Category Archives: friends

Travel memories

Back in January, I went on a holiday with Trafalgar Tours to Spain, Morocco and Portugal. I was looking at my pictures I took the other day and realized I had never blogged about my trip!

Madrid airport

My trip began in Madrid. What a beautiful city! I was told that Spain in January can be cool and rainy – well I lucked out. All but one day was sunny and beautiful! Madrid is a city full of history and amazing architecture. And the food! It was all so delicious – and I even tried olives and liked some!

Beautiful morning in Madrid

Segovia was one of the stops on the tour. Absolutely stunning. The scenery took my breath away.

The aqueducts of Segovia

We headed south towards the Mediterranean and ended in Costa del Sol – Torremolinos. The sea, the beaches – this was paradise. If only we could have stayed another night.

This view

From Costa del Sol, we got on to the ferry and headed into Morocco. Morocco touched an array of senses – the smells, the noisiness of the medinas, the sights to see. It was something special to see!

The Medina

Morocco was amazing to see, but I was missing Spain and was excited to be heading back, on to Seville. The flamenco dancers! The food! The wine! I loved Seville – of all the places we visited, Seville was my favourite. It reminded me, in ways, of Prague. I would love to go back to Seville!

From Seville, we headed to Lisbon. Portugal is another beautiful country – I have yet to see a country in Europe that is NOT beautiful!

Our trip ended up back in Madrid. I saw so many things, and tried many new foods, and met some amazing people. It was definitely a trip I will remember forever. Trafalgar Tours once again did a stupendous job. I cannot recommend this company enough.

Mr. Mike’s Restaurant – Welland Ontario

As you walk through the doors, the aroma of the cooking steak wafts through.  It smells divine.  We were given the option of the restaurant side or the lodge side – the lodge side sounded more homey and fun, so we opted for the lodge side.

 

As we were seated, we discovered that there was a Jenga game ready to be played!   While we waited for the others to arrive, we embarked on a lively game and doing remarkably well too – I had never played Jenga before so was amazed at just how well I played!

 

The other ladies arrived, hugs were given and conversation abounded.  We were gently interrupted by the patient waiter asking for our order.  We took a few minutes to scour the enticing menu and finally decided on what to eat.  One ordered a steak, one ordered pasta and one ordered a “kick-ass” chicken salad.  I opted for the shrimp tacos, and I added a shareable bruschetta for all of us to enjoy.

 

While we waited for the appetizer to arrive, conversation continued about what our lives had been like since high school ended, how we ended up where we did, and generally catching up after many years.

 

The bruschetta arrived.  It is a toasted garlic baguette, with fresh tomato, red onion, fresh basil, herbed aioli, balsamic glaze and parmesan.  I have had a lot of bruschetta in my life and this was by far the BEST bruschetta I have ever had!  The herbed aioli with the balsamic glaze gave it a tang that was absolutely divine!!  I will go back just for that!  And there was enough to share with everyone.

 

The main course arrived shortly after.  The pasta dish had the herbed aioli drizzled over it and looked amazing.  The kick-ass chicken salad looked just that – kick ass.  And the steak looked delicious.  Everyone enjoyed their meals very much.  I had the shrimp tacos and I had three generous sized crispy panko shrimp tacos topped with tangy coleslaw, salsa, herbed aioli and fresh cilantro.  It was served with a lovely garden salad with ample vegetables and a light dressing.  The meal was hot and delicious.  The service was timely and we were not waiting long for the meals to arrive.

 

Of course, it would not be a girl’s night out without dessert!  I opted for the Rocky Mountain Madness which is a turtle and chocolate cheesecake with caramel in a chocolate cake shell with almonds, shaved chocolate, and chocolate hazelnut sauce.  It was sublime. It was rich and creamy and absolutely perfect to end the meal.

While it’s not cheap, neither is it too expensive.  And with the casualness of the restaurant and the general ambience, it is most definitely a place I will return to!  Mr. Mike’s is definitely a place to head to with friends.

What brings you happiness?

What brings you happiness?  Is it seeing someone special in your life every day?  A smile from a crush?  The light that shines in a child’s eyes when they see you after a long day at work?  Or does the end of the day, getting in your car and heading home bring you happiness?

 

For some people, getting up to go to work brings them happiness and a joy in their life.  I have been very fortunate in my life to have jobs/careers that have brought me much happiness.  Working at some of the law firms that I did definitely brought me happiness.  I know – it’s hard to believe but when I was working at some of the law firms, I actually got up and looked forward to going in to work!  Waking up and knowing I could go and teach brought me a lot of happiness.  Even now, working at Tim Horton’s, which I am sure some people don’t understand, brings me happiness.  It is a simple job that does not require much thinking, but I have such a great rapport with my fellow workers that makes it such a fun and happy place, most days.

 

What else brings me happiness?  Hearing from my kids.  Knowing that everything is good with them, and that they are thinking of me, just like I think of them every single day.  Knowing that even though we don’t talk every day, they know that I love them and think of them.

 

Being in Welland and with my parents has brought me much happiness this year.  It’s the first Christmas since 2010 that I have been in Welland and I am very fortunate to still have my parents around at my age, and I am incredibly grateful and happy for that.

 

Happiness is possible for everyone.  It’s how we react and think.  Every job can bring you happiness – you just have to have the right attitude.

 

What brings me happiness?  My family, my jobs, my friends all over the world, and life.

 

So what brings you happiness?

My life has been a bit surreal the past three years – leaving a full time job to become a TEFL teacher, traveling around Europe while teaching and then moving to teach in China.  It’s been amazing, and yes also a bit selfish.  I will admit it.  It has been very nice to think about myself and my welfare.  I had not forgotten that my family has been back in Canada dealing with everyday stuff and yes I have been stressed out at times because of the family matters that I was away from, but it was so nice to really think of myself for a few years.

 

Well, I am now back in Canada, living with my elderly parents, who are not very healthy.  The real world for me has come crashing back.  I will start a new full time job next week and I will be staying with my parents until some time after Christmas once I have managed to get enough savings up to move out on my own.

 

Living with sick elderly parents is challenging.  They are both fiercely independent and, even though my dad had a heart attack in the summer, are not happy that I want to do as much as I can for them.  And I really do want to do as much as I can for them.  Making sure they take their medication.  Wanting to do things for them, and them basically saying sit down and we can do it. I want to do everything for them and I know I can’t.

 

It’s scary and a bit sad to see how much my parents have aged over the past three years.  But I am a realist.  No one lives forever, and I know that probably sooner than later, the time will come to have to say good bye, for now, to my parents.  I am incredibly grateful to have been given this chance to come back and live with them and be able to help out when I can.  And although I want to continue to travel, and I know I will, right now I am here for my parents and am back to the “real world”.

 

I am anxious to re-start my life here and see old friends and make some new ones.

Things I will miss about China

 

In three days, I will be on a plane heading to Chile.   It’s been an interesting year, with many ups and downs.  I am happy to say that I have come through all of the ups and downs as a stronger, more determined person.

 

Despite having things I won’t miss, there are definitely things I will miss about being here.

 

  1. The kids. The kids I have taught this past year have taught me so much – they taught me that I have more patience than I thought I did!  They have shown me that I am a good teacher and that they have learned confidence in themselves, which has made me more confident in return.  The hugs, the shouts of Louisa in the streets, running up to me to say hi – I am going to miss them so much!   Can I bring them with me?  Maybe a few?  haha32debf354b8bc33b992f971b40528ea552064386

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  2. The food – I am definitely going to miss the food here!! Noodles, dumplings, beef and rice, chicken and rice, tofu, the produce – the list just goes on and on.  The food was delicious and cheap – my two favourite things!!   I will be on the lookout to try Chinese food wherever I go, just to compare.  I will be happy to compare it to what I have had here.
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  3. The generous nature of the Chinese people – at least where I live. I don’t know what it is like in the southern part of China, but for the most part, the people I have met here have been so generous and so kind to me.   I have really been lucky with the people I have encountered.
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  1. The greenness of this area that I live in – such an odd thing to say but they really keep my area nice. There are lots of trees, a beautiful park area to walk in and have picnics, and of course the community garden.  I am sure I will find beautiful areas to walk in once I get to South America, but I will miss that about this area.
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  1. The friends that I have made here – Zero, Cinderella, Nancy, Cassie, Blaze, Michael and so many others – teachers and friends – they have made my time here very special.
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  1. Nanhu Park – Changchun does not have a lot of touristy places to see. Nanhu Park is a big and beautiful park and lake in the middle of the city – it was a nice escape and made the city almost seem like it was smog free.    It was a great place to walk.20170430131353_IMG_0288_1493542960445

 

  1. The school – Livon was a special place to teach. The school looked like a mall.  Lots of modern amenities.  The atmosphere was great.  I was very lucky to have been placed in the best school in Changchun!IMG_20161215_120321_HDR

 

 

I am sure that, as I continue on with this journey of mine, I will realize how much I miss other things about China.  It is inevitable to happen but these are the things that I know I will  miss the most.

People of Changchun 2

Pictures of new friends, colleagues, and people I have come across during the year of being here.

 

20170430131620_IMG_0289Playing at Nanhu Park

 

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Lovely mothers and a grandmother of students

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Owner of my favourite cafe

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Owner’s wife of the cafe

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Two sisters out for dinner

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The dancers at night

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Dancing at Nanhu Park, love the costumes!!

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Playground near my home – a wonderful family oriented area!

The teachers of Livon

I have written a lot about the students I have taught over the past year, but not much has been said about the teachers who have helped me.

The primary teachers at Livon have been incredible. They have been helpful, generous and so very sweet. From assisting me in my classes, to helping me translate Chinese, and so much more ~ they have made my teaching experience very memorable.  I will miss them but I know that I have made some lifelong friends.


George ~ my Saturday assistant

Michael ~ an amazing young man and a lifelong friend

Mark ~ grade 3 and 4 assistant

Summer ~ grade 3 and 4 English teacher

Cassie ~ grade 1 English teacher

Winnie ~ grade 1 English teacher

Emily ~ an occasional assistant

Peter ~ my official liaison

Pamela ~ an occasional assistant

Ariel ~ an occasional assistant

Emma ~ grade 2 assistant

Lily ~ the head teacher of primary and one of the sweetest women I have met here

Sherry ~ grade 1 English teacher

Tesia ~ grade 1 English teacher

Naomi ~ grade 2 English Teacher ~ she was like a daughter ~ same age as my daughter!  Note the teary eyes…

Nancy ~ grade 1 English teacher and an amazing young woman!

Rainbow~ grade 2 English teacher and so much fun!  She always was so involved in my lessons!

I will miss them all!!