Spelt Hot Cross Buns and…The Emergency Meeting

Thank you all so very much for welcoming me back so warmly.  Your words have been very kind.  By popular demand, here is the final chapter in, ‘The Early Days of Boarding School’ quadrilogy.

Term II started and Archie threw himself into all the school had to offer.  He enrolled in Speech and Drama classes one afternoon a week, rugby training two afternoons a week, he had piano lessons at lunch time, he joined the choir and the agricultural club.  He thought if he joined a lot of activities or clubs or groups he would find boys with similar interests and friendships would form.

But Archie didn’t make any friends and no one seemed to like him so during the day he would roam around all by himself and then back at the boarding house he would be ridiculed or bullied and fights would break out and of course none of these things were permissible but there’s always an avenue for an opportunist and so Archie was learning to use his fists.

From the oven to the table

From the oven to the table

One of the things the school had plenty of was drama performances and Archie was keen to see every show.  He would buy himself a ticket and then ask other boys if they would like to go with him to see the musical or the play but they all turned him down.  But Archie would go anyway and sit by himself and somehow he was able to enjoy the evening regardless of the isolation.

And then there was a school excursion to the zoo and that morning Archie phoned me all excited because he loved the zoo and had practically grown up at Taronga Zoo.  He was a volunteer with their Youth at the Zoo program and when he was younger he’d been to Zoo Adventures every school holidays so he knew his way around without the use of a map and he knew the time of the keeper talks and the seal show and the bird show and everything else that’s scheduled for day visitors to the zoo.  So as all the boys were disembarking from the bus, they were given a worksheet and told it had to be handed back, completed, at the end of the day.  Archie told a group of boys that if they came with him they would have the worksheet completed really quickly and then they could spend the rest of the day doing as they pleased.  But Archie couldn’t entice anyone to spend the day with him; they all ran off so he roamed the zoo by himself, completing the sheet in rapid speed.

Three weeks into the Term there was a phone call from the Registrar.  It came early one morning and we were asked if we could come in straight away.  We were to meet in the Registrar’s office and Archie would be there as well.  So we drove out to the school with Alfie in his baby seat and when we arrived I wheeled him into the office in his pram and hoped he would be quiet.  At the round table were Archie, the registrar, the year co-ordinator, the house master and the school’s counselor.

The registrar said, ‘I think what we have here is a very stressed young man’.  And I looked at Archie and noticed he had developed a facial tic where he couldn’t stop blinking.

We were told Archie was being bullied.  And many boys in his year had been interviewed and what was most unusual in this case was that the bullying wasn’t being done by one particular boy, it was across the whole year where he seemed to be the target of anyone and everyone.  They’d never had a case like it.

Spelt Hot Cross Buns

Spelt Hot Cross Buns

It was quite hard hearing all of this news and so the counselor spoke up saying it was a shock to him that he could be so unpopular as he had found Archie to be an intelligent boy with a wide vocabulary who could confidently converse on a broad and extensive variety of topics.  He said he was a very polite and tender hearted boy with not a mean bone in his body and so it was very surprising to him that he hadn’t made friends.  And I looked at Archie and he had tears streaming down his face.

They said that if Archie was willing to stay on at the school they would provide every resource available to help him including weekly visits to the counselor with food provided because they had also noticed his weight loss (we’d just had to buy new trousers for him two sizes smaller than the ones we’d purchased a Term before).

The registrar said they wanted him in the school as they believed Archie had a lot to offer.  Again we asked Archie if he wanted to stay on at the school.  ‘Yes’, he nodded through his tears as I handed him some tissues.

The year co-ordinator said that as Archie was a very stressed young man, that he should stop some of his activities as he wasn’t coping with the normal workload.  We canceled the choir and the piano lessons.  He was to have weekly meetings with the counselor to help him work through the issues and also teach him a few ways of how to make friends.  His ADHD had been assessed and we were advised the best way forward would be for Archie to commence medication, something we had avoided in the past.

And this is a huge topic and one that needs a post of its own but basically Archie was diagnosed with ADHD in Year 1 when his teacher told us we needed to have him assessed.  At that time a paediatrician told us she believed Archie would be extremely disadvantaged if we didn’t put him on medication.  But I’ve never been too keen on the idea of kids on drugs so we went the naturopathic route and while there was a measure of improvement there wasn’t the significant improvement he needed.

When Archie started on the medication we’d been avoiding, he said to me, ‘I can think now.  Why didn’t you do this for me before?’

Hmmm.  Because I’m a flawed being and you’re my oldest child and the problem there is that you are the guinea pig I’m practising all my parenting skills on before I get better at it.

After the meeting we took Archie out for lunch and fed him hamburgers and hot chips and cans of coke and bags of lollies and all the things you need in a crisis.  And then we had to drop him back at school which was difficult but we left him in the hands of the counsellor.

After Archie started on medication we were told nothing for Archie would improve overnight and that it would probably take at least a year for the boys to see him in a new light – the medicated light.  And that was exactly right.  By the end of Year 7 Archie had one friend.  Halfway through Year 8 he had two friends and by the time he was finishing up Year 12 he had countless friends and was the most widely-known student in the entire school.

This is not a journey I would like to repeat but it is the story of Archie’s early boarding school years.

And now it’s Easter and I always make my own Hot Cross Buns, mostly because the ones in the shops (like the major supermarkets) make them with additives and things like palm oil.  This year I made mine using organic spelt flour and I thought they were fantastic but Archie said, ‘What have you done to them?  You’ve changed something.  Something’s not right’.  Well, I thought the spelt flour made an excellent bun.

If you slept in you missed out.

If you slept in you missed out.

Spelt Hot Cross Buns

Makes:  15

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Normal flour is cheap, organic spelt is about 10 times the price.

  • 30g (1oz) compressed yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar + 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tblspn sugar
  • 1 tsp plain flour + 4 cups organic spelt flour + 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60g (2oz) butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 tsp gelatine

Cream yeast with 1tsp each of sugar and flour.  Add milk, mix well.  Cover, stand in warm place 15 minutes or until mixture is frothy.  Sift 4 cups flour, salt, 1/4 cup sugar and spices into a bowl.  Rub in butter.  Add yeast mixture, egg and dried fruit then mix in well.  Cover bowl with a clean cloth, stand in warm place for 40 mins or until dough has doubled in size.

Punch dough down, turn out on to floured surface, knead well until dough is smooth and elastic.  Cut dough into 3 equal pieces then cut each piece into 5.  Knead each into round shape.  Put buns in lightly greased 18cm x 30cm lamington tin, stand in warm place 10 to 15 mins or until buns reach top edge of tin.

Sift 1/2 cup plain flour, mix to paste with 1/3 cup water.  Fill into small plastic bag with small hole cut across corner.  Pipe crosses on each bun.  Bake at 250°C (475-500F) for 15-20 mins.  Remove from oven.  Immediately brush with glaze made by dissolving 1 tblspn sugar and gelatine in 1 tblspn boiling water.  Cool buns on a wire rack.

This recipe has been adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.

Here are my other posts on Archie’s early boarding school days…

A Recee of Schools 

Moving on in Boarding School 

Boarding School Beginnings

Happy Easter!




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  1. Poor Archie has gone through so much and come out of those dark times a strong and confident young man. He should be proud of how far he’s come.

    I enjoy hot cross buns (my local bakery made great ones just before Easter) but I don’t know how I’d like ones made of spelt flour … as I’ve never tasted it. I tried making them a couple of times myself but they’re weren’t that great.

  2. lovely post! glad that he ended up with countless friends, i went thru a stage like that because i enrolled in a school where everyone knew each other and i was from a different area and background from them.

  3. Wow what a story. Great that he got on top of it. I had a rotten year 7 too. It can be a shocking transition from primary to high school.

  4. I knew it would end up all right because I’ve never met a nicer, friendlier young man than your Archie. Not often do you find a young man that age who engages so easily with an old fart like me. 🙂

    I made spelt buns this year too. I even whizze the flour in the TM for the first time. I felt like a real pioneer. LOL

  5. Wow, so glad it all changed for the better. I as well try to solve everything naturally but sometimes better living through chemicals is the only way to go… The Hot Cross Buns sound great, mine were dairy free this year (albeit whole wheat) but think I’ll go spelt next year too 🙂 Happy Easter!

  6. Thank you for sharing this story Charlie. My parents went through a similar scenario with my brother, who also has ADHD, but made the difficult decision to try medication earlier on in his schooling. Like Archie, it made a world of difference. Like you, my mother had doubts about medication for children and every time there is a newspaper article on it (and they are always bad!) she feels guilty all over again. I am sure some children are misdiagnosed and mis-medicated, but I wish more people understood the impact medication can make for children like Archie and my brother. It literally turns lives around. My brother is still on medication now, in his mid-20s, and every time he has tried to come off, he has again struggled with concentration, attentiveness, functioning…

    On a less heavy note, I love the thought and look of these spelt hot cross buns!

  7. Ohh, poor Archie and poor mom! I think all bullies should have their toes cut off with rusty tree trimmers! You know they say it is the bully that needs counseling the most. I am very glad that Archie overcame and rose to the occasion but this is really a difficult time for everyone involved. My heart goes out to you.
    Love love love hot cross buns and yours looks especially chewy, sweet and delicious.

  8. Bullying is truly such a terrible thing and I really think more action needs to be taken against it in schools…but I’m so glad that all turned out okay in the end!

    And spelt hot cross buns sound totally fabulous right now! I wish I’d had some for breakfast…

  9. I know what you mean by wanting to avoid medication, not easy being a mother. So happy for you and Archie that all is well in the end.

  10. I am so happy that he progressed and was able to succeed. Too often we do not want to take a risky step (the meds) because we are so scared of the consequences. You did the right thing when the time was right. And look how he turned out:)!!

  11. Oh Charlie, that is some story; I love that Archie persevered even though it was torture. Children can be do horrible to each other particularly when they act as a group, it’s so disturbing. Archie turned into a determined young man thanks to his experiences. So glad that the story had a happy ending.
    I’m going to make hot cross bums this afternoon but I don’t think I have spelt flour so I’ll have to find a traditional recipe. Your buns look absolutely gorgeous.

  12. It is so sad that children can be so horrible to each other. Archie sounds like an amazing young man. He kept going and got past it. That says a lot about him and his amazing parents that got him through it 🙂 I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter!

  13. I’m so glad, that even thought things were tough, everything for Archie worked out in the end.

    I made my own hot cross buns this year, I never have before. So may try different flours next year.

  14. I am so glad he came out on top though my friend, I went through that phase but in early primary school – it is so difficult!
    Have a wonderful Easter with these delicious buns 🙂


  15. That’s so sad and I get you as a young mother trying to do the best for her child. Those decisions could never be called wrong because they are made with all the knowledge we possess at that time. How could you know of the enormous improvement that would come from the medication? He was a courageous young man to stay despite everything and it has probably served him well in the field of resilience and perseverance.

  16. Poor Archie. It seems to me that kids can be so much meaner than I remember from my own youth, so long ago. Is that true? Bullying seems to have increased the world over. And as for you as a mother–I think you are clearly the best. They don’t come with instruction manuals, I always said. And look how well your kids have turned out. I admire Archie and you and Carl as well. Happy Easter!

  17. How funny that Archie noticed the flour swap! I think they look delicious.
    Well from tough beginnings it seems like he excelled!
    Happy Easter Charlie! x

  18. Spelt doesn’t agree with me at all sadly 🙁 but your buns do look gorgeous!
    We had exactly the same concerns as you Charlie when it came to medication, but the differences was as I was diagnosed first I could see the benefits first hand. Now my opinion is Go For It! Medicated and motivated! Such a change, such a relief. I’m glad Archie has come through this so well, but I know how many hugs, tears and prayers must have been sown into him from you guys.
    Happy Easter sweetie, hope your family has a wonderful day xox

  19. I had been dying yo know this part, thanks do much for sharing it. I am so glad that I already know what a fine man Archie has grown into. Else I would have kept thinking about the poor kid who got meanies for school mates and was bullied so badly. Why would anyone do that ……how sad. I am glad the medication worked for Archie. And ad a Mom, knowing hind sight is 20/20 helps, so please believe you did what you thought was in his best interst. Love the hot cross buns.

  20. Oh Charlie. You are amazing, and Archie is amazing. I must admit I’m so glad to be able to read this knowing how wonderful Archie’s life is now; it’s wrenching to read even knowing that, so my heart goes out to you (and your whole family) for what it must have been like in the moment. Thank you for your honesty. xo

  21. Hi Charlie, so pleased to see that you are back… I was missing the end to the story!! :0! You kind of left us all hanging 😉 Please everything worked out 🙂

  22. Thanks for the final (and excellent) installment, Charlie. I can sleep now. Lots of lessons to be learned by all.
    I’m not a fan of hot cross buns, but yours look good enough to eat!

  23. This makes my heart break for all of you Charlie. It is so hard to make these decisions. Which ever decision you make is the right one, as this is the meaning of the journey ( deep). We are all on that practising to be a parent journey. I held off letting mine have his adenoids out till he was 7. Sleepless nights (because he would wake up hourly), intolerance to dairy and other problems before I finally bit the bullet and took him to have the operation. After this he was a new kid…..damn.

  24. Fantastic looking buns! Great post. Happy Easter!

  25. Hi Charlie, lovely posting, thanks for sharing your story with us.
    Your hot cross buns sure look mouth watering and awesome. Very well baked, great to go with coffee.

    Happy Easter Sunday. Regards.

  26. Well, this just broke my heart.. to think that Archie went through all of this.. The school thankfully caught on, just in time I think. Kids are cruel.. it shocks and sickens me that this sort of behavior can come from kids, many of whom have parents who would be shamed to know their children were behaving like this. Thank goodness you caught this and everything had a happy ending.. this is so good for other parents to read! Have a wonderful Easter! xx

  27. No child should have to endure that sort of behaviour anywhere, least of all at school. To his credit, though, he stuck it out and just look how he’s thrived! Your hot cross buns look fantastic, Charlie. If that’s due to the spelt than I’m all in favour of it!
    Wishing you and your family, Charlie, a very happy Easter.

  28. You are amazing dear Charlie, and Archie too 🙂 Seems so delicious… Happy Easter to you all. Thanks and Love, nia

  29. I hate that young boys can be so mean sometimes – poor Archie, having to go through all that during his teenage years. I’m glad that things did work out well for him though and he’s grown up to be quite a young man 🙂 Happy Easter to you and your family, Charlie x

  30. Oh my! I just want to give Archie a big hug!! How awful for that to have happened to him. And how he has blossomed into such a sweet, confident young man now!!!

  31. Ohhh poor Archie! I’m so glad the school noticed what was going on and that Archie (and you!) stayed strong. Thank you for sharing this story Charlie!

  32. It sounds as though Archie had much to persevere through his growing up years — sounds like it forged a strong character in him too. So sorry for the tough journey though.
    Glad you are back! Your spelt buns look wonderful, I have some sprouted spelt in my freezer that I have been looking to use, thanks for the inspiration. 🙂 Happy Easter!

  33. Poor Archie! But I’m glad things turned out so well. He was (still is!) a brave person. Your hot cross buns look terrific. Not only do the store bought ones contain nasty ingredients, they’re sometimes rather dry as well – not something I really want to eat. Yours look terrific. Thanks for these, and the posts about Archie’s saga.

  34. The buns look beautiful!

  35. Kids are so mean! I can’t believe Archie had such a hard time at school…it was hard to even read that 🙁 So glad everything turned out fine in the end. And these hot cross buns look delicious!

  36. Such a nightmare for a mama! But such a relief that it all worked out in the end. What a tough young man!!! Your buns look terrific…perfect Easter treat…and I like your addition of spelt flour (my kids would have griped, too, knowing them :/). Happy Easter!!!

  37. Would you please hug Archie for me? (Several times!) And if one of those Spelt Hot Cross Buns happens to be within reach, please pass…

  38. I’m so glad to see that things finally worked out for your Archie.
    I made a similar mistake with my son and resisting medication. he was diagnosed with severe gastric reflux (which he has struggled with for years) when he was one month old and I was advised to put him straight on to medication. Like you, I didn’t want to start drugs at such a tender age so treated him with Mylanta & nothing else. His symptoms worsened and at about 9 months I finally gave in and started some more serious drug therapy. Within days he turned from a spewing, squirming, screaming, back-arching bundle into into a happy, smiley baby and I felt racked with guilt over what I had put him through.
    We don’t get a manual with these kids Charlie – we just do our best.

  39. Oh…what a tough journey for Archie! I’m happy to know that he got lots of friends at the end. 🙂 These Hot Cross Buns look HOT! Probably the most beautiful Hot Cross Buns I’ve ever seen. I love that you used spelt flour, much healthier choice than supermarket ones for sure.

  40. What tenacity Archie showed in staying on at that school. It’s a hair-raising story, but what a relief for you to have a good outcome. Boy, it’s tough being a parent. You did your best and made the right choice at the right time. Welcome back, by the way.

  41. Charlie surely it’s every parents nightmare to think their child is being bullied at school. It just kills me. I know Archie has turned out a wonderful young man as I’ve met him but having to go through that, both for him and for you as his mum…*sigh*. So hard!

    And spelt?…always a winner in my book!

  42. It is now Monday night of the Easter weekend & thought I was all hot-cross-bunned-out, but these are so look so delicious! I am imagining one right now with a cup of tea!
    Hope you all had a wonderful Easter. D xo

  43. I keep thinking about how teens are the most cruel age group on the planet

  44. You had me in tears, Charlie; I am so glad that all of you found the right help for Archie. It is so obvious that you made all of your choices based on what you thought was best at the time for him.I’m working on The Next Generation,(grandkids) and I know that we moms so often think we are doing the right thing and find out later that well, maybe we should have done things differently, or sooner, or waited longer. You are a loving, HUMAN mother.

  45. Love me some hot cross buns! I got to have some fresh ones this year, being back in England. I like to make my own but sometimes it’s just nice to buy them! Never tried making them with spelt – bet that would be really nice and actually it’s not *too* much around here.

    For my glaze, I usually use a mixture of water and warmed honey – makes it a bit more vegetarian friendly! 🙂

  46. Oh hun – what an amazing and resilient guy Archie is. you must be sooo incredibly proud of him and of yourself for getting him through all that. I cannot even begin to imagine how tough that must have been – for all of you. xx

  47. I’m so glad Archie was able to pull through such a hard time in his life and I can completely understand why you wouldn’t want to put him on medication and even though it turned out to be one of the best things for him, I don’t really agree with giving young children medication either 🙂 But doesn’t matter it’s now over now and Archie is sure a mature and talented young man!

    ohh homemade hot cross buns! I’ve never had them before 🙂 i’m really not that talented to make my own bread hehe but I can dream and maybe one day I’ll try! xox

  48. Wow, I admire your strength you had to help your son through those years. What a strong family.

    I have never baked with spelt! I would like to try thesis recipe.

  49. I’m glad those days are behind for Archie and for you! Your hot cross buns look far better than the ones I bought this past weekend. They were from a whole foods store, but homemade is best!

  50. Inspirational recount of Archie’s boarding school years, I follow his band on facebook and they’re really taking off!

  51. Charlie, what a story! I could never have imagined that Archie had such a rough time in those early years! From the time you first started sharing about him I’ve thought him to be such a handsome, confident and appealing young man, and to think of him being bullied at such a level hurts my heart! But perhaps now it’s possible to look back and see that those early experiences are part of what has made him the extraordinary young man I believe he is. Now as to spelt! I love the sound of these Hot Cross Buns! You do such wonderful things for your family…and you’re so right–our “firstborns” are a bit of an experiment! I’m glad they still love us! 🙂

  52. My daughter hs been the victim of bullying and I tell you, I wasn’t prepared for it at all. She has always been a popular girl. Pretty, smart, fun…you just never can make sense of it. When she got suicidal, that was just the worst…I’m so glad we got her the help she needed but it was soooo hard!! I am glad Archie found his way and that he made friends eventually. Kids can be heartless. What ever happened to the golden rule?!?!?! xoxo

  53. Oh, btw your hot cross buns are gorgeous!! I think I would love them!!! 🙂

  54. Oh my goodness, my heart would break having to leave him back at school. Obviously he has grown through the experience and seems quite a popular young man. Love those hot cross buns. I made my own for the first time this year – I agree you know what’s in them and I much prefer butter than palm oil!

  55. My heart ached for you and Archie while reading these posts. I went to boarding school and know that we all become targets at one point or the other and that it can be tough but that was brutal and I am impressed by how he hung in there.

  56. Oh good grief, thank god that all worked out ok. Bloody Telstra, they had so many readers on tenderhooks for far too long.

    And I totally didn’t get time to chat to you today about my wee lad in Year 1 who is on that ADHD route right now… but has the marvellous advantage of being Number3 son, and with motherhood, in my case at least, experience counts.

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