Monday, 8 June 2009

Hansel and Gretel

One of my favourite topics in Literacy has to be 'Traditional Fairytales'. Children just don't seem to know as many stories as they used to, and it's always surprising how many haven't even heard of classics such as Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel & Gretel. So every morning this week we've read a traditional story together, and it's been lovely. This morning, my story of choice was Hansel and Gretel.

It was horrific.

I'd already explained to the class how there are many different versions of the same story, and how authors such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson weren't afraid to write about unpleasant events and people. (As an example, we compared two different versions of Little Red Riding Hood- one where the wolf swallows Grandma whole but then gets sliced open by the woodcutter, and another where a book falls off a shelf onto his head, giving him a headache so he forgets about eating Grandma in the first place and becomes a much nicer person.)

But it was only when reading Hansel and Gretel that I realised how scary some of the stories really are. Not only do the poor children have abandonment issues after being left in a forest by their wicked stepmother (on three separate occasions), they then get tempted by a seemingly lovely lady who has lots of sweets and goodies, and promises to take care of them. Only it turns out that she's actually a cannibal who loves eating children, and one of them gets locked in a cage and is force fed until he gets fat enough for a juicy meal. While this is going on, poor Gretel is made a slave and has to work all night and day, terrified of the wicked child-eating lady. (I have never seen my class so gripped by a plotline...) It all turned out alright in the end though, as Gretel eventually pushes the woman into her own oven and cooks her alive. And they lived happily ever after.

Terrifying, non?

The best part of the lesson was when I asked "So, what do you think the moral of this story is?" to be greeted with the reply, "If you see a gingerbread house, don't go inside it".

I thought that Hansel and Gretel would make a rather good horror movie. But when I browsed YouTube for a cartoon version to show the class, I discovered that some bright sparks in South Korea had already jumped on that bandwagon. You've got to admit, the music is a little creepy.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

You can't stop the beat...

I love a good ceremony. Yesterday, we went to Daniel and Louise's wedding. Here's a picture of the happy couple:


At the reception, I was lucky enough to witness some rather splendid dance moves. Normally at weddings (especially at Salvation Army ones where the guests are sober), people tend to play it safe with the side-shuffle-in-a-big-circle option. If you look carefully, you might even notice it in the background...

Matt and Chris then attempted to re-enact a scene from Grease:

Finally, Ben and Glyn partnered up for a classic Barry White number:

Diversity, eat your heart out.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A week (or three) in pictures...

I was browsing through my phone when I realised that there were a few photos on there that I'd neglected to upload onto Facebook. And each one had a little story, so I thought it would be nice to put them on here instead. Unfortunately, it's taken about half an hour to work out how to upload four photos to this blog, so the post might be a little shorter than anticipated.

Here is a photo from my Bank Holiday weekend. Suz, Mike and I went on a little picnic to Danbury Lakes, only to discover it was pouring with rain when we got there. Not to be put off, we sat in the car and ate our sandwiches whilst admiring a family determined to share their lunch on the grass under a huge umbrella. So very British.

Last weekend, Heather and I went on a very special outing to Westfields. It was special because all she had ever talked about was her desire to own a Louis Vuitton bag, and finally her dream was about to come true. Doesn't she look happy? (The fact that she could have put a deposit on a house for the amount she paid for it is irrelevent...)

Here is a lovely photo of Heather and I playing with Ben's Warhammer figures (or is it figurines?) We tried to make their arms move, but I don't think they were supposed to. When Ben came into the room and saw what we were doing, I actually thought for a moment that he was going to kill us.

Lesson learnt: Warhammer take a long time to make and are NOT toys.

Finally, we were at Adventure Island the other day, debating whether to go on the new ghost train ride. However, when we tried to go on it, it was closed. We were a little upset until we read the sign outside the ride:

"Oh, they're RE-MAGICIALISING!" Ben said. "That's ok then..."

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Eavesdropping in the playground

"I can blink with my eyes closed."

"I promise my lips will be as closed as a mouse."

"Mrs. Smith hurt me."
"Don't be silly. How?"
"By telling me off. She hurt my life."

"My mum is gonna name my baby brother Toby."
"Really?! My invisible friend is called Toby. He's a donkey."

"Why do they call the small chocolate bars 'fun size'? I think it would be more fun to eat a big one."

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


So, I'm finally back from the Philippines after a long and rather stressful plane journey. I flew with Singapore Airlines, which meant that I had to change planes in Singapore. Unfortunately, it stated on my itinery that I would only have 45 minutes stopover time to make the connecting flight to London. Even more unfortunate was the fact that the computer system crashed in Manila, so my plane was delayed by an hour. Assuming I'd missed my flight (and a little disappointed I wouldn't get to ride in one of those beepy car things between the terminals) I sauntered off the plane in a leisurely fashion, only to be greeted by a man at the gate shouting at me, 'Are you London? Then GO! GATE 4! They are all waiting for you!' I ran onto the plane, at which point I realised that a whole cabin of English people (I hadn't seen an English person for two weeks) were glaring at me, as they had been waiting over half an hour. Of course, I wasn't the only person they were waiting for- there were about 15 of us- but still...

And while I'm on the subject of airports, does anyone else have a silent competition with the guy standing next to them at Baggage Reclaim? I do it without even realising. You know what it's like- everyone else seems to always get their luggage first, until there's only a few of you left. It feels like you've been standing there forever and know the people standing next to you really well, even though you haven't actually said a word to them. And the whole time you're thinking, 'I really hope my bag comes first... please be first.... come on...' I don't know why I bother, I always lose.
Anyway, this post was supposed to be about my holiday. I had a fantastic time, although it was rather different to last time as part of the holiday was spent in a province called Bicol, which is in a really remote part of the country with no internet access, phone signal or even proper roads! This was because every Holy Week my mum's family travel there (it was where they grew up) to take part in a town procession on Good Friday, as it's a Catholic tradition for them. It was a world away from the luxury I was used to in Manila, where all my aunties and uncles have lovely big houses with air conditioning and maids. By the time we reached the town it was very dark, and the house was literally in the middle of nowhere, near a tropical forest. Once I'd got used to the cockroaches and frogs (which seemed to be hopping about everywhere- I can't stand frogs!) I realised that I needed to relax and stop being so high maintenance. And once I did that, I had the experience of a lifetime. There aren't many places where you can drive around and see wild monkeys by the side of the road, and bats high up in the trees. I also got to see some amazing sights... here are a few photos from Bicol:
This is Mayon Volcano, the largest and most active volcano in the Philippines. Although you can't really see it here, it's in the shape of a near-perfect cone. And looks pretty impressive at sunset.
We visited some nearby natural hot springs, where the clear water flows straight from the volcano itself. It was a beautiful place and very refreshing!
When my uncle told me he was taking us on a boat trip to a desert island, I assumed he meant a modern motor boat. Oh, how wrong I was... It was a pretty cool way to travel though. Even though the boat owner laughed at me when I asked if he had any life jackets.
There was literally no-one else on this beach apart from us, not even any locals! And I saw some little sword fish when I was swimming. Very cool.

So that was the province of Bicol. Here are a few more photos from the main part of my holiday, which was spent in Manila:

Villa Escudero- where you eat lunch next to a man-made waterfall, with your legs dangling in the water. Fact: Filipinos love to eat. (Every meal is a feast, and during the meal they discuss the what they're going to cook for the next meal...)

Rafting. This was very hard work. And we couldn't work out how to turn the raft around, so in the end we just stood up and turned ourselves around to face the other way. Much easier.

My cousin Mikee and I at Camayan Beach Resort, in Subic Bay. Another stunning beach.


There's so much more I could write about, but I feel this is a long enough blog post. Here is a photo of the whole family- these are my first cousins, aunties and uncles on my mum's side of the family. It was fantastic seeing my Auntie Linda again and her daughter Trisha, who I'd never met before as my auntie moved to Canada years ago. I was also reunited with two of my uncles, who hadn't seen me since I was 14 (they're usually abroad as they're both ship captains).

They're not a bad bunch, really.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

To fill you in...

Here are the last two months summed up in statistics:

4 The number of incidents involving police that I have driven past on my way home from work- a car crash, a motorbike accident, a fire and a stabbing! (I should point out that all of these incidents occurred in Thorpe Bay or Southend, not in Leigh... Enough said.)

2 The number of places a little boy in my class had managed to break his ankle. Neither of us realised his ankle was broken, so he proceeded to do his spelling test and Show and Tell. What a trooper.

5 The number of choirs I currently belong to. It's great to be a part of so many little communities (some them overlapping) but I have a feeling something will have to give soon... I turned up at my friend Claire's gospel choir rehearsal the other day with 2 music folders, neither of which were the right ones.

7 The amount of Easter related chocolate gifts I received at the end of term. Only two of them were actually eggs- the rest were various farmyard animals. Yum.

1 The number of times I filled up my car with petrol before realising I had left my purse at home. My dad had to come to the rescue, as usual.

100 The amount of pounds I would have won at the casino (at our staff do last week) if I had been gambling with actual money instead of play chips. They had special 'training' tables just for us- I am now an expert at Blackjack. Although I spend most of the evening pretending I was in a James Bond film...

10 The average number of times I check facebook in a single day. Something has got to be done about this.

6 The number of musicals I have seen so far this year. Joseph, Hairspray, Beyond the Barricade, Chicago, Wicked and Flashdance... All of which were fantastic!

3 The number of times I have tried to eat at a Nando's restaurant this week, and failed to secure a table. That's three whole days of daydreaming about a lemon and herb chicken pitta with extra cheese, wasted.

19 The number of hours I have to spend on a plane by myself tomorrow- I'm off to the Philippines again to visit my relatives. I'm very excited!

30 The number of panic filled minutes I have just spent looking for my passport in preparation for said holiday. Argh. (I did find it...)

Monday, 9 February 2009

Another short conversation

Child: What's a stick insect?

Teacher: It's an insect that looks just like a stick. And, (realising this description isn't helping), it has antennae sticking out of its head.

Child: Why?

Teacher: A stick insect uses them to feel and explore the world around it.

Child: Really? I bet it can see really far away too. I wish I had ten eyes sticking out of MY head.