Year of cuts won’t get in the way of new hobbies

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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So that’s it. Another year over. Bye bye 2011.

As is customary at this time of year, I ask the children to look back and think about the highlights of the last 12 months.

And as is customary amongst young children, some found it difficult to think back further than the past week and a half of festivities.

‘I liked Christmas best,’ said my youngest. ‘It was the best ever.’

Well, that’s good to know, but not surprising either. She can’t really remember previous Christmases that well.

Dr Who was good,’ said another. ‘Although I didn’t really understand that bit when…’

I had probably been resting my eyelids at that point in the evening’s entertainment anyway so wouldn’t be able to unravel any complicated time travelling narrative in words made understandable to a pre-teen.

‘I liked spotting Kate Humble in Waitrose,’ grinned my oldest child.

Ah, at last, something that happened nearly a whole six months ago whilst on holiday.

But in their defence, they all commented upon 2011 as being the year that they all took up new hobbies that they actually want to stick at.

My oldest daughter tried out falconry for the first time and has a real passion for it.

They all have started new sports – frisbee, parkour and capoeira. Not your standard youthful pursuits, granted, but they enjoy them greatly which is what matters.

What also matters, to me at least, is the great cost of doing these hobbies. I worked out that it costs me around £115 a month for them to do these activities. And at a time when I am trying to cut back.

I am loathe to tell them that they can no longer go to their activities, so savings are going to have to be made elsewhere.

This is indeed going to be the year of comparative austerity in our household.

I have already primed them, hoping that they will understand why they cannot have limitless food.

My resolution for 2012 is to save as much money as possible whilst retaining the lifestyle we have been enjoying as much as possible.

I asked the children what their hopes for 2012 were.

The younger two both alerted me to the fact that neither of them wanted the world to end. I pointed out that this was probably everyone’s wish, so they also revealed that they hoped to improve at their chosen sports and do well at school.

My oldest daughter has just applied to do the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme (is this going to cost me more money?) and she hopes that she can juggle her heavy GCSE workload to accommodate this.

Which leads me onto the dreaded GCSEs. My daughter has already taken some exams and has another swathe of them to come in 2012.

I remain incapable of understanding her maths or her physics work.

However, I have not resolved to read up on these subjects to help her. This, I am afraid, she will have to tackle alone.

In the meantime, I still hope to write a best-selling book, although just a book would do me fine.

And I will also be doing my utmost to prevent the world from ending.

Happy New Year!