Number 97

As if it were yesterday, I can remember the very first evening class I taught: what I was wearing, what we did, who the participants were. It was a moment of thinking Gosh, yes, this is what I want to do. What I can do. I can also remember the moment in 2020 when I…

Who to choose?

Even if I hadn’t known before, a cycle ride for an ice-cream in our local village would leave me in absolutely no doubt that an election is looming. There are election posters and hoardings everywhere you look. We had an election just last week, but that was for our Mayor, and the town and county…

Planting forward

In autumn some years ago my daughter (already on Borneo) was ill enough to have to go to hospital. I remember the panic of serious illness happening to someone I love, and that she was so far away made it seem much worse. I felt so helpless, so I did what I always do when…

A penguin of one’s own

I was already teaching eager Germans to speak English when I met my lovely husband. I knew what I was doing from the language and teaching point of view, but was sadly ragged when it came to the presentation of my materials, or knowing how to swim in the ocean of German business life. The…

Ordnung ist das halbe Leben*

It was our wedding anniversary last week. As one British message said, “19 years and your patio is still intact” (i.e. neither of us has murdered the other and buried them under our terrace, which many British people call a patio – it’s a Spanish word which originally meant an interior courtyard.) Living together is…

You shall have a salmon…

Somehow, it was always clear that if my children went to university, it would be in the UK. It must have been a dreadful culture shock for both of them, because I had indoctrinated them with a view of the country as I knew it when last living there, which was 1977. It must have…

Insect of the week

How I laughed last week during an online session with one of my VHS groups. The VHS is the Volkshochschule, the German institution which is in charge of organising adult education all over the country. People who have something to teach – whether it’s English, or pottery, or babysitting, or IT, or yoga – offer…

For those in peril on the sea

Just as in our rural village we know that the members of volunteer fire brigade will drop whatever they are doing and rush to help when they hear the sirens, the people I used to know on the Scillies listened for the sound of the lifeboat maroon, counted the number of booms and knew that…

Climbing every mountain

Picture the scene: it’s a hot afternoon in August 1965. Little Carys and her parents are spending the holidays – as so often – with the Welsh grandparents, and one afternoon decide to go to the cinema. The film showing is The Sound of Music, and little Carys, always easily moved, is blown away by…

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