And My 2nd Award is….. The Liebster Award!!

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First of all a huge thanks to Kate from the blog http://www.kateoffexploring.com for the nomination. As with anything like this I’m incredibly honoured and it gives me a massive boost to my confidence that my wee blog is appreciated and followed by my fellow bloggers and travellers. As most know I’ve not actually started the ‘big one’ yet regarding travelling as I’m finishing my degree and saving up but this blog is all about how I’m achieving the dream of travelling and working abroad as a single parent. I’ve managed to slot in lots of posts about past travels and current day trips I do around the Uk. This has been a great learning curve for me before I really get going and hopefully manage to make writing and travel blogging a part of my daily life and also my professional life. So again, thanks Kate I’m genuinely over the moon with your nomination. 

So…. from what i understand the award is given to new bloggers by fellow bloggers to highlight and draw attention to all the new talent that’s out there in the blogsville. So yes, I’m incredibly excited to be seen as a new and good quality blogger by my compatriots. 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE THIS AWARD:

You have to write a blog post:-

1. Thanking the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award with a link back to his or her blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions that your nominator asks you.
3. Nominate 5 – 11 bloggers of your own, with under 500 followers, whom you think are awesome and deserving of this honor.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
5. Display the Liebster Award logo on your page.
6. List these rules (1-6) in your post.

liebster

So, drum roll please……. ……… I would like to nominate:

http://thestudenttravels.wordpress.com @StudentRucksack

http://globalresidence.me 

http://www.thebravedame.com @TheBraveDame

http://www.travelgenes.com @travelgenes

http://www.seeyousoonmom.com @SeeYouSoonMom

I would love to nominate http://www.wisemonkeysabroad.com but they have too many followers – that’s probably a bit cheeky sorry but I love their blog so wanted to mention it!

My Questions From Kate Are:

1. What’s your favourite part of the travel experience?

There’s so many this is a really tough question but there’s something really special about those 1st few seconds when you leave the airport and step into the official land you’ve just arrived in and you get hit by the smells, noises and heat or cold. It’s a sensory jolt that ejects you straight into that ‘travel mode’. It’s at this precise moment I really know I’ve started my trip.

2. If money were no object, how long would you spend at home versus on the road?

I think I would probably settle to an eventual 80/20 split spending about 80% away either one country or moving and travelling round. But I’d have to have that 20% back with family and friends in the UK and to make sure the monkey has a real familiarity with her home country too. If money were no object I’d like her to have an intimate knowledge of Scotland in particular and also the wider UK. 

3. Has any one writer or blogger influenced the way you travel significantly?

Because I’ve not truly left yet and I’m so new to the blogger community, this is a difficult question to answer in the way Kate intended but…. There’s lots of people who I think will influence me when I do the RTW trip with monkey and there are people who’ve really inspired me to grasp on to whatever it is I want and to go for it. I’ve been reading lots of ‘homeschooling’ and ‘unschooling’ related posts recently as I would like to doing something in-between these 2 things but there was a bit of me that really needed some inspiration to take the jump and admit to myself that it’s what I wanted to do the most – therefore I know I will have to fit not just travelling, but the rest of my professional life around this ideal as it has started to form one of my core aspirations. The blog that really cemented this for me was http://www.benhewitt.net and that decision will influence a lot of my travel in the future I think. 

4. How big is your backpack when you travel?

I’ve been a more suitcase traveller before but I think I will go for a backpack that doubles up as one I can pull, that’s as big as I can manage comfortably. Having not even tried any out yet I’m not sure on this but I think maybe an 80l although any advice on this would actually be pretty handy :) I have a feeling me and monkey will be getting used to some very minimal living. Due to the amount of technology you drag around these days (especially if developing a digital nomad lifestyle) and the flight entertainment toys and other essentials I’ll be carry for me and a small child, clothes will be minimal and we’ll wear a couple of outfits each to death then buy something wherever we happen to be I think. 

5. What’s your biggest travel related fear?

That I won’t ever want to come back but I’ll be forced to out of circumstance 

6. What’s the best meal you’ve had on the road?

I can’t really pick out an amazing meal I’ve had on any of my holidays although I always love the many patisseries dotted about Amsterdam. They seem to go particularly well with the coffee shop culture out there for some reason :)

7. Have you ever had a travel friend come visit you at home?

No, hopefully that’s to come – although I’ll soon be the travel friend visiting others at their homes when I get going on my RTW trip

8. What’s your favourite bit of advice about travel?

http://www.travelingcanucks.com and http://www.goatsontheroad.com are 2 of my favourite travel blogs when it comes to proper advice on planning for and paying for a trip, along with genuine inspirational lives that really make you want to achieve your own dreams. However the best advice is always from the people in your own life who instead of bringing up all the negatives or the worries that border on a sociological moral panic, they say “Just do it!!!” and it makes me smile as I know they’re right! 

9. Which countries have been the easiest and most difficult to travel in?

I find Amsterdam, Holland the easiest so far as everyone pretty much speaks English, everyone is super friendly and it’s really easy to assimilate into the country and find your way around. I think Egypt was amazing but also a culture shock and I could see why some might struggle although I fell in love with Egypt and it’s people. I think maybe you get what you give here which makes it a more difficult country to travel in if you don’t open your heart to it. But I’d have to go with Paris – NOT France just Paris. I’ve written posts before about Paris and although everyone should definitely go and more than once if you can; I find it quite stressful. If you want to know why have a nosey at my blog post on it!

10. Do you stick to your itinerary, or change it up often?

There’s always things I want to do and don’t want to compromise on, and there’s always things that I’m happy to adapt too. Sometimes things just crop up though and you have a disappointment. When I went to Egypt for a week the flight was delayed significantly heading out there, this meant we missed booking the trip to the valley of the kings. However, it was still one of the best things I’ve ever done and I want to go back anyway (maybe once the political situation has stabilised a bit though!)

11. Why did you start traveling?

Although I don’t see myself as an official traveller so to speak (yet!), I just know that I’m at my happiest and most excited and most peaceful when travelling. So in my heart I know it’s what I need to do and everything I’m currently doing, every single day is moving towards that goal. 

So, I hope you enjoyed my answers – here’s my questions, I can’t wait to read the responses!

1. Starting where I left off….. Why did you start travelling?

2. Do you have one moment in time where your heart was stopped (in a good or bad way) when you saw something whilst travelling? If so what was it you saw?

3. If you could go somewhere tomorrow, but only for a day where would you go to?

4. Where would you live (other than your home country) if money was no object?

5. Is there anywhere that really disappointed you?

6. Is there one place that really inspired a wish to travel in you as a child, either through reading about it or learning about it or something else?

7. How has travelling changed you as a person?

8. What is your favourite part of travelling?

9. What is your favourite world food?

10. Do you collect anything from each country you visit? If so what?

11. Is there anywhere that you didn’t expect to like and it really surprised you instead?

Can’t wait to read the answers guys – and thanks for reading!

Teacher Tuesday: Biography cubes

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backpacksandbabygrows:

Great Idea for Teflers

Originally posted on cornishkylie:

Biography cubes lesson idea

Completed biography cubes.

An excellent activity for any classes studying within the topic Talking about other people which seems to crop up in any TEFL textbook I have had thrust on me.  I have used this lesson multiple times with various classes and it has always been really successful.

Students choose their favourite celebrity and complete a worksheet with five basic sections;

What is his/her name?  Where was he/she born?

What does he/she look like?

What is his/her personality like?

What are his/her likes and dislikes?

Write three sentences about your chosen celebrity.

The sixth section requires a printed photograph of the celebrity.  Six sections = 1 section for each side of the biography cube you will be making!

If you have internet access this can be completed in class, but I preferred to do an example on the board and set it for homework.

Once the worksheet is completed…

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English Escapes – Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall

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Some beautiful sumptuous views at the back of Birdoswald Fort

Some beautiful sumptuous views at the back of Birdoswald Fort – fabulous clouds here as well if like me, you’re a fan of weather systems.

I went for a little break down to Carlisle with family last weekend – there were 4 adults and 4 kids all under 10. In my opinion Carlisle has got to be one of the top places to go with that age range, especially if you catch some good weather which we did. If you don’t know much about the area then Carlisle is a city with a large castle, surrounded by lots of Roman history, beautiful countryside and not far from The Lake District. Hadrian’s Wall runs through it and goes right along to Newcastle and there’s various Roman forts, bits of ruins and museums along the

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

way.

My little girl is a bit too young to appreciate all the educational stuff but I’ve bookmarked a lot of what we did for some future homeschooling visits later down the line. It real is a perfect setting to see history in action. The attractions in the area like the Castles and forts are all part of the English Heritage group – a bit like the National Trust really. If you know you’re going to be able to visit a lot of the English Heritage sites then it would definitely be worthwhile to get an annual membership; especially if you’re a larger family as adults gain discounted entry and kids under 19 go free (although children under 5 always go free). 

If you need to stay in Carlisle we got a really good deal at the Premier Inn – I’m sure there’s more B&B’s and historic settings to stay at but it was great value and they’re very kid friendly with a good bar and restaurant. Also nearby there’s a Brewyer’s Fayre just down the motorway which has a great Wacky Warehouse attached that the kids can go mad in for no extra price. I was impressed by what you got for your money on the menu here too – if you’re looking to do a family break and keep to a budget there’s plenty to find

Hadrian's Wall (again)!

Hadrian’s Wall (again)!

We went round Carlisle Castle first as soon as we arrived- it’s a large place with still operational army barracks. Some of it’s in ruins but most is intact with a good amount of information on display and also there are some real performances by people in costume during the holidays. They re-enacted scenes from history with the kids during the ‘Kings and Queens’ weekend and the kids got some cheap Roman swords and shields in the gift shop that kept them amused for the whole break – my wee monkey even got her own foam sword that I’m still getting whacked with on a regular basis, which she of course finds hilarious :)

The following day we headed off to find some of Hadrian’s Wall that we could walk along and to hunt out Birdoswald Roman Fort (again, part of the English heritage group). There’s a warrior school on during the holidays that costs an extra pound per child. The kids get dressed up and were taught battle techniques and fighting styles and they got to make masks and other crafty things. They really loved all of this. You can then walk round the fort and see loads of information about the Roman and viking history. If you’re looking for

More stunning countryside views at Birdoswald Fort

More stunning countryside views at Birdoswald Fort

something even more educational then there’s 2 further sites further along from Birdoswald called the Roman Vindolanda Fort & Museum and The Roman Army Museum. These are basically the definitive roman experience for kids and I will definitely be taking my monkey back when she’s bigger. There’s a high amount of Roman artefacts on display here, fantastic 3D re-enactment of battles, and the building of the wall, tons of activities for kids such as writing messages home in the traditional roman style and plotting the conquest of Britain. If you’re an adult or older child with a keen interest in history and archaeology you can even volunteer to help excavate the ruins from April – September. And this is all the stuff I’ve just read about as we didn’t even go!! I think if you go to Hadrian’s Wall in Carlisle and want to investigate the Roman history then this is the place to go to – we’d just run out of time and had already done

Talkin Tarn - views to inspire poetry!

Talkin Tarn – views to inspire poetry… and look at those clouds again!

Birdoswald and we were on a bit of a budget. If it was one or the other I’d say skip Birdoswald and go straight to the Roman Vindolanda. 

Anyway, on the way back to the city we stopped at Talkin Tarn for a picnic and ice cream and the bigger kids managed to fit in a row boat trip too. This tarn has a variety of watersports on offer including one of those transparent inflatable balls you go in and try to run around on the water – although in reality I saw lots of people take 2 steps and fall over and not manage to get back up again. This was quite fun to watch but possibly not as fun to do so more of a spectator sport :) I can’t remember the exact pricing (sorry) but it wasn’t extortionate. There was also an enclosed kids playground, an area set up for lots of bird feeding and you

Feeding the birds at Talkin Tarn

Feeding the birds at Talkin Tarn

can buy proper bird feed (not bread) cheaply and feed the ducks – this was of course the highlight of monkey’s day. 

The following day we nipped to Ullswater to see The Lakes – we unfortunately didn’t have time to go on the wee steamer boat as it’s a 140 minute round trip but we did go to Pooley Bridge and have a very nice ice cream! Bare in mind that if you do want to go on the steamer then the queues were huge as it’s an extremely popular tourist destination. I’d investigate buying tickets in advance if I went again. 

So that was our little 3 day trip to Carlisle – the place is enriched with local ancient history and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views of classic British countryside whichever direction you go in out of Carlisle. Definitely somewhere go to if you have the chance and particularly great for children so they can really engage with history outside of the classroom in a much more inspiring way. If you go as adults though, there’s plenty of really good walks of varying difficulty and lots of country pubs and restaurants to rest and recuperate along the way!

Once again, more stunning views of the lakes at Ullswater

Once again, more stunning views of the lakes at Ullswater

Travelling With Kids : Things To Do In Sydney For Free

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backpacksandbabygrows:

Things to do in Sydney for free when travelling with kids – courtesy of The Kid Bucket List

Originally posted on The Kid Bucket List:

Travelling With Kids : Things To Do In Sydney For Free

If you find yourself in Sydney for a day and want an adventure for free we have found a plethora of delights for you to explore. Whilst you will need to find your way to the spot, entry or exploration is free! Have fun!

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is a cultural marvel and houses a brilliant range of contemporary art. The venue is free to visit and children are warmly received. For a gold coin donation child visitors receive an activity book to plot their journey around the site. You can also download this for free and take it with you.

The Rocks Discovery Museum is open every day from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm and is located in a three-storey high restored 1850s sandstone warehouse in The Rocks. It is free to enter and walks you through the history of the are from pre-European occupation through to modern times. It…

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Moving Day: The Ins and Outs of Moving Your Site

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backpacksandbabygrows:

Handy tips for the future …..

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

I started my first blog when I was 25 and headed off on a backpacking trip across Southeast Asia. I wanted to keep a record of my travels for my friends and families to enjoy, and I chose Blogger as my platform.

Blogging turned out to be so much fun that I decided to keep it up when I got home, but by that time, I knew more about what I was looking for in a platform, and so I started my second blog on WordPress.com. (Granted, I’m a bit biased now, but this was years before I worked here, I promise.)

Years later, my new WordPress.com blog had come to feel like my online home, and I was sad that my old travel posts were lingering on a blog elsewhere that I never looked at. Enter the importer.

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Tefl approved…. (technically)!

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approvedI have now finished my 120 hour online TEFL course! I’m of course extremely happy about this; I’m now officially qualified to teach English as a foreign language. BUT…. there’s always a but isn’t there? I say ‘technically’ in my title because doing the online course means I’ve had no actual teaching practice.

I’ve loved the course and I don’t want to make it seem like I’m criticising the TEFL qualification; however, there are some big downsides to doing the course completely online. I think I’d be incredibly nervous before teaching a lesson for starters. Also there were lots of grammar related questions/problems I had, that really needed the presence of a proper instructor to solve. Anyone who has looked even briefly at the structure of English grammar can attest to how complicated we seem to have made our system. But (yes there’s a 2nd more positive ‘but’)… I feel that I made the right choice and I will stick to my original plan. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you will know that I planned on doing the online course to familiarise myself with the grammar and to get a feel for what’s expected of me before applying to do the more formal CELTA qualification at the university I currently study. I’m glad I did it this way round. I now have a rudimentary understanding of grammar. Although I will say that if I was only planning on doing this course then jumping straight into teaching, I would need some immense organisational skills to fully prep all my lessons in advance in order to make sure I could answer any questions my students had. 

On saying that, I think preparation and advance planning and a huge amount of lesson plans and worksheets all done in advance of the lessons will be key to being a good EFL teacher. I can see why there’s so many complaints about of terrible quality of teaching. If you’re just bumming around and do the TEFL course as a thing to make money, but it’s not something you put any effort, energy or passion into, then you will be a terrible teacher. You will also end up hating your job as much as the students hate you. Sorry, I know that sounds harsh but having done the course I know that it’s completely true… you only have to read some forum and blog posts to know the level of appalling teaching that’s out there and I think this is the reason why. They’ve gone into it thinking it’ll be a doss and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I think you could do the online course and then build up lots of experience through voluntary work if you wanted. This could be a viable option for anyone who can’t afford the far higher price of the CELTA course. I think I’ll try and do some voluntary stuff anyway as it will help me to get over those initial jitters about standing in front of a class, and it would be nice to have experience before accepting a proper job too. The online course is pretty easy, I don’t want to belittle anyone who found it hard… by that I mean that with a bit of effort I think most people will find it manageable and would be able to complete it. The assignments start off as multiple choice quizzes on the grammar and then build up to written assignments you submit for proper marking. However, these begin as small, manageable quick pieces of work and it’s only the final 3-4 assignments that pose a challenge in any way. These last ones do require you to apply what you’ve been taught and to prepare some full lessons from start to finish. They take time and care and are worth doing well, after all this is what you’ll be doing as a teacher!

Once you’ve done the course you’ll find that along the way, you’ve had to do so much research you’ll have hopefully built up some great resource links from external websites – these will be a huge help when actually teaching. One of the best I’ve found to date is the great blog found here on WordPress called ‘tefltastic’ – http://www.tefltastic.wordpress.com there’s tons of resources, worksheets and lesson planning advice and tips along with a large amount of activity ideas. There’s also hundreds of activity worksheets available to download. Well worth a look! The tefl community is in general very helpful and inclusive – everyone has been in that starter position before, so I think that makes everyone really willing to help and create an open community of sharing when it comes to academic resources. 

Below are some good websites I’ve found during the duration of my course:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk This is a BBC/British council site offering loads of tips and lesson plan ideas along with grammar help.

http://www.teflteachertraining.com is a great blog by Ted, offering untold amounts of advice and help on all things TEFL

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/ A good resource if you need some grammar explained in plain english whilst completing the course. It helps to fill in some of the gaps that are there in the TEFL course book.

http://www.onestopenglish.com Again, this is a good site for filling in some of the gaps, the TEFL course is OK but I must admit I did find some explanatory gaps in their books. Although I suppose a bit of self-study is never a bad thing either!

http://www.tefl.net A general resource and advice site

http://www.businessdictionary.com This is a great resource to use for vocabulary you might need in a business english class, providing definitions and also ideas around which to plan your business english lessons.

I’m planning on continuing to post any useful information I find including useful resource sites, so keep an eye out if you find this kind of stuff useful. I’m also hoping to get a little site started up with my own worksheets and lesson plans etc once I actually start teaching. Although this will be a couple of years down the line save for some voluntary work. It is most definitely in the pipeline though – you can hold me to it! 

I just want to end by saying that the TEFL course provided by http://www.tefl.org.uk was well worth the money. Although I found some of the instructions to be a little bit ambiguous I did get through it with a grade point average well over 90%. They also marked all my assignments in the agreed timeframe and gave me advice when I asked for it. I’m very glad I did this, and I think it will be extremely valuable when I do the CELTA to have had access to the knowledge and the lesson plans. And if you are very self driven and motivated you could definitely get along into teaching without the CELTA – but I would suggest doing a substantial amount of voluntary work if you can to get the experience and to put into practice all the theory you have been taught. Also it’s worth remembering that knowledge of the subject is only one part of what it takes to be a good teacher and that will come more easily the more you do it – however what really matters are the qualities employers and students will look for :

tefl qualities

Happy TEFL-ing guys, I can’t wait to actually get going with my travels and put my knowledge into practice!

Ever feel alone in a crowded place? This artist gets you

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backpacksandbabygrows:

A really great artistic representation of loneliness – kind of fascinating, it sucks you in and holds your attention in a an indescribable way. I find it interesting the way the creator has linked the passage of time (by slowing down the frames) with loneliness. The two are often inextricably linked in real life so it makes for a good juxtaposition.

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

Adam Magyar struggles with the speed of time. (Who can blame him?) In response, the Hungarian artist and photographer captures densely populated urban areas at extremely high speeds — then slows each moment down so you can experience every breath and blink. The result: hypnotic videos that reveal the hidden depths of everyday experiences. One conceptual series, Stainless, turns a mundane subway commute into a meditation on mortality and human perception. In Stainless, Magyar creates both videos and still photographs, the latter using a line-scan camera (the same kind of camera used in a scanner) to turn a speeding train into “a frozen image of impossible clarity and stillness, a reality imperceptible to both passengers speeding into the station and bystanders waiting to board,” writes Joshua Hammer in Matter. “The individuals in his trains ride together yet apart, lost in their own thoughts, often transfixed by their hand-held devices.”

Below, see five haunting gifs…

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