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A Return to the World of Fantasy and Adventure

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Recently, dear reader, I have been in a bit of a funk. Overwhelmed by work, feeling like no matter how much I get done, there is always so much more than when I started. And this has been grinding on me. I’ve needed an escape, somewhere I can go or something I can do that is completely disconnected from the world which is causing me so much stress. And I have found it.

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The beginning of a new adventure!

I haven’t posted on here in a while. But, dear reader, I do apologise for this. For you see, I have been undertaking the beginning of a new adventure and it has kept me quite busy. Yes. I have finally begun my teacher training. And it is hard work. I feel as though I am constantly behind, needing to do something, not having enough time to do something or that I should be doing something else more productive than the productive thing that I am currently doing.

But I guess this is preparing me well for the busy life of a teacher. I’ll admit, I had it easy in Korea as a teacher. I didn’t have to do any marking. I didn’t really have to set any massive tests. I didn’t have to attend meetings. So seeing how it really works in the UK in comparison to teaching (ESL teaching, that is) in Korea has been interesting. I am five weeks into my course now and I have loved every minute. I have especially enjoyed the placement at my school. Being back in the classroom again is a great feeling, even if I was only observing most of the time.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I plan to keep you as updated as I can with my progress, the realities of taking a PGCE and my life in general as I learn over the next year. I have no doubts that the next 12 months will be among the toughest of my life. As I said above, I already feel like I don’t do enough, and we have only just started.

For anyone reading this and planning on taking a PGCE – it is really difficult. It starts out hard and gets even harder. I feel that, in order to do my work, I have recently been neglecting my general health, friends, girlfriend and wellbeing. That isn’t a good thing. So my solution is to try and take some time for me every weekend because otherwise I am going to burn myself out and that won’t be productive for anyone.

But also know that a PGCE course is a lot of fun too. I have loved learning different teaching methods and classroom activities to use (and even tried a few out with my class that I solo teach at the moment). It is fantastically rewarding to put the time into planning a lesson and having it go well. In fact, it is fantastically rewarding in general.

Taking this course has also made me realise something else – I miss ESL as a career. I think I have mentioned before that I didn’t think I was finished with it and now I know that I am not. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to go and do some ESL teaching. But that adventure will have to wait, for these lesssons aren’t going to plan themselves.

Until next time, dear reader.

Ricky

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A Day In The Life – Big Decisions

Thinking about the future can be pretty scary. For every decision that we make, there are a thousand “What if” questions that can crop up. What if I had done this or that differently? What if I hadn’t said that, or gone there? This is as true for travel as it is anything else. My life changed dramatically when I said “What if I do apply to EPIK?”, which (if you are a regular reader) you will know I did back in 2013.

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Looking Back – Walking Around Cheongju

Various Shots of Cheongju, Autumn 2014

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The War and Peace Revival Show (Or Nazis…Nazis Everywhere)

Last Wednesday, I had the unique experience of attending the War and Peace Revival Show. Held at Folkstone racecourse every year around this time, it is a complete ‘celebration of military vehicles and vintage lifestyle’. This year, it spanned from the 19th July until the 23rd and attracted people from far and wide (both traders and attendees alike).

But many of you may be asking the question “What is the War and Peace Revival Show and why should I care that you went there?” Well, dear reader, let me tell you. First, I should really explain what it is. Put simply, it is a fantastic collection of military memorabilia and reenactors/living history enthusiasts. It is (I believe) the largest show of its kind in Europe. You can pretty much find anything there, from First World War bayonets to Nazi Living History enthusiasts. You can see a range of events over the course of the show and enjoy live music (though the music is obviously a bit old fashioned for some people).

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An overview of the Living History section. It went on and on.

I ended up attending this year alongside my best friend and his Dad, who invited me along knowing my absolute love of history. They attend as collectors of military memorabilia, whilst I went with more of an eye for the reenactment side of things. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy looking around the different stalls and merchandise they offered. I even purchased a few bits myself (a very stylish Hawaiian shirt and a new watch strap for my Timex). We spent many a happy hour following my friend’s Dad, who seemed to know the show like the back of his hand. He himself saw a few items that took his interest and would return to check them out on the other days that he attended. I could only attend the one day, however.

Once we had done looking at the sales stalls, we went to my favourite bit – the living history section of the show, where all the reenactment takes place. Though we didn’t have much time there, I took a few pictures of some American and German reenactors. That is to say, they were the countries they were portraying. Below are the shots I managed to get on my phone, as I annoyingly forgot to take my camera with me.

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Overall, I would heartily suggest this event to anyone with even a passing interest in history or military things or vintage lifestyles. What you can’t find here isn’t worth finding. The ticket for the day was £18 and it has great transport links so you can even get there if you don’t have a car (although for those buying anything big, a car/van is a must)!

Check out the website for the War and Peace Revival Show for more information and pictures.

Until next time, dear reader.

Ricky

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Leaving A Job (Or How I Am Becoming A Student Again)

It has been a few weeks, friends, since I last posted. I believe my post was to do with Brexit and how I was feeling about that. Not much has been going on in my life of any great interest, hence my lack of posts since then. But then I remembered (well, I already knew but you get what I mean) that I was leaving school. The job I have had as a TA since February of this year comes to an end in a week and so does my time working at my school. I have had some great times and I am genuinely sad to leave. From my favourite students to the people I work with, I will miss this job as much as I miss working in Korea.

Yes, it wasn’t perfect or easy all of the time. Some days were filled with stress and anxiety; others with laughter and good times. I think what I will miss most is feeling like part of a team. I haven’t had that in a long time and the team of TAs I work with are fantastic. They are the friendliest people you could hope to meet (and some of the most under appreciated too).

What is my next big adventure, I hear you ask?

I will be heading out into the world of PGCEs. I am going to be studying teaching history to 11-18 year olds at Canterbury Christ Church University and I am really excited to start. All I know is that the start date is early September at the moment and that I will be working with some seemingly great people. My placements are a mystery though, so that is exciting.

After that, who knows where I will go? I will see where life takes me. But I know that whatever I end up doing, it will be an amazing adventure.

Check back soon for more updates, including the War And Peace show which I am attending next week.

Ricky

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Brexit, First Left…

So, those of you not living in a cave would have heard the news – on Thursday 23rd June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in an historical referendum. I don’t know how much you would have heard about it in the aftermath (a lot, if you are on my Facebook friend list, I can assure you) but today I feel the need to post on this topic. It is something that was a deeply important issue to me for both personal and political reasons.

First, a little background for those out of the loop. We (the citizens of the United Kingdom) voted to leave the EU 52% to 48%. What caused this? It is a movement against and a discontentment with the so-called ‘establishment’ (what the ‘establishment’ is has yet to actually be properly explained to me by anyone that hates it) that has been growing since my arrival back in the UK in January. It is an issue with immigration that has not been addressed in the eyes of many and who feel left behind by a political elite seen as ‘out of touch’. It is the problems that people have with an institution that is seen as not completely democratic (which is ever so slightly rich coming from a nation with an unelected upper house and monarch as head of state). At least, this is what I have come to understand from those (including members of my family) who decided to vote leave.

Me? I voted Remain. I believe that the UK is stronger in Europe. That turning our back on the continent that we belong to, especially in such uncertain times, is an unwise move. That we were more secure, economically better off and generally more prosperous in Europe. I had wanted to believe that we were an outward looking nation. A nation that wasn’t taken in by vague promises and lies. That wouldn’t be hoodwinked by media spin and catchphrases. I think, in part, I always feared that we could be that nation though. And I believe that June 23rd proved it.

What is the result of all of this? It means that my generation, who voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and will live with the consequences of this for the next 50 plus years have had our futures decided by the older generation, who might have to live with it for the next 15. It means that the economy has already begun a slow decline downwards, with the pound hitting an historic 35 year low against the dollar and something like 2 trillion dollars being lost off worldwide markets. It means that the possible friendships that could have developed with the movement of young people may never happen. That possible relationships will now no longer blossom. It has already seen the rise of xenophobia and the beginnings of a resurgence of fascism in my country.

Yes. On the 23rd June, the UK decided to leave the EU. And I think it is the most un-British I have ever felt. We left to ‘take back control’, but what we’ve been left with is a series of broken opportunities, a heavily damaged economy and the Leave campaign backpedaling on the promises it made. The possibility of the UK ceasing to exist as there are calls for a second Scottish referendum. An arrogance that the world needs us much more than we need it. This insular view is embarrassing at best and dangerous at its worst. We 48% might be stuck with this decision but it is up to us to make it do as little damage as possible. Now, more than ever, the UK needs us to fight for what we believe in. Fight against narrow-mindedness and xenophobia; fight against this hatred of anyone foreign or different from us. If we don’t, I fear we are going down a path that will be very difficult to return from.