Monday, 6 October 2008

A curate's egg of a post...


I trotted off to Dulwich (South East London) because of:
1) a Mouse called "Minimus" (who made Latin cool!).
2) to visit old college friends.
3) to attend a one day Minimus course in Dulwich to learn how to teach Latin Minimus to children and adults.
4) to meet two well known Dulwich bloggers (Dulwichmum and Dulwich Divorcee).
5) to see my London Media Sister (who hates that title) so is henceforth to be known as "Very Arty Sister" (as opposed to t'other sister who is "Very Numerate Sister").
In short it was all extremely exciting.

The weather was good: crisp, sunny and autumnal. The trains were excellent and I could read my books in peace! I got to King's Cross, reached the top of the escalators in the Tube and the place was promptly closed down at 5pm on a Friday evening. I couldn't believe it! (Well, I could actually). Sirens stated sounding with a stern voice announcing: "Please leave the station immediately this is an emergency!" You could be forgiven for thinking that World War III had just broken out. Managed to leave the station in record time (Thank God I wasn't downstairs in the bowels of the Tube!) and was carried along by the numerous hordes to some buses on the other side of the street. It was only when I looked at their destinations did I query whether I wanted to go there. I didn't. I hailed a black cab and sanity soon returned. Charing Cross beckoned. The cab took me through the streets of Covent Garden. Anyway I'm rambling. I got to Charing Cross. Caught the train and arrived where I wanted to be. Again I was surrounded by multi cultural London. Something I miss about Northumberland to be sure. It was far more multi cultural in Roman times. (I stayed with college friends who now have two children. We talked, laughed and drank red wine. I stayed up late!)

Saturday dawned. I said my farewells and caught two trains via London Bridge. I arrived in Dulwich country. I'd never been before. I was curious to say the least. I went for some a coffee at an Italian deli in the village.

The course, itself, was super. The lady, Barbara Bell, the creator of Minimus is a dream. She is wonderfully inspirational - everything you hope to find in a teacher. She explained that you can teach Minimus in an after school club or as a lesson. Funding can be obtained to buy the books. It is cross curricular. Children love it. It helps their English grammar, they learn how to pronounce Latin words, how to act out the stories, how it influences certain modern languages, how it ties in with geography, history, archeology, science. The list is endless. It's all based around a real family who lived at Vindolanda c. AD97-103. They've found evidence of their existence and how they lived through the Vindolanda tablets. These are little wooden postcards which have survived miraculously in bug-free earth at Vindolanda (which means something like "White Cross") where many Roman forts were built during the Roman occupation of Britain. These people were there a little prior to Hadrian building the wall in AD122. It takes your breath away. Even if you cannot get up to Vindolanda it is worth taking a look at the tablets which are on permanent display at The British Museum.

After a full day there I met up for another cuppa and a chat with Dulwichmum and Dulwich Divorcee. It was great to meet them in the flesh and have a chinwag. For me, it wasn't long enough as we all had to rush our separate ways and Dulwichmum very kindly dropped me at my next port of call (staying with some more college friends). I drank some more wine and stayed up late once again. Why did I half wake up...expecting a wail from another room? Nothing came. I snuggled down enjoying every last inch of freedom.

The next day the weather broke and bucketed down. I decided to save money and buy a Rail ticket to all London terminals. I got to London Bridge and wondered why the machine swallowed the ticket. I'd forgotten about the Tube bit! (Amazing now to think that I've lived half my life in London.)

I met Very Arty Sister at the gleaming new designer palace called St. Pancras station. It had changed one hell of a lot since I was last in WHSmith where I bumped straight into Alan Rickman. (I don't think he recognised me though....) We pretended we were already in France and ate "pain au chocolat" with two cappuccinos, plus two mint teas...the bill: sixteen quid!!!! It was great to see her again. I don't see and talk to her enough. I aim to change that...
That's it really. I read the Sunday newspapers in the quiet carriage back to Newcastle. It was wonderfully sunny shiny and fresh. Got another train home to my gorgeous family. What larks!

24 comments:

Mom/Mum said...

Oh am v jealous. Sounds like a lovely London trip.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yes, it was good mom/mum, probably over too quickly but it was jolly nice catching up with everybody!

The Dotterel said...

Wow! I bought the 'Minimus' books for Sally, but she never really too to them. (I think I was a year or two too late!) I'm saving them for Charlie, and would love to know more about the course (as would Charlie's godfather - who's a classics teacher at a local grammar school, forever lamenting the state of latin (or the lack of it) in schools.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello the Dotterel or should I say "Salve"! I would really recommend looking at the website:
http://www.minimus.com/
They do one day courses throughout the year (in different parts of the country) to learn how to teach it and Barbara Bell is so approachable (her e-mail address and postal address is on the website). I had a really fun day. I'm thinking of teaching the course privately (children and adults) and at my daughter's state primary down the road. It can be taught with no knowledge of Latin. It is great fun. There are teachers' resource books which come with the course plus a CD or tape to hear how Latin is pronounced. I must say it has fired me up with enthusiasm so I cannot recommend it too much! Very best of luck with it all! (Barbara said it could even be read as a bedtime story to the younger ones - maybe Charlie?)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

The Dotterel: Forgot to say...they also do "Minimus Secundus", story (minibooks) about Minimus the mouse, there are games and postcards/birthday cards on the site. I even think there is a "Minimus" Day held somewhere...

rosiero said...

Now if I'd known you were going to be in Dulwich, it was not a million miles from me!!! Glad you had a nice time.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Rosiero, If I'd known you were nearby...I'd have given you a call! Maybe next time? It would be lovely to meet up. Do you ever come up this way (as you know Hexham)? Hx

East Anglian Troy said...

When I first read through I had to do a double take. I thought you had bumped into Alan Rickman and then you and he had "gone french" with the coffee and cakes!

I'm now going to do some research about Minimus and see if it would suit my seven year old.

Thanks for your comment on mine - I certainly caused a ruction with my posting :-)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Troy, Thanks for your comments and I've just left another comment at your site again. I'm fascinated/horrified by it all. I think I will be blogging about it although I was trying to stay clear of it. The debate needs to happen!

Good luck with Minimus I think it is "very user" friendly! I'll have to think of a nicer Latin phrase for that.

Having coffee with Alan Rickman...that would be interesting! He was in Harry Potter films wasn't he? Funny that - the King's Cross/St.Pancras thing...hadn't thought of that link before!

rosiero said...

Hadriana - we have not been up to Northumbria for about 4 years. We have pitched tent just outside Bamburgh, once stayed in Allendale and another time at a site just outside Hexham at Acomb. Greg's relatives all hail from that way. His Dad was at Hexham Grammar, his aunt still lives at Whitley Bay and others at Otterburn. If Greg ever recovers, we may get that way again. Who knows ?

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Rosiero, it was only after I wrote that comment that I thought..I bet Rosiero doesn't come up here for obvious reasons. My fingers are crossed for you all. I'd love to meet up either here or down there some time. If I'm ever over to Dulwich again I'll be in touch!

HER ON THE HILL said...

Hi Hadriana - thanks for stopping by at mine again, but I have to admit to being confused as to your comments re your computer ability!! - your post is absolutely PEPPERED with links so all you have to do is click on mine and you'll see the Palin YouTube vids. They're hilarious - you really should take a look!

Meanwhile (re a couple of comments you've left on previous posts of mine), where does your Oxford mate live in Richmond? (just curious). And our holiday place is in the Landes, south west France, pretty much equidistant between Bordeaux and Biarritz, near the coast. Do you know it?

I'm so pleased you had a great time in London - I was down there not so long ago and in fact am down again this Friday night and it's good to see the bright lights, but always good to get home to the peace and tranquillity of the hills again too. Any trip away from family is wonderful for the taste of freedom it allows you - and which one used to take for granted - but it IS always good to see them all again when you get back, isn't it?

HER ON THE HILL said...

PS: bizarrely, one of the very few 'celebs' I ever came across in all my years living in London was Alan Rickman! I followed him down Queensway one evening on my way home from work. He was chatting to a mate of his and I was desperately earwigging! They disappeared onto one of the many Indian restaurants along Westbourne Grove...not much chance of meeting anyone like that down Chapel-en-le-Frith high street, I can tell you!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi HoTH, Gosh you've nearly written a novel here! Not that I mind though :-) With some computer stuff I am fine but anything else makes me struggle a bit. By the time we have put the children to bed I hardly have the will left to write...never mind wrestle with IT thingies! Nevertheless I am sure your You Tube clips are riveting so I will have another shot. Don't know Landes but it sounds lovely! London was great and it is nice to remind myself of my other life some times. I missed the family big time and yes...it is good to get back to them.
I must admit Alan Rickman is a bit of an enigma. I was buying some fish on a Sunday lunchtime at Richmond Waitrose (it was deserted) and I suddenly looked up and found those piercing blue eyes of Richard E Grant beaming into me! Talk about the shock of my life! We do get some celebs up here: Mick Jagger and his Dad came to do the Wall. Dan Snow stayed in a B&B near here to do his film on Hadrian. Will e-mail you the (approx.) address of my friend and she has already sworn me to secrecy as regards "her character" popping up in my scribblings. She's not daft that lass!

Maggie May said...

I was also going through London recently. Enjoyed seeing the embankment and the Eye and the vaious bridges and the Tate. Course we couldn't stop as we were in the coach! Was enjoyable though, except for all the road works that seemed to cause gridlock.

Lakeland Jo said...

I was laughing at your 'staying up late' confessions! it must be something about being a rural northern mum which makes us head for the cocoa up here around half nine.
Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip to the smoke

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Maggie, I love the architecture too of London. A bus/coach is a good place to see it and it keeps changing!

Hi Lakeland Jo...I actually should go to bed earlier but I end up staying late - blogging! When I do go to bed early (with my cocoa!) and a good book...bliss!

dulwichmum said...

Hi Hadriana,

It was great to see you. I hope you enjoyed Dulwich. You must return. It really is the centre of the universe you know (sigh).

Bea x

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Dulwichmum (Bea),

It was truly super to meet you and we'll have to do it again with lashings of ginger beer (and gin)!

Hadriana x

(Very) Lost in France said...

Latin.....latin.....Ohmigod, I need therapy. I did one year of latin and simply could not get my head round it. The experience scarred me for life! DS did Latin at school here in France for a year and hated it too. Thassmaboy! Latin with French accents did my head in well and truly. Trying to give it up practically required a Papal Bull and express permission from M. le President. When he finally got out of it, his school report had ABANDON DE LATIN scrawled across it like 'KITTY TORTURER' or 'PULLER OFFER OF SPIDER'S LEGS'. I'm told it is a decision that will 'follow him all his life'! VLiF

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello VLiF, Hmm...Latin with French accents...not sure I could handle that either! I reckon it is how it is taught but isn't that the same with all subjects?...I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the Minimus books are great fun. I think the fact that they are based on a real Roman family who actually lived - makes them fascinating. The website is worth exploring...I've just found a click and drag playing with words/grammar game. I just wish this had been around in my time!

tartetartan said...

Gosh, you have been busy since I last dropped in. Sounds like you had a great trip to London. Must check out this book, as I have been trying to learn a bit of latin recently as part of my studies.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Salve Tartetartan! Yes...if you are interested in the Vindolanda Tablets as well - there is also a very slim (and cheap) book published by The British Museum called "V-Mail: Letters from the Romans at Vindolanda Fort Near Hadrian's Wall" (Paperback)
by Katherine Hoare. Goes very well with the Minimus books. Your studies sound very interesting...

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I know that Latin isn't everyone's cup of tea but I think why I am really worked up about all of this...is that it is part of our history, British history. It makes us who we are! If there is any way I can help anyone (I'm not saying I'm a Latin guru or anything) but I do have my "young" Latin teacher, Magistra R., in the background...so I can always call on her help as well! (Very impressed Tartetartan that you are studying the language :-) Hx)