a change is as good as a holiday

white happy camper printed cup on brown wooden log
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Fresh scenes

For tired eyes

They reinvigorate

The waning soul

And makes time fly

In the mortal’s eye.

I went on my first little school trip today and it was so nice to get out of school and just see something different.

Because I have trained during a COVID year and it was still difficult at the beginning of this school year, I have not had the opportunity to go on any trips. This one wasn’t a proper trip, but at least I got out of the mad house that is our school.

Our Year 7 cohort are on camp this week and the first half went down to the camp on Monday and came back today. So, it was my job to get on a coach with the new group of students, have lunch at the camp and then go back on the coach with the first group.

I was only off the bus for about an hour and a half but it was still so nice to see the kids running around the woods and having fun. I couldn’t be spared from my department for the whole camp, but I would definitely like to go on a camp one year, and stay for the whole thing.

However, my day out of the office has really helped me feel a bit refreshed and ready to go for the second half of the week. A change is definitely as good as a holiday.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the centre court buzz

two person playing tennis
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Kate and Meghan lead the way

In tailored suits and shades worth more

Than all the clothes I own.

But all are rich, sitting eating cream

And strawberries like rubies in the bowl,

Evian on tap unless the Champagne’s popped

And when the players walk out onto court

That crowd erupts in cheers so tempered by

The English sensibilities. The dreams

Of tennis girls go up in flames

And unknowns win a flurry of top games.

This is the place where dreams are made,

This is our Centre Court – our stage.

So, Wimbledon Tennis Tournament started yesterday and we’ve already been treated to some great tennis, especially if you are a Brit and you were rooting for Emma or Andy. Both of our tennis superstars won on Centre Court and it just reminds us how special the place is.

Emma Raducanu had never actually played on Centre Court before and it was lovely to see her enjoying the experience. She seems to be the type of player who thrives on pressure and so that atmosphere probably served her well.

And then there’s the magic of seeing royalty and celebrities gracing the spectator area. Nobody will forget the 2018 championship when Kate and Meghan turned up together and everyone was whispering, wondering if they actually even liked each other.

My own personal anecdote comes courtesy of a friend I used to work with. A couple of years ago, her brother won a wild card ticket into the main championship and then he got through the first two rounds. Nobody had heard of him before and he ended up playing Federer on Centre Court.

For an hour or so we watched him on the telly, and we yelped every time the camera panned up to my friend in the royal box. He got hammered by Federer, but what an experience. It was like watching something out of a Hollywood movie.

Much Love

Rachel xx

tying the knot

wedding preparation
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They ran from palace walls

Into the forest where

Unruly beings cast their spells

And heard through rustling verdant leaves

The sound of clanging wedding bells.

I’m teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream to my Year 7s at the moment and I love hearing their take on the language and what it might mean. Some are way off the actual meaning, but even when it’s wrong, I love that they are thinking about the word choices and what they could possibly mean.

I think that it’s also interesting to get their thoughts on some of those bigger themes that Shakespeare tackles; the themes that keep his work relevant some 400 years after he was writing.

Today I was reading through their books and looking at some of the predictions that they were making as to what they think might happen as the story continues. Worryingly, there are a lot of them that seem to think that the characters are all going to be murdered. Perhaps they are getting confused with Macbeth?

I did notice another slip of the letters in one book. A girl had written that she thought Lysander and Hermia would kill Demetrius and Egeus and then they would ‘be free to exchange their vowels’.

Remember that if you are getting married and want to go against tradition there is always the option to exchange your consonants. Something to think about if you are planning your nuptials.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the funny things they say

close up photo of cat with its eyes closed
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I’m thinking of starting a little series on my blog called ‘the funny things they say’ because there are times when students say things that just make my day that bit brighter. Normally it’s something silly they’ve said and I end up feeling really bad for laughing, but personally I think it’s one of the highlights of this very tricky profession.

Yesterday I was teaching a Year 8 class who are quite bright but a little bit too bubbly sometimes. I enjoy their energy but sometimes it can boil over and become a bit annoying.

Anyway, it was a warm day and I was still tired from my run so I was trying my very best to keep my energy up. I was teaching them about refugees and the difference between people smuggling and people trafficking.

We had established that traffickers make a lot of money out of their illegal activities and then we were trying to get to a working definition for the smugglers.

We started off by working out that trafficking might be worse because people become trapped when they get sucked into that world. However, I think I might have made them them think that smuggling was therefore an OK activity.

One girl tentatively raised her hand and said ‘So, trafficking is like a really bad business, and smuggling is more like a hobby?’.

I had to pause slightly because I wasn’t expecting anyone to describe people smuggling as a hobby. I knew the behaviour at my school isn’t perfect but I didn’t think that the kids believed that hobbies could include crochet, watercolours and people smuggling.

You might want to give it a go as apparently it’s fun…

Much Love

Rachel xx

travelling home when all the trains have stopped

rail road under gray and orange cloudy sky during sunset
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We stand on platforms, staring

At our screens in desperate hope

That trains will sidle in

To dormant stations so that we

Can get to work in carriages

Stuffed until they burst at seams

But most importantly

We get to offices across the land

That doesn’t happen now.

The UK is a little bit crippled today because all of our railway workers have gone on strike. I wholeheartedly agree with strike action because it gives us the ability to have a voice, but I can also understand just how infuriating it must be if you use the trains to get to work, school or college.

When I was eighteen I lived in central London and I remember the trains going down because it had become too hot underground. It caused pandemonium and people were taking about four hours to get home. People were literally fighting over space on the buses.

Watching the news today reminded me of those few hot days in 2003 and how many of us felt being stuck at bus stops and waiting for hours, desperately texting family on our Nokia 330s to find out if they knew any other route home for us.

Good luck to anyone who is having to deal with the strikes this week and I really hope that for everyone’s sake, it all gets sorted out promptly.

Much Love

Rachel xx

PS I once got stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway and I was so convinced that I would never get out of the queue that I phoned a friend in tears to tell her that I was never going to get off the M3. She found it hilarious that I was in such a state, but it just goes to show how crappy you can feel when you are sure you’re never going to get home again!

to live life like a child

five assorted balloons
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Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel

The excitement of seeing your first bird,

A balloon on a string, bobbing along,

Or a field of wild flowers waving at you?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel that magic

In all of the small things we take for granted?

Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place

If we weren’t all in need of the latest phone,

We didn’t need those clothes with expensive labels,

We just needed hugs and sweetness and kisses?

Wouldn’t that make for a lovely new life

Without dark jealousies weighing us down?

the portrait artist

fashion woman dark girl
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He talks to all his subjects

As they sit in chairs for hours

Staring at one another

In intimate communion

He learns their darkest fears

And their hopes and dreams

And he hopes that he can capture that

In his pencil scratches.

I absolutely adore watching those shows where people paint portraits or landscapes, and if there is a competition element I enjoy it even more. You would think that watching someone paint is boring as hell, but there is something quite soothing about watching these shows.

But what really interests me is the relationship that is built up between painter and sitter. There is something very intimate about sitting face to face and studying someone so carefully for so long.

I find it interesting that some choose to just stare and explore, while others will happily chat away and build a more traditional friendship during their time together.

There was an artist called Marina Abramović, and although she didn’t paint, she did an exhibition where members of the public came and sat in front of her, silently. There was this magical bond that seemed to be formed between her and the sitter and it was quite emotional at times.

It just goes to show that we don’t need to have loads in common, or be physically intimate to create intimacy. Just being in each other’s presence will always be enough.

Much Love

Rachel xx

weeds

selective focus photo of wildflowers
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The purple flowers wind their way

Around the washing pole, biting at

The bright white sheets flapping in the breeze.

Uncontrolled they’ll eat the garden

Manicured last year, and now

It’s swamped with such expert ease.

She pulls them up with rubber gloves

Watching as they spring up faster than

She can pull the roots in muddy clumps

Neat only while she’s praying, pulling on her knees.

My garden is an absolute hell hole and I have no idea what to do with it. I have never been taught how to garden, and if I’m being honest, between keeping the inside of the flat tidy, and doing marking and planning for work, I’m feeling a bit too lazy to deal with it.

When we moved back in, the tenant had really let it go and I did a great job pulling up all the brambles. And that was where it ended.

One day, I’m going to get myself to Homebase and buy pots and gravel and flowers and I will have a beautiful little garden. But for now, I’ll just have to enjoy the wildflowers that are strangling everything around them.

Much Love

Rachel xx

out on the pier

people inside building
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Windswept with the sea salt air

The taste of vinegar lingering on our tongues

As we stroll along the creaking wooden boards

Arm in arm, passing zingy arcade games

And little cars on rails that pull the children in

With pound coin tokens from the booth

The cafe offers little warmth, but coffee

Draws us in and carrot cake or scones and jam

Watching woven waves come crashing in

Wondering where that charcoal ocean ends.

I have a real love of piers and every time I go to the seaside I insist on taking a walk down the pier. You just can’t beat the two pence tipping point machines, and the excitement you feel when twenty coins tumble into the tray at once.

I particularly enjoy piers on days when the weather is a bit rubbish. A couple of years ago, I went to Bournemouth in February and we took a walk down to the pier. We stood on the edge and watched the brave surfers who were covered in wetsuits, gloves and boots to keep them warm in the freezing water.

There is just something magical about not being able to see where the grey sea meets the sky, and hearing the waves crashing against the metal structure.

And of course, sitting on a bench, all wrapped up against the cold and eating fish and chips straight from the paper wrapper is just the best way to end the day.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the fabulousness of being four

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be four years old

And say what you think without being told

That you should watch your words and stop pulling faces

Or you’ll find yourself in trouble,

So don’t let grown up burst your bright bubble

And let your light shine in all the dark places.

So, let’s talk about Prince Louis. He’s only four and as the youngest of the Cambridge children, we haven’t seen him all that much. But this weekend he was front and centre and he didn’t disappoint.

The faces that Louis pulled during the Trooping of the Colour were priceless and this photograph has to be the best of the weekend. It just reminded me how precious it is to have a four year old in your life, to tell you exactly how it is.

I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend and I’d love to know what your moment of the Platty Joobs was.

Much Love

Rachel xx