Sunday, 29 June 2014

Project 52 Week 26

Well, half way there:-) This week the weather has been kind to the visitors who wanted sunshine, but unkind to those of us whose gardens are staring to wilt in the heat. Such is life.


Cathy came to visit and brought my some sweet peas from her garden. The house smells amazing. She also brought me some raspberry jam she had made me from the fruit she grows in her allotment.  All well appreciated:-)
Miles came to dinner as usual, and I had promised a Fraisier as dessert since it was my birthday meal. Unfortunately, the recipe looked really complicated, so I sent M out to buy one from the French patisserie- and cheated.


The visitors must be enjoying themselves this week. The tide is low in the afternoon, so they can spend lots of time on the beach. However, it is a long walk down to the sea, and gets further away each day. It wasn't too bad at the start of the week, though.


I had time to set up my birthday solar cats. They are incredibly bright at night, but their eyes are slightly creepy during the day. Cairis bought them for me when we went to the garden centre for tea.


The final ELTchat of the summer- and time for a well deserved break. M is cutting down his work hours as of Friday, and has been getting his boat prepared for racing and generally messing about in. He needed a new boom, which duly arrived. It is at the bottom of the garden for the moment as it takes up so much space. He will probably spend the weekend working on it, and fitting all the bits which came with it. I have already prepared a list of things which need doing, so he will be busy for a few weeks to start with :-) I'm still really enjoying the online course, and I have just signed up to do another with Russell Stannard in July.


I finished at a reasonable time today, so decided to paint the garden gate. I had some of the deck paint left over, so decided to do it in the paler green. Ebony sat up on the wall and watched me work. I was expecting her to come closer and to have a green-pawed cat, but she is definitely becoming better behaved as she grows older.



Cairis made a cake today. I left her a mix that I had brought back from France. There was method in my madness. She doesn't get much opportunity to use the French she knows and I thought that it would keep her from forgetting everything she had learned.The cake was a lovely excuse for inviting some of my friends to tea when I finished work. I had had a strange week at work. The students in the morning classes were lovely. The afternoon business class was a group of French scientists who didn't want to do any business! They just wanted to speak. I put together a set of discussion cards and materials for the week, with a leaning towards their science roles. They enjoyed them, but on Friday we were being observed, so I wanted to do something different. I printed off, and laminated a set of ELTpics on energy sources. We had a discussion about the pros and cons of each method, where they had to rank, and give opinions. They then worked in groups to redesign the energy strategy of the Island, accordingly to a set of information they had been given,  and  then presented their findings. It worked extremely well and they all left happy.


This was a gardening day. I deadheaded and collected the green waste for M to take to the recycling point. Later we popped out to do an enormous shop in the supermarket.

On my return it was the time for Graham Stanley to do his webinar on Engaging Learners Online. He was excellent. The whole session was in the form of a quiz between two teams. We had great fun, learned a lot, and the time passed rapidly.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Project 52 Week 25

Almost halfway through this photo journalism challenge now, and this week was summer at its best.
The week started bright and sunny, and continued in that vein for the whole week. My students were mostly in their final week of study, and determined to get out and enjoy the island and the beautiful weather.


The day after Emily's wedding was windy. M spent most of it working on his boom and cleaning his boat.  I remembered to put a battery in the clock I found in France for my kitchen.I started a new online project with Jason Levine called Teachers Teaching Online. It kicked off in the late afternoon, so I had time to tidy the garden and prepare dinner first.I also decided to charge all of my technology, which seemed to have died around the same time. The opening ceremony for the MOOC contained lots of familiar names and faces. We managed to make some people grumpy by catching up in the chatbox of WIZIQ instead of only using it to ask pertinent questions- oops! The power of the PLN when others don't have one.... The session with Shelly was full of her vitality and enthusiasm as always:-)


Back to work. The sun was shining and I was aware that I only had to work until lunchtime :-) I had a chat with John the gardener about redesigning my garden later in the year, and he talked me out of anything too adventurous. I have to be realistic about the amount of time I have available, the size of the garden, and type of soil. The college gardens are looking amazing though. Some of the plants are enormous and the wind is bending the long flowers across the car park. I popped to the garden centre on the way home and had a look around. I ended up buying a new toy for Ebony which I have been teaching her to use all week. She loves playing, although Maisie doesn't have anything she likes better than a pompom from an old scarf of Cairis's. In the evening we had a super session with Nik Peachey.


As I was driving home today I realised how many of the palm trees were in flower. That is testimony to the warmth of the island and that the conditions are right. I don't normally have time to look, but the roadworks everywhere in St Aubin are slowing down the traffic, so I had time to admire the one at the bottom of the hill.  There was no session today, so I had time to answer the questions on the previous sessions to see what I remembered. Not too shabby- I wasn't right with one of the answers, but I think I had stopped listening for a minute while I was distracted.


Football is still very much a talking point- if it isn't my neighbours, it's my students. I smile politely and change the subject :-) As a Scot, my instinct is to support anyone who plays the English. Today I caught the tail end of the lunchtime #eltchat and ended up sorting out the transcript as a favour to Hada who was going to be at work much later than me. I also wrote another summary, which is the blog post before this one.
Tonight's session was with Vicky Hollett. I love her work, and her videos are great, but as she is based in America it meant staying up until 12.00 to take part. I was really too tired and, knowing that there would be a recording I could watch, I wimped out of the live session. 


On arrival home from work I was presented with a parcel. As it is my birthday this week I assumed that it was a gift from family in Scotland. However, the postmark was Hungary??? On opening the parcel I was amazed to find Andrew Wright's newest book, with a beautiful inscription to me- and a drawing of two cats. You may remember that I met him and shared a train journey to York after IATEFL, Harrogate. I must confess that he was just a lovely man, and at the time I didn't know him by sight so was unaware of who he was. The book is excellent, and I tucked myself up to read the first story.


Today I rushed home from work as I had promised to be an interview subject on Skype. A young PHD student is doing his doctorate on Online Communities of Practice, and he had chosen to use the Webheads as his study group. Ali was very professional and we chatted for more than an hour. It helped me reaffirm my passion for the group, and for everything I had learned from their sharing. In the evening it was the turn of Jack Askew to educate us in our MOOC. I realised that I was spending hours at my desk. It made me take a look around the room. My observation- my husband has a very neat corner, with a desk and a few files, while I have triple the space, and use it all:-)
My takeover of the rest
M's side of the room

My talented friend made this for me


Today I am one year older on paper and many, many times richer in friendship. I think everyone I know said Happy Birthday to me today, in person and on every social media platform I belong to. I was sent some touching messages, and beautiful pictures and received some lovely gifts. Cairis took me out for Afternoon Tea, and we wandered down to see if we could spot the boats taking part in Gorey Regatta- including her father. In the evening we went for dinner with a friend, whose birthday is later in the week, and her husband.

 Next week is the middle of our project. I hope it will continue to bring good things :-) It is also the final week of #ELTchat for the summer. That should give all of the moderators time to chill and do other things. And more time to get to grips with the MOOC :-)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

ELTchat summary 18th June 2014. What tech do you think is particularly effective in a classroom. With few resources which would you choose?

I caught the dying moments of this ELTchat, but again it was my topic which had been chosen for discussion,
so I don't  begrudge the time taken to write the summary :-)

What technology do you think is particularly effective in a classroom?

@Shaunwilden threw out the question to start the chat off. This resulted in a quick list of tech which people felt fulfilled the brief
  • visual tech @mary28sou
  • IWBs @HadaLitim, but this started a discussion about their merits 
  • WiFi, computer and projector @AmadeuMarin
  • Google @teflgeek
  • Mobile phones @joannacre and @anasainzc
What did @mary28sou mean by visual tech? She explained that she was thinking about students creating photo collages on their smartphones, or teachers being able to use their Ipads to find visuals for a lesson.

So, IWBs......

@mary28sou wanted to hear about the advantages or otherwise of using them in class. This divided the chatters.
@Shaun was firmly of the belief that they are not effective. @HadaLitim warned that they could easily turn the lesson into a teacher-fronted session.@joannacre thought that without training in their benefits, they were just  fancy whiteboards, but could bring variety.@teflgeek was of the opinion that there were limited opportunities for interaction, and that a projector was better value. @HadaLitim thought that they could vary the lesson, and that having an electronic version of a book on display was often helpful. She said that she used her IWB mostly for audio and visual reasons and that she used the revealer (a black cover which can cover the text until it is needed,) a lot for prediction and discussion amongst the students. She also mentioned a ticker at the top of the IWB containing vocabulary to be used while doing speaking tasks.

Do we mean engaging, economical, practical, easy to use, relevant?

This was @adi_rajan's question, which gave a wide ranging definition.
@patrickelt believed that the most important part of the definition was to have a positive effect on learning, although he agreed that it is difficult to generalise as purposes and contexts are different. He suggested that how the tool helped with tasks was where the focus should be, rather than the teacher being too enthused with the tool itself.
@mary28sou suggested that knowing where to access resources online could be of greater benefit to the teacher and an effective way of using tech for the classroom.

One Viewpoint....

@bealer81 felt that the constant search for, and application of ,technology in class often gets in the way of teaching.  He believes that tech can be very time consuming and distracting. He was steadfast in his belief that technology is better used to maintain contact outside the classroom in such roles as student projects, feedback, and  the sharing of resources. He did mention that he made use of tech if it was good and simple, but often had recourse to the whiteboard, which  he used as a record or as a canvas containing anything which aided his students.@adi_rajan agreed with him and mentioned that he had wasted a lot of time getting apps to work in class.
@bealer81 blamed the lack of understanding of technology tools, and their relevance or otherwise, on the training of new ELT teachers. On a 4-week course the time is spent on other topics which may have greater relevance in the time available.  @davidboydon agreed that the time was an issue, but he thought that fear of the tech was also a factor.
 @patrickelt thought that, as tech was becoming part of everyday life, time needs to be found to train teachers to use it effectively in class.
@Hada suggested that technology should only be used to enhance the learning experience and not as a fad, which @bealer81 and others agreed with. @teflgeek wondered whether the use of technology in class and assessment might increase the economic marginalisation of people in resource-poor countries. This would mean that in poor regions the students might be disadvantaged by not having access to tech.

Mobile phones...

@HadaLitim thought that mobile phones were ideal for being good and simple technology.
@adi_rajan felt that mobiles were good, but, if they become the centre of attention the lesson is not always productive. @joannacre also worried that there was the possibility that students might be distracted by Facebook or other such sites. She joked that her students were more tech-savvy than she was, but @patrickelt suggested that they were perhaps just less aware of pitfalls.@joannacre said that if she didn't feel 100% comfortable with the technology she stopped using it.

There is documented evidence of a high take up rate of some technology, such as phones, in very poor countries, even if they are not high tech smart phones and it was pointed out that even simply texting in English was beneficial, particularly if the students can become familiar with a different alphabet. It is, after all, a real life-skill and an excellent task to develop meaningful contextualised writing. @bealer81 thought it would be useful to take the conversations into class to look at mistakes, and how to upgrade the language. 

And a different point of view......

@patrickelt believed that being aware of what the tech can do and how it reflects today's world might be a good direction to move in.
@Shaunwilden thought that as it can be brought into the classroom it ought to be utilised. He suggested that many of the negative statements could actually substitute the word 'coursebook' in their comments, and that technology was often unfairly blamed for bad lessons.
@joannacre asks her students to use their mobile phones as dictionaries, having downloaded the app to their phone, as does @anasainzc. She also likes doing online dictation, as her students can hear the pronunciation too. @AmadeuMarin also reminded us that phones can record audio and video as well as taking photos. @patrickelt thought that we should develop an awareness of multi modality with any technology that we use. @joannacre likes to use programs like turnitin  to test for plagiarism. This makes her marking easier to manage and it appears that she is in tune with many universities who do their marking online, changing the old educational model.  @davidboydon thought that technology use in class is still context dependent.

With few resources which tech would you choose?

@mary28sou and @HadaLitim thought that the best thing to do was to make use of the students' own technology. This way they will be able to continue  the work they have started when they go home. 
@teflgeek provided a checklist: 
  • Does it add to the lesson?
  • Do all students have access to it?
  • Does it do something better?
  • Is it free? If not, how much is it?
  • Is it necessary?
He added that technology is a tool like any other.Use it if there is a good reason for it, if not-don't! It is about the teacher knowing what, and when to harness, technology.
@cherrymp pointed out that many teachers don't really consider whether the tool enriches learning before deciding to use it and felt that it was sometimes used more out of obsession than need.
@patrickelt reminded us that lots of people learnt languages just as effectively with 'old' tech :-)
In fact @NewbieCELTA had already suggested poster paper as a great low-tech way of working.

@bealer81 offered Whatsapp as a way to foster class community.
@cherrymp knew people who complained that it was too intrusive because of all the notifications.
@HadaLitim saw an improvement  in study skills, motivation and group cohesion when she used it with her students. She thought it made sense to use what was already popular with students.
@LahiffP used viber, a similar app.
@lahiffP asked about Snapchat. We are waiting for some more information about how useful this might be in class.
@bealer81 suggested using online corpora. So much information is available and it is easy to access.  
@michaelgriffin said that there were many corpora to choose from to suit different types of class. He mentioned BNC as a simple, although limited, corpus, and his own preference was for the COCA, although he warned that there was a learning curve to be mastered first.
@idc thought that access to the website, and corpus-informed material, wasn't enough of a guide for students, and that it would require more work on the part of the teacher. Also, do students have the motivation for self access?
But both @patrickelt  and @michaelgriffin thought that it would be useful for them to check combinations to inform and improve their writing skills. Of course, they would first have to be taught about how to use the corpus.
@michaelgriffin offered an old post of his to explain how to check intuitions 

We finished on a couple of points. @Shaunwilden advised everyone that next week will be the final week for this term, and #ELTChat will be taking a break for July and August as usual.

The other was that we would discuss the possibility of doing a slow-burn session sometimes, in contrast to the super fast 1-hour #eltchat. Watch this space...........

My thanks to everyone who took part and gave their valuable opinions.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Project 52 Week 24

This week  the weather was glorious. I'm sure young Emily was watching with bated breath in the run up to her wedding on Saturday. For the first time this year I've had to be vigilant about watering the garden. My cats have been hiding indoors because they are not so keen on the heat.


It feels like we were never away on holiday! The garden is blooming- and I see that John, the gardener from the college, has been round adding flowers to the bare patches:-) I said thank you when I saw him, and he told me that my garden was a mess and needed some work! We'll do it at the end of the summer- take everything out and replant it properly:-)


Back to work. I have picked up the same classes that I had before I had my week off, so it was a nice surprise to see so many familiar faces. We had a good week and we went out in the afternoon for a walk to Reg's garden, which is about 20 minutes from the college. My friend's daughter is getting married there at the weekend, so it was nice to see it while it was quiet. Reg inherited a piece of land and turned it into a garden full of small rooms, with an amphitheatre at the far end. The middle has a long water feature with a lovely waterfall at the very back, and a bridge in the middle. There are areas of different styles of planting, and areas for children to play and a fairy grotto etc. He is now in his 70's and allows charities and weddings to use the space, although tourists are welcome if they put a little money in the pot by the door.


Today I was watching the gardeners in town. They keep the parks and verges looking beautiful all year round, but at the moment they are really attractive. When I got home I decided to repaint the deck outside the kitchen. It was looking a bit tired and we like to have breakfast outside in the summertime.


#ELTchat evening. I was lucky enough to have my topic chosen for discussion. I helped moderate the session, picked up the transcript and wrote the summary (which you can read below). Not bad going for an evening. 
I had my friendly little shadow with me, as usual, as she doesn't want to let me out of her sight at the moment. Unfortunately she was too warm to sleep in her basket so was a bit of a wriggler.


I can't wait for the World Cup to be over! I hate football, and I dislike all the posturing that goes on. Jersey supports so many different sides as we have a large ethnic mix. I avoid looking at all the flags hanging out of windows etc. I think it looks tacky.  I went to the DIY shop to get some jolly cushions for the breakfast table now that the deck is finished.On my way back I saw a Portuguese driver with a flag hanging out of his car. 


Today was the first time we made it to the pub for a couple of weeks. It was very quiet- I suppose most people were at home watching football:-( They don't watch TV often in the Smugglers Inn, so we were safe.) On the other hand, they did put out bunting of all the world cup countries' flags. It was also Friday 13th and a full moon.


 The much looked-forward-to day has arrived. We spent a little time getting ready, then it was off to Reg's garden again, for the wedding. As a venue for a summer wedding it couldn't be bettered. The bride and her bridesmaids wore 1950s-style dresses and the meal was delivered in individual picnic baskets to tables set out in the sun, with Pimms and wine aplenty. The sun shone and everyone had a lovely day. The evening party was much busier and had Karaoke, dancing and the dreaded football- so we sloped off early and went back home for a quiet evening.


Friday, 13 June 2014

#ELTchat Summary 11th June - How can we show that our profession should be respected? Do we need more qualifications, or a body which oversees quality?

That's a mouthful of a title for an extremely useful and motivating discussion. Teachers from many corners of the world met for #ELTchat on twitter last Wednesday evening to try to make sense of it- and suggest some alternatives to change the situation.


The question was raised because I had been feeling like the poor relation amongst my friends who had gone into 'proper' teaching. They have more respect, more money and more holidays- and better job protection than anyone in the ELT business. Allowing for the fact that many of us treat our role as a professional career, and spend vast amounts of our free time on CPD, I find it disheartening.

Lack of respect from other teaching professionals

@KateLloyd05 agreed with me, and had heard such things as: 'anyone can do it- it's just talking to people'
or 'when are you going to get a proper job', or ' you can do it without any qualifications'. @01LPearson told us about his friends with their PGCEs (British: Post Graduate Certificate of Education) wondering when he was going to do the same. I find that many of my trainees do a CertTESOL and teach EFL for a couple of years, then do a PGCE and we are suddenly seen as 'less' in some way. Of course, all we had to do was a 4-week CELTA course- how can that compare with all those months at university?? (tongue firmly in cheek)
@Laila_Khairat's Primary Teaching colleagues tried to discourage her from changing her job to become an ELT teacher.
@Ashowski said that he knew colleagues at work who had had problems
Naomishema pointed to a lack of EFL teachers in Israel, as they were all off to find work in higher institutions.
@Marisa_C pointed out that it wasn't only a question of pay, but a feeling that we were not being recognised as doing a 'real'job. @01LPearson agreed that the respect was a higher priority for him.
@Ashowski mentioned that the British Government didn't offer university credits for ELT Teaching, even with a DELTA,  but would for youth workers etc.

@Naomishema and @esolcourses found that there was a general lack of respect for teachers, not just those in ELT, and @Philip_Saxon's marketing students didn't believe that going into the teaching profession was a positive step.
@Philip also said that Medicine and Law set high entry barriers, which ELT doesn't. @ebefl agreed but reminded us that demand  often outstrips supply.

What is the problem?

@01LPearson mentioned 'Mickey Mouse' schools where people do just talk!.... and there are many school owners who are looking for the cheapest people to hire- and who will take on backpackers, NS who just want to travel the world- and don't necessarily have any teaching qualifications and/or experience. @Ashowski worried that this misrepresented the professional behaviour of most of us. @MarjorieRosenbe suggested that the decriers should try teaching sometime :-)  
Even amongst the trainees with a recognised qualification there is a split between those who want to work and those who want to travel @01LPearson
@LizziePinard wanted to know how we could influence the hiring process. How can we teach employers to hire qualified teachers?

Rates of Pay

@Marisa_C said that EFL teachers in Greece were earning 20% less than 5 or 6 years ago, and that the hourly-paid teachers were hardest hit. At the other end of the scale are the well-off school owners who thrive on cutting salary costs.
@MarjorieRosenbe: Institutions in Austria pay ELT teachers far less than other teaching professionals.
@seburnt, based in Canada, was one of the luckier group as he hadn't been subject to this attitude or a reduction in salary. However it might be a feature of working in the higher education sector.
I spent my time increasing my skills and knowledge, and would like to be paid accordingly.
@designerlessons : the biggest issue is pay. If teachers are willing to accept low rates they will never be respected. There will always be those who will accept less pay, or those who are desperate to work and can't refuse. However, they diminish the industry by doing so. Some market research on pay and qualifications 
@joannacre wanted to know what the salary criteria would be-qualifications or experience? She mentioned some very low hourly rates.

Those who can, do.   Those who can't, teach!

How do we combat such an attitude?
@theteacherjames thought that you were okay if you had a supportive family, such as his, who were happy to have a teacher in the family. @KateLloyd05 agreed and said that the attacks didn't derive from her family, teachers themselves, but from friends in 'states' education. I find that my own family are reasonably supportive, even though I earn 5 times less than my husband, and  my young daughter's starting salary has surpassed mine, although I have more than 30 years in my business. However, my in-laws, who are all medical professionals, look down their noses at my job. 

We have a medium and a message...

Powerful words from @Marisa_C, but she is right. We are web-savvy  bloggers and riled enough to press for change.  Let's make videos for YouTube, or blog in all the world's languages. As @HanaTicha pointed out, we can take power and confidence from our use of the medium, and it may be more valuable even than qualifications.
@theteacherjames thought that the first step was to be seen to act as professionals, and he sited #ELTChat as a good example of 'walking the walk'. @MarjorieRosenbe agreed and added : and go to conferences and write for journals.
@esolcourses; asserting our right to be paid and treated as professionals is the next step...- although it requires confidence to do so.
@Marisa_C should we start a wiki where we collate information on working conditions in each country and make it available to those who need it?

Do we need to belong to a body which will recognise our professional development? Think global- act local :-)

@Ashowski: a body might be a good solution, state school teachers belong to unions.@theteacherjames agreed, but, mindful of our global nature, he thought it could be difficult-but not impossible, to organise. Another problem is that there is a difference in accreditation in each country.

@Marisa_C: could we form a movement such as the one started by Tessa Woodward? @theteacherjames thought that it would be possible as he had been helping set up  a NNEST Equity blog and had achieved a lot in a short time.

@LizziePinard : does this come under @NicolaPrentis's new IATEFL SIG idea?
@NicolaPrentis  joined us at this point and suggested lobbying IATEFL for a SIG to promote awareness of the rights of teachers. @Marisa_C thought that a SIG might be too inward looking...

@angelos_bollas : how about a body that gives work permits to all qualified teachers worldwide?

@Naomishema made a good point-we already have professional organisations, but her employers don't care either way whether she is a member or not.  Even if standards are set, they can be easily ignored by employers.
@Marisa_C explained that many of the organisations, such as IATEFL, were local- based, and didn't only include qualified members. Perhaps IATEFL could change its membership criteria, based on level of qualification?
@01LPearson suggested setting up an institution, getting it backed by the British Council, or somesuch body, and then inviting good schools to join. There were a few posts which suggested that the BC were not always rigorous about the standards in their own schools :-( 
@seburnt felt worried about a single organisation having the accreditation power, rather than devolving it to local groups. But perhaps a large organisation is necessary to get recognition.
@ELTwriter mentioned that she joined a Union in the UK. @esolcourse suggested that ATL was a relevant one in the UK. @LizziePinard suggested that this could be a job for the proposed new SIG.

@esolcourses felt that a unionised profession would get her vote, and a number of us were in agreement.
We heard that Australia has a union, and mandated pay rises and official  pay scales.

@pjgallantry joined us at this late juncture to tell us that this discussion was active 20 years ago- and here we still are.....  He suggested a peer- accredited network, which could be self policing.

 Would it help if the Students are aware of our qualifications?

@theteacherjames: if students are aware that the school employs non qualified teachers, they might go elsewhere, and this would serve to change the attitude of the employer.
It is key and shows value for money for the students. If students know the facts they are better placed to make decisions.
@MarjorieRosenbe urged caution : it depends on the reason sts attend a class- it could be for the social aspect!

We determined to continue this chat on our Facebook page #ELTchat and to not drop the ball... We were all in agreement that something has to happen, so watch this space.........................................


Sunday, 8 June 2014

project 52 Weeks 22 and 23

This post contains lots of holiday pics :-) We were able to get off the island for a few days, so the first week was spent winding down- and packing.
Week 22-


I had to pop down to help Carl with his computer again. He is really starting to get a bit forgetful. I love the fact that he has an upside down house, as the views from his living room are stunning. here is a picture of Mont Orgeuil Castle, which dominates the skyline.


I spent some time preparing the exam students for their speaking exam which is on Thursday. I'm sure that they will all be fine. My colleagues are getting ready to do a Mock for them too. It is a bitter-sweet time of the year. By the time I get back from my holiday, they will have finished school and I won't get a chance to wish them well before their written papers- and then they will go home- after several months!


Today is just a gardening day. The deck is finished and I did lots of weeding. I also noticed that the wall is very fragile in places. We will need to get a stone mason to look at it when we come back :(


Last minute shopping to leave some food at home. Buy Euros, find passports etc. I always leave things to the last minute. You would almost think I don't like travelling. In fact I hate taking the ferry, as I don't like to be on the water. It's strange because my family have a boat and we always holiday near water- and live on an island :-) My in-laws were back for a few days to prepare their boat for travelling to France. We took them up to the pub for an espetada ( a Madeiran meal of meat or fish ( or both) on a long skewer).


A short day at work, and a bright sunny day. I had a lovely salad for dinner, using some of the herbs from the garden, as M was taking part in a sailing race and Cairis was at a BBQ. 


Up early- and off to the ferry. We didn't have to hang around for long. I had my travel pills with me, but it looked like the crossing was going to be flat calm:-)
Once we got to the other side we stopped for a coffee, before setting off for the South. It took a couple of hours to get there and we quickly found our appartment/hotel with the use of our trusty SatNav.


We hadn't been to the Morbihan for several years, so we spent the day revisiting old haunts. We had to go down to Le Bono, as the  Voiliers Classiques were in port at the end of their weekend of racing. It looked like they would be having an amazing FestNoz in the evening, as the musicians were already tuning up when we arrived.


We always go shopping in the big Decathlon sports supermarket when down near Vannes. This time Cairis needed a new sailing jacket, as the neck of hers had perished. We decided to get it out of the way at the start of the week. We then visited Presque-isle de Conleau for lunch. It was a bit windy though- and the wind wasn't particularly warm!


Today we decided to drive to Lorient. Every morning, the first thing I see when I wake is a long canvas wall hanging of Pen Duick. She was owned and sailed by an amazing Frenchman called Eric Tabarley. He lost his life when he went overboard while taking her to Scotland for a reunion of boats to mark her 100 year anniversary. In Lorient there is a museum dedicated to him, and all the races he won on six different boats called Pen Duick. They were each designed for different sorts of races. We were there for many hours. Even I was fascinated by all the information. The museum was built in disused submarine pens which are also home to other museums and a dock for world racing boats. The models of the six boats were in a case by the exit.
Pen Duick 1
Pen Duick 2
Pen Duick 3
Pen Duick 4
Pen Duick 6
Pen Duick 5


Today was Vannes Market day. We wandered around for a bit, and used the time to find the Brasserie we were meeting some people in later. I had made contact with an old student of mine, who suggested meeting up for dinner. We had a nice evening with her family and her English teachers, who she had thought we might like to meet. We had a look at the ramparts, which are laid out below in a series of beautiful gardens. We also found a statue to St Emilion- I hadn't realised that he was from Vannes. The city is beautiful, particularly the old timbered buildings.


The Geant du Manio
We set off for Carnac today. I wanted to revisit the alignments of standing stones which I had seen many years ago. There are around 10, 000 stones in straight lines, which go on for about 4 kilometres. They start tall and diminish in height at the back. We did a tour in a little bus to get our bearings, and then walked around the site to take photos. It was just as amazing as I had remembered.
 We then drove to the next town-  La Trinite Sur Mer, where the Eric Tabarley connection continued. This is one of the starting points for round the world races, and there were many famous boats moored. On the other hand- there were small day boats in one corner and the marina on the opposite side was full of yachts.


Time to head home. We drove up to St Malo, did some shopping, had lunch, had time to visit the Tour Solidor and finally drove onto the ferry. The trip back was again uneventful, and I read my book all the way across.

We unpacked, had dinner, and an early night. Ebony was delighted to have me home. Cairis said that she stopped eating for a couple of days, and then whinged all day, looking for me in every room. She now doesn't want to let me out of her sight :-)


M is treasurer of the Jubilee Sailing Trust in Jersey. These are training ships for the disabled. Tenacious was visiting Gorey, and we had brought Carl a bottle of funnily-named whisky from France, so we decided to pop down to have a look. She had to anchor in deep water, so she was too far out to get a good picture  but I did a nice one of the boats in the harbour.