Change is the only constant in life…

or so they say. And it is true, just as you get settled, change happens. Perhaps that is what keeps us on our toes. There is good change and not so good change – and I thought it was about time I wrote of the good changes that Simon has seen in himself.

Once a month the students have a writing assignment to do. Last month’s topic was a composition called “Where I have seen improvements”.

And this is what Simon wrote:

I now can play football without being scared of the ball or people running at me. I can hit the golf ball better than I used to. I can talk to people and understand the talk better now. My handwriting is getting better. I can get places by myself without being confused. I can read things without any help. I am not scared of reading anymore. I have flashbacks to my past when I am doing the exercises. I can remember things for longer now.

That is an amazing list of improvements that Simon has noticed in himself, all of them making his life easier and him more confident and believing in himself more with each one. The increase in his confidence is wonderful to watch, seeing Simon engaged and talking to people with ease is a joy. He organises outings with his friends without consultation and gets himself places on public transport, things we take for granted with our other children but which have been a cause of great anxiety for Simon previously. We often wish for happiness for our children but for me, I believe that contentment is more important, to be content with what you have and comfortable in your own skin, and I am happy to say we are seeing a much more content Simon! The gift of the Arrowsmith programme is not only the increased cognitive abilities that the students achieve, invaluable as they are, but also the increased confidence socially – together these will, in the words of a wise student, allow them to be the person they were meant to be. It was those words that convinced me that the Arrowsmith programme was the next step in Simon’s journey. The journey continues.

 

So proud of you, Simon!

It has been a few days since we got home but now we are back, no longer feeling like zombies, back to the glorious harbour in a house that is colder than our apartment in Peterbrough! Back to walking Rusty through our beautiful suburb of Balmain, back to shopping in familiar shops – it feels very comfortable and easy. Back to Pearl Beach, log fires and unusually rough seas, long walks through the National Park to Patonga and back.

Back again to Sydney, rounds of appointments, dentist, optometrist and more, but TODAY was a special day – Simon was awarded his Gold Duke of Edinburgh award, an award that is earnt only through persistence and dedication, months of volunteering, learning a new skill, doing a sport regularly, going on a trip away from home, in his case going to Cape York to help set up a community garden in a very remote Aboriginal community and as a cultural experience interacting with the people thereimage (1) and going on a journey, a hike in New Zealand, both the Northern and Southern Tongariro circuit, unfortunately in the most terrible conditions, but he did it! We are so proud of him! Not that many students make it through to Gold, most stopping after Bronze and more after their Silver which makes Simon’s achievement all the more remarkable.

We are off to celebrate now!
And I don’t know why this didn’t get published but here it is now, rather later than planned! And no time to write anything after that but I will start writing soon!

On our way home!

Well, where did that month since we left Peterborough go? We have done a lot of travelling, I feel a bit like that Ausdie song “I’ve been everywhere, man! “. Not quite everywhere but quite a lot of places! 

So now we are heading home, a long journey via Toronto! It is Tuesday afternoon and we will arrive in Sydney on Friday morning! Just like travelling used to be, lots of stopovers on the way!

What a great year it has been! Simons report reflected the changes we have seen and we were very happy with it and with the amazing work he has put into Arrowsmith this year. And the rest of us have had a good year too!

dashing to the plane now!

Adieu to Chicago, Northumberland, London, Dubrovnik and Korcula! Hello Sydney! image

 

Cocktails, sunsets, Mareska!

Relaxing here in Korcula!  The biggest decisions of the day being what time to go down to the beach and which cocktail to choose! Cocktails are a true sign that you are on holiday, to paraphrase Claudias remark yesterday!  

We enjoyed a fabulous lunch on a tiny island called Stupe, just off Korcula, where we ate at the restaurant owned by Hanjas cousin. The huge fish was cooked over a wood fire by hanjas cousins daughters husband! Everyone knows Hanja or is related to her! Our journey over there was a little choppy and those in the back of the boat were soaked and landing was a little fraught! Worth it though!

In the evening we had drinks at the sunset bar. We then went to watch the Mareska, a traditional,sword dance. It was very powerful, sparks flying everywhere as the swords clashed noisily together. It is justly world famous, so energetic. We loved it! This dance used to be performed all over the country and now this is the only place were it has been preserved. Thank goodness that this tradition has been kept for future generations.
Yesterday was a very relaxed day, breakfast at Hotel Korcula, sounds like a movie title! Off to the Marco Polo museum which was fascinating, I never knew spaghetti and gelato went to Italy with Marco Polo from the court of Kubla Khan in Mongolia! Lunch overlooking the water, lying in the sun, swimming and then cocktails in a beautiful garden bar overlooking the old town, and after dinner more cocktails in an amazing bar set in castellated turret. We had to climb a ladder to get through a narrow hole leading up to the terrace, so un OH and S it wouldn’t be allowed in Australia! It was beautiful up there, looking out over the old town and the Cathedral tower.
Our last day today, it has gone all too quickly! But I must admit, we are looking forward to heading home soon and seeing Michael, Rusty, our home and our friends! image

Korcula, so lovely!

We had a quiet day yesterday, wandering through the old town, lunching on a verandah over the water, swimming, sun bathing and playing cards in the sun. Bliss after all the rushing around of the last couple of weeks.

Hanja and her fellow walkers arrived just in time for dinner. Another fabulous meal on the water followed by champagne on the terrace! 

No photo as it won’t upload but hopefully later! 

 

Dubrovnik

We had a great day yesterday exploring the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. We started with a city tour walk, called Discovering Dubrovnik, in which our guide, Anna, told us the history of the city, the role of trading and diplomacy played in making Dubrovnik into the Pearl of the Adriatic, one of the most important cities in the world at one point in time. She told us about the architecture and the history of the beautiful churches and houses, pointing out the buildings that survived the massive earthquake in the 1600s and how they differ from the post earthquake buildings which are much less ornate. She also told us a brief history of the Homelands War of the 1990s in which thousands died and pointed out the damage sustained by some of the old buildings which has not been repaired in part because they don’t know how to repair it but also as a reminder of that terrible war. 

A reviving drink at the oldest cafe in Dubrovnik before we set off to the Ethnography Museum with interesting displays of life in pervious times. I thought the kitchen display was especially interesting, similar to the kitchen in Hutchison House, and I thought once agin how hard life must have been in those times. 

Lunchtime, we passed a restaurant with a nice courtyard so a light lunch of Adriatic prawn salad for me, pear and Gorgonzola salad for Emma but Simon chose the best with fried calamari, light and crispy!  It was so hot so we repaired back to our hotel for a swim before we headed back into the Old Town. We walked the City Walls, giving us a wonderful view of the town and the old port and a real sense of the history of Dubrovnik, it was easy to imagine the feeling of security those walls gave to the towns inhabitants, especially when they used to shut the gates each night.
Up on the cable car to look down over the old town and port. Our plan to watch the sunset was thwarted by the cable car building which is in the way of the sunset, we didn’t work that out until we were up there! We went back down to dinner at an amazing restaurant we had spotted from the city walls, 360 degrees, overlooking the city walls and the old port, we had an absolutely beautiful meal, sharing scallops and tuna to start, delicious flavours. I had to try the traditional risotto with squid ink, such a deep rich black and delicious! The 100% chocolate desert was the perfect ending to a great night! And then they brought out the petit fours! We waddled back to the bus and our hotel!
We met Guy this morning and are going for lunch before meeting Hanja and making our way to Korcula, in the rain! image

Sun and a swim

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Our 3.15am start yesterday was somewhat challenging!  Worthwhile however once we saw Dubrovnik from the bus. We made it through the chaos of the busy square outside the old town to catch the bus to our hotel in Ladal a little way away. We spent the afternoon by the pool, napping and swimming, watching Roger Federer loose the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, despite our best efforts to encourage him! Down to the beach side for a beautiful dinner with beautiful views.

off to explore Dubrovnik now!