Overlooking Geneva is the majestic Mont Salève. It’s not actually in Switzerland at all; it’s firmly in France, just across the Franco-Swiss border. Its limestone cliffs are the backdrop to an already picture-perfect Swiss city, and the views from the top are breath-taking. I’d seen them before, but was only too happy to see them again.
Hugging the southern shoreline of Lac Léman (more commonly referred to as Lake Geneva), Switzerland’s second most populous city is a melting pot of cultures, global organisations and languages. Cosmopolitan Geneva is the perfect size for a weekend break – or in our case, a mid-week break – and despite Switzerland’s reputation for being an expensive place to visit, there are plenty of low-cost attractions for those travelling on a shoestring.
Just a stone’s throw from the Welsh border, and twenty miles south of Scouseland, lies my beautiful hometown. Chester is a historic walled city, with an eclectic mix of architectural styles, including timber-framed buildings, a medieval castle and many Roman remains. Foreigners and southerners alike often have no concept of where Chester is; I tend to describe it as being ‘halfway between Manchester and Liverpool, but without the Scouse accent’. That explanation doesn’t really do it justice: Chester is more than just a city that happens to be situated midway between two of the UK’s most famous football clubs. It’s a city with almost two thousand years of history; I’ve only been on this planet for 1% of that time. I may no longer live there on a permanent basis, but it will always be my home. Save for a few passing mentions, I haven’t given much attention to Chester on my blog. It’s time to remedy that, and bring you the very best of Chester. Grab the Hobnobs and a cuppa, for this one’s a bit of a long one.
This time last year, I’d just started my job as a lectrice in Lyon. I had a mere seven months’ teaching experience under my belt (courtesy of my year abroad as a language assistant in Colmar) and zero TEFL, TESOL or CELTA qualifications to my name. Over the course of those two stints abroad teaching English, I filled my hard drive with resources, activities and PowerPoints; I still have hard copies of all my lesson plans and annotated printouts, as I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. Since coming up with exciting activities can seem like a round-the-clock job, I’ve compiled a few of my tried-and-tested favourites. Many of these can be adapted for use with students of different levels; I taught students with a very basic command of the language, and also students who were extremely proficient. As long as you take your students’ abilities into account when planning and carrying out the activity in question, there shouldn’t be any major hiccups.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] Lemon drizzle cake is a classic teatime treat, and one that can hold its own against Victoria sponges and Battenbergs at afternoon teas up and down the country. It’s tangy and tasty, and the icing on the cake – quite literally – is the crunchy lemon drizzle topping. I hadn’t made one for a while, but as it’s a firm favourite of Laurence’s, I decided to bake one a couple of weeks ago for us to enjoy over the weekend. Starbucks’ Lemon Loaf has been shown the door; I’m pretty sure he’s been converted to the (arguably much tastier) homemade equivalent. Whether you’re having friends round for coffee or need a no-faff bake for the office bake-off, this cake’s got your back. (On a side note, who else feels that GBBO just isn’t the same without Mel and Sue?)
My stint as a lectrice was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had. I jumped through endless (mostly bureaucracy-related) hoops, navigated the complexities of teaching at a university in a foreign country and almost worked myself into the ground in the process. Despite – or perhaps in spite of – all the obstacles, setbacks and challenges that were thrown my way, it also turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It taught me a lot about my capabilities and aspirations, my fortes and flaws. Had it been plain sailing, I’m certain I wouldn’t have learnt half as much as I did.
Shortly after my hike in the Chartreuse, Olivier suggested a ‘randonnée cerises’ in the nearby Monts du Lyonnais. It’s fairly self-explanatory what this hike entailed, but I fancied sharing a few photos from it as I had a jolly good time. (Let’s face it, a hike that combines rolling hills and end-of-season fruit is pretty much the dream for me.)