Friday, 25 February 2011
The freedom of the open road has a mythical attraction. I'd be surprised if there is anyone who hasn't at some stage in their life dreamed of upping and offing to travel the world. Most of us haven't even got as far as the front door but this family have packed up their house, loaded their camper van and are on their way. Part of me thinks they're completely bonkers but the rest of me is full of admiration, and not a little jealousy, for the path they have chosen.
I'm looking forward to keeping up to date with their adventures and am grateful for the opportunity to 'virtually' travel with them.
Monday, 21 February 2011
One of today's questions was 'Can we afford to have children?' (or something along those lines). I was frankly appalled, and genuinely saddened, by some of the comments. A number of women phoned in to say that they could not afford a second, or third child, but there were a few who said that, having done their sums, they had decided that they could not even afford one. The most tragic was a woman who admitted to having aborted her second child for financial reasons.
I really and truly didn't get it. It would be foolish to suggest that children don't cost money, and irresponsible of prospective parents not to give any thought as to to how they could be afforded. But surely couples in a first world country cannot seriously be claiming that they cannot afford to have a family? Or can they? Vanessa referred to a recent Aviva survey which estimates the cost of bringing a child up (to 21 years) at £271,449. It goes on to claim that some parents spend, on average, £1,000 per month on each of their children! I'd be interested to examine the breakdown of these figures as I'm certain we don't spend anything like that amount on our two girls.
Our decision to have children was not taken lightly. We lived in London for the first 6 years of our married life. When we decided to start a family we knew that, although we were comfortably off as a couple, we couldn't afford to have a child in London, given my desire to give up work until they reached school age. We could have moved elsewhere in London but we eventually landed up in Bristol where my husband was fortunate enough to find another job and where we bought a house for less than the sale price of our London flat. Our first child was followed two years later by a second. If we have made sacrifices I am not aware of them, nor would they matter in comparison with the returns. Our house is small but perfectly adequate. We do not own a car. We have one TV. We bought the girls laptops for their school work but they've never had X Boxes or Wiis. We go on a fortnight's holiday every summer, usually to a cottage in Cornwall, but we've also been to France, Italy, Majorca and Greece. We visit family and friends in Scotland. We take day trips to London. We eat well at home and go out for the occasional meal. The girls have instrumental lessons and get to go on school trips. We are careful with what we have. I don't know how we stand against the national average. Perhaps I'm one of the lucky ones and should stop lecturing people less well off than myself. But then again, perhaps I'm justified in advocating an achievable simpler lifestyle Happiness cannot be measured in terms of our material possessions and instilling this truth in our children is worth more than any expensive toy.
I am therefore puzzled by the women who called in to speak to Vanessa. It is, of course, impossible to judge them without knowing their personal circumstances, but from what they said I gather that, for some of them, their jobs are the stumbling block. To return to work would mean having to shell out hundred of pounds a month in childcare costs, but to stay at home would either put paid to their careers or drive them insane. I guess I have difficulty understanding someone who claims to want a child but is not prepared to make the necessary adjustments to do so. It hasn't always been easy but when I look at my two daughters I have absolutely no doubt that they are the best thing I have ever done, and there is nothing I would trade for the experience of bringing them up.
This is obviously a very emotive issue and one which I may regret having broached. However I was disturbed by the notion of a price being put on a child.
Please feel free to comment. I'd really like to know what you think.
Sunday, 20 February 2011
The church had a distinctly spicy aroma as we walked in this morning.
Monday, 14 February 2011
Saturday, 12 February 2011
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Sunday, 6 February 2011
It's funny how one year can leave such an impression. Was it because it was only the one year (and an academic year at that)? Or because we were mainly strangers to the city and each other? Or because of the diversity of our backgrounds (newly graduated, through ex teachers to an RAF squadron leader)? Or because we were all girls? Or because of the number of public houses we frequented?
Who knows? Whatever it was I'll never forget the time I spent in the Granite City, nor the friends I shared it with.
Friday, 4 February 2011
Then there're Upfest, an annual urban paint festival, which I missed last year but which I hope to catch this June.
This afternoon I accompanied a school trip which started off in the Upfest Gallery and then proceeded to the workshop where the children were let loose (under close supervision I hasten to add) with spray paint cans. I found the smell of the paint fumes unbearable but I was impressed with the end result.