Upon reading the discsussion couldn't help but reflect on my experiences teaching in England and what I observed of the children (and their parents) there.
Two general themes seemed to run through the comments, the first being a discussion of the idea that thuggery amongst British youth is worse than most other nations because of a lack of any serious consequence for poor behaviour or even proper parenting, whilst the second revolved around the ethical ramifications of corporal punishment (spanking).
Unfortunately, these discussions tended to be really simplified and only touched superficially on some of the major issues that affect British youth. ( Read more... )
What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the issues presented here?
No steak, no BBQ, no cider, NO PARTY. I've celebrated Canada Day better in the UK than I did my first one back! Bloody hell! The folks and I WERE invited out, by my uncle, to a party at a riverside cabin. THAT would've been entertaining, but Mom refused on grounds I've still yet to understand. So we had pizza; that's okay. Now, though, everyone else is watching TV.
If I had bloody access to a bloody vehicle, I could have gone out and ensured that we had the required BBQ stuff (along with sufficient booze) to at least have had a decent BBQ. But I can only carry so much on a bicycle, especially given it's a half hour ride through hot weather from town to home.
My folks don't seem to realize that it's important for me to celebrate these kind of things. To them, it was just another day with very little important to it. *sigh*
To me, having spent nearly four years away in a land where I endured so many hardships, Canada Day had extra special significance and I couldn't celebrate that as I truly wanted to.
Well, I've got one hard lemonade left. I may as well go drink it.
Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks!
I hope your celebrations go better than mine.
How is it that, in just two short bike trips, I've seen far more pheasants in Eastern Canada than I had ever seen in well over three years of living in Britain?!?
I'm looking forward to the train journey, though. It will be nice, relaxing and a pleasant way to get some private space for a while (I'm getting a bit over socialized). Besides, travelling by train is one of the few things I'm going to miss about living in the UK.
And, hey! I'll get a few hours stop over in Montreal! Tres cool, non?
But the goodbye that took me by surprise was to the city of London itself. On my way to Aylesbury, I paused in London to get a few snaps of Teddy with Big Ben and a few other sites, as I had yet to take any photos of him there. It was with a bit of sadness that I walked along the Thames, realizing that this, perhaps, would be the last time. It was then that the city itself granted its own goodbye. As I walked by the London Eye, I discovered that the mindnumbingly long queues that were ALWAYS present, the ones that look like they lasted hours and, thus, kept me from ever going up in it, were NON-EXISTENT.
A short time and £15.50 later, I was aloft in the London Eye and treated to a stunning view of the city. It was amazing to be able to see so many landmarks from just one point. Turn one way and you can see St. Paul's Cathedral and the 'Gherkin'. Turn another and both the Parliament buildings and, in the distance, the Battersea Powerstation can be seen from above. Yes, many pictures were taken, including some with Teddy. *grin* Those will have to be added to the growing list of photoblog entries that I need to sort out out when I have the time to do so. It brought back a lot of memories of my many gleeful explorations along the Thames and the city streets. My experiences of that magnificent city will be a treasure I will always hold in my heart.
As I left London by train to return home, I whispered 'goodbye' to the city that I realized that I had come to love, despite whatever else that has happened to me in the rest of England. And I promised myself that I would one day return; a final farewell would be just too heartbreaking to endure.
As for the quest for shipping tubes for my didges, I've had some ups and downs. I wasted a hell of a lot of time trying to find postal tubes wide enough for my largest didge, only to have no joy until I stepped into a carpet shop and salvaged a section of carpet roll tube. I repaired that only to discover that the small didge actually DOESN'T fit inside the larger one as it looked so clearly like it would. ARGH!!!
Fortunately, getting tubes for that one will be MUCH easier and, after consulting with the shipping company, I know I can tape both tubes together and count it as one 'box'. What a lot of hassle! Worse still is how much it's going to cost me to ship them to Canada. However, shipping the two will cost about as much as buying ONE in Canada (okay, actually the States and having it shipped to Canada) and that's without having any idea what it would sound like. Feh! At least I now have the added excuse of fetching some postal tubes to go to Rochester.
I'm looking forward to that; there's both a large Norman castle and a cathedral to check out, as well as some funky shops. And it's all conveniently located to make for a quick phototour, so I can come home in plenty of time to, you guessed, pack some more.
And if I should finish packing early enough? Well there's all the coursework that still has to be marked. Blech! Fortunately, the year 11 class I have are not the strongest of writers and, hence, not the most prolific, either, though they seemed to have tried a lot harder this year than I've seen them do last year, bless.
Yep, tomorrow Rochester, Friday London, Saturday Germany. That's just getting a wee bit action packed! And, yes, I know I get back Wednesday, but THEN I need to make a weekend visit to Aylesbury to see some dear friends of mine up there.
And let's not forget the coursework marking...
Ah well, my need to escape is still great. The other day, whilst shopping in another town for appropriately sized boxes and questing for a postal tube long enough for my didges (I will have to resort to buying two smaller ones and putting them end to end), I was chased back into a train station by a large (and ugly) pack of thuggish yobs, some of which I recognized as scum associated with the worst we've permanently excluded from my school in recent years.
They were carrying large piles of fresh snow (a novelty in southern England) and decided I'd make a great target for snowballs. There was about seven or eight of them, in their late teens. Many of 'em were large enough to be a substantial threat to me (and I only just now thought about how many of them were probably carrying a knife) and they were behaving in an aggressive and malevolent fashion. Sensing that a confrontation could get very ugly very quickly (these were yobs of the lowest order), I ducked back into the train station, not realizing that some of them would actually throw INTO the station itself and, whilst I tried to get a train staff member to phone the police, a number of forcefully hurled snowballs followed me. I would say that, fortunately, the English have lousy aim with a snowball, as I was never struck, but sadly, an older woman got struck in the head.
Fortunately, the presence of CCTV cameras in the station (which they seemed highly aware of (previous experience?)), as well as my rather loud demand for the attendent to phone the police, seemed to deter them from further nastiness and the thugs moved on. I last saw them in the high street near the station, where they proceeded to hurl snowballs at cars and whatever else they could terrorize. The train police were phoned, but I didn't stick around to see if they showed up or were able to do anything about them. I left the station in the opposite direction and went about my business whilst I still had time remaining. I completed my box shopping without further incident, but was glad to make it back to my own village.
Ya know, I should have talked about the dinner after the unpleasantness that preceded it. I could then have ended this post with a pleasant thought. *sigh*
Oh well, nothing to be done for it but to get on with my preparations.
I should be, but I'm strangely melancholic. This is odd, as I tend to try and mark this particular holiday in a special way, but, this year, I feel too apathetic and down to try.
Now, I've little real reason to feel this way. Afterall, I've just begun five days (four day weekend plus one day inset) away from the little wretches who've been really getting me down. This has also reduced the length of my final weeks with them. Furthermore, when it comes to the theme of rebirth, I think my life will greatly reflect that when, in just about a month's time, I finally emerge from the 'winter' that has been my time teaching in the UK (or at least trying to), to return to my homeland for a spring spent recuperating and rejoicing in vast natural splendor.
Ya know, just typing that out made me feel a whole lot better! Okay, whinge mode = off. I think a number of reasons why I was feeling down include the fact that I've little planned in the way to celebrate the Spring Equinox (I really should be out burying an egg somewhere), I can't really do any running yet (as my back is still bothering me some), missing a phone call from my dear one, and, likely the most influential of the four, I was probably just emotionally decompressing from the terrors of the last few weeks.
I think I'm gonna get bundled up and wander out anyhow, Easter hours, bad back, and nasty wind be damned. Gonna see if I can find me some Easter chockies. Maybe I might even climb a hill somewhere and spend a little time gazing at the green returning to the land.
Blessed Ostara to all!
This is sufficiently Easter-eggy, innit?
This has kinda bubbled up a lot of feelings for me and I'm feeling a little bit emotional about it all. I'm still processing...
There's going to be some sadness - I'm leaving behind good friends I've made here, likely forever.
There will be regrets - things I wish I could've done, having been so close, but they were still just out of reach.
There will fear - again, I leave the comfort of the home I've made myself here to walk into an uncertain future.
There will be tension - as I scrabble about to get things sorted before I leave (and there are many).
But there will also be relief - I'm leaving behind that which has been slowly killing me emotionally, spiritually and even physically.
And, finally, there will be joy - I'm coming home.
Mama, I'm coming home
Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come but I ain't the same
Mama, I'm comin home
Times go by, seems to be
You could have been a better friend to me
Mama, I'm comin home
You took me in and you drove me out
Yeah, you had me hypnotized, yeah
Lost and found and turned around
By the fire in your eyes
You made me cry, you told me lies
But I can't stand to say goodbye
Mama, I'm comin home
I could be right, I could be wrong
It hurts so bad it's been so long
Mama, I'm comin home
Selfish love yeah we're both alone
The ride before the fall, yeah
But I'm gonna take this heart of stone
I just got to have it all
I've seen your face a hundred times
Everyday we've been apart
I don't care about the sunshine, yeah
'Cause mama, mama, I'm comin home
I'm comin home
I'm comin home
You took me in and you drove me out
Yeah, you had me hypnotized, yeah
Lost and found an turned around
By the fire in your eyes
I've seen your face a thousand times
Everyday we've been apart
I don't care about the sunshine, yeah
'Cause mama, mama, I'm comin home
I'm comin home
I'm comin home
The rest of the photos to be found at: http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y220/Ca thartesAura/Calais/?albumview=grid
I do apologize to anyone who has been eagerly awaiting this post; recently I've been getting a lot of pits from the bowl of cherries that life is purported to be, but I'll get into that later.
First, allow me to describe my second day of adventuring, in which I hopped a ferry from Dover, England, to Calais, France. It started off quite reasonably with stuffing myself with a tasty English fry-up, followed by a brisk morning walk to the ferry. Sadly, it was still misty and cloudy, so there were no great shots of the cliffs to be had as we sailed away.
I have to say, after many merry memories of sunny afternoons spent on the broad, open observation decks of BC Ferries, those of Sea France rather decidedly sucked, especially given that the tiny patio area that passed for an outdoor observation deck was frequently filled with smokers desperate for a fag, killing off any opportunity to appreciate fresh sea air, not that the cold wind and mist made it any more pleasurable. From outside, only a vague idea of what was happening outside could be gleaned through the film of water deposits that crusted the windows.
I was rather amused to discover a Space Invaders game in the video arcade, though.
The ferry ride took much longer than anticipated though, teasing me with a view of the French beachside for about half an hour as the ferry sat in the harbour waiting for its place at the dock. Between that, and discovering that there was a one hour time difference that everyone neglected to tell me about, my day in Calais was a bit shorter than anticipated.
My next consternation came as I left the ferry terminal building to discover that the next bus to town would be about forty minutes in arriving. Thankfully, I'm not adverse to walking, and after taking a minute or two to get my bearing, I predicted, quite accurately, that it would take me a hell of a lot less time just to walk into town from the terminal and I promptly left behind the group of folk despondently settling in for that long wait for the bus (What's wrong with your feet, people?!?)
Many architectual delights awaited my camera lens and I spent a great deal of time snapping and striding from one place of interest to the next. I got some delightful shots of Teddy with the Town Hall, which has a most impressive clock tower. Other nifty subjects of the shutter included a roundabout topped with topiary shaped like a peacock and many attempts to capture the little public busses that can only be described as "cute".
Realizing that I was running out of time, I opted out of checking out the hypermarkets, which tend to hold the interest of most English visitors to Calais. I've since been told that I haven't missed much in that regard. 'Course, if I had gone, I might have actually found some souvenirs to purchase, something which was strangely lacking in the shops of this port town.
I took in a nice meal in an actual French cafe (Le Cafe de Paris, no less!), which included a decidely French appetizer I had not had since I was a child, escargots. And, yes, I sipped une cafe at le cafe.
My final visit in Calais was to the beach. In Dover, the beach consisted entirely of small pebbles without a grain of sand to be found. This, I discovered, is because the French stole all the sand for their own. The beach of Calais was a broad expanse of fine, clean sand that formed dunes in the wind. When I say clean, I mean CLEAN. I imagine it might be different in the summer when this beach is likely cram packed with beachgoers from a variety of nations, but, during my visit, I saw nothing of the usual flotsam and jetsam found upon beaches, no driftwood, no seaweed, no partial remains of any critters, save a singular pretty clam shell (cardida?) that, due to its very uniqueness of presence on this beach, was an offering from it to me (as there weren't any rocks to be found, interesting or otherwise!).
I eventually made it back to the ferry terminal where, upon attempting to enter the British Customs area, I was nearly given a heartattack along with the proclamation that my passport had expired. GLAH!!! For some reason, I thought I still had time on it, but, apparently, as scrambled as my brain was before the holidays, I mixed up my driver's license expiry date with my passport expiry date. Fortunately, the customs officer was really good about it and, after checking out my (still valid) entry visa and asking a few questions about what I was doing in England, he waived me on with signed declaration and the emphatic advice to get my passport renewed post-haste (got the photos shot yesterday). Yep, THAT was excitement I didn't need!
THEN (yes, there's more) there was the last second panic over not having a proper boarding pass. Apparently, I was supposed to have gotten from the lady at the counter when I arrived at the terminal (my return ticket wasn't good enough?), but I didn't know that, as there wasn't anyone AT the counter when I had arrived some time earlier. This time, though, I wasn't alone in this bit of stupidity, as many folk had to race back to the ticket counter for their boarding passes. Yerg!
Add to that a choppy, and subsequently nauseating, ferry ride and a couple hours of train ride, and you've got one very exhausted Vulture arriving home late and very glad to see his bed. Thus ended an otherwise lovely couple days out. Oh and hey, I've now set my feet upon THREE continents! Yay me!
As I mentioned earlier, I would have got this post out sooner, but the last couple days at school have been utterly exhausting (wretched hellspawn!). The creative energy just to even write a decent blog response has been quite lacking, let alone something like this. I am exceedingly glad I put in my notice for the end of this term; it's going to be a test of my mental fortitude just to last THAT long. I've only been teaching two days and I already feel as physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted as I did before the break began. Ugh! Fortunately, there's going to be a lot of breaks inserted here and there, including an inset day next Monday and an Easter long weekend, to help stave off insanity during my last remaining weeks at this school.
Here's a link to the photos I took of the Bronze Age Boat Exhibit at the Dover Museum:
You'll see some shots of the portions of the boat they were able to recover, as well as models and recreations showing how the boat and various Bronze Age tools and weapons were created. I've also included a pic from the display of stuff found by the Metal Detector Club. If some of the shots don't appear so clear, keep in mind that I shot all of these in inclement lighting conditions WITHOUT the use of either a tripod or flash. The boat ones, in particular, were a challenge as, even leaning the camera against display cases, it was very difficult to hold the camera steady long enough for the prolonged exposure times. Overall, though, I'm quite pleased with the results.
You can find out more information about the boat and the rest of the exhibit here:
Lookee! Finally, photographic evidence of Teddy's existence in England! *chuckle*
As PDC has been messing something fiercely with all of my files, I won't bother going through the hassle of posting the rest of the photos here, only to have them disappear. Instead, I'll simply point you in the direction of the apppropriate photobucket page, found here: http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y220/Ca thartesAura/Dover/?albumview=grid
On Wednesday, I hopped on the train to Dover. Between the fog and travelling in depressions, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot to see during the trip. Fortunately, the town of Dover itself was reasonably visually rewarding, with building styles from a variety of eras. The avenues of the town were lively and colorful, though not overcrowded, and it was with eager eyes that I walked along.
As I had been a little too relaxed getting going that morning, I arrived in Dover with time to either tour Dover Castle, or to hike the cliffs, not both. To the disappointment of some, I imagine, I opted for the latter. Afterall, whilst I do enjoy architecture and history, I am, at heart, a child of the wild, and the hills beckoned to me.
The walk to the hiking trails carried along the beachside, again, delighting my vision. It was good to commune with Mother Ocean.
The hike itself was vigorous and carried through light bush and pastures. My eager camera sought many splendid vistas from the top and hillsides, as well as getting visually intimate with a number of odd rock formations and plant life. On a distant hill, through the haze of light fog, I could make out Dover Castle, spawling out like an iguana sunning itself on a rock.
On my return to town, I then walked out to the end of the Prince of Wales Pier, though, sadly the potentially stunning photos of the cliffs from a distance were thwarted by fog.
My meanderings carried me back into town, where, with just enough time left over before closing, I visited the Dover Museum. Of particular interest to me was the Bronze Age Boat exhibit, which featured the remains of possibly the oldest sea going vessel so far discovered. It was likely built over 3500 years ago and shows some particular ingenuity. I also learned some interesting stuff about how to smelt bronze using a fire pit furnace and bellows, how to cast bronze tools, and how to attach said tools to wooden handles. (Yes, this kind of knowledge is pretty much useless in the modern era, but, hey, along with my knowledge of pit firing ceramics and bits of survival trivia, it might come in handy in a post-apocalyptic world! ) I also learned about how there used to be five major ports that were of major strategic importance up until the fourteenth century when changes in the coast led to the complete silting up of all but Dover, which only remains a port due to extensive efforts to keep its harbors clear over the centuries. And, finally, I learned that local metal detector club has found some really neat crap over the years.
My little educational excursion over with, I bought some Subway (I was reserving finer dining for the day after) and headed to the bed and breakfast I had reserved a room at. The room itself was a little tatty at the edges, but it was warmly decorated, featured a double bed, and (JOY!) had its own toilet and shower, a somewhat infrequent occurence for such places.
I spent the remainder of the evening chuckling at Family Guy: Blue Harvest, on DVD. If you're a fan of either Family Guy or Star Wars, it's worth watching. Where else are you going to see Stewie as Darth Vader making comments such as "I sithed my pants"?
Afterwards, it was off to bed early to have a good start on the following day's adventures.
I do so enjoy Sundays like this, when there's no pressure of tomorrow to worry about. I can sleep in, stay up late, be as lazy or as active as like, and just enjoy the day.
And I have!
Today, my lovely other read to me from her favourite novel wherein the author spoke of her childhood passion of gathering stones. These stones, as the author claims, only tell part of a story; they serve as a mnemonic.
Whilst this was being read to me, I could not help but smile at the little stones which adorn my altar. How true were her words!
Other events of the day include receiving my grocery order. This, in itself, isn't exactly a thing of great importance, really, but, to me, stocking the larders full has a reassuring effect upon me. Perhaps this is an echo of times when my larder has been much, much more bare and macaroni and cheese was a luxury to break the tedium of ramen noodle soup.
As mentioned in an earlier post, one joyous highlight was discovering a means of getting my feet upon Europe with little hassle and expense. In some ways, I look more forward to the upcoming short visit to France than I do about April's possible week long visit to Germany. It has a lot to do with knowing the language of the place I am visiting and the independence that grants. It means I can wander as I wish, something I fear I might not be able to do so readily in Germany. Hmmm... I must make sure to walk the beaches of Dover, in England, and Calais, in France; perhaps I may be able to find a few new stones to add to my stockpile of memories.
Today also saw a decent, and thankfully uneventful, run of about 2.5 miles. Perhaps I should have done a longer distance, but I was feeling mildly under the weathe and didn't want to push it. Besides, methinks I might be better off doing more shorter runs during the week; doing six miles on the Sunday seems to take it out of me for the rest of the week. *chuckle* Yeah, I really need to work to get back to where I was.
And now, methinks, 'twould be a good time to say "good night."
Yesterday, whilst walking to the train station on my way to work, I noticed a number of familiar faces, normally seen on the train platform, heading from the station. This was a bit worrisome, as this usually indicates a train cancellation of prolonged length. This suspicion was confirmed when one woman stopped to inform me that it was cancelled as there had been a fatality on the tracks just a couple stations away.
Aside from being the start of a strange day that involved mock exam invigilation, a crack down after an incident involving firecrackers, and a surprisingly pleasant final period class spent with normally obnoxious year 8s, this incident served as a omen for me. When I heard the news, I couldn't help wonder if it was someone who had committed suicide. It wouldn't have been the first time that throwing oneself in front of a train crossed my mind as a solution to much of the grief I've suffered during my time teaching here. Yes, I've had some pretty rough times over the last four years.
But those are soon to come to an end! Today, I handed in my notice for the end of April; I am now officially a short timer! I just have to count down the weeks now. Already, I can feel parts of my psyche beginning to decompress! I still have to sort out all the logistics of shipping my butt back to Canada, but that's now a 'sooner,' rather than 'later.'
Today, though, I was struck by coins thrown from a passing SUV whilst I was running. The coins were thrown hard enough to bruise. A youth from inside yelled "Asshole!" as they drove away.
What infuriates me the most is that these little shites will get away with it. I couldn't make out any details of the faces inside, nor could I get the license plate number. I'm currently awaiting a visit from a police officer so the details can be taken, but I know there just isn't enough to find these fuckers.
How the hell am I suppose to live in this country if I have to be looking over my fucking shoulder wherever I go?!? I may be putting in my notice tomorrow; I don't think I can handle living in this country much longer.
And those places? They consist of pretty much every one horse town in central British Columbia and a few beyond. Perhaps part of the reason I took to the small living space of my flat in the UK so readily is because much of my childhood was spent living in trailers (larger caravans, for you Brits), mobile homes, townhouses, and even hotel rooms. I don't remember exactly when we actually moved into my parents' home in Prince George. I think it may have been when I was around 10 or so. However, we never stayed in it much, as Dad's job kept pulling us elsewhere and everywhere. The house served more as a 'base camp' to which we would return to on weekends and between jobs. It was only after my first year of high school (a psychologically disastrous one for me) that my mother insisted that she, my brother and I had to remain in PG.
Few of my memories of any of these places are at all fond. As the perpetual new kid, along with sporting glasses and being a butterball, I quickly developed a strong distaste for local populations of rednecks early on in my schooling. By the time we truly settled in PG, what social development I had was pretty much stunted by nearly a decade of intense bullying. I may have spent more of my life there than in any other one location, and, indeed, it is even the city of my birth, but it ceased being 'home' for me long ago and, instead, became a prison from which to escape.
That escape took place in my early twenties when I left for Victoria, BC, to attend art school. Victoria was a whole new world for me, filled with wonder, beauty, and culture. Surrounded by Mother Ocean and filled with many hidden treasures, I felt an immediate and deep connection to this place. The move to Victoria reflected more than just a change of geography, it also marked my transformation from bitter ex-Catholic to a life-reaffirming Wiccan, as well as the first steps towards becoming a teacher. It was Victorian soil that saw me blossom spiritually, educationally and socially.
In part, being separated from the only place I ever truly considered 'home' was one of the reasons why my first year teaching in the UK was so traumatic. (Of course, the sheer wretchedness of my first pupils played a MUCH greater part.) The irony that I was moving from place to place following the work, as my father had done (and still does), did not escape me.
For all the trials of teaching here, all the tears, all the trauma, the UK has seen a lot of my development, professionally, emotionally, and even physically, albeit much of that in a 'sink or swim' capacity. I've even come to enjoy the last year of my existence in my cozy little flat, the only place I've ever occupied entirely by myself. I will miss it, and the farms, and the trails along which I run. I will also miss the wonders of London and other amazing parts of Britain that I have, and yet to have, explored.
I'm certain my journey through life will take me through many other incredible places. Aside from the UK, it has already seen both coasts of Canada, a couple of stays in Toronto, visits to Washington State and California, and even two months in South Australia. Along the way, my fascination with problem of personal connection to space has manifested in an astounding collection of photos, some of which are the only thing that can say "I have been here." I'm certain I will add many, many more photos to that collection (and to that of my heart shaped stones) before I finally come to 'home.'
Another fact of existence in England was brought to the forefront of my awareness this weekend. As I went about to the shops and did my running in a T-shirt and shorts in the middle of January, it was again affirmed: English winters are PUSSY!!! (What can I say? Any opportunity to proudly display my Canadianity... )