Waking up in Toronto..

The sound of the bedroom door being pushed open woke me up.  2 secs to orientate, then a fluffy bundle jumped onto the bed and curled up beside me.

So what other delights were on the agenda for today?  First up, a walk through the park and down the lakeside to the ‘Tim Horton’s” for the long awaited treat; cup of chai latte and a sour cream glazed donut.   Unfortunately, this particularly branch were not able to do the latte, but the donut was perfect, accompanied by Earl Grey tea.  Perfect.

Slowly wandering and making our way home, stopped in a delicatessen store for a couple of items and I made a mental note to return tomorrow to buy lunch items: fresh baked bagels, selection of cheeses, salads and produce.

Plans for the evening included evensong at St James’ Cathedral, followed by supper at a restaurant which promised one of my favourite vegetarian options stuffed zucchini flowers.

St James’ Cathedral is a Gothic revival  building built and completed in 1853.  It stands magnificent in a park area and has been described as “an oasis of peace”.  My previous visits have usually been on my last day before flying back to England; visiting  early without the  air of ‘ last day’ emotions but ‘first day’ excitement and thrill was the prayer of gratitude offered to God.


( I have just read my review of the service now posted on trip advisor but I would echo the thought that services there would become a major part of my schedules should I get chance to be here on an extended stay. )

After feeding the soul, it was time to take care of bodily needs; supper!

A short walk helped to build up the appetite and upon entering the restaurant I knew it was going to be a delightful experience.  Byblos welcomed us right from the “Good evening” pleasantly spoken greeting with a smile, through the service, sublime food to the contented finale of coffee and tea. Was it intentional that the zucchini flowers I anticipated were unfortunately unavailable to ensure we returned?  Probably not. Just serendipity that my mind and taste buds were open to recommendations and we savoured citrus olives, jewelled rice, seared cauliflower and grilled bread sticks with house yogurt- plenty enough to enjoy and left overs packed up make the best ‘take away’ ever!



So here’s my ‘shout out’ to a fantastic restaurant and if you are ever in Toronto do pay them a visit; you will not be disappointed!





Live from the capital

“Toronto is my favourite city in the whole world! ”

A huge, teenager type exaggeration of course, as I am not that well travelled that I can compare it to many cities.  Suffice it to say; I am excited to be back ‘home’.

Journey was not without its ups and downs ( no pun intended actually as there was surprisingly little turbulance)  and after the third or fourth message from the captain telling us quite calmly that this had to be fixed, or this was wrong, or we were just now waiting for clearance to take off as there was a ‘queue’ we got underway.

I happen to love flying.  Most of the time the 7-8 hour flight passes quite pleasantly, catch up on reading, entertain my love of words with crossword puzzles ( cryptic and codewords being my favourite) reading on my Fire, or actually reading from a book with the occasional cat nap or even just sitting quietly musing.  All very peaceful and ‘me’ time, because there was no, “oh I could be doing this, or maybe I should do this,”  I am my own captive audience and I love it.

However I do think that airlines  get the mix wrong.  Rather than trying to feed us every couple of hours, how about at least providing enough fluids to counteract the dry atmosphere along with the sodium packed food they do provide.  The thing is, after having to get rid of any water you might have with you as you go through check in, you are reliant on pricey drinks after that so you tend to be dehydrated even before getting on the plane.  In short, just give me gallons of water, the occasional fruit juice, a glass of milk might be nice, and a hot drink at least once, and you can keep your meals.

Well that’s the preachy bit over.  Everything else was good.  Not sure about the new kiosk check in service, too early to tell and comment on.  Baggage claim was brilliant, mine seemed to be first on, first off which was nice.  Then through the doors into that crowd of faces, waiting to hear the shout, ” Mom!”

I’m home..

to be cont’d.


This post is dedicated to the most awesome cat!

A week on..

So, I’ve completed my first week of retirement.

Today I hugged a tree, sat on a log, ‘kissed’ some violets and baked muffins.

On the whole I think my morning walk at the start of the day was the time of most deep thinking and spirituality.  I have enjoyed exploring the area where I live more fully this week as I have had time to do so; finding some delightful walks covering different environments.  I have explored the woods taking formal paths and going off the track into ‘the path less travelled.’  I have marched across the common and heath taking turns around the Martlesham Control Tower Museum (must actually visit during open hours one day) and I now know what lies behind and around the Police Headquarters – a nice walk for if it’s muddy and rainy as it is mainly paved with the opportunity to walk in the wooded areas.  Finally I have walked just around the housing areas and explored the ‘twitchels’ (Nottinghamshire word) and ‘short cuts’  to admire the variety of houses and dwellings in the area.  Walking is a good time to plan, sort things out, argue with oneself and put the world to rights and when you have done all that, take that quiet moment to sit on a log, in the sunshine and offer prayers of thanksgiving to creator God who provides such a beautiful world for us to live in and gives us the ‘sense’ to enjoy it.

Then the rest of the day was filled with business and going places, all those odd little jobs that must be done before going on your trips.  I have been in contact by the wonder of the WWW to a variety of people, job searched, paid bills, arranged itinerary with family,  researched  many things and been entertained by fb updates from family and friends.

Oh and yes, I have talked with humans face to face also!

So a satisfactory day again: and during it all  if I seemed a little distracted, I watched the Commonwealth Games; cheering both Canada and England gets a little exciting and exhausting.




A peaceful evening

Sitting in my apartment watching the solar lights come on in the huge bay window reminds me of times when I would sit in the garden of a previous house.  As the lights came on the garden would be turned into a magical place of shade and light, filled with evening bird song, the distant hum of cars and occasional ‘pop’ of seed pods bursting from a plant which decided it really needed to grow in my garden and for which I have never been able to find its name.

Earlier this evening I decided I would treat myself to a movie after another day of sorting and preparing for my trip.  I have always felt that sometimes we are led to read something, watch something or listen to a certain piece of music because it is the right thing at the right time.   That was certainly true this evening as I chose the film at ‘random’ from Amazon’s prime videos: “As high as the sky”.

Without giving anything away it is about relationships ( of course) and grief and losing oneself before growth.  The film gently exposes the viewer to laughter, tears, surprise, adventure, a little craziness and the beauty of a childlike spirit and innocence.

I know that if I had seen the film in the cinema I would have stayed in my seat to pause as I watched the credits role.  There may even, depending on the audience, have been that spontaneous applause at the ‘final curtain’.  Don’t you just love that?  None of the actors, film crew, writers or people who deserve credit are there, but the applause thanks them anyway.  Very much a job well done and I thank them for the journey.


Good night and sweet dreams



Ticking off those check lists

Today has been a day of accomplishments.  Items checked off lists:

  • Gas test:  he arrived on time; efficiently carried out; paper work to follow
  • eta: notification of success – I can now travel!
  • item placed on free cycle
  • items placed on fb market place
  • car service booked for tomorrow ( that’s my walk sorted also!)
  • last minute shopping; however that does mean some repacking
  • eating left overs and depleting store cupboard
  • one book read, another started for my Goodread target!
  • A conversation with a neighbour; it’s lovely being home in sociable hours.
  • Started a profile for private tutoring; possible income source when I return

And last but not least, time to day dream, enjoy the spring mix of weather, and enjoy what I enjoy.

I hope that anyone that reads this also has that feeling of accomplishment and the ‘tidiness’ of jobs sorted and well done.  Well, I’d better get started on the ironing….

a cup of tea would go down well also.

First day…

b'fast‘First day’ conjures up many ideas: first day nerves, first day of spring (or winter) first day of school first of the month or first day of the year.

As I was walking and meditating this morning, on this my first day of retirement (not counting the holiday) I turned over in my mind a cliché that I remembered from years ago, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”.

The thought then, was one of renewal, or forgiveness, particularly self forgiveness, that you could put away the past and live each day unto its own.

For me, today, it was the thought that yes, this is the first day of me redefining myself.

I am no longer a teacher, I am no longer a full-time carer, I am no longer a daughter.

What am I?  I am a mother, I am a sister, I am part of a community, I am a believer, I am me!

I will become who I am by practise.

Today, I practised my routine, get up, morning walk, breakfast and read the paper.  Oh how lovely.  The sun was shining at that point, highlighting the bright yellow of the daffodils in the window, the apartment building was quiet, (people still away) but there was the sound of business from outside.

I read the paper; pot holes on A14, successful Easter events held in the area, promise of warmer weather, what happened, what is going to happen, things for sale, things wanted, businesses, jobs, homes to rent (too expensive)  local reports, national reports and global reports.  Finally, the crossword puzzles.

This retirement business feels good so far!  I am content.

Now what’s for elevenses?


Praying the creed: I believe in God

I believe in God. 

God eternal: Who is and was and will be, knew me before I was made, was there at my forming, birth and gave me life.  Continually He is with me each and every second of every day.  As I come to Him  I will deliberately control my breath; quietening my spirit before Him.

Lord,  take me as I am just now.  I acknowledge that today, yesterday, this past week I have not recognised your truth. My bowed head and quietened heart is my sacrifice.

God everywhere:  lives and moves and has his presence throughout the universe at all times.  There is no day, no night, no time and seasons.  I can focus on Him and be in commune with all life everywhere.

Lord,  I hold up before You a world that seems to have lost it’s way.  There is greed, anger and destruction all around.  People are hurting, are lonely, are poor in spirit and in need.  Many are in prisons – either physical or emotional, feeling trapped and scared with nowhere to go and no-one to care for them. Take these my thoughts, inner feelings and sorrow Lord and make me whole. 

God almighty:  Who knows all and is all around is all powerful.

The  power of God calms storms, turns water into wine, feeds His people, heals the sick and raises the dead.  I too can claim that power for my life as I minister to His people.

Lord, take me, take my hands, my feet, my voice and my heart and move me among those that are crying. Open my eyes to those around me to bring peace, love and hope.

I believe in God and I believe God is. I believe His grace to heal, His power to Save and His promise of life.

Challenge: Send up a silent prayer dart for everyone you meet today.

The problem

dead wood

If I was “Ted” this is what I would say…

Why I am passionate about functional skills..

A class full of adults: some there because they want to be and are eager to learn, some there out of curiosity, some there because it’s better than the mind numbing alternative to ‘labour’, some there because they have learned that it is easier to ‘play the game’ or for other reward.

How do I entice them all?  Functional skills (hitherto referred to as f.s.) can appeal because it is practical.  Most can find something that they can use in their every day life, work life or if nothing else as a stepping stone to further education.  Need to write a formal letter or cover letter to land you that good job?  “Yes we can!” (quote Bob the builder)  Want to be able to read that small print, or that legal document, or flat pack instructions?  “Yes!”   Can I deliver that quick, concise pitch?  “Of course!”

And there’s more, f.s. is about problem solving, knowing how to methodically recognise, understand, apply skills and solve everyday situations.  Use these questions:

What is the problem?

What do I already know?

What do I need to find out?

What tools do I need?

How much time do I have?

Each problem will probably involve the old fashioned Reading wRiting and aRithmetic.  And for good measure and modern times use I.T. as a tool.

It is what it says on the ‘can’ Functional.

Hooked?  Go ahead and write an e-mail to agree with me, persuade me that you are the perfect student and possess the best qualifications for taking the course, and calculate how many weeks it will take to complete the 72 hour course if you have four 3 hour sessions per week.  Then book your exams using the on line booking form.

“Simples!”  Oh and while you are here you might also like to list four layout features that assisted you to read this text; correct any grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, (yes, even teacher’s make mistakes) and analyse the language techniques I have used.


Functional skills has a great, big, fat flaw.  It has not taken into consideration changing skills required in industry and life in general.

Soft skills are more important than hard skills during the job hunt where EQ – emotional intelligence – is valued more by employers than IQ. When it comes down to searching for a job and workplace success, your attitude and personality traits take a central role because this defines the kind of relationship you are going to have with other people whether it is your next employer, colleagues, manager or clients.

Now top ten lists include,

integrity, flexibility, independence, diversity and awareness of culture,  confidence, self awareness and creativity.

As a teacher holding classes in an environment devoid of colour, music, poetry, and beauty I yearn to fill my classroom with such things, rather than the many posters of  ‘instructions, how to do….; current success rates and “your learning journey”.  I want to celebrate success by displaying the poems they write, the funny cartoons they draw and the doodles that fill their exercise books.  I want to play music that makes them laugh, cry and sit up and listen and talk.  I want to throw a party every time a skill is displayed, a target crossed off and an exam successfully completed.  I want to fill my classroom with colour, shapes, abstracts and solids.  I want to read Shakespeare, Dickens, Stephen King, Dr Suess, Michael Morporgu, Asterix and Tolkein.   I want to watch Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Meryl Streep, BBC news, even the weather forecast.  I want to learn about their world as well as share items that influenced me.

In truth I want to prepare them for the new world, the developing world, their world of  new marketing, new branding, new consumer/provider relationships.  I want to help them find themselves and know themselves, so that they can enter that world in confidence, style and flair and be comfortable in their own abilities and personalities.

To me that is true functionality


This blog is dedicated to a colleague who challenges my teaching and is convinced I need to TED talk!  Thanks M.B.

Praying the Creed: I believe

creedI believe
Every time I approach God I re-evaluate what I believe. Belief is not static, it is a deliberate choice made each time I commune with Him.  In the words of the gospel writer:.  “Yes, Lord, I believe but help me when I do not believe”.(paraphrased)Mark 9:24

What do I believe today? I believe in the  Lord of creation. I hear and feel the bitter wind and see the snow littering the earth. I huddle into the warmth of my coat and ensure my nose is covered by the scarf I wear, and rub life into my dead fingers and I believe that Spring, new life and Easter will run in the cycle of life.
I believe that today You will come and minister to me at the point where I am. Your commune with me will be perfect, not because of my faith but because of Your grace. You will be for me today, this hour, this moment my nurture, my love, my life and my power.
I believe….

Lord, source of all living things and provider of energy, thank you for this wonderful world.  Guide me to feel your presence in all that I encounter today.  May I  be strengthened through challenges, delighted by simple pleasures and my spirit deepened by forgiveness.  In these do I believe and trust, sustain me when my unbelief causes me to stumble and fall.

Challenge:  Let your belief manifest in all your actions today.  Believe in yourself, in others and in the choices you make.  


I believe in God

The beauty that surrounds me

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day.  I was drawn outside by the sunshine, breeze and the sound of children playing.  There was the promise of warmer days, new growth and colour amid the now faded browns and earth tones of fall and the smudge and smear of the now forgotten snow.

Gradually, as I walked, I tuned into the life around me and noticed the trees, the sky, the expanse of grass and meadow, then the secrecy of early flowers newly grown under the aged, sheltering trees.  Protected, they were proud to show off their colour and beauty; some in full bloom, others timidly stretching leaves, stems and buds to reach the light and warmth of the sun.  Not yet, but later, I will return to see the ‘golden daffodils dancing in the breeze’.

Today, as I look out at the grey skies, the smattering of snow (beautiful in it’s own right) and feel the cold wind whispering through the air vents I believe that the crocus and daffodils will still be protected by the trees staunchly defending their territory because I believe in the creator who saw that ‘everything was good’ and indeed, saw that the man he had created ‘was very good’.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end

Ecclesiasties 3:1