Saturday, November 24, 2007

Foxes make good walking companions

I went to dinner last night with Shannon and Mary from my old school here in London and had a fantastic time catching up over marvellous food and drinks, but something has really got me freaked out. Mary was telling me how November is considered winter here. Sure, the weather sure feels like it but November at home is Spring. Shouldn’t that then mean that November over here should be Autumn since it should be the opposite? Mary then said that May 1st (May Day) was officially the first day of Summer here. That’s odd, as May is the last month of Autumn at home. I am well and truly confused. Probably not as confused as my English Year 1 class from last year, who I spent a term teaching the seasons to!

Photo - Mary, Shannon and I in Richmond, London.

P.S: It is so cold at the moment. I swear I think that the ice caps aren’t melting; they’re just migrating to London!

P.P.S: I was walking home last night and got the fright of my life when I glanced down and saw a fox walking beside me. Obviously thought I might like some company.

P.P.P.S: I learnt this week that the best way to do a job interview is by phone. Because you can do it in your PJs and Ugg Boots! Wasn’t the greatest interview I’ve ever done (I could hear myself echo back through the phone) but was certainly the most comfortable!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Davina Diary Blog

Last week Davina, Rachel, Michelle and I were talking about blogs at Davina’s new Shepherd’s Bush house whilst she served pancakes and champagne for brunch (yes, I know I lead a privileged existence). We decided that Davina writes her blog as an eccentric diary which, knowing Davina, suits her very much. I tend to write my blog as an account of things that happen that are interesting (or at least I think so). This time, I thought I would give the eccentric diatribe a go…

Things in London have been full steam ahead for a month now. We moved out of the Village in September and I am living in Tooting in South London. I’ve been working pretty steadily at a handful of schools and even got employed at a school for a day to put paper on display boards! That has been my favourite day working in London.

Karen moved to Oxford with Richard as he studies for his MBA at Oxford University. I don’t know how she survives the daily 4 hour commute but she does seem really happy. Adriaan moved to Stanford Brook not that far from Chiswick.

I woke up one morning with the decision made that I wanted to come home. Working at a new school everyday was starting to get me down. I was sick of arguing with 9 year olds who thought that they knew everything (except what they were supposed to be doing in their learning task). Lo and behold, as soon as I made the mental decision to go home, I was offered a wonderful job at Balham. The times that I had taught there before I found it had taken me a long time to get there by bus, but I finally figured out that I could walk through the park opposite the Common and it would spit me out in front of the school. It is a Year 5 class and they seem like a decent bunch of kids. By this stage I had applied for some jobs at home and had heard nothing. But as is the way with life, I got a message asking me for a phone interview. So now I am back in limbo land. I feel like I am the rope in a very aggressive and close game of tug of war,

I’ve been keeping busy regardless and find myself smiling and laughing at the strangest things. Like the day I walked home from the school in Balham through the park. It started pouring with rain, my umbrella was useless so I just pulled it down and walked through the streams of water with my iPod singing in my ears, I couldn’t physically get any more drenched so I just kept walking. As I neared the end, there was a couple sheltering under a tree. They had been riding their bikes through the park when the skies had opened. There was only room for one of them to be dry so the man stood over the woman covering her with his coat. It was such a lovely scene.

Last Saturday Vic moved out of her house. She is staying with me until she heads over to Ireland for her last trip before flying home. Instead of letting her sit at home feeling sad and sorry we went into Embankment to see the Lord Mayor’s fireworks display. Since that finished at 5:30pm, we then headed to the London Eye. I had been on the London Eye the last time I was here but had never been up at night time. It was even better as there were virtually no lines either. The skyline was littered with small bursts of fireworks displays left over from the previous week’s Guy Fawkes celebrations. The lights from London’s landmark buildings shone bright and the air was clear, mild yet crisp. You couldn’t have asked for a better night even if you ordered one from a catalogue 2 months in advance.

London for me is a happy place at the moment. I can’t lose on the job front as if I get the job at home I will be excited to start something new. If I don’t then the job here in Balham will offer me the experience I need to teach in America (my next frontier to be conquered). Either way would be a blessing. As a result, I am a very happy young lady.

Scottish Soil

I read somewhere recently that if you have any Scot in your blood you will feel instantly at home when your feet touch the soils of Scotland. Without better words to describe the feeling I would totally and utterly agree with this statement. Australia is my birthplace, England my home, Austria my favourite travel destination but it is Scotland that has my heart. Another week of school holidays meant that I finally had some time to head north and visit Scotland again. It had been 4 long years (to the day actually) since I last had the pleasure of travelling through Scotland and I had missed it deeply.

Instead of flying I decided to drive instead. That decision had little to do with enjoying the English countryside and more to do with having not driven since 2006 and feeling the need to get behind the wheel again. I even managed to drag Vic along too.

A while ago my parents had travelled to John O’Groats and my dad had spoken highly of it so I decided that that would be my intended destination. We stopped along the way whenever the urge took us and as a result, Vic and I stayed at some very interesting places. My favourite was the Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness with its tartan carpeted grand staircase and most amazing shower ever! I also loved “The Tickled Trout” hotel in Preston. I kid you not. Got to love a hotel that pays homage to a ticklish fish, but you do have to ask what kind of person thinks to tickle a fish. We were also strangely haunted by broken and lopsided lampshades. At no less than 3 different hotels the lampshades were broken and lopsided in our room.

The Highlands of Scotland were exactly the same as I had left them 4 years earlier, peaceful and calm, filled to the brim with history and the souls of Scotsmen and women from years past. Out of all the wonderful scenery we saw this time my favourite day was driving the entire length of the north side of the Loch Ness. With the autumn weather turning the leaves magnificent shades of gold, rust and copper I felt like I was wrapped warm and cosy by nature’s own hearth.

Vic and I took turns in driving. We put in an impressive 1768 miles all up. I found it slightly odd though, that fates dealt me all of the single lane width, unmarked and low visibility roads, whilst Vic got the double or more lanes with easy to see oncoming traffic and lovely new markings. The potholes shared themselves around evenly though. :P
(Photos - 1. Me at John O'Groats, 2. Our car on the side of one of the many highland hills, 3. Some Highland cows, 4. Inverness)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Random London Happenings

Last night saw London light up the night sky with a huge array of fireworks celebrating Guy Fawkes Night. I had been hanging out for Guy Fawkes Night after reading a book that had the characters watching the fireworks at a south London park. For some reason the imagery described stuck in my head and I wanted to be a part of the experience as well. After a little bit of research (I read the TNT magazine) I settled on Battersea Park and managed to get Nicola to come along to and she brought some of her friends. The £5 entry charge was well worth it with the fireworks going for a little over 30 minutes and the music that they were timed to was funky and fun. And you can't have fireworks without your own sparklers!

Other random things that have happened to me this week are:

** On Thursday I raced a man up the stairs at Tooting Broadway tube station. Well, I ran up the stairs and he ran up the escalator. I am pleased to announce that I won.

** I am was in trouble on Friday because I taught a class their entire term's history work in one lesson and they are getting an Ofsted inspection this week. The teacher was not happy at all.

** A lady rammed me with her trolley in Sainsbury's because apparently I was walking too slow. Have a sneaking suspicion that it was the woman with the walking frame in front of me that was holding the line up but I could be wrong.

** The bus driver I had yesterday on my way to Shepherd's Bush yelled at everyone and all the traffic in very loud Polish. Was rather scary.

And that's about it. :)