Our time off

18th July 1997 at 01:00
Kell Bank Church of England Primary School, situated in the open countryside of Colsterdale near Masham, North Yorkshire, has 35 pupils. Feted for its achievements in the expressive arts (three pupils were winners in the national WH Smith Young Writers competition last year and two are winners this year), the two-roomed early 19th century school is an Aladdin's cave of children's screen prints, lino cuts, batik, paintings, ceramic pots and models.

Headteacher Sheila Wilkins, 49, has a grown-up daughter and is also a poet and playwright.

"I go away for nearly the whole holiday as soon as we break up. That is essential for me. I work hard to make sure all the planning for the autumn term is done before the holiday begins. It would be quite easy for work to take over in a job like this. I am extremely lucky to be somewhere where I can realise my educational ambitions, to have these children, but I can switch off totally when I am away.

"I am passionate about 20th century architecture and often in my holidays I go in search of fabulous 20th century buildings. Last summer I went to Glasgow for the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition and spent a fortnight steeped in Mackintosh. One of my best architectural forays was going to look at Alvar Aalto's buildings in Finland with a group that happened to include Colin Stansfield-Smith (award-winning Hampshire County architect). One year I made a pilgrimage to the Bauhaus in Dessau before the Wall came down.

"When I was little we had a book called Ground Plans for Dwellings for Artisans - I don't know why, my parents were farmers and not interested in this kind of thing, but while my brothers were reading the Beano, I was reading this.

"I was brought up in a beautiful 17th century farmhouse in Nidderdale, longing for Le Corbusier. This year I shall go to Birmingham - they've been doing some interesting things with the centre - and I'll also go to Norfolk. I like to walk along the coast and there's quite a lot of Lutyens. I've stayed in places that Lutyens designed.

"The first thing I'm doing is going to Snowdonia, walking with a friend. I love walking, I find it very relaxing and quite often like to go on my own. I get ideas for my writing and it gives me time to think about life in general. I walk a bit, make notes, read a bit (contemporary fiction), sit a bit.

"I also use the time to visit charity shops since I collect 1930s and 1950s ceramic and pale green plastic, so I'm always on the look-out."

Ten-year-old Edward Goodacre begins his final year in September. He is a talented young poet and a trumpet player and lives on a fish farm up the road from the school.

"Sometimes I think the holiday could be a bit long and sometimes I run out of things to do. I help Dad on the fish farm, weighing the fish for delivery and I look after my free-range chickens and goats. If the hens have been laying well I sell the eggs. This summer I've got a motorbike and I'll go with my friend Oliver down the track behind the house into the wood at the side of the fish farm. Sometimes I go on my bicycle with my Dad up Colsterdale or I go sledging with my cousins on the hill by the side of our house. We use old cracked sledges on the grass and they go quite fast.

"My cousins are from Norfolk, and when they come to stay with us we also go swimming in the river near our house. Sometimes we go and stay with them. This year we're doing a sports course down there so I'm taking an alarm clock with me to make sure I get up because we like to stay in bed late in the holidays. There are three boys and one of them is only five. Sometimes we have to help look after him which can be horrible because last year we made a den and he fell off it.

"I've got a sister, Jessica, who's 12, but we don't usually play together in the holidays. We try to ignore each other. She goes horse-riding and works at a trekking centre, so often I'm by myself. I enjoy just being outside most of the time.

"This year I'm going to Scarborough for a week with Mum and Dad and we spend the time swimming and walking and rockpooling. We stay in the country away from other houses but not far from the sea. I'm tired by the end of school so I need the break."

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