Book Reviews

Book 17: Camino Island

Book 17 of 2018: Camino Island 🌴 by John Grisham

Well, well, well… I’ve heard a lot about Mr Grisham and his writing but this is the first book of his I’ve read. I can honestly say I wish I hadn’t had so much work to do this week because I didn’t want to put the book down! I’ve been reading at everyone opportunity.

From the first word I was hooked. There are no wasted words, sentences or, more importantly, dialogue. Everything has its place in this story and it weaves together so smoothly you don’t even notice the transitions.

One thing that threw me was the quote on the cover “the best thriller writer alive…” whilst this may be true, this book was not a thriller. It wasn’t even suspenseful. However, it was an un-put-down-able read and I love every word.

I’m using this book for my #popsugarreadingchallenge prompt ‘a story about a heist’ but it could also work for ‘story set in a bookshop’ or ‘problems society faces’ PLUS there’s tonnes of books mentioned in it… so if you read this, you’ll easily be able to chose your next read for ‘book mentioned within another book’.

Join Denny, Mercer, Elaine and Cable on this bizarrely outrageous adventure, full of wine, late nights and lives on the run…

I’m giving it 4/5 stars 🌟 and will probably pass it on to a colleague who I think will enjoy it too!

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Education

The weekly round-up [22nd January]

Happy Friday everyone!

This week I was determined to encourage my Upper-Intermediate class to read more and guys, guess what? I DID IT. I FREAKING DID IT. On Wednesday I brought a box of books into the class and asked each student to pick a book, then told them we would read quietly for 15 minutes. It was deadly silent. The only noise was the turning of pages. I’m not even kidding. I nearly cried (see my blog post on things that made me cry this week…) After 15 minutes, “No, 5 more minutes, please?”

We had 5 minutes of ‘reflective writing’ – What have you just read? How do you feel about it? Share your thoughts with the person next to you…

At the end of the lesson they asked if we could do the same thing tomorrow. I could not believe it. So on Thursday, we had 20 minutes of silent reading. 3 students brought their own (English) books and 2 students checked out books from the library. I’m proud of myself for achieving that alone this week.

Even today two asked me why we weren’t reading today… #proud


I have also taken on a social media role at the school because I wanted to keep busy and focused. I get to interact more with the students, ask them to share their photos and talk more about their experiences here in the UK and at the school. Finding decent photos to take and uploading them to Instagram and Facebook… it’s all making my brain tick a little faster but I do love a project.

Thankfully, I think it’s paying off. We’re already getting more followers, hitting a pretty big audience and the main thing is that it’s fun. Everyone likes a good Instagram and I can only hope I achieve that.


Finally, we say goodbye to a group of 40 Argentinian students who have been an absolute wonder to teach. I’ve never met such dedicated, hard-working, lovely people in my life. For 16, 17 and 18 year olds, they are amazing. I have no doubt that their parents must be so proud of them. They are full of life and have great senses of humour, they’re kind and thoughtful and considering they didn’t know each other 4 weeks ago, you’d have thought they’d been friends since birth!


Next week brings even bigger challenges, but I’m ready for them.

  • To complete the newsletter
  • To improve the social media accounts and increase engagement
  • To plan more appealing lessons
  • To help my students speak and write more fluently (possibly starting with speaking)

Oh, one more thing, I’m off on a tour of Stonehenge and Salisbury tomorrow… but am one of the group leaders!! Eeek… I’m super nervous. Stay tuned, because I’ll be taking my camera and definitely be blogging about that tomorrow or Sunday.

Lots of love xo

health, Personal

Stressed not depressed

Firstly let me apologize for the slightly ‘down in the dumps’ topic, but then I’m being hypocritical really, as I like to remind people as often as I can that it is okay to talk about how you feel. Never apologize for sharing your thoughts. 

I’m stressing.

I’m stressing badly.

I feel absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of things that are racing through my mind every minute of the day. I don’t think I’ve had a decent night’s sleep in nearly 3 weeks and it’s drastically taking it’s toll.

I’m tired, grumpy, snappy and beyond emotional.
I keep welling up over the most stupid things.

This is what lack of sleep does to you.

But, what I have learned in the last year or two is that “one bad day, is not a bad life”. One day of hysterical crying, feeling like it’s the end of the world, doesn’t make it so.

It makes you human.

My depression has not come back. I am not depressed. I will not be depressed.

I am stressed.

And there’s a difference.


If there’s one thing I wish for myself, it’s to never have to experience the pain of depression ever again in my life. That feeling where you’re so low you’re breaking your own heart. I couldn’t experience that again and I truly hope that none of you do either.

However, if you are… REACH OUT AND TALK ABOUT IT. Promise me? Don’t do it alone.


Just lately I’ve been absolutely fine throughout the day, but the minute I get home I turn into an emotional wreck. I don’t want to hear any sounds, talk to anyone, do anything but lie in bed and cry. Or read, then cry.

Is anyone else feeling that way lately? Is it the weather? Am I not managing my time properly? I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong… Maybe it’s my diet? Whatever it is, I need to up my self-care game.



Things that have made me cry this week:

  • People thanking me for my work / help
  • Seeing all 12 of my students read silently for 20 minutes, with no phones or talking at all – their choice! and then ask to keep on reading
  • Finding out one of my students got a 5.5 on his IELTS and accepted into Cardiff (starting to well up now just thinking about it)
  • My students writing an entire page of homework, when 10 weeks ago they could barely write three sentences
  • Books. Always books.

I hope I’m not going crazy, but I really needed to put this out there.

I hope you’re not feeling this way either, but if you are, reach out!

xo

Book Reviews

Book 14 of 2018: A Gathering Light

I have another confession. I can’t even remember why I bought this book… but I’m glad I did!

Starting it on Monday, I couldn’t quite get into it. I started it thinking I would use it for the Popsugar prompt: True crime, but the story isn’t exactly based on the crime in question.

It is more about the people in the town in which the crime happened.

At page 177, I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down and it took me just a couple of hours to finish it.

A young, best friend duo, Mattie and Weaver, work their way through school, fight battles with outsiders and do everything in their power to help their families, even when the odds are against them.

For me, this story, despite being true, is about family values, determination and the importance of books. The enjoyment Mattie finds in reading, writing and learning new words resonates with me so strongly, and her determination to not let other people’s opinions of her hold her back is inspiring.

I wouldn’t class this book as crime, but it does address some serious issues, including race and infidelity, based in the early 1900s.

I’d rate it 3.5 stars – I enjoyed reading it but it didn’t particularly ‘move’ me.

Fashion

Hello Kitty hits the high street!

Okay ladies, this gorgeous little kitty is now hitting Primark stores across the UK and you can get your hands on her for just £6! You get to choose from a grey tshirt (pictured below), a navy pajama set or a trendy denim jacket. Prices range from £6 – 25 and are available at: Southampton, Bath, Bristol, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff and a few other cities.

You can check out Primark’s official instagram post here  : which has reached 52,000 likes in just 3 days! So I think it’s safe to say there’ll be a lot of ladies donning the cute items!

Have you bought any of them yet?

I’ve nabbed a tshirt and I absolutely love it… Super comfy and soft material too.

Book Reviews

Book 11 of 2018 – I Let You Go

First of all, I have a confession to make. I’ve tried twice to read this book, but moved on after a couple of pages each time.

Last Sunday and throughout the week I persevered. Despite only reading a few pages at a time at work, I made a real attempt last night.


11pm until 4am I was fixated on this book.

Wow.

Oh. My. God.

What a story!

Poor little Jacob loses his life to a hit-and-run accident, the driver flees and a year later the police still have no idea who was involved.

Ray and Kate make a strong detective team and refuse to give up on finding justice for Jacob.

What they do find is more than you can ever imagine. Join these characters on the journey from hell as they battle through family troubles, grief, loss and unsolved crimes…

I’m incredibly envious of the construction of the twists and turns in this novel. I would never have predicted any of them and I simply couldn’t put the book down.

I’m exhausted today but it was totally worth it for the book!

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 🤩

Education

The weekly round-up [15th January]

4 weeks Christmas holiday – sounds good, right?

Well, in all honesty, 10 days was more than long enough of a holiday before I was getting bored. I suppose because I love my job, having the weekend off is plenty of time before I’m ready to head back.

My first week back at school was challenging, without a doubt, but it has only reassured me that I absolutely love the career path I’m finally on.

Monday

  • 2 x 90 minute lessons – I felt rusty and like I’d lost my spark but good to be teaching some of my previous students, and some lovely new ones too

 

  • INSET session – you can read all about that here

  • I also met up with one of my previous teachers, and now a lovey friend, for catch up and coffee ☕️

 

  • Then my mum, sister and I went to watch The Greatest Showman and it was absolutely fantastic!!


Tuesday

  • In desperate need of coffee all day. Luckily I came home and my skinnycoffeeclub package had arrived! (Stay tuned for my blog post!)

  • I had short stories printed out for each of my Upper-Intermediate students, as I’m determined to get them reading before I head of to China. It went well, except for one student who sat and stared into space for 15 minutes. He definitely does not like reading.

Wednesday

  • I was in school before 8 again and desperately trying to find some fun things for my classes, but I was ready without realizing it.

 

  • The young Argentinian students I’m teaching are delightful. They’re so self-disciplined and well behaved. They’ve got loads of energy and always want to get involved – it’s lovely!

 

  • I had another reading session for the Upper-Ints and they seem to have enjoyed it. They’re just short stories that we tell children, to help them learn those sub-text morals – don’t go off with strangers, being kind goes a long way, don’t tell lies, etc.
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Credit to: siminiblocker.tumblr.com Simini Blocker
  • Then I walked into town and had dinner with my sister – aaaah how I love Mexican food!!


Thursday

  • Another pre-8 start and absolutely exhausted at this point. I’ve hardly slept well and really struggled this week. Today was especially trying my patience as I was over-tired, emotional and feeling down on my luck.

 

  • The lessons went well – we had a lot of pace; bits of grammar, vocab games, idioms and some writing work too.

 

  • In my ‘speaking’ class I used my favourite game – ‘Matching news headlines’: Each group gets two or three ‘phrases’ taken from different news headlines, they put them together to create their own story. Then the story has been created they swap groups and role-play interviews. We had a lot of laughs and good energy in the room! For an elementary / pre-int class these guys did impressively well with their vocab for this.

 

  • After my final lesson I spent an hour planning before heading over to AFC Bournemouth for a stadium tour with two of my colleagues and a group of students! It was a fantastic afternoon. Even though I used to work there, I never got to see the changing rooms or the VIP boxes. The students had a fantastic time and definitely enjoyed taking lots of photos. Andy and Jordan were great at showing us around, telling us lots of stories and about the history of the club. Thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an hour with the school!

  • Between 4:30 and 7:30, I had a looooong time to wait for the school’s music night – A sing along evening! I planned my lessons, walked up to subway, did some reading. By this point I was almost crying, almost falling asleep and extremely tempted to go home. I am so happy I stayed.

The music night happens every two weeks or so, and our Assistant Director Martin plays the guitar or ukulele and sings some favourite songs from traditional English to Oasis to The Beatles. Everyone joins in – clapping, dancing, funny shout-outs! It was such a mood-lifter. To make it even better, one of my students was celebrating his birthday and his friends had surprised him with cake, coffee and sweets, which they shared with the rest of us. I must admit, I absolutely love Arabic coffee. I must learn how to make it. Anyone got a recipe?


Friday

  • After finally getting into bed at midnight, I slept soundly until 7am. Thankfully my mum gave me a lift to work but I was so full of energy.

 

  • Intermediate class was brilliant – I had 5 students and I started with a word-search, followed by teaching them some new idioms and we tried to find Arabic and Turkish alternatives – I think we all enjoyed that! Then we played the ‘Headlines’ news game and that was brilliant. Some excellent stories about English teachers being kidnapped by pandas, a school director fell in love with a secretary after saving her from robbers… Such fun!

 

  • My Upper-int class was great. My lovely, lovely students bought Arabic coffee and chocolates for everyone. They know how much I love their coffee. We started off with an idioms recap, then played the matching headlines game – I just love how you can adapt this game to any lesson, any level. You can ask students to write out their story, write a dialogue for an interview… it requires them to speak, think, use their grammar and vocab correctly and it helps with pronunciation too, of course.

 

  • Then the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti gents went to mosque, which left me with the lovely Laura! We did some phrasal verbs, talked about applying for University, looked at using Pinterest for learning languages and started a reading comprehension. It felt like a really productive hour and hopefully she felt that way as well.

 

  • Unfortunately my speaking class didn’t go too well… I’m not sure why. I don’t know if the language was too difficult or if they just wanted to head off and start their weekend early… I felt guilty but I didn’t have a back up plan. Why didn’t I? I naively thought I wouldn’t need one.

 

  •  After work I was exhausted. I was so glad for Friday afternoon but I was determined to enjoy my weekend. I sat down and took up three spaces on the desk and planned out each of my three classes. I photocopied worksheets for grammar, role-play cards, board game work-sheets. I am ready for Monday!!


My brilliant colleagues all in matching shirts – totally unplanned!



My job is so rewarding and I am so grateful for the chances the management took employing me. I was a nervous wreck on my CELTA course but all I needed was the chance to improve and prove myself. I have worked so hard for this job and I will continue to do so every day.

big, big thanks to those that have given me tips and left lovely comments this week – please keep them coming as I am always looking for new ideas and genuinely appreciate them.