Oh Em Gee. Can I play this?



This is my latest cello piece to practice and it’s so hard! There are so many shifts on the fingerboard which need to be effortless given the speed this piece is supposed to be played at. Cello’s don’t have fretboards. If you get it wrong, you get it way wrong. This piece is not only ridiculously fast but there are some funny, syncopated rhythms that keep catching me out. I’ve been working in this piece for about just over a week now and I’m just about starting to get somewhere with this. And by that, I mean I can play all of the notes in tune (most of the time). Not that I have mastered any musicality or control in this piece.

If I’m feeling brave, I’ll post a video of me trying to play this piece (gulp!)  It’s really great to be able to take videos of my practice. I took a video right after my very first lesson on the cello and it’s going to be so interesting to be able to look back at these videos in the future and see how I progressed over time 😀


Supply Teaching: First Thoughts.


So having returned to the UK in July, my options for work were pretty limited since returning so late in the academic year meant I missed out on nearly all the last job vacancies advertised for Sept. So I’ve taken the scary plunge into the world of Supply Teaching which I have never done before, since I graduated, and I’m finding it a pretty interesting experience so far. In the UK, most schools use an agency to find a supply teacher to cover absence. They use the agency which is probably a preferred agency known to the school, and request a supply teacher either in advance for a teacher being away on a course etc or on the morning of the day cover is needed. The agency then phone around to find a teacher suitably experienced or qualified who is available. If you don’t answer the call in time, they’ll just continue down their list and ring the next person. If you aren’t quick, the work has gone. I know this from personal experience, where I was driving when one of my agencies phoned. I obviously couldn’t answer but pulled over and phoned them back. The work had gone in literally minutes. Sigh!!! It’s a tough world out there in Supply Teaching and you’re completely dependent on work being available.

Supply work is hardly plentiful either at the minute. In the UK, one of the worst areas to be looking for a teaching job is the North East so its kinda sucky at the minute. I’ve only been getting one or two days work a week. I’m told the work will pick up in the next few weeks so I’m keeping hopeful. You can’t live off 1 or 2 days work at a supply teacher rate. Of all the regions in the UK, the NE has one of the very poorest rates of job advertisements etc and it seems supply is in short measure too, at least for now. I haven’t done supply for long, but looking at popular forums, I can see even those who have done it for a long time are finding the work is drying up. It helps if you make a good impression and schools the start to ask you back by name. I haven’t done enough work yet I think to get asked back!!


It’s also kinda stressful. Waiting in the morning for a phone call incase you actually get work that day. Then if you do, a frantic search on googlemaps to find it. Placing my entire trust in my Satnav to navigate me there. Not knowing anything about the school, or the class dynamics or any of the 30 or so kids you’re teaching. Looking to see if there is a plan and if you do find one, then having to rummage around somebody else’s classroom to find the stuff you need. Not knowing routines or timetables. Not knowing anybody in the staffroom. Not being able to use the computer or whiteboard because you don’t know the password!!! I’m also finding out pretty quickly that it’s a pretty lonely job. I’m hoping once I start getting into several schools a few times, I’ll start to get to know a few people. That will be nice when I have some sort of interaction with familiar people once in a  while.


It’s definitely diverse. I never know what I’ll be teaching or what kind of school. Although I have noticed that I’m starting to become a bit of a PE expert!  Do teachers always plan their PE lessons for their PPA time or what? What’s happening here? How come I can almost guarantee on a supply day, there’ll be a PE class! Getting Early Years children to change for PE must be one of the most time consuming tasks in a day I swear!! It has been fun getting some nice ideas into practice for PE and playing some fun games.


I have found the attitude of some teachers towards supply teachers pretty poor. I have experienced some very lovely members of staff whilst working on supply so far, but also some pretty rude members. Of course, you try your best to just grin and bear it, but sometimes it’s hard to do that. You have to, but it’s not nice feeling such hostility. Some people say on forums, that full time permanent staff are jealous of supply teachers because they don’t have any planning/ assessment/ paperwork etc of a full time teacher but I’d do anything to have my own class again and be back with a full time job with a regular paycheck at the end of the month. I’d love the consistency. I’d love the regularity. I’d love being part of a team and a school. And best of all, I’d get to work with a delightful class and see their progress throughout the year which is just a wonderful thing to see and reflect on.


I like that I get to teach without the hassle. I do. I like to see lots of schools and experience teaching in different age groups. I like interacting with students. I like to see great ideas on paper from somebody else and try them out in class. I like that I’m becoming more adaptable and flexible as well as experienced. But how much can I really do without being at a school for any length of time? How can I see progress? How can I measure the work I’ve done and the lessons I’ve taught? I’m not sure I can. Supply agencies sometimes offer long term work which is an enticing possibility. Yet in the UK, there are more than 10,000 unemployed qualified teachers. Too many teachers, too few jobs. The competition is tough. Just recently, I saw two Nursery posts recently in the NE come up so I’m off to get those applications pimped up and ready for battle in the shortlisting showdown 😀 Wish me luck!!


What have your experiences been as a supply teacher? Did you like it? What did you learn from it?


Learning the cello as an adult.


I love playing my cello. I can’t believe it took me 26 years to decide to pick up the cello. I love making music. I love that I can now play cello, albeit of a beginner standard. I can’t wait to improve and progress in the pieces I am playing. And I know to be able to do that, I need to practice. Every day!

As a teenager I played Violin and Viola and I don’t ever recall feeling so excited about practicing my instruments. I liked playing them but I saw practice as a chore, often. I was quite good at the time but I couldn’t play them now!

As an adult playing cello, my practice IS my playing. At the age of 27, I am never going to be a soloist in an orchestra. I’m probably not going to perform for people. When I play, I play for me. The practice, the playing is soothing. It’s happy and fufilling. I like to practice new pieces. I like to play older pieces and hear how my playing has improved and how even pieces I had previously found tricky are getting easier. I enjoy working on phrases or bars that I find tricky. I accept that my practice might sound scratchy or out of tunes at times, but over time it will improve. I have already noticed a much richer, deeper sound to the tone of my cello when I play it which I attribute to me having more confidence and strength in my bowing/ playing. When I have lessons, I really take on board the advice given and I go home determined to work on the areas of improvement such as left hand position or bow hold. As a child, I enjoyed lessons but I don’t recall ever giving them such importance. As an adult, my lessons form a vital part of my week and I look forward to them. They help guide me on my journey in learning the cello. I play scales and don’t hate them! Instead I understand their function in key signatures and how they will affect a piece of music.

When I played the violin and viola as a child, I really did enjoy making music, but except for one specific period of about a year where I practiced every day, I didn’t play with such motivation. I played in string orchestras, a quartet and a ceilidh band. But I didn’t LOVE playing the Violin or Viola. I enjoyed it but it was just one of the many things I did alongside my other hobbies such as Karate, drama and other sports.

I have always loved the cello as an instrument and I’m so happy I decided to take the plunge and buy one in Singapore. I was really inspired by Sally, a colleague at the school I was working in in Indonesia. She had begun playing the cello as an adult. It made me remember how much I had always wanted to play the cello. So I’m over the moon that now I can and that my pro active choice had brought such enjoyment and pleasure into my adult life. That singular choice to start learning the cello as an adult has been an excellent choice. I’ve only been playing 6 months and I can play relatively well for having been learning for 6 months.

I wish I’d done it earlier.  There are so many instruments I’d love to play; the saxophone, the oboe and the harp spring to mind. I finally realised that it didn’t matter how slow my progress was on an instrument as an adult, it was the actual choice of choosing to do it and to make the investment in an instrument and lessons, and to make the investment in my time to practice. Imagine how good I’ll be in another 6 months? In another years time? I already see such a difference in my playing.

Have you ever wished you could play an instrument? If you could choose an instrument to play now as an adult, what would you choose? Has anybody else enjoyed learning an instrument as an adult and how have you found it difficult to your experiences as a child if you played an instrument when you were younger?

Here is a video of me practicing my cello from the other night. It’s not perfect but I’m so happy with my improvement!

On another note, check out these cool cello videos …
Like start wars? Check out this excellent spoof video …

These guys from Apocalyptica know how to rock out on the cellos … love this.

Finally a wonderful, wonderful video of an amazing double bassist, Renaud Garcia-Fons.  I found this whilst browsing the web. I’ve never heard anybody make a double bass sound like this. Superb. I can’t embed it here but this is the link and I really recommend watching this guy.



Things I love about being home: Things I miss about Indonesia.


So a lot has happened since I last wrote on this blog, oh so long ago! The biggest thing was that I have returned home to the UK from Indonesia where I was teaching at an International school. It’s September now and boy is it cold here in Newcastle! Brrrrr. I miss Indonesia a lot, but there are definitely benefits to being home. I’ll try to weigh them up here.

Things I love about being at home:
1) Driving.

Yes, now I am back in the UK, I feel I can climb back into the drivers seat and drive myself in a car. Did I drive in Indonesia? Of course I didn’t! Have you seen the crazy traffic and drivers there? I swear to god, at roundabouts in Indonesia, people on the roundabout give way to people coming onto it. I remember one of my colleagues at SWA described how she loved driving in Indo. She described the craziness and lack of organised rules and space as something she enjoyed and that when she went home, she didn’t like having to drive slowly and watch out for speed cameras etc. Haha. Now I’m home, I’m thrilled to be driving but gosh, the speedbumps, roundabouts and slow drivers are becoming a little painful and frustrating. In Indonesia, every day in a car or even better, on an Ojek, travelling on the road felt a little dangerous, if not very dangerous! It is kind of liberating though! I did drive once in Asia, but in the Philippines which it has to be said, had similar road safety issues, and boy was that one story. Kerry and Daryl, you’ll know exactly which driving trip I am talking about. I’ll just say being persuaded to drive back one large van to the school in the DARK was not a hugely enjoyable activity for me! I did get there goodness knows how! Still on the whole, being able to drive in England in a definite plus of being back home. I really love driving.. Except have you seen the price of petrol in England at the minute?!

2) Being close to my family and friends.

Indonesia is a long way from from the UK! Skype is great but time difference is not. Being back has been lovely and I know how relieved my parents are that I am home safe and they can see me more often.It’s lovely to spend time with family and I’ve been lucky enough to see all my cousins and Aunt and Uncle who live far south from here since I’ve been back. I’ve also spent lots of time with my sister has been lovely. My grandma has  been ill recently and I’ve been thankful to be home and be able to visit her in hospital and spend time with her enjoying her company. I am very grateful that my sister came out to visit me in Indonesia. No matter how much I could tell people from home what my life in Indonesia was like, I really felt that unless you could be there and see it, it couldn’t really be understood. I wanted my family to see Indonesia and see my life there. I loved being able to show Carla around BSD, the Gili Islands and Singapore. I’m really glad she had the opportunity to come out and see me there. I felt so lucky. I wish my parents had been able to come but they will next time I’m teaching overseas!

3) Food – Cheese – Wine

The choice of food in England is incredible. Supermarkets, Deli’s, all kinds of shops so it was super, super exciting to walk into ASDA, one of my fave supermarkets to find whole blocks of cheese for 1 pound! That’s the equivalent of about 14,000 RPH! I LOVE cheese. Good cheese is sadly missing in lots of Indonesian supermarkets. Nice shops like Kemchicks or Hero’s would have some but it was super expensive. So just imagine my glee and how much cheese I gorged on my return! Wine is so cheap here. What a novelty! Wine was so expensive in Indonesia. And not of that great quality.

4) Rocking out at my kickboxing club, BSBB.

I love my kickboxing team. Rick, the Boss who runs is is a really wonderful example of somebody who has turned their love and passion for martial arts into a successful family friendly martial arts club. BSBB is a wonderful example of a great martial arts club. When I did Karate when I was younger, I really enjoyed the discipline. I got to 1st Kyu but stopped because I found the club to be a pretty demoralising place which didn’t make me feel any good at it. One of the instructors there I remember was pretty mean to us, even as young students. So finding a great martial arts club, as an adult has been a blessing and joy. Being awarded my black belt, almost 3 years ago now, was just so special to me. I finally had that black belt I had wanted for so long! Being back at BSBB now I’m home is really lovely. I’m getting fitter and having fun. I’ve also started as a STORM team member at BSBB so I’m lucky in being able to help instruct/ teach the kids and mini dragon classes. The mini dragons are students who are 4-7, which is the age of the kids I usually teach, and its so fun to see them enjoying sport and martial arts outside of my usual interactions with students in class. I found out the hard way running an extra curricular club last year that enjoying being an active participant of Martial Arts is VERY different to teaching it. Tons of respect to Rick and the rest of the great teaching team who do a fantastic job every day at BSBB.

I also had the opportunity to take part in a Fight Night at Andy C’s tournament just the other weekend. Andy’s events are always great fun and our club really enjoy taking part in them. I have been active in entering the tournaments and competitions there for a long time, but since heading overseas on my 2 year adventure in Asia, I haven’t fought in a competition environment for almost 3 years. So being asked to step in for an injured fighter was pretty nerve wracking, on 6 days notice. And I still didn’t feel that fit! I can’t describe my sheer terror in having somebody opposite me, fighting me, who I know is going to try their best to hit me. All I can do in that blind panic is move as fast as I can, dodge or block their attacks and hope to score first. Or more often than she does. I’m fairly well advantaged in the scoring system in that I have long legs and fast head kicks which score 3 points compared to 1 point for any hand technique. A kick to the torso is worth 2 points. So if you are good with your legs you can really score well in points fighting. However, there are lots of people out there in martial arts who are extremely good with their legs too. Nat Loy, my opponent in the fight night is very good with her legs. I really enjoyed the fight and the experience, and I was buzzing afterwards. Sheer terror beforehand though! That moment where you realise you just have to walk out there and get in the ring and do it. That’s the moment I tell myself, ‘if it works me up so much to do it, I’d better try my damn best to win this’. And I  almost did! Well I made a great recovery from a poor round which ended 8-1 to my opponent, to score 15 points in the second round and even it out to a draw at 16-16. That meant 30 secs extra time. I didn’t score in that time but Nat threw, I think, 2 lovely head kicks. Never mind. Great experience. Rick always tells our team and anybody competing, that everybody gains experience from entering. And it really is true. It takes balls to get up there and walk out to fight or compete in front of other people. It’s scary. It’s wonderful when you win but you learn the most when you lose. Here’s the video of the fight.

Things I miss about Indonesia:

Hmmm, this is going to be hard. There are many!

1) My friends and work.

I feel really lucky to have made some really great friends and friends that I know I will keep in touch with and be friends with for a long time. I’m lucky that skype and email makes it easy to keep in touch with people in Indonesia or wherever they are in the world now. I miss that real face to face experience though. I miss Book Club. I miss evenings spent with friends and wine, I miss easy and friendly company from my wonderful and varied friendships in Indonesia. I would love to come out and visit you guys at some point this year. Don’t know if I will be able to though yet!

I also miss my job a lot. I really loved working at SWA. It was a fantastic learning curve for me. I learnt so much. I grew so much as a teacher and as a colleague. SWA is such a beautiful school and working in the Early Years was a really enjoyable experience for me. I miss my students a lot too! I miss having a class of my own and enjoying the work day in/ day out. Working in the UK as a supply teacher is a very different experience. To all my friends still there and those who’ve moved on, I send you my love.

2) The weather.

Wow, coming home has proven to me just how much I dislike the cold. I have one Canadian friend who spent years evading a bracing, icy winter by travelling to hotter climes. He described himself as ‘allergic to winter’. I’m starting to feel that same allergy. Wrapping myself up in bulky coats, scarves, gloves. URGGGH. I feel claustrophobic in all that gear. And you know what, it’s still not enough! I’m still cold. My feet are still wet and my socks squelch. The UK has had severe weather warnings and floods recently and Newcastle and the North did bear some of the brunt of it. The other day, I looked at the gray sky outside, the water furiously lashing against the glass and the whistling wind which whipped the trees and decided I simply wasn’t going out in it that day. So I didn’t!

Weather in Indonesia was hot and sticky. But preferable to this cold. I loved the beautiful sunshine and blue skies. I loved waking up to a bright day (rather than it starting to get light at 8am here … urgh and the end of summer time will soon be upon us). I liked that even if I was hot, I could cool off in decent AC. I liked being able to wear nice light clothing, dresses and skirts every day of the year. And NO tights. Surely tights are the most irritating item to wear ever?! I spend the whole day pulling them up and feeling them pinch my toes. NOT pleasant.

3) The Chaos.

I love organisation. I really do. I like to clean. However I’m not so good in theory. I try but probably fail often. But in Indonesia, there was no pretence whatsoever in the city being organised. The traffic was horrendous. Roads were disgusting. Everything took an insanely long time to get done or do. BUT, the craziness and liberation of living in that society was exciting and fresh. Taking ojeks was a regular highlight for me. I loved feeling the wind whip my hair and my face being blasted with cool air as we zipped around on the motorbike taxi. Dangerous? Yep! Exciting? Absolutely!

4) The Travel and the Holidays.

Yep, it had to be in there. No matter what people say about teachers being in it for the holidays, I don’t agree. I don’t teach for the holidays. I love teaching. Holidays are a highlight though. But in Indonesia, it was so easy to travel for the weekend or the half term and it was affordable enough to do so with regularity. I went to Medan, to the jungle to see orangutans in the wild … twice. I climbed Anak Krakatau, a live and active volcano. I dived in many beautiful places including Bunaken in Sulawesi which has to be up there on the top 10 dive sites in the world. I’ve snorkeled on beautiful beaches such as Gili Trawangan and swam with bundles of exotic fish in warm, clear and crystal blue water. I traveled to Singapore several times. Bali. Boracay. Lake Taal. Thailand. Malaysia. Burma. What a treat to be able to indulge in so many places and see so much of the local culture and beauty of the places and regions I was living in. I can’t see me indulging in any holidays soon to escape the gray gloomy skies of England unless I suddenly get a full time job with a monthly pay check! Saying that, I can’t wait to see the Autumn leaves and colours soon splashing themselves over the foliage and trees. That will be stunning. Always is.

5) The language and culture.

I loved learning the local language. I actually think I got pretty good. I had some help with Indonesian friends, especially my cello teacher, Asep. At one time near the end of my stay, I spent 40 minutes talking to the taxi driver in Indonesian in traffic! I think that’s pretty good. As soon as you stop using it regularly though, you easily forget. I really don’t want to. I try to speak in Indonesian at some point, normally to myself haha throughout the day but already I am forgetting words and I have to really think hard to remember them. Even simple ones I used daily. Sigh. It was my first ever really decent attempt to learn a foreign language! I also loved many aspects of the Indonesian culture. BATIK! Gosh, I love batik design and clothing/ fabric. Some of my favourite skirts and dresses I bought in Indonesia and are made of batik. Intricate, colourful and local. I also loved the Wayang puppetry and shows. The traditional music. The local schools and children. The day to day interactions of a friendly and welcoming, warm nation. I heart Indonesia.



I’m making plans for the summer and I just can’t wait to go home. I can’t describe how lovely it is to spend time with your family when you’ve been away for a year or so from them, and experienced, worked and lived a life they only heard snippets about.

My family are wonderful. My sister and I are adopted and were offered a loving and safe home by our amazing mum and dad when we were almost 5. I can’t describe how much they have supported me in everything I have done, even when I wasn’t particularly loveable. My twin sister is amazing, a kind and generous individual who makes me giggle often with her stories.

I’m making plans to visit a friend and go to a Pearl Jam gig when I’m home. I’m excited about getting back to BSBB, my kickboxing club run by and full of an amazing group of friends and similarly enthusiastic martial art fans and students like myself. I find kickboxing highly therapetic. Not only do I have a second family with that group of people but I get to punch and kick stuff and fight people in a legal and competitive sport! I love exercising the competitive demon inside me and pushing myself to achieve.

I can’t wait to visit friends and see them back at home. I am lucky enough to have a number of friends who despite, me living overseas welcome me in to their lives when I return, oh so briefly. Those kind of friends you can just pick up with without having been in touch for months or years. The ones who are always there when you need someone to talk to or celebrate with.

Home holds a special place for me. I know it’s always there, warm and comforting. I choose to live overseas myself and work in an International Schools circuit but one of my favourite times of the year is going home and seeing everybody and remembering the life England holds for me. I also love seeing new places and having new, and often cultural and personal journeys and experiences every day whilst I live and work in another far flung country from home. I teach overseas partly simply because I desire to learn more about people and humanity. I love to see the commonality of humans, across the earth, our planet we are fortunate enough to exist upon. The only planet which supports life as we know it in the galaxies we have managed to explore so far. The only planet to have just the right conditions and coincidental (or fate ridden) changes to evolve into what we see and live today.

I like to interact with other people, share with them a different life. I like to experience and learn about people. As far as I see it, we are simply one people on many journeys. No matter where we live, we are born, we play, we work, we live within societal and cultural restraints, we celebrate, we love and eventually we all die. I have this great coffee table book called just that ‘One people, many journeys’ and it is simply gorgeous. Stunning pictures of people all over our globe, doing similar things but in different ways. Absolutely beautiful.

I love to work with small children. The innocence of a child is magical. Working in a school with different language and culture is wonderful. To be a teacher of my classes, and an early years practitioner and learner myself, is inspiring. I am and feel so lucky to be living the life I am now.

… And I can’t wait to share all my experiences and listen and celebrate experiences and happenings with those I love at home.

See you soon Newcastle and England! 😀 1 month exactly, to the date, till I am back!

Teaching is about caring …


There are many caring and absolutely respected jobs in this world. One profession I utterly respect is that of Nurses and Support workers who in my opinion, are wonderful, wonderful people. I also genuinely think up there with those caring, great jobs, has to be teaching.

I honestly believe the vital quality, the very essence of a good or great teacher is that they genuinely care. About lots of things.

You have to care about your children as people and individuals, and not just how they’ll get the grades you want or need them to achieve by certain days or the end of the year. You have to care about them as young people, young learners who are learning so much about the world every minute. Let’s face it, we live in a busy, rapidly changing world which moves frantically forward in society, technologies, science as each single day passes. And god bless them, by the time of those teen years there’s a ton else going on in their lives which can mean school is their only safe or happy refuge. Or a very unhappy place. Or a disinterest. What a loss. To lose interest in learning.

You have to care about helping them to learn, to help them learn to learn and to learn about themselves too. You have to care about understanding where they  are coming from sometimes and what’s happening in their lives, perhaps difficult circumstances at home which might be influencing them. Even down to kindergarteners, never mind teenagers or pre teens. If one of my student’s parents is away for work often or just on certain days/ periods of time, I need to support that child. If they have a new brother or sister, there’s careful consideration there necessary from the eyes of the teacher to help them with that. Children and young learners need nuturing  and we, the teachers, who students spend half of their day with and are constant figures in their path to adulthood should nurture them. Help them in the professional and caring way we need to be to help them strive to be the best they can be.

Loving Learning! Grade 6 - Issan, Thailand, 2009

Loving Learning! Grade 6 – Issan, Thailand, 2009

You should care that you inspire your students. That they’re preparing for the tough world of work and adulthood which ultimately comes at the end of the whole timely process. whichever age you teach. Kindergarteners are just starting to learn how to make sense of a seemingly and often complex busy world in a beautifully innocent naivety that very young children have. First, second, third graders, all of them upwards are learning really complex stuff as well as facing and feeling an increasingly heavy pressure to progress, achieve and succeed – honest I’ve seen some of their work in class and it’s amazing what they’re learning and doing. They’re only like 7 or 8. Achieving wonderful things. All in a complex community of learners, involving a huge myriad of people and learning situations with;  peers, elders, youngers, teachers, family, people they meet from other schools, learners they learn from and engage with on the internet, television, the media -in fact everywhere. The work produced by middle/ high school students should be applauded.

I went to the Grade 5 exhibition a while back and was stunned at this whole array of personal projects these students had worked so hard at and done such a great job with. And each passionately following their own questions and interests to create a personal project and such amazing art, drama and musical representations to support their work. Amazing. I wondered what I had been doing in Grade 5 back in my past life  when I saw their work, and I don’t recall anything of such complexity and maturity. How much education changes, all the time, (even in my short life so far) and how a good curriculum ( I love the IB inquiry method) and good teachers can make those sometimes relentless changes to be positive ones. To be part of that evolution of teaching and learning, how amazing. From students being an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge as was such in the not so distant past, to be inspiring them to create their own path of learning and follow their own rigour and hard work in doing so, following a path that interests them. To be a learner helping a learner. Not a teacher helping a learner. Isn’t that how we should be helping our students learn in both their school work and also their understanding of learning itself, how they best learn, what they want to learn about, so they can be inspired and engaged in meaningful learning,  relevant to them, their studies and life in an intrinsically curious way?

Happy classes

Happy classes

We all experience and learn every day. In addition to caring, every good teacher should be humble. Accept that they are in fact still themselves a learner and can and will make mistakes. It’s definitely okay to make mistakes but a hundred percent better if we accept and learn from them, especially when that knowledge and growth stops us making it a second or third time in the future? In fact if we admitted to our students more often that we’ve made or do make mistakes, they’d feel much more comfortable with making mistakes themselves. Being open to the process of learning.

Who ever got long division the first time?! Seriously? Some of us still struggle with it or other concepts like percentages now as an adult. Who can remember Pythagoras Therorum clearly now all these years later? (unless you’re a maths teacher!) How many things have we had to learn in our own lives, and more importantly, just how much more do we have to learn, and will learn in our future. Embrace it, I think, for a much more open and less complex life. A healthier life.


I make mistakes all the time with my kids, and I feel lucky that in Kindergarten, it’s easy to accept it and let my students know a) I’ve done so and b)  know it’s okay to be wrong because ‘Miss Kielly’s just made a very silly mistake!!’ … cue a gaggle of loud giggling children, potentially actually rolling on the floor with silly laughter! But it’s important to do it wherever you work in a school and with every student. To feel safe in fact is in the knowing of safely of being able to make a mistake/s and know it’s okay, nothing bad is going to happen. School should be a safe place. Let’s encourage it more. Who wants students to be so scared of being wrong that they necessarily limit themselves. How sad.

Helping each other - Grade 5 students Issan, Thailand, 2009

Helping each other – Grade 5 students Issan, Thailand, 2009

Collaboration - Grade 5 Students, Issan - Thailand. 2009

Collaboration – Grade 5 Students, Issan – Thailand. 2009

Don’t limit yourself just because you’re an adult and supposedly know everything! Accept mistakes when you make them,  acknowledge them,  grow from them, and show your students your own personal learning curve.

Teaching is a great profession. Enjoy it! Help your students enjoy it! Listen, think, reflect, act, reflect and learn. Remember to care.

Orangutans … a special place …


So Sinead and I decided we needed to get out of the city and feel the love of nature. We flew to Medan and then travelled by car to Bukit Lawang, which is about a 4 hour drive in good weather. I was feeling pretty sick but perked up enough by the next day. We stayed at a wonderful place right on the river side organised by a homestay called ‘Green Hill Guest House’. It was lovely. Our room looked right over the river which made a tremendous sound. We were looking directly over the river to the jungle and I mean the jungle. We could hear the cicadas even from where we were. People said if you were lucky you might see orangutans, the wildlife Bukit Lawang is most famous for, from the river but we didn’t. We did see lots on our trip though which was so special.

This was the view of the river and jungle on the day we arrived. The sound of the river gushing was tremendous. People often travel down the river with inflatable hoops, they call it tubing and you could often hear the shrieks and laughter of groups doing exactly that.

The view of the river and jungle

The view of the river and jungle …

How stunning is that? Simply serene. It was the most beautiful place to go to escape the bustle of city life. Having wandered round the local area, all located by the river I captured this scene … this is just by the side of the river, so luscious and green, so many beautiful plants. if this doesn’t want to make you go there, I don’t know what will, except the orangutans 😀

Local area

Local area – Beautiful nature

Obviously we went to see the orangutans so next on our itinerary was to head to the feeding station which … was a LONG trek up what seemed like a zillion steps … it was tough work but worth it … we had to get on this rickety boat first to get over the river …

The rickety boat across to the jungle ...

The rickety boat across to the jungle …

It seemed a bit scary but it was quite fun. It works on a rig and pulley. And the man scoops out the water with a jug lol!. Still we got there and started the climb to the feeding station. I was a bit apprehensive about the feeding station but it was literally an area which they threw bananas onto a piece of wood. When I thought about it, the locals are doing a great service to nature. There is a great nature programme there and everybody who visits has to pay a nominal fee to help in this upkeep. If the orangutans didn’t go to the feeding station, they could be anywhere in the diminishing forest. The jungle here is protected but as we left Bukit Lawang, we saw miles and miles of Palm Oil plantations which were uncannily silent, devoid of any nature. At least in Bukit Lawang, they conserve the area, they observe and provide help to injured animals. They care. To be fair, as a westerner coming from a country which is relatively wealthy, I had to accept that in areas like this, locals must make the most of the resources they have and here it is tourism … who doesn’t want to see orangutans in the wild. I saw some in Taman Safari and it was sad. So after the long climb to the feeding station, we were lucky enough to see 3 orangutans including a mama and baby and a big male as well as many peter long tailed monkeys. We were so close it was unreal. Here are some shots of the big daddy orangutan and a mama and baby … I felt so lucky to be right there, right then.

Swinging through the trees

Swinging through the trees

Mama and baby ... :D

Mama and baby … 😀

Leisurely pace ...

Leisurely pace …

Enjoying a banana ...

Enjoying a banana …

The feeding station was amazing, I couldn’t believe how close I was to these ‘people of the forest’, seriously at times I could have stretched out my hand and touched the big male. Whenever he moved towards us, we all stumbled back though! These are powerful animals. Orangutan quite literally means ‘People of the forest’.  ‘Orang’ in Indonesian means People and ‘Hutan’ means forest. After the feeding station, we started our trek which was, to say the least dangerous and tricky in parts. It was also blooming hard work. However, we had two great guides who kindly carried our bags and let us take our photos and the sounds and beauty of nature were simply breathtaking.

Now I’m going to post a few of the many simply gorgeous nature photographs I was lucky enough to take. it was amazing to be in the heart of such jungle and hear the loud sounds of the macaques, cicadas and everything else. I’ll remember this trip for a long time. I was lucky enough to have gone with Sinead, a great friend who appreciated it even more so than I did, if that’s possible. She is a true friend and a great companion. And she truly appreciates nature. I’m so glad she suggested this trip and I recommend it to anybody.

Look at these leaves….

Beautiful leaves

Beautiful leaves

Mushrooms on Wood

Mushrooms on Wood

I would add more photos but my internet is ludicrously slow and I cannot stand to watch the file uploader crash one more time whilst I add photos. So I will include the video I made on Imovie which includes photos of the earthy soil and the mossy trees. I think after this trip, those are my two favourite colours, mossy green and woody brown. In the jungle, these colours are simply breathtaking. I would go back just to see those colours. We continued to traverse the jungle for hours with the careful help of our guides seeing monkeys, cicadas, termites, enormous ants, trees, flowers and gorgeous leaves, lying trampled under our feet, ready to disintegrate and decompose back into the earth. The colours, the smells, the sounds.

The last night of our trip it poured, Hujan besar!  Jungle rain. I guess that’s why they call it the RainForest. We sought shelter at the guesthouse and enjoyed banana/ pineapple fritters and pancakes which were deliciously naughty. We read books, we chatted to locals and visitors alike. We enjoyed each others company. We slept late the next day and sat on our balcony treasuring our last views of the jungle on our visit.

I would recommend this trip to anybody. Especially if you live in the hustle and bustle of the city where it is easy to forget just how quick you can be out of it and somewhere as beautiful as this. Thank you Sinead for organising it and asking me to come. It was a trip to remember for sure.