Sunday, 31 January 2010

Nice Things

Beautiful things this week:

Steaming dumplings in a Tibetan restaurant. There's a calm music playing and no smoking is allowed; bliss in a country which has yet to impose a ban.

A shop called 'Nice Things' which I find pleasing. It is full of lovely, if quite expensive stuff. I buy a badge with a knock-kneed bambi creature on it.

Playing pool under a bright overhead light, and I feel a bit like I'm in the scene of a film. Especially when I pot several balls in a row.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Monday, 18 January 2010


I'm not talking about my own (hormones, that is) but those belonging to my class of twelve and thirteen year olds. Today they were hard work. At the moment there is a big gender split, which is making life in the language classroom difficult because certain girls won't work with certain boys to do pairwork. For the whole class there were insults flying from one side of the room to the other, sulking, sighing and generally some bad "filin" (bad feeling/vibe) in the air. Afterwards I left the classroom trying to work out when this group stopped being my favourite, but didn't reach any conclusions.

Later on, and I'm with another pupil who has one-to-one classes with me every week. She is at least 2 generations older than my teen students, and provided the perfect antidote after a rough class with them. She hasn't been learning English for long, but began telling me about what happened to her family during the Civil War, only pausing when she got stuck on verbs in the past tense. I was impressed by her progress, and moved by the story.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


The first warm-ish day this year yesterday, warm enough to be comfortable in a long-sleeved t-shirt. Quite a novelty after a month of having to wear several layers in order to go out (or be in a flat with inconsistent heating)

I join 2 friends to go climbing in some hills about 30 minutes' drive out of the city, and learn technical words for things that prevented us falling off the rock face, including the special shoes you have to wear that help you to grip. In Spanish they're called Pies de Gato, or 'Cat feet', which I liked.

We go to a restaurant famed to serve the best pizza in the world. According to who I'm not sure, but this pizza was definitely the most beautiful I have ever seen. The flowers were edible. I tried a petal, which had the texture of tender baby spinach and was slightly sweet on the tongue.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Monday, 11 January 2010


It was cold yesterday but not so cold I didn't contemplate walking down hill into the centre of the city. Note the word contemplate. After 2 hours of tea, toast, and John Irving in bed I felt ready. It took just over an hour and felt good.

Finding a place that serves Sunday brunch. We sat on stools at the bar and I had Eggs Benedict.

Getting lost on the way to the cinema and finding ourselves in the Parc de la Ciutadella, at the end I've never explored before. Clipped hedges, ponds, beautiful grand official-looking buildings.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Short week

Beautiful things today:

Teenage students moving noisily around the huge brand new wing of their school. The heating doesn't work yet and several things (lift, handrails, board rubbers) need to be finished and got hold of, but lots of the kids have new classrooms and this is adding to the first day back excitment.

Happy New Year, teacherrr!, a couple of students chorus when they see me.

Thinking about how it was actually quite nice to be stranded for an extra day in the UK because of the snow. I fell on my feet staying in a family-run B&B, where there were log fires and friendly dogs (and owners, who took me into town for a drink and made me feel very at home)

I could get used to weeks like this one. Today, my first day back at work, is my only day at work. Friday night never arrived so easily.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Winter Morning

In Herefordshire the last days of December 2009 mostly looked like this.