Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Til September!

Hours are thin on the ground, the kids are tired of my educational games now and I am sick of the taking the metro with all the sweating stinking commuters packed in like sardines at rush hour. A appears in public without a jacket on. Even the blog wants a holiday.

This can only mean one thing. It's the end of June and I finish work this week and am heading back to the UK to make the most of my summer holidays/unemployment. If all goes to plan I should be starting at a new school outside Milan in October. Fingers crossed! It's been sad saying goodbye to people, but hopefully it will all be worth it.

On the upside I am really looking forward to seeing my family and catching up with old friends. Weddings and babies are the order of the day. Very much hoping the weather will let me adjust gently. I had to repack my suitcase when I realised I had been packing for a summer break in Madrid. Wishful thinking?

Bye bye A. I'll miss you! Don't get too sick of rice salad and pasta pesto.

Oh and don't forget to water the plants on the balcony AND inside the house. The basil needs watering once a day.

Ciao for now!

P.s. If you end up spending more than an hour looking at jars of pickles in the supermarket, then I will write you a shopping list, but only then.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


Last post I bitched about my new school course, but the upshot was that the next day I went back and clarified a few things and a couple of teachers said "hi" and it was all OH SO much better. I think some of these kids must have a very good English teacher. And I suspect they are actually English as the children's pronunciation sounds UK, (before they see the word written on the board anyway). What did they do that impressed me so much? 

Today we "went" to the zoo. They "bought" tickets and received a leaflet. I asked them to imagine what animals they might see.

Lion! Tiger! Giraffe! Snake! Elephant! Bear! Monkey! Zebra! Monkey! 

I wrote them all on the board and tried to elicit some more even if my imagination was running out.

One small boy put up his hand eagerly jumping up and down in his seat.


"It's already on the board, thank you."

"MUNKAYS! MUNKAYS!" called out another boy in unison.

I moved as if to move on. The monkey fervour was getting a little irritating.

"MUNKAYEEZ WITH 'S'" cried the boy again even more desperately.

Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiiight.Well, OF COURSE! What fun is a monkey unless it is plural?!

Monday, 13 June 2011

An Opposite Post

Here's how I started at my new school course today, except for fun, I am going to tell it in opposites.

I arrived at the school and went in (no wait, that bit's true). I immediately knew where to go because the head teacher was waiting to greet me. The head did not on any account leave a six year old to show me to my classroom, but took me there her/himself. On the way s/he pointed out to me where the toilets and entrance to the garden were and introduced me to some other teachers.

Upon arrival at the classroom the students were already there, ready with their books and pencil cases. I was introduced to the class and the class were brimming with enthusiasm for English, despite school finishing on Friday. Nobody was inexplicably absent and there was a professional adult to verify the addition of the new student to the class and the identity of the others.

I learnt everybody's names within in a minute.

I did not forget about my lesson plan.

Towards the end of the lesson some students arrived to fetch things from their classroom before lunch. They knocked on the door before entering and agreed to wait for two minutes while I finished my class. They waited patiently and shut the door after themselves. They were very polite about the fact I was in "their" classroom as they recognised I was a figure of authority.

When I finished my class my students waited patiently by the door until a member of staff came to collect them for lunch. I was not left guessing about the lunch time procedure while my pupils vanished into the distance.

I left in a calm state of mind with a satisfied feeling of being welcomed at a new school and a sense of some rapport established with my new pupils.

Then I went to lunch with A and ate tasty ice cream.

That last bit did actually happen. That's a relief.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

My Very First Italian Wedding

While I was a student I spent six exciting months in the capital of bureaucracy - Brussels. The bureaucracy was thrilling (not as sarcastic as you think), but my real reason for going there was to learn to speak French. I ended up with Italian house mates who had Italian friends so instead I got an Italian immersion and was doomed to practise French every now and again. Mainly in restaurants.

At the end of those six month we had to say goodbye, and while I intended to keep in touch with them, I foresaw a future based mainly on emails. But sometimes fate has a different plan for you, and for romantic reasons I ended up in Italy after all. Now I feel really blessed to have old friends in a new country.

This weekend my wonderful friend got married in the achingly romantic city of Verona (ignorance is bliss and so we shall choose to ignore Verona's xenephobic underside). The city hall is next to the Arena, which is a more complete version of the Colosseum in Rome. The reception was in the middle of the vineyards in the surrounding hills. The setting really was perfection.

And of course Valentina's boyfriend husband is a "bit of a legend" and so everybody was really happy they were getting married, including his crazy medic friends. A maintains that this is the proof of the old adage that people from Verona are crazy.

Veneziani grand signori,
Padovani gran dotori,
Vicentini magnagati,
Veronesi tuti mati.

The rhyme also says that people from Vicenza eat cats, so I don't think we can read too much into this. Besides medics as a profession tend to be a bit mental.

I digress.

It was a really beautiful day, the sun came out and shone and we escaped with only a thunderstorm. Apparently here though it is thought to be lucky if it rains on your wedding day. Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata. 

It was a very nice wedding too with all the things weddings should have, lots of food, wine, dancing, smiles and photos (I took my new 50mm lens and it worked a treat). I was a bit outraged that there were no speeches as I was really looking forward to someone dishing the dirt on the groom but they tell me it's not the done thing here.

I'll quit my jibber jabber now because I know all you really want to see is a picture of the dress.*

Auguroni to the happy couple!

*Note on the dress: I have been informed that cleavage and bare shoulders are a no-no for wedding dresses in church or at the town hall so that is why the bride is wearing a shawl in 29c.