Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Reflections on a walk.

On Sunday we walked to the nearest Tesco, the one in Greenfield village, about three or four miles away. They’ve been doing some much needed re-surfacing work along the route we took so there were signs up warning people that they should drive slowly as there might be loose chippings. Interestingly some of these road signs were in both English and Welsh. Now I’ve seen this before in parts of Merseyside, not too far from North Wales, I suppose, but never before in Greater Manchester, especially in the bit that used to be part of Yorkshire. Odd! 

Since then I have read yet more articles about the effect of learning languages on the brain. Increasing evidence suggests that bilingualism staves off Alzheimer’s. So maybe putting road signs in two languages is a subtle way of introducing bilingualism into our society, thus reducing care costs in the future. However, I suspect it may be a rather long and slow process and while we might learn the words for “loose chippings”, it probably wouldn’t help when it came to ordering a meal! I think I’ll stick to my Italian conversation classes. 

I have read today that learning to play a musical instrument – and beginning before the age of seven – is also beneficial to brain development. It must be hard to be a determinedly conscientious parent these days. You have to bring your child up to speak several languages, make sure s/he has piano lessons, goes along to baby gym to fight possible obesity and goodness knows what else. When does the child get chance just to play and the parent to enjoy being with the child? 

And in Sheffield I hear that they have started an experiment to encourage breastfeeding. They are offering new mothers from communities where breastfeeding is not the norm a financial incentive to do so – well, up to £200 in shopping vouchers. They seem to be hoping that money will work where explanations about the benefits to the child do not. Maybe they should do the same to persuade people to read to their children and generally be nice to them. It might work. Who knows? 

Also on our walk to Greenfield, we saw holly bushes laden with berries. This is supposedly a sign of a hard winter to come. We shall see. It’s a good job I’ve laid in stocks of fuel for the fire. 

 Later in the day on Sunday I took the small people to the park. The small boy wanted to play football. Having judged that my football skills are not up to his standards he changed the game to shooting baskets and was impressed by my being able to do better than he did. I never used to be good at this when I played netball at school. Maybe some things do improve with age. 

While we did this the grumpy girl, who did NOT want to be at the park and did not see why her brother should get his own way, roamed around taking photos with my camera. Here are a few of her masterpieces. 

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