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Pictures from summer in the UK

August 31, 2014
Tomorrow I return to work after the usual long break between the spring and autumn semesters.) I am always excited about meeting new students and getting back into a routine, but not so keen on the prospect of cooler weather ahead.

When memories of my fabulous six weeks in the UK start to fade I'll be coming back to this post. It will remind me just how lucky I am to have amazing friends and family on both sides of the world.

Food: because it's a treat to eat things I don't usually see

 Costa Coffee shops now sell HUGE versions of familiar favourites like Bourbon biscuits and French Fancies.

 Deep friend mini chocolate bars, coconut icecream. This delicious dessert was found at The Three Tuns, Eggleston, Co. Durham.

 An indulgent lavender themed lunch during a great day out at Yorkshire Lavender. No need to tell you the flavour of the icecream, shortbread, and lemonade, or the scone, not pictured here.) Everything was so good I bought some cooking lavender, in the hope of recreating these treats at home.

 Of all the nice cafes, pubs and restaurants visited this trip, the Chatterbox Cafe in beautiful Weardale stood out as the best. A magical combination of excellent food, charismatic staff and a welcoming ambience, I can hardly believe we found it by accident.

 My friend was so proud of his first attempt at bread making.

Clouds. I love clouds.


I love sunsets too.

Parties, which all seemed to be themed.
Sweeties and food from the 1970s.

 Goodies at the 'mad cow' 1940s tea party.

I even managed to fit some history in between the meals and parties!


Happy memories from a great summer. See you next year.


Re-entering orbit - things I'd forgotten about Korea

August 13, 2014
Six weeks. Less than 50 days spent out of South Korea and it feels like I have been away more like six years!

Here are just a few of the things that I'd forgotten about while I was away:
  • the toilet is way low. The sinks in the bathroom and kitchen are the same. I need a strategy to avoid the backache that washing dishes brings on.
  • I can't flush loo paper. (Mind, I spent the first few days in the UK fishing it out of people's bathroom bin so this will feel normal again pretty soon.)
  • people tend to...

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Air France - my first experience

July 30, 2014
As part of my quest for new experiences I chose to make my much anticipated annual Seoul - UK trip with Air France, rather than my usual Seoul - Amsterdam - Teesside journey with KLM. The switch was sparked by niggling concerns over the future of Durham Tees Valley, (the airport just a couple of miles from my UK base), leaving Newcastle as the only, and slightly less convenient, alternative.

Intensive Googling left me with two carrier options, British Airways and Air France. With similar fligh...
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Recording happy days

June 16, 2014
I enjoy following the photographic records of #100happydays that so many of my friends are collating on Facebook, although I will probably never sign up for the project myself.

The reason?

It's pretty simple. As I saw more and more people make a positive effort to record the good stuff in their daily lives I realised that I already notice that stuff. I did used to wonder if I was:

a bit weird for experiencing child-like joy at simple pleasures


unusual in noticing the small things that create t...
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The Sewol Disaster

June 7, 2014
I haven't posted anything new to my blog since the devastating Sewol ferry tragedy. It has been such an overwhelmingly sad few weeks, and something that has changed the way a lot of people here think about things: well the foreigners at least.

Safety awareness isn't a priority.

I smile now when I recall asking my very first boss here when I would get the expected health & safety induction. I had no idea then that such things generally don't exist here in South Korea. In the seven years and seve...
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A fabulous blog about frugal living

April 11, 2014
Blog snob?

There are few blogs that I find interesting enough to bookmark and actually visit regularly, so it's always a treat to find something that catches my attention.

Money talks!

I've never been particularly motivated by money, but planning for life post global nomadism has put finances firmly on my agenda. I made a decent start to 2014 by actually applying for a tax refund. It was worth trading some of my sanity to battle with several Korean websites to get a little cash back from the gov...
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Weeks 7 - 12

March 23, 2014

Weeks 7 – 12

I haven't updated the staycation section for several reasons.

1.    I was really busy from weeks 7-10 as my good friend Rebecca got ready to leave Korea. Every day seemed to be a whirl of running around doing chores, or making memories.

2.    After she left I felt too sad to write about it. (Miss you Beckster.)

3.    I started my M.A. in Professional Writing. (Which will definitely get its own blog post or section.)

4.    The weather was wonderful, actually warmer in February than ...

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Where there's smoke watch out for fire!

February 3, 2014
For the last couple of days I had noticed a faint whiff of warm plastic in the air when I was using the toaster oven. I stuck my nose  all around it but nothing. Felt it up a bit, nothing. Plug seemed fine. Keep calm and carry on toasting.

Tonight my omelette was about done, tomatoes sliced, just the bagel to finish toasting and I'd be good to go with a late dinner. (The washer hadn't spun properly, causing a 30 minutes wrestling match that I barely won.) Anyone who knows me well is aware of m...

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Important message for foreign drivers in South Korea

January 27, 2014
If you are:
  • foreign
  • drive in South Korea
  • have exchanged your home country licence for a Korean license
you need to read this.

You did what to my driving license?

One of the chores on your 'to do before leaving'list is to get your home country driving licence back. This involves a trek to the Driving Licence Agency centre where you originally exchanged it for the Korean version. Sounds simple, right?

So what if you get there and your licence isn't there anymore?

What if they tell you they threw it awa...

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Weeks 3 -6: a short report

January 26, 2014

Apart from two separate days when the snow came and went within 24 hours we continue to enjoy spring like weather for the most part. It's fabulous of course, but leaves me bereft of anything much to say. So here's a very short collection of highlights from the last four weeks.

  • I quit playing Candy Crush!!! I have wanted to stop for a while but the addiction was pretty strong. In the end the app made the decision for me. I just couldn't take the new level with shimmering candies for more than t...

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About Me

Valerie Ann Hamer Global nomad, writer, teacher


"bary inn kuala lumpar #100 happy days 'shopping confusion" 'teaching english in asia" 1970s music 50 shades of grey 50th a korean village abba abba tribute affiliate marketing air apartment in korea asia auschwitz authentic teachers be a better teacher beijing beijing sideways being a writer birthday birthday. blind dates blog blog notes book stores in asia books books and expats bread british culture budget airlines budget travel busan busan dog cafe business class upgrade candy crush candy crush saga cargo ship passenger cargo ship travel charity chatterbox cafe china chris backe chuseok comfort food comments communication complimentary medicine concierge travel coronation street costco cultural identity culture currency confusion dentists in korea dictionary definitions of expat dina porell dirty dancing drinking at convenience stores driving in korea driving in the uk e-books efl efl activities efl and esl activities efl game efl games efl job applications efl teacher resources efl teaching tips egyptian food egyptian street culture emotional spring cleaning english engrade esl jobseeking essential efl classroom tips exceed driver training exchanging driving licence in korea expat expat friends expat friendships expat medical care expat writers expatriate expats expats in asia facebook facebook fan falmouth university filters fire risks foreign food shopping foreigner foreigners driving in korea france free esl teaching aid friends friendship frugal living fun efl activity fundraising getting a korean driving licence gift giving in south korea gift sets girl scout cookies goukon great wall of china group dates guest blogging gypsies habarana hanjin brussels help korean kids hepatitis a in korea hi tech japanese toilets hite hoarding home how to engage efl students hygiene in korea identity theft inequality insurance for foreigners in korea interaction jackie bolen japan japanese apartments jeffrey miller jeongnamjin group home kindle konglish korea korea and road safety korean korean apartments korean convenience stores korean culture korean education korean education system korean thanksgiving korean toilets korean wedding halls ktx language language learning mistakes language learning. japanese lavender icecream learning japanese lee min ho little house on the prairie living in tokyo lost in translation ma professional writing manu fieldel marketing marmite massage chair medical treatment in asia mid term test motivating teenagers in efl class motorbike motorbike and sidecar muslims naked without books nanowrimo national coffee day national novel writing month negombo new year resolutions nina davalun noise noise sensitivity noisy neighbours nomad nomadic lifestyle nomads nonsense english on the buses online food ordering onsen page paid forum posting patriate patriot pepero picky sticky or just plain icky? poland possessions prejudice private students in japan pyeongtaek questions racism readathon reading reading and expats recording student grades relationships relocation reverse culture shock self publishing in korea sento sewol ferry tragedy sidecar sigiriya. smashwords smoking plug social media social media marketing society songtan south korea south korean hospitals spa resort malaysia spam sri lanka stereotypes tb in korea teach efl in korea teaching at a university in south korea teaching efl teaching efl at a korean university teaching english in a south korean university teaching in korea the power of words tokyo tokyo coffee shops top websites travel by freight ship travel by freighter travel insurance travellers treasure hunt turning points twitter uk uk holiday uk travel university apartment south korea university grading efl university jobs in south korea us visa waiver usa to korea by ship used book stores in korea used bookstores in tokyo vacation plans virtual book tour want to write a novel weardale what is an expat? what the book wholegrain bread winter in korea words writer's block writing writing articles yorkshire tea
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