Friday, 22 June 2007

Another workshop in Marcos Juarez........ 2nd June

So they proved to be gluttons for punishment and once again I was back in Marcos Juarez. I arrived late as we'd had to face two lots of pickets near Rosario, burning tyres in a line across the main roads the flames burning bright in the night sky. But all the GIRLS were there waiting for me and we went straight off for dinner.

The hotel was lovely and friendly just as it had been last year and they make the best pot of tea in the whole of South America. The workshop was full and we did lots of active work on Stand and Deliver.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Oh for Oracy! in the City of the One Eyed Deer

In Spanish, the name is Venado Tuerto and it's a good 6 hour trip from Buenos Aires. Ana and her colleague, Federico of Irish origin, met me at the bus station and promptly took me for a wonderful, much needed beer, followed by big lumps of juicy steak and malbec wine. Hotel fine and up early for breaky to get to the venue early in case of tech probs. But e.thing fine. Lovely old Sarmiento School, now the Teacher Training College. Somehow there were 75 ppts and they ranged from TT Tutors ro trainees, not yet qualified. They all wanted to participate so we had a busy, fruitful 6 hours, working on the oral skills and finding lots of games to promote speaking exercises in the classroom, for all the different age groups and levels.Nellie, from Bookie, who was the main instigator ( and a Man Utd fan, unfortunately! ) was her usual lively self and a good time was enjoyed by all. I think we all learned something too!

Sunday, 13 May 2007

In Talca, Chile

The IATEFL conference, the first in the provinces of Chile was a truly lovely affair.Andrew had pushed for a good while and finally he got his way.Over 150 teachers attended the 1st Regional Conference,in Talca, Chile,2007. I was honoured to present the plenary on Strategic Interaction with all 150 who joined in and worked very hard. Then I jumped in and out of all the workshops and did the closing, followed by the raffles and wine in the patio.
Thanks to IATEFL, Chile and the British Council, Chile, for inviting me.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

MY sort of surprise visit to Sausalito to see Alan

As my usual January visit had been put off due to the Hornby School job in Brazil, I did not go to Sausalito to run the trails with my brother, a tradition we had sort of established over the years since we met on 4th May 1995 after 22 years WITHOUT CONTACT! So.......I had decided I'd go in Feb.....then I went to UK for the funeral. So we are already almost in March so we didn't really know what to do.

Alan was ill, maybe with an uncured Lyme disease. I was frantic and not sleeping due to too much catching up and NO BREAK from work since Jan 2006 so we said" Go for it"

I realized I could make a space to be there for his 63rd birthday and that would be the first time I'd spent a with him for 40 years! So he sent the ticket, I jumped on the plane and there I was for 3 weeks of running in the Springtime in gorgeous Sausalito!

Starting the Academic Year in South America

Returning to a Buenos Aires summer after snow in the UK was really weird. I always say I love the sun and the heat but the snow had been so much fun and that snuggling down in front of the telly and the fire is such a pleasure in the UK.

It was super to get back to big slabs of tender meat and full-blooded Malbec wine but we all missed the Indian curries which are such a feature of Leicester and considered, now, to be the national dish of England! At least Chicken Masala has become the most favoured dish in the UK, way, way beyond fish and chips!

So much for learning about English culture and imagining it might be stable!

So work cranked in..... thousands of unanswered emails, lots of arrangements to be made for conferences, on line courses, consultancies, writing for various publishers, BBJ concerts, footy matches and all those things we do which have to be scheduled outside the usual routines. back to freelance work; Mick back to school and BBJ; Sarah back to college, school and BBJ and Jamie back to selling full time, translating, inserting subtitles in English for DVDs and winning all his matches in the new footy league.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

A new hobby for James

James had become interested in photography over the years and decided to buy a pro camera. This is one of his first photos against the beautiful backdrop of the first snow of 2007 in Leicester.

Jamie's first experience of falling snow

Imagine arriving at Heathrow, London , in mid-winter from Buenos Aires, Argentina, in mid- summer.

100ª F to 40ªF in 24 hours.

They said it would Jamie put his alarm clock on 4 times in the night to check. I awoke at 5.30 am to the sound of silence, with the snowdrops falling and the roofs covered in white. What an amazing experience, and one even more appreciated after years in th East, Middle east and the Mediterranean.
Pic of J and I having our first snowball fight !
Me at 56 and him at 27 !!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Home and ready to start 2007!

What a strange beginning to the year! Exhilarating in Brazil on the Hornby School, then sad and miserable but hopeful in the UK at Dad's funeral and then three weeks in Sausalito with a sick brother.

I'll start with the funeral and Leicester in the Winter:

Well the funeral was " lovely" with Mick's Mum celebrating a lived life and refusing to mourn death. We had always called her " Captain Marjorie" and this was the epitome of her captainness. She is almost blind, and walks unsteadily with a caliper and her trolley bag but she could hardly push that thing behind the coffin into the church............. So we supported her, one of us on either side, and she walked with a smile, nodding in her dignifierd manner to the "full to the brim" church. It was all so comforting to her and she sang the hymns as we all tried to do so without our voices breaking through the tears.

It was the first funeral of a close relative our own children had attended and they had many Qs about protocol which we tried our best to answer.

People came from near and far and it was a really warm feeling with the Vicar, David, and his assistant, Lorna, performing a gentle, personal and real ceremony, summing up Dad's life in a
humorously sweet speech at the pulpit.

The cremation was equally dignified and the buffet party with sweet and dry sherry was full of love and admiration for Mum and a recognition of how she had looked after Dad for about 50 years during his various illnesses. Her determination for him to pass away in his own home was realised despite the long battle and Mum felt rewarded for her efforts.

She was so determined to be " cheerful" that she passed this on to us all and we all rejoiced in life rather than death.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Getting to England

Well, we finally got here. At least the three of us. Sarah will follow on later directly from Sao Paolo as she is on holiday there ( In Paraty) with Guillermo.
We left Buenos Aires on Tues 6th after days of frustration, trying to get flights and trying to finish work, in Temps around 94+ and arrived at London HR,7th Feb in temps of -5 with a promise of snow on the following day.

We arrived in Leics to find the house well prepared with a new sofa in place of Dad's huge hospital bed, the fires on full and the place all cosy with vases of flowers everywhere and cards of sympathy from all over th world. Dad was certainly a loved man.

Mum was upset on seeing us, but soon became the Captain Marjorie we know and love so well, putting on a brave front and making it clear that " John would not have wanted us to be sad. Just let's celebrate a life lived to the full. I'm not going to let everything go". And she certainly is living up to her promise so far.

We are reminiscing, remembering all the good times, working out the funeral service and the music to be played and seeing the solicitors this afternoon.

It's snowing again but that's a story for tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Bad news from Home......

Today we received the news that Mick's father had died. We had been expecting this but, somehow you can never be prepared for the shock that it actually happened. We felt we were so far away and wished, of course, that we had spent more time in England.

He had been bedridden for seven months and Mum had insisted on having him at home and keeping him as comfortable as possible. She did a great job and soldiered on despite her 85 years and her own infirmities. We are full of admiration for her determination and wanted to get flights home as soon as possible to help her with all the arrangements. Unfortunately, it being high season, we could not find any seats with any company for the next few days. We are a bit desperate and trying to do our best to get there and to stay as long as Mum needs us.

Trying to catch up.......

Still processing the folder, the ELT community site, the technology, all the notes and photos from the Hornby School 2007, I have not had time to do anything. Plus The Performers is developing at such a rate that I am getting more and more work from them. Great! They are in Mexico just now and will be off to Spain next month. The new plays are super and the posters beautifully designed plus a bigger and better workbook for each level. Take a look on the website in the links on the right. If you want to become a representative for us in your country, do let me know.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

The Free-lance Fast Track moves into 2007

Deaspite my idea to rest at some time at end 2006 or early 2007 I was urged by my pollito, Sergio Mobilia, to apply to be a tutor on the Brazil, Regional Summer School 2007, directed by Rod Bolitho.
Initially, I refused as I "always" go to run with my brother in Sausalito/Mendocino.
However I was persuaded to put off my trip to the States and was appointed Tutor at the HSS 2007.
It was a fabulous experience.
To see all the details go to the link on the right.

I'm back now and trying to get my head around all the work, the contacts, the relationships, the projects, the action plans but most of all the regional friendships we made through our passion for teaching. Everybody left with a determination to maintain links and I believe that it will truly happen.

Monday, 22 January 2007

New Year's Eve 2006

As many of our friends these days are Argentines, most of them went off to their family gatherings while we just invited a few of James' friends and a couple of ours. We had a delicious Argentine-style BBQ on our roof terrace made by ASADOR PAR EXCELENCE, Mr Fat Mick plus lots of exotic salads conjured up in the kitchen by yours truly and MASTER CHEF Jamie.

The fireworks were a big hit with the "children" and the grown ups too but we saved a few for Sarah and her boyfriend, Guillermo, for when they arrived just after we'd eaten our twelve grapes (Spanish style) and sung Auld Lang Syne in a circle with crossed hands, English style.

We continued to enjoy the city scapes lit up by hundreds of fireworks from families still celebrating well into the wee hours.

It was a quiet New Year for us but very peaceful and enjoyable.
Happy New Year to you all!

New Year

All the best for 2007!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Boxing Day in Argentina

Boxing Day in Argentina is not a public holiday. Everybody works so I had my private student for his last lesson and decided to make scones with him in English! He'd never cooked anything in his life but he was very happy to read the recipe, identify the ingredients, the equipment and follow the instructions and even happier to take a dozen scones to his Mum! Mick then convinced me that as we are really English we should take the rest of the day off so we went out for lunch on the riverside and generally lazed around.


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