7 Things* NOT to Say to a Teacher on Holiday: A Rant

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*All these things have actually been said to me. More than once.

1. Wow – it must be great to get all this time off. You have holidays all the time!

Yeah. I do. It’s one of the few perks. It helps me to stay off the scheduled drugs and away from the breakdowns many of my colleagues are subjected to.

2. You only teach [insert subject]? Oh… Okay. Ummm… cool?

In a high school – that’s a good thing. I taught three subjects as a first year teacher, now I get to teach what I graduated in.

3. Teaching must be a great way to fulfil your maternal instinct. That’s why women are so much better at it than men.

Yes. Because of course my passion for pedagogic theory and sustainable grass roots development among young adults has to do with my reproductive organs. Absolutely. As a woman I do not have a brain and therefore my job must be related to childbearing. Damn these shoes are killing me… Do you mind if I stand in this kitchen barefoot?

4. Your students must think you’re really hot. I bet the boys can’t get enough of you!

How exactly would you like me to respond here? “Thank you”? “Gross – I never thought of that”? “I’m glad you’ve pointed that out – no one else has”? My kids keep what they think of me to their selves and hold me accountable for how I teach.

5. Those who can’t do, teach. Ha ha ha – just joking!

Some. And you graduated from high school with the help of…?

6. When I was at school, my teachers… and so I think…

Yes, you went to school for at least twelve years. So did I. That didn’t make me an education expert, it made me a matriculant. My six (and counting) years at several tertiary institutions make me an education professional. When learners go to school they understand how a school works and what their teachers do, but from a child’s perspective, from the view of a client. It’s kind of like thinking you’re an engineering expert because you run past the Brooklyn Bridge every day.

7. I know you don’t get paid well, but it is a part time job.

Uh huh. Part time during the early mornings when I get up to prepare. Part time during the day when I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus by 9a.m. Part time during the afternoon when I coach extra-murals without pay. Part time during the evenings when I contact parents, attend functions and prepare again. Part time during weekends when I work. Part time during holidays when I work. Capisce?

 

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Five Things I’ve Learnt About Family Holidays (and One I Haven’t)

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Alexander and Sarah, family trip to Durban, 1995

Family holidays are fun. Awesome. Just you and your loved ones, human and canine, crammed into a house and getting away from it all. Except each other. Family holidays are the dream, idealized for months before the time, the idea of their relaxing qualities and cozy, loving perfection built up like sandcastles in the sky. But sandcastles fall after only one stamp of an angry little foot or sweep of incoming tide. Many family holidays dissolve in tantrums and tears as siblings revert to childish roles. After not having had a family holiday for a while, we packed up for a lovely long weekend and enjoyed every moment. This is, over the years, what we’ve learnt.

Lunch on a Cuban Island

Lunch on a Cuban Island

1. Make. Everybody. Eat … Often.

Almost everyone in our family gets super ratty when our sugar levels drop. Mom knows to have enough healthy snacks on hand – fruit, sachets of oats, crackers with spreads, yogurt, dried fruit and a few slabs of Bubbly to separate out after dinner. We always tell her that she’s taking too much – we’ll never get through it all – it will go off. It never does and I don’t know when we’ve bought home much. Danny has a mug that says “Mom is Always Right” and every family holiday, she proves it true.

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Five Things You Need to Know About ZANZIBAR Before You Go

Mtoni Marine, Stone Town

Mtoni Marine, Stone Town

When heading off to a beautiful tropical island you have visions of uninterrupted white beaches, turquoise seas and fruity drinks. But before you, your sparkly ring and your brand new husband fit into the picture, you’ll need to find out a little more about your idyllic destination. Where do you buy currency? Do you need a visa? How do you choose which malaria pill to take? Where do you get inoculated and for what? What should you pack? Here are the answers – five things you need to know about Zanzibar before you take off in post-wedded bliss.

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day

1. Medication

Zanzibar is a malaria area (although how much so depends on the time of year). Tourists should buy their anti-malarial a few weeks before going, and use the medication as indicated. There are three main types of anti-malarials, and you can read about their various dosages and side-effects here. Your doctor will recommend the one most suited to your age, lifestyle and income.

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The Five Best Things to do in Madrid: An Underrated Capital

 

As a European destination, Madrid is often passed over for cities with more international cache – Paris, Amsterdam – even its own counterpart – Barcelona. Yet, as a favorite hangout of Ernest Hemingway, this is a city of living, eating, partying and shopping. Madrid contains all the things one might want from a European city – history, architecture, museums and galleries, beautiful parks, pavement cafés, great restaurants and a bouncing party scene, all with incredible Spanish flavor and style. Here are five highlights for first time visitors:
Situated in the center of the city, this previous royal residence (now used for state ceremonies) is an architectural and artistic wonder, built between 1738 and 1764. Start off by admiring the symmetrical façade, equally beautiful when lit up at night or glowing in the morning sunshine. Must-sees inside include the Hall of Columns which is still used for functions, and the pharmacy (an antique collector’s dream, lined with ancient glass bottles and mortars and pestles. Informative placards educate visitors on the scarier aspects of 1800s medicine). Cross the interior courtyard – while imagining you live there – and enter the amoury. As someone who has always been far more interested in dashing knights than amour, it was amazing to see the contraptions that have been worn through the ages!
Madrid’s Central Park – bigger than most suburbs and used by all for pet-walking, bike riding, yoga classes and boat rides on the lake – not only serves Madrileños with recreational facilities, but also contains architectural marvels such as the Palacio de Cristal. Visitors can enter the park through any of the eighteen elaborately designed gates and most of them eventually make their way through the mazes of paths and roads to Estanque, the boating lake. Built in 1631 and overlooked by a towering monument to Alfonso XII, there are rowboats for hire and plenty of spectators who while away their time buying ice creams and watching some of the 6000 fish to be found in the lake. Don’t miss the beautifully designed rose garden which flowers at impossible times of the year and boasts more than 4000 roses.
3. Plaza Mayor
Madrid’s most famous square was designed to hold 50000 people. Most of the buildings now house government offices. The floor of the square is surrounded by restaurants, bars, tourist information kiosks and shops. In the center you’ll find the horse-seated statue of Felipe III. The square, although always humming with people and music, is a lot more staid than it used to be – it was previously used as a bullring, open-air theater and an execution ground. Now, eat an ice-cream in the sun and watch old men playing chess, browse through a book stall and gawk at the mimes.

4. El Escorial

A day trip from Madrid, El Escorial is stately and unique – one part palace, one part monastery and one part mausoleum. Built by Felipe II tomadrid (768x1024) house the remains of his father, he instructed his architects to design it with “simplicity in construction, severity in the whole, nobility without arrogance, majesty without ostentation”. One of the complex’s most beautiful aspects is the library which is held in esteem for its possession of important holy writings dating between the fifth and 18th centuries, housed under intricately painted vaulted ceilings inspired by Michelangelo. El Escorial has been deemed one of the modern wonders of the world and has been declared a Monument of Worldwide Interest by UNESCO.

5. Art Galleries

Madrid is renown for its three biggest art galleries – Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen Bornemisza and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The Prado is housed in a large, low building situated along a leafy avenue. Among its claim to fame is its collection of Goya, Velazquez and Rubens masterpieces.

Not far up the avenue the smaller Museo Thyssen Bornemisza can be found, which houses paintings by Van Gough, Renoir, Degas, Picasso, Rembrandt and Dali. For visitors who become footsore, the charming garden café is the perfect place to refresh.

The last of the three main galleries (there are plenty more!) is the Arte Reina Sofia which boasts Picasso’s Guernica. Not only is the finished canvas displayed – an adjoining room also contains the artist’s rough sketches of the design and other Picasso works.

Eating and Drinking 
Madrid being the city of eating out, bars and restaurants are abundant, well-priced and always full of interesting people. Almost without exception, the bars serve delicious tapas and the restaurants boast adjoining bars. Aside from great wines and European beers, the drink of choice is Anis, preferably from Chinchon. This clear spirit made from aniseed has a liquorice taste and can be likened to Sambuca. Those in a celebratory mood should try Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine.

After tapas, the most delicious and Spanish of Madrid food is paella – made with rice, veg, seafood and other meats, and usually served straight from the pan. Restaurant or bar recommendations are fruitless – there is so much to choose from. Walk down a street in any busy area and wander into places that catch your eye. Most have menus posted outside so you can see whether the food appeals, and whether their prices are inside your budget.

As a city, Madrid certainly has a unique body clock. Expect lunch to end anywhere before five pm, and supper only to start at 11pm. Although there is early business traffic, the streets only wake up after 10am when people of all kinds congregate in coffee shops for a traditional breakfast – chocolate con churros – fried pastry dipped in thick chocolate or black coffee.

Five Cape Town Sunday Brunch Spots with a View

Cape Town is very much a brunch city, but many of the best places are closed on Sundays. Here are my (very opinionated) best picks, open on Sundays, and with a view to boot!

1. Harvey’s Jazz Brunch, Winchester Mansions

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Winchester Mansions, Overlooked by Lion’s Head

Live jazz, a buffet, glass of bubbly and a Sunday newspaper all yours for R225.00 per person. Enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sea Point Promenade as you sip said bubbly, browse the news and tap your feet to a different jazz act every weekend.

2.  Table Bay Hotel, V & A Waterfront

A firm favorite with the family on special occasions, dad first brought me here as a daddy-daughter date during my school finals, and the tradition has lived on. Which reminds me…. daddy? Prices for the buffet: continental – R200.00 and full English (plus continental selection) – R250.00.

3. Suikerbossie, Hout Bay

Suikerbossie Looking Over Hout Bay

Suikerbossie Towards Hout Bay. Image taken by Lindsay Young

Home of our wedding over six years ago, Suikerbossie is a Capetonian secret. With a full breakfast buffet for only R135.00 per head, the glorious view over Llandudno Beach really is free. (While you are there, look for us on the wedding wall!)

4. Cocoa Oola, Town Centre

Cocoa Oola

Cocoa Oola

Easy, friendly, cheap and with a great mountain view, this branch of the popular Cocoa chain is as cheery as it gets. Great for catching up on browsing or work, they provide free wifi (and smiles – cheese!)

5. Vineyard Hotel and Spa, Claremont

Sitting out in the Vineyard Hotel’s lush garden, you might forget that you’re in the middle of a busy Cape Town suburb, with a frenetic mall and two sports stadiums only metres away. With the uninterrupted view of the Southern side of Table Mountain and acres of landscaped greenery to banish the children, brunch can feel like a monastic retreat. And while you’re there you just might as well get yourself a massage at the renowned Angsana Spa.

Leave a comment telling us your favorite spot – there are so many still to try!