Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday already!

I know I promised to get here more often, but I can't believe it is Sunday already! This week has been frantically busy, with me now taking over the role of class teacher completely. For the first 3 weeks...well two really because three days out of the first week didn't happen due to snow...I had another teacher showing me the ropes. This week I took over and have to say I have loved it! I now have 5 Asperger's boys in my class (one has been moved to even up numbers between my class and another) The boys are all very different and all hold their own challenges for teaching. I am learning so, so much!

I basically run an individual program for each student so I am planning for five separate lessons, all day, five days a week....those teachers reading this will appreciate the enormity of the task! It takes many, many hours of planning and preparation to do this and I love it! The school is fantastic. Lots and lots of very supportive people. They have asked me to join the advisory committee for the group (it covers at least 5 schools) on dealing with students with Asperger's and the issues surrounding providing quality education and support for them and their families. I am really looking forward to this challenge!

This weekend started with me going to the pub with a few of my workmates. English pubs are so relaxing, then coming home for dinner with Richard.
On Saturday morning we awoke to find that we had had some light snow overnight. I just had to take a few photos.

Our postage stamp sized backyard yesterday morning.

The view from our front door with the Highgate Woods across the road. The sun on the trees and the fine covering of snow on the ground was incredibly pretty.

Footsteps down from our door.

Tim met us here and we drove to Bromsgrove to see Richard's Mum and Dad. His Dad is not doing too well and is bedridden at the moment. Pat is waiting to hear from the local services as to when they will be able to provide a hoist so that the carers will be able to get John out of bed again. It is very difficult for them both. Richard's second son Jon also met us there. It was lovely to see both of Richard's UK kids. At the moment they are both training madly to run in the Paris marathon in April. There were many brotherly jibes about the respective regimes and the hoped for outcomes. They will both be running the full marathon and raising funds for the Alzheimer's Association here in the UK. We are going to Paris for two nights to cheer them on and then on to Amsterdam (Tulip time!!!!). Mark another one off the lifetime dream things to do!

I drove home last night...the first time I have driven in London. I don't really know why I haven't driven before. A few weeks ago it was the snow on the ground and I guess since then I have had no real need to do so. I thought it was about time I got behind the wheel. It is no different to driving in either Sydney or Melbourne, just a few slightly different rules!

Today has largely been a day devoted to work. I got up before 8 this morning to watch the Aussie Open final and started work while I did so. I have spent most of the day on the computer planning and preparing for this week. I did go into our backyard and prune the two roses and the one hydrangea we have! We also went for a walk in the Wood and took a few photos. Just as we were setting off there was a flurry of snow, but it didn't last long. It was cold and we were well rugged up. There were many, many people in the Woods. Some running, many walking their dogs and lots of kids on bikes. It is a well used area of about 26 hectares I think

A pathway in the Highgate Wood - love the moss on the trees, such a glorious colour.

The coffee shop in the's only a few minutes walk from home!

Ice on the of life's experiences you apparently must have as a child is stomping the ice puddles...48 is not too old is it?

As I do this we are sharing a bottle of wine and just relaxing!

Stay tuned....I will add a couple more photos in the next couple of days.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Our Half Term Holiday Plans

Back again! Just thought I would share some excitement with you all. We have made the plans for our half term break in just under three weeks times - well of course I am using the royal 'we' here and should more acurately say 'Richard'. We actually leave here on Valentine's Day and will be going to Marrakech in Morocco for a week. What a romantic way to start our first break here.

Richard has booked us our accommodation for the week in a riad named 'Coq Berbere'. You may be able to Google it to have a look. (Note to self - learn how to add links).

Today has been quite busy for me. I have more planning to do for the next few days, so need to go. I thought I would add a few more photos for you from yesterday. Enjoy!

Just loved these pinecones

Another of the wonderful seed sculptures.

A close up of the mute swan's head.

A quick thank you to all those leaving comments. They are greatly appreciated. As Ash would say 'Mwah'.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Trying to keep up!

Kew Gardens .... can't wait to see this in the spring.

It has been a busy, busy week and I am finally getting here to add to this blog! School this week has been a huge mix of amazingly good and amazingly challenging. I am absolutely loving it and loving the experience of having my skills tested and then still feeling like I am doing OK. The days are very long. I leave home about 7:30am, catch two buses to get to work and then the earliest I was home last week was about 5:30pm. It has been as late as 7:30! I hope I will be able to drop the time spent at work back as I become more familiar with the requirements of my job as I am determined that the work/home balance will not be dragged out of kilter. On a good note I don't think I need to join a gym. I play British Bulldog with the boys most playtimes (there are three of those each day), so am running for at least half an hour most days. I think I am probably getting enough exercise!

At home we are settling in really well. The Ikea build is now complete - I put together the final piece (our sofa bed in the second bedroom yesterday morning and Richard did the desk in the middle of last week. I have not had much time for my journal yet but will get there. I managed to start annoying the neighbours with my saxophone yesterday and today - so life is gradually returning to some of our normal routines.

Last night we decided to start to enjoy the life London has to offer. We had dinner in a little french restaurant in Soho and then went to see the musical 'Hairspray'. It was lots of fun and had Belinda Carlisle (she was the lead singer of the 'Go Gos' way back when) in one of the lead roles. It is so exciting to be able to do things like that....bit different to down-town Hervey Bay.

Today we went off to the Kew Gardens. We bought a season's passes and will be able to go back time and again for the next 12 months. Thank goodness, because I don't think we even saw a tenth of the gardens today. They are absolutely huge and quite stunning at the moment, as the majority of the trees are bare for Winter. I really wanted the opportunity to visit time and again this year so that we are able to see the gardens in a range of seasons. When we found out about the season's tickets we bought them. One of the good things about having them today, was we didn't need to feel rushed because we can now go back any time we like. The entry is normally about 13GBP per adult. We bought a couple's season's pass for 65GBP. So once we have done three visits we will be saving money.

The Lake in front of the 'Plants and People Exhibition'

The order beds are being redeveloped. They are used for botanic study, will be filled and organised in coming months.

A stunning mute swan. These are much bigger than the ones we see in Australia.

...and after the snow comes the snowdrops.

I loved this sculpture and the backdrop of grasses.

Espaliered lime trees.

One of a series of stunning sculptures commemorating 250 years of the Kew Gardens and the seed collection stored there.

After the gardens we did a slight detour coming homing and drove through Knightsbridge, around Piccadilly Circus and then around Trafalgar Square before coming home. We could do that today, Sunday, as there is no congestion fee. There is normally a fee to drive into that area on weekdays. Even so the traffic was ridiculous. I did manage to hold the camera out the window at a some traffic lights to get photos of Piccadiily Circus and literally while we were moving to get the photo of Harrods. I am pretty proud of it considering how it was taken.

Harrods at dusk on Jan 24th, 2010

Some of the lights at Piccadilly Circus.

I will try to add more through the week this week. Have to see how I go timewise. Lots of love to you all.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A new home

I feel a bit like a teenager starting out. Richard and I are setting up home....the first time we have started from scratch together and it is a really interesting feeling. When we moved in together it was into his home and a blending of our two homes: this is like being 20 again and starting out. Very peculiar when you are nearer 50!

Yesterday was the big Ikea build day. We started the day packing all the stuff we had either brought from Australia or bought since arriving here and stored in our tiny B&B room. It was interesting packing it all into the Volvo (from here on known as 'Bruce') to drive from the B&B to here! I ended up nursing some stuff. At one stage I contemplated catching a bus so we could use the front seat. How much can two people accumulate in two weeks!

We picked up our keys at 9:00am and came straight to our house after the compulsory purchase of coffee, milk, a cup and loo paper - we didn't know how long the wait would be! We moved all the stuff into our flat and then came the wait for the Ikea van. Richard got the internet up and running - priorities! and then we got a call to say Ikea wouldn't be here until after 2:00pm so we went shopping for some of the pantry and household essentials. We arrived beck around 1:30 and Ikea delivered not long after. Then came the fun. The big build started!

We constructed our bed, bedside tables, lamps and side tables.

Me building our bed.

Richard putting the side of the bed and the bedhead together.

Me building one of the bedside tables.

Part the way through the construction process we decided we were starving and so wandered about two minutes down the road to our local pub for dinner. While we were trying to decide what to eat Richard ordered a beer and I ordered a cider ....but I forgot to specify the size. They arrived at our table with a half pint for him and a full pint for me....what's a girl to do but to drink it! About half way through my cider the food arrived and it was fantastic. I think we have found a place for when we don't feel like cooking!

We came home .... me feeling very relaxed... and Richard decided to put together our TV unit (after a couple of false starts) it all came together well!

Today we started the day with about an hour on Skype with Ash...gotta love it! and then we were off to the other Ikea store near us to get the table and chairs we couldn't get last week. It is huge! We got the table and chairs and also picked up heaps of storage jars. We went to Tescos to shop, but found we only had 15 minutes before they closed, so grabbed the essentials for tonight's tea and came home to reestablish our furniture construction! Our kitchen now looks like someone owns will follow and we will get there with the rest of our home soon.

Tonight we had tuna with rosemary, jacket baked potatoes, brocolli and the most beautiful green beans, all topped off by a bottle of Aussie Chardonnay...yum! It is so good to have real food again.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Sloshing Around

Today we took the boys out to a local farm to go horseriding. When we got there, there was way too much snow on the ground for it to be safe to do so. We patted two of the horses, Harvey and Violette and sloshed around in the mud. We followed bird tracks in the snow and looked across the fields where we could see tracks from a fox. It is strange to be thinking of foxes as being a good sign in the ecological state of an area. I have decided I need a pair of 'Wellies' as it was definitely not good for the green Docs today. Not to worry they did come out of the ordeal as good as new!

Tonight we are off to Ikea when Richard finally gets home from work to sort our furniture so that it can be delivered to us on Saturday morning...we hope! It will be an interesting night on Saturday night if the furniture is not delivered on Saturday, as we will have no bed! I have to say we are really looking froward to getting into the kitchen and cooking up a feast. We have found some halfway decent curry pastes so all should be OK.

I am nearly though my first full week of school and my head is still spinning. I will finally be meeting student number 6 on Monday for the first time. He will only be coming to school on Mondays and Tuesdays at this stage as he has a few anxiety issues related to attending school and dealing with the behaviour of some of the other students. We hope to build up his tolerance and attendance as we go.

I may not get back here for a couple of days. We are not 100% sure how quickly our internet connection will become active. Hopefully not too long though.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

These boots are made for walking!

Thanks to you all for your beautiful comments on my last two posts. I hope you will keep enjoying them.

We woke this morning to find that it is snowing again in London, but that didn't seem to matter as I was really looking forward to my day. Today I went into Bond Street in London to go to an induction seminar for the group that my school is part of. When I had finished I decided to quickly visit Covent Garden. I walked past the shop where I bought my original Green boots and just had to take some photos for posterity.

The day was fantastic and convinced me that coming to London for some time is absolutely the right decision for my teaching. This group works very much with the teaching ethos I hold strongly of teaching the child first and then the subject. Each school in the group has a professional multi-disciplinary team of Speech Pathologist, Psychologist and Occupational Therapist who work directly with the classroom team of teacher and teaching assistants. At each site these people are on site all the time so that we as teachers are able to access their expertise as it is needed in our classroom. We also have a music therapist that comes in to the school once a week....aah maybe the saxophone came into my life for a reason last February. All the staff seem to have a deep and very respectful understanding of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders.....bliss! It is an absolute dream to be surrounded by people with so much enthusiasm and belief in what they are doing.

As I was making the decision to come here a great deal of my art work seemed to gravitate towards the idea of the need for me to feel comfortable with the idea of stepping up to 'shine' . It was a word and an idea that came forward time and again last year. I seemed to need it to give me the courage to make the decisions to step out of my comfort zone and make the necessary decisions to come here. To face my fears if you like.

At the moment the idea of 'collaboration' is bubbling away and I can't wait to start to build on that concept.

....and Jane, my gorgeous friend .....this next photo is for you. XXXX

Monday, 11 January 2010

School's In

No photos today although I wish I had had my camera with me during recesses and lunchtime. We were outside playing....brrr! The janitor had cleared the area by mounding all the snow around the fences (it is an asphalted courtyard). I had lessons from the boys on how to build a snowman. It was an enormous amount of fun being taught the best way to roll a snowball for the head and how to pack the snow for the body. They are amused by my lack of experience in that field and were so impressed that they could teach their teacher something so basic.

It was a bit of a tough day as they were not used to being at school after having had two weeks break between terms, one day back and then a further three days off. For two of them (there were only four there today) the transition back to school was stressful. Tomorrow is another day so hopefully they will be a bit more settled.

I have a lot learn with respect to dealing with the program we run and the individual quirks of the students. There is an enormous amount of planning and preparation involved as each student has a largely individual program.

On a lighter note the discussion as we walked down the stairs to playtime this morning was the boys' estimates of how long I would maintain my Aussie accent. They seem to be convinced that I will be talking 'just like them' in three months! An interesting concept given that they have different accents! I suggested we should perhaps record my voice now and then again in three months time to see if there is a difference.

Richard had his first day of work today and arrived home at about 7:00pm feeling quite drained. I am sure that we will both settle in to our repective jobs soon.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Camden Markets

Today we visted the Camden Markets. It was freezing cold so we had to be well rugged up. The water in the lock was partially frozen and we had the occasional flurry of light snow during the time we were there. I bought the hat I am wearing in the photo and a new pair of Doc Martin boots. I always thought I would hate the cold, but at the moment I am absolutely loving it. To go out I am wearing tights, thermal leggings, thick socks, jeans and boots on the bottom half and today I had a thermal top, polo neck jumper, jacket, fleece and then my new wool/cashmere coat on the top. This was all topped off with a pashmina scarf, my new hat which is pure wool lined with fleece and then sheep skin gloves ... and yes with all this on I felt somewhat larger, but most importantly toasty warm!

I found myself walking down the High Street in Camden smiling at how much fun I was having. It is incredible how alive a change can make you feel.

Tomorrow I will be back at work. I arrived in London just over two weeks ago and started work last Monday with a pupil free day, On Tuesday I had a day with 5 out of 6 of my students but that was it as the rest of the week the school was closed due to the snow in London! I am really looking forward to getting back into it.

The time off was a blessing in disguise as it enabled us to find a place to stay. We will move in next Saturday to a two bedroom 'cottage' they call it. In Australia we would call it a Terrace. We now need to organise the furniture properly. We have had a few gliches with that process, but as with all things it will work out at some stage.

I have been journaling since we left Australia on the 27th December 2009 and may at some stage try to add some of my pages here - need to work out the technicalities there. The photo on this blog is the first I have ever added so I will see how that goes and maybe add some more soon.

I am hoping this is a more accessible for many of you than Facebook has been. I will add more soon. As Ash would say 'Mwah'!