July: What? I’m still teaching?!

Woah! I just skipped June! I know, I know! Sometimes as a blogger, I struggle to balance the public and the personal, and lots of June was about family stuff that was a bit more personal. And about my health and a bit of a crisis back home that I have hashed out quite enough!  The short version is that everything is alright, my health is improving, and the rest of our month was dedicated to finding a new flat.  We LOVE our place but the mould made me quite sick through the fall and winter, and that’s just not alright.  Good news: we found a place, but there are some details to sort and we’ll be moving in mid-September if it goes ahead so I won’t say too much now. 

We started July in SUCH a Canadian way; it still makes me smile.  First, we went to my cousin’s birthday party at a pub. I LOVE living here and getting to celebrate normal everyday things with this whole other side of my family. It never gets old.  We had drinks and lunch and met her fab friends (it’s my lovely cousin Caz who we stayed with in February.  Plus, her brother (also my cousin if you’re keeping track) 😉 and his wife were there so I got to see them too!  I took advantage and got a photo of us 3 cousins together since I forgot at Easter!

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Now, July 1st is Canada Day. This year our country turned 150.  I’ll quickly note that this is a complex celebration… I am SO proud to be a Canadian for many reasons, but the reality is that First Nations people lived there many thousands of years before Europeans came and it became “Canada.”  While we do many things well as a nation, treating the first peoples of our country with respect and equality is not always one of them and we have a past that is oft-hidden.  I won’t make this post all about Residential Schools and the ‘Indian Affairs’ department, but I will encourage you to look into it further if this is something you don’t know about yet.  We’re finally working really hard through the Truth and Reconciliation process to move forward with healing and more unity which I am proud to be part of.  Enough on that for now though!

Okay: so, it was Canada day.  We showed up to the pub proudly donning our red Canada attire.  From the pub, we made our way to Trafalgar square where celebrations were being held.  All morning, it had felt a bit strange walking around a country where the day wasn’t a big deal, but when we got to Trafalgar I felt so at home! It was a sea of red and white, with people smiling, greeting each other, and wishing each other a Happy Canada Day!  It totally felt like being downtown Vancouver!  The event was full of surprises including the presence of the Grey Cup was there (it’s a Canadian Football thing) and a Tim Horton’s truck! We even ran into a Canadian friend so that was pretty cool.

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This picture is hilarious as we were in a sea of red, yet few of the people around me are wearing red! Ha!

When we’d had our fill there, we decided we’d rather go home and barbecue than stay in the city.  On the train, we met another couple from Australia who were also decked out in red and white! Turns out they’d gone to celebrate with their Canadian friend.  Well, when they mentioned their torn apart mess of a kitchen, what else would we do but invite them over for dinner!  They accepted and suddenly the 4 of us were in the grocery store picking out drinks, burgers and snacks. 

We chatted like old friends.  While the guys barbecued, us ladies prepped everything, and I made my first ever homemade Caesars!  We had everything we needed, including Clamato juice that we’d brought from Canada but not yet opened – it was the special occasion we’d been waiting for!  Fun fact: Caesars are the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary.  Now that I’ve had many of both I feel that I can safely say without bias that the Bloody Mary has got NOTHING on a Canadian Caesar! We listened to Canadian music, and chatted until the hour got late.  It was such a great night!  (Since then, we’ve been to their place for dinner and coincidentally we’ll all be in Edinburgh for Fringe Fest on the same weekend!).

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Bartender Jessika, at your service

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Thanks for the butterfly sticks, Mom- we finally put them to use! Love that they are washable!

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Barbecue, Caesars, and new friends! Happy Canada Day!

The following weekend was a special but difficult day. It was what would have been my little girl’s Sweet 16 had she not passed away when she was 8 years old after battling a very aggressive brain tumor- twice.  I am so thankful for T and for the great friends I’ve made here.  One friend went with me to get a manicure/pedicure in the morning, something we thought a 16-year-old might enjoy; then another friend joined T and I for a birthday barbecue complete with birthday cake and many butterflies flying through our garden (that’s British for back yard). It was a lovely day of celebration. ❤

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July is also still a school month here, so I was working up until the middle of July  (I didn’t get work the last few days of the school year, but I just officially started summer holiday on Monday the 24th).  With my Wednesday off, I went out to East London to see another National Trust property: Rainham Hall (I’ll give that it’s own post) and then to wrap up the week, on Friday night I went to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Aldwych Theatre.

This was a very last minute adventure! T found a deal on TixToday (a must-have app if you’re a theatre lover!).  The seats were very near the back, but because of the steep pitch of the theatre, it was still a great view.  Going in, I didn’t know much about Carole King, and I purposely chose not to look her up as I wanted the story to be a surprise for me as it unfolded, which was the right decision given that it’s quite biographical.  I was worried that it would be a super cheesy show, haphazardly stringing together her hit songs.  Instead, I was moved by the way they wove together her personal story and the music that accompanied each part of her life.   

I was familiar with some of her songs, but many I had loved having no idea she’d written them (on her own or with her first husband Gerry Goffin) including Locomotion, You’ve Got a Friend, and You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.   The entire cast was fantastic, but it has to be said that the lead, played by Cassidy Janson, brought the show to life.  As a singer, I’m accustomed to that saying “my voice is my instrument” (especially true for those of us who can’t actually play any instruments! lol) but I can’t say the same for Ms. Janson.  In. The. Best. Way.  She uses her voice more like her personal playground than an instrument; playing with its every range and tone, seamlessly flowing from soft and romantic to emotional, raw, and gritty.  I felt the music in my soul, so much so that I hummed and sang to myself most of the way home.  Then, when I got home about an hour after the show ended, I was looking up and listening to more Carole King, and to other 70s classic artists (James Taylor, Carly Simon).  If you ever read this Ms Janson- thank you for speaking to a crucial part of my soul that feeds off of beautiful music!

Oh! And we got to eat our first tomato off of our plant!  We had picked up those 2 tiny plants in Lincoln at Easter so we were quite excited!

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