En Guard! 2013 365 Challenge #298

Fencing Lesson

Fencing Lesson

I took little man to his first solo class for the first time today. Actually, pretty much his first class ever, aside from swimming lessons when he was a baby. It’s difficult to do activities with two children of different ages and temperaments. Now my daughter is at school, though, it’s time to stop being rubbish and let the boy have some fun.

I saw an advert for fencing lessons on the FB page of the school we were going to send our daughter to, until we opted to keep her with her friends. One of the plus points of the school, for me, had been the fencing lessons – given by a former champion. Turns out the children don’t have to attend the school to go to the classes.

I was nervous before the class, unsure how my little Mummy’s Boy would cope. Actually it was probably me who did the wrong thing to begin with. I sat too near and found myself acting as supplementary coach, reinforcing the teacher’s instructions. A gentle admonishment later, from the charming Kiwi instructor, and I took myself off to sit with the other mums.

Adorable Preschoolers

Adorable Preschoolers

More challenges for me there, as I got chatting about it being my son’s first class and had to endure the guilt of the mum next to me talking about all the things her daughter does. I have to remind myself that I made a conscious decision NOT to do loads of activities with the children. I did realise, though, that part of my strategy is flawed: I said I would only sign them up to classes for things they expressed an interest in. But how can they show interest in something they’ve never seen before?

I also made the tactical error of showing my son videos of children fencing, to set his expectations before the class. As a result he was a bit miffed to be led around on a wolf hunt, being surreptitiously taught the right way to move his feet and hold his epee, and kept running back to sit on my lap. Once they got to the ‘proper’ fencing, though, he was a happy boy. Who knows? He might be 2024 Olympic champion! Not that I’m a pushy parent, of course. 😉


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION AND, ALTHOUGH BASED IN AN ACTUAL LOCATION, IT DOES NOT FEATURE REAL PEOPLE OR OPINIONS. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


“It’s beautiful here. You must be gutted that it’s closing down.” Claire looked over at the manager, then back out the window at the view. “The thing I love about the YHA hostels is that so many of them are in amazing buildings or locations like this.”

“Unfortunately some of those buildings are actually owned by the National Trust. If they don’t make money, then you can understand why they might decide to call it a day.”

The manager’s reasonable words didn’t fool Claire. She could hear the bitterness carefully concealed beneath the steady conversational tone.

“Your problem has to be access, yes?” Claire thought about some of the places she’d stayed in during her trip around New Zealand. “Why don’t you pick passengers up from the station? That’s what they do in the sticks in other countries.”

The manager smiled. “And who is going to do that? Or pay for the minibus or the insurance? All these things cost money.”

Claire gritted her teeth and forced a smile. “What about the coastal walk near here, what is it–?”

“The South West Coast Path?”

“Yes, that’s it. Could you set yourself up as a waypoint, with special offers for walkers? There’s a website that organises accommodation for walkers: you could speak to them.”

The manager’s smile lost some of its sparkle. “Luggage Transfers? We’re already on it, thanks.”

Claire flushed and turned away. All her research had filled her mind with ideas, but clearly it wasn’t her place to start preaching to random people. She also saw that part of her report would need to include ways of getting businesses to buy into her recommendations. Wading in, assuming they knew nothing, was not a good tactic. The need for Stakeholder interviews were starting to make sense.

“What changes would you make to enable the hostel to remain open?” She shone a grin at the man, and saw his frown ease a fraction.

“The place needs refurbishing, for a start. The company is pouring millions into doing up the city centre hostels, but what about here?”

Claire sat back and listened to the man spill out his grievances, wondering if it would be too obvious to make notes. As she listened to him talk, her mind ran through ideas for how the beautiful, remote, hostels could be kept open. In New Zealand, the bus tours took willing tourists to out of the way places, providing guaranteed visitor numbers.

Maybe what the UK needs is a Magic or Kiwi bus equivalent, linking these places together and making it easier for people to travel off the beaten track without a car.

She remembered Josh walking to the hostel with Beth and Chloe in the Lake District, relying on public transport to bring them over from Keswick. Her brain lit up like a beacon as the ideas rushed into her brain. While the manager talked on about all the things that could be done for his hostel, Claire’s mind pulled together a vision of the future that  left her skin prickling with excitement.