I recently had lunch with former teaching pals at The Old Orchard, Harefield, where we enjoyed beautiful views over the lakes. A few days later, at Beck Theatre with a journalist friend and her dancing daughter, we relaxed by fountains on the theatre patio before a performance of the Vienna Festival Ballet. I realised how lucky we are to live in Hillingdon.
It made me reluctant to pack for Manchester, where I had a press pass to the Conservative Party conference. I’m a political groupie and would like to have gone to all the party gatherings, but this was the only one I could manage this year.
Mr F came along to play on the Manchester trams, and en route we met Fisher Junior, who lives in north Wales, for lunch. We and her dog were barred from the pub on health and safety grounds. Well, I think it was because of the dog.
Mr F and I stayed at Salford Quays and the following day travelled by tram to the city. The Metro is very clean and efficient and we felt rather sorry we didn’t get the proposed tram route along the Uxbridge Road. (OK, I can hear the dissent from here…)
Inside the tight ring of security at the conference centre lurked more lobbyists, charity reps and media than politicians, although I did glimpse Anne Widdecombe wearing blue-spotted tights.
Esther Rantzen was there for the child protection stuff and we had a brief chat about Anna Kennedy, who founded the autistic school in Hillingdon, of which Ms Rantzen is a patron.
It was only a short stay – and sadly I missed Boris’s appearance – but I wanted to be back for an afternoon tea to celebrate Abbotsfield School’s 60th anniversary.
Among the scones and sandwiches, I recognised many faces from the past, including former headteacher Malcolm White. It was great to see them and catch up.
Former pupil Ray Puddifoot – now leader of Hillingdon Council – spoke to guests about his time at the school in Clifton Gardens and his gratitude for the education he had there.
How nice for teachers to hear such positive feedback when schools nationwide are used to the constant ‘could do better’ from everybody else.
Oh, yes, I missed Michael Gove at the conference too…