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Holidays and Shows

The months just fly past these days. I have been back at work for some time now but my summer holiday is still fresh in my mind. I spent nearly 4 weeks with my family in Spain and Portugal. To start with the weather was cool but it soon warmed up and, on one day in Portugal, it was almost 45C. We rented a lovely house with a pool but there was also a beach at the end of the road. Being in Portugal felt like going back in time. Lots of old buildings and churches, lots of cafes but not an internet cafe or a Starbucks in sight. Since returning to Singapore, the lovely Mrs B and I went to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ when it came to Singapore as part of its world tour. Then a colleague and I went to see ‘Hairspray’. Totally different stage shows but both were very enjoyable. The family are all thriving. 3 of my grandkids are now at school and 2 are at nursery which just leaves the youngest one to catch up on the others. I suppose he will always feel like that as the others progress through education. At my school just now we are preparing for UN Day which we are celebrating on Friday. I will be playing the piano for the songs the whole school will be singing in front of parents and invited guests. After our little show, everyone will tour the decorated classrooms and then there will be food for all. Happy UN Day to You All !

Happy New Year

Happy New Year All – I hope that 2013 will bring you everything you wish for ! Again I cannot believe how much time has passed since I last wrote a blog. On finishing my 2-year contract in Singapore, I was overjoyed when my boss said she would like to employ me for as long as the Ministry of Education would keep renewing my work visa. A good start – they renewed my present one until the end of Jan 2016 and, after that, who knows ? My 2 years here have been spent working very hard – long hours, 6 days a week. I love every minute of my job but I was getting really tired. Much as I love my family to bits,  each visit to them has been too many planes in too short a time and on the go all the time once with them. I also maximised each holiday by flying at night after teaching all day and being back at school the day after flying back. So I treated myself to a chill-out holiday and went to Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand for 16 days. The scenery was breathtaking, I met the friendliest and most generous perfect strangers I’ve ever come across and the hotel staff were just fabulous ! Three Australian ladies insisted I join them for Christmas dinner and a family invited me to join them for dinner another evening and wouldn’t let me pay despite my protests. The highlight of my trip was the day I went on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ location tour which included the places where that film, ‘The Hobbit’, all the Narnia films and ‘Wolverine’ were all filmed. A lovely family and I spent 5 hours with the best tour guide ever, gasping as another spectacular view filled our vision. After the tour, the family asked me to dine with them and we chatted for hours. My Hogmanay was spent in the hotel bar with about 20 others. We saw an amazing fireworks display then we all chatted and I didn’t get to sleep until 2am. For most of my holiday, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky but for my last 2 full days there was heavy rain and low cloud and, from 30C (86F) on Christmas Day, the temp dropped a lot. I screamed with delight when I opened my curtains and looked at the high mountain range for the last time. All the mountains were covered in snow ! Even the locals were taken aback. Someone joked it was “global cooling” ! Back to work tomorrow, feeling fresher than I’ve done in years.

Summer Holiday

Again I must apologise for the late writing of this blog. Is it just me or is time speeding up ? I cannot believe how fast the days and weeks go by. I want to thank all my family and friends who made my summer holiday so special. I spent a week in London and visited places I had not seen before and went to see the fabulous musical ‘Matilda’. Thanks to Elspeth and family for your excellent hospitality. Then it was on to Scotland to meet William for the first time – such a cutie ! Sarah, Miguel and the kids flew to Scotland from Spain. So there I was in the same room as all my relatives – magic !  Many thanks to Sarah, Miguel and the kids who let me tour around Scotland with them. We went to great places like Tobermory (the setting for the kids’ TV show called ‘Balamory’), Tomintoul (the highest village in the Highlands) and The Falkirk Wheel (a unique piece of engineering). We all enjoyed the day that William was christened – great timing with that Peter & Jill – and thanks for your excellent hospitality too. Thanks, also, to Maureen for your excellent hospitality. Maureen took me round Rosslyn Chapel which is near where she lives. It was steeped in history long before Dan Brown made it famous. The weeks since returning to Singapore have just flown past and, as always, I am really enjoying my job and life here. My landlord and landlady kindly invited me to their family meal to celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary last weekend. How lucky I am because they are so kind to me !

Grandchild Number 6

Many apologies for the lack of blogging recently. A special apology to my new grandson, William, who was born on 19th April for taking so long to announce his birth to the world. My only excuse is that I am very, very busy at work but am still loving my job here in Singapore. If I’m not working, which is rare, someone always seems to have an idea of something to do, e.g. my boss and I went to a production of ‘Macbeth’ last night. She asked if I’d like to go at 4.30pm and, after teaching until 6.30, we were at the theatre by 7.15pm. Anyway, back to the grandkids. Holly is 2 days off being 6. She and Bryn are now at school and nursery school. Santiago and Adriana are thriving in Spain and are both going to be bilingual so I hope they will teach me Spanish some day. What I need from Matilda is some of her energy – which brings me back to her new baby brother, William. Like me, he is a Water Dragon. The Chinese people here were very excited to welcome the Year of the Dragon. No word of my other “babies” – my books – being republished but I live in hope and some day I must get round to starting number 4 !

My 5th Grandchild

Grandchild number 5 has arrived and she is absolutely gorgeous. Adriana was born in Spain on 18th November. She was a week late but weighed in at 3.1kg/6lbs13ozs. Her brother, Santiago, is very happy to have a new baby sister. I have seen them all on Skype but cannot wait to see them all in person. I am going to Glasgow for Christmas and Spain for New Year, spending about 10 days in each place. Before that, I am organising a Christmas Concert here in my roll as the Music Teacher. I am enjoying all the Maths and Music I do here in Singapore and, although I work long hours, I just love my job. I have also made good friends and enjoy a good social life. Lots of things are the same all year round in Singapore – the daily temperature of about 30C and the 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. However, what does change is the amount of rain and thunder we get each day. At the moment, that amount is quite high ! I have Christmas and New Year to look forward to and also the arrival of grandchild number 6 at the end of April.

Bad News

A letter for me arrived in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago. It said that my publisher has gone into liquidation. Another company now have my books electronically stored but I haven’t been able to contact them yet. They must be inundated by authors. It means that my books are not available to buy at the moment. I will give you all more details when I have them myself. I have been planning a 4th book but that is now on hold. I will be spending 2 weeks in Glasgow and Spain seeing all my family before returning here to run summer schools in Maths and Music. My son, Peter, was here in Singapore for 30 hours last week. He flew over to give a presentation and the time we managed to spend together was truly precious.

Another Grandchild on the Way

Yes, my news is that Sarah is expecting their second child and my 5th grandchild in November. She had a scan yesterday and she was told the baby is “perfect” which is great news. My job is still going well and I am enjoying the combination of teaching Maths and Music. Outside school, my landlord and landlady treat me like one of their family and are wonderfully kind to me. Apart from a week of violent thunderstorms, which I didn’t like, I’m getting used to the weather here. Not like me to spend money on myself and it wasn’t exactly a treat but I had to go to the dentist and a lovely lady dentist has sorted out my teeth after many years of avoiding dentists. The family all met up at Susan’s for Easter. They sent me lots of photos and videos and I also spoke to everyone on Skype. On Susan’s birthday, I was able to help to blow out the candles on her cake but, sadly, no one could work out how to feed me a bit of cake through the computer !

My Amazing Job

Well, I gave the Middle East one more go but I soon realised, once more, that a place where kids play with teachers’ lives and all the adults believe them and let them do it is just not the place for me. I was very lucky to be offered a new job that suits me unbelievably well and it is in a great place. I am now teaching Maths and I take Music classes in a school in Singapore. The school is full of wonderful children and fantastic staff and my boss is just the best ever. As well as always thinking of so many of my past pupils, I also miss the good friends I made in my last job. Thanks, especially, to all my colleagues in my block for their support, especially Paul, Steve and Ray. Thank you very much, Ken, for all these e-mails which helped me to find this amazing job. Tons of Thanks to Chris G. for being so kind and helpful and to Chris M. too. And get well soon, Dave. Very special Thanks goes to Melanie for being a perfect travelling companion on our trip to Jordan which was one of my best holidays. I do recommend that anyone reading this should visit Petra and the Dead Sea – uniquely fabulous !

Hello Again – At Last !

Sorry for not posting a blog for a long time but life has been hectic. Leaving Qatar was very sad. There were so many pupils at school and out of school who I cared for and loved to be with. I missed them dreadfully. However, I have always said that I am the real-life Mary Poppins and, when the wind changes, I have to “put up my umbrella” and move on – and that is what I am about to do (but more of that in a future blog). I have so many people to thank for making the last few months very special. My family and extended family in Spain have been amazing, also my family in Scotland. Sue and Pat are such wonderful friends. Then it was off to America where Brenda and Ray in Tennessee and Barbara in Oklahoma made me so welcome. Richard and Pat in Michigan, plus their family in Iowa and Indiana, were a joy to be with. After meeting up with all my four grandchildren in Glasgow, it was down to London where Elspeth, Alan and Helen made me feel at home. A huge Thank You to all my family and friends for your support.

Christmas and Tennis

It was lovely to see friends and family when I went back to Scotland for Christmas, especially to be in the same room as all my family in the world – my daughters and son, their spouses and my 4 grandchildren. What was not so nice was the weather – lots of snow and freezing temperatures, slippery roads and pavements like ice rinks. I flew back on New Year’s Eve, from Glasgow to Dubai and then on to Doha and celebrated the start of 2010 at the gate in Dubai waiting for the doors of the plane to open. Flying via Dubai meant I saw the world’s tallest building, which is amazing, and sights like the palm tree complex. A similar group of teachers who went to the England v Brazil football match here went to the Qatar Open Tennis Championships last night. Last year I saw Roddick, Nadal, Federer and Murray in the quarter-finals. This time we saw Nadal win and Federer lose in the semi-finals from fabulous seats near the action. We also saw the mens’ doubles final which two Spaniards won. Each match was more exciting than the one before. I wish a Happy New Year to all of you who are reading this !

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