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Summer time

The time for the big switch off is fast approaching as July comes to a close. You may remember a recent post about decorating and turning out of my study. Well, it is now done and virtually finished. I am now writing from a magnificent 3 metre long desk with more space than I know what to do with (not for long !!), the tidiest bookshelves in the history of mankind and a cool, subtle colour palette of cream and macaroon-coffee (well, that is what it said on the tin !!).20140730_163702[1]20140730_163641[1] It smells clean and fresh and will be awaiting my return from our family break by the pool. Three weeks of work, on and off – but an immense sense of satisfaction now that it is completed.

Work will be resuming in my new study after the summer break. For the moment, it can remain all tidy and beautifully neat – for the time being.

Happy summer holidays to everyone. Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the chill-time and the relaxation, enjoy the big switch off which is almost upon us !!

switch off pc

The new look Big English Blog

A while ago I mentioned I was going to give my blog a facelift, well you can now see the result. No panic – it is nothing major, just a bit of tweeking and twiddling. After two years of the Union Jacks and the tea and scones, it was time to move on. HOWEVER, as you can see, I haven’t moved very far. The tea-time theme is still there as it is very much a part of me. A lot of my students say they learn to make a cup of tea through watching me make my morning cuppa in the classroom. The click of the kettle going on signals that the lesson is almost at an end and my choice of mug is never coincidental.

keep calm tea time

For the feature image, I toyed with a number of images. To begin with, they were more of a London-based theme – Big Ben, taxis, phone boxes, letter boxes … but then I decided to change tack. When I go back home to England, that is not where I go or what I look for. I have decided therefore to feature MY England in my chosen pictures. When I go back to England, it is to the south coast essentially, where my parents are based and where my sons are for their studies. The New Forest, Southampton, Christchurch, Chichester, Bournemouth – these are the places I return to and so these are the places I shall be featuring on my blog. This is no disrespect to London at all, BUT I am sure anyone would agree that a country is not fully represented solely by its capital. There are some truly beautiful spots to be discovered in the south of the UK, as there are in all parts of the country, so I hope you will enjoy discovering this corner of my world.

Mudeford QuayTo begin with, a view of the place where my parents live : Barton-on-Sea is a small town on the coast with this superb coastline, as you can see in the feature picture. This area is as spectacular in the winter as it is in the summer. When the wind whips the sea up, it can get quite hairy. My sister and I got absolutely drenched walking along this very quay in February of this year. The storms of this winter did a lot of coastal damage. This coastline is gradually eroding, but for the moment, it is a joy to behold. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWatch this space for images of the New Forest with its ponies which live in the wild. The light shining through the trees on a Spring morning has an almost magical quality. Here is a taster.

new forest

That life-work-life balance thing again

This seems to be a recurring theme for me – how to balance family with work and what percentage to give to what ? I know that I get it wrong most of the time. When you actually enjoy reading about educational issues and experimenting with software and tecchie stuff, this is one of the dangers. It doesn’t actually feel like work to catch up on the tweets about lastest teaching stuff, or to flick through a new textbook as it is actually interesting. But, having said that, at the end of the day, it IS still work.

This picture sums it up quite nicely for me.work life balance I feel it is important to work on those little bridges you can see which take you from life to work and from work to life in this picture. If those bridges are solidly in place, I am sure the rest kind of clicks. But the bridges are definitely the key to success, in my opinion.

On my To Do list for the weeks to come, I definitely want to read a really gripping book, one that you really don’t want tp put down and that you can get totally lost in. I also want to look after my garden. I talked a while back about dealing with the front bed before the weeds took over. Well, guess what ? The weeds did take over and I am going to have one heck of job on my hands to get that cleared !! But I will. And I want to do some furniture restoration. I love tinkering with old chairs and drawers, bringing them back to life. Those are my plans for the weeks to come.

Work-wise, as school starts to wind down for the exam season, it is time to think about the Big Tidy-Up. I haven’t cleaned out my study for years (if ever) and it was originally decorated as a nursery for my son, who is now 13. The teddies stencilled on the walls could perhaps do with an update. Maybe some funky and groovy colours, rather than the baby pastels ???

In terms of tidying, the end of year brings mountains of papers to my attention, that sit there, just getting bigger as the year progresses. They will all need to be filed away and sorted out. I dream of a paperless office – ha ha !!!

Does that sound quite balanced ? Still a little way to go yet, but I am getting there.watch this space