Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Monday, 20 April 2015

A musical interlude

On Wednesday this week and quite by chance, FR noticed that there would be a piano recital here in Alcala la Real on Thursday evening and he thought it would be a good idea to go.

I have to say, it was definitely one of his better ideas!

Icono de actividadesThe pianists were two had reached the second round, but not the semi-final, stage of the big competition that was ongoing in Jaen. This is the 57th year of this international and very prestigious competition, though I'd never heard of it before. There were 19 pianists at this stage and I think it is an excellent idea that the 13 that didn't reach the finals spent the next few days doing recitals in local towns in the province. These included concerts in Ubeda, Linares, Baeza, Huelma and our own town, where they came to the beautiful old building that is home to the 'Pep Ventura' Music Conservatory, part of the local museum.

We went with Ruy and Romy, and as we waited in a rather small recital hall with children aged between about 8 and 15, plus a few parents and some of the teachers, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As it turned out, we were in for a real surprise. The two young pianists - one Russian, one Japanese - played Prokofiev's 4th Sonata - quite a heavy work - and Ravel's 'Gaspar de la Nuit', a notoriously difficult piece, respectively and both pianists held us spellbound. I was really impressed with both of them and staggered at the level of their performances. These were two who hadn't reached the semi-finals....
I also had quite a cathartic moment when the Japanese pianist returned without too much encouragement to give us an encore. He played a Chopin Etude which I knew exceedingly well, it being a piece my ex used to play a lot. I honestly don't think I've listened to a live piano recital in the last 20 years since we split up and I couldn't quite contain the huge emotions it created in me. I cry very easily at music, always have, but this felt to come from very deep down. I hasten to add, I don't miss the ex at all but I do miss hearing him play - possibly more than I realised. It was a very powerful moment. Afterwards, I was able to speak to both musicians, though the Russian said his Spanish was better than his English, and to tell them how wonderful they were. I came home quite on a cloud.

And still on the cloud, I did a bit of research about the competition and found that the final was to be held the next day in Jaen. However, all the tickets had been sold...but a bit more digging uncovered the information that the winner of the competition would play a concert in Granada on the Saturday. It didn't take too much persuasion for FR to book us some of the very last tickets available. It is quite to our shame that thus far, we haven't taken our children to a 'proper' concert but this felt like the perfect time to put that right.

So we set off on Saturday evening, parked at the Alhambra, as you do and mooched down through the beautiful old streets next to this glorious Moorish palace to the Manuel de Falla Concert Hall.

It's not a bad setting to go and listen to music....

View towards an incredible hotel (centre) where my friends Denise and Jim stayed
when they were visiting last year.

Walking towards the concert hall - gorgeous colours as the sun starts to set

View of Granada

Lovely courtyard and yes, that 'man' in denim top left is Mateo....
(Our family is rather like a group of cats...they all wander off in different directions
as soon as they're given a second of freedom!)

As for the concert - well, the winner of the competition was a 16 year old girl from Canada, Anastasia Rizikov and she was going to play Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto. Only 16 - and the winner not just of the competition but also the two additional prizes for the best interpretation of Spanish music and also for contemporary music. We had a feeling she must be good.

I was so unprepared for the confidence and absolute mastery she had of the instrument. She was a consummate performer, showing not the slightest amount of nerves but communicating an excitement at playing. I don't think there would be anything she couldn't play and she deserved the fantastic response that brought her back to perform two encores,

You can't see much on this photo as I just wildly pointed and clicked just before she left for the last time - she's the little figure at the front in a red dress!

Here she is at the ripe old age of 12 - and if you check her out on YouTube, you can see why she's been performing since she was 7. Truly incredible talent. I can't imagine the hours of work she's put in and how incredibly musically mature she is. Maybe some people are just born to play the piano...

The rest of the concert was also lovely and we heard a modern piece, which I quite enjoyed for its orchestration but which didn't appeal too much to the younger members of the family...but they were impressed when, at the end, the composer left his seat in the audience to take a bow. And then, to finish, we had the glorious and uplifting Schubert 5th Symphony. The orchestra was excellent and the conductor, Paul Mann, a real pleasure to watch. (We were behind the orchestra and so had a really good view.) As we left, Mateo thanked me for 'forcing' him to go....he absolutely loved it. (I didn't force him really, but I told him not to make any other arrangements for the evening and it just so happened his friend was in town that day...visiting from Granada, ironically.)

And what could be better? Well, Romy's come home with the desire to start playing our electric piano and she spent several hours yesterday willing to listen to and follow my instructions and by the end of the day, had mastered the scale of C, both hands and two easy duets that we played together. I am delighted.

Note to self....MORE MUSIC PLEASE!!!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A promise fulfilled

Some time ago, although I don't actually remember when, I promised Romy that we could go to a funfair one day. For the day, not just a couple of rides when the fair comes to town. To a proper place.

The Easter holiday seemed to be the time to fulfill that promise. I have to say I am not a fan. FR is even less of a fan. Mateo has never really been a fan. But a promise is a promise.

So, yesterday, Romy, Ruy (who is quite a fan) and I set off in the morning to make the trek to the coast and Tivoli World. It's not a huge place and has no outlandish rides but it is the nearest permanent fairground to us and for fair-deprived children, like mine, it pretty much hit the spot.

Blue skies, palm trees and just the right temperature
Apart from having to submit to the incredibly inefficient ticket system, which, despite having bought our tickets online, meant we had to join three different queues and wait for a total of 45 minutes before the required wristbands were applied. These bands provided access to all but a couple of the attractions in unlimited repeated turns.

There was a little moment of being underwhelmed as we set off to explore but the park is cleverly laid out to appear much bigger than it is and many of the attractions are not immediately visible.

I won't describe all the rides...(phew, I hear you say) but despite trailing around after my children for about five hours, carrying rather more than I had intended, we had a great day and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Ruy reckons he had probably around 100e-worth of rides on the Dodgems....

Here's a selection of fairground photos - always colourful but especially nice when the sun is shining!

A nice gentle Jurassic tour to start the day...

Following a spin on the Roller Coaster.

Probably Ruy's favourite - dodgems!

Clearly here, it's called the Techno Jump..but since we've lived in Spain, we know it as 'La Rana' or the Frog. 

Not sure if I took this before or during Romy's spin on it...

A rather uninspiring photo of what was the best ride - the Aqua falls - this was just after the infamous soaking!

And yes, they went on several times! Dried off quickly in the sun though. 

And another treat - a kebab...both still soaking wet but unbothered!
And having driven all the way to the coast, we had to visit the sea. Benalmadena was too busy and difficult to stop in so we drove along the coast to Torremolinos. It's really rather a lovely place despite its reputation. I always like this long, clean beach where you can mooch along and find lovely shells.

I wasn't remotely tempted but my children did their usual strip and waded in without hesitation. They confessed it was VERY COLD!!

How Ruy is chunking out...his voice is on the verge of breaking and he spends his time shouting 'Harry!' in a brilliant copy of Ron Weasely's voice in the early Happy Potter films....(And of course, Mateo used to look exactly like Harry Potter so it makes us all laugh.)
Do you see anyone else in the water? Nope...not one. 
This was around 7pm and after stopping at Riofrio to buy fresh and still wriggling rainbow trout, we arrived home in the dark just after 9.30pm. We'd watched the full moon rising over the Sierra Nevada as we drove and noticed that the mountains already looked to have much less snow than they had earlier in the week.

Delicious fresh fish just visible on our makeshift barbecue.

I admit to feeling a rather smug good mother and wife. FR was waiting with a fire in the garden to cook the trout, the children were full of their day and I was quite knackered from all the driving, safe too in the knowledge that I've prepared a rather good set of clues for this year's Easter Treasure Hunt that my children love to do on Easter Sunday morning.  I even made some chocolates for them on Friday secret!
I went to bed feeling good.

The full moon from my garden

And just so you know, Barney is still happily sunbathing in the garden as I write ...he won't be dinner this Easter!

Happy Easter. Hope you're all having good holidays.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Sierra in the Sun

At last we set off as a family again!

This Semana Santa, or Easter week, has been blessed by incredible sunshine and a surge in temperature. What better idea than to spend a few hours in the snow before it melts away for the year. So, wearing what we thought was best for the weather and our intentions, including wellies, boots and suncream, we set off on Monday.

The drive to the mountains is always spectacular and the climb up (I don't mean this literally, we drove...) is ear-popping. There was enough snow left and we could see the skiers near Pradollano (the irony of the name always means 'flat field' in Spanish).

Mateo set off on a solitary hike, heading for the Observatory at the top of the mountainside, whilst Ruy and Romy raced down the hill on their sledges. FR supervised and encouraged and I poddled off for a coffee and to find the loo at the nearby hotel. Such is life.

I did climb up someway afterwards, though and got some lovely photos - more of the same from previous visits, I admit, but there's something so glorious about the mix of sun, snow and mountains that makes taking snaps irresistible. I think I had my proper camera last time but this time used my phone - and couldn't see a thing as I pointed and clicked, hence the occasional appearance of my thumb....oops!

FR and Ruy to the left and Romy disappearing off top right.
I shot a little video of the end of a race, after Ruy had already fallen off further up the hill...Romy was 'sportingly' waiting for him at the bottom!

Romy looking somewhat smug...and Ruy the opposite! 

I love this photo. Actually, I love this man too. 
As Ruy and Romy changed out of their wet clothes, Mateo emerged from his visit to the Observatory, which was, as usual, closed. Here are a couple of his photos from the top....surprisingly there seems to be less snow up there!

Snow Virgine

View down from the observatory - we will be somewhere in the crowd in the top centre, I suppose. 

On the way back, we took a little side road towards Monachil, a little village of Granada, rather than following the main road back. And what a fantastic detour it turned out to be.

From the rugged, snowy mountain, which is lined by pine trees as you descend, we made a couple of turns on the road and emerged from the pines into a lush valley that was more reminiscent of Leon than Andalucia.

Complete with cows and new-born calves.

The snow just a kilometre behind us...

But not visible from this valley at all!

And daisies! I don't remember seeing daisies in the past four years...
At this point, my phone battery died, so I didn't get to take any pictures of Monachil. It's a medium-sized village divided by a fairly substantial river and it didn't have a decent place to have a coffee or a drink at 4.30 in the afternoon....Apparently, it has a most amazing river walk with a long, narrow bridge and it must be this, rather than the lack of facilities, that draws so many visitors here.
I suspect that my ill-humoured recollections of the place could be due to the fact that we felt just too hot and sweaty to enjoy it. We had been perfectly dressed for the snow, but by the time we stopped in the village, the temperature had risen to 30 degrees (C) and we were all beginning to wilt. Indeed, Ruy, the next day, was definitely suffering from a touch of sunstroke despite the protection he had. And this was still March....

By the time we reached home though, after stopping en route for the necessary refreshments, we were all feeling more cheerful and agreed it was nice to go out together now and then. (Despite the sunstroke and the car being like a sardine tin and not being able to find a place to get some tapas....)

I definitely enjoy being at home.....

Sunday, 29 March 2015

When you find a little time....

Write a post.....

This is the first Sunday in a while that I've had a bit of time. Writing posts during the week is practically impossible nowadays as I am teaching every day, including Saturday morning, and by the time I get home, the computer has been well and truly taken over by one of my three.

Usually, on Sundays, I take Ruy to do archery and have a lovely, leisurely breakfast in a nearby cafe. I suppose I could write my blog then, but it would have to be on my phone and to be honest, this is very difficult. And as I get older and become more a creature of habit, then this time has become my tangling time....I can't imagine not tangling whilst I sip my coffee and crunch on my 'tostada con tomate'.

I'm loving my teaching hours - and now I have plenty - but am very glad to have arranged a week off. I find that I get a lot of energy from the teaching process but when I come home, I find I'm quite drained!  I have recently discovered that my teaching 'technique' has a name - Dogme - which basically allows a conversation to follow in any direction, using the 'journey' as the opportunity for learning. I do usually prepare something for my classes in advance but these are generally things that simply set the ball rolling and I don't feel the need to deliver exactly what I've prepared. This means we often talk about incredibly interesting subjects, even if some of my students find it difficult to express themselves well in English. But they are so keen to try that some learning is absolutely inevitable! And it gives them greater confidence. Even with my basic group, we've covered things like global warming, book and film reviews, solar and nuclear fact, life, the Universe and everything!

Barney is still with us as I write but as it's Easter this week, he may well be missing from our garden by this time next week...
Here he is looking rather majestic, if a little out of focus.

And another of him under his umbrella.

I recently posted a couple of pictures on Facebook and a number of people commented on how big Pip had grown...yes, he's a large dog! He's incredibly handsome and sweet natured but still has a tendency to jump up, particularly at me as he does love me so much. He's fantastic to take on a walk and never goes far from my side, which makes me feel very safe indeed. Here are a couple of him today, hunting a bumble bee in the grass...

And just being handsome in the sunshine.

We have some wonderful blue skies now and the blossom is well and truly out - even on our old and rather unproductive almond tree, seen here. The smell is, of course, wonderful - honeyed and sweet and everywhere. It is a most perfect time of the year.

Tomorrow, we're planning to have a visit to the Sierra Nevada to take advantage of the snow whilst it's still there and the days are warm and pleasant.

And later in the week, I'm hoping to have a trip to the coast, so maybe I'll be able to take photos other than of the sky, Pip and the turkey!

I have no problem whatsoever in the repetition of the days or even my numerous trips in and out of Alcala. I have reached an incredibly settled and happy period of my life and I'm just enjoying each day. Nothing can buy this feeling, I'm sure, and ups and downs do happen, so I don't expect it to last forever.
But be quite sure, my silence in the blogging world is nothing to do with wanting to keep quiet or out of sight. It's a sign that I'm really very busy being here and being happy right now.
(It's almost boring ... but not quite!)

Hoping to get another post in before the Easter weekend and also to start catching up again on all the lovely blogs that I like to follow. Take care everyone and may you have a very happy week - whether busy, sunny or otherwise.


Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Weekend in Scotland

Where do I start? Possibly at the beginning, but I promise you, smoke and mirrors are involved, so hang on for a roller coaster of a post...

I thought a visit to Scotland was an essential almost before Sam and family left Alcala la Real last April. I just needed the right 'excuse'. Romy's birthday in January seemed a pretty good reason and knowing that the cottage where the family now live is not big, I decided that we'd have a girly visit and just Romy and I would go. No discussion, no consultation. Even Romy didn't know and I booked the tickets in August last year.

It seemed to take forever for us to reach Romy's birthday in some ways. I'd let her know just after Christmas when she began compiling a 'birthday wish list' and I began to think it would be more fun to share the news so we could plan and anticipate together. It was a good decision and helped her to deal with the rather miserable actual birthday she had, 10 days prior to our departure. (She was ill, the one thing she really wanted had failed to arrive from Amazon....and we had said no party this year due to her visit to Scotland.) But she was brave and our excitement grew in the last week before our departure and Romy got better and I didn't catch her lurgy!

And suddenly, after all the anticipation (and the anxiety when I discovered her passport had expired...) we were on our way to the airport in Malaga for a very civilised flight at midday on a day of sunshine that promised to continue all the way to Scotland.

And sure enough, we landed in sunshine and Sam was excitedly waiting for us at the gate - and we were the first out! What emotion!! I was so anxious to see her again that I foolishly decided against delaying the moment and didn't stop at the loo on the way through the airport. Bad move! Anyway, we stopped at the Hilton Hotel on our way out and the man on the door there was very obliging and let me in in my moment of need.

We called in to see the dilapidated cottage that the Greers are hoping to rebuild and make their permanent Scottish home. It's just the other side of Perth from the village where they currently live and it was in a glorious spot with fantastic views. And a lovely piece of history in the garden - on old horse mill.  I don't know what was milled originally but these types of mills have been used variously as gorse-crushers, to provide animal feed, to mill corn, to crush apples or to raise water.

Plenty of work to do - but a glorious view to enjoy. Oh my, is Romy as tall as Sam?
 After this little detour, we drove on through Perth where I had the weirdest feeling of déjà vu despite knowing I have never been there - and it was a good feeling. I liked Perth very much.

It was so lovely to settle down with the Greers and to feel at home immediately. The girls disappeared off to....well, I have no idea, but disappear they did and I guess Sam and I didn't stop talking until we simply couldn't any more.

Saturday really did start sunny and bright so we set off for a walk in the local woods with Charlie in tow - Charlie is a little street dog from Alcala, who seems to have settled in quite well to her different lifestyle!

It was chilly as the ice on the river proves, but the sun was shining on us.

I think Romy will grow out of pulling this face for the camera. I hope it will be soon.....

(Mine, I can't help!)
After a brisk walk back, we got ourselves ready to go into Perth, where, second joy, we were going to be joined by a dear friend I used to work with and who was travelling across from the Trossachs (sounds good) for a catch up lunch!

Celia and I shared an office for several years and went through more than a few life events together and I was delighted that she was able to meet up with us. Absolutely brilliant to spend a couple of hours chatting and catching up and reminiscing. Thank you so much for coming to meet us, Celia!

After lunch was over - and it was extremely good - Celia toddled back to the Trossachs and we headed to Paperchase and TK Maxx for a little retail therapy. Everything I wanted in TK Maxx was impossible to buy....too heavy to take back to Spain in my hand luggage. (But I DID so want a big Le Creuset jug....a pink one....)  In the end, Romy and I spent quite a bit in Paperchase and were happy with our lovely but light purchases and I bought a beautiful new king size fitted cotton sheet, hotel quality, that I inevitably try and pick up with I visit TK Maxx. Can't have too many of those.

Photography wasn't allowed in the concert hall,
of course, but this was at the end.
They didn't have much room, but skated brilliantly
- very balletic and the Crow was incredible!
A quick visit back home to change for our evening outing to see 'Snow White on Ice' at Perth Concert Hall. This was Romy's treat and I wasn't expecting to be too excited but found I enjoyed the skating very much. The music was excellent and apart from an incongruous element....Rusty Lee (remember her, anyone!) dressed in neon pink and black, with wings, was the 'Fairy Reporter' who provided the younger members of the audience with a commentary of what was going on from time to time. Sam did get a little lost in the plot at one point which caused great hilarity on our return journey. I had to explain that the seven bearded skaters who appeared when Snow White was in the cottage in the woods, were, in fact, the seven dwarves...she'd got a bit lost in the plot. (It doesn't sound so funny but we did laugh such a lot in the car on our way home!)

The next day, we were up early and off to Edinburgh for our last day together. And although Sam insisted that she knows no one and has far fewer friends in Scotland than in Spain, everywhere we went, she bumped into friends and work acquaintances as she always did in Alcala...we even met and travelled to Edinburgh with one of her friends, who just happens to be Spanish and comes from Malaga! A networking genius, she is!

Edinburgh sported the bluest skies and coldest winds imaginable! As we walked down from the station along Princes St. we were treated to a man playing the bagpipes in full costume and with very chilly-looking knees.

We walked through the gardens and down to the Scottish National Gallery, where as well as taking in some lovely pictures and hearing many Spanish voices around, we left our suitcases for a couple of hours. Then we wandered off again and made our way to the selected lunch spot.

It was an excellent choice for five good eaters - Cosmo Restaurant, a 'Pan Asian and World Dining Banquet' - with an open buffet-style menu from many different countries and where you could literally eat as much as you wanted. It would take an age to recount all the different things we tried but I particularly enjoyed the squid, prawn and scallops that were cooked for me on a hot iron and the Lamb Rogan Josh that I followed it with...oh, and the slice of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding that I couldn't resist....and perhaps I should mention the BBQ spare rib that I nibbled on  as I perused what was on offer. And yes, I've come back several kilos heavier but for once I can say it was worth it!! As for what the girls ate...Romy and Izzie were utterly stuffed and Romy couldn't finish her cheesecake. That says it all. It's not something that I would want to do on a regular basis but for someone whose tastebuds are often a tad bored with Spanish flavours, it was such a brilliant experience. And we stayed warm and out of the wind for around 2 hours..

The final treat of the day - Romy's birthday, remember - after we'd picked up our suitcases, was a trip to the Edinburgh Dungeons.

Not originally the Dungeons, I was reliably informed that this venue was once a car park and then a night club. However, it had been cleverly transformed into a most scary place where Sam and the girls did a lot of screaming and I only did a bit.

It was well organised and there was lots of interaction and jesting and some historical information, as well as lots of shouting in strong Scottish accents, much of which I didn't quite catch!

We were at the back of our group owing to having the suitcases on tow and as a result, we had to wait to enter the final part of the tour - a 'this-is-how-it-feels-to-drop-when-you're-being-hung' experience I think it was - which we went on just the five of us. Photos were taken but I refuse to share the one of me at this point...not a good image and obviously I will be getting my roots done very soon as a result of seeing it myself.

This is a 'good' one of us all!

As we were shown out of this part, we were told to find our way out of a simple maze to the entrance hall. It was a maze of mirrors and - I guess because we weren't part of a main group any more - we were stuck in it for what seemed like an eternity. At the beginning, it wasn't too creepy because we expected to find our way out, but after five minutes or so, we became SO disorientated that at one point, Jazzy made a run towards Romy and almost knocked herself out against a mirror - splat onto the floor! It was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had!!

At this stage, I didn't know if I was coming or going...don't be fooled though. It's possible I was walking TOWARDS Sam when this was taken....hang on, who took this picture???

Brave smiles from four totally confused females!
Eventually, the next group caught up with us and within two minutes, the secret and hidden (honestly, I did look for it) door opened and there we were, back in the entrance hall. It was very comical and I will see Jazzy hitting that mirror and then the floor forever more, in a tangle of long gangly adolescent legs and arms and wild screaming. Luckily she wasn't hurt....but it would have been difficult not to find it comical even if she had. Sorry Jazzy! Be glad we weren't filming - you'd have been an overnight YouTube sensation!

And then, suddenly, our time with our friends was over! It was strange seeing them off - rather than the other way round - but they went to catch the train back to Perth, whilst Romy and I were heading off to a hotel near the airport. A fantastic weekend and confirmation that it was serendipity that brought both Sam and I to Alcala la Real, so that we could meet and become the friends that we are.

Romy and I still had a bit of adventure left before we got back home. A tram ride in Edinburgh for a start - and it was now dark, so it felt like an adventure - and finding our hotel. We managed, of course, and by 7pm, were safely ensconced in our room. And by 9pm, we were both fast asleep!! Good too, as we had an early morning start as our flight was at the less civilised return hour of 6.55am...groan! Needless to say, this too went like clockwork and at around 11am, we had landed back in sunny Malaga.

We really had a ball - notwithstanding losing my credit card at some point on our journey and arriving back in Spain with no cash, both of which I managed to resolve without a problem - and I hope we can do it again in the not too distant future. There's something really very good about having a girly weekend.....especially with great friends and with my wonderful, fantastic daughter, who is fun, brave and a brilliant travelling companion. Happy Birthday Romy!!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

I lapsed....

I really did intend to get back into blogging as we began the new year. But I am already sadly behind with reading those blogs that I love to read, written by people I now consider to be know who you are! I apologise and will get back to it post haste.

My excuses are varied and many but I won't bore you with all of them, only to say that January has been a time of preparation and thinking and it hasn't left me much time for anything else.

The preparation has been for two main things - one of which has taken place with great success - and the other which will begin properly next week.

First thing was the trip I had planned for Romy and I to visit our friends in Scotland. Ostensibly for Romy's birthday this year, I cannot possibly pretend that I thought it was the most perfect idea for both of us and I booked the tickets in August last year - and managed NOT to tell Romy until just after Christmas. She was thrilled, although we did have a minor hiccup when I discovered on 13th January that her passport ran out on 14th January. Despite FR's confidence in being able to get her a Spanish one through in time, when we got to the 20th I was beginning to panic and had had several recurring anxiety-fuelled toilet dreams - years since I had the last one! (Apparently, I am not alone in having this particular dream and I even wrote a blog post about but decided it was not the best idea to publish it!)

Sunny day in Malaga.....
All was resolved by a single visit to Malaga to the British Consulate, where her passport was extended for one year without problem. A very big phew.....

Sunny - and very windy! That's Romy on the beach causing a seagull riot!

And this is Riofrio, where we stopped on the way home to get fresh trout....
not directly from the river but from the trout farm here.
SO delicious!

Our visit to Scotland deserves a blog post of its own and will get one very shortly! We had a ball.....

And amazing weather!

The second thing that has been preoccupying me has been the waiting to start teaching again. A new Director has been appointed at the place where I teach and she is in charge of Human Resources, so my existing contact, the acting Head of HR has been deferring to her all during January and it seemed the English classes weren't high on her list of priorities. At least that's what I suspected.

Eventually, I was introduced to her and was a bit taken aback when she said she wanted to see that the classes were worth the money (not in as many words) and that she wanted the staff to take exams. I don't really like teaching where the main purpose is to pass an exam so I was a bit upset and concerned. However, several conversations later and finding that I really like this new woman very much indeed - she's great fun and very committed to English learning - and I now have a group of students who would like to take an exam. And I also have a group that don't want to; a group that don't need to and an advanced group that will take a high level of exam next year.
I am delighted and it's going to be just as much fun as it was last year, I can tell! I have started with one group this week and will get going 'proper' next week. And the teaching will be mainly in the mornings and early afternoon, which is fantastic as it means I can be at home with the children in the evenings. I'm feeling very good about it all. It's obviously been playing on my mind a bit because as soon as it feels sorted (now) - here I am blogging again!

FR has been very busy, with the help of a builder, adding the summer kitchen and a new storage place nearer the house, where we will put the freezer and make a bit of extra space in the kitchen. We have still quite a big mess and a lot of work to do in the garden but the hard work is beginning to give us an idea of how it might be - one day!!

Delivery of roof tiles. Can you see a difference...?

One day, all this will be sorted. One day. Just not very soon!!

Watch this space. There will be more, I can feel it in my fingers. Axxx