Monday, 30 December 2013

Is there any felicity in the world superior to this?

Tea and books...I require nothing more for a day of holidaying. I'm very simple, aren't I? 
I spent my morning browsing through a bookshop and boutique shops as well as a teapot museum (yes, you read correctly, a museum of teapots and tea sets!). I had to restrain myself from buying up the entire bookshop as taking up residence in the teapot museum!! Instead I bought a few books (only 4!), came home and made myself a cup of tea and commenced reading. Yes, this is what school holidays were made for! Don't remind me that I have to start lesson planning and preparing for school anytime soon. I will hold on to my blissful ignorance of the date for now! In the meantime, any recommendations of books to read? If you recommend one to me, I will return the favour!!

(Aren't these teapots adorable?!)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

New Zealand 6 - ...of cabbages and kings...

Upon leaving Queenstown, we headed up towards Mt Cook and wended our way (don't you just love that phrase? I do) through some of the most beautiful scenery. Vividly blue glacial lakes, fields of vibrant purple, white, pink and blue lupins, sheep grazing peacefully in their paddocks and the occasional paddock of cows or deer. All this with the backdrop of snow capped mountains made for a very pleasant drive. 

We arrived at the hostel at Mt Cook and went for a walk to a good lookout point. Standing and looking up at the towering peaks sealed with snow I could not help but recall 'I lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help...' 

This brings us to the end as we spent one night at Rangitata-a little rafting lodge where we went for a walk and (of course) got lost and took the wrong track, but we retraced our steps, took another path, got lost again so went back to the lodge comforting ourselves with the fact that we had had some very beneficial exercise! 

And now, we are back at an airport ready to fly back to a place where the temperatures are at least ten degrees warmer than they are here!! It's been fun, made even more so by my travelling buddy, a 'certain little sister'- where will we go next? 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

New Zealand 5...of shoes and ships and sealing wax...

So much in so little time-I'm having trouble remembering everything we've seen!! Queenstown is beautiful with vast lakes, truly Remarkable mountains (they are called the Remarkables) and good walks. We did an hour long trek up to the Skyline which was a pretty heavy going walk for people who've been sittin on a bus for a week but the panoramic views were breathtaking and definitely worth it (however we did not walk down-we took the gondola!). 
We did a day trip out to Milford Sound today and did a short boat trip out on the Sound. It was very cold and it was overcast and quite rainy but luckily for us that means there are hundreds (no exaggeration!) of waterfalls coming off the mountains. We saw seals sunning themselves and went right out to the mouth of the Sound at the Tasman Sea. The sun finally came out for the long drive back to Queenstown and the rolling hills reflected the afternoon light. The long days are good value for travellers as you can pack so much more into a day when the sun doesn't set until almost 10pm! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

New Zealand 4- talk of many things...

We went on a two hour horse treck yesterday afternoon in the Franz Joseph Glacier region and even though it was overcast, rainy and cold, we had a terrific time. You should have seen the grin on 'a certain little sister's face'!! We are a little sore today, but have no regrets!! It was a great way to experience the scenery and do something different. We are off to new destinations today with more adventures to come! 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New Zealand 3- ...The time has come, the walrus said...

A tick on the bucket list was achieved with the TransAlpine train trip across the New Zealand Alps-the scenery truly was spectacularly breathtaking with plunging gorges, snow capped mountains and sparkling blue rivers with sweeping green plains to either side. For our stopover in Greymouth we stayed in a lovely little B&B owned by a lady named Mary who is a lovely grandmotherly sort who offers you tea and sits and chats. The house is full of interesting bits and pieces from her travels and she has plenty of stories to tell. Greymouth itself is quite small but there is some interesting history of coal and gold mining and shipping. you feel an earthquake when you are flying? Can you tell that one is happening? 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

New Zealand 2

Our first full day here was a day of sightseeing, mostly ducks, gardens and hills, but sightseeing nonetheless. We started off with a gondola ride just outside the city. The views were spectacular from the top and there were plenty of walking trails around to see things from a different vantage point. We then did a tourist tram through the city and then wandered around the botanic gardens. The amount of widespread destruction from the earthquakes is astonishing, this city is still a long way from being rebuilt and many of the beautiful old buildings like the cathedral are almost beyond repair. Our tour officially starts tomorrow so we will be off to new places in the morning. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

New Zealand 1

Can't think of a creative title for this series of blog posts, so this will have to do. Mostly a day of flying and airports today. I'd forgotten how organised I was, resulting in pleasant surprises of entertainment and meals on the plane already paid for! I'd completely forgotten that I had sorted that out when we had booked the flights earlier in the year! As always, I must look suspicious as I got pulled aside an my bags were swabbed-something like that always happens to me when I travel!! We arrived in Christchurch at 6pm to broad daylight and so went for a walk through the park and botanic gardens. It's still very light out at 8:30 which means we get extra time to explore...bargain! 

Friday, 13 December 2013

The final bell

There is nothing quite like driving out of the school gate on the last day of the school year. The teachers are running out of the gates faster than the students!
At this point, you know that you've done all you can, and anything you didn't manage to get done can wait. You can metaphorically shake the dust off your feet and as you drive through those gates, a weight slips off your shoulders and a sigh comes from somewhere deep inside you. The goodbyes are always sad, but you know people are going off on new adventures and your paths will cross again. And so ticks the wheel of time...

After my mere 2 years in the job, I'm feeling like a bit of an old hand at all this now...and as tired as I am now, I'm already excited for what next year holds and the new challenges it will bring. But, before all that, I need a holiday!

And on that note, the blog is turning back into a travel blog as the bags are packed and I'm off on a plane tomorrow morning (this time, taking 'a certain little sister' with me!) So watch this space for some travel posts!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Wending 'round the bends

I'm reading a childhood favourite of mine, 'Anne of Green Gables' at the moment. This is a series of novels that I've grown up different stages of life, I identify with Anne in different ways. As a little girl, I was captivated by her imagination, ironically, she became a teacher and so did I. She achieved a Bachelor of Arts in English, which just so happens to be my Bachelor of Arts major...The similarities don't stop there and I find that sometimes the characters in novels put into words exactly what I am struggling to articulate. This quote stood out to me in my reading today and perfectly expresses some of my current sentiments:

“When I left Queen's my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don't know what lies around the bend, but I am going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes - what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows - what new landscapes - what new beauties - what curves and hills and valleys farther on.”

Bends in the road are funny things. Life is not all that straightforward, as adulthood is teaching me. You never can be quite sure what lies around the bend...

Life and Monopoly

Do you ever feel that life is a bit like the game of Monopoly? You think you know where you are going and then all of a sudden, the dice rolls and you land somewhere you didn't intend to be. Maybe I'm to given to creating similes and metaphors for things instead of thinking them out practically, but what can I say, I'm an English teacher on the outside and a hopeless old-fashioned romantic on the inside.

When I play Monopoly I'm always the thimble piece: so the thimble is skipping along the board at a reasonable pace. Sometimes too quickly; other times not quickly enough. A few ups and downs, but these are minor and all is well, until, suddenly you land on Mayfair, Park Lane and pick up the 'Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200' all in the one round. Hold on. This wasn't part of the plan! My 'Go to jail' moment was a minor car accident I had, which resulted in writing off my car...and as you know, it can take a few rounds of being stuck in jail before you get out. But then, as suddenly as that happens, you get out of jail and the next thing you know, you've landed on the Community Chest square and picked up the card that says 'Bank Error in your favour'-the same week I wrote off my car, I received a letter from the Tax Office which surprisingly contained a error had been made with my tax return! Now I had to find a car to replace my old one. Now I'm on a good streak with the Monopoly Board, my cheque arrives from the insurance company and the payout, combined with my bonus tax return covers the cost of a new car. But good streaks don't last forever, and the very next week, the new car has a problem with the oil filter. So, onto the back of a trailer it goes for repairs (thankfully under warranty), but still...highly inconvenient. And then, as suddenly as it all happened, you go back to rolling the dice and moving around the board. And suddenly you realise how futile it all is, and that you really are just going around in circles and that it's all going too fast and you just want to I'm getting philosophical so I think I'd better stop before I get too carried away by the metaphor!

My last question is this though...what if I don't want to play anymore? How do I get out of the game? And what if I do get out of it and don't know what to do or how to do it? (Alright, I know, that was more than just one question-maths never was my strong suit!)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Lessons beyond the classroom

Here are some final lessons to remember:
A smile can brighten any day, anywhere
For it is a universal language
Wisdom is more important than knowledge
Being yourself is the best person you can be.

Never lose hope and never lose your dreams
Never be told that you aren’t enough
A life of fulfillment is lived for others
Change is inevitable: embrace it
Every day is a fresh start with no mistakes.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Poem

A Stroll Through Experience

Glimpse beyond imagination
Like a flash of lightning in a storm
Or a warm breath of wind
The whisper of innocence
Will tear through grief.

Its warmth will shine
Vow to be still and breathe
And let your thoughts be heard
However many times you fall
Do not be afraid to stand.

In the dark days of winter
Don't forget the light of summer.
However dark the clouds may be
The sun is not gone forever,
Have faith and hold on.

Never grow too old
To lay beneath the stars
Instead of 'why'? ask 'why not'?
Never lose hold of your dreams
Never be afraid to try.


To-do list

If you know me well, you know that I love to-do lists and sticky notes. In fact, I often write a sticky note to myself as a reminder to make a to-do list! I saw this and I think this is my to-do list for the weekend!

Monday, 1 July 2013

A thought for the day...

'Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service and character.' (William Arthur Ward)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Boutique Browsing

'Twas a nose-sniffling, rain-drizzling, fog-rolling, see-your-breath-as-you-exhale sort of day: perfect weather for an adventure by train in the mountains! As I walked along the platform in an attempt to keep warm and watched the fog drop lower I wondered why on earth I had let this weather keep me indoors yesterday! It is crisp and fresh and makes me feel alive! This is what you come to the mountains for.
As the trains gingerly make their way along the slippery tracks, screeching and squealing as they brake, you can't help but marvel at engineering-it really is all physics (as those who understand mathematics are continuously telling me!). Even though I don't understand it, I certainly do appreciate the benefits of mathematics.
Pure bookshop ever with a ladder to reach high books, a reading corner with cushions and nooks and crannies stuffed with books! What a beautiful sight. I wanted everything and had to severely counsel myself against very large purchases and only walked out with three books. Browsing art galleries, perusing boutique craft shops and dodging raindrops has made for a splendid day out!
Next up a stop for lunch, the most enormous bowl of soup you have ever seen! Followed by vegan cheesecake for a bit of holiday indulgence (yum!!!) and a spicy chai and I'm set to continue on my way.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

An Anecdote (Dedicated to my faithful, four-footed furry friend)

It rained the other night, and with the rain came an electrical storm. I don't mind a good electrical storm (a trait which probably comes from having grown up in the tropics!), however, my dog detests them. He cries and barks and is so terrified that his body shakes. This electrical storm hit just around bedtime and as the lights around the house were switched off, the thunder began to rumble and the dog began to bark. Because he is 'my' dog, responsibility fell to me to keep him quiet so that everyone else in the neighbourhood could sleep. Foolishly, I let him in to the garage for an hour while I stay up to finish off some work. This seems like a good idea at the time because the dog is quiet and everyone can sleep in blissful peace. The issue comes when I want to go to bed and have to kick the dog out. Can you see where this is going yet?
I open the internal door between the house and the garage and two big brown eyes glance up at me gratefully as a hairy, four-legged creature squeezes past me and into the house. I can just hear him thinking 'ah, now this is nice...warm, cosy, and I have company!'
Oh no you don't, dog! And so, as his tags rattle on his collar I attempt to coax him out the no avail. He begins pattering down the hallway, his claws clacking on the tiles...this dog is not going outside anytime soon. By this point I am tired and cold and getting grumpy, thus losing patience with said dog.
Resourcefulness kicks in-he likes bread! I run to the kitchen for a piece of bread to bribe him out with. Success!! He takes the bait and is outside! I close the door and breathe a sigh of relief...I speak too soon....the bread is gone in a minute and the thunder is still rumbling in the distance and rain is pouring down. The dog paws at the door and barks. I've now learned not to let him inside, so I decide that I will go outside this time...bad idea...I just get more grumpy and more tired and more cold and the dog is still not happy. Also, there are toads hopping around the yard and on the patio and I am petrified of stepping on one. I am also becoming increasingly irrational and am imagining toads leaping at my face or clinging to my leg. I am also getting wet and a very large toad is staring at me from the edge of the patio. *shudder* I come inside for a blanket and I guess the dog doesn't like toads either, because who squeezes in between my guessed it! Now I have to get him out luck this time, he doesn't fall for the bread trick again.
I decided that my best option was to put him back in the garage and to go to bed with an alarm set for 2 hours to let him out, because 2 hours of sleep is better than none!
Just as I climb into bed and close my eyes, the storm stops, the rain eases and all is still outside. I decided to seize the opportunity and get the dog out once and for all! No more bread left though...time to face my fear and step outside to the toad infested yard and try to bribe him out with food from his bucket. I tip-toe gingerly over to the bucket, trying not to look around too far-I'd rather not know how many toads are within leaping distance! And then I leave a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail of food from the hallway out the door and to outside-all the trembling and barking must have made him hungry because it worked! The dog was out, I was in and no toads had attacked me!!! Hooray!
By this time I am too tired to celebrate and crumple into bed. I have no idea if the dog barked again because I was too far gone to care!

(And next time it rains and storms, someone else is dealing with the dog!)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Playing with Poetry: Haiku

The early morning rose

A damp bud shivers.
Unfolding petal; spreads
A breath into the dawn.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Shape of Words

A student lately said to me, after I had helped him with editing and proofreading his draft, that 'before when I would read it, it would feel like a square, but now it feels like a circle.' What a fantastic expression!
Well, this got me thinking...yes, our writing should flow like a circle, instead of being rigid and awkward like a square...but what about the words we speak? Shouldn't they also be gentle and smooth, not rough and harsh like the corners of a square? The essence of the words can be the can still communicate the same general message, but it's about how you say it. The same thing can feel like a compliment or an insult depending on whether it is shaped like a circle or a square. So I challenge you: round off those corners and speak in circles. Soften your tone, take a deep breath and think twice before you speak. There's a big difference between criticising someone and gently correcting them. Are your words going to nudge someone on to bigger and better things, or leave them bruised and punctured?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A New Quest

For those who enjoy this blog, I have started another one here:

I will continue writing on this one as inspiration guides me!

(I've booked another trip so later in the year there will be more travel stories coming!)

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Simple things

A sloppy kiss on the knee by your dog who is always excited to see you...
A new bud on your favourite rose bush...
The pale pink haze in the sky as the sun goes down...
Whispers of a cool breeze rustling in the tree tops...
An encouraging note from a friend just when you need it...
A new found hobby (playing with a quill and ink is mine-best birthday present ever!)...
Beautiful music to soothe the soul...
Gooey, warm, chocolate brownie...
Steaming, fragrant chai tea...

It really doesn't take much to bring out a smile if you are willing to let it. Look around you-what is going to make you smile today?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Better Than Chocolate?

I loaned some of my favourite books to a student who is an avid reader, and as I handed them to her, she almost jumped up and down saying that it was 'better than Christmas and better than chocolate' to have new books to read for the holidays. She is a student after my own heart and what she said got me thinking....

Easter weekend is a chocoholic's favourite time of the year, however, there are things that are better than chocolate (as shocking as that revelation may be).

Here is what I think is better than chocolate:

More than anything else, I am looking forward to having time in the next 2 weeks of the Easter break. Even though I have plenty to fill my days and all kinds of engagements to keep, errands to run, jobs to do and work to get done (yes, teachers do work on the holidays because that is when we have time to get things done), I am looking forward to not hearing a school bell for two whole weeks. To not have my days dictated by an ear-splitting shriek will be pure bliss.
My alarm can still go in the mornings, but I have the luxury of eating breakfast at a leisurely pace and can sip my tea/coffee calmly, instead of scalding my throat by sculling it as the bell pierces my stolen moment of solitude.

Jane Austen had it right when Mr Tilney (Northanger Abbey) says "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." I for one am looking forward to finding pleasure in a good novel (or maybe even two) over the course of the holidays as well as indulging in some classic BBC Period Dramas.

The piles of paper and unanswered mail can finally be dealt with, the dust bunnies that have taken residence under my bed can be cleaned out and a few half completed projects may be somewhat closer to being completed by the end of the holidays.

A nice cup of tea, unnacompanied by marking or phone calls...

Seeing friends and spending time simply being, instead of constantly doing...

Yes indeed, there are some things in life that are better than chocolate (no discredit to good, silky dark chocolate though!)

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Dreaded Question

-The Dreaded Question-

'Where are you from?'
It was the dreaded question,
Asked out of forced politeness
My stomach sinks,
My heart skips a beat
As I mumble a reply:
'Here and there, I've
Been a few places.'
And then I escape the
Glazed over eyes, and
The questioning glances.
But the question haunts
When I'm all alone.
'Where are you from?'
Where am I from? I know
That somewhere I felt safe
There was a place where
I belonged, but here,
Here I am a curiosity
A strange unknown species
To be stared at and mocked
For an accent that
I did not even know I had.
Just once, can I be known
For who I am, not where I'm from.
Don't try to classify me
Like an animal in a zoo,
I'm not a hyena from Timbuktu
For once can you see
That it's who I am
And not where I'm from
That should matter to you.

Sea Dreams

The irony is that I hate the ocean, I won't go more than ankle deep in the water and I really dislike the salty, sticky and sandy state you end up in afterwards. However, I love looking at the ocean; I love the clouds reflecting in the water; I love the sunsets that set the sea on fire as they blaze with vibrant colours and I love the ever changing moods, especially as a storm rolls in and the clouds build up and a once glassy surface is whipped into a frenzy. I also love that I can be in a different country and look out over a different ocean and be overwhelmed by awe and wonder. All else around seems to fade away and I never tire of looking out to that horizon and dreaming...

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Over 100 Posts!

Did anyone else notice that I have written more than 100 posts? I thought that fact was worth a post of its own, so that makes 102 now! (Nothing else noteworthy to report, that simple fact should be enough) to make the next 100 posts even more interesting than the last...any ideas on what I can write about next?

Wandering in the Kingdom of Wonder #6 (or A Miserable Failure of a Blogger)

I have failed as a blogger...I have been home for 2 weeks and never finished chronicling my time in Cambodia (that's what happens when a school year starts-life revolves around lesson plans and all else falls by the wayside). They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and it would take me thousands of words to sum up the last few days in Cambodia, so I will use pictures instead. Enjoy!

A Cambodian wedding that spared no expense: extravagant flowers, a cake that towered above the guests and so much food!

Fun times in Kindy-face painting, playdough and reading

As the sun set on my time in Cambodia, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, to meet some amazing people and learn so many new things. Now I just have to figure out when I can go back!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Wandering in the 'Kingdom of Wonder' #6

Being the naive and easily excitable teacher that I am, I was very excited when Tuesday rolled around and it was time for school to start! Of course, three weeks off school is enough time to forget how exhausting and busy school is and after the first day I was very grateful to collapse on my bed. I have been helping with the kindy class in the mornings-16 3-5 year olds is challenging at the best of times, let alone when you speak a different language! Instruction giving and discipline are especially difficult, but the children are so cute and enthusiastic that it is hard not to laugh and just cuddle them. I have loved working with the kids and watching them as they learn how to interact and mimic the English words that we say to them. One of the big challenges is that the children are at very different levels (there is a big difference between a 3 year old and a 5 year old!) and they really need another teacher to be able to split the class to cater for the students' needs.
We have a much-needed break over lunch time and then in the afternoons there are adults and primary school age classes. We have been rotating around to each class and helping with conversational English as well as running some games and activities. I have been teaching a bit too which has been stretching, but good- these students are generally so motivated and well-behaved!! They are open to learning and have lots of questions (and I don't know all the answers!). The staff at the school have built very positive relationships with the students which makes it easy for us as a team because they already trust the staff. As an English teacher I have really enjoyed working with students who are eager to learn and are excited to be in class.
There are only a few days are left before we begin trekking home... It will be sad to leave to school but I am hoping that the experience of us being at the school is as positive for the students as it has been for me. On Saturday we are going to a Cambodian wedding, so stay tuned for that as I'm sure it will be quite the experience!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Wandering in the 'Kingdom of Wonder' #5

The adventures never end and life is never dull here! From painting walls one day (with a range of ingenious painting implements that allowed us to reach very high corners) to driving out to a little village school and then watching a sunset over the ocean; 'boredom' has disappeared from my vocabulary!
The village school trip was an experience I hope to never forget. The trip out required a bulldozer and grader to drive in front of us to make the road easily passable and as we rocked back and forth on the potholed/ nonexistent roads, picturesque scenery bobbed and dipped in perfect unison.
Upon arriving at the little school, we first toured the premises, consisting of 5 rooms, one of which was where the teachers (all 4 of them) lived. If teachers in Australia complain, they know nothing of the hard life of being a dedicated teacher- the teachers here earn half of the minimum wage, sitting them almost at the poverty line and they live at the school in very poor conditions- now that's dedication!! The children are so respectful of their teachers though and it is a respectable position within the community. Kamai (Cambodian language) is incredibly difficult (we have had a lesson and it is very hard!!) but the children were so enthusiastic as they recited their alphabet and read the characters. We tried to teach some of them the English alphabet and then we played tunnel ball and another game which I didn't understand the rules of- it looked like a combination if volleyball, soccer, basketball and rugby- essentially it was one group of kids chasing another group with lots
of squealing and laughing! A group of students from the Milk and Honey school organised the trip and ran most of it which was really good to see, I enjoyed standing back and taking photos of the kids and making friends with them. At first they were very shy, but they quickly warmed up to us and loved seeing photos of themselves!! The smiles of those children are probably my highlight thus far.
On the way back from the village we stopped for lunch with a twist- we had to go fishing to catch our own lunch!! I wasn't too keen on the idea of fishing (being a vegetarian and all) but it was too hard to mime that I didn't eat meat so I dangled a pole in the water and of course, Murphy's Law, when you don't want to catch anything, something bites!! I squealed and screamed as the poor little fish writhed until thankfully I was rescued and could bow out of the fishing exercise with a small amount of dignity intact! Although our fish was served for lunch, vegetables and rice were also served so I was saved from having to face the fish again!
We came back into town to run a few errands- sorting out some uniforms for the kindy kids at the Milk and Honey school, getting some meat for all the non-vegetarians and braving the town traffic provided ample entertainment until it was dinner time. Tonight we were in for a treat with watching the sun set over the ocean while we ate, with the sounds of waves lapping on the shore.
The drive home from dinner was a little more challenging as we went through some of the more dangerous and seedy parts of town- this area has one of the highest percentages of child trafficking in this part of the world and the contrast between the beautiful beaches and islands and the degradation of humanity is sickening.
Yet again I have rambled on, and all of this was just one day!! I will never be able to settle into 'normal' life at the rate I'm going here. This place has a way of getting under your skin and grabbing your heart- I have a feeling I'm going to find it hard to leave when the time comes, but for now, I intend to keep my eyes open and learn and grow as much as possible.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Wandering in the 'Kingdom of Wonder' #4

A brief stop in Pnomh Penh gave us enough time for some Cambodian history lessons as we went to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum where thousands of Cambodians were brutally murdered in the biggest genocide since WW2. It was very emotional and difficult to see the truth of what happened here but more than anything it makes me determined to fight to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again. We don't realise how fortunate we are in Australia until you see what has happened in other places.
Arriving at the school felt like coming home. It's nice to be able to unpack a bit and not have to repack too soon! I am very much looking forward to a hot shower when I get home though, as we only have a cold shower and a toilet that doesn't really flush- it's the little things we take for granted that I am learning to appreciate!
The school is larger than I had expected and there are lots of walls for us to paint- as I write this I am speckled in white paint-my painting clothes will remain as painting clothes as I don't think it will ever come off! We have explored quite a bit of the town (it's fairly small) and have been to the markets, at which you can buy everything- including a kitchen sink! The fruit and veg here is so fresh and lovely and in plentiful supply (and very cheap)- I don't think I can justify buying it in Australia when a big bag of mixed veggies costs $3 and you can eat a meal out, including a drink, for $4. As a team we are sharing the cooking so we each get a turn to go to the market to get our veggies for the day (although we have to go everywhere in small groups as it is unsafe to go alone). So far we have been doing work at the school (cleaning and painting and getting books ready for the library) but its not all work and no play- yesterday we went on a boat out to some islands which w
as beautiful (and I didn't get sunburned!!). Tomorrow we are going out to a village with some of the students from the school so that will be an exciting day and then school classes resume next week so we will be helping with the classes as well as continuing some of our work around the school.
So much has happened that it is hard to know where to start in writing about it; I apologise for the rambling train of thought in my writing, I shall try to think more clearly next time.

(On a side note, most of the team has been coming down with various gastro bugs and other ailments-please pray for us all to recover and stay well)