Mayhem Month!

There are days here in the tropical paradise of England where I’m beginning to feel like I know what I’m doing..

Those days are short lived.

Gapper life over the last month has been a crazy day by day search for some kind of schedule but the only thing I know for sure is that I’m going to be doing something brilliant, unfamiliar and either challenging or arduous. Some days during school my time is filled building my ever tense relationship with the photocopier, others are entirely out on the hockey field, and there’s sure to be a few hours of listening to the developing reading of the children. It sounds like a trek, (and while it is) it has been an awesome experience and an opportunity to learn.

One of the other consistencies of life here is in the house. Morning and afternoon can be summed up into food, table tennis, scalding bad behaviour and general messing about with the lads. Aside from a few raucous occasions the gents here have been quite the instigators of quality times, banter and learning. Over the last few weeks I have had the chance to begin what I hope will be an opportunity for the blokes to do a bit of chatting on ethical and moral issues. It is a time before lights out where I sit in the dorm with the older boys and have an open question time to ask (within reason) whatever they want. After the standard man talk with the year 7’s about “who likes who” we have so far had some really good chats on why we bother with kindness and faith in religion. I look forward to getting this into all the dorms at some point and enabling a higher order of thinking for the lads.

In my own endeavours (aside from Vegemite hunting), the Ukulele has become quite a way to release tension and relax in my room before bed! I have had the opportunity to develop a better structure with my bible reading time. I have 25 minutes between waking the boys up and breakfast so doing a devotional bible series has been particularly beneficial in setting a good mindset for the day. From a swimming perspective I have been able to consistently get down to the Cheltenham Ladies College Pool 4-5 times a week after work, meaning I’m still running my own sessions but it has been an opportunity to develop basic cardio endurance before I get into work for summer. Travel wise I have been down to London on exeat (details below) and next week I begin a 7 day tour from Prague, all the way back to London through Germany and Holland so I’m very excited!

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On my last post I was just about to head of to London, so I’ll do the standard travel blog commentary now! After a once again delayed bus journey the 24th of January saw my backpack and I hurtling down some shocking roads through Oxford and down to the big smoke! Landing at about 11:30 in the famed West End, I took in the bustling area of the Palace Theatre and Victoria Station. Taking out my tourist map I circled all the major tourists hotspots between me and my hotel in the north. For the next 5 hours I walked past the Palace, through Hyde Park, to Westminster Cathedral and then the Abbey, Parliament Square, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square just to name a few of the world famous monopoly streets all within a few blocks of one another! It was amazing walking the streets of such a city rich in documented world history. Buildings would have plaques on the side naming where historical figures of influence once slept in giving the journey a sense of awe.

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Saturday night of my first exeat was spent exploring the London City further. Dinner at a beautiful little restaurant near Trafalgar Square was complemented by a viewing of the musical, Wicked! Getting into the Contiki Basement was an experience, I came down to London to meet Londoners, but it seems that every traveller around me was from OZ or NZ… It was a bit of a shock compared to what I’d expected but a welcome taste of home!

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Sunday was quite the day… By 8AM I was walking about before jumping on board a bus tour to see the Tower, London Bridge and hear all the details of the city from someone who gets paid to know them! I had the fortune of teaming up with a NZ traveller for the hop on/off tours which was a ball! By about 1PM it was time to begin what really was the reason I had come down…

AUSTRALIA DAY!

A ride on the tube and overground got me to the suburb of Clapham Junction, which seemed to me like the Newtown of London. A visit to the Clapham Grand (an old theatre turned party venue) began the days celebrations with meat pies, VB’s, Bogans and thongs- or flip flops as I now have to call them! The afternoon continued and I got a haircut, met a few more random (and partially inebriated) Aussies until I finally had enough Vegemite to power a nuclear bomb and no-one else was keen or able to make it to the next bar…

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Monday morning? Best morning of my week-  day off! Obviously I was still in London Town so I did what any tourist would do, hit up the icons! Selfies with Churchill and spinning around on the London Eye were a brilliant way to have a relaxed, calm morning and revitalise before heading back to work that evening to get paid for playing Table Tennis with the Lads! That was exeat over!

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Tuesday morning started tired as anything but still buzzing from an awesome trip! The last 3 weeks have been spent searching for Vegemite and Milo in Tesco, and blitzing through the days at Dean Close! It’s a funny feeling at the moment, I feel really settled and in a mood like I’ve been here a long time and know the ropes, but daily I’m reminded I’ve been doing the job only a few weeks by messing up royally! I’ve set off alarms, forgotten bulletins, mixed up papers, sent registers to the wrong place and realised I’d been taking my documents out of the wrong pigeon hole for a week and a half… Every day I’m fine tuning how well I know the place and fingers crossed I’ll eventually work out what I’m meant to be doing!

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In other news, I have finally seen snow! I woke up in the morning to see our field and playground absolutely white! Needless to say I was naive enough to run straight out into the freezing cold and make snow angels with the lads before the snowballs began… It was a freezing and beautiful way to wake up!

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In getting to know the boys I have, this week, had some great improvements with individually connecting and developing rapport with a few of the more challenging blokes. On the other side I am struggling with general cheekiness and rebellion from a group of the boys when they fulfil what Mr O’Brien would call the “Mob Mentality”. I don’t like being an authoritarian leader with these lads, particularly because I’m only a few years older than them, and after half term I will be seeking to use both general house time and the pre bed chat sessions to encourage an environment of respect enabling a more democratic approach to my dealings with the boys. If those of you who have managed to read this far wouldn’t mind praying for those things alongside general safety on my travels next week that would be particularly encouraging!

As always, if you have a suggestion, question or comment please drop me a comment, message, email, tweet, facebook, floop, glibbity glob or any other way you wish because I’d love to hear from you! #jongmasjourney is welcome for extra input!

Until I can be bothered to write again, as Grandma’s friend Lorie always says…

“Love all around”

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