Friday, July 29, 2016

K+ Closing Ceremony

This afternoon marked the end of the K+ Widening Participation Summer School programme. And the end of that week presentations! Each stream is responsible for giving us a five minute lesson about the themes they engaged with over the week.

My students examined themes of media, bias, and the Middle East...concluding by teaching their parents and peers what "epistemology" is. It was a nervous mommy moment, watching my pupils make up their own presentation and answer questions from judges on stage without me! But a really good way to cap off a great week. I'll miss my students - luckily, I'll have their essays to mark in two weeks, at which time I'll probably stop missing them! ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

K+ Summer Spotlight

I'm teaching this week on a summer day camp for older British high school students. King's runs a widening participation programme supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds in their professional growth and applications to university. The culmination of the year-long experience is a week on King's campus with PhD tutors, admissions advisors, undergraduate ambassadors, etc. getting a taste of uni life and a lot of help crafting writing samples, personal statements, and the like.
King's partners with The Brilliant Club to run academic classes as a part of the session. I am once again teaching "Does the Telly Lie? Media and the Middle East". Students who chose languages and literature as their subject stream are working with me to learn a bit of Arabic, explore bias and epistemology in writing, and challenge their assumptions about the region. 

More importantly, yesterday we participated in a competition around the uni. The live feed can be found on my Twitter -

We were incredibly serious the entire time. As evidenced by our sprint through the fountains and various other absurd poses taken with fountains. 

It is shaping up to be a most excellent - if long - week. Let's go, kids. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Three Musketeers

This post has nothing to do with Alexandre Dumas. But when scheduled to spend eight hours with six-year-old twins and five-year-old Maestro, one's calendar reads "Musketeers Day".

London schools are now done with term, which means the entertainment of young ones has become a more full-time job. I took a shift today, frolicking about Regent's Park with Iorwerth and two of his buddies.

We terrorised morning commuters by walking backwards out of the Tube Station

and then found our way into some shrubbery

Also on the agenda was a rousing variation of Pooh Sticks in a fountain. (Don't ask me how one plays Pooh Sticks without a current. They were managing.)

We discovered a fabulous statue-water-fountain-thing, which was quickly claimed as our throne.

And eventually made it into the zoo. Where we did see some animals. But also acted like monkeys ourselves.

This shot of the butterfly was taken by a young it is just to prove there was some sort of concentration level. At least for thirty seconds.

And then the required afternoon treat for this kind of day out:

 Mission: Exhaust child. Success.


Monday, July 18, 2016

The Burn 2016

This weekend was the annual Marshall Scholars' trip to The Burn, a gorgeous country manor house in the Highlands.

I haven't been back in Scotland for wayyyyyyyy too long; that was quite magnificent. And I believe a grand time was had by all.

We took the train up Friday and had a ceilidh dance (the Scottish version of a country square dance, complete with the bagpipes playing for some of the songs) that evening.

Saturday we packed a heck of a lot in:

St Cyrus Nature Reserve, a beautiful stretch of sandy beach on the east coast of the North Sea. Favourite photo from that is our cheesy feet photo, but innovatively including our group mascot and a Scholar's guide dog, Fathom:

We were then off to Dunnottar Castle, one of the most picturesque in the country. (At least I think so. This isn't even the nice side.)

Our final stop was Fettercairn Distillery, where I did not drink the entirety of this 22,500 litre cask.

Come Sunday, we did a long hike in the Glen Esk, including a view of Queen's Well - where Victoria and Albert supposedly visited. The monument is supposed to be the top of the Crown, one assumes. I have to point out, though, it is instead basically the Holy Handgrenade of Antioch. Kris climbed up it and lobbed a few weapons at Terri...

Other weekend activities included a bonfire, an absurd number of croquet games, and the vaguest pretense of schoolwork. The amount of seriousness involved can be viewed below.

This last is a particular joy for me, as literally no one is looking at the camera except Fathom, who is (as usual), perfectly on point.

And now, back to reality.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Shakespeare upon Shakespeare

Hannah has now seen no fewer than three full-length productions of Shakespeare on her trip to London. 

The first was Macbeth as performed at The Globe Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe on London's Southbank. The theatre is one of the only buildings in the city allowed a thatched roof after the Great Fire. 

Hannah and her parents pre-booked tickets to stand in the Yard. Just £5 to stand up amongst a crowd and watch three hours of tragedy unfold before you...what a deal! It is actually quite fun, as the actors come in and out around you. Surrounding the circular Yard are seated boxes, so you get to pretend you're a 16th century peasant surrounded by lords and ladies.

After thoroughly enjoying the same theatre's modern adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" featuring a gay Helenus rather than simpering female Helena, I recommended Hannah and her brother try to find tickets. The show was generally sold out, but they went and queued for any return tickets and managed to score a couple. 

And then there is the Garrick, one of the West End's more intimate theatres and now home to Kenneth Branagh's troupe. They are currently doing "Romeo and Juliet". Not my favourite. To say the least. But Richard Madden, famous for portraying Rob Stark on "Game of Thrones" and playing Kit in the recent live-action "Cinderella", is Romeo. 

Or, well. Richard Madden is supposed to be Romeo. Turns out he hurt his foot rather dramatically the night they were filming the show. And he's off. 

So I had this lovely present for Hannah, a private box to see one of her favourites. And alas, there he wasn't. 

Little known fact: "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" actually means "why are you a Montague?", not "where are you?"

Despite the misuse of the quote, it felt rather relevant. And the tragedy of the play took on a different tone as we watched the non-appearance of Richard Madden. 

However - Shakespeare done really well is Shakespeare done really well. And Hannah had an excuse for a nice dress. So not all bad. 

And now she can go back to the US feeling rather excessively cultured. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Strike Fun

The National Union of Teachers had strike action yesterday. The school I've been teaching in, as well as Iorwerth's primary campus, were shut down as a result.

No school, you say? Central London fun, says I!

As a result, the two men in my life have now met. After a great deal of curiosity from Iorwerth about this baby Rafael person I've been seeing behind his back, Maestro met Rif Raf yesterday. A great deal of love was the result. 

After picking up Rif, we played in Jubilee Park for quite a while - attracting many other young gentlemen to our Legos. 

We then rode the carousel. Iorwerth found a horse with his last name on it!

We also brought our best mate with us, since his parents were also both working. After a picnic lunch at Somerset House all together, we took a boat cruise. A first for both five-year-olds! I'm calling this pic from the ship "Under Construction". You can decide if I'm referring to the crane or the kids. ;)

And then we rounded out the day with a couple great books, read by Rafael's dad, who is a children's literacy professional. 

What. A. Day. :)

Friday, July 1, 2016

We're on a boat!

The Boleys had quite the intense few days in London...hitting Hyde Park, St. James' Park, Green Park, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Baker Street, Westminster, the London Eye, the Strand, Fleet Street, Borough Market, Shakespeare's Globe, Tower Bridge, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul's Cathedral, John Wesley's house, Regent Street, Oxford Street, and just three days.

Somehow in all that, we squeezed in a river cruise...and took Rafael! Our first boat on the Thames was rather fantastic. We stared at all kinds of fascinating things.

We almost posed in front of the Eye. (But mostly we just chewed our fingers.)

We flirted with Auntie Hannah and found the benches to be quite edible.

We squirmed like crazy near the Millennium Bridge, aka the bridge destroyed by the Death Eaters in Harry Potter.

And given that being nearly five months old is all quite exhausting, naturally we then fell fast asleep in an adorable heap.

The Boleys are off to Oxford today while I go do a tutorial with The Brilliant Club. Hannah is staying for another few weeks, but her parents leave tomorrow. They're replaced with big brother Sunday morning, though, so there will be no shortage of Boleys and tourism in the coming days...