Monday, 22 March 2010

First Spring Blossom

Our first Spring blossom has finally been spotted! We went to the football yesterday and saw it as we walked through the park on the way home.

We saw Fulham lose 1:2 to Manchester City at the Fulham ground. It was lots of fun, although it did not have the same atmosphere as the game we saw two years ago at Aston Villa against Fulham. Before the game Fulham's mascot (I think it is a badger)wandered around the edge of the field and tried to get the crowd motivated. Unfortunately, the crowd were not terribly enthusiastic which was a bit of a shame and so the wonderful chanting we saw last time just did not happen.

Our seats were just behind the goal and were about six rows from the front. I even got to 'play' during practice when the ball came over the back of the net and I managed to catch it and throw it back to the City players. During the second half of the game, the goalie for Fulham was an Aussie by the name of Schwarzer (thanks for the heads up Salt!) and so I just had to grab a photo of him in action.

I thought I would add another couple of photos from our weekend visiting the New Forest. The one below is of Winchester Cathedral. We called in and visited on our way home on the Sunday. It is very beautiful and we got to hear the organ as a service was just finishing as we arrived.

I couldn't resist adding this next photo. We had seen so many donkeys in Marrakech and were stunned to see these three little guys wandering through the middle of Brockenhurst when we drove through. They literally stopped the traffic as they wandered down the middle of the road, then up onto the footpath and then back into the middle of the road without a care in the world. There were quite a few of us with cameras out and great big smiles on our faces.

Ok so a bit more news from here. Richard has a game of hockey (or maybe two or three)this weekend. He put out an enquiry to a local club and they are offering to provide gear (just as well because all he has with him is his goalie's bag!) and seem quite pleased with the idea of getting him on the field. It's been five months since he has played and I think he is getting withdrawals! So that should be exciting for us this weekend.

I have also had my first UK haircut. I actually am very pleased ...I should be for 84 pounds! I will try to get a photo soon to add to here.

School is great. Very, very difficult some days, but wonderful all the same. I am down to four boys in my class. Two are part time, but we will be up to three fulltime after Easter. I am facing many challenges with difficult behaviour and have had to do a physical restraint course to manage some of the more challenging moments. I have one student who we need to restrain at least once a week...sometimes even a couple of times a day, but we are making headway. It has been several weeks since he has landed a real hit and I have become very proficient with blocking the attempts at hair pulling and punching. I am told his behaviour has drastically improved since I have been here!

I have decided to up the ante with them all and am pushing them much harder academically. The response is somewhat mixed from them, but the parents seem to be quite supportive of our endeavours.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Just who is Harvey!

I just had to answer this question for those of you who have not had the pleasure. Harvey Bear (from Hervey Bay)started life as Richard's bear and his hockey mascot. When we were living miles apart Harvey was left with me in Brisbane to keep me company during the week! When we all finally moved in together Harvey became our travelling bear and has joined us on our various journeys both around Asutralia and overseas. He usually goes to the state and international hockey matches, with one exception: he never went to Hong Kong with Richard last year (the Hockey boys try to steal him and I was not there to protect him!)

He has been on holiday to the UK, France, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Italy and of course his latest adventure Morocco. Harvey has even managed to have his photo taken with his Aunty Tam's companions Pandy and Ralph in several places including Venice and Rome! (He likes meeting those guys when we go on our adventures!) He had his photo taken with the Tasmanian Hockey team's mascot last year (Richard was an honourary Taswegian for a tournament) and before we left Australia he also had a photo shoot with his Aunty Jane's bear, Farmer.

OK enough about Harvey. Life here is very busy. We went to visit Richard's Mum and Dad yesterday for the UK celebration of Mother's Day. It was lovely to see them both again and I think Pat enjoyed the company of her son for the first time in many, many years on a Mother's Day. The weather here was very mild yesterday....we even got into double figures with a temperature of about 12 degrees! It was a beautiful sunny day so the drive up and back was very pleasant.

The weekend before we went down to the New Forest. It is really beautiful down there. The forest has many ponies, horses and donkeys (I thought I had seen the last of them in Marrakech) roaming free. They are apparently not wild, but some ancient agreement allows people to leave them in the forest to graze. In some little villages the horses wander through the middle of town. We had to stop for three donkeys wandering down the middle of the road in one village. The weather again was stunning. Beautiful blue skies, hardly a cloud in the sky, but that weekend it was freezing! We went for a walk in the forest on Sunday morning and once again stomped in ice puddles!

I guess the thing that surprised me most on our walk in the forest was watching horses feasting on gorse. When I worked in Melbourne on the grasslands, gorse was the bane of our life. It was an incredible weed problem and in case you don't know, is impossibly spikey. We watched the horses break off sections about 10 cm long, manouever them in their mouths so the spikes were pointing in the right direction and then swallow the piece whole all while very, very carefully keeping their lips out of the way. There was quite an art to the whole process. Obviously it was a skill that these animals have had to master, as there was very little else in sight that had anything green on it. It seems it is gorse or starve and these hardy and resourceful animals have learnt how to just get on with it.

I want to get this posted and it is getting late, so some photos will follow another time. Love to you all. XXX

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Long time no hear

Harvey finally makes an appearance on my blog...well of course he came to the UK and of course he visited Morocco!

Just a quick update tonight. I know it has been over a month! I have been flat out at work doing at least a full day each weekend and working until 10:00 or 11:00 most nights. I have not put in this amount of effort for a long time, but I have to say I am loving the challenge.

A lot has happened in the past month. I have turned another year older....well only a few days older in reality, but you know what I mean. (I think I have been hanging around too many Aspies) I had a wonderful day on my birthday with lots of wishes from my beautiful family and friends. Richard gave me some new paints and would you believe they have not even been opened yet! I need to beware that all work and no play does not make Ali a dull girl! I have been practicing my saxophone (so at least some play is happening) and have even bought some new sheet music which I am working on.

Our trip to Marrakech was great. It is a very bustling place and quite unusually for this time of year there was a heap of rain while we were there. The riad we stayed in was gorgeous. The souk (marketplace) was astounding and the whole of the old area of old Marrakech where we were staying was an amazing labarynth. Each time we stepped out of the riad our question was 'I wonder how many times we will be lost on this little jaunt'. We got lost three times on the last Saturday we were there... an amazing adventure.
The inner courtyard of the riad

A view of the square on our first night
One small view of the souk

Our plans for breaking out the warm weather clothes were well thwarted. It was actually quite cold while we were there and so the two jumpers and jacket I wore leaving London hardly came off my back the whole week....mmm so much for temperatures above 20 most days!!! They were the only warm clothes I had with me and as I had taken mainly dresses the two pairs of trousers I had were well worn too! The locals must have thought I was such a grub!
How else do you end a meal in Morocco than a plateful of Moroccan pastries and mint tea....yum

One of the strongest memories of Morocco for many donkeys!

We took a couple of day trips. The first up into the high Atlas mountains into Berber territory. It was gorgeous. The drive was a couple of hours through the countryside. On the way, we saw a river in flood. All the locals had gatthered to stare and our guide told us in the hope that something valuable would come down on the flood waters. Apparently it was usually dry or just a trickle and the rains had been extraordinary so they were somewhat in awe of it all.

We stopped at one of the carpet places. The range and display was gorgeous, but we didn't buy one...the colours were just not what we wanted. When we reached the end of the road we went for a short walk with a local guide who was such a gentleman leading me over the rocks....many of the photos look like we are dancing!
The carpet place we visited.

No way was I going out there!

A view at of the Atlas mountains

Dancing with our guide

I will leave further adventures for later and head off to bed, so stay tuned!!!