Sorry to keep you waiting…
It has been an interesting 10 days or so since my last post. I have gone from being so emotionally fragile (what’s new! I hear you scoff) that I doubted I could last the month, let alone the year; to being so utterly at peace that I am constantly smiling and bouncing around with a spring in my step.
Last week was my first full week of work (the 5th of January – the 9th of January) and it was completely and utterly a shock to my system. I won’t go into much detail… Because I’m trying to get past it. But basically, the school system is more like a factory here, fixated on exam results and reputations rather than engaging the kids and catering for the many diverse needs I have seen. Staff were cold towards me, children were an absolute nightmare, resources were scarce and antiquated; but it was all an experience I have learnt from, and will continue to learn from. Everyone warned me that kids in England would be a handful; wow, what an understatement. But the reality is, I do not blame them… I was bored and I was TEACHING – imagine how bored they must be ‘learning’ – a stream of worksheets, tests, wordy power points and rote practice; of course they’re going to write notes to each other, throw things around the room, cry, dob on each other and push and push and push the limits… I probably would too…
Everyone says to me, “oh but you can bring your own flavour,” and “yes, but can’t you try to change it up a bit and add some creativity,” but the type of CRT work I am doing means that I can be in up to 3 classrooms a day, covering various classes in the one school while teachers attend meetings, have their reviews or are simply allocated planning time. This means it’s next to impossible to get to know my children, and means I am often left with assessment tasks (which happen excessively regularly) and things that teachers simply need to get done. Which in reality means, no, I cannot really change anything. I have an hour to get specific tasks done and I need to do them.
Throughout the week, I found myself reciting the old serenity prayer;
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
It’s amazing how much strength this gave me. I believe I am now in such a better headspace because I have come to understand that sometimes, you cannot change the world. Even if that was my intent. I will continue to do the best for the kids in my care at any time, make it as engaging as I can, as entertaining, as fun and productive, but I cannot change the system here, and I do not have that right to. As soon as I accepted this, and viewed my job as an opportunity to make money to fund my (numerous) upcoming travel adventures, a chance to smash through one novel a week during my lunch breaks, and use it as an observational platform to make a list of things that I would never, ever want to mimic in my own pedagogy, I actually felt a lot of weight lifted from my shoulders… And just as well.. because this weekend I went on a road trip to Brighton! And really, really enjoyed it!
Brighton! What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful seaside town! After calling to tell me he was either out the front of my school or out the front of a prison, Andy picked me up after work on Friday afternoon (benefits of being a substitute teacher is finishing at 3.30pm!) and we miraculously avoided the hideous London traffic for the hour and a half drive South.
The hotel we stayed at was called Brighton House and it was simply divine. So sweet and antiquated. We dropped off our stuff and headed out for a night on the town.
There seemed to be some kind of China town street right nearby our hotel so after a quick Trip Advisor search, settled on one that looked fairly busy and ordered way more than was necessary. It was delicious! And! I finished off the meal with a magical fortune cookie that said… “Your dearest wish will come true…” Even though my dearest wish was to move to London, I’ll take it; and wait with anticipation for my amazing good fortune…!
After dinner, we decided to head to a Shisha bar that we had walked past earlier that evening. At Andy’s horror, they did not serve alcohol, but instead, I had the most sweet, delicious green tea I had ever had; more sugar than tea – just how I like it. Although it was probably 2 degrees, we sat and braved the weather puffing away for more than I thought I could, until we decided to move along to a local pub.
Walking along the main road looking for a pub… and all of a sudden, I hear the sweet, sweet melody of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ drifting down the street! I raced up the road to find the source of such soul reviving music and alas! It was coming from the Pub! I left Andy for dead and raced in, hands to the heavens, head back, screaming the words to my favourite song of all time, feeling in my bones like this was some sort of positive omen of the good things to come. Thank goodness there were others dancing along to the DJ or that could have been awkward, but it was such a perfect moment, I probably wouldn’t have cared if it was me against the world.
The next morning we had breakfast at the the BnB – it was so adorable, and I may or may not have had a chocolate croissant with Nutella for breakfast…
In the meantime, I received a text from Scott saying he ‘triple dared’ me to go into the water up to my knees… Pfft! Of course! I replied! Piece of cake! Turns out… If I thought the wind was cold in the UK, I had felt nothing yet! After breakfast we went to the beach where I pulled off my jeans, rolled up my thermals and made a half dash, half scramble over the pebbles to get this horrible idea over and done with… it was beyond cold. My legs were so cold they were burning and my toes were numb for the remainder of the morning. But. I did it. #yolo and all that… and I took some photographic evidence to take home to Scott… he seemed pretty stoked! Although he said he couldn’t really see the pictures cos he wasn’t wearing his glasses…
After my morning dip in the English Channel, we went to the Brighton Pier which was so quaint and pretty! Apparently the old one had been closed down and subsequently burnt out, but I thought that looked rather romantic and beautifully ghostly by it’s own rights… Here are some pics of the two.
And here is a pic of me as Gru for my brother, Stefan. He appreciated it as much as I knew he would. Classic.
I bought a ‘Brighton Rock’ from a little shop in the pier which is kind of like the lollies we would buy from Suga with the words “Brighton Rock” ingeniously written inside a white candy rod with a red exterior. Yum! Sugar! I also bought a packed of shortbread. Hey! I was in Brighton!
Following that we went shopping in The Lanes which was, as the name suggests, a cluster of lanes throughout a part of the town with beautiful shops of all kinds. We stopped at a place called Scoop and Crumb which had the most amazing menu of Sundae’s, Hot Chocolates, ice creams and other sweets. Here is Andy eating the Malteaser sundae. I didn’t choose it. And I didn’t eat any either.
The only request I had for when we went to Brighton was that I wanted to see Choccywoccydoodah… and Andy made sure I saw it! It was AMAZING… A chocoholics dream!
There were cakes made entirely out of chocolate, a gorgeous tea room for private functions, some kind of insane cafe with the most scrumptious delights you could image… it was just a dream! I ordered a white chocolate hot chocolate and got this monster… It was a first for me, but I was defeated, and could not finish it… Not a moment I am proud of…
I also had my day made when I saw a salted popcorn and white chocolate lolly stick… I’m not going to post that picture because I’m embarrassed at the idea of actually eating it all… It will happen. So heres some more pics of the shop instead.
Being quite a small town, we wandered around in the afternoon and found a local market which was quite a let down compared to some of the incredible markets that we have around London. But I did buy a delicious shortbread cookie (which I shared with Andy, OK!). We went past a Church and had a peek inside. The musky, churchy smell that is consistent with Churches from anywhere in the world made me feel instantly homesick, and we quickly hurried on.
From there, Andy wanted to take me to a local pub where Banksy had stencilled one of his famous art pieces on the side wall. It was amazing! In fact, the whole wall was amazing! The pictures do it no justice, but here they are. The colours were amazing and the accuracy of the facial features was mind blowing! I don’t know if Banksy did all the faces, but I believe just the cheeky stencilled police officers are…
That evening we went to dinner at a lovely tapas place and had cheeky pre dinner and post dinner cocktails. It was a lovely evening!
Sunday morning we decided to head off home via Greenwich because I had in my head that this was a must see destination in Britain. Turns out, it’s not. Don’t get me wrong; it’s lovely! And green and pretty and hilly. But the most exciting thing was standing in two time zones at once, and it turned out that even that was a slight anti-climax after the 9 quid entry… Anyway, I got my photos…!
And we hit the road again, stopping for a cheeky Dirty Burger in Shoreditch on the way home… This place is a MUST for anyone who likes onion rings… Those bad boys next to my burger? Onion chips…Wow…. Just, wow…
I was home in time to do my hair and nails for the week, and Andy got to watch the football game… Happy campers all round!
All in all, it was an absolute delight of a weekend. Andy was sensational company and he actually laughed at a few of my jokes! So now, hair and nails did and filling in my new calendar with all my upcoming trips (booking more trips by the day, thus the necessary purchase of a calendar), I am reflecting on a lovely weekend with much fondness and looking forward to whatever curve ball London throws at me this week. Finally, I am in the zone… I got this.