Retford Times Newspaper – published 12/05/2011

Grand day out for Royal Wedding winners Royal wedding winners Sandra and Paul Harpem with MP John Mann in his office.

LUCKY Retford Times prize winners were thrilled by their close-up view of the royal wedding celebrations in London. Clarborough’s Sandra Harpem and Muriel Teasdale were winners of two special prize packages to sample the excitement of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s big day.

Sandra had described why she would love the chance to visit London for the royal celebration and her prize saw her head down to London with husband Paul early on the wedding day.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann had offered the Retford Times’ winner the chance to share the grandstand view of events enjoyed from his London office, alongside other invited guests.

An excited Sandra said: “It was absolutely fantastic. We could see Whitehall House and had a brilliant view of the abbey.”

Mr Mann was also there to celebrate. He said: “It was the most splendid occasion, Great Britain at its very best. We do things like this better than anyone else in the world. It was a wonderful atmosphere.”

Mr Harpem was very impressed with the view from the room. “We got to see the cars going to the abbey and the coaches and horses on the way back. Mr Mann was an excellent host,” he added.

Mrs Teasdale won a two-day trip to London courtesy of Retford’s Vale Travel.

She and her friend June Horsewood stayed in West London’s Covent Garden, with rail tickets included in the prize.

She has never missed a royal wedding, saying that she is a true royalist. “It was fantastic. We stood in The Mall when everyone passed and waved to them,” she said.

The friends bagged a prized place on the St James’s Park side of The Mall, managing to get a spot in the second row of the crowds where she was seen on the television by her husband.

They were thrilled to share the experience with visitors from around the world and well as patriotic British supporters decked out in Union Flags. They watched the royal entourage pass close by culminating in the happy couple themselves, and joined in the crowd singing Jerusalem and the national anthem.

After the ceremony, making her way towards Buckingham Palace, Mrs Teasdale borrowed a periscope to witness the famous balcony kiss. The next day they visited Westminster Abbey to see the wedding trees and flowers.

Muriel and June thanked Vale Travel and the Retford Times for a weekend to remember.

Retford Times Newspaper – published 12/05/2011

VILLAGERS were out in force to mark the May Day celebrations at East Markham.

The sun was out with not a cloud in the sky, as the village had a record turnout for the events at the village hall.

Boundary Radio from Newark (102.6 FM) announced the event at 11.30am and as soon as it was heard, both the village hall and adjoining field were busy.

Visitors enjoyed teas and bric-a-brac sales, children took part in a procession of floats and stalls were opened and organised ready for the afternoon’s events.

The events included an orderly procession of classic/vintage tractors at noon. The procession including Leyland, David Brown, Fordson Dexta and Massey Fergusons machines, and one stylish New Holland TS100A.

The floats included the May Queen, the winning entry from Pippins Pre-school and a lively selection of floats featuring Meeting In Progress.

Other attractions included a bouncy castle, coconut shy, donkey rides, the local glider club and the chance to be Robin Hood with the Simply Archery Organisation.

A barbeque, food, ice cream and a bar were on offer. Raffles were held and the highlight of the afternoon’s activities was the annual dog show.

Vox pop – published – 12/05/2011

It’s been reported Children have now come to the stage of turning their backs on physical exercise. The poll for British Triathlon and Tata Steel suggests 10% cannot ride a bike and 15% cannot swim. Are we in a generation now when sports and exercise aren’t been encouraged or are we just plain lazy? The Retford Times talk to the people of Retford to hear there thoughts on the matter.

Paula Anscombe says “I think it’s bad, I have a little boy with asthma, he finds it very difficult. There are a lot of things he can’t do and more centres would be a good idea.”

Frances Burkett thinks it’s atrocious that the level of swimming has fallen. She said “The lack of swimming is dangerous. It was more encouraged when I was at school. There needs to be more exercise on offer for children”.

Doreen Pritchard of Clarborough raised concerns of the welfare of the children. “You can’t let them out on the roads anymore. You used to be safe when I was young. Now the safety aspect comes into it. Cars go much faster and are less likely to see people riding bicycles on the road.”

With the level of exercise for children falling, the level of bad health rises. In a recent survey it said a third of children questioned didn’t even own a bike. However 73 per cent owned games consoles.

Jawar Hasan said “It’s bad; children need to be more sociable and get out into the fresh air. They need to be encouraged not only for health reasons but for themselves.”

Beth Clarke thought it was a bad idea closing the original sports centre down for the new one. “It’s very important, just for more facilities. They built a sports centre but took away a lot of things; they could do with the squash courts coming back.”

Retford Times Newspaper – published 12/05/2011

A Harworth teenager is celebrating getting through to the semi finals of a national beauty pageant.

Paige Stephens, 17, will be representing Doncaster in the Miss Teen Great Britain 2011.

Having already beaten other contestants, she is now one of the only 60 girls left running left in the competition that will be staged at The Globe, Blackpool Pleasure Beach in September.

First prize winner will receive £1000, an introduction to Britain’s top leading modelling agency and a photo shoot with leading UK photographer.

At the moment Paige is currently looking for sponsorship of £215.00 and in the process of contacting surrounding businesses for their support. The companies that do get involved will be advertised alongside Paige in her campaign. The website for the competition is http://www.missteengreatbritain.co.uk.

A belly full of Macau

This month it happened to be my 25th birthday and I wanted to celebrate it with doing something special. I was brainstorming ideas what to do in and around Hong Kong. But like most holiday periods, the flights were extortionate prices. I checked for Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam, but all were out of reach. So we decided to go to China’s version of Las Vegas, Macau! I absolutely adore Macau. The reason why I fell so in love with this place was because its spacious (unlike Hong Kong), exciting and most of all like another world away from the busy Hong Kong. It’s all about having fun, fun, fun! Something that we lack back on dry land. With work stress and bills to pay, Macau is the perfect weekend getaway.

Firstly we caught the boat at Sheung Wan Ferry pier. Tickets are priced 174.00 dollars each way. Sometimes you’ll find you have to wait in line for a while for tickets. A little word of advice, walk around and someone else will be selling the tickets ten dollars cheaper and also you get to skip the horrendous cues! We managed to make the 12.30pm boat ride, leaving Hong Kong and arriving into Macau at 1.35pm. It’s a steady journey on the way and the seats are very comfortable for you to sleep.

Now one of the best things about Macau is the free transportation. I’m not saying buses are free but the hotel shuttle buses are. Anyone who is staying at the hotel or not even staying at the hotel can hop a ride to the chosen destination. We always manage to not spend much money on transport in Macau, as there are so many free shuttles in and around it.

The first place we decided to go to was the Hard Rock Cafe.

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The food in the hard rock always looks homely and luxurious. The chips were to die for but the cheese burger unfortunately wasn’t anything to write home about. It was a little stodgy and the meat was dry. I’m glad we decided to share the meals, as the portion sizes are humongous. The second dish we ordered was the Nacho’s, a sharer dish. I was really impressed with them but sadly they didn’t come with gucamole, which is a little bit stingy of Hard Rock! All in all though the food was eadable and its a nice relaxing place to sit and listen to the live music.

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We then decided to look around the Venetian hotel. For those who are not aware of this hot spot, it’s an absolute masterpiece! It has it’s own river on the second floor of the hotel! You are actually made to feel you are in fact in Venice, Italy. I have never seen such a cool place to look around and explore. Inside it’s like a mini city. It has it’s own shopping arcade, casino’s, food court, restaurants, convention rooms, gondola rides and the list goes on. Honestly this is one of the best places I have ever visited in my life. And every time I visit Macau, I have to go back again and again. It’s almost like a museum. It has so much space and stuff to do, you could easily spend a day looking around it.

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Another big reason why people love to holiday in Macau is for the Casino’s. Not one to gamble myself, well maybe a few cheeky games here and there on black jack, but nothing too serious. You can have just as much fun inside the casinos as you can out of them. The drinks are very cheap, food is a great quality and you can enjoy the entertainment including dance shows, magic shows and plays. You can appreciate the atmosphere and this is what makes Macau so unique. Although you don’t have to join in and gamble, you can sit down relax and take in the ambiance.

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Another reason why I love Macau is for the decorations. They really enjoy decorating the city for the holidays. MGM hotel in particular have taken the time to celebrate this year. They have chosen an underwater theme and brought in an aquarium for the lobby. The perfect spot for budding photographers to take a few snaps.

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This is a wonderful place to enjoy a few drinks at night time with loved ones. I recommend everyone go to stay in Macau for a weekend or too. Its the kind of place that will leave you wanting to visit again and again. I am even considering moving away from Hong Kong and living there permanently! Let me know your thoughts on Macau and share your experiences. Thank you for reading!

Having a Hong Kong time

(This post was originally written for http://www.heruni.com/ when I  was contributing a few articles a month for them. I will be linking some of the travel bits and pieces for this blog too) 

Here are my top ten things to do and see in Hong Kong. If you have had the time to check out any of these attractions, let me know what you think in the comment box below.

1. Eat Dim Sum- Go sample one of Hong Kong’s finest cuisines. Recommended restaurant is Maxims. This place is renowened for its late night service and can be found in Central, situated on Hong Kong Island.

The recipe originated from deep within China in the province of ‘Guangzhou’. The idea reached Hong Kong in the 1940’s, where since they have tweaked the recipe slightly to fit the taste buds of the culinary capital. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take part in China’s heritage.

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2. Take TST ferry to Central Pier – This is by far one of the best things to do whilst staying in Hong Kong. TST is one of the ‘it’ places to go when arriving in Hong Kong. Go here for your first shopping experience and to catch the ferry back to Hong Kong Island. Costing you around 2.5 dollars (18p in English) This is by far one of the cheapest and fastest transports to take in Hong Kong and most probably in Asia. Take a step back from the city and glance over the colourful sky line of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

3. Big Buddah – Go visit the bronze statue sitting on Lantau Island. You can catch a ferry or the mtr to the busy tourist spot. Completed in 1993, the religious spot gathers thousands of tourists from all around the world. The statue is meant to symbolize Harmony, People and Nature. Enjoy some breathtaking views when reaching the top of steps.

4. Macau – Spend a quick getaway to China’s equivalent to Las Vegas. Macau is notorious for gambling and night clubs. If you’re thinking of a night like the movie The Hangover, then this is the pit stop for you! Costing you 300 dollars return from Hong Kong (22 english pounds), this is one trip not to be missed off your ten things to do. If you don’t have much time, just go for an evening and catch the early morning ferry home. If you’re looking for a romantic getway – hotels recommended are – The Venetian, Rio and Galaxy.

5. Visit the sky 100 building – the tallest landmark in hong kong. With aerial views of the city, this can be enjoyed by day or night. If you manage to go around 8pm, you will be able to spot the light show from Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. This is the 3rd highest financial buildings in the world.

6. Sai Kung – Escape from the city for the day and try some of the infamous sea food of Hong Kong. You won’t get it any fresher than you will here. This is where you will be able to relax with the mountainous backdrops. This can be located about forty five minutes out of the city from choi hung MTR.

7. Mong Kok – The busiest district in the city. You can’t leave without walking the streets of the Ladies Market. The best time to visit the market is definitely in the week, the weekends gather too many crowds. This market provides all your needs. You can browse all the latest trends such as jewellery, gadgets, copy bags such as Marc Jacobs and Mulberry (all for under ten pounds). Don’t forget to use your bartering skills; everything is a bargain here!

8. Temples – Visit a temple everyday if you can. There are many temples located in each district. Recommended ones are: The Nan Lian Garden. This is the most superb one of all. Painted in the traditional gold, red and orange colours, you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of this garden. Walk over the bridge and take photographs by the waterfall. This is the place to kick back and relax away from all the sounds of the city life.

9. Ocean Park – Visit Hong Kong’s exciting theme park, home to Panda’s, Monkeys and Sharks. This will take up a full day of your schedule, definitely well worth it though.

10. Arcade Time – If you were a fan of gaming as a child, this is the place to show off your good skills. There are so many arcades located around Hong Kong. Majority of the old ones are closed down now but if you’re looking for just an amateur one with many choices of games, try out APM shopping center, located in Kwun Tong. If you are a lover of TEKKEN or Street Fighter, place your dollar down and wait in line with the city’s biggest gamers.

I hope you have enjoyed my top ten things to do in Hong Kong. Let me know your top ten choices and if you have done some of these on my list.

*All photos belong to apathwithajourney. Please do not take the photographs from this blog without permission.

Teaching in Hong Kong

Hello and welcome to my second post about teaching in Hong Kong. I have reached my one year anniversary as a Kindergarten teacher. Here a few things I’ve learnt along the way.

In Hong Kong the teaching profession is very much stressful. Most of the Net Teachers have an extremely heavy workload and have a high performance standard to follow for the parents. From what local teachers have expressed, Hong Kong really struggle to recruit Kindergarten positions as it’s an 8-6pm job, sometimes even longer. Before embarking on the teaching journey in Hong Kong, take some things into consideration and follow my guide and see if this helps.

  1. Research the agency. Make sure you have a quality agent to back you up. Many agents in Hong Kong have really screwed over past colleagues of mine. Currently the agencies I work for has been very supportive of me and have worked very hard to communicate with the schools on my behalf. But some refuse to cooperate and often many Nets are left without a job.
  2. Look into past and present employees of the company you are interviewing for. It is possible to get in contact, using meet up groups and word of mouth.
  3. You do not need to pay more than 160 dollars to retain a working visa. I have read many horror stories about agents  charging a 1000 dollars or more for you to secure a visa, this is rubbish! You can check on the HK immigration website and advise them to follow HK Labour law.
  4. Research wages – this a biggie. Some agents will rip you off; it’s the nature of the job. Find a balance and go for a few interviews. (No rush)
  5. You are looking at 18,000 dollars onwards without teaching experience.
  6. Tefl courses are not always necessary for Kindergarten but most definite for Primary School.
  7. Tefl can enhance the pay, depending on the employer.
  8. Expect hundreds of school reports and a heavy workload.
  9.  You will be asked to work over time for extracurricular activities such as phonics, dance and storytelling classes. You will be expected to work Saturdays without a minutes notice.
  10. NEGOTIATE – it’s not a crime!

I hope from reading this that you will gain a little more knowledge about life at school in Hong Kong.  If you’re thinking of moving to Hong Kong and looking to go into teaching, it’s a fun place to be and a valuable learning platform. Please feel free to email me for any more questions regarding this post.