It's 6:30am and I should be feeling awake and refreshed after a relaxing weekend. Instead my eyes are begging me for "5 more minutes" of being closed.
I had a fantastic, very busy, weekend. Did not accomplish some of the things I wanted to do, like vaccuum the flat or get some letters written to send to Canada. I forgot to call my grandmother even after writing myself a note. And Jeremy pretty much took care of tidying up our place and doing dishes (Thanks honey!).Friday
An incredibly hectic day at school, during which I realized just how essential my Teacher's Assistants really are (not that I didn't appreciate them before, but it's even more so now that they're not in the room all the time). We've got new programs running at school where the children are taken out of class for brief periods of time to work in small groups on literacy or math skills. While I fully support this program, it takes away the benefit of having another adult in the classroom and I have to plan lessons around groups of kids not being there. When you teach a class of 30 children, you get quite a wide range of ability. Some of my kids are still struggling to read and write, while others are working a year ahead.
While I am able to handle this and all of the things that come up when you're juggling such a large group of active little ones, I and the other teachers have been totally spoiled by having TA's in the room with us. See, they do the photocopying, they help keep an eye on the class, and they work with one table of children so we can focus on another group. One day they might work with the lowest ability group (this is most often the case), so I'm able to really challenge my highest ability children and ensure that the ones in the middle are achieving their learning objectives.
Okay, lots of teacher talk, I know.
Without the extra adult, I find it very hard to meet the varying needs of such a large class. I feel frustrated that I'm not able to sit down at one table and make sure that each group of children really understands what they're doing.
Hopefully this week things will get easier...
You Can Find Me in the The Pub
One of my favourite British traditions is the Friday pub nights that every single person in the city seems to attend. Doesn't matter if you're a banker or a teacher or a roadworker - when 5pm comes around, everybody's crammed into their favourite cozy pub, drinking pints and sharing stories about their week.
Jeremy and I usually like to have quiet Friday nights in, usually because we're tired from the week and just want some down-time. But when I was invited to go for a few drinks with some teachers from the school, I found myself agreeing right away. As tired as I was, the idea of pub food (had alfredo pasta with chicken, garlic bread and salad) and drinking (mainly rum & cokes), was greatly appealing.
We headed to a fantastic place about a 5 minute drive from the school and spent several hours drinking and talking. And laughing. A lot.
I had a great time and look forward to our next night out - it's so nice to finally spend time with coworkers again (something I took for granted while living in Canada) and actually making some more friends in this huge city.Saturday
This was supposed to be a quiet afternoon and evening at home, but instead we were invited to a late dinner at our friend Aziz's place. He lives in Kensal Rise, about two blocks from where the tornado hit several weeks back (he slept through the whole storm apparently) and has one of those places that just feels comfortable to be in. His best friend Abdul is the chef at a fairly posh restaurant in the City and is almost always our cook. This time, he threw together meatballs in tomato sauce and basmati rice with saffron and all sorts of other spices in about 30 minutes, creating one of the best meals I've had in months. We drank wine and talked, visited with Aziz's daughter, and had a great time as usual.
I went to bed promising myself that Sunday would be a quiet day where I could catch up on laundry, take a walk in the park, and get some things done that I keep putting off.Sunday
My waking thoughts were happy memories of the night before and excitement at getting to spend some time in the park. It was a sunny morning and I jumped out of bed and into the shower so I could head down to Starbucks for a coffee to take along for the walk.
Then the phone rang...
It was Eve, inviting me to her friend Annella's place for the afternoon and an early dinner. Since Annella and her husband live in Wimbledon and I've always wanted to see that part of the city, I decided to accept the invite and leave the walk in the park until another time.
Me being a cheesy tourist (wanted the picture to show Jeremy's grandmother, who's a huge tennis fan)
We hopped on the train around 3pm and met Annella and Nick at a nearby pub, where they were just finishing a drink. Before heading to their place, they took us to a charity shop in Wimbledon Village where apparently a bunch of celebrities go (we didn't see any) - and that also has some pretty original items. Nick was telling us about a friend of his who bought an antique piece for 5 pounds that ended up being worth 2500. While we didn't find anything of that kind of value, all four of us got a little treat - Nick got a cashmere scarf, I got a silk scarf, Eve got a lovely bag, and Annella got a gorgeous angel water feature for their flat.
Their place is totally beautiful and in a complex with tons of gardens and rolling hilly spaces between the parking lots and buildings. The buildings are covered in ivy, which must be pretty incredible looking in the summertime.
We were greeted by a trio of cockatiels in the living room who were too skittish to come and sit on our shoulders but kept a very close watch on our dinners while we were eating. Most of our time was spent on their rooftop terrace, which Annella has covered with plants, shrubs and flowers. They have a pretty large chiminea (they called it a wood burner) that we sat in front of it for hours, cuddled under blankets under the stars. Annella totally spoiled us with heavy blankets, pillows to sit on, good wine, chocolate, coffee, and a hot water bottle once it got really cold.
Their very gorgeous bathroom with a nice big bathtub - I'm jealous
The spiral staircase leading from the living room to the terrace on the roof.
Drinking under the stars beside a roaring fire, pointing out constellations (I found O'rien, the one my dad always used to bring me outside to show me during winter nights when I was little), really made me nostalgic for home, so I started telling them all about my lake and what it was like to live there. It's funny that they think my life in Canada was so exotic. When I was growing up, I thought it was boring. Now I know just how lucky I was...
Annella decided that we needed more wood and rather than tearing up her old, broken chair (see above), she opted for tearing up an old wooden thing they kept in their bathroom. I guess a few bottles of wine can be blamed for their creative spark - we'd run out of wood and nobody wanted to go back inside... I guess the bathroom stepper (or whatever it was) made them happier in the wood burner than it ever did in their bathroom.
Yesterday was one of those golden days that I'll always treasure - one of those perfect Sundays, where nobody complains about work the next day (much) and everybody feels content and happy (and slightly drunk) and experiences that feeling that the rest of the world is a million miles away. They have a little piece of heaven down there in Wimbledon and I can't wait to go back for another visit.
So that was my weekend. I didn't get any marking done, or any housework. I didn't write my letters or emails home and my phone barely touched my ear. I didn't stress about money (since we hardly spent any) and we spent no time talking about Jeremy needing to go back to Canada again. Instead, I got to make new friends, become closer to people who are already friends, and experience some pretty great things that can only happen when you're in good company (and possibly in one of the greatest cities in the world).
Until next time... Happy Monday everybody