Saturday, 29 December 2007

race of champions

Just before we left London Ant and I went to the Wembley Stadium for the Race of Champions. Wembley had been transformed with the pitch covered over in tarmac and a one kilometer race track constructed.

Motorsport drivers from all different disciplines were there racing against each other. I bought the tickets in the summer for Ant's birthday when I heard that the Formula One ace Michael Schumacher would be racing. He was brilliant, setting track record after track record, but he narrowly missed gaining the Champion of Champions crown.

We also watched stunt drivers and motorbikes. This stunt driver put his car into a doughnut spin, then climbed out the window while it was still spinning and stood on the bonnet while the car whipped round, to much applause. Then he ran over to his other car and put it into a spin around the still rotating original car. He finished by climbing out of the second car and returning to the first to drive it away in a puff of smoke.

When we came out it was night time. We queued with thousands of people to get back onto the tube. It was very well managed by horseback policemen and we made it home incident free.

thought of the day

"Science has radically changed the conditions of human life on Earth. It has expanded our knowledge and our power but not our capacity to use them with wisdom."

- J. William Fulbright

God, may we grow in wisdom this year as we seek to use our knowledge and power more responsibly. Teach us to love each other and our world.

Friday, 21 December 2007


The term is over. It's been the busiest term of my career and I am proud that it is also the first half term that I have gone without a sick day. This may be due in part to getting a flu jab in October, which I now intend to do yearly. I had so many reports and parents' evenings in the last month and a half that it hardly seems possible that there could be any left (although there are both on the first week back in January...).

We spent most of yesterday travelling. We ordered a cab to take us to Heathrow for our morning flight. When were just outside the airport, I checked the tickets to see which terminal we were heading for and discovered we were actually flying from Gatwick airport! The cabbie laughed and sped around the M25 for us. After a massive cab fare we managed to make our plane and even saw Matt and Bree at the gate before they headed home to Texas for Christmas.

Now we are in New Jersey visiting Ant's uncle and family for two nights. Ant has three adorable cousins, Sam, Jessica, and Emily. They are at school for half a day today and while they are out Ant is practicing on their Wii. I have tried the bowling and I made my Mii character. It is really quite fun. I approve of a video game that makes you move; kudos to Nintendo for a good idea. Ant has again displayed that he is an extremely fast learner; he has mastered bowling and tennis and is now learning to golf.

We fly to Halifax on Saturday and we're both so excited to see family and to be home relaxing.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

new year's resolution, early

Last weekend I picked up a couple of second hand books at the library book sale (so now you know how I spend my exciting weekends!). Last weekend also involved some searching questions about my career goals with Ant and Matt and Bree. One of Bree's career values tests revealed that I prize the ability to learn and gain knowledge above other job qualities.

As a result I've started having that resolutions feeling a month early. First on the list is turning away from the TV more and turning to books more. I have so many books that I really want to read at the moment and I know they will improve my mind and my life if I do. One of the books from the library book sale is Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey, subtitled How my Faith Survived the Church. I've read the first two chapters about two people who exemplified faith to Yancey when he was questioning: Martin Luther King Jr. and GK Chesterton. It's been fascinating so far and very inspiring. Also on the list of things to read is Conflict of Visions, a book I was lent recently about the two main ideological views behind politics. At school I've also started spending mroe time reading: at lunch, while I'm chomping on my sandwich. I'm working on a behaviour management book which has been very interesting so far. At bedtime I've turned back to Kenneth Boa's Face to Face prayer book. It's been good to examine my days each evening and talk to God about his grace and plans. As stated by another author who shaped my ideas, Bill Hybels, "an unexamined life is not worth living."

Maybe some of these new ideas will help me figure out what I am doing in my career. I feel more at ease with my mind more engaged and examining in my everyday life.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


Our pastor said something today I had not heard before about oil in the Bible. We were reading the parable of the virgins waiting for the bridegroom in Matthew 25:1-13. They are bridesmaids waiting to escort the groom to collect his bride. Their job is to light the way with their lamps and to dance with the couple as he takes his bride back to his house for a seven day celebration. Five of them don't bring along enough extra oil and so their lamps go out before he arrives. These foolish women miss the celebration because they're not well enough prepared. The other five bridesmaids bring extra oil and so they're ready when the groom arrives. They accompany the couple, dancing, into the wedding banquet. Jesus tells his disciples to be careful and watch because in the same way his second coming will be a surprise and we want to be well prepared.

Since it's the start of Advent, Pastor Hany was saying that we need to be expectant, prepared, and ready for a celebration when Christ comes again. And he said that oil in the Bible often symbolises the Holy Spirit. This is an idea I had not come across before. But he mentioned that when priests or kings were anointed with oil it was a symbol of the Holy Spirit coming on them. (For example, in 1 Samuel 16:13, "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.") So the five bridesmaids who weren't prepared for the groom and his banquet can tell us that we must have enough of the Holy Spirit to live expectantly.

So, Lord, pour out your Spirit as you say (in Joel 2:28-29, "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.... on my servants, both men and women"). May I be expectant and prepared for you.

Monday, 26 November 2007

a few random photos

Here are a few photos from the last few weeks that I have been too preoccupied to post.

My kitchen table during a busy marking day one Saturday.

Bree and I went to Buckingham Palace a few Sundays ago on one of my city walks.

The Palace is closed most of the year (because the Queen lives there, duh). I wish we would have gone to see it this summer like we kept saying we should. Hopefully Bree will still be here next summer to go with me.

These are the gates to Green Park (one of the royal parks).

As we were walking through Green Park and Hyde Park, dusk was falling. We timed our walk to finish when it was dark and take the train home. This is the pond in Hyde Park. Alongside the pond there were large groups of roller bladers who meet on Sundays for a big group skate.

This is a photo of what I consider dessert when Ant is not around. We don't make dessert very much, but when we do Ant always prefers chocolate. Me, I prefer fruit. This is only a dessert by name--it only contains granola, plain yoghurt, and stewed cranberries--hardly any sugar.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

long silence

I've been hiding out over the last week because Ant's mum has been very ill and died yesterday. He and his sisters were able to be with her until the end and she died peacefully, although suddenly. Please pray as Ant has to make all the arrangements now. I will be away this weekend with his family.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

--Psalm 91:2

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


--from Indexed

Saturday, 27 October 2007

plant of the week

Here's this week's plant from Ikea, now sitting on the table in our entrance area. We also bought baskets for bathroom storage which hang on little hooks, and this let me clean up everything in the bathroom so there are no boxes on the floor any more.

Our kitchen lighting dramatically improved after we bought new light bulbs--150 watt halogen bulbs for the spots and a huge white paper shade for the light above the table. A new dish rack means I can stack up even more washing up. We bought a box of picture hooks, which is a huge bonus. Having all our pictures up makes things feel a lot more like home. We bought a small canvas photo of a purple flower for our bedroom. Two new pillows for the living room make our sofa bed a bit more comfortable.

Finally, we also bought a new duvet cover. Quite a lot of the money we saved by not going away this week we spent at Ikea. Our house feels like a real home now.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

many errands done this week

I am happy to report that one of the most functional outcomes of this week is that we have got loads of little things done. We took our bikes for a service (my chain needed a link taken out, Ant needed new brake discs). Yesterday I got my flu vaccination--a huge bonus since I seem to be taken ill much too frequently. I've been to the dentist twice this week, once for a check-up and once for a cleaning. (It's been more than two years since I've been to the dentist. (!) Considering that, I'm chuffed that I had no filings and no gum problems either.) My teeth feel lovely and clean. Today we are off to Ikea to get some mirror findings and a towel rack and, of course, to pick up the plant of the week. It's great to get things done, as well as spending lots of good time together and relaxing.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

the Horniman museum day out

Ant and I ventured out to south east London to the Horniman Museum today. It was perhaps a mistake to go there this week--it was overrun with primary aged children and mothers pushing buggies. On the up side there were quite a few interesting displays with animals and a great set of aquariums. We saw crabs, sea anemones, and this case of jellyfish.

They also had tanks from different climates, including this case of tropical fish.

Try to spot the two tree frogs in this case.

We eventually left without seeing all the exhibits because we had both reached our limit of excitable, loud children. This evening we went out for dinner at Le Gothique, a restaurant we have heard about a few times that is near us. The food was good, our server was polite and attentive, although a little scatterbrained. It is truly autumn now and I shivered on the way there and home via the bus, wearing my scarf and a hat.

Monday, 22 October 2007

city walk #18: Hampstead

Ant and I headed into North of the river today to walk on Hampstead Heath. It's a huge open space, mostly left naturally. We rambled around and up Parliament Hill to see a great view of the city. Surprisingly, although London is full of people and buildings, it's also quite green as well.

At the north end of the heath is this large building, Kenwood House, with massive grounds and ponds surrounding it.

We had worked up quite an appetite by then (due in part to a few wrong turnings in the wilds of the park), so we exited at the north gate and headed to a pub recommended by the city walks card, The Spaniard's Inn. There in the dark, atmospheric dining area, Ant and I had a truly delicious meal. He had wild boar sausages with creamy mash and gravy. I had a sweet potato and goat's cheese lasagne. Afterwards I worked up the courage to ask about the chef's recipe; I will try it out on our next unsuspecting dinner guests.

We wandered up and down Hampstead High Street, in and out of little shops. We finished off our little trip in Louis, a Hungarian confectionery and tea shop. We managed to squeeze in and were amazed at how many others were evidently enjoying their Monday afternoon cuppa. There were some exceedingly posh accents heard near us. One came from an elderly man who exclaimed how apt Ant's t-shirt was: "Make tea not war".

It started to rain as we left the tea shop, so we headed back underground and home to our sauna-like flat. (The plumbers came round this morning to put some chemicals in the radiators to clean out the system and, as a result, the heating has to be on all week.) We are now tired, happy and full, roasting in the lounge.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

a week off

It's the beginning of that wonderful British invention, the half term holiday. Ant is also taking a week off and we are really looking forward to some time together. We thought about going away, but started adding up the costs and saw that is could be quite pricey. So instead we decided to take the money we could spend on going away and use some of it to do some things in London that we normally wouldn't do.

Also on the agenda is having our radiator system de-scaled, a week-long process that our landlords have arranged to happen on the week that we're off so we can let the plumbers in.

I am going to the dentist on Monday. It will be my first visit since I moved to the UK, shockingly. Ant also had a dentist's appointment recently. We have vowed to go to the dentist regularly from now on.

The book club meets on Wednesday evening. We are reading The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro.

Ideas for this week, still only possibilities:
--go to a show (a musical or a play)
--have tea at the Ritz
--a river cruise
--visit Sir John Soane's museum
--do some wine tasting at Vinopolis

Saturday, 20 October 2007

sporting weekend

Today we are watching:
--the Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying
--the rugby World Cup final (England vs. South Africa)
Tomorrow we are watching:
--the Brazilian Grand Prix (the last race of the season, destined to be a nail-biter)

Thursday, 18 October 2007

a post for Paul

Paul is my favourite portrait photographer. At Christmas he took a full set of portraits of our extended family on Dad's side.

This photo series of people and their breakfasts reminds me of Paul's work.

I am eagerly awaiting Paul's photo series of people and their shoes, which I think I recall discussing with him. Other ideas from anyone else?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

daily poetry

All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the judgment day.

O may my soul on Thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.

O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns divine with angels sing,
All praise to thee, eternal King?

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

--Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

This poem is taken from my One Year Book of Poetry. The ideas about sleep and death may be a topic for the study I'll be leading in a few weeks when the young people meet at our house. "Hardly anyone is afraid to go to sleep at night because there is nothing to fear," the commentators say. And that is a view that Christians can have about death, since there is hope beyond death and nothing to fear.

Monday, 15 October 2007


I. Am. Sick. Again. Blech.

Maybe I will get a flu jab. It would be worth the money. I am fed up of being ill.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

a new meat!

Well, almost new. Ant's Nan sent him a box full of beef for his birthday this summer. (Beef! I ask you.) It was delivered by courier straight from the Scottish highlands. It's from the same beef farm that provides beef to the Queen's household. Tonight we ate our first two steaks--one sirloin steak and one fillet steak. I am not a big beef fan and I have been scared about cooking it since it arrived. But Ant says the reason I always make nasty beef is because I do not start with a good enough cut of meat. Well, these are the best pieces of beef I have ever laid eyes on.

We cooked baby potatoes and roasted parsnips, carrots, onions, and squash to go with the steaks. We deglazed the pan with some mushrooms and let the beef rest before plating up.

It was delicious. Even I, who don't really like beef, must admit that is was amazing.

But I also must add that the roasted vegetables were the best part of the meal.

a new vegetable!

My dad grows vegetables in the back garden. He used to grow zucchini and always moaned about how prolific they were and what to do with them. He searched one year and found a chocolate cake recipe that used grated zucchini--what a way to use up a vegetable.

Since moving to the UK I have discovered the zucchini's more popular brother, the courgette. :) The courgette seems to me to be a much more versatile vegetable. Last week I ordered a bag of ten small ones with my shopping and here are some of the things I did with them.

--Pasta bake with a vegetable sauce (one can of tomatoes, two grated courgettes, two grated carrots, a small can of sweetcorn, one can of chickpeas)
--Fish fingers with a green vegetable medley (one finely chopped courgette, half a leek, cut into rings, and two handfuls of peas (from the freezer))
--Chicken stir-fry with carrots, mushrooms, courgette slices, finely chopped onion

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Canadian authors

My book club is run by Network Canada and for the last two months we have made an effort to chose Canadian books. I am still reading September's book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam. My dad got me this Giller Prize winner for Christmas and I put off reading it until now because of the book club. We had to acquire all our copies from Canada because it wasn't on sale here. That proved to be a bit difficult and so our choice this month is also on sale in the UK: Alice Munro's View from Castle Rock. I got it from the library today.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

internet: yay!

Our internet is back today--two weeks ahead of schedule! Woohoo! I am going to spend most of my online time tonight (which is short since it's almost bedtime) posting some pictures of our new flat.

Our bedroom has the largest wardrobe space I have ever seen in a British bedroom.

With the bookshelves in the lounge, we can now use our bedroom shelving unit for storage. The silver storage boxes will stay and we are still going to unpack the other boxes.

The study is still unpacked and chocker with our desks, filing cabinet, and boxes.

Here you can see the view looking to the stairs at the front of the flat and the bike rack. Up the two stairs, our bedroom door and the lounge door are on the left. The study door is straight ahead. I am standing next to the bathroom door and the door to Matt's bedroom. Behind me is the kitchen.

The bathroom will be getting a new shower curtain and toilet seat this weekend. I really like the mauve-ish grey colour on the walls.

The kitchen is the most organised of all the rooms so far. I took this picture while standing on one of our dining chairs.

Well, that's all folks. I am overtired from a school event last night. I think I may be coming down with something as well. I must get into bed before I become ill. But I will certainly be online again soon. Let's hear it for a fast hook-up of broadband!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

new flat!

Yesterday we moved to our new place. We made two trips to the tip and one trip to the Salvation Army. We then packed all out boxes and furniture into several van loads. We passed a lot of it out through our bedroom window. We had some great help from Matt and Bree, who helped us carry all that stuff up the stairs that lead just inside the door to our first floor flat.

We had some food that (our) Matt and his Dad picked up. Then we spent the rest of the evening moving things around and trying to create some order in the chaos. Here is the kitchen after tonight's efforts as well.

From the other side of the kitchen and outside the door you can see that we have an eat-in table! At the moment it's buried under chairs and plastic bins.

Here's a shot of our lounge--lots of shelves to hold all our books.

And the best part of this flat is the bike rack above the stairs. Check out all three of our bikes hanging here.

Ant took this picture from on the stairs under the bikes.

I'm writing this post with the broadband that was here in the flat from before. It's due to be cut off tomorrow, I think. So I will be sadly unavailable for a while. Call me instead to catch up!

Friday, 28 September 2007

cleaning out

While packing today Ant found Matt's Tommytronic 3D video game. I have never even heard of it but both Ant and Matt said the were enraptured with it as children. The game Matt has is called Sky Attack. I played my first game and was very taken! I got 55 points by moving left and right to one of three positions and shooting overhead airplanes that drop bombs on my tank. My second time was much better and I got 155 points, while ducking and dodging with my head while playing. (I was also one of those children who played Mario on the Game Boy by physically jumping with it.)

Thursday, 27 September 2007

moving house

Ant and I and Matt all have tomorrow off for packing and then we move on Saturday. Tonight after work ant and I packed up all the clothes, towels, blankets, and linens and here they are! We are getting rid of these terrible wardrobes (there are built-in closets in our new place, and these old ones are listing to one side).

And here's the stack of archive boxes waiting to be used. They are completely blocking our little front corridor.

Our land line will be inactive after Saturday. We'll be getting a new number about ten working days later--shocking! But our mobile numbers are still good.

More news as events warrant. Our internet will also disappear after Saturday, unless we can strike a deal with our neighbours to borrow wireless. Otherwise, we will be without internet for about four weeks. Sob!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

sarah the clumsy

Tonight while parking my bike I somehow managed to get covered in chain grease. This happens to me quite regularly. Just call me Little Miss Clumsy.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

thought of the day

"Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice and need."

- Voltaire

(from the Globe and Mail's Social Studies, 21 September 2007)

Thursday, 20 September 2007

finding beauty in ugliness

To add to the post below, I can be thankful for the shortening and more ugly days lately. I was reading about Alain de Botton's writing room (an author that Si introduced me to as the writer of a book about architectural beauty). De Botton says that his dreary writing room increases his productivity and prompted him to write his architecture book. "My study is so ugly, it leaves me no option but to try to forget about it by escaping into my work." My Dad did his PhD in Aberdeen, Scotland, a city where academics said the weather was just nice enough to keep you from being too depressed but never nice enough to distract you from your research. It was regularly grey and dingy--and my Dad found it very conducive to study. And so I, too, can be thankful for the darkening days which focus me on my work and Ant and church and important people in our lives. I don't really like autumn or winter, so maybe I'll find more reasons to be thankful for it this year.

bring thankful

I was reading today about being thankful. I used to record eight things I was thankful for every day in my prayer diary. That was a good habit. The article I was reading today suggesting thanking God for troubles and challenges as part of my routine as well.

I'm thankful for my new tutor group of eleven year olds. I find them challenging since they need a lot of guidance. But I appreciate that they are eager to do well at school and they don't misbehave maliciously. God, help me to get to know them more and to deal with them fairly and kindly.

I'm thankful for my second year at my school. I have a lot of prep work from last year that is going to pay off this year. I'm thankful that it's a good school where everything runs quite well. God, help me become an even better teacher this year.

I'm really tired at the moment due to a heavy schedule at work every second week. Thanks, God, for getting me through this week. Thanks for this challenge. Help me to stay healthy and keep things balanced at work.

I'm thankful for the new flat we will be moving to (in a week and a half's time!). We're really thankful for the bigger size--two double bedrooms and a third smaller bedroom that we'll use as a study. God, please help our transition be a smooth one.

I'm thankful for our friends, Chris and Tam. Sadly they are leaving to go home to Sydney, Australia in about a week. We love eating, walking, and relaxing with them. God, please help them settle into a new routine and help Chris find work. Thanks that you already have that lined up.

I'm thankful for my family, and especially for my brother, Paul, who is now astoundingly old after his birthday yesterday! God, please may this be a year of blessing and growth for him.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

a profitable weekend

Matt and Bree came over on Friday evening to watch The Queen.

I marked a set of tests.

I spent two hours at our free community BBQ hosted by the combined churches. I gave out leaflets and did some singing.

I mopped the floors (see below)!

Justin came over and the three of us played Knights and Cities of Catan.

I led worship at church today.

Ant and I watched the Formula One race in Belgium. Yay, Kimi!

Ant and I cleaned out our bookcase in preparation for moving in two weeks. We bundled up all the books we'll be taking with us to our new place.

And we piled up a stack to give away.

And Ant and I had dinner with Chris and Tam at a Thai restaurant. We finished our weekend with dessert and coffee nearby.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

tease me

Well, a post such as this one may be a very silly thing to write. It's like sticking a "kick me" sign on my own back. But it is an insight into how weird I truly am.

I mopped my first floor today. I have never used a mop before in my life. Ant said he would teach me how to do it! In the past I scrubbed our floors--just as I learned from my mother. Unfortunately (for her and for me) it's back-breaking, hard work. So out we went today and bought a mop and mop bucket (see what exciting lives we lead!). Then Ant enlightened me with his secret mopping recipe: boiling water, bleach, laundry powder and a little squirt of washing-up liquid. Boiling water means that the floor dries faster, he explained. Laundry powder gives a little scrubbing action. He did the first few strokes and then off I went.

On the whole I was very happy with my first mopping experience. The floor did indeed dry very quickly. The whole process was much faster than scrubbing. I think I love my new mop! But don't just take my word for its effectiveness. Judge for yourself. To cement this post as the most tease-worthy one yet, I am including a photo of my newly mopped floor.

OK. Now the ball is in your court. Reveal something as mundane and ludicrous as this, if you can take the teasing.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

congratulations, Andrew and Naomi!

Ant and Matt and I headed back to West London (my first English home) for the wedding of Andrew and Naomi. We have known them since Ant first started attending their church and they are a lovely couple. It was so nice to see them finally married off. :)