The Perfect Present: The Perfect Steak

29 November 2016

Dear friends,

It's getting around to Christmas time and I am wracking my brains again to try and think of something amazing to do for the hubby. I know getting to live with me should be prize enough for the man but he does deserve a little something.

As my beautiful and amazing Nana always said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and she wasn't wrong very often! Hubby loves a good steak and whilst I would absolutely love to take him to Barbecoa London – Jamie Oliver’s barbecue steakhouse, it's not going to happen for us this year!

However, have you seen Barbecoa’s new ‘Guide to cooking the perfect steak’? This beautiful guide features expert advice from Steve Pooley, Chef Director at Jamie Oliver. It recommends the best kind of steak to buy, what to look for, ingredients and cooking methods and serving suggestions. Whilst I am not well known for my cooking skills, the guide promises to help you to cook steak like a pro. I am sure that even I could manage this easy to follow guide and make hubby a slap up steak and an evening to remember.

Here is the brilliant guide from Barbecoa for you. Maybe you can join me by having a romantic steak night too? It can be a nightmare to get childcare over the festive period so what could be more fabulous than to celebrate Christmas with a romantic meal together at home. We can start a Great British Barbecoa off!  If you do give it a bash tag me in your photos on IG @animperfectmum

This is a sponsored post.

Book Corner: Message in a bottle

21 November 2016

My book corner choice this month is: Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle is a really exciting and brand new book written by Tom Percival with the most beautiful illustrations by Tuire SSiiriainen. This is a book with a twist because you get to personalise the story. What I really loved about this personalised story was the ability to add a totally individual and unique message (including a photo) at the end. 

The story centres around a beautiful, kind bird called Kiki who finds a message in a bottle and sets off on an exciting adventure to try and deliver the message. Along the way she has lots of thrilling encounters, meets many interesting new characters and makes some firm friendships.

Do accents still matter?

16 November 2016

Dear friend,

I never ever thought I would be able to say that I have something in common with the beautiful Cheryl Cole, until now. We have both been the victims of accentism.

Accentism is where people are discriminated against because of how they speak.

Unfortunately for Miss Cole her Geordie accent halted her plans to conquer America. My plans were a bit less ambitious than that, I hoped to teach English to 7-12 year olds in a Dutch primary school but my accent wasn't 'Oxford' enough.

I was born and raised in Middlesbrough in the north east of England and I have quite a strong Northern accent (no I am not a Geordie, as anyone from Middlesbrough will tell you but we won’t go into that now.) Ten years ago I moved to Holland and began working in International schools.

In the international school system there are many different accents, national and regional. Children often ask where I come from and I have had many discussions with my pupils about language differences e.g. Portuguese in Portugal versus Portuguese in Brazil. In our multi-cultural, multilingual environment differences in accent are normal.

Do accents still matter?

Media obviously has a significant role to play in our perceptions of people and accent. In the early days of broadcasting the BBC only used announcers who spoke with Received Pronunciation. However, more recently Received Pronunciation has been perceived negatively in Britain as it is associated with undeserved privilege. In a recent research study led by Dr Lance Workman, at Bath Spa University, the Yorkshire accent was rated as the most intelligent-sounding, beating received pronunciation, for the first time.

The world is changing, in many ways it has become smaller. There is a high level of mobility in the international world and we are exposed to more regional accents. In day to day conversations in international corporations we are more likely to come across people with a Chinese English accent or Italian English accent.

In the UK we have seen the Emerson of Multicultural London English. Young people have grown up in London being exposed to a mixture of second-language English and local London English and this new variety has emerged from that mix.

Our language is constantly evolving, therefore doesn't it make more sense to expose our children to a range of language experiences in preparation for this?

British broadcasting now represents a broader range of accents, look at the One Show and the popularity of Ant and Dec. Steph McGovern, BBC business news presenter is a fellow northerner (also from Middlesbrough). She has received some criticism for her strong accent.

“…there are still some viewers who can’t accept that someone with my accent can have a brain…I’ve had tweets questioning whether I really did go to university because surely I would have lost my accent if I did; a letter suggesting, very politely, that I get correction therapy; and an email saying I should get back to my council estate and leave the serious work to the clever folk…What’s scary is the ignorance about what having a regional accent means, or indeed doesn’t mean. It certainly doesn’t equal ignorance.”

I strongly agree with Miss McGovern; my regional accent has no bearing on my professional ability or level of intelligence. Unfortunately, the Dutch school I visited (who were looking for a native speaker to teach English to their pupils) didn't agree! The feedback that I received could not have been clearer.

Why does this school believe that Oxford English will better equip their pupils for the future when only 3% of British people have an RP accent? Is it simply a question of old fashioned elitism? Are these Dutch parents hoping that the RP accent will buy their offspring power and prestige?

There is currently no legislation to protect someone from accent discrimination. We legislate against discrimination according to age, race, gender and sexuality but there is nothing to protect us against accentism. Research by the law firm Peninsular in 2013 found that 80% of employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents.

I refuse to compromise my identity and culture by altering my accent to suit an elitist, exclusive organisation. 

In an increasingly mobile, multilingual society will accent even matter? For my children's sake, I hope not!

Parenting from a Special Perspective: Upside Mum

14 November 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs.

Welcome Emma. Emma is mum to two boys: J (6), B (4) and her baby girl W (1). Her eldest son J was diagnosed with autism aged 3. She is a primary school teacher who likes to read, drink wine, watch crime drama and is currently more than a bit addicted to Instagram.

1. When did you first realise your child has Autism?

We had been monitoring J's development since he was a new baby due to his difficult birth and what unfolded in the days afterwards. As a result we were attending outpatient appointments with a paediatrician. We noticed he wasn't reaching milestones like sitting up and crawling at the recognised ages. When he was two we were more aware that he wasn't developing language, making eye contact and was displaying some repetitive behaviours. We officially found out when he was 3 years and 2 months old, though we thought it was the case for a while before this.

2. How did you feel when you found out that your child has Autism?

Although we had expected the diagnosis and it hadn't come as a big surprise, it's strange that it still came as a big blow. It was a bit like having part of his life and future ripped from us before it even had the chance to begin. We were also told he had a Global Developmental Delay (which includes Autism but is more than Autism alone.) Although I knew what they were going to say I still cried when I got back into the car, all that night when I got home, on and off for a few days afterwards and again when the letter with the official diagnosis arrived. There's no history of Autism in our family either so we knew very little about what to expect.

How to rock Parent's evening

7 November 2016

Dear Friend,

Parents evenings are coming up again so I thought I would share with you my tips for a successful evening. I'll let you in on a little secret. Most teachers feel a bit nervous on parent's evening, even old hands like me who have been teaching for 20 years.

What should you ask the teacher at parent's evening?

For a successful parents evening preparation is key:

Ask your child: 
  • How are things going at school? 
  • What do you want your teacher to know?

Write down your questions: 
  • How is my child progressing?
  • Is he particularly good at anything?
  • Is there anywhere you think he could improve?
  • What's he like in class?
  • Does he join in with group activities?
  • How does he get on with the other children?

You might also ask:
  • What can I do to help with my child's learning when we're at home?
  • Is there anything you'd like to know about what my child is like at home?
  • How Can I Contact You? It’s good to know how to get in touch with your child’s teacher, so find out whether he or she prefers emails, phone calls or written notes.

Be on time!

Try to keep the relationship with the teacher non-confrontational, even if the news about your child is not all positive.

If you want to discuss things further make a follow up appointment.

Parents’ evenings are not the place to bring up issues about school policies. Make an appointment with the school management or governors instead.

There should never be any surprises at parents evening. If there are issues the teacher and parents should have spoken before now!

Congratulate your child! Make sure you have at least one positive thing to congratulate your child on after the parents’ evening, to boost their confidence.

Photography @My_Dutch_Angle

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