Saturday, August 13, 2016

Atop the fell, into the tarn.

Ever since I moved over here, my (now) husband has been insisting that there are mountains in England. Despite his obvious earnestness, I always felt slightly skeptical. The area around where we live is so....flat. Where were these mountains? Why hadn't I seen them? 

The prospect of being able to hike and explore without having to leave the country intrigued me, as one of the things that I had mourned the most when making the decision to move was the loss of the vast and varied geography of the states. 

You can see why, then, when we decided to spend our summer in the UK and, more specifically, in the Lake District, I was immediately excited. I had heard so much about this part of the country - the network of footpaths being the definitive pinnacle of English "walking" (basically hiking) experiences, while the landscape has provided inspiration for many poets, authors and artists - most famously, William Wordsworth.

I wanted adventure and, well, England delivered. Adventure and beauty and much, much more.

This was day 1:

Overlooking Coniston Water.


Acting a fool in the tarn.

The Lake District is breathtaking no matter how you choose to explore it, but it certainly is an advantage to have some locals as your well as your most gracious hosts and superb chefs. 

How spoiled we were. 

More photos to come.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I wish to be in the West Country.

What could possibly be more - more relaxing, more romantic, more the embodiment of summer than the little towns that sit beside the sea?


That is the answer you were looking for. Absolutely nothing.

We hadn't planned on visiting the seaside during this holiday, but the sudden remembrance of an annual party and a last-minute invitation to the coast were all that was needed to spark an impromptu trip westward. 

First to Bristol - all sloping streets and ancient docks - where the modern and historic intertwine and one feels a certain kinship with pirates.

Then onto Devon, which I am becoming more and more convinced is actually one of the best bits of England. 

Driving there is like navigating a labyrinth - zipping around narrow, winding roads, each turn like a secret avenue leading to an unknown destination. All of this bordered by trees that tower over and lean in to form leafy green tunnels, only finally opening up to reveal rolling farmland, peaceful villages or the impossibly vast and spectatcularly blue ocean.

My, oh my! I had forgotten how much I love the West Country. 

Oh joy and peace and everlasting summer bliss! If I could, I would never leave.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Cue the late morning sunbathing and midweek barbecues.

What a fabulously sunny couple of weeks we have been having over here! I'll admit that at times I have been disappointed with English summers in the past - too much rain, not enough heat - but the sun has obviously decided to make up for it this year. The timing couldn't be better either as it has coincided perfectly with the end of term and onset of the summer holidays - cue the late morning sunbathing and midweek barbecues!

Photos taken whilst on a Sunday walk in Panshanger Park.

Yesterday was the last day of school, so as you can imagine I am feeling ultra relaxed today. While I have a lot of grand plans and ideas for the next six weeks, I am trying not to rush things. 

The immediate 'To Do' list looks a little like this:

1) Drink coffee

2) Catch-up on my favorite blogs

3) Stroll through town (if I can be bothered)

4) Drink more coffee

5) Lounge outside

6) Lounge inside

I'll let you know how I get on with it ;)


Thursday, July 14, 2016

A memory, a hope, and some vows.

Summer fields.

Almost a month since I have posted anything here! 


And not even a traveling holiday to blame it on. Just pure, ol' fashioned busyness and life getting in the way, as per usual.

So, what has happened since then?

Well, I officially saw my Year 11s out in style - first with a fabulous prom (if I do say so myself) and then with a fun and emotionally charged Leavers Day celebration, which involved not enough brownies to satisfy 60 teenagers, one million selfies, and a speech during which I just barely managed not to cry. [That was my own, by the way, and I am not good at crying and speaking at the same time...or looking would not have been good...]

#notme #itsokhanna

In the midst of all of that I was starting to work with the group that I will be taking on next year, when they go into Year 8. It's been a pretty quick transition during which I have already had the opportunity to meet quite a few parents, accompany some of them on a field trip, and hand out multiple detentions and reports for misbehavior (give me strength). 

Funnily enough, I seem to get these looks of pity any time I confirm that I will be working with this group next year. I know that they have a bit of a reputation around the school already, but really, it's not all that bad. 

I have known for a while now that I would probably be taking these guys on, so I have been getting to know as many of them as possible over the last couple of months and really, I like them. I definitely anticipate new challenges and a reasonable amount of stress, but I'm looking forward to working with them and really having a chance to help mold them into little citizens of society. I am hopeful.

In non-school news (because I swear I really do have a life outside of my job) this gorgeous pair got married last weekend! 

Their sweet ceremony took place in the quaintest, little village church, which just also happens to be (get this) the final resting place of one Dame Agatha Christie.

They went to town with the reception which was 1000% them and included Spanish-style tapas and Paella for dinner, a three-tier pork pie "cake" for late-night snacks, and a round of very organized, karaoke-style sing-alongs, led by a bride a groom duet.

How cute are they?!?! 

And if I thought that Leavers Day was going to be the most emotional event of the year, then boy did I have another thing coming. Guys, I cried so much! I cried at the ceremony, I cried at the speeches, heck, I welled up at the rehearsal the night before. It was an emotional day and I wasn't even the one getting married. 

People keep saying that it's once you have kids that your emotional sensitivity heightens, so i don't know what my excuse was, but I was right there with the tissues and the sniffling and the running of mascara. 

'Twas a joyous day, albeit a long one, and an adventure in a new part of the country for me. In fact, traveling for the wedding made me really excited to explore more of the UK this summer. Since we have been on a few, big vacations recently, we have decided to keep our holiday low key. There are so many places that I have yet to see, so many places that I had written off when I thought I was moving back to the states, that I jumped at the opportunity to stay local. 

We are looking forward to a few adventures and new delights, but mostly to some quiet rest and relaxation. Through it all I plan to take lots and lots of photos and to keep on building up the memories, and of course, I vow to do my best to keep posting along the way. 

[Note: I said "do my best". I don't make promises ;)]


Sunday, June 19, 2016

The countdown.

Probably exactly one year ago today. Father's Day in Frankenmuth.

Five weeks left of school. Five weeks left of school. Five weeks left of school.

Five weeks is nothing, but when you were bred in the American school system where having enough time to fit in multiple sessions of sleep away summer camp is a national priority - it still feels like too much.

Despite my eagerness for the summer holidays, it also feels so strange for this school year to be coming to an end. Just five months ago I was walking into my very first day there with (let's be honest) no real idea what was about to come at me. Now here I am, five weeks away, saying goodbye to the ones that taught me how to do my job and thinking about how I can transfer that to the ones that I will have next year.

Five weeks looks a bit daunting from my current perspective, but I know that it is going to fly by in a whirlwind of final exam papers, prom dresses, enrichment day activities and weekend school trips. Then there is the extracurricular stuff - summer parties, wedding events, family gatherings - and Netflix has just released the new season of Orange Is The New Black, soooo there's that.

On top of all of this, if you didn't know, the Euros are on at the moment - which basically means that all things come to a screeching halt at random points during the week in the name of football. 

There was a big England-Wales match on Thursday at 2pm and in order to accommodate this our school shortened all lessons by ten minutes, so that we could finish the school day early and put the match on a projector screen in the main hall. It was a bit chaotic and the students were difficult to control. A group of Year 8s stormed the stage at the end when England scored the winning goal in the final two minutes. 

To be fair, it was a good match.

Five weeks to go and a lot to reflect on. This time last year I was: 

- taking the kids that I nannied for to play at the splash pad in the park
- desperately searching for a day coordinator for the wedding
- trying to figure out whether or not my husband would be allowed into the country in order to attend said wedding
- spending Father's Day with my family in Frankenmuth, Michigan
- borrowing books from the Grand Blanc library and making regular stops at Ziggy's for ice cream
- lying out by the pool in our apartment complex for probably one of the most dedicated tanning seasons I've had in years
- enjoying life...

...just like I am now and yet so much is so different.

Five weeks to go and I am going to do my very best to make the most of them. 


Sunday, June 12, 2016


"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely of places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                                                           - Roald Dahl

Iceland. Finally. A trip that we have been dreaming of for years was able to come together thanks to time, opportunity, and our wonderful travel companions. Iceland has been gaining in popularity as a tourist destination in recent years and it is so easy to see why. 

Iceland. The land of black sand and waterfalls. A tiny country whose glaciers and volcanos have written history and sculpted the earth. Where puffins roost in the cliffs and lambs frolic in the fields, and you can walk, drive, or swim between tectonic plates. The landscape seems ancient, the sky hand-painted, and the mood ever-shifting with the clouds and the sun.

Icy winds and steaming pools. The muted grays and greens of the fields punctuated by brightly painted houses. Tangible science and unearthly beauty. Iceland is a realm of contradictions perfectly blended into a harmonious balance of fact and fiction that is embodied by the culture of its inhabitants.

Many choose to visit for the geology and that has a majesty all of its own, but you do not need to understand the workings of the Earth in order to appreciate what Iceland has to offer. 

If you've ever dreamt of floating away on a cloud, if you've ever wished that you could be sucked into a storybook land, if you believe in magic - then Iceland is for you.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

"Everything man sees...

...he takes for a toy."

This book was recommended to me a few weeks ago by a fellow fiction-loving friend. Coincidentally, I had already purchased The Miniaturist from a local charity shop, and so I resolved to read it as soon as I had the chance. 

The novel is about Petronella; a young and newly married girl living in 17th century Amsterdam and learning about the dark complexities of life. The story is unique and immediately engaging, exactly as I was promised.

As ever, the opportunities that I have for quiet reading and reflection are few and far between, but each time I manage to find a moment, The Miniaturist greets me like an old friend - familiar and exciting all at once, as if I'd never set it down.

Also this week.

Birthdays. I am 28. My students were shocked to learn this. Thanking my family for the genes that allow me to produce such astonishment.

Moving on. Beginnings, endings, and the underlying panic of suddenly finding oneself in the midst of a long-awaited transition.

Spring. Flowers. Alternating brilliant sunshine and rainy chill. The persistent itch of hay fever.

Looking forward to all that is on the horizon.