I had a friend in primary school who was the yin to my yang, the fish to my chips, my side-by-side-through-thick-and-thin, sister-from-another-mister BFF. When we left school she and her family moved to France, which seemed like an awfully long way away for two girls at the tender age of eleven. But we didn’t let this newfound distance between us get in the way of our forever friendship. We gobbled up every last penny of our parents’ phone bills, wrote long emails and colourfully decorated letters, and spent summers together lounging in the southern French sunshine and having adventures in the woods and hills of England.

One summer when I was visiting her, I’d taken with me The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares as a bit of holiday reading. I loved all that sort of teen fiction when I was that age, and I would read a few chapters every night and then fill BFF in on what had happened, so she followed the story as I read it. If you don’t know it, the book follows the adventures of four best friends who are about to spend their first summer apart. One of them finds this pair of old jeans and they discover that they’re a perfect fit for all of four of them despite their different sizes. They decide to share the ‘magic’ jeans between them over the summer, so that each girl has them for one week before sending them on to the next person. BFF and I loved the story, and decided that we wanted to do something similar. That week we went to the local market and picked out a little silver ring decorated with a Yin Yang symbol. We’d each keep the ring for a month and then send it enclosed in a letter for the other. Read the rest of this entry »

So I was milling around on WordPress today, reading random blogs, and I came across this interesting entry by Cathy at ‘Of Making Sense’. She writes about Google’s new image search, where you can start a search by linking or uploading a picture, and the results will come up with a list of visually similar images. I hadn’t noticed this fancy new feature before, so of course I had to try it out.

Here is what Google came up with when I uploaded a photo of myself…

Yes that’s right! Your eyes do not deceive you – Google thinks I look like Penelope Cruz! I also apparently look like various different men, a cupboard full of cables, and a dog. But hey – you win some, you lose some. My personal favourite in this series of results was this fella: Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve never been very good at the whole fitness thing. I’ll go to the gym and do a ‘work out’ that feels comfortable and doesn’t push me, I’ll barely break a sweat and then leave after half an hour. I’ve been to spinning classes and actually find them quite enjoyable, but mostly the ‘enjoyable’ part comes once the end is reached and I can go home, collapse and eat some saturated fat. Swimming is something I’ve always liked, although I prefer just to splash around and have fun rather than do fifty lengths.

Credit: Google Images

An unexaggerated representation of what I look like when I try to run.

But running

Running was not meant for me.

My brother is the complete opposite. He drinks those awful protein shakes, goes to the gym regularly, runs every day, and worse, has taken to dragging me along with him. Today we went on what has been our second run together, quite a short affair but with lots of ups and downs that made the whole ordeal pretty much horrendous. I have to admit, I did not try very hard today. Friday’s run was much more successful; although I almost gave up a couple of times, I did manage to run up the last hill home and felt quite good about myself by the end of it. But today I got a burning, stabbing stitch on both sides almost immediately after stepping out of the house, and it made me ask myself: why? Why do people put themselves through such pain? Swimming is easy. Power walking is fine. Cross-trainers aren’t the worst things in the world. Spin class I can just about bear, even though it’s one of the more challenging exercise classes around. But there is something about the act of running that is just painful, horrid and unpleasant and makes me want to die. Read the rest of this entry »

So here I am, with a new blog and a website that is (ever so) slowly piecing itself together. The real blogging part of this site will begin when I go out to La Réunion and start work as an English language assistant for another year, but I just thought I’d post a sort of introductory something here to begin with.

As I sift through all of my old lesson plans, handouts and notes from the year I spent as a language assistant in France, I’m becoming more and more excited about the prospect of doing the whole thing over again. Remembering the lessons that went well and the games that were a huge success is making me ache to get to Reunion now and start teaching right away. But one year on, with my experience in France now a fairly distant and fond memory, I know that I am of course looking back through rose-tinted glasses. Not every lesson went that smoothly. Not all of my students were angels. There were the Friday classes in that horrid collège in La Fare des Oliviers that I would absolutely dread every week for fear of once again having to deal with students talking on their phones, ripping up each other’s work, throwing things at each other and at me, walking in and out of the classroom as they pleased… Then there was that one group of nasty 3ème students at Joseph d’Arbaud who made everything I ever tried to do with them a challenge. There were boring classes where I didn’t have such a free reign and had to sit through exam practice and help with dull homework tasks, and there were classes where I sat in and ‘assisted’ teachers who just didn’t know what to do with me. Read the rest of this entry »