothing to worry about. Now in Spain I could see the effect of Brexit – sent to a different line we had to have our passports stamped and checked. Then another queue to check our vacine status.
Another Brexit bonus we had to pay a tourist fee at Check in €18. So altogether we £200 extra to enter Spain.
Salou did not disappoint. I have never been to mainland Spain and I’m used to everyone speaking English (wish I’d watched more Dora the Explorer). My Spanish is woefully inadequate.
Travelling with an 11 year meant a compulsory visit to Ferrari Land and Portaventura. Day 1 we went to Ferrari Land. It had a pretty impressive entrance and an extremely expensive gift shop. The main ride was impressively high. We waited in a hot queue for over an hour too tired to argue with queue jumpers. Anyway after that painfully long wait, I realised we were at the front. They gave us goggles for goodness sake. I was too scared to scream on the journey to the top. When it paused I closed my eyes before the plunge downwards. That was my last white knuckle ride of the holiday.
At Portaventura I spent a lot of money to carry the bags. Anyway I would highly recommend it if you’re in Salou with children and teens. The gift shop had more realistic prices. The heat was intense but there were plenty of water rides to cool you down.
With the adventure parks out of the way it gave us an opportunity to discover Salou the golden beaches, wide pavements and palm trees wouldn’t look out of place in Miami. We took pictures by the sign – well why wouldn’t you?
The following day we explored the more secluded beaches. We had a beach to ourselves.
The food at the hotel was delicious such a wide choice of food. The desserts were works of art. I would definitely return to Salou.
Gabriel Utterson the lawyer
There are many contradictions in Stevenson’s introduction of this important character. He is the main vehicle for investigating the strange case of Jekyll and Hyde.
The reader learns he is a man who tries to be non judgemental. He recognises that all humans have failings and he will not intervene to prevent anyone making a mistake. He has been the last person people see before receiving the death penalty but he doesn’t become sentimental or emotional – he remains professional.
Gabriel Utterson has a small circle of friends some close relatives. Richard Enfield with whom he takes regular walks on a Sunday afternoon. They seem to have very little in common- they walk in silence and they are relieved to see anyone else they can call to. Both men are respectable gentleman so their weekly walks are a show to the world they have nothing to hide. Interestingly, the walks take place on the sabbath a time when everyone attends church. Maybe a reflection of Victorian hypocrisy – hiding real thoughts and desires from society. Utterson’s private drinking, his love of the theatre but rarely attends. His serious outward appearance which relaxes when he’s had a glass of wine.
Richard Enfield is the opposite of Gabriel Utterson he is a popular man about town. His conversation with Utterson on this particular walk is lively and engaging as he recounts the story of the door. Initially he wants to establish that he is not a gossip because it is ungentlemanly and beneath him. He is also aware of how gossip can destroy reputations.
Again Enfield seems to have a dark side as he confesses to being on the road in the early hours of the morning. He offers no explanation of his behaviour but he condemns the behaviour of Hyde.
Enfield tells the story of Hyde trampling a young girl in the early hours of the morning. Enfield points out that even if it was an accident there was a distinct lack of humanity from Hyde. He made no attempt to stop and to enquire if the girl was harmed. It was the intervention of Enfield and a group of women who prevented his escape from justice.
Enfield’s story reveals two things about Victorian society money buys you power and you can live above the law. Secondly there is little or no protection for the vulnerable especially children. Hyde has to pay the child compensation to protect his reputation.
Both characters Utterson and Enfield raise the strange relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. The compensation paid to the child comes from Jekyll’s account not Hydes. Hyde gets the cheque in the early hours of the morning (he is not a blood relative). The spectre of blackmail and homosexuality are touched upon.
All of Enfield’s story builds mystery and suspense but most intriguing of all is the description of Hyde – animalistic, demonic, frightening and repulsive. The use of biblical language in his description brings in the theme of the supernatural – what power can this creature have over the respectable Dr Jekyll?
The Story of the Door
The description of the door helps to build mystery and suspense from the beginning. The door which Hyde uses is hidden from public view. The door is neglected and it does not look like it belongs in the area. Significantly, Hyde has a key to the door which gives him a sense of entitlement and empowerment- he can come and go as he pleases. A door can be a symbol of freedom and imprisonment. The key has obviously been given to Hyde which tells the reader he is trusted and close to the owner. The door which Hyde uses is hidden from public view therefore it introduces the theme of secrets and appearance vs reality. In Victorian society are appearances given greater importance than the truth. Both Utterson and Enfield agree that there is cause for concern about the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde but they agree to remain silent.
Saturday 6th August 2022 I managed to book tickets for the athletics at the Alexander Stadium. The morning started with a hearty breakfast made by my kind hearted 94 year old grandma. The aim was to leave the house at 9.30am. Birmingham had kindly laid on free buses for spectators. The road to the stadium was littered with nuclear families hats suncream and backpacks walking to bus stops or straight to the stadium.
The bus was full a ten minute journey. We stopped outside the stadium a short walk brought us to the entrance. The music was pumping bringing a party atmosphere to the proceedings. The volunteers with huge sponge hands greeted the visitors.
Our seats were in category D so we knew we had a high climb to our seats. We weren’t prepared for just how high up dizzying heights. When we finally sat down we were happy with the seats – we could see the whole track.
The great thing about these games was that the Para games were at the same time (hopefully the Olympics can do the same).
We were due to see the high jump, they were tiny specks on our screen but we could see the incredible heights they were jumping. The most exciting thing for me was seeing the Jamaican team flying over the bar.
Next was the walking race 25 laps around the track for 40 minutes. You have to admire the perseverance of the athletes especially the ones that were lapped. A great lesson in never giving up. Some getting PBs. The way they ended the race with loud cheers from the crowd it seemed to lift their spirits.
My daughter and I agreed the best race was the 100m Relay men and women heats. It was at this time my husband and daughter decided to get food. I was frantically sending messages – they arrived just in time.
I’ve watched the Relay a thousand times on TV but nothing compares to being in the stadium. The baton changes fast, slick and smooth. Hearts pumping until the final change over. We took our time leaving the stadium taking in the beauty of the brand new track the vibrant colours a centre for excellence.
I was thinking about all the heartbreaking stories this week about family members dying alone while Downing Street partied. It made me realise that the social hierarchy remains unchanged from Victorian times. Imagine being one of those families living with the pain, deep sorrow and guilt.
When my parents died in 2018 it was so difficult to describe the sadness but also the acceptance that their suffering was coming to an end. The whole family was allowed to be by their bedside. We could all say our final goodbyes. They both had funerals where friends and family could get together to celebrate their life.
To think that so many families had quick, cold empty send offs trying to follow rules whilst Downing Street and Whitehall was party central. Asking people to just move on shows a clear lack of value and understanding of the importance of family to ordinary people.
The message of Scrooge lying there cold and alone in Stave 4 was supposed to be a lesson to those who put the love of money above humanity which makes the events over the last two years more painful. They didn’t deserve to die under such harsh conditions. Healing from such grief is going to take time because their anger at such injustice is not going to bring them back.
It is very rare that a Bishop from South Africa can fill a football stadium as he speaks on the evils of apartheid. But Bishop Desmond Tutu with his powerful skills of communication could keep his audience gripped and energised to stand up for justice.
In 1988 my friend invited me to go with her to see Desmond Tutu speak at Valley Parade. I knew who he was but I was more familiar with Nelson Mandela. Coming from a pentecostal background I was used to passionate speakers but not from Anglican vicars.
The audience of 10,000 brought together people from all backgrounds, all faiths, all ages. The hard seats and the cold Bradford air should have combined to make it an unpleasant experiment but it was amazing and life changing. 1988 was the year I started a 4 year BEd in primary education. It reminded me of the power of words and fearless speaking of truth to change what appears to be a hopeless situation.
Terrible, terrible what a tragedy to see bodies floating in the English Channel. It’s time to do something to prevent this tragedy. More wringing of hands more distress but yet the negative language continues.
Whilst the British and French argue about who’s responsible, a pregnant woman has climbed into an inflatable dinghy desperate to reach British Shores and lost her life. How desperate do you have to be to risk the life of your unborn child in a frozen graveyard?
Yes! it is a tragedy to see women and children lose their lives but isn’t it equally sad that young men are also dead. The time has come to start using those British values that are are pedalled in our schools about Justice equality tolerance and yet we continue to dehumanise asylum seekers and refugees in the media and in political discourse.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know what is going on around the world. Let’s stop pretending that many are of the people who have been displaced are trying to be reunited with their families who have settled in this country. We know it’s through war, through bombing campaigns, drone strikes all have contributed to this crisis we see on our Shores.
We need to start seeing people; human beings flesh and blood like you and me me. What wouldn’t we do do to protect our children to give them a future and a better life. If we were in the same position wouldn’t we we take the risk if there are no illegal routes to claiming asylum. As a country we need to change the rhetoric, we need to stop criminalising people who have been given no alternative.
The start of my ‘Make It! Sell It! venture to promote literacy across the college. I would have liked a more polished final product but I wanted to remind students to use a variety of punctuation in their writing.
Another year has passed and your absence is magnified more than ever. The house that used to unite us on special occasions is now abandoned. Your pictures on the wall stare at us and remind us of the years of pain and suffering. The carers coming in and out to wake you up, dress you, feed you. Your helplessness leaving a trail of guilt that remains three years later.
How do we move on from this painful milestone? As the eldest daughter do I assume the role of matriarch? Reluctantly, attempting to unite everyone but not with much success.
I suppose covid and lockdown helped to cover the huge gap in the family caused by the loss. No huge Christmas dinners, no travelling up and down the motorway, no arguments about loading and unloading the dishwasher (some progress but the pain of seeing every piece of cutlery, plate dish piled in the sink ruined a great meal).
Another Christmas will come and go and memories will continue to fade. I see you running around making sure everyone has eaten. I hear everyone pleading with you to sit down and eat. I see the smile on your face when you take the first bite and you say, ‘this tastes good!’
Setting & Relationships
A Raisin in the sun is about a family living in Southside Chicago. They live in an overcrowded apartment. The furniture is ‘worn and tired’. The family display a sense of pride in themselves by attempting to cover up the threadbare carpet and sofa. The mother and daughter share a bedroom, the husband and wife share a makeshift tiny bedroom and the son has to sleep in the living room on a sofa bed.
All of the action in the play takes place in this tiny, overcrowded, claustrophobic apartment. The writer Lorraine Hansberry wants to reveal the tensions that exist within and outside of the family. The audience can immediately say that the main struggle for this family is financial. It’s easy to see that money is going to be a major theme in the play. The dialogue in the opening of the play shows that Ruth is the one who organises the family she has to rise early to wake the son and the husband and make the breakfast.
The writer introduces the symbolism of eggs in this scene. ‘How do you want your eggs?’ ‘not scrambled!’ – Ruth scrambles the eggs. Eggs represent fertility, new life, hope scrambling the eggs represents her pessimistic mood and the fear things will never change. The eggs could also represent the family’s exclusion from the American Dream whilst living in that apartment – there’s no room to grow or thrive.
The stage directions show that she has aged prematurely and she is exhausted by the way life has treated her since her marriage to Walter. The first time she addresses her son in the play there is excessive use of exclamatory phrases, this reveals that she has to be authoritarian in her approach to motherhood there is no time for a softly, softly approach as she is the one who attempts to maintain some normality and routine in the morning ritual.
With Walter, she also treats him like a child, she takes responsibility for waking him up for work. She has to rouse him several times possibly because He has been drinking the night before. When Walter finally gets out of bed, he greets Ruth with several interrogatory phrases such as ‘cheque come yet?’ This clearly shows Walter’s priorities desire for money has blinded him to the needs of his wife such as basic love, attention and affection. Even when he asked her what’s the matter, he is not interested in her response it seems to be another way to provoke an argument.
Walter behaves like a child and not like a mature adult in the relationship is his growth stunted? Has he become infantile and emasculated as a result of living in his mother’s cramped apartment at the age of 35 with his wife and son?
Clearly both characters are trapped by poverty, institutional and systemic racism. They are both victims of housing segregation in Southside Chicago they both desire to escape their life of poverty and to make a better life for their child. Ruth is concerned that Walter is being poorly influenced by his friends. The play is clearly set within a patriarchal Where women are subservient to men. Walter is presented as an alpha male in a toxic environment.
He blames black women for his inability to grow and to flourish. He fails to realise that woman are struggling in the same unequal society but they are double victims because not only do they face racism everyday but also the sexism that comes from men within their own community.
The thought of a staycation in 2021 was horrifying for most of us as holidays abroad were cancelled in 2020. Unpredictable weather, high prices and overcrowding during a pandemic persuaded most of us not to bother.
Fortunately, a bit of forward planning in December meant a trip to the Lake District was something to look forward to. Leaving behind the polluted, noisy angry city for a few days was truly welcome.
We drove up the M6 in the early morning sunshine through green fields and rolling hills. I found myself taking longer, deeper breaths as if all the stress was being left behind. The plan was to meet at the Bobbin Mill in Ulverston (a number 1 attraction)
The mill was in beautiful grounds, surrounded by lush green hill, a babbling Brook gurgling in the background. The bright sunshine wouldn’t have been out of place Lake Como or Lake Garda. The beautiful weather tempted us away from the mill to Lakeside. Winding narrow roads meant almost facing head on collisions.
Well if you go to the Lake District you have to sail across the lake but which ticket to buy to avoid the mistake we made over a decade ago. The day tripper sounds like a bargain. You can get off at the next stop and walk to the next, she told us. What could go wrong? From our experiences plenty. The walk to the next stop was 5 miles away (a trifle for the prepared with walking shoes, walking sticks and water) a problem for city slickers. We survived.
We took the boat to overcrowded Bowness the views across the lake were breathtaking. We were greeted by greedy geese and swans used to people feeding them. Fish and chips was the meal we were yearning for.
Desperate to escape the crowds we followed a path that seemed to lead to a park but a short walk led us to the side of the lake. All the stresses and strains from the week were released just standing there and listening to the silence.