Friday, June 29, 2012

Life at Norland College Part 5

The grande finale!

At the end of all our course work and final exams we were allowed to celebrate.
First we threw a very relaxed party outside of our living quarters.

Our friends at the Army barracks put up tents 'just in case of rain'.
Beautifully rustic aren't they?


 And of course every good party needs a bouncy castle.

                      The party in final swing!  
                   We look sooooooo 90's!!!!

At the end of our 2 year course there was a beautiful 'Garden Party' in the grounds of Denford Park.
This was when we would display our work and family and friends of the graduates would join us in afternoon tea and take a look around the college.  I was luckily enough to graduate college during the 'Centennial Year' as you can imagine this was an extra special time.

Yours truly looking non too thrilled

Mum, Dad, Gran and friends from home visiting the Garden Party 1992

That's me on the left
 Along with the garden party there was a special Masquerade Ball.
Every female attending had to wear a ballgown and every male a tuxedo (I think).  I say 'I think' because I celebrated a little too much at the 'free' champagne cocktail hour and the rest is a little fuzzy.  In my defense I was a dedicated student who had used up all my money on my final display and once inside the tent you had to pay for your wine but the champagne was free!!!
If you ask me I was simply being financially conscientious!

I did manage to have a pic with my ballgown (specially made for the event).

In our final night at college it was tradition to 'wreck the college'.  By wrecking I mean putting things in places they don't belong, turning chairs upside down etc etc  all very tame really.
Breakfast in our PJ's (usually not allowed)
Can't remember where this ended up.

The final hurrah, as tradition states, you are to leave your cars on the front lawn in the shape of the set number you were.  We were set 7.....pretty easy to organize really, thank goodness we weren't the next intake!  
Could have been a bump or two.

My blue Renault 5 was the 3rd car at the bottom.

Once we had all said our tearful goodbyes we drove out of the college grounds one final time honking our horns like crazy.  I honked mine so much it broke!  True story.

And that is the end of my experience at the NORLAND COLLEGE!
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed reminiscing and writing about it. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life at Norland College Part 4

So you might ask what did we do when we weren't with children, studying or sewing.  My first answer is 'sleeping'.  It was a very demanding course and there honestly wasn't a lot of free time (maybe it was all the extra work I put on myself). Many of my fellow students lived not too far away from the college and many of them were lucky enough to have cars so they used to go home at the weekends.  My home was almost a 4 hour drive and I had no car so I spent most weekends at college with the other Northerners and a couple of Scots (working on our sewing).

In my second term I begged my grandmother to let me borrow my Grandfathers car, an automatic Renault 5. My Grandfather had passed away a couple of years prior to me starting college and the car had been sitting waiting for someone to drive it, she finally agreed and I discovered a new found freedom!

The towns of Newbury and Marlborough were not too far away so we would often visit these towns on a weekend.  Newbury was also the closest place for those much needed, never ending 'sewing supplies'.

File:Marlborough, Wilts - - 44036.jpg
Market day in Marlborough

File:Northbrook Street, Newbury.jpg
Newbury, Berkshire

Sometimes we would take excursions to Oxford, Salisbury, and a couple of trips to Bath (where the college is currently located). I had never really spent much time in the south of England (outside of London) before so it was a lot of fun to visit these historic towns. 

An aerial view of Oxford City Centre
File:High Street from above looking east.JPG
Oxford High Street

Salisbury Market

Salisbury Cathedral.jpg 
Salisbury Cathedral

The Royal Crescent, Bath, Wiltshire

Wide image of a symmetrical semicircular terrace of yellow stone buildings. Grass in the foreground.
A panoramic view of the Royal Crescent

Photograph of the Baths showing a rectangular area of greenish water surrounded by yellow stone buildings with pillars. In the background is the tower of the abbey.
The Great Bath at the Roman Baths, in Bath

Yellow/Gray stone bridge with three arches over water which reflects the bridge and the church spire behind. A weir is on the left with other yellow stone buildings behind.
18th century Pulteney Bridge

Within an hour or so driving distance we could hit 1 of  3 army barracks.  The young officers would throw some of the best parties around and would always extend an invite to us Norland girls.  So, many a Friday night we would all pack into our cars and spend an evening at the Officers Mess at one of these locations.

This was my first experience being on an Army base and what an eye opener it was!  Signing in and out, making sure we had special car passes, someone always had to know someone and your name had to be at the gate, you also had to make sure you had your I.D. or else you had driven all that way for nothing because you weren't getting in!  Very entertaining times.....and that's all I will say about THAT!

On occasion there were also invites sent out to us from Officers or Captains (I can't remember their ranking) to attend a special banquet dinner. They would need 12 or so (always a specific number) female dinning guests.  I did attend a couple of these nerve racking events.  A very formal dinner set at a long dinning table, the likes of what King Arthur may have had, where the men were dressed in uniform (as well as the wait staff) and the girls had to put on 'yer best frock'.  I couldn't count the amount of courses that we had at one of these events I went to, but by the time the port was passed it was a little more of a relaxed atmosphere!

Our summer break was only 2 weeks long.  While all my other friends from home were enjoying a lovely 3 months off University and Polytechnic I was trying to cram in a quick holiday to Greece with my Norland friends and then trying to get around visiting all the family and friends at home before I dashed back down to college.  I do remember feeling a bit ripped off but as my father reminded me "You won't be getting weeks and weeks off work when you start a real job" .....straight back to reality!!!  Thanks Dad!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life at Norland College Part 3

It wasn't always fun and games at Norland, we also had to sit down and have lectures like any other college course.  These were to include health where we covered all the sickness' children are prone to, the various stages from conception to birth, and practical first aid.  Lectures in education taught us how children can learn through so many different channels from dress up play to everyday excursions such as a trip to the supermarket.

I'll never forget sitting in a health lecture when there was a knock on the door and the first male that had applied to Norland was coming in to look around.  I think he was a little taken aback because he whispered to his guide "It's all girls" and then we never saw him again.  However in 1999 the first male nanny was accepted into the college (but I'm guessing it wasn't 'our' guy).

We had lectures in food hygiene and nutrition.  In Home Economics we experienced practical assignments in the kitchen, planning, cooking and pricing out a balanced meal for a child or family.  (How much is an ounce of flour these days?)

We also had to plan a fake children's birthday party where we chose a theme, the games we would play, the food, recipes and how much it would cost, the grand finale was to make the birthday cake and ice it.  I chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, perhaps not the calmest subject at the time (and it definitely stood out amongst all the pony and nursery rhyme cakes) but terribly popular with the young boys of the early 90's.  I was so very proud of my Rafael Turtle head cake complete with red bandanna in fondant icing.  I wish I had a picture to included here but alas all my college books are still in England......I plan on retrieving these items later on in the year and hopefully will be able to post photo's shortly after.

There was no end of practical training for Norlanders. We would work in the nursery schools within the college and the day care centres for babies and toddlers.  This practical experience for me felt very realistic.When I was assigned to the Nursery Schools it totally felt like I was actually working in a Nursery School.....not part of the training.  It was a great experience.  We had teachers who ran the schools and several nurses were there to assist the children with educational and creative play, supervising outdoor play, keeping them safe and stimulating their day.  It was a great taste of what was to come if you chose that route for a future career.

Working in the baby units we learned how to care for babies from 6 weeks old to I believe 12 months.  We were taught how to make bottles and introduce food, how to play with a baby, how to clean them properly, make cots, sluice diapers (delightful), the safest way (at the time) to put them to sleep, how to harness them in the Silver Cross Prams etc etc etc

For the toddler day care rooms we were educated in tantrums, imaginative play, sharing, nursery rhymes and other fun songs, how to make clean up fun, musical instruments and all the other great things that children need to learn.

In our second year at college as well as balancing studies and sewing we had various placements outside of the college.  The longest placement was to spend 6 weeks living in nurses quarters in a hospital and work in either the maternity or pediatric ward.  My position was in Cardiff, Wales and being that I wasn't really good with blood and the fact that I couldn't even bring myself to watch a birth on T.V. I chose the pediatric ward.  It was an interesting 6 weeks, our responsibilities were mainly to play with the children and make sure they were happy and entertained, we read a lot of books and played a lot of games and kept the play area clean, tidy and organized.  It was a great experience but at the end of 6 weeks I was more than happy to leave and confirmed the fact that working in a hospital was just not for me.

Another placement was in a primary school for a week.  I loved this one.  Before deciding to become a nanny I was going to train to be a primary school this was right up my alley.  I have no regrets about not going into teaching.....nannying was the right path for me.

We also had plenty of experience working in the Children's Hotel which was located in a wing of Denford Park.  This was a place where parents could leave children overnight and each child was assigned a nurse for the length of their stay.  It was our responsibility to plan their days and care for them while they were there.  This gave us great one on one experience and a chance to form a bond of our own with an individual child.

The last placement was to work a week in a primary school in their special needs classroom.  This was such a memorable week.  A chance to really give yourself to those who greatly needed attention.

Over the years we also had opportunities to work in a creche usually at the various horse shows that were held not too far from our college.  Norland would set up a tent where anyone attending the show could drop off their children for an hour or so and we nurses would keep them entertained with the various amount of toys that we brought along.  I worked a couple of these to gain experience.

Sorry there are no photo's to include here, I know it would have made the heavy reading a little more entertaining.   So to make up for it I will include photo's in Part 4 and Part 5....stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life at Norland College Part 2

So yesterday I set the scene and wrote the introduction to the Norland I'll start by writing a little about how my 2 years was spent there.

Training to be a Norland Nurse is a 2 year course consisting of practical work in and out of the college and lectures within the college.  Emily Ward believed that professional child carers should not only learn about the theory of caring for children, but that they should also learn how to use that knowledge in a practical way.

In the first year our weeks consisted of either 2 or 3 days in lectures and either 2 or 3 days in a practical situation.

Sewing classes seemed to take up a huge part of our training.....yes I said sewing!  We were taught all the basic stitches, how to use a sewing machine, insert a zipper, hemming etc etc and then we had to make a multitude of garments.  Luckily I had the most fantastic mother who used to sew a huge chunk of our childhood wardrobe so I had an introduction to sewing already PHEW!

The list began with a smocked dress and went on to include a fancy dress costume, I chose Little Bo Peep. When I asked if I could include a lamb in my final display the answer was "only if you have MADE the lamb", so I made a Little Bo Peep lamb. Thank goodness they didn't ask me to make the shoes too.

(Apologies for the quality of the photo's. They are 20 years old and scanned from my old scrap book.
I plan on taking the items out of storage later this year on a trip to England and taking better photo's that I will share at a later date).

Smocked dress on the left.  Little Bo Peep on the right with lamb!

We also had to learn patchwork by hand and I chose to make a quilt and bumper.  This project took forever.  Many a night I would sit in front of the T.V. sewing my quilt.

My patchwork quilt and bumper sewn completely by hand.

 A jointed old fashioned teddy bear was mandatory (apparently every good nanny needs to know how to make a jointed Ted just in case there's nowhere to buy one in a time of need).  The worst thing about making him was the amount of fur that used to get up one's nostrils.

My jointed Teddy (so proud).

We also had to make a rag doll with a full set of clothing.  I decided to create a PAIR of pigs with a full set of clothes each.  I'm not sure why I always felt the need to go above and beyond....I mean for goodness sakes we only had to make 1 doll....I'm not quite sure why I pushed myself to do 2.  It must have been encouraged in some shape or form!  That's the only thing I can think of....but I do love my pigs.  I look back now and think "wow, I really made those".

My beautiful fully dressed pigs.

The most frustrating piece for me was my wall hanging.  We had to create wall art using as many different textured fabrics as possible.  While most decided to create a simple picture, maybe a teddy bear or a clown I decided that I was going to torture myself and tackle the world (literally).  But why stop at the world......I had a brilliant idea....let me make 12 dolls and dress them in their national costume and then place them on their country on my world!  Well it was a brilliant idea but boy did I suffer for being so was a labor of love I guess.
My wall hanging.


 We also had to knit a garment for a baby (knitting, not exactly my forte), make a mobile, book, musical instrument and several educational toys.  At the end of our 2 years we had to create a display to showcase everything we had made.

Final Display before graduation

Not content with just the items I had made for children, I decided to make my own 'Laura Ashley' style dress for the big reveal also.

So this was my creative life at Norland.  I learned so much.  I have used my knowledge and made various clothes and fancy dress costumes for children that I have cared for in jobs over the years but never again attempted a wall hanging, knitted garment or jointed teddy bear.

I still continue to sew, it's one of my hobbies and hopefully in the future will be a small business on the side.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the academic side of Norland College and how I spent the small amount of free time that we had.

Read Part 3

Monday, June 25, 2012

Life at Norland College Part 1

I have encountered so many people since I have lived in the U.S. (18 years) that are totally stunned and amazed (or as we say in Yorkshire 'gobsmacked') when I say I trained to become a nanny at college.  The usual response is "there's a college for that"?

Yes people...there ARE colleges in Britain where you can train in childcare to become a nanny.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend Norland College (supposedly) the top one!  The creme de la creme where the rich, the famous and the Royals acquire their nannies (or so they say).

At the time of my training there were 3 private colleges for nannies and also many public colleges where you could acquire your N.N.E.B. (National Nursery Examination Board).
 'The NNEB is a two-year course and provides students with overall knowledge of children within the newborn to seven age group. Students are taught the physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs of children. Graduates are also trained in first aid and how to interact with parents'
Norland went many steps beyond the NNEB.  In order to call yourself a 'Norland Nanny' you had to not only attain your NNEB but also separate qualifications which included...
The Carrington-Lovedale Pediatric First Aid Course
The Royal Society of Health Essential Food Hygiene  
The 'Norland Diploma' (a separate exam) this included many more hours of practical placement, many more written observations, and many more handmade items than the standard NNEB....... plus we had to complete 9 months probationary work as a nanny in a private home......only after all that are you permitted to call yourself a 'Norland Nanny' which I am proud to say I can!

My graduation photograph 1992

The college in itself is quite an amazing institution, founded in 1892 by Emily Ward. It began in Norland Place in London, survived many years in Hungerford and is now currently located in Bath in a building originally owned by the Duke of York.

When I trained, the college resided in Denford Park, Hungerford, Berkshire (previously a convent) set in a 120 acre park like setting.  Living at the college was mandatory.  In the first term it was required that we live in the main house, this was also where we ate meals, did laundry, had our lectures and where the main offices, day care centres, nursery schools, the Children's Hotel and our common room was.  After a term or two, usually when the new students arrived (there were 2 intakes a year) we would move to the old stables that had been converted into student living, this gave us a little more privacy.  In our final year we could live in Speedwell the building the furthest away from the main house specifically built to house the students in their final terms.
Denford Park built in 1832 housed Norland College from 1967 and 2002

The uniform (purchased only from Harrods) was to be worn 
at all times for lectures and for practical work.
The Norland Uniform
The only time we could wear 'normal' clothes was at the end of the day or weekend (if we weren't working).  If we left the grounds on duty then we had to wear our uniform, even if this meant just popping into the nearest town during lunch to pick up sewing supplies (which we quite often had to do).

What you can't see in this picture are the white gloves, bamboo tights, sensible brown lace up shoes and brown cardigan that were also essential to the properly dressed Norlander, and one mustn't forget the beautiful brown, belted, double breasted, calf length, rain coat for colder weather too.
It was also required that your hair was up (preferably in a bun) and under no circumstances was your hair allowed to touch your white collar.  This proved quite a challenge to me with my long bob hairstyle that wasn't short enough to stay off my collar and not really long enough to put into a bun (and how on earth did you put your hair in a bun anyway?).  
Bobby pins!  Tons and tons of Bobby pins!   And God knows where they all went but they seemed to disappear very easily and I always seemed to be buying more.  I came to think that they could potentially be more of a danger when they were missing than any hair on the collar!
A Bobby Pin

" In Africa, Bobby pins are systematically used to repair inoperative sandals"
  A small unknown fact I just found on Wikipedia (don't ask me how...there were no instructions or pictures)

Friday, June 22, 2012

First topic of discussion.....SEX!

What better topic to start a post with!

Well, before I mislead you too much......what I really mean is ...

This topic came up yesterday with the 6 year old I take care of.  Now, as a nanny I have always been prepared for the "WHERE DO BABIES COME FROM"? question and based on the age of the child I have various answers and none of them are very informative at all.

I don't believe it is my position to educate a child on sex, especially when the parents are in the next room and after all isn't that why we have parents?  They created us, therefore who better to answer that age old question.

 See.....Princess and Spot agree!

Now the question from my 6 yr old to me was a tad different from the norm.  Something I have NEVER been asked before.


I have to tell you I was quite taken aback.  We were talking about Mummies and Daddies and she was saying how she wished she had 2 Mummies and 2 Daddies.....meaning her own parents as one set and myself and my boyfriend as the other set of parents (awww how sweet).

I tried to explain to her that "2 sets of parents wouldn't be such a good thing really as we would all have very different ideas about how to raise you and there might be some disagreeing and honestly with 1 child we would all be fighting for your attention" (and smiled sweetly).

She went on to say "But you don't have any children of your own"
to which I replied "that's very true but I have spent many, many years raising children and I have felt like they were my own at the time so I'm not sad at all".

That's when she launched the bomb of a question on me....and for a moment I really didn't know what to say....I was a deer in headlights.

I'm still trying to recall what I actually told her.....I thought for a second I could fluff the truth and tell her "the doctors weren't sure I could have a baby" or "there's this special pill you take and it makes you not have babies" but I couldn't bring myself to explain either one of those because I just knew that would generate  more in the end I think I rambled out "I'm not really sure you better ask your parents, come on, let's go down for dinner" the old distract and deflect every time if you do it right.

This leads me to the question "How have you talked to your child about sex"?  And at what age? 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What am I blogging about?

Well if you've read the other posts I think it's quite apparent that I am blogging about children (those humans between birth and the teenage years).
This field to me has a never ending supply of topics for discussion.

I am hoping to include, but not limit myself to the following.....

- Discussions on topics including behaviour, health, and education
- Humorous stories and quotes from children
- Craft projects
- Recipes
- Room decor
- Clothing
- Interviews with parents, teachers and nannies
- How to's
- Living a green life
- Reviews

And not particularly in that order.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why am I blogging?

Such a serious question!  So I'll give a serious answer: 

I am starting this blog because I feel I have something to give!
Quite simply I have valid and useful information in the world of children to share with parents and care givers and writing a blog is just one way that I can communicate with the masses....besides, it's cheaper and easier than writing a book!

Recently, after 20 years of full time nannying, I was made part time.  Quite understandable really, the child I care for at the moment is in full time school.  So I have my mornings free, which leaves plenty of time for a new venture so why not write a blog. Sure I could do many of the jobs that seem to pile up on a daily basis around the house, attack the projects on the 'TO DO' list and to be honest, that's what I did for the first few months....and it was great.....but now I need something more!  I need to do something worthwhile, for me....(and hopefully you).

Along with the blog I hope to open a shop on Etsy with the same name 'TEXTILE TROLLEY' this will sell baby and child items made by yours truly.
So, hand in hand the blog and the shop will be my new venture in life and hopefully that one thing I can call my own!

If nothing else, at least I can say "I TRIED"

Let the journey begin.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Who am I?

It's amazing how this question makes you think!
I know myself very well......but when asked to put it in writing it's an entirely different matter.

The founding facts of my life are as follows:-
I am a Brit, born and raised in the Yorkshire Dales (anyone familiar with James Herriot?)  It looked a lot like this where I grew up.  Fields, sheep, cows, dry stone walls etc etc it's a very beautiful part of the country.

Embsay Crag
Burnsall on the River Wharfe

Taken from Hetton with views into Rylstone

At 19 I left home and went to 'Norland College'
And became one of these .......a brown hat, white gloves, pram pushing nanny (although we only had to wear the hat and gloves when we left the grounds of the college).

And no, I am not in the picture (although I think I trained with one of these lovely ladies).
Hats and white gloves: Norland nannies are trained to the highest level
Thanks to channel 4 for the pic

I attended the college for 2 years and then worked as a nanny in a private home in London.
At 23 yrs old I ventured out to the states and found a great job in New Jersey, and here I have stayed ever since.
I have been a nanny for 20 years and have take care of every age from birth all the way through to those terrible teens (really people, the two's are nothing!!!)

So I believe I am completely qualified to write a blog about children and all they entail.  Hopefully I can give some advice, tell some stories, show some creative crafts, recipes etc etc 

Monday, June 18, 2012

What to write!

So this is my very first post!

Actually I lie, it's my first was terrible, I didn't know what to write (not saying you should assume I know what to write now) but I thought that I should post something when I created the blog.  So it took a while but I finally found the 'delete a post' button and that first sentence is gone PHEW!

I have a tad of perfectionism to my personality, some would say a lot but I beg to differ.  I do like things a certain way but then I also have the ability to say "what the *____* I don't care".  I actually think most people are between these two emotions!  Anyway the perfectionist side of me wanted to make sure this very first 'real' post was exactly how it was supposed to be.....but how is it supposed to be???  I had to Google "what to write in your first blog post" in order to get a feel of what it is I am supposed to be writing about right now.
Two posts came back with 4 very similar key elements to include when writing your first blog so I figured I would go with that right now.

1-  WHO AM I?

Well the first 3 seem reasonable enough and I'm sure I'll figure out the 4th along the way!  

Now I just noticed the time and I have to be at work.....I'm wondering do I post this or save it?  What would a good blogger do?
I think I'll post least I have started the ball rolling and tomorrow I'll continue and answer those questions above.
I will not be one of those bloggers who post their first post and then not another for 3 weeks, I won't I won't I won't!