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BBC LE Teacher Blogger | 12:53 UK time, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

From Stephen Keeler

Hi Everyone!

How good it is to be able to 'talk' to you all again. So much has happened since last Christmas. It's not easy to know where to start.

I have moved house. You perhaps remember that I used to live in a cosy little house in west London. I lived there for 28 years. Lucy, my lovely daughter, was born there 22 years ago, and it was the first and only house I had owned together with my late wife.

Lu grew up. That's what children do. They grow up, and one day you look at them and suddenly realise they are adults. Lucy is now in her fourth and final year at St Andrews University, in Scotland, where she is preparing for final exams, and writing her dissertation. She graduates in June next year. Last September she also got the job of Head of Outside Broadcast at St Andrews Radio. She loves working in radio.

Meanwhile, back in October I moved from London to a tiny fishing village on the far north-west coast of Scotland, called Ullapool. I have bought an eco-house. It is newly-built and is one of a block of four which all have under-floor central heating, and solar panels on the roof. I have three bedrooms, a large living and dining area and a huge kitchen with panorama windows. The view from my house is spectacular.

I look out over the loch (Loch Broom) and the mountains, which right now, are covered in thick snow.

I have a sauna and a large spa bath, two bathrooms, three loos and a small utility room. Outside, there's a spacious terrace where I hope we can have parties in the summer.

Even though I have three teaching degrees and other academic qualifications from English colleges and universities, I am not allowed to teach in Scottish state schools. So I hope to do a little private teaching and a lot more writing. I have joined the organising group for the annual Ullapool Book Festival (check out the website, it's a great event!), and I also belong to a group of published writers which meets monthly in different villages around the region.

It's as different as it could be from living in London, and I do miss London enormously. But I intend to visit from time-to-time and also to continue travelling abroad. I'll be travelling by the time this blog is posted so I probably won't be able to respond to any of your comments, unfortunately. I'll be in London and Marrakech in the New Year, and I hope to get to Sweden, Norway and Finland during the summer.

One day, maybe, I'll be able to blog for a little longer with you. Meanwhile, I have posted a couple of photos you might find interesting.

With my warmest best wishes to all of you for a great 2011.


Our Christmas decorations!

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations


  • Comment number 1.

    Stephen, you seem to live comfortable, good on you. As far as you – including myself – we seem to be able to live a fortunate life, no doubt you also have paid for it. And still we may not know what a true suffering means. My best from Oulu Finland.

  • Comment number 2.

    Stephen, congratulations for you new house in Scotland. Good luck in your travellings. I'm curious about just one thing that you have said 'Even though I have three teaching degrees and other academic qualifications from English colleges and universities, I am not allowed to teach in Scottish state schools'. I can't understand why, or just because you have to know Scotish? In Catalonia -as you know, north-west of Spain-, for instance, if you want to work in a educational centre you have to know Catalonian.
    Thanks a lot and best wishes.
    Manel Parra

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Stephen! What a change!! Like Catolonia, if you want to work as a civil worker in some Italian autonomous communities you must have a good knowledge of their official languages. Anyway, if I were a Scottish headmaster, I would try to get round the situation and hire you. I think you are a valid teacher!! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Stephen!

    Your new house is wonderful. I guess you did a great thing moving there.

    And the Christmas decorations... wow, wonderful! Did you do them yourself?

    Congratulations on your daughter. She seems to have taken after her father. I'm sure she'll be very successful in her career.

    I hope to hear more from you during the month.

    Best wishes,


  • Comment number 5.

    Hi again Stephen, I do hope I did not offend you by my previous comment here. I have been feeling a bit blue lately due so many difficulties and everyday worries. Also I have felt the pain of the world. I know it not possible to carry the world´s pain on one´s shoulders and if one tries one does become even more distress. As I know you a caring person, I am sure you know what I mean. My sincere wishes to everyone… Let us be happy, it costs nothing!

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Stephen.Indeed view from your house is breathtaking.
    I think that you accomplished most of your live goals.
    You have a great house ,smart daughter,opportunity for traveling.
    I looking forward for lot of pictures and descriptions from travels

    Take care Stephen..

    Walldy from Poland

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear Stephen,

    It is really nice to hear from you again and read your news.

    Well, someone has persuaded our "city boy through-and-through" that countryside is for him. I am intrigued who it could be? Sure as hell, it was a woman. ;)
    Congratulations on your moving to new house where you can see the open spaces and the lavender-scented air of countryside, the beauty of the mountains, the serenity of the sea, the delightful picture of cottages, gardens, farms and fields. To use your words: ' Where else could you meet so many wonderful crazies? '
    I wish you and Lu all the very best for 2011!

    with lots of love from Slovakia,
    a countryside girl, Anita

  • Comment number 8.

    Dear Mr Keeler,

    What a wonderful surprise reading your comment with the news in your life. Congratulations to you; your new house seems to be both comfortable and cosy. Did you move there because of your lovely daugther Lucy? I can imagine the great challenge living in a small place now. I'm sure you have been enjoying very much the special atmospere of "London-Life". I really hope you'll find a lot of new friends in Ullapool. No, I'm absolutely sure you'll do so.
    I was astonished reading the problems to find a new job. I keep my fingers crossed for you! All the best to you and your daughter for 2011.
    It would be great to read one day: our next blogger is Stephen Keeler!

    Felicitas, Germany

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Stephen!
    I read with attention the description of your eco-house, it seems to me a wonderful place to live, just imagine the spectacular view which I'm sure it brings you the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature. Congratulations Stephen!!

    About the group you have joined,congratulations too!! I searched on internet and I found a beautiful poem "Ullapool -The Book Festival that Makes a Difference", I should say I liked it!
    I wish the best for you and your family.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Stephen
    How nice is to hear from you , First of all happy new year 2011 and congratulation for your moving and lucy 's first Job ! I can't believe she is going to graduate next June ! How time flies …. The view of your kitchen is really breathtaking …. If I live in such a place I will feel I 'm always in holiday …Lucky you !
    I wish the best for you and dear Lucy upcoming accomplishments
    Pary from Iran

  • Comment number 11.

    I do really envy you.you've got a great house...
    have fun:)

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Stephen,
    the place where you live is beautiful. But if you cannot teach in Scotland, come here to the Czech republic - we invite all native speakers :-)
    Enjoy your travelling!

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi, Stephen,

    I'm so glad to be able to say a little hello. I remember you as a fabulous blogger! It was about I wasn't able to log in. At my FIRST erroneous attempt - I hardly ever nowadays take part in the BBC LE - the machine told me I was mistaken so many times that I was locked out and had to wait for 30 minutes before I could try again. And then, it was yesterday, I failed once more. - Nice to hear about Lu. I can't believe four years have already passed since she left London. All the best to her and you!


  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Stephen,
    It was about half a year ago. I had just come back from a holiday in New York, and I was searching the BBC for travel accounts, impressions, commentaries, anything to do with New York. That was when I came across the Stephen Keeler Column. I liked the style of writing so much, and I couldn't stop reading - until I had to - because there was no more, just that sad little farewell dated December 2007. I remember trying to find out if there was a book by Stephen Keeler but I couldn't find one.

    Sooooo, I fully agree with Felicitas above: What a wonderful surprise to see you again - even if, apparently, you are off again by now, travelling the world. Anyway, it's been a pleasure "meeting" you and I hope, you'll be back with more posts for us sooner or later. In the meantime I'll check out the website of the Ullapool Book Festival...

    All the best,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 15.

    hello stephen,
    i'm a new coment in the bbc learning english we don't know from befor each other but i read about your moved house first of all congragtulation your new house and very goodluck i like the panorama from window it's very beautifull and also your cheristmas decorations wishing a very sucsesfull life in your new place .

  • Comment number 16.

    Very happy to know you at the beginning of 2011.
    Congratulations on your moving.Really really envy your new house, so so so beautiful, hope i could get the same one when i reach your age. hehe.
    Hope see u here often.
    Happy new year to you and your family.

    Xin from China.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Old Friend

    Stephen. Long time no see. Our two girls started out their education together and they have since taken their separate paths. 15 or more years later there are so many tales to tell. I'm intrigued how you're getting on up there. I admire you so but would never want to be away from a large town or city, especially the cosmopolitan, bustling majesty of London. With laptop on my lap and Economist article Dec 10th page 55 I thought of you first and foremost. You've obviously left your imprint on me.

    Regards and Happy rural xmas



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