Thursday, August 06, 2009
Mid (okay late)-Summer's Review
As I write, I'm sitting at home and it's raining. This summer weather has been wet, wet, wet! So funny how we (okay, I) was complaining about the heat in June at which time we were told it'd be a scorcher and a summer of BBQ's! Uhhhh. NOT. July was wet and muggy and my complaining now is not that it's wet (as we all know, I do love the rain) but that it's so mild that having to wear a coat to keep dry also means I am constantly boiling! Yeah okay, it's not 110 degree weather like back in Phoenix, but it's MY pain okay, so let me OWN it! :D
Anyway, I've currently got 4 weeks and 1 day left of my temporary teaching contract. I work with a great bunch of people and this morning as I was driving into work, down the specific road the school is on in Bournemouth, ahead of me was the owner/director and then 3 other teachers all riding their bicycles to work! As an aside, I do find it charming how many folks here in the little town I live in ride their bicycles to and from the store and to run errands. Not the hard-core cycling scene here in Ringwood, but a lot of grey and white-haired folks cycling with their baskets at the front of their bikes. I find it so charming...as I drive by burning fossil-fuel (because as I've just explained, I'd burn up in the coat I'd have to wear to stay dry so why cycle or walk and get sweaty?)
This summer of teaching has also meant going on a lot of excursions and to make life a tad easier (because preparing for lessons 5 days a week is tiring so having to study up and prepare information to present on the excursions is extra tiring), I've become very familiar with two excursions in particular: London and the Stonehenge/Salisbury excursions. I'm by no means an expert but those two I know pretty well now so I can show up on the day and pretty much give the students all the key and hopefully interesting info. This Saturday I'm going to London with Tex. Tex is a teacher who lives most of the year as a part-owner/operator of a resort in Bali, from what I can gather. He loves surfing and he looks very Matthew McMonaughey-ish (and the fact that his name is Tex makes me think of Texas where Mattew McMonaughey is from too). The thing about Tex is he's either a really good luck or a really bad luck charm. Every time he's done London this summer (probably the same days that I was doing Stonehenge/Salisbury), there have been "issues" with the return from London. He's had to file police reports on under-age students who went "missing" and I've learned that "missing" means the students decided to take the train back but didn't call us to tell us. And YES, we always give them an emergency contacts sheet (in day-glo colors no less!) with our phone numbers for them to call. He's not had an excursion to London that went off without a hitch. So either he brings bad karma or, if you prefer to look at it optimistically, thank goodness he WAS there to handle the situations. Either way, he's more of an expert on London than I am so he'll be leading the walking tour portion of the excursion and I'll be bringing up the rear of our group of almost 60.
Is that sun? Yes, this was taken in June in London. "The diameter of Big Ben is so large that you could drive a double-decker bus right through the center of it."
Stonehenge, listening to the audio guide, which actually is quite well done. The facilities at Stonehenge, though? Don't even get me started on those.
My co-teacher on the "Dorset Coast" excursion Sam and me posing, before the death march began in earnest.
In front of Durdle Door (again sunny, this was June), the hole in the limestone was made from millions of years of the water eroding it. This is a stunning area of Dorset, if you can manage the grueling hikes down and back up and then up and over again!
I've found that I enjoy the quiet life for the most part. Abby (who is the subject of most of my regular mobile uploads to Facebook photos!) loves living out her canine golden years out here in the "country". Having spent her life as a city-dog who was used to always being on a leash (apart from the dogparks she would be let loose at), it's quite fun for her to run amok in the country and do the disgusting things animals do unchecked. So suffice it to say, she doesn't get to give me nearly as many "kisses", I mean, where that mouth has been. EWWWWW! I see friends for coffee, meals and other outings but am also thoroughly enjoying the walking (flat, preferably!) and who knows, maybe one of these years, before my 40th (egad, that's just 3 years away!) I'll be fit and ready to do the Coast to Coast walk (Shannon, shall we do that together?) I wonder if Abby will still be around then. Okay, onto another topic as that will make me sad pondering how many years she has left!
Earlier this summer, during the "oh my god, it's so freakin' hot" phase, I was able to see The Dave Matthews Band in concert! HERE! Well, sort of here, it was actually about a 4 1/2 hour drive north to Wolverhampton. My dear friend Lucie met me there and although she hadn't heard of them or heard their music, she was a great companion and we melted together and had a blast. Seeing them at such a small venue was so different from seeing them at arenas or amphitheaters. While the acoustics weren't as great as The Hollywood Bowl (duh!), we were soooo close and it seemed the band really got a kick out of the intimacy. Maybe reminded them of their days playing universities? Also being such a small venue, it was dead easy to get in and out of. No lines - even in the bathrooms! And there was free water. NICE.
Before the concert, in front of Wolverhampton Civic Center (note the throngs of fans in the background) and we posed with the band behind us (sort of).
Generating the excitement about the ending of this summer of teaching is knowing that two days later my mother and sister arrive! They'll be staying 12 days (not that I'll mourn each one as it passes, knowing it's one day closer to having to say goodbye or anything) and we have a game plan of at least 7-8 different day trips we can take. I will not hold them to a plan or place but being situated down south, we have a lot more historical (or "hysterical" as we like to call them) places within easy grasp. My dad is hoping to visit over the holidays so that is something to hope for/look forward to and finally my niece will hopefully be able to come and stay over her spring break next year. She'll be 14 and I'm sure it'd be a blast. But first things first...I'll be ready to be the tour guide for Mom and Shannon... "The phrase 'Mind the Gap' originated on the Northern line"..."
Well, it's time to sign off and prepare my lessons for tomorrow. Think I'll move into the conservatory to do it - the sound of the rain is particularly loud in there and I love that sound!
My lesson preparation area!