10 things to do at the bus stop

As a grandmother doing the ‘looking after grandson’ thing one of my delights is escorting him to the bus stop every school day.  Today’s post is a list of activities we have collected to do as we wait for the bus.

  1. Be physically active.  Sometimes it’s cold waiting for the bus so to stay warm we invent running, jumping, hopping exercises.
  2. After a week-end of snow and ice; test the slipperiness of the top snow by jumping up and down: comes with a health warning, not advisable standing at the top of a short slope.
  3. Look for worms.  Especially effective in wetter weather, but when warm and dry you can rescue the worm by guiding it to a more comfortable worm hole in the grass.
  4. Listen to the sounds around you: cars, people, birds singing, radios, sirens. Are they happy sounds, peaceful sounds, “stressy” sounds.
  5. Look for interesting rocks.  The best ones are conglomerates such as flints that have interesting shapes, patterns and textures.
  6. On sunny days play shadow games; our favourite is two- becomes-one with more hands and legs doing funny dances and poses.
  7. Have interesting conversations about life, learning and different cultures.
  8. Splash in puddles, or after a frost touch the top layer of ice on a puddle to watch the water swirl and move underneath the ice.
  9. Sometimes it’s just nice to stand quiet in your own thoughts and ‘people watch’.
  10. Count cars: choose a colour count how many cars of that colour go past.


Lessons Learned

  1. He is young; I am older.
  2. Make sure your coat covers your butt otherwise you get wet….
  3. Grandma will tell you to be sure to wash your hands as soon as you get to school – even if you were wearing gloves.
  4. To be thankful we can hear all the different sounds.
  5. Even ‘man made’ rocks in a driveway can have unusual features and be interesting.
  6. Our favourite, but some people may think you’re a bit weird.
  7. Eight year old’s can have thought provoking philosophies and ideas.
  8. Only advisable when wearing boots.
  9. People are interesting, most everyone will respond to a greeting or a smile.
  10. There are more black cars than red ratio 17:3
  11. The bus comes quite quickly when you do fun things
  12. Always tell each other to have a good day and ‘I love you’.


Successes and Failures

Referring to my f.b agenda for today, I’m afraid there have been more things left undone than things done.

I did go to the mall and purchased things I needed to buy and also some I didn’t including two pairs of shoes (two for the price of just over one and still (possibly) cheaper than in England) and a pair of knee length shorts – just right for “Spring in Connecticut”.   The regular ‘Timmies’ visit; modified as it was lunch time the ‘donut’ being  replaced with a healthier (hopefully) raisin bran muffin – warm with butter with  the usual chai latte.    Then, feeling proud of myself for successfully finding the correct bus home I got home just ahead of the family back from a trip to IKEA.

As the weather did not co-operate, outside play was unavailable and grandma’s big idea of making a fort, using  the cardboard box which had housed an IKEA item,  did not appeal so we settled to playing top gear trump cards which evolved into making the stig lap time result board and recreating ‘races’ across the floor.

Supper, (habitant pea soup!) French Reading time, very impressive, and bath time, concludes the evening.

So here we are, perhaps a hum drum journal account of the day and only a few items crossed off the agenda.  Will walking around the mall and the short walk from the bus stop home replace ‘plank exercises’? Probably not, but to do them now would risk waking the boys as I do them to music – ahem a pretty poor excuse, Susan.

But wait; I read an inspiring section from a Daniel Pink post about how we view media and linking it to taking time to meditate.  I will probably use it in a later post.

Also I finally yielded to the fact that wordpress doesn’t really want to allow me to do pages as I want them, however I can just use the category button to sort my blogs.  Not ideal but less frustrating.   Please bear with me as I keep working on the appearance and functionality of my site.

So, actually, not too bad after all.


Farmer’s Market, Doughnuts, chalk drawings and bubbles.

The weather has warmed up and we all enjoyed outdoor activities.  After a lazy Saturday morning the sun beckoned us outdoors for another exploring adventure.

Accompanied by my grandson and granddaughter we walked into town, crossing the newly upgraded Burgoyne Bridge with certain jobs on the agenda: purchase greyhound tickets to travel to Connecticut, drop in the library, go to the farmer’s market, mail postcards and buy doughnuts.

St Catharines Farmers Market.

As soon as we entered the delicious aromas tantalised our taste buds and the food all laid out on stalls looked inviting, fresh and colourful.  Each stall had something different to offer and it was enjoyable walking round and ‘window shopping’.  As I am writing this I am enjoying a full glass of apple cider purchased at one of the stalls.  Highly recommended!

Last stop buying doughnuts at a much publicised, popular vegan doughnut store along the main street.  The store is well run and the long queue moved quickly along through the organised ordering system and we were kept entertained by the beautiful paintings which adorned the wall.   After placing our order we only had to wait a couple of minutes for them to be packed up and we were set.  Half a coconut creme doughnut will be my reward for completing this post!

The afternoon sun in the garden made the job of clearing out the shed fun.  Sets of pavement chalks were found and used to full effect making colourful patterns.  The assortment of outside toys, rackets, balls were sorted and placed in boxes.  Oh wait! Is that a bottle of bubbles?



So today is about a family getting to know each other.

After receiving the all clear from all involved at the hospital yesterday, Thomas was discharged and allowed to come home at about 17:00.  The fact that it was snowing quite heavily at that point, and temperatures around -2 ( I know that’s mild for Canada really) with a wind chill of about -10, did not deter the hardy; suitably clad and buckled into the brand new car seat, the adventure began.

The rest of the evening was spent settling Thomas into his new surroundings, new bassinet in a new room, new things to look at, and smell and hear.  Was he safe from the prodding and poking?  At least for tonight, but there would be more tomorrow.

I’m afraid grandma did not hear all of the night time feeding cries, but I had made it known that I could be woken if necessary.  And we all slept in a little later than usual.

And then brother and sister arrived.  A whole other experience.

I believe the following pictures tell the story far better than my words can.


My Brother is awesome


It doesn’t get much better than this

And now, whilst I write this, all is quiet, hopefully sleeping peacefully ready for school and new adventures tomorrow.


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.




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.

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.

These last days….

I love being in the classroom.  I love the interactions going on all at the same time: peer to peer, tutor to student, all-group discussions, tutor to class.  I love playing the clown, chastising with my ‘wrath of Sue’ stare’ sharing my wisdom, guidance and knowledge and sharing those ‘you got it!’ moments.  I love learning with my class and from my students.  I love the buzz and the smell and the neatness and order at the start of the class which gradually dissolves into work dishevelment as workbooks, reading pages, pens, rulers, dictionaries, text books, library books and clutter all bow down to the brain power, thought processes and writing that takes place.  I love the interruptions.  I love the peace and quiet as students work quietly and independently.  I love the fact that it is cold when it needs to be cold, and hot on the good days.  I love that students feel safe enough to share their hopes, dreams, disappointments and successes.  I love welcoming each student in at the start of the morning and giving my blessing handshake, high five, fist spud or other appropriate ‘see ya’ at the end of class.  I love my whiteboard which starts out with all the appropriate aim, objections, date and word of the day and appropriate starter clearly displayed and ends up with notes, drawings, diagrams, math and English, philosophy and culture, reminders and scribbles and the joy of learning all muddled into “Wow!  Look where we have been today!”  I love that I can smile at it, commit it to memory, make notes on it before wiping it clean, ready for the next class.
At the end of it all I love the quiet reflection, the marking, the paper work, the written feedback and praise, the ‘we’ll look at this again tomorrow’, the ‘you’re getting there’ and the ‘oops’ moments.  Then I love turning off the computer screen, clearing the desk clutter and  relishing the nourishment of the lunch time ‘cuppa’, daily crossword and the thought that we will love all those things again tomorrow morning.