Let's Get the Party Started!
Just a quick one to say HI and to try to get the ball rolling!
I just looked at the Teacher Blogger site to catch up with Helen's news and realized that it was time for the blogfest!!! Hope I'm the first to be posted! I missed the excitement of seeing my stuff on the Beeb's very own website! I also missed the interaction with you all!
We are all doing well and hope all you guys are too! I would like to get in touch with Amy who said she was coming to Turkey with her family. I would love to be your family's guide should you come to Istanbul!
PS. Anyone heard about Marvin??
posted on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 | comment on this post
Keeping the ball rolling
Hello everybody! Thanks to Simon for getting us teachers started... the student bloggers are putting us to shame! It’s lovely to have the chance to say hello again, even though it doesn’t feel like that long ago since I was blogging in August. Not much has changed since then except I’m feeling more settled in Frome and Louie and Oslo (my two boys) are of course just a little bit bigger. It’s Oslo’s 1st birthday on Friday! Crazy.
I’ve been doing some more freelance work recently, writing materials for teachers to use in their English classrooms. It’s quite creative and I like thinking about how to introduce language points and skills in a fun and interesting way… well, hopefully they’re fun and interesting! Fitting it all in around the kids is a bit hectic but I enjoy it so it's worth it.
We all went to Paris recently on the Eurostar train to celebrate our ten year anniversary. Actually, it wasn’t the anniversary of our wedding but ten years since our first “date”. Paris was fabulous, I’d never been there before. I think next time we might go without the kids though as it would be a bit more romantic :-) Here are a couple of photos for you…
Next week I’m going to Madrid to visit my brother and his family who live over there. I’ll be sure to post some photos and let you know how the trip goes. I’m going with my parents and Louie and Oslo – Ed (my husband) has to stay here and work… poor him! Actually I think he’s probably looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet, I know I would be :-)
It’s been great reading all your blogs and comments over the last few months, I’m looking forward to hearing from everyone this month. A big hello to the student bloggers I blogged with, Kiran, Adriana and Yumi, and of course everyone else too!
Okay, better go - the kids are literally bouncing off the walls.
p.s. Hopefully heading to Turkey next year some time Simon - I'll be in touch if we make it over there!
posted on Wednesday, 03 December 2008 | comment on this post
Christmas is Coming….
And where is everyone?!
Come on Stephen Keeler, come out, come out wherever you are... you've got a big fan base on this blog and I am one of them.
Great to catch up Amy, and Simon - if Amy doesn’t make it to Istanbul, we just well might so would it be all right to call upon your services too? :)
Well I just can’t believe it. Here I am in Sri Lanka with the majority population Buddhists and a sizeable number Hindus and Muslims and here we are at the beginning of December and the whole of Colombo is going mad for Christmas. Yeah, I know there are Christians too, but I just didn’t expect down town Colombo to start looking like Oxford Street one week into December! The supermarkets are sporting alcoholic hampers and churning out the oldies on the stereo. You know the ones… “I wish it could be Christmas every day..” “…lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you…” which is your favourite/most hated Christmas song? Write in and tell us. Hey, shall we do a survey – and end up with a top ten best and worst of all the commercial/traditional songs associated with Christmas? What do you think?
So, I was in the supermarket today with Pankaj buying ingredients for our housewarming party tomorrow night and there was all this bling and tat on sale and when we came out the roads were chock-a- block and it took us ages to get home and I thought to myself, this has all come at the right time for the global recession. Hmm. Will this push make us all go out and spend loads of dosh? It worked for me! We spent a fortune in the supermarket today.
Then, I felt so much in the party mood that we came back and put our tree up. I was a little worried because of Isabel but actually she has been amazing and is treating it sort of like a holy shrine and looks but doesn’t touch! She keeps gasping in awe of the fairy lights and putting her hand to her mouth and saying “wow”. I have to say, she is at a very cute stage at the moment.
Moving on… Hey guys I need some help. I am planning to make mulled wine for out party tomorrow night. I have looked on the net and there is a plethora of recipes and I just can’t make up my mind which one to follow. Has anyone got a tried and tested one they could let me have? You’re gonna have to be quick – you’ve got 24 hours to let me know. :)
That’s all for now. Looking forward to your recipes for mulled wine. Any news on Marvin yet Simon?
posted on Saturday, 06 December 2008 | comment on this post
Deck the halls
It’s Jo Kent here. I was teacher blogger during the summer of 2007. It seems like only yesterday! It’s great to have this chance get back in touch with you all. I’d like to say a special ‘Hello’ to my two student bloggers, Ha in Vietnam and Naheed in Pakistan. Naheed, I see you are blogging too! It’s great to be back in touch. What have you been up to? It was very interesting to see the pictures of transport in Pakistan, and I also read that you have started teaching yoga – that’s fantastic. Hey, maybe you can recommend a quick stretch that we can all do after we’ve been sitting in front of the computer for too long?!
I last blogged in January, and since then me and my fella Richard have bought a house together! It’s very exciting but also quite scary, as the mortgage is enormous. But, in for a penny in for a pound. We loved the house, so we thought we would go for it. We moved in in August and are all settled now, and are looking forward to our first Christmas in our new home.
Talking of which, I have been dusting off the decorations this weekend. Here in the UK, as in many places in Europe, we decorate our houses to make them look festive and cosy at Christmas. Some people may say it’s a bit too early to be putting up decorations, but they look so pretty that I like to have them up for as long as possible. And of course you have to take the decorations down by January 6th (after the twelve days of Christmas), otherwise it’s bad luck! So I thought I’d get cracking. I’ve taken some photos of the traditional decorations we put up in our homes – see below. You know I always like to give you nasty homework, so can anyone tell me the special names of these decorations? Answers next time!
posted on Sunday, 07 December 2008 | comment on this post
Great to hear from you Jo! Like Helen, I was wondering where everyone had got to. ‘Maybe they’re all busy doing their Christmas shopping’, I thought, or writing Christmas cards. Or maybe they’ve all escaped to the middle of nowhere to avoid the Christmas craziness. Speaking of craziness, why did I have both my children so close to Christmas? What were we thinking?! It is only now that I realise the folly of my ways. Here is what happens in our family:
November: my birthday (a big and important event of course :-)
December 7th: Oslo’s birthday
December 25th: Christmas Day
January 4th: Louie’s birthday
February 27th: Ed’s birthday!
One after the other! And with the stress of deciding what to do for New Year’s Eve thrown in there as well… total mayhem. So yes, yesterday was Oslo’s turn and I hope he will agree that it was a lovely, lovely day. We started out with a walk in the morning. The night before there was a really heavy frost, the heaviest so far this year, and all the leaves on the ground were crisp and crunchy with a beautiful rim of white frost around the outside. I tried to take some pictures but they haven’t done it justice. Instead I’ll show you a picture of the frost on our car, so you can see just how thick it was:
Then in the afternoon we had a little tea party for Ozzy and all his baby friends and their parents and his grandparents and even his famous canoe-paddling Great-Granny who some of you will remember from a post I wrote a few months ago. We had cake, of course, and pizza and sandwiches and fruit salad and balloons. It was fab.
So now that’s over I can turn my attention to Christmas. I have a feeling it’s going to require an almost military approach in order to get everything decorated, bought, made, wrapped, sent, cooked, opened and eaten on time. So far we are halfway through making our Christmas cards, having already missed the international deadline for post to arrive before Christmas :-( Maybe we should make them New Year’s cards instead. I’ve been having some trouble coming up with ideas for presents for Ed and my Dad. Interestingly, every thing I think of I think – ooh! I could get that for both of them! But somehow I don’t think Ed will be too pleased if he realises that they have both received exactly the same gifts, given that there are more than 30 years between them. Any ideas, dear readers and fellow bloggers?
As for Christmas carols, Helen, I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of them. Talk about being overplayed! :-) My absolute least favourite Christmas carol has got to be Jingle Bells. It’s so catchy it stays in my head for days, weeks, months on end and just as I’ve managed to stop singing it… it’s time for next Christmas and the whole things begins again. My top tip for Christmas carols, if we must have them (and I suppose we should really), is Elvis Presley. We have a longstanding family tradition of listening to ‘Elvis sings Christmas’ and somehow he manages to make them sound quite bearable.
Okay, time to head downstairs to help Ed tidy up after the party.
I’ll write more with news of my trip to Madrid, if not before.
posted on Monday, 08 December 2008 | comment on this post
Belated Eid Mubarak!
And belated birthday greetings to Oslo too. The party looks like it was a lot of fun, Amy. Wish I could have been there.
Apologies to all those who celebrated Eid on Wednesday. I meant to post a blog on that day but I was just too tired. I am having a timetabling nightmare. This is the last week of term and I have to timetable classes for 50 teachers – not an enviable task I can tell you. There is a part of me which enjoys the jigsaw puzzle of it all but now it has got beyond that point and I just want to get it finished but there are a few pieces of the puzzle for which I just can’t find a place. :(
Hello to Azra and Demir. Yes I do know where Serbia is and would love to visit one day. In fact I need to do a big Europe tour.
Simon, thanks for the offer. What about your favourite/most hated Christmas songs? And Jo too? Come on, join in the fun. Don’t be spoil sports! :)
So let’s have a look at the favourite songs so far:
• Jingle Bells (Nguyen Ho)
• Elvis Presley Christmas songs (Amy) – I love a bit of Elvis at Christmas too but I think my favourite Christmas crooner has to be Jim Reeves.
• Love is All Around (Sora) – I like this one too – mainly because I love that film as well. I have it on DVD, so I think we might watch again this year.
• Come All Ye Faithful
• Deck The Halls..
• White Christmas (YPW)
• Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (Tiasha)
Thanks to all for your Christmas greetings. Hey, my party went well. There was a good turnout and the last party die-hards ended up going to the beach and taking a dip in the Indian ocean. Not me – I hasten to add. I took a paddle but that’s all.
We (well, when I say we I really mean my fantastic housekeeper, Vasantha) made chicken curry and chick pea curry, Sri Lankan rice with leeks and carrots, and we had carrot cake and chocolate cake too. For those of you interested, the mulled wine recipe I used had the following ingredients:
• Cabernet Sauvignon wine
• Brown sugar
Delicious but lethal! Work was tough the next day as the last people left at about 3.30 am!
I am off to finish my Christmas cards now – they are not home made like Amy’s but I bought them at a Christmas fete I went to the other week, in the name of a good cause.
Bye for now and sorry no pictures of the party – I was just too busy playing host! :) I am going to our office Christmas party on Sunday evening and I promise to take pictures of that for you.
Words/phrases from last entry
Chock-a-block: extremely full; crowded
Sporting (v) - displaying
churning out - To produce in an abundant and automatic manner
bling – flashy, ostentatious decoration/jewellery
tat – cheap and vulgar items which demonstrate tastelessness
dosh – slang for money
plethora – excess/overabundance
posted on Friday, 12 December 2008 | comment on this post
In for a penny, in for a pound
Hello, everyone! It’s Jo again here. Isn’t this great, being back in touch again?! Naheed, thanks very much for the yoga instructions. I like the cat stretch; it feels really good for my lower back. I don’t know a lot about yoga, but I like the way all the positions have such evocative names, like downward dog and tree pose – it makes it easy to remember what position you need to (try!) to get your body in. I think you’ll make a great teacher, Naheed. Thanks also for you pictures of Mecca. Do you hope to go on the Hajj one day?
Ana Paula, you poor thing! I hope you get the results you want in your exam. Leila: How much light do you get at this time of year, exactly? Here in the UK at the moment it gets light at about 8 a.m. and dark at about 4.30 p.m. Cris: it’s great to see decorations going up on the other side of the world!
Which reminds me, I must give you the answers to my homework. Well done to all those that tried, and Filippo – you were 99% right!
This glittery decoration is called tinsel. /ˈtɪns(ə)l/
This is a Christmas stocking. We hope Santa will fill it with lots of goodies!
This is a candle, sometimes called a votive candle.
These shiny round decorations are called baubels. /ˈbɔ:b(ə)lz/
And the lights we put on Christmas trees or in windows are called fairy lights.
Thank you for all your kind wishes about my new home, you are so sweet. Anita: The house is in a little village called Rake, near to the village of West Meon where I used to live. Mei: Yes, all the animals have come too and seem to like it here. Now that the central heating is on they hardly leave home!
Thank you also to those who asked about my God-daughter Sophie. She is two now! Next time I will post some photos from her birthday party – just like the one Amy had for her little munchkin – and tell you all about it.
Next I’m going to write my Christmas cards. Helen, can you send over a glass of your mulled wine? But before I go, Nesrine asked a very good question about something I wrote in my last blog: what does ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ mean? If I put the phrase in the following two contexts, can anyone work it out?
1) I decided to start exercising because I need to get fit. I thought ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ and signed up for a marathon.
2) I baked a cake. Then I said to myself ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, and iced it and decorated it too.
Until next time,
posted on Sunday, 14 December 2008 | comment on this post
Hello, everyone. It’s Jo here. I think all the teachers are very busy at this time of year – we have so much to do to get ready for Christmas: decorating the house, writing and posting cards to all our friends and family, buying and wrapping presents, shopping for food, and getting our homes ready for all our guests!
This year my Mum and Dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us, and Richard’s brother and sister-in-law will visit for Boxing Day. We’ll eat and drink lots, play games and watch TV. I‘ve made a special quiz to keep everyone entertained, and Rich is going to cook the turkey, since I’m vegetarian.
Last time I promised I’d post some pictures of my God-daughter and niece, Sophie, who some of you may remember was christened when I was teacher blogger. She is now two and walking and talking! Do you think she has grown?
And here I am with Sophie:
Last time I asked you all what ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ means, and most of you understood it really well. It means that if you decide to do something, you may as well really go for it and do it 100%, even if this costs you more in time/energy/money than you had originally planned.
So when planning Christmas dinner I thought ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ and bought turkey, potatoes, parsnips, ham, peas, carrots, stuffing and pigs-in-blankets. Plus cake, Christmas pudding and brandy butter! This, incidentally, is what we’ll be eating on Christmas Day.
I’m going to go now to finish wrapping my Christmas presents. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a great start to 2009.
posted on Monday, 22 December 2008 | comment on this post
Merry Christmas Everybody!
Well, thanks for the get out clause Jo, my excuse is that the last ten days at work all got a bit hectic. There was the office party of course, which I told you I was going to in my last post, then there were the numerous versions of the timetable I had to complete, the obligatory end of term meetings to attend and a rather lovely mince pie and mulled wine evening at a friend's house.
Here are some pictures of the office party. The theme was black and silver - which meant we all had to wear those colours and all the decor was done in black and silver. We all got our faces painted on arrival and were presented with a gift and a raffle ticket. Not bad eh? I won a t-shirt. :)
It was really rather good and I discovered the otherwise hidden talents of some of my colleagues. Here are some of them in the talent competition.
The band was fantastic. Most of them were teachers.
I was really quite proud of them. They did mostly cover versions of hits like “Talking ‘bout a revolution”, “Hey, What’s goin’ on” – a personal favourite of mine, especially to dance and sing to when a little squiffy. You know the one by 4 non blonds – here’s how it starts:
“25 years and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination…..”
To add to the list, I had the fortunate task of going to visit a dear colleague of mine in hospital. I say fortunate as that is the only way to look at it. He is lucky to be alive. He and a few others were driving back on the Kandy road on their motorbikes, when he skidded on some sand on the road and got knocked over by a lorry. He has a rather messy right arm which had to be operated on hours later in Colombo but the ordeal and the injuries might have been a lot worse. It always seems that amongst all the jollity of the festive season there is usually a note of sadness, whether personal or something more public like the Tsunami in 2004. Is it so, or is it just that anything sad that happens seems more tragic at this time of year?
On a more cheerful note, I got my Christmas cards off – just in time! How do I know this? – because I have been receiving phone calls and email messages yesterday and today thanking me for the card. What luck!
So, what are you going to watch on the telly this year? Come on, do tell – confess your most watched Christmas classic/festive film. Mine are A Bridge Too Far, which my dad always calls “a star too far” because there’s just about everyone working in Hollywood at that time in it, from Robert Redford and Steve McQueen to Anthony Hopkins and Sean Connery, and when I was a kid I never failed to see The Wizard of Oz. I think this year it will have to be Miracle on 34th Street or something equally awful. (That's all I've seen advertised on the local TV station. We haven't got satellite or cable). I might put on my DVD of White Christmas though. My favourite Christmas tale is A Christmas Carol – I love the book and the various film versions. Then again, may just forget the whole thing and go down to Mount Lavinia beach.
Whatever your plans are for Christmas, have a safe and joyful time. Turkey or no turkey, we all could do with a good dose of jollity. We will be thinking of all you bloggers and missing our families. I can’t get too maudlin though as my dad is coming out on January 4th and we will have a reunion then.:)
Cheikh Vall, sorry I can’t help you out there.
Tiasha, send me some of that date and pineapple chutney right now! Or at least the recipe :)
Anita, Cointreau is a spirit produced in France, made from oranges and is simply delicious. Sorry about the misspelling. Don’t know what I was thinking.
Fillipo, yes the wine did go down well. We used about 7 litres of it!
Words/phrases from last entry
• A good turnout – plenty of people
• Die-hards – those who refuse to surrender (or go home in this case!:))
• Taking a dip – plunge briefly into
• Took a paddle – wade, take a walk about in the sea with short steps (usually no more than knee deep)
• Lethal – deadly – metaphorical in this case
• In the name of a good cause – a valid or sufficient reason for doing something, a bit of a hackneyed phrase sometimes used tongue in cheek. You might hear people say it like this: “all in the name of a good cause I suppose” with a falling tone.
Happy Christmas Eve,
Best wishes to you and your families
posted on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 | comment on this post
Oh dear, I had hoped to be able to blog much sooner than this but unfortunately the kids and I have been struck down by the 'Frome Winter Virus' - apparently half the town is suffering from it so at least we don't feel lonely :-) Ed (my husband) is just starting to show signs of it but hopefully he won't be hit as hard as we were. We're on the mend now though, just in time for Christmas - hurrah!
Just to back track quickly, we had a lovely time in Madrid. My brother and his family don't live near the centre, so we only spent one day in the city at a park called 'Retiro'. Here are a couple of pictures from there:
For the rest of the time we hung out at my brother's house and the kids had a blast playing together. It was a great pre-Christmas treat.
Since Madrid, apart from feeling rather sorry for myself, doing more than my fair share of sleeping and trying to satisfy my cravings for vitamin-C rich foods and drinks, we've been busy like everyone else trying to get everything ready for Christmas. All I can say is thank GOODNESS we're not hosting either of our families for Christmas day, it really would have been a disaster with no food ready and the presents still not wrapped at half past eight on Christmas eve - eek! If only I could be as organised as Jo :-) We have managed to get our tree up though and it's looking fab. We're off to my mother-in-law's for lunch tomorrow - I'm so glad someone else is doing all the work.
Right, with that said I'd better get off now and see if I can locate the sellotape... last seen being chewed on by Ozzy somewhere in the kitchen.
Have a very happy Christmas, to those of you who will be celebrating, and to everyone, I hope you'll join me in wishing, praying, hoping for a more peaceful and safer world in 2009.
With very best wishes and much love,
posted on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 | comment on this post