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  1. As you were

    August 22, 2017 by Amy Hansford

    I’m torn, reader.

    I don’t have the time to blog. And if I did, I would now worry that what I  say may be read by people who may think my views represent those of my workplace. (They don’t, by the way).

    I don’t want to remove my blog in its entirety – there are a number of posts which are massively useful and, according to the stats, are referred to often around the world.

    So the decision for now is to remove posts that I don’t deem right for the moment, and leave the site dormant until such a time as I feel I can reclaim my piece of the internet in my own right.

    Teachers will understand…!

    Until the next time…

  2. The land of make believe

    January 22, 2017 by Amy Hansford

    We’ve been watching Legend this evening. The pixie one, not the apocalyptic one, or the gangster one.

    Bit dark, isn’t it?

    Not really a kids film, but not really an adult’s film either.

    Cracking prosthetics though, and genuinely frightening moments.


  3. Ooh baby it’s a wild world

    January 20, 2017 by Amy Hansford

    I missed my daily deadline last night due to a very welcome visit from my lovely friend Emma. Before I knew it, I was halfway through a bottle of champagne and, when paired with a naked kebab*, I was no longer able to coherently blog. So instead, we thoroughly enjoyed what I now know to be Spy In The Wild.

    The key USP with this programme is that they have managed to capture very natural (and fascinating) behaviour from the animals by combining cameras and animatronics. Robot meerkats, sloths and orangutans have breen created and discretely placed in the wild where they interact with the ‘real’ animals, filming their behaviour and interacting with them. In one scene, the robo-orangutan saws a piece of wood in half; the real orangutan then copies its behaviour, even showing off and sawing whilst lieing down. It really is brilliant to watch!

    Newsround did a little piece on it too.

    It really is brilliant watching. Our cat Echo agreed too – she was quite intent on catching herself a meerkat. Spoilers: she didn’t.

    Spy In The Wild is on BBC 1 on Thursdays at 8pm. You can also watch it here on iPlayer.

    * A kebab without pitta bread

  4. Flagged Up

    January 18, 2017 by Amy Hansford

    In early December, my colleagues and I were sent on a three day First Aid At Work course run by St John’s Ambulance. It was really, really, really good. I last went on the course back in 2009 which was mainly a woman in a tweed suit talking at us in a warm, dimly lit room for three days where I tried not to fall asleep. This was a whole word away – funny, interactive, loads of hands on stuff, practical applications, scenarios – really good.

    If you are considering going on a first aid course at any level, I highly recommend the St John’s Ambulance team – they have loads on locations all over the UK and are, as I mentioned, really good.

    As a result, I bought two first aid packs – one for each car – and am also the First Aider for my area at work now as well as the Fire Warden. My workplace have a good handle on health and safety generally, so they’ve given me a bumper first aid pack to be kept in my desk and have monthly meetings for all First Aiders (big site, big FA team) to keep us all up to date. Realistically, the most I’ll be doing will be applying plasters and occasionally dealing with minor burns (we do a lot of cooking but I’ve never had any incidents). But it’d good to know stuff, right?

    Imagine my excitement when the Health & Safety Manager walked in to my office this afternoon brandishing my very own First Aider flag. Genuinely! I think it’s brilliant – I’m chuffed that I get to have it on my desk, and I think it’s a great idea that it’s so easy to quite literally flag down a First Aider when you need one.

    Let’s hope no-one needs me!

    Loving my First Aider flag

  5. If I only had a brain/heart

    January 17, 2017 by Amy Hansford

    Towards the end of the run of “Aladdin & The Lost Christmas”, John asked me an important question. Would I, Amy Hansford, officially co-direct the following year’s panto with him?

    A simple question, you might think. But not so. It took some thought.

    My instant thought was ‘yes, of course, yes! I want to direct and be a part of the best little panto in Milton Keynes!’. But I’ve learned over the past year that I have to interview both my heart AND my head when making decisions. So I took some time to think.

    Heart: This is so cool! I’m honoured! I’ve loved doing a bit of directing this year and I want to do more!
    Head: Hold up – this isn’t just saying yes to next year. This is committing further than that. You can’t just jump in, do a bit, then walk away.
    Heart: I know, but I love panto! And I love being in a position to help make it even better!
    Head: Granted. So you’re okay with the extra commitment?
    Heart: …?
    Head: This isn’t just being at every rehearsal. This is joining the production team for the show, making decisions, judgements.
    Heart: Yeah, I want that. I like being able to steer stuff!
    Head: Being on the audition panel.
    Heart: That’s cool!
    Head: Is it? Having to tell some people yes and some people no?
    Heart: Um… not that bit.FIGHT!
    Head: No. Still okay with it?
    Heart: … Yeah. Yeah, I can do that.
    Head: Okay, so what about keeping the cast happy?
    Heart: It’s pantoland, everyone’s happy!
    Head: Not always – you need to listen to everyone. Sometimes you’ll need to make a decision that’s right for the show, but it might put noses out of joint. It’s a tightrope. You’re doing a million things in the background and in your head, people only see what’s happening on the surface.
    Heart: You’re making this less fun.
    Head: I’m being practical.
    Heart: But what about the fun? And spending time with my friends, and being part of something meaningful? And being instrumental in something that is an actual part of the Christmas tradition for families?
    Head: About that – do you really want that pressure?
    Heart: Of having fun?
    Head: Of not ruining Christmas. Of taking on arguably the most successful ‘amateur’ pantomime in Britain.
    Heart: What?
    Head: Sells out in advance, raises large amounts for charity, keeps ticket prices low to ensure everyone has access to family entertainment, keeps subs low to ensure everyone has access to being in panto, amazing costumes and sets and lights and sound, bespoke music…
    Heart: Alright alright alright. Yes, I want all those good things. And yes, I will take on all the bad things.
    Head: What about the year after?
    Head: What. About. The.
    Heart: I heard you. Yes. The year after. And the year after that. I’ll take it. All of it.

    And so I said yes.

    Onwards to Oz…

  6. Hoburne Naish – the sequel

    April 3, 2016 by Amy Hansford

    We went away this week as it was Easter half term and the smallest Hansford was home from school. Looking at the prices of holidays during the… well, the holidays, did genuinely make me weep originally. I thought there just wasn’t any way we were going to escape home over Easter.

    As a last ditch attempt, I had a look over at the Hoburne Naish website. We stayed at Hoburne Naish last year and reviewed it for Approved Family Friendly, so it was on my radar. However, given the fact it was Easter, I didn’t expect that there would be anything in our price bracket. I was over the moon to see that a Chewton Lodge was available for our dates and in budget too – fantastic! And so we arrived on a windy Saturday to our home for the week.

    Photo credit:

    Photo credit:

    I was very impressed. We’d gone for a mid-level two bedroomed lodge so my expectations weren’t too high. But here’s what we found;

    A private driveway outside the property – isn’t it annoying when you have to move your car away from the accommodation?

    The living room had plenty of seating, plus a decent telly with FreeSat and we were able to plug in our laptop to watch films. Lovely and warm with gorgeous curtains and matching furnishings.

    Fully decked kitchen with oven/hob/microwave/kettle/toaster as expected, a dishwasher, washing machine, loads of storage and a full height American style fridge freezer. Very impressive! Completely child friendly too – no scary cords hanging down, sharp corners of worktops cut down to rounded edges, etc.

    The family bathroom included a jacuzzi bath – minimal bubble bath + button = hugely excited five year old + ALL THE BUBBLES! As per last year, the accommodation was desperately lacking the cheapest of things – a little step. Due to this, the smallest Hansford wasn’t able to wash/brush teeth independently as she couldn’t reach, although it did lead to amusing Supergirl impressions instead.

    The twin room was amusing – the beds seemed almost 3/4 size. If we’d been away with my stepbrother, all near 7 foot of him, he would have been disappointed. However, perfect for the smallest Hansford.

    The double was lovely – again, the great furnishing continued throughout, the curtains did a great job of keeping out the light (we’re used to blinds at home) and the ensuite was well set up. Mind you, the shower screen which folded in half inwards would probably be a challenge for many in terms of getting out of the thing.

    It was lovely, comfy and cosy, even against the force of Storm Katie which took down a fair number of both junior and well established trees throughout the New Forest.

    Location-wise, it was a quick walk down to the local stony beach with a bit of sand which Mr Hansford and the smallest Hansford enjoyed lots. On site there’s also the outdoor pool (open from May onwards), plus the still brilliant play area with its safe location, single entrance/exit to take the pressure off wild eyed parents and loads of play options.

    Photo credit: Alex Hansford

    Photo credit: Alex Hansford

    We were well placed, just a couple of minutes away from the pool (bit cold, smallest Hansford ended up with blue lips) and the main centre which recently underwent a complete refurbishment and is now blissfully light and airy. Within this there is a great schedule of events for all ages running throughout the week. It’s reassuring to see that the Ents Manager was still the same chap – it shows that he must enjoy his job, and hints that Hoburne make for good employers, which is nice. Ents teams tend to have a quick seasonal turnover, so consistency is great.

    We made it to the annual Easter Egg hunt – I admired the Ents Manager as he skilfully made an indoor egg hunt (did we mention the storm?) still good fun for ooh, about 50 kids. There were prizes and party dances to follow. However, the smallest Hansford sunk into a sulk and spent the next hour underneath the table, later citing (and this is a direct quote); “I don’t want to be told how to dance – I want to be free!” As such, rather than make her do something she didn’t enjoy (because it’s everyone’s holiday, not just ours), we didn’t make use of the fantastic itineraries that week which included line dancing, family frisbee tournaments, dancing competitions, games, music, live performances and the rest. However, we were delighted to have our own little holiday home to return to after jaunts.

    Photo credit: Alex Hansford

    Bournemouth Oceanarium. Photo credit: Alex Hansford

    We tried to get out when we could. Within easy travelling distance was Southampton with plenty of shops (and rain), Bournemouth with it’s glorious sandy beach, pier, entertainments and Oceanarium, plus plenty of other tourist attractions including the New Forest Reptile Centre (don’t expect the world – these are mostly animals which are local to the New Forest), Paulton’s Park and farms aplenty.

    The beach at Hoburne Naish. Photo credit: Alex Hansford.

    The beach at Hoburne Naish. Photo credit: Alex Hansford.

    Unfortunately, by Wednesday I was down with the worst throat infection I’ve ever had, plus my first ever migraine (ah, bless!) so it was up to the other two Hansfords to get out and about. But I was so very grateful for the very comfy accommodation. When you are ill, you just want your own bed. But this one certainly did the job.

    Also, I am now a huge fan of self catering holidays. Of course you can go and eat out whenever you want – there’s a lovely Wetherspoons-style restaurant on site, plus the local restaurants within a short drive – but we saved a fortune by taking some food with us, eating in of a night and doing a top up shop halfway at the local Morrisons.

    We headed back on the following Saturday, fairly well rested and happy with our lovely family time. Normally we return from a vacation needing a holiday, but this time was different. I think we’ve found that place which we return to as a family – Hoburne Naish.

  7. To my students

    December 26, 2015 by Amy Hansford

    We’re steaming towards 2016, which means it’s nearly 12 years since I started teaching. Alright, admittedly that’s then 8 years since I then stopped teaching, technically, then returning later with that drama programme. But either way, the point is that that some of those 9 & 10 year olds I taught way back when are now old enough to be having their own kids, finding the loves of their lives and well, being adults themselves.

    I generally have a pretty good memory, but when it comes to names I am as useful as a chocolate teapot on a fireplace. For the first term, most children in my class were known as Sweetie or My Lovely. I just could never get a handle on names. A decade on and I haven’t a chance of remembering the names of any of them. But I do remember the funny moments. And it’d be a shame to forget those. Needless to say, all names are made up because I can’t actually remember any of them.

    Sultana (9) asking for the Ooh La song while the year 5 class worked. After she sang it for me, I realised she wanted Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy by Queen.

    Jareth (10) explaining why the £ sign and $ sign reverted to different sides of the cell in Excel with “*sigh* Because Americans just don’t think”.

    Shabana (9) rocking out the wooden cut out saxophone during the sax solo of Merry Christmas Everyone, and my class being the best performance at the Christmas show that year despite me being off with the flu.

    Zoey (10) bringing me back a little necklace from her holiday which I still have and I still wear.

    Mansoor (10) buying me a kingsize Mars Bar for Christmas from his own money; still the most meaningful gift from a student I’ve ever received.

    Oliver (10) cracking out serious dance moves to Banana Phone.

    All of these kids were brilliant in their own unique ways, and I genuinely think about them often with high aspirations of how they have turned out. I can only hope that they are all happy, kind hearted and doing what they want to do, having remembered my life lessons on questioning everything, being open to opinions and using their imaginations. So to all of the kids out there – you may be adults now, but don’t be in a rush to be grown ups. Keep your imaginations burning brightly, and make sure your kids do too one day.

    Miss Wake

  8. We are in

    July 27, 2015 by Amy Hansford

    Hello lovely blog readers!

    It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The result is that I have more things to blog about, so… you know. Less blank spaces. *Sweeps away three months worth of tumbleweed*

    The good news is that we are in our new house and it is lovely. Really lovely. As bizarre as it sounds, it’s like this has always been our house, and that the previous owners were caring for it until we were ready to move in. People have jested that this is a grown-up house. And I’m happy with that – this is the house. This is where we live and are going to live for a very long time. I suspect I will only finally leave this happy home in a box.

    I found the moving day completely stress free, which can only mean that Alex was going through hell. The removal team, WS Removals, were fantastic. A great bunch of lads, very professional but good fun too. And so quick – we were lucky enough to be able to collect the new house keys at 10am, so we were in by lunch.

    unpackingOne of my guilty pleasures is unpacking. If we are ever staying elsewhere overnight, it’s a secret joy for me to find temporary new homes from all that has escaped with us in our bags. And all though I look a bit puffed out, it made my day to find homes for everything in the new kitchen.

    The space – it’s glorious. I have swung my cat in most rooms (in my arms being cuddled rather than by the tail, admittedly).
    Alex has installed all number of cables and wires that do things.
    Everything has a place.
    We have a stunning kitchen table.
    We have a modular sofa from Nabru so we just added an extra bit and changed the covers. Bam – new sofa.
    We have changed the kitchen light fittings to make them a little bit steampunk. Not over the top, just a little bit.
    We have a mortgage (gulp) including pennies for a loft extension.
    I have a creative room. A room specifically for music, sewing and costumes.
    Alex has his own dedicated office space, and will be getting a bigger one soon – half the new top floor.

    gardenI have begun to weed the garden and understand its contents. Going from a little courtyard and patio to have a full on garden is a revelation. The patio door is always open. I have actually befriended spiders. Wasps trapped in the kitchen peacefully walk onto my finger so I can take them into the garden. I am becoming Snow White. I have so little idea of what most things in the garden are, I’m still getting my head around it all. The neighbours all have allotments with huge crops of fruit and veg. We plan on having a little bit of a foody corner in our garden – we’ll keep the allotment offers at bay for another few years yet.

    We still have lots to do – we’re taking out the archway between the kitchen and dining area, redecorating, and of course planning Halloween. It turns out that 31st October is a far bigger deal over in this neck of the woods, and I’m thrilled. I love giggles and families doing something together. To have an entire community getting stuck in is something I’m just not used to, but am more than happy to embrace. According to our neighbours, the previous owners of this house had a pretty decent standard of Halloween decoration and a good reputation for giving out goodies. I’m happy to take that on 🙂

    As for Little L, she now has a HUGE bedroom which doubles up as a playroom. The day she arrived at our new house (TOP TIP: she’s stayed with my parents for the first three days), she wandered blissfully happily into the garden, knelt down to feel the grass, then laid down in it to make a grass angel. It was heartwarming to see that we clearly made the right decision in moving house to somewhere she can play in the garden.

    And as for those original school choices from back at the start of the year, guess what? Little L now has a place in one of the top schools in MK.

    So yes. New starts. In more ways that one – more about that later.



  9. Sold!

    April 21, 2015 by Amy Hansford

    Guess what? One day on from the last post and we received a offer of the full asking price for our house. That never happens. Or at least it never used to. But say hello to a buoyant housing market. Literally, houses go on the market in the morning and go under offer in the evening.

    And now it all gets really exciting! Oh wait… nope, no it doesn’t not it all goes very quiet while everyone takes money and does things, reporting things, finance things. So we wait. And we wait.

    It hasn’t all gone wrong yet. But we’re at the bit where we don’t have any power to move it forward, so. We wait.

    Still waiting.Sold

  10. Make Your House Sellable

    April 10, 2015 by Amy Hansford

    We are generally tidy people. However, I’m rubbish at cleaning, so we are fortunate enough to have a lovely lady come in once a fortnight to sort everything out. But we do have a fair bit of clutter, or ‘personality’ as we’ve come to call it.

    In viewing various houses, we’ve learned things that make a house look like an appealing home.

    1. Crank up the heating and open the windows. Economical madness, I know, but it makes the viewer feel warm and comfy yet gives fresh air throughout.

    2. Everyone has to take their shoes off. Our carpets have been vomitted on copiously by our cats, and have been professionally cleaned as many times. None of this matters though – a ‘no shoes’ rule gives the impression that this house must be kept in its pristine state.

    3. Flowers. Strike that – green. Doesn’t matter if it’s artificial (as long as it’s the good kind), but a bit of fresh colouring makes the house fresh. You’re selling a lifestyle as much as a house.

    4. Declutter. Strip back as far as you can. On viewing day, everything in the bathroom is hidden except the fake plant and the toothbrushes.

    5. Lights on. If you have energy savers that take a while to warm up, stick them on before you leave the house. Speaking of which…

    6. Get out of the house. It makes a viewer feel awkward having you there, and you won’t be able to resist earwigging otherwise.



    All our cables are hidden, laptops shelved, Elite gaming kit under the sofa, crap on top of the bookshelves removed. All but one bin is put in the garage. Cushions are organised. The computer is hidden behind a guitar. All medication, cups, glasses, books and random notepads from the bedside table are shoved in the wardrobe.


    No really, hide EVERYTHING.

    The result? Space. Clean lines. Funky yet unobtrusive colours. A lifestyle. If you live here, you too can have an uncluttered world of peace. Your plants will grow healthily. You can make bread in your breadmaker. You can have an even better life.

    During the original Moving Up post, we were on Monday and having photos taken of the house. The house listing went live on Tuesday. We have had four viewings, have another two coming up, and have received an offer. IT IS FRIDAY. So if you have a garage, throw out as much as you can (be ruthless), move all non-essentials into it, then have a box ready to run around the house prior to viewings to hide all those random things in. You too can sell your house!

    Coming up: It’s all gone wrong (probably)