I will be wearing nothing but words: poets bare all

Less than a week until I get to meet some of my very favourite writers/bloggers in real life. In honour of this momentous occasion I could post a little profile of myself or show you pictures of the clothes I will be wearing (I can’t, I haven’t decided what to wear and anyway, all my clothes are in the wash), but instead I wrote a poem as a little tribute to all the wonderful writers that I am getting to know.




We stretch out a hand
and leaves turn
reluctant or relieved
to show the shadow-side
of the statue hewn
polished and displayed
for eyes other than our own.

It is no surprise.

What propels us to
page after page
of verse or prose
rhyme, metre, blank,
with plot or not
but a violent reflex
to puke up our pain?

Inside it lurks and eats
until we waste away
but here held in my hand
it is less than nothing
that thing I shape, control,
fashion into ugly,
beautiful, crafted life.


(c) Judith Kingston, 2014


Hope to see all you Prose for Thought and Paper Swans people on Friday!

If you really need to know, I will probably be wearing shoes.

If you really need to know, I will probably be wearing shoes.


Virtual Birthday and Clip Show

Happy 1st birthday, Secrets of the Sandpit

Happy 1st birthday, Secrets of the Sandpit

I realised today that I missed my blog’s first birthday. It was a few days ago I think. Although I am a little late, I didn’t want to let this milestone gone by unmarked, and so I present you with the dreaded “clip show” episode. You know the one: you sit down with a mug of tea and some biscuits/chocolate/crisps/cake to enjoy your favourite show, and instead of a proper story you get little snippets of episodes gone by to remind you of what has gone before. Annoying, right? Well, buckle up because this is a ‘greatest hits’, if you will – the best, most relevant, most ignored or most read of Secrets of the Sandpit. Celebrate its birthday with me by taking a look around and reminiscing on the first year of my blog’s life. May there be many more!

Sandpit. Best thing ever.

Sandpit. Best thing ever.

So, to start at the very beginning, you can read my very first post here, in which I explain what the “sandpit” is all about. A year ago when I started this blog, the Boy would express his extreme excitement about The Best Things Ever by exclaiming “sandpit!”. In fact, if you look in the side bar you can see my running log of things that elicited this response over the past year. Faithful readers will have noticed that the list stopped growing about six months ago. He has sadly grown out of “sandpit!” and now just tells us “love-a guinea pigs” or “That’s a fun filled fest!” for special occasions. He has grown up so much over the past year, and his language has developed massively. I marvel every day at how long his sentences are getting and how complex, at his awareness of his own bilingual-ness and his ability to express his emotions in words. My Boy is three and is becoming a whole grown up little person.

My blog has changed over the past year as well. Like most people, I started writing with only a vague idea of what the ‘flavour’ would be. It began as a more durable log of funny things the Boy had said and done, not wanting all his best material to get swallowed up by Facebook. In fact, sometimes my posts were actually no more than a slightly longer status update.

Soon themes began to emerge, though:

* The Girl, who is only a month older than Secrets of the Sandpit, inspired me to  share the reality of breastfeeding in the hope of helping other Mums who were having a very tough start but nevertheless wanted to carry on, as well as pregnant women who wanted to be properly prepared.

* I started using my blog to follow my Boy’s language development, especially how he was coping with growing up bilingual.

* I also began a monthly children’s book review, as a way of sharing my love for children’s literature. The first one is here but you can read the others by clicking on ‘Children’s books‘ in the menu at the top. Keep an eye out for the next instalment this coming Monday!

* Then I went a little bit crazy and decided to reinvent education, which I got so excited about that I started a whole separate blog about it called Clean Slate. As The Caterpillar says in Alice in Wonderland, you should start at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop.

* Thursday became poetry day courtesy of Prose for Thought. It has become one of the highlights of my week, turning my thoughts on family, sleeplessness, changes, identity, God and Weetabix into poetry, experimenting with form, verse and imagery.

* Other voices turned up and wanted to put their two cents in, like the Boy on play, the cats on the rules of the house and the Girl, updating us on the l33t skills she is learning in Life Game.

A year in, how is Secrets of the Sandpit doing in the playground? Well, like her author, she is not the most popular kid in school, but she has a group of faithful, close friends she hangs out with on play dates and sleepovers, that she can turn to for advice and pass notes to in class when the teacher isn’t looking. She also had one amazing day of fame when my Guide to Cbeebies was picked as Mumsnet blog of the day and a gazillion people dropped by to read it.

So happy birthday, Secrets of the Sandpit! I look forward to what the next year will bring.

Thanks for the cake, it was deeeeeeeelicious.

Thanks for the cake, it was deeeeeeeelicious.

Meet all my blog-friends over at Vic Welton’s place for her weekly Post Comment Love.

Breaking News! Clean Slate blog goes live!

I bet you were all waiting with bated breath for my next post about reforming education. And you were right to, because this week’s instalment is all about reverse psychology and how we should back off with our feverish attempts to popularise English and Maths.

So where is this revolutionary post?

It is on the brand new Clean Slate blog. I decided my thoughts on education were getting a bit too far removed in tone and purpose from Secrets of the Sandpit and deserved their own platform. So please continue to read my thoughts on parenthood and my poetry on here – but for my initiative to scrap school and reinvent it from scratch, please head over to
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100: Present Moment and Future Proofing

Finding numbers in the supermarket

Finding numbers in the supermarket

This is my 100th post! I’ve been thinking about what to write about for this milestone and I have decided to go back to basics. This post is dedicated to the Toddler: who he is and how he talks at this moment in time. Thanks for being such a wonderful protagonist, S!


The Toddler is asking a lot of questions at the moment. He doesn’t ask “Why?” yet, although he does understand when I ask him for reasons, like: “Why are you in time out?” The answer: “Kicking. Hitting. No sunscreen.” He mainly uses questions to wonder aloud and make choices: “Banana, or apple? Which one I like, Mummy?” His favourite type of questions are rhetorical ones. I tell him we are going to a party, and his response is: “Going….. Gran house? Going…. children’s centre? Going…. cafe? Nooooo, going party!” This gets a little tedious sometimes when used to prolong bedtime stories, every page taking three times as long because we need to go through all the things that are not on the page: “Is a candle? No. Is a ribbon? No. Is a bird? No. Is a button? No. Is a apple!”

Sentence structure

The Toddler is making some more adventurous sentences. He will now thank people for something. Daddy took him out for a spin in our new car and then had to go to work. The Toddler waved him off shouting: “Bye bye Daddy! Thank you little drive nice car!” He also surprised me at dinner time by wanting to pack up half of his tortilla. When asked why, he said: “Bewaren voor in de trein.” [Save for on the train] We weren’t planning to go anywhere by train, but he was very insistent and I wasn’t allowed to even put it in the fridge. He was saving it for on the train.

Parenting comes back to haunt you

It does. Like when Daddy is cooking sausages on the barbecue and gets told with firm insistence by the Toddler: “Daddy! Don’t touch a barbecue! Really hot!”

Or when you say: ” Come on, enough TV now. Let’s play Doodlebugs!” and your toddler replies: “Nog niet, mama. Strakjes.” [Not yet, Mummy. In a minute.]


A tentative start has been made on potty training. The Toddler is not too bothered about letting us know when he needs to go yet, but will rush to follow you to the toilet if you announce that you need to go. On arrival in the bathroom he will ask: “Kleine WC of grote WC [small toilet or big toilet], which one you like, Mummy?” Then, he wants to peer into the toilet to observe and comment on the proceedings (argh!), and will ask afterwards: “Lekker gepoept, mama?” [Had a nice poo, Mummy?]

My favourite of his investigations into biology, however, is his research into breastfeeding. He knows this is called ‘voeden’ in Dutch and that your nipples are involved. One day, he lifted up his t-shirt, pointed at his nipples in turn and said: “Eén voeden, twee voedens.” [One feeding, two feedings.] Then he asked me in Dutch: “S feed baby?” I explained that only Mummies could breastfeed. He thought about that for a minute, and then wanted to know: “S feed baby tomorrow?”


For one hundred posts, I have been referring to my son as “The Toddler”, and I suppose he still was one when I started. But I look at him now and he doesn’t toddle anymore. He walks, studiously holding on to the buggy, squeezing through tiny gaps because he MUST be next to the buggy and go through doorways at the same time. He runs, round and round in circles until he is dizzy and falls down on the floor giggling. He jumps, higher and higher on everyone else’s trampolines as we don’t have one. He climbs, clambering up and down higher and higher ladders, stairs, climbing frames, over the edge of things, into the bath and out of his car seat. He crawls, to show his little sister how it’s done.

He is not a toddler anymore. He is a child. The Baby, cruising along the furniture, taking shaky steps holding onto our hands: she will be the toddler soon.

It is time to Future Proof my blog, and I would like to take this opportunity, in my 100th post, to give my children new pseudonyms. From now on, and to cover all future developments, they will be The Boy and The Girl.

My boy. Not a toddler anymore.

My boy. Not a toddler anymore.