February the 9th, 1997. The day my life changed. I (probably) looked at her thinking “what is this thing that is noisier, somehow, than me?” I say probably because, at the tender age of 1 year and 9 months, I don’t remember very well what I did or thought. That was a very long time ago, 20 years and 5 days to be precise. So my younger sister was born, and we will probably both recognise that Mum did better the first time around!

To cut to the chase, and to make sense of the title, I should probably say that, braving the coldness, the raininess, the dog and national rail, I managed to surprise my sister for her birthday, albeit the day after, but hey-ho!

Landing at Gatwick airport on-board my now-not-serving-free-food-or-drink, Sprite-costs-one-pound-eighty, BA flight, we were kept on the tarmac for a while due to the fact that the airport is still getting used to the new airplane arrival gates and another airplane was parked in our space. The wait was brief, around 15 minutes, but that still gave the pilot enough opportunity to ruin that hour of my life by saying that the temperature outside was, *cries*, 3º. And by George you noted it when they opened the doors. After that it was a mad dash through passport control, hampered, as always, by those awful e-passport gates, to my over-crowded, only-seat-is-on-the-floor, Southern train to London Victoria. Then, the metro, which was stressfully overcrowded and smelly and dirty and lacking in the opera music València’s metro plays to you and once I left the metro I found that it had started to snow…

All this suffering was completely worth it to see the surprise on my sister’s face when I walked in the door shivering a few hours later, and to be able to see my family again! And of course, for the hot cross buns, and the English bacon. Needless to say I brought loads of both back.

A few short days later and, battling cancelled trains and half-term chaos in the airport, I landed in València after the bumpiest flight of my life. I’m not entirely sure if it was turbulence, or in fact the Irish pilot was drunk, but I banged my head on the window while sleeping about an hour into the flight and didn’t manage to get to sleep again. Which, it turned out, was a good thing, as the flight path has changed back to what it was the first time I ever came to València three years ago and I got a beautiful view of the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències from above.

When I landed I received the news that Estefania had badly twisted her leg and was signed off of work for a week. Which in theory meant I had a week off too! Celebrating that didn’t last long, as I then received a message saying I was still expected in school and that I would be taking the classes, accompanied by the classes tutor or substitute. Gulp. After seeing how certain classes, ahem, Year 6, ahem, behave when Estefania is there, this didn’t really fill me with joy.

BUT, it turned out okay today! In Year 5 and 6 at least… In Year 6 I even managed to teach the past tense of the verb “to be”, to even the most “challenging” student, who then proceeded to say to me not one, not two, but THREE whole sentences in the past, without making a single mistake! And this class, the class in which we usually manage to do about 10 minutes of class before it descends into total anarchy, was SILENT for a whole hour. I have never even heard silence in that classroom… I’m guessing they were just feeling bad for me and that tomorrow they’ll be hell again, but I’m taking this as a small victory.

That class was followed by Year 3… which went well, as the substitute teacher took a plastic bag off one student with anger issues and said student then proceeded to try to destroy the classroom, kicking tables and throwing things around for ten whole minutes… I had to look towards the whiteboard at one point to stop myself laughing at the complete absurdity of the situation…

This was followed up by a girl in Year 2 telling me repeatedly that I had spelled giraffe wrong, insisting that it should be spelled Jiraph and that she was right because she was English and she knows things like this. She’s not English, she’s African, and although her English isn’t bad for a girl in Year 2, she was subsequently proved wrong when she opened her text book. Sorry not sorry

Let’s see how tomorrow goes before I call my brief solo-teaching career in this school a success…