Thursday, 31 July 2014


My brother has just moved out West of state so we went to visit him and have a look around.

After about 3 hours driving (with a rest stop for a picnic lunch), we arrived and had a look around his new neighbourhood, drove downtown and took a stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan.

We had dinner at a lovely place called Verdonis, my step mum and I shared a Bianci pizza, it was really filling.

We spent the whole day getting lost and going back on ourselves, it took us three goes to get back to the hotel after we dropped my brother off at his apartment - the iPad was out of juice and we had to keep ringing him to tell us where we were.

The hotel was fairly nice and pretty clean but we had incredibly soft beds, they were like trampolines! After tossing and turning the night away, we went to Whitlow's restaurant for eggs and american potatoes. The owner is a hunter and goes out to South Africa to hunt and then taxidermies the animals. The place had all these fish he'd caught all round the walls and a little room full of wild animals.

After breakfast we drove out to the sand dunes and strolled along the beach. It was misty and warm but the water was cold cold cold.

We stopped for a coffee at a sweet little coffee shop called the Brew House, next door to the restaurant we had dinner in. We even had the same waitress - it turns out she works in both places.

It was really nice to have a couple of days away by the beach - even if I didn't get to swim because the water was too cold I still managed to get my feet wet. It was lovely to see the area where my brother lives, it seems like a nice area, people say hello as you walk by and there are plenty of parks to walk the dog. We visited his work and had a look around, he's doing really well for himself - I'm glad.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Early Morning Trip to the Market

The neighbours had invited my dad and I to go with them to the market in town, so we got up this morning and were out the door at 7am to get down there before the rush. We had breakfast out nearby at the Russell Street Cafe, they had waffles and hashes but I opted for a veggie omlette with wholewheat toast.

It was pretty good. And there was no way that I was going shopping before breakfast, even for food. The atmosphere is nice, it is one of the old 1930s builds in the downtown area, many of which are being pulled down now, I like the high ceilings, exposed pipes and brickwork. They hadn't even opened their shutters when we arrived but pretty soon the place filled up - by 8.30 when we left they were fairly much full.

After that we went into a whole food store to look around, again you could see a nice example of the 1930s brick work and wooden floors that were common in the city's hey day. From there we went onto the Eastern Market. There is covered space that is pretty airy and stalls selling mostly fruit and veg at one end of the market and flowers and plants at the other end. It is pretty big, and you can see that there is a lot of space for more stalls. Many of them were locally grown produce, some were juices, peanut butter, plants, and even some drinking vinegar which I had never heard of (you use it as a mixer for cocktails apparently). As we wandered around we encountered various buskers - a really good xylophone player, a couple of girls singing, a couple of saxophonists. We picked up some fresh cherries, corn, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, radishes and a small cactus plant for my dad's study. I was pretty impressed with the number of stall holders and how reasonable the prices were. When we left at about 10, it was already getting more than busy - but it was worth getting up early for, hopefully we'll make it down there again for another look around.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Face the Music

Yesterday I got to go for my usual facial with my lovely Polish beauty therapist Eva. She is tiny and talks more than anyone I can think of, and I have never met anyone who did more for my skin than she has.
She started off by waxing my eyebrows. She knows that I have fairly sensitive dry skin and she says 'don't use a harsh exfoliant, it will bring you out in zits, just mix a bit of bicarb of soda with some of your normal facewash in your hand and use that' (she recommends a baby top-to-toe shampoo formula, but any face wash will do). After she had washed my face throughly with that, she applied a mixture of 4oz of coconut oil with 10 drops of peppermint (put the bottle in hot water and the oil will melt), she then put quite a lot on and gave me a shoulder and neck massage (yum!) and then washed the oil off again (but you can happily use that as moisturiser if you are careful not to use too much). She said that she also has some with lavender oil or eucalyptus oil depending on whether it is morning or evening. After washing that off she liberally smeared my face with witch hazel and then steamed my face for about half an hour. After that she cleaned out blackheads and other yucky things and then applied some fruit acid. When that was soaked in she gave me a face mask and left that on for a good 10 mins til it was dry to the touch and gave me a foot massage (with the peppermint oil, I think) and then washed the mask off really thoroughly and then smeared me with witch hazel again. So now my skin is starting to settle down, I reckon by tomorrow it will really glow. Happy skin, happy neck, happy feet - yaaaay!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Coming and Going (or rather Going and Coming)

After a few tumultuous weeks of running around at the end of term I finally got to jet off to visit the family. I saw my dad recently, but I haven't seen my step mum since last Christmas - a year and a half is a long time!

I got to the airport in good time, but ended up held up in security and got chatting to a lovely man who was waiting for his bag (strange shaped camera tripod) and watched while the security people took out about eight mini pots of jam from one lady's bag.... could you have jam bombs? They would be tasty at least. Maybe jam with popping candy in? By the time I'd finished drinking the apple juice carton that I'd forgotten in my handbag and he had repacked his tripod we were ready to start a business together.

The flight was pretty uneventful, I had a gentleman either side of me, one was in the military strategy bit of the US Navy and the other was a scientist working at Glaxo Smith Klein, both pretty interesting chaps. I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel - I do like Wes Anderson films and The Lego Movie - I really enjoyed both of them, they were a lot of fun.

Then came a five hour layover in Philadelphia airport. What do you do in an airport for five hours? Sit in a rocking chair and read. Yes, they have rocking chairs. And also exercise bikes.

Rock and roll. By the time 9pm rolled around I was ready to get on a flight. By the time we arrived at the house it was about 12pm and I was long overdue for bed. The following morning we hosted the Sunday morning bagel group, and we sat out in the sun and ate breakfast and drank coffee and had a chat. Lovely.

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Sense of an Ending

On Tuesday I had the last Rochester class: after five and a half years of teaching the class has been closed. My heart hurt a lot all day, getting heavier and heavier as I got in the car to make my last journey out to Delce Rd. I set up that familiar room and I was preparing a couple of my students peeked round the door and gave me a bunch of flowers. Just before class started I noticed that the clock in the hall had stopped, and upon checking my watch had too. I bought that watch for meditation - how fitting. We had a little class, there was minimal fuss which was just the way I wanted it. At the end and one of the gentlemen who has been a long time regular gave me some china as a thank you present. By the end of the class I was feeling relieved for it to be over, and a great deal of affection towards my students - I have no doubt that I will lose some and keep touch with others, that is the way of all things. I had a lovely chat with the caretaker, 'I'll miss our Tuesday night chats' he said, and I must agree - sometimes I would talk to him more often than I talked to my friends, he never failed to make me smile. He said that he would send me the odd text about his boys, give me a shout if he was coming to town so maybe we could chat over coffee. I handed the keys back ceremoniously and both of us were a little uncomfortable. I drove home, and the moon hung a misty red and purple blaze in the sky, I listened to Hey Ocean, just like the first solo car journey I made, the roads were clear and smooth and uncluttered and my heart was easy.... and I hope that this is an omen for how life will be too. My last voyage out, my last voyage back, five and a half years of teaching, tens, maybe hundreds of people through those doors - I never wanted to teach, but I am very grateful that I did, I learnt so much. For the last time I get to say: I love my Rochester students.